• Christopher Church
  • trash talk about LA, mysteries, the paranormal, and paranormal LA mysteries

Certainty about Alien Contact

September 28, 2014 • Los Angeles

Whitley Strieber's best-selling CommunionIn his book TechGnosis, which is an examination of how mystical thinking still pervades the world in the Internet age, Erik Davis says that “metaphysical certainty is a dire trap.” When confronted with weird unexplained phenomena, especially when they haven’t experienced them, most people I know fall into this trap—they are quite certain that alien contact, saucer sightings, and related phenomena are either fiction or misperceptions of something rational and explainable. But people who have these experiences see things differently. Some have similarly fallen into the certainty trap and have clear explanations for their experiences, while others find themselves with only questions. Alien abductions, probably more accurately called something like “contact experiences” because of the broad range of experiences that contactees have, is a great example. Experiencers themselves have all sorts of explanations, ranging from dark (“The entities are demons here to destroy us”) to light (“The entities are extraterrestrial space brothers who have come to help us.”) John Lear, pilot and scion of the Learjet family, is definitely on the dark side, claiming that human beings are being traded to extraterrestrials against our will by our government. On the other end of the spectrum, in the 1950s George Adamski, among others, met friendly and helpful aliens and photographed their ships; to this day his descendants work to promote the space brothers and the potential for our species to benefit from their altruism.

The contact phenomenon seems to be so personal and subjective that it must be an uphill battle not to label it with a simple explanation; our minds are hardwired to solve problems and make decisions. But once something nebulous has a label, I don’t think it’s possible to see it any other way. Through his life Adamski believed he was connecting with benevolent aliens; John Lear isn’t going to be speaking at any “alien love and light” conferences any time soon. I can’t speak from experience, but for me the most compelling research into the phenomenon is being done by people who don’t have simple explanations.

One of the best-known abduction experiencers, Whitley Strieber, has written about the contact experience for decades. He has said that “the question is the answer.” My take on this is that Strieber’s view is far from the certainty trap. His approach is intellectual, and his experiences have shown him that the phenomenon overall is meaningful, rather than explainable in simplistic terms. While Strieber’s statement might sound like a Zen koan or a thought exercise, it really makes the excellent point that it’s possible to understand more, to learn more, if we don’t already believe we have the answers. It’s frustrating, of course, to have a mystery with no solution in the offing, but as soon as we decide that we know what the solution is and attach labels, we’re not going to learn anything else.

Another worthwhile writer on the contact experience who hasn’t fallen into the certainty trap is Richard Dolan. His 2000 UFOs and the National Security State presents a reasonable and well researched explanation of how government handles the whole phenomenon. He also has a couple of newer books on the topic that I haven’t read.

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