The Electromagnetic Hypothesis (EMH)

My contribution to UFOs and Popular Culture: An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth, ed. James R. Lewis, Santa Barbara:  ABC-CLIO, 2000.

A line of thought parallel to the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH:  the theory that some UFOs are spaceships from other planets) might be called the electromagnetic hypothesis (EMH): the theory that UFOs and close-encounter experiences are caused by electromagetic phenomena and their interaction with the human nervous system. The EMH, as developed since the 1970s by its more noted proponents—Michael Persinger, Paul Devereux, Albert Budden, and their co-researchers and colleagues—draws on diverse disciplines (e.g., Budden lists medicine and clinical ecology, electromagnetics, bioelectromagnetics, neurology, psychology, physical geology, meteorology, atmospheric physics, and electrical engineering, among others) in order to explain not only UFO phenomena but apparitions in general, including hauntings, poltergeist activity, and even visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In general, the EMH proposes that fields of electromagnetic radiation (EMR) generated by natural or artificial sources can cause light-phenomena and a wide range of physiological and psychological effects, which, when combined with the background beliefs of the witness, create encounter experiences of the kind mentioned above.

As developed primarily by Persinger and Devereux, the EMH relates fault lines and tectonic activity with UFO reports and close encounters. Their studies purport to discover a close correlation between not only fault lines, seismic activity, and UFO reports, but also between these geological features and light phenomena, such as earthquake lights, mountain peak discharge, and ball lightning. Though many geologists and physicists question the nature and even existence of such phenomena, EMH proponents refer to measurements of a range of EMR generated by tectonic stresses and to eye-witness descriptions (and even photographic evidence) of unclassified aerial phenomena (UAPs). The appearance, behaviour, and visible effects of UAPs are those generally attributed to UFOs. UAPs appear as opaque, metallic, or variously colored, glowing spheres, ovoids, squiggles, or even inverted Christmas trees. Being almost without mass, they accelerate and stop instantaneously, hover, or fly in straight or irregular lines, achieving speeds clocked, in one instance, at 600 m.p.h. Being a kind of electrical plasma phenomena, they appear on radar and emit a broad band of EMR, giving rise to electromagnetic effects associated with flying saucers, namely burns, scorching, melting, and electrical interference, as well as those more subliminal effects on the nervous system that result in the imagery and narrative of a close encounter experience. Being a mysterious (if natural) phenoma, UAPs and their haunts (as it were) have been associated with many ancient or traditional holy sites, such as stone circles in England and Wales, monasteries and temples in Greece and China, and holy mountains, like Mount Shasta in present-day California. Tectonic stresses and the earth tremors that result from them have likewise been long associated with marked behaviour in animals, giving rise to research into the possible causal grounds for this connection between geological activity and the nervous systems of higher organisms, including human beings.

Michael Persinger and others have experimented extensively with the effects of EMR on the brain. Persinger, for example, has developed a chamber wherein a subject is seated and fitted with a specially-designed helmet that induces small changes in the electromagnetic fields of targetted regions of the brain thereby modifying the electrochemical reactions of the neurons, resulting in modifications of consciousness. Depending on the strength of the field, the region of the brain stimulated, the subject’s background, and even the imagery decorating the chamber, subjects report a wide range of perceptual effects, including intense emotions of fear or anger, flashing lights, feelings of being observed by an unseen presence, sensations of sudden intense cold or of being touched or moved, etc. More extreme reactions include auditory or visual hallucinations, such as hearing authorative God-like voices or the appearance of skinny, wax-like humanoids. That these effects are those associated with ghost sightings, poltergeist hauntings, and UFO abduction experiences have led researchers to propose that the energies released by geological activity or perhaps by the light phenomena supposedly caused by this activity lead to experiences interpreted by the experiencer as an encounter with a ghost, UFO and its pilots, or with some other form of apparition whose character and behaviour is culturally-determined by the experiencer’s background.

Proceeding from the research of Persinger and others, Albert Budden has expanded the refined the EMH to include artificial sources of EMR and the electromagetic pollution they are seen as causing. The historically-recent increase of  EMR in the environment has resulted in an “electromagnetic smog” from sources such as wireless communications technologies and radar, power lines, high-tension cables, transformers, substations, and junction boxes. Anxiety over electromagnetic pollution is hardly a fringe phenomenon, as the health effects of EMR have been the subject of studies and concern both within single nations (e.g., a Swedish study of 50,000 subjects to determine a link between proximity to high-tension power pylons and forms of cancer) and internationally (e.g., studies conducted by the World Health Organization) [An example of more up-to-date data can be read here]. By natural and artificial sources of EMR, singly or together, along with other factors, Budden attempts to explain in detail how “hallucinatory / visionary perceptions are caused ultimately by the actions of [electromagnetic] fields in the environment on the human system, although physiological factors that are involved point to synergistic mechanisms.” In Budden’s view, artificial and natural electromagnetic fields  interact to produce those UAPs his coworkers identify as the source of UFO reports and close encounter experiences.

 

Books for further reading:

For research and results in the EMH specifically, see:

Budden, Albert. UFOs:  Psychic Close Encounters (London:  Blandford, 1995).

Electric UFOs (London:  Blandford, 1998).

Devereux P., Roberts, A. and Clarke, D. Earth Lights Revelation (London:  Blandford, 1989).

Persinger, M. A. and Lafreneire, G. F. Space Time Transients and Unusual Events (Chicago:  Nelson Hall, 1977).

 

For the thesis that UFOs and aliens are an aspect of the general theory of apparitions see:

Evans, Hilary. Gods–Spirits–Cosmic Guardians (Wellingborough:  The Aquarian Press, 1987).

Vallée, Jacques. Passport to Magonia (Chicago:  H. Regnery Co., 1969).

Dimensions (New York:  Ballantine, 1989).

48 thoughts on “The Electromagnetic Hypothesis (EMH)

  1. Brian,

    This makes several assumptions which at this point are “indeterminant”. The quantum physicists will say the reality we see isn’t the reality that is. So one could assume that sure an “external agent” may be interacting with what we perceive… but tell me how that would work as “science”? This isn’t a philosophical “notion” for your hypothesis to work it must be “measurable” or “disprovable”. Maybe I am misunderstanding but it appears to me [dumb fellow that I am] your hypothesis is neither.

    My dad had a theorem [I think Rich Reynolds posted it some where over in his plethora of blogs]. His idea was that “fundamental constants” might not be fixed and that what we know are only their “resting states”. By being able to change two of these constants all of the weird antics of “UAPs / UFOs” become possible as physical capabilities of a physical object. Changing our “constants” might also be able to change perceptions since it would transcend what we know about EM. [See the UFO EM analysis over at Rich’s blogs. What we “see” are “EM effects” but they cannot be caused by any kind of EM technology we possess.]

    Cynics [not actually skeptics] like the “Iron Skeptic” will say your or my “hog wash” is no better than any of the other “hypotheses” out there since neither is actually disprovable or measurable [with a convenient forget fullness that the Higgs Boson wasn’t measurable until CERN built a special tool to do so].

    Of course that kind of skeptic [being a professor of (the) Concrete] does not accept Quantum Theory and I’m not even sure if they accept Godel’s Proof [that as a general principle that in any axiomatic system unprovable assumptions are made… since after all mathematics isn’t provable either.. which when applied as an adjunct to Systems Theory makes what we “know” just empirical knowledge waiting for the next paradigm shift… Truth shifts and with it eventually our philosophies follow.].

    Regards!

    Joel Crook

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    1. Joel, thanks for your interest and solid, respectful comments.

      Some clarification: the Electromagnetic (so-called) Hypothesis is not my own, and it is a “hypothesis” as much as the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis is. The word ‘hypothesis’ here clearly, as you observe, is not used in the way it is used in the natural sciences, but in a more common language manner, where it is as rigorous as the everyday use of the word ‘theory’.

      Moreover, the post is merely the entry I wrote on what others (Devereaux, Persinger, Budden et al.) have proposed , for the book UFOS and Popular Culture: an Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth (2000). I therefore have no stake in its potential truth or falsity.

      It does however function in what I call the UFO myth and for me in the long poem I am composing inspired by that myth in a number of poetically compelling ways. In no particular order, it allows for the UFO to be included in the more general theory of apparitions, which opens the myth to more material and therefore more resonance, along the lines that Jung embeds the UFO in his own “theory” (!) of archetypes and his analytic psychology; that these apparitions and their messages (concerning environmental matter, for example) might be caused by EM disturbances links the phenomenon to the Earth’s ELF waves–it’s as if the earth herself were communicating as best she can concerning what we’re doing; and the happy coincidence of the acronym ‘ELF’ allows me to connect UFOs to Fairy encounters and abductions, as Vallee and others do. So the work here is imaginative more than intellectual let alone “scientific”.

      That being said, the EMH is not without some physical dimensions. Persinger HAS experimentally demonstrated the effects of low frequency EM frequencies on the temporal lobe, with sufficient success as his findings have been marshalled to explain abduction experiences, at least some. As well, he and a collaborator mapped UFO sightings during a certain wave together with seismic activity and discovered a very strong correlation, suggesting, but hardly proving, that these sightings might in part be attributable to peizoelectric discharges, a phenomenon observed and even photographed, but poorly understood and hardly a proven physical phenomenon.

      UFOlogy is a curious discourse: it remains at this point a pseudoscience, surely, but not all investigations need be or can be judged by the yardstick of the natural sciences. It seems that only English reserves ‘science’ for the experimental sciences, while ‘science’ in French and ‘Wissenschaft’ in German, for example, refer as well to any methodical discipline, for example, Literaturwissenschaft is what we might call literary criticism and les sciences humaines famously include anthropology. UFOlogy is perhaps most interesting as an object of study itself than as a pursuit.

      At any rate, it’s all at least grist for my imaginative and scholarly mill. My wissenschaftlich engagement with the matter is via the sociology of religion.

      Thanks, again, for your intervention.

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      1. It may be that the “poetics of consciousness” lies somewhere on the spectrum of “forces”. The question in that case does does “is” (that is consciousness / being) come from “It” [Thing / Brain]?

        I’m sure a hard line cynic would choke on the notion that somehow philosophy or fokelore or poetics has something to do with science. But who is to say it does not? Within ten years I’d say that our AIs will be writing credible stories / poems / lyrics. It will probably be longer before they understand the meaning of what they have written, but I don’t believe it is impossible for that to happen.

        My readings in mythology have informed my view that yes there are “Archtypes” but the question I’ve been pondering over the last several years is did these “archtypes” actually come into being “here” as a part of our growing self awareness of the world as we moved from “It to Is” or are they ephemeral traces of other “places / things / intelligences” that have impinged on our fertile subconscious that became the roots of our stories / folk tales. There is a connection between the Hindu Asuras, The Persian Peris, The Arabic Djinn [tho’ they seem to be degenerate], and the European Fae / Gentry. All of these have common looks and cultures. Do they indicate the migration of a cultural idea or are they separate instances of experiencing / meeting the same “life form”?

        Tonight begins the Jewish “Feast of Unleavened Bread” commonly called Passover or Pesach. Did we Jews actually flee Egypt or did we “make the story up” or did something send us a message about Monotheism and morals from somewhere else? Did we invent a story whole cloth or was it too part of an unconscious archtype that swept a single “tribe” from obscurity to being one of the oldest socially cohesive cultures on the planet? The Neoplatonic view won out in the 12th / 13th century and said that the only thing a Jew can know about God is what he is not for if there is a God, It is “No Thing” because if you can describe it then it cannot be God. Just as the Daoist would say “The Dao which can be spoken of, is not the True Dao.”

        Is God on that spectrum of Poetics? Is it too a myth, and archtype? Or is it the “unknowable” Intelligence that we will never truly comprehend because it is beyond the spectrum of our understanding like we cannot see the ultraviolet or the infrared?

        I look forward to seeing your poetic thesis.

        regards
        jc

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  2. Joel,

    I have an undergraduate degree in philosophy and I’ve never stopped studying it and using it in my professional scholarship and more “amateur” projects. To wit, I’m unsure why you raise the question of the seat of consciousness, but to say too much too quickly I have serious reservations about any reduction of conscious states to material states, consistent with arguments from Thomas Nagel and the German philosophers Manfred Frank and Dieter Henrich. It may be that the relation between what each of us in fact and undeniable experiences and the physical states that presumably underwrite said experience is ineffable. Because of this view, I would argue no AI can ever be said to “understand” since AI are fundamentally algorithmic or purely syntactical, and semantics cannot arise from syntax, which again is to say too much too quickly. Trust me, there’s a formidable library of literature on the subject (!).

    Moreover, I’d argue that philosophy, at least, has a lot to do with science; there is at the very least a field called the philosophy of science, and, since scientists (in which field?!) use concepts and arguments, their activities are amenable to philosophical reflection and judicious critique. And poets have availed themselves of the science of their day, Dante and Milton are great examples; you might google Canadian Adam Dickinson and Xenotext Experiment for more extreme examples.

    I am skeptical of archetypes, because of certain structuralist leanings: the meaning of any term is a function of its relation to the other terms in that system, so, for example, a serpent in two different mythologies will possess a different significance in each because of the different elements that constitute each system. Which, again, is too say too much too quickly.

    I hear your Neoplatonic negative theology.

    I look forward to seeing my poetic work, too–it’s a long poem more than a “thesis”. Because the work is almost one of perpetual preparation, I launched this blog to present notes toward and “essays” (attempts” toward this unending work-in-progress as I piece it together.

    Happy Passover, if that’s an appropriate greeting.

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    1. My degree is from the”school of hard knocks”, Autodidactic Fumbling About, and Talking with some really smart people, such as yourself.

      I did not intend to imply that your work was a “thesis” in the Academic sense. I meant as in an “artistic” sense as in music where themes are posed and counter posed… sometimes resulting in a “master work” that exemplifies an idea.

      I’m not much of a philosopher [if my ignorance hasn’t revealed it by now]. I’m more of an empiricist and will “go with whatever works”. So far we have not even made an actual “theory of consciousness” is “IS from It” or is “It from IS”? You cannot test those ideas in a “philosophy” tho’ I suppose you can theorize the “boundaries” within which we work.

      I’m not really concerned with the “seat” of what we have come to call consciousness. I think is more “fun” to guess and eventually find out. It’s what makes us different than rocks. We can discover what is unknown . Why do we do what we do? Why do we look to understand? Are there limits?

      There probably are but we’ll never know until we run into them.

      jc

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  3. Thanks for the clarifications.

    I do hope you understand that my referring to my educational background was only to make clear “where I’m I’m coming from” not in any way to “pull rank”. (Text can be so tone deaf, it makes misunderstandings too easy!).

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    1. I’d didn’t think you were “pulling rank”. I was just making you aware that there are somethings I do not know or do not know the fine points of the ideas you are conveying as I have not studied them. The pedantic nature of some philosophers get to be “yawn-some” especially when one does not know the language being spoken [Philosophers have their own “language of ideas” just as engineers and network admins (and other specialties) have theirs].

      As a poet and lyricist I can grasp the art of word manipulation and how those words can in turn manipulate conceptual frameworks:

      “In a bar set in dreamtime
      I pulled myself up a chair
      To fill myself with memories
      Of which I was not aware.”

      Archetypes can be as much a thing to hide behind when we are at a loss of an actual meaning as they are an explanatory device to help us understand things which we cannot quite verbalize or textualize.

      The “irrational” within humanity seeks “stories” of Heroes and Aliens and worlds beyond this one for the “feelings” they bring. Whether this resonance with “the other worlds” of fantasy or folk tales or of UFO / UAP experiences / observations is a “feature or a bug” remains to be seen.

      We use reason today much like the ancients used their camp fires to push away the unknown yet we we still sat around those same fires [just as we do today with Video, Cable, TV, Books, Video Games] telling or re-telling stories of that which is inexplicable. Why?

      Why do stories based on the outline of Joseph Campbell’s “Hero with a Thousand Faces” sell tickets / books / games? Is this “hard wired” into our nature? I’m not implying that this is a “hardware based feature”– but it does seem to be a feature wired into human consciousness (even in die hard cynics) regardless of whether it is caused by a “soul” or a collection of neurons wired a certain way.

      I’m not so much a “believer” or “disbeliever” of the strange things which are reported. I’m more interested in what does it imply if even 1% of these things are “real”.

      Sorry if I’m veering on-course from you original post. Forgive me.

      jc

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    1. Hm. That’s the theory, anyway, as I am remotely acquainted with it. I look forward to looking over and through your site. Thanks for the link.

      Do keep in mind my posting on the EMH is not my “theory”; the article is an encyclopedia entry on another hypothesis, complementary to or in competition with the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis concerning the origin of “real” UFOs.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bryan,

        EXPERIMENTAL Quantum Antigravity is not merely another “theory”,
        because there are simple experiments to verify it to one’s satisfaction :

        https://quantumantigravity.wordpress.com/nobel-prize/

        I would like to let you know that my antigravity experiments have been successfully replicated by the Aerospace Engineering Department at the New Sciences & Technologies Faculty of the University of Tehran in the Islamic Republic of Iran :

        https://benjaminfulford.net/2017/12/22/letter-editor-experimental-quantum-anti-gravity-successfully-replicated/

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I congratulate you on the progress of your work. I’m not being dismissive, but, if you read “About” (which I believe you did), my response to your first post, and the comment string to the EMH post, I believe you’ll understand why I might be somewhat mystified about the relation of your research to the EMH post and the project this blog showcases.

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    1. As I (all-too-vaguely) understand you project, it is to mechanically produce anti-gravity effects in line with other theoretical/experimental work in quantum gravity, or so I understand your own words, that you “have made a theoretical as well as an empirical scientific discovery of quantum gravity and quantum antigravity, as well as the invention of a Propellantless Quantum Electrodynamics Space Drive — the G-Engine.”

      On the one hand, my post concerns a cluster of speculations around causes of UFO sightings and entity encounters, that they might be caused by naturally occurring EM phenomena, peizoelectricity, ball lighting or other poorly-understood plasma phenomena, or even EM pollution (a most compelling topic in itself…). These more-or-less educated guesses are not immediately relatable to either the topic or goal of your research, though they both share very generally the topic of elecromagnetism.

      On the other hand, there is, very much, a relation, but not one I think you would take very seriously or be very happy to lumped in with, given the gravity (!) of your work. I refer to that dimension of UFO mythology that does deal with detailed, technical speculations concerning the flight mechanics of flying saucers (the work of Paul R Hill and Josef F Blumrich come to mind), the back-engineering of technology from crashed flying saucers (the bookshelf groans), the related or unrelated research into antigravity propulsion systems (a not uninteresting story, recounted in, for example, Nick Cook’s The Hunt for Zero Point), the conspiracy theories around a secret space program (very kooky), etc.

      This latter topic, in its own very poetic way, touches on a central theme of the projected poetic work, which is how all these matters relate to what the German thinker Juergen Habermas identified as the ideology of so-called advanced societies, technoscience. My and Dr Palmer’s widely disseminated paper on UFO religions makes this relation explicit. Simply, the imagination that UFOs are spaceships from a more “advanced” society reifies (makes something historical, cultural, and to an extent accidental natural and universal) the cultural practice of the developed world and expresses as a kind of collective dream the anxieties and aspirations of our technoscientific civilization.

      There is surely enough material here for at least another fragment (or more)–thanks for the prompt!–but I hope I’ve helped clarify the matter, at least as I see it.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Bryan, I think I got your point.

        Please, correct me, if I am wrong.

        You are a philosopher and a poet. Your blog is dedicated to your musings over the UFO phenomenon, philosophical, sociological, mythological, poetical, and perhaps even “spiritual”, more than its “reality”, ontology or nature.

        In my opinion, you are someone I could call an “artist”, and your blog is a piece of “art”.

        I will give you an example.

        A fine painter may paint flowers, because most of the people find flowers beautiful. Such painter need not be a biologist, biochemist, nor quantum biologist, therefore an artistic painter need not be concerned with “reality”, ontology or nature of flowers he paints.

        This painter may have no idea that flowers have DNA, that flowers’ colors may have something to do with electromagnetic spectrum of visible light, and that flowers’ colors are not an inherent property of flowers themselves, but merely their attribute produced by mechanisms of sensory perception.

        So, the less scientific knowledge this painter has, the more he can muse about all aspects of flowers, and about other painters’ flower-musings, endlessly.

        It is not so much about finding the cure for cancer, as about being paid for searching for it.
        Because the moment I find the cure for cancer, I will have to find another job.

        So, yes, your blog is dedicated to your musings over the mysterious UFO phenomenon.

        Now I understand that my post was off-topic, because it did not directly address your poetic-electromagnetic musings.

        As long as we do not know that antigravity propulsion is electromagnetic in its nature, we can keep UFOs in the same basket together with apparitions in general, including hauntings, poltergeist activity, and even visions of the Blessed Virgin Mary, and keep poetically musing about them, endlessly.

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      2. Yeah, we understand each other. I am very explicit about me angle on the issue (like a good phenomenologist I’m focused on the meaning rather than the being of the phenomenon) to avoid tiresome and endless debates about the “reality” or “nature” of UFOs….

        Poets, by the way, tend to be a curious lot, and often integrate the science of their day into their work, Dante and Milton are examples, as are Canada’s Adam Dickinson, Chris Boek (google ‘xenotext experiment’ for a giggle), and his mentor Chris Dewdney.

        At any rate, good luck with your research. Your interventions here were neither on nor off topic; I’m sure there’s a quantum gravitational metaphor for the relation of the EMH post to your research!

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  4. Brian,

    Am I hearing you say that in any Rube Goldberg device [for example such as Science’s quest for a “Theory of Everything”] that there must be wing nuts or the cognitive equivalent?

    “That which is not forbidden is mandatory” is often attributed to Nobel prize winner Murray Gell-Mann and often quoted by Quantum physicists. Gell-Mann was actually quoting T.H. White in “The Once and Future King”: “That which is not forbidden is compulsory”. When the Neutrino particle was discovered Nobel Laureate I.I. Rabi quipped: “Who ordered that?” Gravity is one of those things that does not seem to fit into the “Standard Model” of Physics.

    There is a difference between EM radiation and Gravity. An EM wave / particle is more like a toy cork boat floating on the surface of Space-Time whose path may be distorted by gravitational waves. EM radiation has two charges where as gravity [so far as has been proven] only has one.

    See: http://www.tapir.caltech.edu/~teviet/Waves/differences.html

    From the human frame of reference there are no simple explanations for what exists. None. Zero. Zip. If you hear someone claim its simple and the answer is “X” where “X” does not place itself within the scientific paradigm and no mathematics are shown then more than likely you are dealing with unprovable “belief” rather than provable “fact”.

    regards,

    jc

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    1. I am uncertain of the meaning of the first two paragraphs. I would answer to the last, that not all knowledge need be scientific, nor can science account for everything: these are old philosophical chestnuts. At any rate.

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  5. Bryan, I am well familiar with EMH. In my opinion, it could potentially lead to new discoveries and deeper understanding of physical reality and its relation with consciousness.

    However, there had been great number of reports about UFO landings. Several of those landing sites were examined by scientists. Many of those landing sites had been radioactive, and also there were few cases of people exposed to UFO craft, who as a result sustained what can be described as radioactive poisoning.

    http://mysteriousuniverse.org/2010/08/the-moonburn-syndrome-radiation-sickness-and-ufos/

    Even the most powerful natural electromagnetic, or electric phenomena, like lightening, cannot produce radioactive emissions, nor micro-waves. EMH simply cannot explain it.

    A report by Stanford University astrophysicist Peter Sturrock,

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peter_A._Sturrock

    who led a scientific study of physical evidence of UFOs in the late 1990s, describes samples of plants taken from a purported UFO landing site in France in 1981. French researchers found that the leaves had undergone unusual chemical changes of the sort that could have been caused by powerful microwave radiation—which was even more difficult to explain, considering that they found no trace of radioactivity at the site. The Sturrock report describes in detail various symptoms reported by individuals who had encountered UFOS, ranging from burns and temporary deafness to persistent nausea and memory loss. Among the most vivid examples: Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and Landrum’s young grandson Colby, who reportedly happened upon a “large, diamond-shaped object” hovering over a Texas road in December 1980. All three became ill afterward; Cash, for example, developed large water blisters on her face and swelling that closed her eyes, in addition to severe nausea and diarrhea. The effects persisted for years, and she was hospitalized more than two dozen times.

    http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/manitoba/falcon-lake-incident-book-anniversary-1.4121639

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    1. Indeed. The physical and physiological effects you refer to are an important, well-known, and controversial aspect of the phenomenon.

      It has been over eighteen years since I wrote that encyclopedia entry, so I don’t recall the exact, doubtless very speculative source(s), for the proposal that the EM or plasma phenomena considered here “appear on radar and emit a broad band of EMR, giving rise to electromagnetic effects associated with flying saucers, namely burns, scorching, melting, and electrical interference, as well as those more subliminal effects on the nervous system that result in the imagery and narrative of a close encounter experience.” But I’d have to go back and read through far more than I have the time for at this moment, anyway.

      From the point of view of a physical account, either the radiation effects have to be accounted for, or they restrict the generality of the EMH, i.e., the EMH might account for some sightings and entity encounter phenomena. The weak link is, of course, the nature of the EM phenomena imagined to account for the various effects; ball lighting is, I think, a fairly well-accepted if not exhaustively understood phenomenon, while the other phenomena (piezoelectric discharges, “earth lights”, etc,) are far more controversial.

      From the point of the view of the aesthetics of the myth, the EMH is resonant, not only because it complicates matters (the inconsistency of the phenomena is important) and because, as I wrote to Joel, above, it allows for the UFO to be included in the more general theory of apparitions, which opens the myth to more material and therefore more resonance, along the lines that Jung embeds the UFO in his own “theory” (!) of archetypes and his analytic psychology; that these apparitions and their messages (concerning environmental matter, for example) might be caused by EM disturbances links the phenomenon to the Earth’s ELF waves–it’s as if the earth herself were communicating as best she can concerning what we’re doing; and the happy coincidence of the acronym ‘ELF’ allows me to connect UFOs to Fairy encounters and abductions, as Vallee and others do. So the work here is imaginative more than intellectual let alone “scientific”.

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  6. Peter Andrew Sturrock (born 20 March 1924) is a British scientist. An emeritus professor of applied physics at Stanford University, much of Sturrock’s career has been devoted to astrophysics, plasma physics, and solar physics, the history of science, and the philosophy of science. Sturrock has been awarded many prizes and honors, and has written or co-authored many scientific papers and textbooks.

    ” The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence ”
    Sturrock, Peter A., ed. (September 1, 2000).
    Aspect Books. ISBN 0-446-67709-4.

    Most reports of UFOs are cases of error or merely hoaxes. However a certain percentage defy all rational explanation. This study examines a number of cases that have been well documented and corroborated, yet remain unexplained :

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  7. You said: “…the imagination that UFOs are spaceships from a more “advanced” society reifies … the cultural practice of the developed world and expresses as a kind of collective dream the anxieties and aspirations of our technoscientific civilization.”

    I am interpreting this to mean that the response of some to the “imagination” is to accept “crazy [“wing nut”] ideas” in place of other more rational ideas. It is almost as if the modern world and its complexities cause a kind of cognitive dissonance which “far out” ideas attempt to “repair”.

    So if one were to look at our rational attempts to describe the universe, how it works, and our place within that description, one could call that patchwork of ideas, concepts, laws, rules of thumb, etc a “Rube Goldberg Device”. Still that “device” or logical artifice still requires “wing nut” ideas like the mind, the soul, the heart– since they are intangibles which cannot be yet “proven” to exist within a “techno-scientific” manner tho’ attempts are being made [see below].

    As for the T.H. White comment? The quote seems to have been widely accepted by quantum physicists. It means that your notions are more than likely correct unless there is something which forbids them. So “souls” may exist {in the empirical sense we recognize our own being and the being of others] but “proof” of anti-gravity by using a gyroscope or that gravity is Electromagnetic is probably not valid since those ideas do not address the Law of Conservation of Angular Momentum or present the concept in mathematical terms. A black hole can bend light but that does not make it light.

    While the soul at this point seems to be “beyond scientific description” that does not mean it will always be so. Several years ago Max Tegmark at MIT put forward the idea that consciousness is a “state of matter”: https://arxiv.org/abs/1401.1219 It is an interesting idea even if it is rather mechanistic.

    There was a small book published in 1691 entitled “The Secret Commonwealth of Elves, Fauns and Fairies”. It was written by Robert Kirk a Scottish Minister which you might be interested in. He describes the land of the Gentry, the temperament of the “good folk” and covers “second sight” and other “psychic phenomena”.

    It was a commonly held belief that he was “taken” by them when he passed away. There is an on-line version at: http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/sce/ but it is an “Old English” printing that was edited by Andrew Lang [who in his later life believed in the “Cottingley Fairies”]

    regards

    jc

    Like

    1. Actually, in regards to the reification of technoscience, the far out “wing nut” ideas are all-too-consistent with what passes for the perfectly normal and uncontroversial in mainstream society. The beliefs of the Raelian Movement International–that the Elohim of the Old Testament are ETs, that Genesis recounts a terraforming and genetics experiment, that immortality can be achieved through cloning and transfer of the information of consciousness, that society is best ruled by a high IQ aristocracy, etc.–all inflate and distort the beliefs and values that underwrite so-called advanced societies. This matter is explored if not explained in greater detail in the various versions of the work I have done with Susan Palmer, remarked in my About page.

      The matters raised by the White quotation really fall outside my purview and expertise.

      That consciousness is reducible to a materialistic explanation is highly problematic. Consider the taste of the coffee I am drinking right now. That sensation is hardly identical with the neurological and biochemical processes which underwrite it; philosophers of mind call these aspects of experience “qualia.” Moreover, statements about conscious states and statements about their explanations are of two logical types. That I taste coffee is indubitable and cannot, therefore, be false; that my tasting coffee is caused by various physical processes is an empirical proposition and can therefore on principle be false. Finally, any account of what is must find a way to harmonize the first and third person perspectives, not paradoxically attempt to explain away the former in terms of the latter. The philosopher of mind Daniel Dennett famously writes that “consciousness is an illusion”, but for whom?

      And thanks for the reference to Kirk’s very famous volume. I have Evans-Wentz’ magisterial study on the bookshelf, along with Yeats’ work on the Shea. More grist for the mill!

      Like

  8. Bryan wrote:

    ” From the point of view of a physical account, either the radiation effects have to be accounted for, or they restrict the generality of the EMH, i.e., the EMH might account for some sightings and entity encounter phenomena. The weak link is, of course, the nature of the EM phenomena imagined to account for the various effects; ball lighting is, I think, a fairly well-accepted if not exhaustively understood phenomenon, while the other phenomena (piezoelectric discharges, “earth lights”, etc,) are far more controversial. ”

    No doubt, the EMH could account for some sightings and entity encounter phenomena.

    I have seen a documentary on “earth lights” (piezoelectric discharges). This phenomenon is generated by earthquakes. An engineer took two blocks of granite stone and put them under high pressure industrial hydraulic press. He detected a significant buildup of voltage, and I feel satisfied with this hypothesis.

    Regarding ball lighting phenomenon, in my opinion it is a pseudo-explanation that goes as follows.

    People report seeing balls of light. Well, it must be electricity! What else?

    Summary :
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_lightning

    The properties of a “typical” ball lightning:

    They frequently appear almost simultaneously with cloud-to-ground lightning discharge
    They are generally spherical or pear-shaped with fuzzy edges
    Their diameters range from 1–100 centimetres (0.4–40 in), most commonly 10–20 cm (3.9–7.9 in).
    Their brightness corresponds to roughly that of a domestic lamp, so they can be seen clearly in daylight
    A wide range of colours has been observed, red, orange, and yellow being the most common.
    The lifetime of each event is from 1 second to over a minute with the brightness remaining fairly constant during that time
    They tend to move, most often in a horizontal direction at a few metres per second, but may also move vertically, remain stationary or wander erratically.
    Many are described as having rotational motion
    It is rare that observers report the sensation of heat, although in some cases the disappearance of the ball is accompanied by the liberation of heat
    Some display an affinity for metal objects and may move along conductors such as wires or metal fences
    Some appear within buildings passing through closed doors and windows
    Some have appeared within metal aircraft and have entered and left without causing damage
    The disappearance of a ball is generally rapid and may be either silent or explosive
    Odors resembling ozone, burning sulfur, or nitrogen oxides are often reported

    UFO appearances are not limited to velocities of a few meters per second.
    UFO appearances are not limited to thunderstorms.
    UFO appearances are not limited to duration of seconds or minutes.
    UFO appearances are not limited to glowing balls.

    One summer night I was in my backyard speaking with a friend of mine. I noticed a small ball of light slowly flying around a nearby tree some 50m away. I went closer to take a look. The ball of light, in my estimation was bigger than a golf ball, but smaller than a tennis ball. It flew slowly near the top of the tree, then flew away about 30m from the tree, and then came back to the tree. Then we lost sight of it. In my friend’s opinion, it was a firefly! Well, I have seen fireflies before. 🙂

    Like

    1. Oh dear, now we’re getting into what I don’t want to get into, technical discussions about the being rather than the being of the phenomenon.

      That being said, I absolutely grant everything you have shared re especially ball lightning.

      Peizoelectric phenomena are posited to account for what Devereaux et al. term ” earth lights”; regrettably I haven’t had to the chance to read their work. They do state that earth lights behave like (some) UFOs or UAP: “The appearance, behaviour, and visible effects of UAPs are those generally attributed to UFOs. UAPs appear as opaque, metallic, or variously colored, glowing spheres, ovoids, squiggles, or even inverted Christmas trees. Being almost without mass, they accelerate and stop instantaneously, hover, or fly in straight or irregular lines, achieving speeds clocked, in one instance, at 600 m.p.h.” (I’d have to dig back into my research to supply a citation for these observations). Earthlights are by no means an “officially” accepted physical phenomenon, belonging for the time being to the category of Forteana.

      Persinger and Lafreneire correlated seismic activity to UFO reports, documented, I believe, in the book in the bibliography for the encyclopedia entry. “Strings of pearls” UFO sightings have been noted to precede earthquakes (!).

      So, as we agree, the EMH could account for some sightings and entity encounter phenomena, which is the thesis of the authors whose views are summarized in the encyclopedia entry.

      Thanks, again, for your energetic engagement!

      Like

      1. Bryan wrote:

        ” Oh dear, now we’re getting into what I don’t want to get into, technical discussions about the being rather than the being of the phenomenon. ”

        Just to let you know, I have no preferred hypothesis about UFOs.

        I maintain an objective, open mind. I am a scientist, an experimental physicist, so what I do is that I concentrate on physical evidence.

        The topic of this post is the EMH. That is physics, and the way it relates to the brain, which is biophysics.

        It is obvious that both, the ball lightening and Earth lights (piezoelectric discharges) could account only for a very small fraction of UFO sightings. I can hardly recall any major UFO sightings that occur during a thunderstorm or an Earthquake! 🙂

        Bryan wrote:

        ” Peizoelectric phenomena are posited to account for what Devereaux et al. term ” earth lights”; regrettably I haven’t had to the chance to read their work. They do state that earth lights behave like (some) UFOs or UAP: “The appearance, behaviour, and visible effects of UAPs are those generally attributed to UFOs. UAPs appear as opaque, metallic, or variously colored, glowing spheres, ovoids, squiggles, or even inverted Christmas trees. Being almost without mass, they accelerate and stop instantaneously, hover, or fly in straight or irregular lines, achieving speeds clocked, in one instance, at 600 m.p.h.”

        Devereaux et al. may write whatever they feel like.
        The question is who agrees with them? 🙂

        ” UAPs accelerate and stop instantaneously, hover, or fly in straight or irregular lines, achieving speeds clocked, in one instance, at 600 m.p.h.”

        Yes, that is what UFOs (UAPs) are reported to do. However, that does not automatically make them ”earth lights” :
        https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140106-earthquake-lights-earthquake-prediction-geology-science/

        because ”earth lights” cannot do it.

        According to Devereaux et al :

        ” UAPs appear as opaque, metallic, or variously colored, glowing spheres, ovoids, squiggles, or even inverted Christmas trees. ”

        UAPs also appear as “flying saucers” with windows and lending gear! 🙂

        If UAPs appear as opaque, metallic, or even inverted Christmas trees, then how ball lightenings and earth lights can account for it? Inverted Christmas trees? There have been no evidence of earth lights during Earthquakes that look opaque, metallic, or like inverted Christmas trees! 🙂

        Perhaps poets and amateur philosophers cannot appreciate a simple scientific fact that if something looks opaque, metallic, or like inverted Christmas trees, then it follows that it cannot be a Vergin Marry, nor a ball lightening, nor a Earth lights (piezoelectric discharges) :

        https://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2014/01/140106-earthquake-lights-earthquake-prediction-geology-science/

        https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ball_lightning

        Like

      2. Hey, sure. I’m not in a position now to provide the pertinent passages where Persinger, Devereaux, or Budden provide support for the claims they make I summarized in the encyclopedia entry, though this back and forth has piqued my curiosity to go back and look through the work, again.

        I was approached by the editor to write something, I was reading through Budden’s work at the time, and I pitched an entry on the EMH.

        The article on the Raelian Movement International that won me what reputation I have in the scholarly, sociological study of the phenomenon required I and my collaborator rehearse the particulars of the belief system we were studying, but neither of us are members of the RMI! So, as I remarked elsewhere on this thread, I have no stake in the truth or even necessarily the persuasiveness of the EMH and its variations; I merely present as completely, clearly, and briefly as I can the positions put forth be these researchers. I imagine you might find Persinger et al. more meaty, he and his collaborator being experimental scientists; Devereaux and Budden are, or so I understand, amateur Forteans.

        I am glad though it has given you food for thought and inspired your interventions here.

        Like

  9. Bryan wrote:

    ” Persinger and Lafreneire correlated seismic activity to UFO reports, documented, I believe, in the book in the bibliography for the encyclopedia entry. “Strings of pearls” UFO sightings have been noted to precede earthquakes (!).”

    So, what does that prove?

    Does that prove that all other (majority) of UFO sightings reported in the absence of any seismic activity, or thunderstorms, did not happen?

    I strngly doubt that Dr. Persinger was involved in anything substantial related to UFO evidence, other than freely speculating that UFO sightings might have something to do with the EMH — correct me if I am wrong, please.

    Like

    1. We’d have to read their _Space Time Transients and Unusual Events_. I’m pretty sure I have their research in a secondary source around here SOMEwhere, but that bookshelf is a big one!

      Like

  10. Bryan, I hope you can forgive me that I am a scientific skeptic?

    Because I am very skeptical about the physical existence of your alleged UFO library — the groaning, overflowing wall-sized one, dedicated to this topic! 🙂

    If I am wrong, then you should be very well familiar with the three,
    out of few best documented UFO cases in history, namely :

    1.
    the Travis Walton case ;

    2.
    the Belgian UFO Wave :

    https://www.google.com/search?q=Wilfried+De+Brouwer

    3.
    The Tehran, Iran 1976 UFO incident (investigated by the C.I.A. )

    Bryan, I am sure you will be able to explain the above 3 to me using the Devereaux et al. earth lights.

    The country of Belgium is a veritable epicenter of unending thunderstorms and Earthquakes, and so is the city of Tehran in the country of Iran.

    And as to the Travis Walton case, it took place in the strongest ever thunderstorm and Earthquake, at the same time, ever recorded in the US history! 🙂

    Yes, it all make sense now!

    Like

    1. Your skepticism is well-taken, and I’m glad to see it’s not dogmatic, like Klass’ and Menzel’s.

      I am, of course, familiar with all these, though I only have on book on one of them, Fire in the Sky, Travis Walton, New York: Marlowe & Co. 1996.

      I’ve a draft, I think, of a poem about the Tehran encounter.

      Of course the EMH doesn’t account for these well, but then, as I understood it, it was never meant to be all-encompassing, meant to account for some observations. I think we both know there is not going to be an explanation for all the highly variegated data, only very little of which is even amenable to physical analysis.

      But even the demands the myth (for lack of a better word) puts on our explanatory resources is itself of sociopsychological interest.

      Like

  11. Bryan wrote:

    ” I’m pretty sure I have their research in a secondary source around here, somewhere, but that bookshelf is a big one! ”

    Bryan, never mind quoting anything, ever, bro.

    I do trust you, because you are a poet.

    As long as you remember what they wrote,
    than this goes as proven scientific evidence.

    So, yes, I was wrong, and you were correct,
    because Devereaux et al. said so.

    Like

  12. Oh, hey! I’m not contradicting you, saying you are wrong and I am right. I’m just apologizing for not having the data ready at hand, that’s all. The entry was after all written over eighteen years ago.

    And I am a scholar, with a background in philosophy, so I do know what counts as evidence in various contexts, wot. Hence my apologies. No need to take my word for anything.

    Misunderstandings of this kind are exactly why I do not want to converse concerning the nature of the phenomenon (which is not the topic of this blog), especially since text is tone deaf and given to misunderstanding too, too easily.

    Like

    1. As I’ve remarked a number of times, I’m not interested in conversing re the nature or being of the phenomenon. That’s not what I’m on about here. I am therefore disenabling comments for this site for the time being.

      All the best with your research. I wish all success.

      Like

      1. A UFO sighting yesterday at the edge of town. People are talking about it. Some don’t buy the talk. But it’s the talk of the town. People who’re talking about it grow very serious. How can you tell them “It’s impossible!”? Maybe it is possible. Some people are thinking of moving out of this little town. Some who witnessed the UFO last night pinch themselves to make sure they’re not dreaming. Some are already making banners that read “Aliens, you are most welcome!” Some are wielding their tiny cameras. Since this afternoon, some have camped on the path that circles the hill at the edge of town. As the crowd gathers, roadside stalls appear one after another. Gasmask seller, binoculars merchant, food and drink hawker, beer bar, chair and umbrella rental, a booth to watch over parked cars, etc. The edge of town is now getting festive. Some elders and some middle-aged folk who have taken refuge in the church refuse to leave. The authorities responsible for the security of the little town call an emergency meeting. Some participants lobby for a curfew imposed on the edge of town. Someone suggests the evacuation of the entire population. Another counters with “It’s not a good idea – a field should be cleared to cordially receive the aliens.” An army officer orders his troops to stand by. Some of the townsfolk get edgier and edgier. Rapture looms, there are more and more thefts, robberies and burglaries. More and more people binge-drink and rampage. In the streets, citizens from all walks of life – regardless of caste, class or noble birth – peer up cautiously at the giant sky. Car accidents, fire drills and street brawls become very unremarkable incidents. Some people just remain inside their homes and keep on doing whatever it is they are doing. For these people, “When aliens come, they come.” And there are even those who, all day, calmly chew on their own boots.

        UFO Day is celebrated worldwide in recognition of the alleged incident in Roswell, New Mexico, on July 2, 1947. And many serious poets have written poems on the topic of life beyond our world. The best of these poems work to complicate the expectations of the reader. In Stanley Kunitz’s poem “The Abduction,” the poet subverts the popular notion of an alien abduction by describing the event surreally and without the typical cast of characters. The common humanoid figures, thin and pale, are replaced by a pack of grey hounds, while the spacecraft itself is replaced by a royal stag who lifts the woman “stretched on his rack of budding horn.” The tone of the poem is no less otherworldly, however, and in the end the maiden still finds herself in a trampled clearing and finding her way out of the woods.

        Other poems take on the topic as a means for offering a fresh point of view of human life. In Robert Hayden’s “[American Journal],” the speaker is himself an extraterrestrial, describing Americans from the imagined point of view of someone from another world: “like us they have created a veritable populace / of machines that serve and soothe and pamper…”

        Similarly, in “The White Fires of Venus” by Denis Johnson, the speaker explains how Venutians watch us and describes with startling humor what it is they see and hear:

        The Andromedans hear your voice like distant amusement park music
        converged on by ambulance sirens
        and they understand everything.
        They’re on your side. They forgive you.

        The poet Jack Spicer did more than simply write poems about aliens. He famously explained that his work was written by them. Much like Fredrico García Lorca‘s notion of Duende—the dark force poets struggle with which “must come to life in the nethermost recesses of the blood”—Spicer reported that his relationship to his poems was similar to that of a radio to incoming broadcasts and that it was Martians who sent his poems to him through space.

        Whether searching in earnest for answers or simply gazing up at the stars, poets continue to engage what lies just outside of their humanity. As Greg Delanty writes in his poem “The Alien”:

        Our alien who art in the heavens,
        our Martian, our little green man, we’re anxious

        to make contact, to ask divers questions
        about the heavendom you hail from, to discuss
        the whole shebang of the beginning&end,
        the pre–big bang untime before you forget the why
        and lie of thy first place.

        When the hole between blue spruce widens
        & twists into a cosmos when the wild
        lilac & campfire atomize & night hangs their smokes
        across its belly when in the clearing you are certain
        you are not lonelier but there is a lifting in you
        where other knowing rises too & divides from the bone
        in your feet to the fat round your heart & leaves you
        surrounded by your own breath you step out of
        & watch vanish & think the night ate it ate your knowing & how
        could anyone know anymore you might as well look out
        into the clouds of long pine that hang brambled &
        orange in branches you listen for howling but none comes

        https://podcasts.ox.ac.uk/tower-poetry-2016-ufo-beach-abduction

        Like

  13. Thanks for your contribution and especially the poets you mention, to which the name of David Clewell should be added, who has over a number of books published a number of poems on UFO and Fortean themes. I note now all these poets are men; I wonder if any women poets have written on the theme.

    Spicer’s Martians are pertinent, the way the Muses become ETs, but I take him to be speaking ironically here. His Practice of Outside is a curious, Californian surrealism, in a weird way, which is no dismissal; I’m a fan of Robert Duncan, Frances Yates, and William Butler Yeats.

    For my part, writing in the wake of Pound, Reznikoff, and Ernesto Cardenal (whose Golden UFOs should be added to this bibliography, too) and writing in the Anthropocene my concerns are other than the themes of the Kunitz, Johnson, and Delanty (Hayden’s remark reminds me of how Burroughs characterized Kerouac, as a secret agent in someone else’s body).

    In general, I follow Jung in taking the whole mythos as being an expression of the anxieties and aspirations of our technoscientic culture, an angle Susan Palmer and I explore in our work on the Raelian Movement International.

    There are many related themes: the environmental crisis, non-human intelligence, a kind of epistemological struggle between folk and the elites reminiscent of the how peasants were derided in 18th Century France for claiming rocks had fallen from the sky, political paranoia (see Steven Greer et al.), and the objectification of organisms, including human beings, in, for example, human experimentation. Surely there’s another fragment to be composed here! Thanks for the prompt!

    I am uncertain of the significance of your opening two paragraphs, though, for what it matters.

    And I believed I had disenabled comments for this blog, to avoid being caught up in conversations concerning the being rather than the meaning of the phenomenon, but the WordPress controls seem more subtle than I understood! However, because your contribution IS on point, though a little out of place on this particular thread, I have gladly allowed it and responded.

    I’ve visited your website before, by the way. Your organization in involved in trying to restore the Bank of Canada to the role it played from its inception to about 1975, among other things, no?

    Thanks, again.

    Like

  14. & I see you copy and pasted the remarks re ET poetry from Poets.org! You could have provided just the link with a note as to its content. I will surely address the material mentioned t/here. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

    Like

  15. & I discover the first paragraph is a prose poem by Maung Yu Py. I fail to see why you merely copy & pasted these texts without comment. One could take it as a kind of anonymous contribution, or, in a more paranoid manner, as a kind of test: “Let’s see if this fellah writing on this topic knows the topic.” Ah, well.

    Like

  16. quantumantigravity, April 4, 2018 at 1:19 am
    ” Let’s take a skeptical look at the Belgian UFO Wave. ”

    I am reading up on it.

    Will let you know my opinion.

    ” In this video, retired Belgian Air Force General Wilfried De Brouwer discusses a wave of triangular UFOs he investigated in 1989 and 1990. He was in charge of the Belgian Air Force’s official investigation. They never came to a definite conclusion as to where the mysterious triangles came from. De Brouwer also discusses the controversial photograph that was allegedly taken in Petit-Rechain :

    Liked by 1 person

    1. cccrMR: As I’ve remarked here and newly on the About page, the question of the being or nature of the UFO phenomenon is not this site’s concern, only its meaning, sociological, psychological, or even political. I will not approve any further comments that do not strictly abide by this focus. So, if you submit to post something, but it doesn’t appear, you will know why.

      Thanks for the poems, though. I _would_ be interested in why you merely copied & pasted them with no comment either as to what they were (especially the first prose poem), where they were from, or what you thought their undoubted pertinence was.

      I welcome any further reflections or contributions to the focus of this blog/site.

      Like

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