SIR BAR: Look you Sir, Truth may be blam’d, but never sham’d. I cou’d give you farther proof if occasion serv’d. But Truth is not to spoken at all times.
ALD: Yet it concerns you to speak, and to prove what you speak, this is no jesting matter.
SIR BAR: Well than, O’er shooes, o’er boots. And In for a Penny, in for a Pound.
—Edward Ravenscroft, The Canterbury guests, or, A bargain broken a comedy
In the late sixteenth century, Tycho Brahe proposed a model of the solar system wherein all the known planets—five at the time—revolved around the Sun, while the Sun itself orbited the Earth. Referred to as the Tychonic System, the concept was not altogether new, having precursors in the fourth century B.C.—nonetheless, this hybrid geoheliocentric model was closer to the truth than contemporary theories, which held the Earth as the fixed point around which the entire cosmos rotated.
The Tychonic System maintained popularity among progressive scientists until the early-1600s when Galileo proposed his heliocentric model, wherein the Sun is the fixed point around which all other celestial bodies in the solar system orbit. Though persecuted by the establishment, Galileo’s proposition was eventually accepted.
Centuries later, Albert Einstein would christen him “the father of modern physics—indeed, of modern science altogether,” a sentiment Stephen Hawking would echo in his A Brief History of Time: “Galileo, perhaps more than any other single person, was responsible for the birth of modern science.”
While Brahe is not exactly a minor footnote to history, at the same time he enjoys neither the accolades nor the man-on-the-street familiarity, which Galileo does in the twenty-first century. Brahe could commit to everything that made Galileo immortal except for the Earth’s rotation around the Sun. To do so would have been revolutionary. His significance to science would be enormous had he not engaged in half-measures and committed to a fully heliocentric model of the solar system.
In for a penny, in for a pound, as it were. Ufologists take note.
If there is such a thing as “mainstream ufology,” it focuses upon a “nuts-and-bolts” (N&B) interpretation of sightings in support of an Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). Advocates of this grounded approach assume—perhaps naïvely, though not entirely illogically—that an extraterrestrial civilization would mirror our own dreams, desires, and abilities as a species. Humans wish to explore the galaxy, therefore aliens wish to explore the galaxy; humans would accomplish this goal by building metallic flying machines, aliens would as well; humans would study and catalogue alien life, aliens vice versa. To make a gross reduction, it is a quaint mid-twentieth century proposition wherein little green scientists in physical spacecraft regularly visit Earth.
In this model, the materialist paradigm—the dominant philosophical doctrine of science, wherein matter is the fundamental constant of reality and all other phenomena, including human consciousness itself, are illusory byproducts of matter—reigns supreme. N&B/ETH researchers hold that the UFO problem can and will be solved by physical evidence: burn marks at landing sites, a stunning video, a compelling photograph, a crashed flying saucer, an extraterrestrial body.
While plenty of cases superficially support the N&B/ETH view, its materialist foundations are shaken when confronted with the High Strangeness characteristic of a majority of UFO close encounters. Alleged “alien” abductees report profound synchronicities manifesting in their lives, battle poltergeist phenomena in their homes, and occasionally encounter loved ones during their brief sojourn to the Otherworld.
These pernicious data points serve as constant reminders that we are swimming in a very strange pool indeed. Of all the fantastic motifs reported by eyewitnesses, telepathy—the ability of aliens (or even just lights in the sky) to exchange ideas with witnesses via thought—is most common.
“Of 124 cases with the means of communication specified, 98 (79%) involve telepathy, thought transference, or the witnesses being able to understand or ‘hear’ the beings without their mouths moving or any apparent auditory input,” wrote Eddie Bullard in his comprehensive 1987 work, UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery. While no study of similar magnitude has been compiled in the intervening three decades, even a cursory survey of the literature suggests that this trend has not abated.
“Regarding UFO contact, we would do well to recall that most contactees and abductees have claimed some form of telepathic connection with these other beings,” wrote Richard Dolan in UFOs for the 21st Century Mind. “In fact, such connections are often felt by people who have UFO sightings, without even experiencing the extra level of abduction or contact. In other words, these beings appear, somehow, to connect to us telepathically.” He later adds this aspect is “not fully appreciated by current science.”
At first blush, accepting the presence of telepathy in alien abduction cases seems as though it would be anathema to N&B ufologists of the ETH persuasion. After all, their position firmly seeks scientific answers to the UFO question, while telepathy is regarded as New Age bunk by the materialist establishment. In practice, however, most ETH advocates seem quite keen to declare this peculiarity a reality of the UFO experience.
Prior to his death in 2011, Budd Hopkins suspected not only that extraterrestrials were responsible for the abduction phenomenon, but also that they possessed telepathic abilities. In 1981’s Missing Time, he sidestepped any possible contradiction by suggesting the telepathic component could represent extremely advanced technology.
Alien abduction researcher Dr. David Jacobs, though initially skeptical of telepathic communication in his early work, later warmed to eyewitness testimony of “Mindscans” and telepathy as a reality: “In virtually all abduction accounts, the communication between the aliens and the abductees is done through ‘telepathy,’ and not aurally through their ears,” he wrote in 1992.
Stanton T. Friedman—someone who has arguably done more than anyone else to legitimize UFO research while holding a firmly N&B paradigm—most overtly articulated his acceptance of telepathic communication in UFO encounters on a January 21, 2012 episode of Alex Tsakiris’s popular Skeptiko podcast:
I’m convinced that any advanced civilization will know about telepathy and mind control and communication at a distance. It really came home to me when I was standing at the exact location where Barney Hill was standing when the saucer was over their car and he’s looking through binoculars at the crew on board.
For no good reason, they jumped back in the car, very frightened, and they get off the main road, Route 3, and they go onto a secondary road. Then they go onto a dirt road—which Barney would never have done. And he winds up alongside the only place in the area where you could land a, let’s say 80-foot in diameter, flying saucer… It was clear proof to me that these guys were directing his actions.
It seems to me eminently clear that these guys have capabilities—as the only simple term I know—to do things that we don’t look upon as being respectable. Such as mind-reading, mind control, and getting people to forget.
In short, telepathy is regarded as consensus gentium among N&B/ETH ufologists, as well it should be. If we tossed out every account involving telepathic communication, we would be left with only a tiny fraction of the cases reported. The question stands, however, whether or not those in favor of the N&B/ETH solution have wrestled fully with the implications raised by telepathy in UFO and abduction reports.
The Slippery Slope
The most obvious repercussion of a belief in telepathy is how it normalizes a host of other psi phenomena in a domino effect, which in turn busts the perceived N&B/ETH ufological monopoly. After all, it seems arbitrary to draw a line in the sand at telepathy, which is but one point on a robust spectrum of psychic abilities. The UFO literature is rife with witnesses who experience such activity, from the comparatively mundane (precognition, clairvoyance) to the dramatic (psychokinesis, astral projection). Telepathy, a phenomenon whose existence is roundly accepted by N&B/ETH advocates, accompanies nearly all such examples.
Wrote Jacques Vallée in the mid-1970s:
I have long had an interest in both UFO manifestations and such psychic manifestations as telepathy, poltergeists, and psychokinetics, but I have refrained (until a few years ago) from attempting to build a bridge between these two fields. To be sure, I have been aware that many UFO cases contained elements indicative of psychic phenomena. At the same time, I have found in the literature of psychic history many observations that were suggestive of either the presence or the interference of UFOs. It would have been impossible not to recognize these connections and yet, to give just one example, when I was recently invited to speak about UFO research at a University of California extension course on psychic phenomena, my decision to accept the invitation was greeted with disbelief among astronomers privately interested in the subject. One of my physicist friends who was studying the material aspect of the sightings even called me to ask, ‘Why are you getting such a solid field as UFO research mixed up with the disreputable area of psychic phenomena?’ implying that by speaking of the analysis of UFO sightings before specialists in brain research, meditation, biofeedback, and brainwave analysis, I might jeopardize my chances of ever capturing a real, material flying saucer!
At the same time, it was amusing to observe the initial reluctance of those who had spent all their lives studying poltergeists, telepathy, and the human aura to consider the subject of UFOs.
But once the connection was established, there could not be any more doubt that we had to deal with one, not with two, subjects; not with two sets of phenomena but with a single universe of events in which a single set of laws was in force.
It is easy to illustrate how this inevitable connection declaws the traditional N&B stance. Starting in the 1970s, the United States government began pouring funds into research on remote viewing, an alleged psychic ability wherein a sitter is given a series of coordinates and asked to articulate what impressions and sensations come to mind. The Stargate Project, as it was called, cost Americans at least $20 million before it was shut down in 1995 for “failing to produce any actionable intelligence information” (one suspects that if this official narrative were true, the project would have been terminated after one, five, or even ten years rather than twenty, but that is a topic for another day). Continued ...
“IN FOR A PENNY, IN FOR A POUND: MOVING UFOLOGY BEYOND MATERIALISM” by Joshua Cutchin is an extract from his contribution to UFOs: Reframing the Debate edited by Robbie Graham.