COPYRIGHT DAVID CHERNIACK PROD. LTD.
[00;40;37] IN YOUR BOOK YOU DISCUSS THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN SETI AND THE UFO PHENOMENA BUT YOU COME AT IT FROM A SLIGHTLY DIFFERENT WAY.
[00;40;50] My discussion of UFO phenomena in my first book After Contact, the chapter on UFOs is called False Alarms. And essentially it's not a nasty but a very sceptical kind of discussion.
[00;41;09] What people have to keep in mind is that there's a great desire within the SETI community to distance themselves from UFOs. I felt that it would be inappropriate to not mention UFOs at all. And I also am not particularly drawn to UFO bashing, making fun of UFOs. People believe in them, and take them seriously, we have to understand that.
[00;41;31] But I think it is necessary to take sort of a sceptical stance in evaluating the evidence that's presented in favour of UFOs.
[00;41;40] The scientists who are actually involved in SETI would be very happy if all notions of UFOs disappeared off the face of the Earth instantly. We have to look back at the history of SETI to understand this.
[00;41;54] That is, if we go back to 1960 the idea of life out there was not accepted within science. It was not something that most scientists believed in. There were two watershed events, in 1959 and 1960. The first was a paper that showed that it was plausible to communicate over interstellar distances by means of microwave radio and the second was Frank Drake's actually search, Project Osma.
[00;42;20] Now to gain recognition for this kind of activity, it was very important to establish it as science and to distant it from other kinds of activities that were associated with naïve and uncritical types of thinking.
[00;42;36] So what we find within -within the history of SETI is a real desire to minimize association with UFOs. And this has manifested itself in different ways at different points in history.
[00;42;50] I think what you find from SETI scientists now is largely non-responsiveness to the topic of UFOs as compared to ridicule and more assertive kinds of responses which tend only to excite the UFO community rather than to quell it.
[00;43;05] So what we have is an interesting situation where we have two groups of people who hypothesize that we're not alone in the universe, have very different views on what constitutes evidence and standards of proof.Some have drawn conclusions that there's evidence of extraterrestrials while others are saying, well we're still looking and once we have confirmation we'll be happy to breakout the news.
[00;43;34] So it's -
[00;43;35] YOU USE THE WORD, YOU USE THE WORD POLITICAL.
[00;43;38] Sure. I would use the word political because it has to do with institutional politics, getting money from the United States government, being accepted by the United States Congress, getting material into high quality journals, recruiting graduate students and getting them going in worthwhile careers.
[00;44;03] Very definitely politics in terms of gaining support from the larger community as well as institutional politics within science itself.
[00;44;11] WHAT ABOUT THE ASSUMPTIONS OF THE SETI SEARCH? THERE ARE SOME UNDERLYING -
[00;44;15] Sure. The assumptions of the SETI search are minimal and this is one of the things that distinguishes it from Ufology. Within SETI there is the hypothesis really that extraterrestrial life exists. There's a lot of evidence that's circumstantial but no smoking gun.
[00;44;38] SETI has a fairly long rationale with different pieces being fit in at different times and the overall rationale being strengthened and tweaked. There’s an assumption that this life can be detected by means of radio telescopes, and optical telescopes looking for laser flashes and if we look long enough and hard enough we'll find evidence of E.T. if in fact E.T. is there.
[00;45;04] BUT E.T. IS SENDING SIGNALS TO -
[00;45;06] E.T. would have to be sending signals in our direction, a beam that we can intercept. One of the exciting developments is new technology that's about to go online, particularly if they are able to actually develop the square kilometre array able to detect leakage of communications between two other civilizations.
[00;45;30] We'd be able to detect leakage between two other civilizations and -
[00;45;35] WAIT A MINUTE. ISN'T THERE A ROOT ASSUMPTION HERE THAT CIVILIZATIONS OUT THERE ARE COMMUNICATING USING THE ELECTROMAGNETIC SPECTRUM?
[00;45;43] this is, this is one of the assumptions.
[00;45;46] THERE IS ANOTHER ASSUMPTION THAT CIVILIZATIONS OUT THERE CANNOT BREAK THE SPEED OF LIGHT BARRIER.
[00;45;54] There's that assumption also. But to deal with the first assumption that you mentioned, the standard response to that is that since we already have this equipment we can look right now. Now maybe there will be other kinds of communication technologies that we will discover.
[00;46;13] When that happens we can try those techniques. But right now here's what we can do and here's methodology that we think will work. We hope that these civilizations are using our communications techniques. But if they're not, we're going to have a hard time finding them until we discover how they communicate.
[00;46;39] THE SECOND ASSUMPTION BEING THAT THEY CAN'T GET HERE OR CAN'T GET ANYWHERE.
[00;46;44] There's -
[00;46;45] THAT ESSENTIALLY WE'RE ALL ISOLATED BY SOMETHING THAT FALLS OUT OF RELATIVITY.
[00;46;52] Astronomers tend to be much more aware of the magnitude of interstellar distances than say you or I. And I think it's very, very hard to grasp what a light year is, never mind a thousand light years.
[00;47;10] And we do know, for us right now space travel is incredibly expensive, particularly if you're in a rush. You can set something drifting for 70,000 years and it may eventually reach some place interesting.
[00;47;24] But there may be ways around this. Things like worm holes and warp drives that are very controversial. They vary in terms of -
[00;47;36] … SCIENCE FICTION BASICALLY.
[00;47;39] Well, there are some people that are really working hard on worm holes. Claudio Macconi who is an Italian researcher, very much involved in SETI, very respected, is interested in the possibility of communicating through worm holes as is Eric Davis an astrophysicist in Texas.
[00;48;03] Eric recently completed a study of various possibilities and people who did not read the studywere immediately outraged. Maybe also some people did read the study.
[00;48;16] I'm not a physicist and I can't really evaluate all of the arguments, but what impressed me was he was that Eric was very careful to note some of the difficulties and problems in terms of energy requirements, weird kinds of matter that we can't make or we can make in very small amounts but not the required gargantuan amounts, and things like that.
[00;48;41] And actually a conclusion is that worm holes seem to be the most promising, not that we could create one tomorrow. One of Eric’s desires is to do some experimental research on this.
[00;48;54] I think that when we look at the whole idea of extraterrestrial visitation which is a loaded term so shall we say interstellar probes it would not be necessary for ET to launch thousands of probes in every direction for one to arrive here.
[00;49;17] We're getting to a point now where we ourselves can target promising stars and planets. We can do this by looking at the kinds of chemical reactions that are going on near them. We can look for bio indicators, indications of life. We can look for chemical signatures that are suggestive of industrial activity.
[00;49;41] And so as we get better at detecting these planets we can send probes off in their directions.
[00;49;48] We are becoming good at creating small smart probes. We will be able to launch many probes off before too long if we so choose and some of them will have a chance of getting through.
[00;50;07] By the way, since this is a conversation, are you looking at active SETI which involves broadcast and launching probes? This is one of the most controversial things going on in SETI right now. There’s very heated discussions going on in private and in public.
[00;50;27] And it has to do with techniques where we broadcast our presence and there's been a number of such broadcasts, largely coming from the Ukraine, a number of cosmic calls sent out with a very high powered radar transmitter including such interesting contents as resolution passed by New Mexico legislators on dedicating the extraterrestrial highway - music, singers, flags, messages from individuals, greetings I believe from Hugh Downs.
[00;51;10] And these are going out at fairly regular intervals. Oh, and a Theremin concert. Now the Theremin is an electronic device which emits various noises of different pitches and intensities depending on how you move your hands.
[00;51;24] Peoplein the Americas, people know about the Theremin from science fiction and horror movies. Well Prof. Zeitsev who's been running these broadcasts has included a Theremin Concert for E.T.
[00;51;42] And he chose the Theremin because - the way I describe it is it whistles its way through the universe. It seems to have nice radio characteristics -
[00;51;51] Exactly.Whooo-oo. And what's interesting to me is that in Russia the Theremin is a musical instrument of refinement and culture. It was supported by both Lenin and Stalin and believe me, they were the opinion leaders in the '20s and '30s. But in the U.S. it was largely used in movies about demented people and things like that.
[00;52;12] But I'm sorry -
[00;52;14] WE'RE ON ACTIVE SETI. WHAT INTERESTS ME ABOUT SETI IS THE WHOLE PRINCIPLE OF DESIRING EXTRATERRESTRIAL CONTACT. AND THAT BRINGS ME TO THE QUESTION, YOU AS A SOCIOLOGIST OF ASKING WHERE DO YOU THINK THIS DESIRE COMES FROM?
[00;52;33] To me because I share fascination with the possibility of life beyond Earth. I think that SETI attracts many people because it -
[00;52;45] I'M JUST TALKING ABOUT THE WHOLE IDEA OF EXTRATERRESTRIAL CONTACT WHICH IS MUCH OLDER THAN SETI. WHICH GOES RIGHT BACK TO THE GREEK (OVERLAP)…
[00;52;52] Sure as far back as you can go to the earliest sky gods there's always been interest in superior forms of intelligence beyond Earth.
[00;53;00] I think what's happening is that we're at a particular point in time where we think science can help us answer the kinds of existential questions that have been with us essentially forever: who are we? How did we get here? Are we alone in the universe? Religions once answered this.
[00;53;23] Myths try to answer this. If you look at some of the UFO material it's thinly disguised religion with angels and demons coming down to guide us, warn us or whatever. And I think this helps make SETI very very attractive.
[00;53;40] The scientists involved in SETI work very hard to distance themselves from myth and religion for the same reason that they try to distance themselves from Ufology, to maintain it as a strict scientific enterprise. But SETI too could tell us something about our origins, who else is out there and possibly our destination.
[00;54;01] So you've got this quest which searchers see as a natural, logical progression in science, another step forward beyond Copernicus, beyond Darwin. A great leap forward to show that, that natural processes hold throughout the universe, not justlocally.
[00;54;23] But it has all this extra meaning for so many of us. SETI people can keep themselves under control. The rest of us get enthusiastic and sometimes it's very easy to get carried away. You know, what about this, what about that?
[00;54;39] WHAT WOULD HAPPEN THOUGH IF EXTRATERRESTRIAL VISITATION COULD BE PROVED IN THE NEAR FUTURE?
[00;54;48] I think that -
[00;54;49] THAT IT'S ACTUALLY BEEN GOING ON.
[00;54;51] Sure that if it's been going on many people would not be surprised because roughly 50%, give or take a few, already believe that this is happening. To me a key factor would be how the news was broken. If it was a slow dawning realization that this was going on where one after another people start saying, gee, I think the evidence really points this way then it would not be catastrophic.
[00;55;28] If people felt that the intelligence was roughly similar to ours, not something totally strange and unfathomable, if anthropocentric biases proved true, if they were like us, just like people in rubber suits or something like that, if they were not malevolent then I think it would go over well. On the other hand -
[00;55;50] LET ME THROW YOU A WRENCH INTO THAT. WHAT ARE THE CHANCES OF THAT HAPPENING? I MEAN THEY COULD BE, YOU KNOW, CARBON BASED LIFE, BICAMERAL, YOU KNOW, … BICAMERAL BECAUSE THAT COULD BE BUILT INTO THE MORPHOLOGICAL LAWS OF A BIOLOGICAL FORMATION. BUT THERE'S NO GUARANTEE THAT THEY'RE GOING TO BE AT THE SAME LEVEL OF TECHNOLOGY AS WE ARE. IN FACT, THE CHANCES OF THEM BEING ANYWHERE REMOTELY CLOSE TO WHERE WE ARE ARE PROBABLY INFINITESIMALLY SMALL. THEY ARE LIKELY TO BE WAY AHEAD OF US AND IN WHICH CASE WHAT WOULD BE, YOU KNOW, THE GROUNDWORK FOR COMMUNICATION AND ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT IN TERMS OF ANY KIND OF DAWNING REALIZATION OF CONTACT ARE WE NOT TALKING ABOUT A SIMILAR KIND OF SITUATION WHEN … POLYNESIAN TRIBES ENCOUNTERED RELATIVELY TECHNOLOGICALLY SOPHISTICATED EUROPEANS. IT'S YOU KNOW, DISASTER TIME.
[00;56;47] Yes visitation - certainly a lot of the assumptions and expectations that are attached to SETI go out the window if they show up. Particularly if it was sudden, particularly if they were very strange, particularly if we weren't sure how they were going to react towards us, it could be quite catastrophic in terms of the world as we know it.
[00;57;15] But of course, if you look at SETI scientists they don't really expect this to happen.
[00;57;19] WELL ONE OF THE ARGUMENTS WHICH I TOSSED AT ONE OF THE SETI ASTRONOMERS YESTERDAY WAS, YOU KNOW, WHY WOULDN'T THEY - IF THEY WERE HERE WHAT WOULD THE REASON YOU KNOW, AND HE SAID - HIS RESPONSE WAS WELL IF THEY WERE HERE I'M SURE THEY WOULD WANT TO SAY HI. THAT'S (OVERLAP)…
[00;57;40] There is an awful lot of assuming that they would be like us and I tend to fall into that trap frequently
[00;57;47] YEAH IT'S PRETTY HARD.
[00;57;48] It’s very hard, very hard not to do it. It may be of course that if the extraterrestrial intelligence were sufficiently different from us we would not recognize it. We would not know it was there. We couldn't make sense of it (overlap).We don't know how technology is going to progress.
[00;58;12] Right now it seems to be accelerating, going very, very fast. Ah will it, will it level off? Will it taper? Will there be various plateaus? But the differentness of extraterrestrial intelligence is something that has to be taken into account when we think about the possibilities of contact if contact is going to occur.
[00;58;37] And we might not notice them. I mean sad but true.
[00;58;41] HERE'S ANOTHER THOUGHT. MAYBE IT'S ALREADY TAKING PLACE. MAYBE THAT YOU KNOW, FLYING AROUND OR WHATEVER IN KIND OF - IN A KIND OF LIMINAL WAY RIGHT AT THE MARGINS OF OUR REALITY IS IN FACT THE FIRST STEP TOWARDS A CONTACT. THAT CONTACT WOULD NOT BE SOMETHING WHICH WOULD BE ABRUPT BUT MAYBE IS DESIGNED TO TAKE PLACE OVER THOUSANDS OF YEARS SO THAT THE IMPACT ON US IS -
[00;59;13] Yeah. This is actually how if I were in charge how I would manage contact. And this is sort of getting back to this idea of the dawning realization. If everyone reaches the same conclusion at once it could be very exciting. If slowly more and more people are drawn to the conclusion and finally there's just a small group of holdouts that maintain a contrary view the effects could be relatively mild.
[00;59;39] Why in the case of something like contact, if we're talking about civilizations billions of years older than us, what would be the rush? In modern North America we're always in a rush, you know. We wouldn't think of building a cathedral say over a period of 800 years as was done in medieval times, give or take a few years.
[01;00;04] If something were truly momentous then indeed it could take place very, very slowly over many people's lifetimes. And what this would mean if it were to take place over many people's lifetimes is that there would be a growing group of people whoconclude that something is going on along with a shrinking group people who still don't agree with them.
[01;00;26] . Why would there be a rush requirement in something as delicate and portentousas contacting another civilization.
[01;00;35] IT'S THE OLD ARGUMENT. WELL IF THEY'RE AROUND THEY'D LAND ON THE WHITE HOUSE LAWN. WELL YOU KNOW, I'M SORRY, THAT'S A ANTHROPOCENTRIC WAY OF LOOKING AT IT.
[01;00;43] I mean for some people it's like saying, well if they were around they'd stop and say hello to their own mother. You know, people don't always do that, so -
[01;00;51] YEAH, YEAH MY MOTHER THE E.T.
[01;00;52] My mother the E.T.
[01;00;57] THE ROLE OF SCIENCE AND YOU STUDIED THE UFO PHENOMENON RIGHT?
[01;01;02] I've looked at UFO phenomena yes.
[01;01;05] THE ROLE OF SCIENCE IN IT, HOW WOULD YOU EVALUATE THE ROLE OF SCIENCE?
[01;01;10] I think to me it's pretty clear that scientists have been fairly actively discouraged from, from expressing interest - open interest in the UFO phenomena. That becoming engaged in the study of UFOs is ah marginalizes a person.
[01;01;30] It puts them at risk for their reputation. It can earn a lot of laughter, ridicule and scorn. It can mean the end of the person's career.
[01;01;45] Now one can argue for a long time, does the person deserve this for walking off into the wilderness or acceptingarcane beliefs or flimsy evidence or whatever. But the odds are stacked against scientists who want to become involved in this.
[01;02;08] I'M GOING TO STOP YOU RIGHT THERE. WE'RE ABOUT TO RUN OUT OF TAPE.
[00;00;05] I CAN UNDERSTAND HOW THAT ATTITUDE EMERGED, PARTICULARLY BECAUSE IN THE EARLY YEARS AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT THE BEGINNING, NOT 1947, '48 OR '49 BUT BY '50, '51 THIS RELIGIOUS ATTITUDE IS FORMING AROUND THE UFO PHENOMENA ISN'T IT?
[00;00;29] Yes. I think that at least three things have discovered many scientists from looking very seriously at the whole UFO thing. I feel I can do this because I'm a psychologist-sociologist and dealing with interesting psychological and sociological phenomena. But we are playing physicist. The first problem is simply a very high noise level in Ufology with reports of all grades representing every imaginable point of view.
[00;00;57] Things that are intriguing, things that are not intriguing, credible, incredible and so forth. The sheer amount of information out there means that one has to be very, very dedicated and interested even to approach the UFOs in the first place.
[00;01;16] The second thing is when the space brothers showed up in the early '50s, when Adamski surfaced, this wonderful moment in both North American and English history with his tales of the contactees and he was followed by many, many others, the ideas of E.T.s chauffeuring you around in your, in a '54 black Pontiac discussing vegetarian diets and so forth, it was just a little bit too much.
[00;01;48] And then things that happened later that have spiritual components, abductions, psychological transformation, and of course the whole government cover-up thing. So there's an awful lot of baggage there that's going to discourage scientists. I've had some interesting talks with some scientists about this who have a little bit of interest in UFOs.
[00;02;15] And one of the things is that these scientists are genuinely interested in their regular everyday research area. They're successful, they're good at it and they're not really willing to walk away from this to move into some unchartered territory where there may or may not be anything. But one thing you can count on is negative responses from your fellow scientists.
[00;02;38] THAT IS A ONE CONSTANT.
[00;02;39] And you'll get people who speculate, try something or look at something. But it’s underground science. I think - I'm not sure – that it was Jacques Vallee who came up with the term for the invisible college of people who are interested and they pick away at a problem but they're not very public about it.
[00;03;02] I know of one person, for example, who will go nameless, who built a communicating device in the garage. You know, this isn't shown to his professional colleagues but he has a principle there that might or might not work.
[00;03;19] So you get a funny situation where there's this fascination on many people's part and a few scientists are interested but they're not going to get very far. Most of them are not willing to stick their necks out. Those that do are more likely to end up in trouble than coming up with a scientific breakthrough.
[00;03;42] LOOK WHAT HAPPENED TO McDONALD… IF HE DIDN'T HAVE THE KIND OF CHARACTER THAT HE DID, I MEAN HE'D GONE A LONG WAY BUT LOOK WHAT HAPPENED HIM AT THE END.
[00;03;56] And then there have been others. So what is the incentive? Is it a problem you can make headway with? Is it a problem that is profitable to study? Even as a psychologist that's interested in human reactions -
[00;04;13] HOW DO YOU STUDY IT? HOW DO YOU DEVELOP A METHODOLOGY TO STUDY SOMETHING THAT IS - IN PSYCHOLOGICAL SCIENCES YOU CAN POSSIBLY DO SOME RESEARCH PROJECTS BUT THEY'RE NOT GOING TO END UP BEING FAIRLY DEFINITIVE. IN THE PHYSICAL SCIENCES WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO, YOU KNOW, LANDING TRACE …
[00;04;37] There's an interesting grey zone between SETI and Ufology and it's what might be called extended SETI, if you want to give participants the benefit of the doubt. Or you might call it scientific Ufology if you don't want to give them the benefit of the doubt -
[00;04;53] I LIKE E-SETI MYSELF.
[00;04;55] E-SETI that's good. What you have is a group of people with decent scientific credentials who are coming up with various kinds of propositions on how to find extraterrestrial sojourners or artifacts in the solar system. In fact solar system SETI is one name for it. Search for extraterrestrial artifacts is another. SETV or search for extraterrestrial visitors is another.
[00;05;27] AND THEN THERE'S DNA SETI.
[00;05;28] Well there's DNA SETI which is another interesting one.
[00;05;39] People are suggesting ways on how to do solar system searcges. Automated detection platforms, for example, that will respond to anomalous events, various kinds of sensors. If one wants to go back into the history of Ufology I remember as a kid reading about some sort of detector using a magnet would set off an electric bell.
[00;06;02] I DID IT, I BUILT IT.
[00;06;05] And you know, if this bell went off you'd run outside and hope it had (overlap)…
[00;06;07] I DID. BUT IT WAS A CLOUDY SKY.
[00;06;09] And if you want - And if you're a credential scientist and you want this to be taken seriously, what you do is to distance yourself from UFOs. You say we're not, we're not talking about naïve and uncritical ideas. We're talking about testable hypotheses, which is true. We're talking about available technology which is true.
[00;06;29] But because we're talking about things floating around the solar system here it's a very tough kind of a sell. There was a project I believe in Norway called the Hesseldyne project. That might not be the exact name - where they tried to use radar to track mysterious lights. I'm not sure they got very far.
[00;06;50] I THINK THEY GOT SOME DATA BUT I DON'T THINK IT'S THAT CONCLUSIVE. I THINK WHAT THEY WERE EXPECTING TO FIND WAS SOME KIND OF PLASMOID, SAME THING AS THAT PLACE IN TEXAS. SOME KIND OF STRANGE KIND OF BALL LIGHTNING THAT WAS REALIZING UP THERE.
[00;07;10] FASCINATING FOR SURE. YES I DID BUILD THAT UFO DETECTOR. I THINK I READ IT PROBABLY IN THE SAME POPULAR SCIENCE OR POPULAR MECHANICS THING THAT YOU READ. AND IT DID GO OFF AND I DID RUN OUTSIDE AND IT WAS A CLOUDY SKY SO I COULDN'T SEE ANYTHING.
[00;07;27] Well while you were doing that I was a ham radio operator. You'll find many people in SETI were interested in ham radio. Again I'm a psychologist who's interested in SETI and likes to work with people who do SETI. And oh boy were there some wonderful whistles, beeps, chirrups and growls on the shortwave.
[00;07;43] And it was only years later that I discovered that they were things like teletype machines and things like that. But whenever you heard something unusual it was really tempting to wonder if it was coming from outer space.
[00;07;57] And in a way some of what you did hear did come from a long way away. It was just static coming from elsewhere in the universe. It wasn't intelligent but gee it was a long way off to where it originated.
[00;08;09] RIGHT.THAT WHOLE NOTION OF DNA SETI, PAUL DAVIES' IDEA RIGHT?
[00;08;18] I'm not sure where it was originated.
[00;08;20] I THINK HE DID ORIGINATE IT.
[00;08;22] To my knowledge so far it hasn't panned out.
[00;08;26] IT WOULD TAKE A WHILE. BUT WHAT I WANTED TO SAY WAS THERE MAY BE A WAY COMING - BECOMING AVAILABLE SOON. YOU'VE HEARD THE TERM PASSIVE RADAR?
[00;08;38] I don't know about it.
[00;08;39] ESSENTIALLY IT USES EXISTING RADIO SOURCES. WE HAVE ONE THAT'S CONSTANT, GPS. AND ESSENTIALLY A NUMBER OF GROUND STATION RECEIVERS AND COMPUTERS THAT ARE POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DATA PROCESS AND ELIMINATE BIRDS, LARGE BIRDS AND PLANES. SO IF THERE IS SOMETHING FLYING AROUND THEN IT'S GOING TO BE PICKED UP. I SUSPECT THAT SOME DEDICATED KIND OF ENGINEERING TYPE GARAGE TINKERERS WILL PROBABLY START DOING STUFF LIKE THAT. AND IF THEY COME UP WITH SOMETHING THEN THERE MAY BE SOMETHING CONCRETE. WHAT YOU TALKED ABOUT WAS LOOKING FOR PROBES BUT WE WOULDN'T EVEN HAVE THE FAINTEST IDEA PERHAPS OF HOW THOSE PROBES WORKED. INDEED EVEN IF THEY USE ELECTROMAGNETIC RADIATION WHICH WE'RE SO FOND OF USING AND SEARCHING FOR LIFE ELSEWHERE WHICH FOR ME HONESTLY I FIND - I'M AN OLD BOY ASTRONOMER. I FIND THE SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE IN ANY FORM FASCINATING. BUT LISTENING TO SIGNALS THAT SOME … SOMEWHERE WITHIN A HUNDRED LIGHT YEARS IT SEEMS TO ME IS PREDICATED ON FINDING A CIVILIZATION WHICH IS EXACTLY AT OUR TECHNOLOGICAL LEVEL.
[00;10;17] I DON'T BELIEVE THAT WE'RE RESTRICTED BY THE LAWS OF PHYSICS. I JUST THINK WE DON'T HAVE A PROFOUND ENOUGH MODEL OF THE LAWS OF PHYSICS YET TO RULE OUT THE FACT THAT YOU CAN GET FROM POINT A TO POINT B OR YOU CAN DEVELOP POWER SUPPLIES THAT ARE, WELL POWERFUL ENOUGH TO DRIVE MACHINES TO GET YOU FROM POINT A TO POINT B. SO I THINK WE'RE ESSENTIALLY LOOKING IN THE MIRROR WHEN WE'RE DOING SETI. WE'RE LOOKING FOR PEOPLE JUST LIKE US WHO MAY BE MORE COURAGEOUS THAN WE ARE BECAUSE ASIDE FROM THAT ONE PROJECT YOU MENTIONED IN THE UKRAINE THERE'S NOBODY HERE ON THIS SIDE OF THE WATER ANYWAYS - THE SLAVIC COUNTRIES WE KNOW ARE A LITTLE BIT CRAZY - BUT ON THIS SIDE OF THE WATER NOBODY IS SERIOUSLY SUGGESTING FOR NATIONAL SECURITY REASONS THAT WE SEND SIGNALS OUT. GOD FORBID THAT THEY SHOULD BE HOSTILE.
[00;11;10] That's exactly why active SETI is controversial. And in fact there's more and more observatories that are at least considering this. There's a group, I believe it's called talktoaliens.com which will beam your message out. Don't ask about the power of the transmitter. It's probably not very great.
[00;11;34] But there is a realization particularly in the Ukraine and the person who's doing it is a respected scientist doing METI, messaging extraterrestrial intelligence, it's not 1960 anymore.
[00;11;52] There's a lot of powerful observatories that could start broadcasting to the stars. And so it raises lots of interesting issues such as who speaks for Earth? Do you want somebody who has a lot of money to speak for you? What about exomissiology where churches send out the good word?
[00;12;15] There's a wonderful Master's thesis by Tom Hoffman who talks about exomissiology and how ministers can contribute to SETI in dealing with extraterrestrial intelligence. (overlap) And there's no -
[00;12;30] Yes but you know what people understand is there's no way to regulate this.
[00;12;35] And so whereas there are very elaborate protocols to what to do if you hear E.T. what can you do if the message is from some sort of crazy leader. You know Chucky III of some mythical kingdom out there, you know, broadcasting his message you know to distant stars.
[00;12;59] THE TOWER OF POWER. (OVERLAPPING)… EVANGELICAL …
[00;13;03] (overlapping)… You don't know who's going to get Chucky’s message you don't know how they're going to react. There may be ways to deal with it but what an interesting problem -
[00;13;10] (OVERLAP) THERE'S A GOOD … ABOUT THAT. HAVE YOU SEEN IT?
[00;13;13] No I haven't.
[00;13;14] IT'S VERY FUNNY.
[00;13;15] There is a very interesting set of problems coming along with active SETI. And if the universe is quiet the way I put it is we may go from the great silence, not hearing anybody, to the great cacophony of all of the noise broadcast from Earth.
[00;13;33] So it's an interesting - an interesting set of challenges. I personally am not as worried about these sort of fierce, destructive aliens as a lot of people are because I think what we're finding out through political science is that there are a lot of forces that tend to put really aggressive societies out of business. And it's not a popular message when I talk to people who have read the morning paper. It's less popular now with what's going on in the Mideast.
[00;14;06] But there's a lot of growing evidence within political science on the kinds of conditions that lead to peaceful coexistence and why these conditions are likely to prevail. And what I have to do as a psychologist when I'm trying to imagine what E.T. is being aware of the problems of anthropocentrism and anthropomorphism and so forth
[00;14;34] What is out there that we have learned that applies in different historical epics that cuts across cultures and may cut across species. These are the things that I see as leading to fairly useful hypotheses, for follow up.
[00;14;50] SUCH AS?
[00;14;53] Such (laugh) - oh boy, cut this part.
[00;14;58] THAT'S FINE.
[00;14;59] Okay. Such as interstellar negotiation. If in fact you find a communicative civilization and if in fact there is a way to communicate in a timeframe that's meaningful, what you do is you indicate an interest in collaboration, sharing information and, getting along. But you don't just sort of give it all away at once. You wait for some sort of reciprocal concession. It's known as the Golden Rule, it's known as tit for tat.
[00;15;33] There are other names for it. It appears in science; it appears in biology and it appears in social science. It appears in religion. And given the universality of of reciprocal relationships, that's one way to start thinking about bargaining or interacting with E.T.
[00;15;55] Now that said, of course we have to be open to the possibility that ah the first civilization we discover is not really a civilization. It's some sort of berserk society that hasn't gotten very far but can certainly get rid of us. So you know, you do need to be a little bit circumspect and do some reconnaissance.
[00;16;13] But back to your comment about radio, what a lot of people tell you and what I think might be true is that even as civilizations become more advanced, if they want to discover other civilizations they might say, okay, what are some of the technologies we used earlier that would be accessible to some of the civilizations that are coming along after us and try to use that.
[00;16;37] And one thing you can't get away from if it is an available means is there also some plausibility to it. It's not looking inside Petri dishes for code messages from extraterrestrials, things like that, you know, where there's no real ah foundation at all.
[00;16;57] There is a rationale for SETI and it's what we can do and that's why I like it and support it. At the same time, there are other possibilities out there. And while we try to maintain critical reasoning and high standards we've got to be careful not to - not to squelch imagination, not to shut off possibilities that might eventually be very useful to finding and relating to extraterrestrial life.
[00;17;23] So it's a real balancing act, captured by that famous phrase that many people have used: keep an open mind but don't let your brains fall out.
[00;17;34] One of the things I've noticed is that scientists are supported by sceptics that have formed organizations, published books, sell magazines and things like that. And I read these magazines and I read these books and I find themextremely informative.
[00;17;54] But we also have to be aware of variability within the ranks of the sceptics. There are people who will do very careful research. There are people who will give extensive lip service to the idea that there are mysteries that we may be able to progress with later and admit that there are some things that we won't solve. There are also some people that are very knee jerk in terms of reacting very instantly and very negatively to anything that departs from their conception of science.
[00;18;24] And so you've got to be skeptical. The sceptical literature, I personally find a lot of value in it. I make a distinction when I look at sceptical arguments. Sceptics operate at three levels and I react to them very differently on the three levels.
[00;18;42] The first is sceptic as cop. Sceptic as cop is looking for people who are trying to hoodwink you and me. People who are lying to us, who are trying to palm off fake cures, who are trying to get us to buy into ideas that keep us from getting useful, valuable medical advice. And I just love that.
[00;19;01] I want to know about open quacks, frauds, people who are going to cheat, lie, steal, take my money. And I love to read about that.
[00;19;09] Second level, going up a notch, okay, is when sceptics act as scientists. Okay, and that's fine but I disagree with those sceptics who say it's all on you, it's all your burden to support your claim. If you're going to be a sceptic who wants to play science you have to find evidence that supports your position. You have to find problems with the other person's position. You can't just say you did this wrong. You have to come up with proof.
[00;19;38] So at the level of philosophersceptics are in the same game as everybody else, and they need to play it by the same rules. At the highest level where sceptic as philosopher you get into things like is there a God or not. Well at this level we are all same. We all have our opinions.
[00;20;01] I love the cops, I love the scientists. Sceptics are scientists when they act as scientists. When we get into philosophical issues nobody has an edge as far as I'm concerned.
[00;20;10] ALRIGHT.THE HISTORY OF THE UFO PHENOMENA. THERE HAVE BEEN CERTAIN INDIVIDUALS WHO HAVE PLAYED THE ROLE OF - WELL DO YOU DISTINGUISH BETWEEN ANY OF YOUR THREE SCEPTICS AND THE TERM DEBUNKER?
[00;20;36] I find many sceptics to be very thoughtful individuals who really care about what's right and what's true and who put a lot of work into ascertaining it. When the word debunker pops up, I immediately think of someone whose mind is immediately set, that they will tolerate no deviance from their personal views on what science is and could be, and that they do not hesitate to use ridicule and hostility in their attacks.
[00;21;09] And to my way of thinking the word debunke has a very negative connotation because you're talking about somebody who is set in their views and will essentially use any tactic to maintain them.
[00;21;26] WOULD YOU SAY THAT THAT TERM APPLIES TO GOVERNMENT?
[00;21;31] I, I don't want to try to judge specific individuals like that. But my understanding and recollection of Menzel's activities was that he was merciless in dealing with people who were interested in UFO phenomena and that some of his explanations were hard to believe. I believe it was Menzel who came up with the firefly explanation.
[00;22;02] WELL THIS IS THE POINT. I THINK ON THE POPULAR LEVEL IN FACT I BELIEVE, NOT IN THE REALM OF SCIENCE BECAUSE IN FACT MENZEL BECAUSE OF HIS REPUTATION WITHIN THE SCIENTIFIC COMMUNITY, WAS TAKEN VERY SERIOUSLY. AND HIS WORD, WHAT HE MANAGED TO ACCOMPLISH IN TERMS OF THROWING SCIENCE OFF OF ANY KIND OF SERIOUS INVESTIGATION OF THE PHENOMENA HAD A LOT TO DO WITH IT. BUT IN THE POPULAR LEVEL WHEN JOE BLOW WHO PICKS UP THE NATIONAL ENQUIRER OR WHO READS MENZEL'S EXPLANATION WHICH TO HIM DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE -
[00;22;45] I think with respect to sceptics, one way of looking at it is that both bothUfologists and sceptics vary in terms of how much homework they do. And if I'm going to read something I prefer to read something by or listen to somebody who's done their homework.
[00;23;01] On the sceptic side, I read James Oberg, Robert Schaeffer, and many others.
[00;23;09] Pardon? You wouldn't agree with me on that? Okay. I love their books. Randall Estes and McCone did some interesting stuff on abductions. But they at least go out and try to find and assess the data. People may disagree with what the data means but they don't just offer pronouncements without trying to provide some kind of evidence to back themup.
[00;23;35] I think that for many sceptics it's immediate knee-jerk kind of reaction. No thought goes into it whatsoever. Frankly, I find it kind of insulting when someone says to me, well I live near Reagan National Airport and I know what landing lights look like. You know I live near Sacramento airport and a longer list of other airports than I care to recite.Many people are familiar with landing lights, you know.
[00;24;04] Some sceptical explanations strike me as not particularly convincing. Or you know, maybe someone who's never seen an airplane or never looked at Venus, never been out at night might be confused by them.
[00;24;18] NEVER SEEN A METEOR UP CLOSE.
[00;24;20] Meteors are exciting and fun to watch.
[00;24;22] YEAH, YEAH.BACK TO SCHAEFFER. HE ON HIS WEBSITE ESSENTIALLY DISMISSES MACABEE ON THE TRENT PHOTOS. YOU KNOW THE TRENT PHOTOS?
[00;24;33] I've seen some of Maccabee’shis stuff. But I'm really not in a position to make -
[00;24;39] ALRIGHT, THIS IS FOR ME TO MAKE A POINT. BASICALLY SCHAEFFER TOOK A LOOK AT THE TRENT PHOTOS. YOU'RE FAMILIAR WITH THE TRENT PHOTOS, THE FARMING COUPLE UP IN OREGON WHO IN 1950 SNAPPED -
[00;24;54] Yes, yes, yes, sort of a high peaked thing yeah.
[00;24;58] EXACTLY. THAT THE PHOTO EXPERT FOR CONDON REALLY COULDN'T POKE ANY HOLES IN. AND EVEN AFTER INTERVIEWING THE COUPLE FELT THAT IT WAS PROBABLY ONE OF THE BEST CASES THAT THEY HAD TO LOOK AT. THAT IT WAS - I FORGET HIS EXACT WORDS BUT IT WAS LIKE THE CONFLUENCE OF ALL FACTORS REALLY - THE ONE WITH NO READY EXPLANATION. ANYWAY, SCHAEFFER TOOK A LOOK AT THESE PICTURES. THEY WERE SUPPOSEDLY TAKEN IN THE EVENING AND SAID BUT THERE'S A SHADOW UNDER THE EAVES OF THE SHED AND THEREFORE THE PICTURES WERE TAKEN IN THE MORNING.
[00;25;38] NOW I SERIOUSLY DOUBT WHETHER SCHAEFFER HAS EVER LOOKED AT SHADOWS. I'M A PHOTOGRAPHER, I LOOK AT LIGHT ALL THE TIME. AND WHEN I READ THAT EXPLANATION I THOUGHT, THAT'S SILLY. I MEAN I LOOKED AT THE SHADOWS IN THE PICTURE. THEY WERE INDISTINCT. THEY'RE NOT SHARP LINE SHADOWS FROM A POINT OF LIGHT AT ALL.
[00;25;57] AND YOU KNOW I IMMEDIATELY THOUGHT, WHAT A LOAD OF HOOEY. I WAS JUST UP IN OREGON AND I WENT TO THE FARM. THE SHED IS STILL STANDING. I WAS THERE JUST BEFORE SUNSET AND I FILMED THE EXACT SAME SHADOWS THAT ARE IN THE PICTURES UNDER THE EAVES.
[00;26;16] BUT IT'S ONE THING TO DISH OUT READY EXPLANATIONS. IT'S ANOTHER TO ACTUALLY GO AND LOOK TO SATISFY YOURSELF WHETHER IN FACT SHADOWS UNDER EAVES IN THE EVENING FROM THE EASTERN SKY ARE POSSIBLE. ANY PHOTOGRAPHER CAN TELL YOU OF COURSE THEY'RE POSSIBLE BECAUSE THE SKY IS MUCH LIGHTER THAN THE GROUND. SO I FEEL LIKE GOING AND TRACKING SCHAEFFER DOWN. HE'S DOWN NEAR SAN DIEGO AND TURNING THE CAMERA ON AND THROWING SOME PRINTS AND SAY, GUESS WHAT TIME OF DAY THESE WERE TAKEN? AND IT DIDN'T EVEN REQUIRE CLOUDS THAT MACABEE REBUTS HIM WITH AND SAID, WELL ANY CLOUDS IN THE EASTERN SKY WOULD HAVE CAST ENOUGH LIGHT. NO THERE WAS NO CLOUDS IN THE EASTERN SKY. I PHOTOGRAPHED THE EASTERN SKY TOO. THERE WERE SOME STRINGY CIRRUS CLOUDS WAY UP.
[00;27;05] AND HE DISMISSES MACABEE SAYING HE WAS WRONG ON TWO OTHER CASES, THEREFORE WE CAN'T TRUST ANYTHING HE HAS TO SAY. I'M SORRY, MR. SCHAEFFER, YOU'VE NEVER BEEN WRONG ON ANYTHING? WELL YOU WERE WRONG ABOUT THE EAVES SO WE CAN'T TRUST ANYTHING YOU HAVE TO SAY EITHER.
[00;27;21] THAT'S SILLY. THAT'S SILLY AD HOMINEM ARGUMENTS AND I DON'T HAVE TIME FOR AD HOMINEM -
[00;27;26] Yeah there are a lot of ad hominem arguments out there. I read recently or - I'll just say it - commentary on the paranormal in general. Sit down and read a bunch of books about the paranormal and say, gee this is pretty convincing. They really developed a case. Then you sit down and read a bunch of sceptic books. Gee, this is really convincing. They pretty well demolished the case.
[00;27;51] And then you stand back and look at it and say, gosh, we don't really have answers to all of these things right now do we? And that's my feeling about a lot of stuff that I read, see and hear about.
[00;28;03] My point in terms of - my belief is, is that sceptics vary in terms of the amount of intelligence, energy, research that they put in. Some of them have impressed me more than others. I personally am not a photo analyst
[00;28;21] or good at detecting lies on telephones and so forth. But what does strike me is that from both sides is that oftentimes there's this absolutely resolute view that one is correct and that anybody who thinks otherwise is stupid, lying, delusional or some sort of saboteur trying toundermine science and the progress of world history.
[00;28;50] And to me that doesn't do any good for anybody other than maybe make you feel good or look good among your immediate friends.
[00;30;57] You know who would be a wonderful interviewee? Have you ever heard of George Hansen who wrote a book on the trickster and the paranormal?
[00;31;08] Oh it is wonderful. It’s it's not widely available. I just doted on every page. And wecommunicated via email. But he's got a lot of information. He lives in I think New Jersey.
[00;31;26] OH REALLY, OKAY. I WILL BE GOING UP THE EAST COAST.
[00;31;34] I try not to comment too much on personalities. I certainly do feel that there are some figures that were very influential in … Ufology and certainly Menzel and Condon were two of them and they're both controversial. People coming at it from a pro-ufological point of view would certainly more than agree with this.
[00;32;02] I mean they're favourite targets for people in who don’t want to squelch discussion. I guess I'd put it that way so -
[00;32;13] YEAH. BUT UNFORTUNATELY I THINK BOTH OF THEM HAD MAJOR EFFECT, LIKE MAJOR EFFECT WITHIN THE HALLS OF SCIENCE. BECAUSE MOST SCIENTISTS REALLY DON'T HAVE TIME TO SIT DOWN AND READ THROUGH THE LITERATURE AND READ THROUGH THE REPORTS AND GET A GOOD IDEA OF THE HISTORY OF THE BEST INCIDENTS, THE MOST COMPELLING INCIDENTS. SO THEY WOULD SIT BACK AND JUST TAKE MENZEL OR CONDON AT THEIR WORD AND THAT'S IT. THERE'S NOTHING TO THIS AND WE DON'T HAVE ANYTHING TO INVESTIGATE. THAT UNFORTUNATELY IS ONE OF THE THINGS THAT HAPPENED.
[00;32;52] I THINK SCIENCE HAS REALLY - I UNDERSTAND THE REASON FOR IT BUT MY OWN PERSONAL FEELING IS THAT THEY HAVE NOT FULFILLED THEIR RESPONSIBILITY. IF PEOPLE WHO ARE SERIOUS OBSERVERS ARE REPORTING EXTRAORDINARY PHENOMENA THEN I THINK IT'S WITHIN THE REALM OF SCIENCE TO ATTEMPT TO INVESTIGATE IT. IT'S UNFORTUNATE THAT IT'S NOT POSSIBLE FOR POLITICAL REASONS THESE DAYS. BUT I REALLY LAY THAT AT THE FEET OF SOMEBODY LIKE DONALD MENZEL AND EDWARD CONDON.
[00;33;31] Well one of the themes in the early history of Ufology was that the UFOs weren't actually there for investigation but the people who reported them were. And this is what led to a whole group of psychological kinds of interpretations and they were essentially negative ones. The person is stupid, they're lying, they're drunk, they don't know what they're talking about, they are crazy.
[00;33;52] Carl Goldberg wrote a wonderful article on this and how in the' 50s that if you were found in Washington, D.C. and started talking about flying saucers you'd end up in St. Elizabeth's Hospital.
[00;34;06] And you know there's a little more - maybe a little more tolerance now. But it evolved that for the people who have the experiences strongly believe that it was not something only in their heads. I saw it. It went right over there. It did this. It couldn't have been this, it couldn't have been that. I don't know what it was but it was not a planet or landing light or bird or whatever.
[00;34;34] But then other people hear the story. They didn't see it, they weren't there. They weren't part of it. And they look at the person and say what's with this person's memory or personality or whatever that leads them to say this.
[00;34;49] And psychological explanation let scientists off the hook right? There's no real challenge to science. There's no real challenge to what you currently believe because it's this person's problem. There is something wrong with them. So you don't have to rethink things like interstellar travel, inter-dimensionality, or whatever might or might not be out there.
[00;35;10] Personal experiences have tremendous impacts on people. I remember one person writing about how he was teaching a course on Ufology and one of the colleagues thought this was absolutely terrible, you know, wasting the taxpayers' money and time… The writer thought he was helping students deal with philosophical issues and build critical thinking and so forth.
[00;35;39] And one day the writer’s colleague was driving along and an orange ball went right along beside her on the freeway and then there was instant change. What was it? Could it be from another planet?
[00;35;55] And what was the difference? Well the difference was that something happenedher and she looked at all the sceptical, you might say, explanations, rational explanations that she could come up with. None of them fit. And all of a sudden she developed an enthusiastic interest in UFOs.
[00;36;11] And when we, we talk to people who are interested in UFOs and they recount their experience, we've got to remember that we weren't there, okay. It's not saying that it really was little green men but we weren't there. We may not be able to reconstruct the event as well as we think we can. And ah therefore it's very difficult to draw a firm conclusion.
[00;36;32] We might believe it could not have been an extraterrestrial visitor but in terms of how it looked to that person it was not easily dismissed. You've got to show some humility here even though you don't agree with what their interpretation.
[00;36;48] And particularly when they say, goshI don't know what it was, you know. Okay, we don't know what it was. Why not leave it that way. Is it absolutely necessary, you know, to keep bearing in on it to come up with a prosaic explanation? I don't think so.
[00;37;03] OR TO COME UP WITH A PSYCHOLOGICAL EXPLANATION.
[00;37;05] Sure, sure.
[00;37;07] THAT'S DIRTY POOL. IT'S UNFORTUNATE BUT IT DOES GO ON.
[00;37;12] Psychological factors enter in but there are also external things that enter in. It's a combination of the observer and what goes on out there. You can't ignore what goes on out there. So it's - it's very difficult -
[00;37;26] ARE YOU AT ALL INTERESTED IN KIND OF TRANSPERSONAL EXPLANATIONS, ESPECIALLY FOR ABDUCTIONS?
[00;37;33] I tend to side with the sceptics on abductions, to tell you the truth. And the reason that I side with the sceptics on abductions is this is an area where psychology and anthropology have made a lot of progress in the last 10, 15 years in terms of, of cultural narratives and how memory works and these advances help us understand abductions.
[00;38;01] HANG ON ONE SECOND.
[00;38;36] Okay we were talking about -
[00;38;37] MEMORY AND ABDUCTION.
[00;38;38] Memory and abductions. Okay.
[00;38;50] Abductions is an area where I tend to side with the sceptics. It's an area where advances in anthropology, psychology, neurology actually are pointing more and morein the direction that although the person believes this is a real experience but it is not.
[00;39;13] And we've moved way beyond the early kinds of arguments focusing on arguments that abduction memories implanted under hypnosis.We are learning much more about the frailties and inadequacies of the human memory. It's not absolutely terrible but it's really easy for memory to be altered, ideas to be inserted, and memories lost.
[00;39;36] And this is backed not just by but through actual experimental kinds of research. And there are differences in information processing including differences between abductees and non-abductees in terms of what constitutes memory.
[00;39;57] And the easiest way to summarize this is to say that what we take as memory is a mixture of things that have actually happened to us, things that have happened to people that we know and things that we've heard about through the media. We keep the idea but forget where it came from.
[00;40;15] I have several stories I love to tell that I discovered in later life had to do with my family, but didn't happen to me. They happened to somebody else in the family but I took it over as happening to me.
[00;40;27] But very seriously that there is a picture emerging of the kinds of psychological forces that could give people a recollection of an abduction.
[00;40;39] I had the great privilege and pleasure of talking to John Mack at some length. I know that he's been blasted a number of times by sceptics and even some people within his own institution. I thought he was a brilliant individual. I was impressed with his approach and particularly liked his second book UFO book, Passport to the Cosmos.
[00;41;05] If you look at the second book, what it does is it saysmaybe abductions aren't real in the sense that people are being beamed up to through ceiling. He found, for example, that somebody would report being abducted. Someone else in the same room at the same time and they saw the abductee asleep on the couch.
[00;41;26] But what Mack did is he attached tremendous psychological significance to abductions and I think, he's referred to as a positivist as compared to a realist who believes gee this is really happening.
[00;41;41] And I think that abductions have transformational effects for some people. Some are terrified, some don't make sense of it. But in the hands of ah somebody like Mack who would help people work through and understand these experiences the outcome could be positive.
[00;42;00] There have certainly been other cases where people have had anomalistic or mystical kinds of experiences that had positive effects. I think that one of the reasons for Mack's success in working with individual abductees was, was that he did see it as positive and he helped other people to see it in the same positive light.
[00;42;22] But in terms of the realist position that thousands of people are being abducted and slowly worked on, I just don't see the evidence there (phone interruption)
[00;42;54] Abductions is an area where we are starting to make sense, where psychologists, and anthropologists, do good research are starting to make sense of it. We can identify at least some of the - some of the causes.
[00;43;12] With the realists, they like to point to things such as convergence of detail. But everybody knows the abduction narrative. If you look at various books that have been written about abductions there tends to be almost a forced convergence of detail. There tends to be suppression, you might say, or at least a downplaying of all the other kinds of odd experiences that the abductee may have had.
[00;43;44] That's not saying - I cannot say categorically no one has ever had contact with an extraterrestrial. I cannot say categorically that people two billion years beyond us might be having problems with elementary genetics.
[00;44;00] But I can say I'm very, very sceptical. I need a lot more convincing before I go along with abduction claims. And I'm very open to things like interstellar travel and communication and so forth. So my negativity towards abduction reports is not just a negativity towards life elsewhere in the universe.
[00;44;19] And while I'm on this topic, let me say I would hope that we wouldn't all come to the same conclusion prematurely.
[00;44;34] What I argue in a book that I recently completed is that it's very important to have a diversity of viewpoints. It's very important to get a lot of ideas out on the table. Of course they have to be scrutinized and evaluated. But if we limit ourselves to a very narrow range of possibilities, we're going to become stagnant, we're going to miss things that are very important. And some of the conflicts that we see are among people who are religious, people who are scientific, UFO buffs, people with very different perspectives.
[00;45;16] We want to have ideas put out. We want to have them discussed. We want to have them evaluated. And you know, eventually bad ones will disappear, or be recast. There will always be ideas out there at the fringe. Some of them will make it, some won't. But we don't want to suppress creativity.
[00;45;32] May not want to spend a lot of time on them, may not want to dedicate your career to them. But you want to have new ideas.
[00;45;40] VERY GOOD POINT. I THINK THE ABDUCTION PHENOMENA IS MANY, MANY THINGS.
[00;45;59] Yes, yes.
[00;47;02] JOHN WAS THE ONLY PERSON AT THAT TIME WHO WAS MAINTAINING THAT THERE WAS SOME KIND OF CONNECTION WITH EVENT LEVEL REALITY WHICH HE KIND OF MOVES AWAY FROM A LITTLE BIT IN PASSPORT TO THE COSMOS. I TALKED WITH HIM SIX MONTHS BEFORE HE DIED.
[00;47;18] Oh what a horrible thing, his death. David I'm glad you brought up the imaginal realm. I have trouble getting my brain around theimaginal realm. I understand it sort of, you know, half what we're use to, half something else.
[00;47;46] But what's intriguing is that a lot of very distinguished scientists are talking about, you know, hidden levels of reality, multiple dimensions, ideas like that.
[00;47;59] And is it something to be taken seriously? Is it a cop-out? I think it would be really interesting to see how the imaginal realm is evaluated a hundred years from now. There is some very fascinating thinking in modern physics or the new physics about paranormal phenomena.
[00;48;30] No it's not proven. No, not everybody accepts it. But there’s some really innovative thinking. I've been very influenced by Dean Radin's books. And I often think when I read debunking of parapsychology if debunkers have ever taken time to read some of the original articles, once againagain, some have, some haven't.
[00;48;54] But there's some very intriguing stuff that ah might have some very interesting implications. We can't see these implications as confirmed or proven or but it would be real interesting to see what another hundred years of physics comes up with.
[00;49;11] I I simply don't buy the idea that science is coming to an end. I've read papers on that and I just don't buy it. Scientists are finding new stuff all the time.
[00;49;22] YEAH IT'S USUALLY A REVOLUTION EVERY COUPLE OF HUNDRED YEARS IN SCIENCE. WE'VE TALKED ALREADY FOR ABOUT AN HOUR AND A HALF.
[00;49;46] LET'S TALK ABOUT FOLKLORE, THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FOLKLORE AND UFOs.
[00;49;49] There is a tremendous tie-in between folklore and UFOs. Many of the elements that we find in myth are carried forward into stories and beliefs about UFOs. Jacques Vallee was one of the first to note similarities between UFO pilots and passengers, gremlins, elves and other little people yore.
[00;50;12] To me when I look at the kinds of myths that enter into Ufology I see some fairly powerful myths having to do with superior beings beyond Earth, bringing us principles of moral guidance, intervening in humanity's progress, themes like this.
.[00;50;27] And in a sense, for some people the creatures that fly around or manage UFOs are today's equivalent of yesterday's gods. They influence our beliefs, they control our destinies, they intervene in biological and cultural evolution, at least according to some of these stories.
[00;50;49] So I see a continuity of sorts between religion, folklore, and many UFO stories. And actually in the scientific search for extraterrestrial intelligence we're looking for something that's a little bit beyond ourselves or greatly beyond ourselves, something older, wiser, and more intelligent.
[00;51;10] There are similarities between a god, issuing orders from above, benevolent space brothers showing up to tell us not to wipe out each other with nuclear weapons, and benign broadcasters from other civilizations willing to share their advanced technology with Earth.
[00;51;31] Now you've got to be very careful because not everybody looks at it that way and certainly drawing parallels between the gods of yesteryear, mythical characters and radio broadcasters would get some pretty negative reactions.
[00;51;53] But to give you an example of the kinds of themes that we see carried through, is the idea of worthiness.. The idea that E.T. will be receptive to communicating with us when we prove that we're worthy by being able to get along with one another and handle advanced knowledge, these kinds of things.
[00;52;15] This is very similar to the message of the space brothers. It's a concept of redemption. Do the right thing and you will be rewarded.
[00;52;24] It's very, very hard when you get to the frontier to keep science, religion and myth straight. And I think that you'll find people from many different positions acknowledging that it's very easy to slide over the line and acknowledge that this happens from time to time.
[00;52;43] The gods of the SETI you might say are naturally evolved organisms. They're the product of physical and biological laws that prevail throughout the universe. They happen to be older than us and because they've passed through their period of technological adolescence without killing each other off they're probably a lot smarter.
[00;53;07] So E.T. is not to be confused with some sort of non-material being that has been around forever. But I can't help noticing certain parallels.
[00;53;18] YEAH, YEAH.INTERESTING. YOU KNOW THE WHOLE ABDUCTION THING WITH FAIRIES … THE WHOLE ABDUCTION THING WITH JINS ALSO TIES IN. THEY'RE FASCINATING PARALLELS.
[00;53;37] Space age versions of old stories is how folklorists would look at this.
[00;53;44] YEAH. PASSPORT TO MAGONIA WAS QUITE A SIGNIFICANT BOOK BECAUSE I THINK IT WAS THE FIRST TIME THAT ANYBODY DREW ANY PARALLELS WHATSOEVER.
[00;53;56] I believe so in the United States. And they did a wonderful job of pointing out the similarities. And one of the, one of the great points that Dr. Vallee raises in this book is that the absurdity of the behaviour of the alleged UFO travellers, the paradoxes, the strangeness tend to invalidate the observation and discourage scientists from showing serious kinds of interest.
[00;54;42] Did it really happen? Well most people would probably say no. But does that mean nothing happened? Enough intrigue and mystery to keep one going as long as one chooses.
[00;54;53] IT HAS BEEN POINTED OUT THAT THE CASES HE SELECTED IN PASSPORT TO MAGONIA WERE SELECTED. THAT THERE WERE PLENTY OF CASES THAT HE DIDN'T INCORPORATE WHICH DIDN'T REFLECT THE SAME DEGREE OR SAME ELEMENTS OF ABSURDITY AND THINGS LIKE THAT.
[00;55;06] That's true. Not every report has a high level of absurdity. I believe it was Vallee who pointed out that you have these two dimensions. You have this credibility dimension and the strangeness dimension. And the interesting thing is to find something that's both strange and credible.
[00;55;27] Now this is based on memory so I hope I don't make a mistake here. I was driving from Interstate 5 to Highway 101 through the central part of California and I was listening to a radio talk show that was discussing UFOs. I would say this was probably at some point in the '80s.
[00;55;44] And they had people calling in. And the first person who called in was obviously very emotional, very perplexed by what he had seen. But what he had seen was sort of a flickering blue light behind a hill. That's all. What came to my mind was something like a welder's torch.
[00;56;04] So here you have something that seemed believable but there's not that much that's strange about it. The second person who called in claimed to have been privy to secrets at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, claimed that his father had been stationed there in 1947, that he was a small child at that time.
[00;56;27] He gave a lot of intriguing details about the aliens that were brought in. I think one of the points he made was that it was three and a half bodies. Somehow three and a half bodies seems much more believable than 3 or 4. It sort of has a certain graphic significance. He was planning to write the whole story.
[00;56;46] This fit in with myths or stories that I heard before. Quite strange.Didn't quite know what to make about it. The third person who called in was a woman. And she talked about seeing angels dancing among the grapefruit at … supermarket, see. Well that's it in a nutshell.
[00;57;07] There's stuff that's not that strange but strikes somebody as unusual and different and is something they wonder about.
[00;57;22] And to a way I thought that having read a lot of stuff about UFOs even in those days, that gee whiz, this really summarized the field as a whole, these combinations of strangeness and credibility.And so if you want to wrap your arms around the phenomena as a whole, what do you do?
[00;57;36] Ufology does not suffer from too little information. It suffers from too much information. It's almost impossible to sift through it, okay. And what happens is it becomes even worse when we become highly absorbed in an individual case. It starts creating circles, circles, more circles in our minds.
[00;57;58] If you look at SETI, SETI's advantage is that it goes from one observation to the next. It has clear-cut criteria for deciding what is and what is not of interest. If something is of interest, then you back up and look at it again, okay?
[00;58;14] And I make - I make a comparison here to panhandlers. SETI is a successful panhandler. An unsuccessful panhandler is a person who sticks with a prospect long after it's clear he is not going to get a nickel. This is what happens with many old UFO cases.
[00;58;30] Maybe something happened, maybe not. But I don't think you're going to get very far with it. SETI moves immediately on to the next prospect. And this gives them an edge because they can keep moving forwards rather than rerunning history and trying to solve mysteries that are becoming more complicated every year.
[00;58;50] I ONLY DISAGREE WITH YOU IN YOUR ASSERTION THAT SETI IS A SUCCESSFUL PANHANDLER. (CHUCKLE)
[00;58;56] Okay. Let's say that both Ufology and SETI can that the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. But I think methodologically the ability to sift through looking for that needle in the cosmic haystack, is good. SETI does have an advantage there. All of our approaches have limitations.
[00;59;18] EVEN IF THE EXPERIMENT IS ILL FORMED.
[00;59;23] I think it's -
[00;59;24] IT'S DEFINITELY AN EXPERIMENT (OVERLAP) …
[00;59;26] It's definitely a discovery and I think it's the best we can do now. And I would be really disappointed if it were to stop. And if other people find other good search methods I would be very happy to see those applied. I really would.
[00;59;42] GREAT, AL. THANKS.