Category Archives: forteana

Haidt on the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Jonathan Haidt is one of my current favourite thinkers and author of The Righteous Mind: Why Good People are Divided by Politics and Religion.

In this TED talk he posits the possibility that humans evolved the religious impulse as an adaptation to assist group selection. In simpler terms, we are hard-wired to have transcendent  experiences because it makes us co-operate instead of acting selfishly.

Haidt uses the staircase as a metaphor for self-transcendence which should surely have resonance for freemasons who have taken their second degree.  He states:

The staircase takes us from the experience of life as profane or ordinary upwards to the experience of life as sacred, or deeply interconnected”.

Fascinating. Watch it.

Review: Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs

Mirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs: The Weird Truth Behind UFOsMirage Men: A Journey into Disinformation, Paranoia and UFOs: The Weird Truth Behind UFOs by Mark Pilkington
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Slightly disjointed in style, this book can’t quite decide if it wants to be gonzo journalism told first hand or a hard-nosed investigation into American alphabet agency UFO disinformation shenanigans. Still, has some intriguing insights into the murky world of the disinfo agents – the “Mirage Men” of the title – and the mindsets of the ufologists they manipulate. Injects some much needed pyrrhonism into the field. You don’t know what pyrrhonism is? Nor did I until I read the last chapter of this book.

View all my reviews

“Do you believe in UFOs?”

Los Angeles Air Raid
Image by QXZ via Flickr

Reading Leslie Keane’s important and potentially game-changing book “UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record” reminded me of the question “Do you believe in UFOs?”.

This question, asked of me whenever my interest in the subject comes up in conversation, is a frustrating one to answer, because it demands that you ask the questioner if what they are really asking  is “Do you believe that some unidentified flying objects are extraterrestrial craft?”. “UFO”, you see, has changed meaning in popular culture to refer to alien spaceship, not, inexplicable aerial phenomena.

It then gets more complicated still, because the theories explaining the origins of that inexplicable 10% of sightings of (apparently) intelligently-controlled structured craft not of human design have moved on since pop culture labelled them merely “extra-terrestrial”, that’s to say nuts and bolts spaceships from other planets.

Today’s ufology embraces, not just that, the  “ETH”, the Extra Terrestrial Hypothesis”, but now, thanks to investigators like Jacques Vallée, the “Inter-Dimensional Hypothesis” and “Crypto-Terrestrials” that blur the boundaries between traditional flying saucery and paranormal/spiritual phenomena.

So, if you ask me the “Do you believe…” question, expect a pedantic, long-winded answer.

Phenomenon or phenomena? A guide for Coast to Coast guests

I listen to quite a lot of the UFO/paranormal internet media, including Coast to Coast, The Paracast and Dreamland and have noticed that there is a real confusion sometimes among guests and presenters about when to say phenomenon, rather than phenomena.

Now I suppose it’s risking appearing snarky by pointing out the difference here as I only have third form Greek (I gave up after my teacher shouted at me for not learning the Greek capital letters) but my motivation is pure: some of the speakers on these shows are well-educated and are trying to make a case for the scientific investigation of UFO’s, bringing the subject out of the world of tabloid ridicule, because frankly, there is a genuine phenomenon of potentially paradigm-shaking importance that deserves serious investigation. And I’m right behind them.

If the serious researchers behind this movement want to be taken seriously, they’ll need a command of English up there with the best of those they are trying to convince. If they don’t know the difference between phenomenon and phenomena (both words they are going to be using a lot), they risk losing credibility in their first sentence.

It’s very simple: phenomena is the plural of phenomenon. Thus:

One phenomenon.

Twenty-seven phenomena.

It’s the same rule with criterion, by the way.

Crop circle aliens are vandals

The silly-season, sorry, crop-circle season story of the man arrested in a crop circle for allegedly firing a shotgun to deter sightseers provoked the following thought:

There are those who marvel at the amazing complexity of some of the crop formations and find mathematical and symbolic meaning in them that, they say, is proof that they are not made by humans. Well, I’m in the “made by humans” camp but am willing to listen to those with sound, scientifically valid evidence who believe otherwise. However, what I’m not willing to do is marvel at how “advanced” these aliens are.

They are vandals that cause thousands of pounds worth of damage. If they really need to communicate profound insights into human destiny, surely it’s not beyond them to learn one of our major languages or send a radio broadcast? I mean, if I were trying to convey information to creatures on a remote planet, I wouldn’t thoughtlessly make cryptograms in their valuable crops, causing damage and costing the alien farmers money.

That would just be a display of selfish criminal damage akin to graffiti.

If extraterrestrials are making crop circles, they are certainly not gentlemen 😉

Halt says he saw “structured machines” at Rendlesham, “extraterrestrial in origin”

File this under in the “If true, it’s very important” category:

Col. Halt, famed in ufology for his taped commentary of strange sightings outside a nuclear weapon-packed US Air force base in 1980, has apparently stated in an interview cited in UFOWeek.com:

“I wish to make it perfectly clear that the UFOs I saw were structured machines moving under intelligent control and operating beyond the realm of anything I have ever seen before or since. I believe the objects that I saw at close quarter were extraterrestrial in origin and that the security services of both the United States and England [sic] were and have been complicit in trying to subvert the significance of what occurred at Rendlesham by use of well practiced methods of disinformation.”

The significance of this remark, if confirmed that he did indeed make it,  is that he scores very highly on the credibility scale as the former deputy base commander outside which strange phenomena were observed over Christmas 1980. Much has been written and much pored over in the pursuit of the facts in this case, considered by some to be second only to Roswell in importance. This statement is completely at odds with those researchers who claim that what was seen by several people over three nights was simply a misidentified lighthouse.

If it isn’t already, this should be one of ufology’s stop-the-press moments and if the mainstream media would get out of snigger mode it would be breaking news.

Is Disclosure Imminent?

The All News Web site is predicting disclosure of alien contact by a European country next week. The site’s author is also claiming that “first contact” with an alien civilisation will happen within weeks and that this is potentially connected with the loss of Flight 447.

Paranormal Spy is claiming that France is “poised to disclose presence of Extra Terrestrials on Earth”. They are getting this report from MINA, the Macedonian News Agency, which states “France is set to concede that it is aware of an alien presence on earth by no later than Friday.”

The trail goes cold there.

None of these sites are familiar to me and none cite sources for the information so until it is picked up by one of the major news providers like the BBC or CNN, this stuff is clearly to be taken with a generous pinch of salt. History is littered with fortean hoaxes.