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Interview with UFO researcher and author Jacques Vallée

Jacques Vallée has held many titles over the years; astronomer, computer scientist, venture capitalist, author, and more. He has researched UFOs for decades and has written several books on the topic. The lead character on the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was inspired by Vallée. We recently received this interview from Nagib Kary who runs the French UFO website Ovnis-Direct.com. Kary and several associates asked questions of Vallée in February and recently translated the interview into English. Kary has graciously asked Open Minds to re-post their insightful interview.

Jacques Vallée discussing UFOs in 2011 at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudia Arabia. (Credit: GFC2011)

Jacques Vallée discussing UFOs in 2011 at the Global Competitiveness Forum in Saudia Arabia. (Credit: GFC2011)

Questions from Fabrice Bonvin:

Fabrice is a Swiss ufologist, writer, psychologist by training who deals especially with the relation between ufos and ecology and the psychological impact of apparitions on witnesses.

Q1: How do you see ufology and ufological activity in 15-20 years ? What will fundamentally change — or won’t ?

We shouldn’t be surprised if we see an increase in these manifestations as humanity goes on to a new step of systematic exploration of space. But the question should be addressed to the phenomenon itself: It has shown that it was diverse, adaptable and unpredictable. It also showed that it was fundamentally interested in our technological progress and our technical prototypes.

Q2: Who is the thinker, the intellectual or the researcher you admire the most and why?

Maybe you have noticed it while reading Science Interdite: I found a great source of inspiration in Aimé Michel, a remarkable spirit by the strength of his vision and the deep humanity of his intellect. The fact that such a thinker has been ignored and even despised by the intellectual elite in France is not a compliment to our country. However, the limited number of people who have known him have had a great privilege. According to Aimé, Ufos were only a mystery among others. He was a universal thinker.

Q3: What is the current scientific discipline which would be able to benefit ufology and its achievement?

I can think of two disciplines whose application is urgent: computer science of course, with data-mining , and medicine which has never been applied to a  real study of long term effects on witnesses of close encounters. Beyond this, of course, physics must take the subject as an “existence theorem” to understand physical reality in a broader sense.

Aimé Michel

Aimé Michel

Q4: How are consciousness and Ufos related? What role does consciousness play in Ufo manifestations?

We have seen ufos as classical spaceships for a long time, in accordance with science fiction in the forties and fifties. This interpretation persists, especially in France where recent breakthrough of parapsychology are not well known and where psychic effects reported by witnesses are considered either as evidences of mental weakness or as electromagnetic side effects. Yet, as documentation improves, we find out that the physical aspects of the phenomenon are as negotiable as its psychic effects: it is as if it took control of a given area, including witnesses’ perceptions. It is that aspect that discouraged Aimé Michel.

Q5: Do governments (and especially the USA) hide information about Ufos on the public (according to you and your experience)?

There are two levels to that question: (1) governments (and not only the USA) keep some information they think most sensitive, especially reports which come from the military. It seems that since 1947 this policy has been viewed as legitimate, in the interest of populations and in the hope of discovering technological breakthroughs. (2) The most difficult question is to know if breakthroughs have actually taken place. To my mind, the phenomenon has probably resisted all analysis, classified or not. The issue of opening all the files is going to arise again but it’s not as simple to understand the Ufo phenomenon as to dismantle a MIG or to secretly copy the space shuttle.

Q6: What advice would you give to the ufology community?

I don’t think I have personal advice to give. It is obvious that we won’t make real progress in an environment of petty squabbling. It would be best to avoid accusations that discourage researchers from working together. The phenomenon is accessible at a local level, so the possibility of field study and fast exchange of data is wide open. That would be more useful than speculating on inaccessible, hypothetical secrets in the drawers of governments.

Q7: What are your biggest regrets in your ufological career?

I sometimes wonder whether things would have taken a different course if I had accompanied Allen Hynek to Detroit during the swamp gas case. It was the biggest opportunity to pose the question of the reality of the phenomenon before the American general public and the scientific community. Together with Bill Powers’ advice, we could have presented a realistic and urgent vision of the issue which would have been understood by the media.

A lot of water has passed under the bridge, as the Americans would say. If I look back, it is obvious that professionally speaking, I wasted my time when I came back in France in late 1967. Should I regret it? I wouldn’t have written Passport to Magonia anywhere else than in Paris. Moreover, I wouldn’t have experienced May ’68 on the spot!

Questions about the book Science Interdite, Vol 2 by Ovnis-Direct : P389, answer of the author to Aimé Michel on the origin of Ufos (“Belmont Friday, June 25th 1976”):

Public opinion only has two possible positions toward Ufos: if you manage to take the idea away from people’s mind that there are hallucinations, these same minds are going to draw the conclusion that it is purely and simply about E.T.

Don’t you see that a technology which can create local deformation of space might not be limited to produce Ufos only, but any kinds of other phenomena which would seem miraculous?

Q1: Apart from Ufos, could you tell us what phenomena result from such super technology?

These phenomena are in the literature: reports of poltergeist are documented in the book by captain of gendarmerie Tizané, as well as the famous deformations of metal by psychic means reported by Soviets researchers or by Stanford Research Institute (or, in France, by the material expert Crussard).

Nonlocality allows phenomena described by the French physicist Yves Rocard in his experiments at Ecole Normale Supérieure, as the relativist Olivier Costa de Beauregard had emphasized. It is a pity that this field has been ignored for ideological reasons. Maybe it was marginal in the 70s but it comes back at the center of multiple broad issues.

P406, Aleister Crowley on the Society for psychical research:

All their work brings evidence that there are powers influencing humans. We have always known them: The universe is full of dark and subtle manifestations of energy. But nobody before me has ever managed to prove the outer intelligence to humankind whereas my compilation has. But it is impossible to doubt that there is someone there, someone who is able to organize events the same way Napoléon conceived his battle plans, with an extent of unthinkable powers through which he can control the actions of the people he has chosen to play a role in the implementation of his purposes.

Aleister Crowley

Aleister Crowley

Q2: The publications made by people who belong to the Esoteric Hermetic  Movement like Aleister Crowley, Facius Cardan, John Dee and others you name. Do they influence in any way your research leading to the hypothesis of the control system?

Definitely: before the development of science as we know it, many lonely researchers or members of small groups asked the same questions as we did. Facius Cardan’s father was a great mathematician, John Dee was a scholar who was instrumental to the science of navigation; others were chemists, alchemists or astronomers. They wondered whether there was a general balance of the world that will give meaning to human life and the phenomena which surround us.

Q3: According to you, what were the triggers of the spiritual revolution in the 70s in the USA?

A new generation became aware of the limitations of western culture and they revolted against religious, social, political and artistic prohibitions in the world of their parents, who often emerged mentally exhausted and culturally impoverished from the Second World War. In that environment, it was normal that spiritual exploration went off in all directions and was used by certain sects. I observed this phenomenon in the USA but it existed in France and England as well, although it was less visible but quite powerful: look at the Solar Temple.

Q4: We can see through your last book your reluctance before certain techniques such as meditation through substances. A serious ufologist who went to Amazonia spoke of the efficiency of methods used by shamans (using ayahuasca) to reach other plans of reality. They are even described as “technicians of consciousness.” What do you think about it?

In terms of field of research, all these explorations are useful and valuable: current science asks the question of the nature of  reality both  on a physical basis (quanta, nonlocality etc) and physiological (information processing by the mind, discovery of  hidden mechanisms using « functional » MRI etc.)

When I met Terence McKenna I realized during our conversations that our hypotheses on a possible “control system”  converged. But my own research involves a structured calibration of data with calibration of investigation tools, which is not possible when one is transported by the visions of drugs like ayahuasca or simply LSD.

Living in California since 1969, I have seen many experiments derived from these methods, whether they came from South American jungles or simply from drug companies. I understand their usefulness to force some parts of the brain to reveal their function in the construction of reality, but I haven’t learnt anything new or reliable for my own work.

P427 – The author’s quotation:

The Ufo phenomenon looks like a kaleidoscope which has three separate levels: a physical and technologic level; a sociologic level; and finally a personal level, subliminal, which plays with subtle shades of human psyche.

  The first aspects seem to show evidence of extraterrestrial origins; the second one would be within the competence of human mythology and anthropology, if we refer to the societal dimension only: this is the explanation which meets with the advanced skeptics’ approval, contrary to Menzel and Klass who are content with denying everything outright.

  The third aspect is the most disconcerting: it suggests clues of a darker manipulation from terrestrial and very material origins.

Q5: Have you achieved new discoveries on the third aspect of the Ufo phenomenon over the last years?

We are faced with this third aspect when we carry on case studies in the field. Everything is happening as if the phenomenon was able to manipulate its environment (including its human environment) in order to hide its real nature. To my mind, the camouflage uses terrestrial elements and it is not simply a bureaucratic “cover-up” as it has naively been believed for a long time.

 Questions from Philippe Solal:

Phillippe is a doctor and associate professor in Philosophy at INSA in Toulouse, teacher of expression-communication, social psychology, philosophy of sciences and author of several books in this field.

Q1: Physics and cosmology of this early 21st century are in crisis and are looking for new patterns to represent the universe: multiverse, multidimensional, folded,  etc. Are you paying attention to this crisis and does it give food for thought about the origin of Ufos?

I have followed these works, first in astrophysics at the University of Texas which was a major cosmological research centers, then at Stanford and SRI. The result was my book Autres Dimensions where I wrote that Ufos give us the opportunity (among others) to ask questions about the structure of the universe. I have recently given a TED lecture on the physics of information  in the framework of a meeting in Brussels about the next 60 years, a period which I think will put these questions at the center of research. The conference is on Youtube.

Q2: I understand that you have investigated an increase of reports on cryptids in the USA over the last months. Would you tell us about it?

It is a subject I had put aside for a long time, first because I don’t have skills in biology or zoology and especially because it seemed to me independent of the main observations I was studying. I have been forced to come back to this position following series of reports of crypto-zoological phenomena that were co-located with well-documented observations of Ufos.

In 2012 and 2013, I traveled several times in Utah with Professor Frank Salisbury, a distinguished biologist who had also worked with NASA on botany in microgravity. We went all over the Uintah mountain range and later across the semi-desert basin which expands from Vernal to Fort Duchesne to meet the witnesses of these events. They were ranchers, industrial workers and policemen (including the tribal police). In general, those reports are not published, which makes the fieldwork essential to find people and listen to them. Those trips taught me that the observation of these creatures were to be taken seriously. As you may know it, similar observations have been reported in France.

 Questions from Daniel Robin:

Daniel is president of the Lyon based association “OVNI Investigation”, field investigator and organizer of  Rencontres des Sciences et de l’Inexpliqué. On the basis of concrete examples, he has drawn up an interference categorization of the phenomenon on human consciousness.

Q1: In your books, you propose the hypothesis that manifestations of the Ufo phenomenon could correlate with a learning program for humanity. This system could be the same type as psychologist Burrhus Frederic Skinner’s training process. Would you explain this hypothesis and show that the manifestations of the Ufo phenomenon follow a program?

This hypothesis comes from data processing compilations made during the 60s and 70s, which lead to a frequency curve of the phenomenon which looks like a learning program (a “schedule of reinforcement” according to Skinner), that is to say, a sequence of stimuli which is pseudo-periodical. According to Skinner, such a program leads to irreversible learning. It is also difficult to detect unless we study a long series of observations.

Let’s notice at the same time that military studies like the US Air Force Blue Book Project, or academic analyses like that of Professor Condon at the University of Colorado have always treated Ufo cases one by one, without any global perspective, which obviously hides such a program if it exists. The often-recycled statement in the declarations of governmental agencies that Ufos are not a threat, has never taken into account the structure of the global evolution of the phenomenon.

To prove or disprove that hypothesis, we should review recent data and update former cases in order to expand the study in a longer period. I have had the opportunity to talk it over with computer scientists from CNES. It is possible that many hypotheses would converge within such an analysis.

Q2: During a conference you hosted in Montreal in Canada, you talked about past work of arts in which possible Ufos representations can be found. You also talked about Michelangelo’s painting which represents a black triangle that the painter would have observed surely. Would you give us the references of Michelangelo’s work?

The reference is the book of Benedictine chronicler Benedetto Lushino entitled, Vulnera Diligentis (second book, chapter XXII). He wrote that Michelangelo saw a “triangular sign” on a calm night. It was bright (and not dark, by the way) with three tails, one silvery, the second red and the third “flaming and bifurcated.” The observation took place in Rome in 1513. Michelangelo was so impressed that he made a painting, which unfortunately hasn’t survived, to my knowledge.

Questions from Jean-Pierre TROADEC:

Jean-Pierre is author of the book  Les Ovnis. Collection Que Sais-Je ?, PUF Publishers, Paris, Auditor at the Institution of Higher National Defense Studies.

Q1: The Cergy-Pontoise case broke in 1979. According to you, what truth does this story hide: abduction, hoax, secret servicesfake information, other hypothesis?  What confidence do you have, and what piece of evidence will you rely on?

I often think again about this case. It affects me personally because, contrary to most investigations that a researcher happens to make, this one brought me back to a very familiar area: like the primary witness Frank Fontaine, I was a student at Parc-aux-Charrettes communal school in Pontoise; like him and his follow students, I know the area of Cergy very well; and Gérard Deforge, who had Fontaine as a student, is a close friend. I met Fontaine with the two other witnesses in Pontoise at the home of Marceau Sicaud, who had followed the whole case.

Today, I still hesitate between the thesis of a hoax and the possibility of a psychological manipulation. The other two witnesses, Prévost and N’Diaye, have explained the events in their own way but Frank’s personality and his doubt about his experience puzzle me:I don’t think that he has lied. On the other hand, we know that sociological experiences are common in the framework of psychological warfare. In Cergy-Pontoise, several obvious ways which could show manipulations have not been followed up by investigators: why ? The Gepanwas probably wise not to get more involved in the question, once the hypothesis of a real “abduction” was ruled out.

Q2: Do abductees like Adamski or Siragusa reveal a real part of ufological reports or do these stories have a link with something else? Some believe it to be pure hoax. What do you think of it?

If we refer to “scientific” reality, it seems clear that what we have here consists of hoaxes (in Adamski’s case) and psychological issues (delusion, fugue, paraphrenia) in many other cases. But the impact of these reports is deeper than a mere hoax, which would be quickly rejected once the truth is known, as was the case with Gulf Breeze’s famous observations  by “Mr Ed” or that of Meier in Switzerland, two cases that ufology has fortunately forgotten.

Dr. Carl Jung didn’t miss the cultural and psychological impact of the 50s “contactee” reports, when he noticed their appeal to powerful archetypes. For instance, contactees were among the first to mention the risk of dangerous pollution of the planet, twenty years before ecologists. This is a point on which their alleged cosmic visitors would often insist….

More recently professor Jeffrey Kripal, who is chairman of the Religious Studies Department at Rice University, has taken up this analysis again in terms of the evolution of religious concepts in the modern world. From this perspective, the fact that new beliefs are based on unverifiable facts or even false ones has no importance: Did Jesus Christ really change water into wine?

Q3: It was said that during the Second World War, German scientists may have developed circular wing machines, flying saucers (Vrils, Haunebus). Are those information be considered as rumors?

These researches are well established, and some of those prototypes were recovered (I have seen one in a laboratory in Texas). From theaeronauticalpoint of view, it was logical to try to develop such machines. At the end of the war, the firms AVRO in Canada and Couzinet in France tried to build a functional flying saucer. Americans took up those researches again, trying to find the Horten brothers. In France the Société Nationale de Construction Aéronautique du Sud-Ouest (SNCASO) hired Thomas Townsend Browne (co-founder of NICAP group) in 1955 for works on electro-gravity. Closer to us, Dr. Moller in California, whom I met in Sacramento when I saw his prototypes, still tries to build a vertical takeoff aircraft for the general public, for which he is looking for financing.

With hindsight, we now understand why these aircraft are unsteady (as soon as they go up above “ground effect” like a hovercraft) and especially have difficulty with heavy loads or many passengers: the weight increases with the cube of diameter, and the center of gravity is too close to the center of lift. To my knowledge, the only circular aircraft able to carry one or two people are used by soldiers at low altitude for commando operations, especially in marshy areas. And they don’t spin around as some German prototypes did. I think that there is no longer any mystery on this topic.

The front of a Horten Ho 229 (Horten H. IX) at the Smithsonian Institution's Garber Restoration Facility. The ony Horton wing to be recovered. (image credit: Michael Katzmann)

The front of a Horten Ho 229 (Horten H. IX) at the Smithsonian Institution’s Garber Restoration Facility. The ony Horton wing to be recovered. (image credit: Michael Katzmann)

The front of a Horten Ho 229 (Horten H. IX) at the Smithsonian Institution's Garber Restoration Facility. The ony Horton wing to be recovered. (image credit: Michael Katzmann)

The front of a Horten Ho 229 (Horten H. IX) at the Smithsonian Institution’s Garber Restoration Facility. The ony Horton wing to be recovered. (image credit: Michael Katzmann)

Q4: What link do you make between ufology and secret initiation societies?

If they are keepers of a real tradition, initiation societies are open to the idea of non-human consciousness. In Paracelsus, to whom medicine owes some important ideas and practical remedies, we can find a series of descriptions of beings that are supposed to have realities similar to ours. The collections of such esoteric treaties contain precious historical information, apart from speculations that modern science has now validated or exceeded.

Unfortunately, when we look at the recent history of these sects, we also find a more sinister link between their leaders and “services” that use them for political reasons or simply to facilitate political influence. Some well-informed authors have reported on these relations regarding the P2 lodge or Amorc and also Masonic organizations in Africa. In particular, the sect of the Solar Temple had initiation rituals that included a contact with so-called extraterrestrials, produced by conjurers’ methods.

Questions of Nagib KARY who is in charge of  the French ufologic media Ovnis-Direct:

Q1: Do you know if there is a program or a plan to be in contact with the Ufo phenomenon at the moment ?

You can find many such attempts on the Internet, starting with Dr. Steven Greer’s group. His followers state that they are in frequent contact with Ufos through bright signals or psychic exchange. Unfortunately their cameras or videos stop working at the right moment…Other groups have claimed telepathic contacts. The most reliable projects start with the identification of high-frequency observation areas, where researchers hope to be able to establish regular communication. I haven’t seen convincing results so far.

Q2: What is your opinion about current evolutions of quantum physics ? According to you, would we be close to discoveries which can help partly to explain some phenomena related to Ufos?

The question is legitimate, especially as reliable researches about psychic functioning are facing the same problem. From the non-locality principle, we must wonder whether thought is not transmitted immediately (rather than electromagnetic waves, as in Soviet researches from 1930 to 1940 or French and English scientists’ works in the beginning of the last century with the “mental radio” concept). If so, it might be theoretically possible to get into contact with other forms of consciousness, while beings capable of moving in space might influence us at a distance, or even make us perceive imaginary scenes.

However, to tell the truth, it seems to me that in their enthusiasm some researchers use quantum physics a little bit too much: since these mechanisms remain mysterious, they can be stretched to explain a lot of phenomena in an exaggerated way. I am more interested in new ideas on the physics of information, as I said earlier. If space and time are a side effect of our consciousness and a physical illusion, we should face the problem of phenomena related to Ufos in a more fundamental way.

 Q3: Why does the hypothesis of control deal essentially with Ufos and people who are related? Might this manipulation of space and time not materialize current life, in the street, inside houses?

We can imagine a control system that would distort our reality gradually (both physically and socially) to replace it with “something else.” This is what Jorge-Luis Borges described in his masterpiece short story, Tlon, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius.

Authors-of-the-ImpossibleQ4: Could you tell us the main author, researchers who are currently in the same school of thought as you ?

First, Jeff Kripal and his students and the participants to his symposia at Esalen over  the last few years (see his book Authors of the Impossible, University of Chicago Press, where he analyzes my work and that of Bertrand Méheust). These ideas converge with Jean Sider’s work in France and several physicists in the US, and researchers like Philippe Guillemant at CNRS. Moreover, there are groups in Silicon Valley that work on retro-causality and who question physical theories. I think that this work must be done before asking the question of Ufo reality and nature on a very scientific basis.

In fact, I could sum up the issue in the following way: “(1) The Ufo phenomenon does exist, and (2) Knowing that, we just have to renegotiate what we mean by reality!”

Q5: So, can you understand the fact that someone like John Keel has been called into question many times ? Did you manage to talk to him about the manifestation of Point Pleasant (1966-67)?

Is that case credible for you? And do you know if there are other types involving a wide range of varied paranormal manifestations?

John was not a scientist and didn’t pretend to be one. He was rightly called into question because his sources were unverified. I think that he was going too fast and got carried away by the impressions of the moment. To his great credit he spent a lot of time in the field, he was the first to state that genuine witnesses make up an invisible majority, and that the military had a systematic interference program with the observations. He also called into question the extraterrestrial hypothesis — in Disneyland of the Gods in particular.

As for Point Pleasant, I can’t comment about it, I didn’t interview witnesses. But I trust John when he describes the destruction of a bridge that was predicted by previous messages, and he concludes that the phenomenon sometimes makes a fool of us at our expense.

Q6: A lot of Internet users on social networks are keen on the lights which were filmed in Phoenix in Arizona in 1997 and Ufos crashes on the ground which would exhibit material debris. Is it possible to link the hypothesis of the system control with the (Phoenix) facts and assumptions (crashes, reverse engineering) said previously?

This raises two very different questions: The Phoenix case shows the limits of our observation system since we have a lot of reports and a video recording, but we still can’t manage to prove the nature of the phenomenon. I don’t have additional elements that could solve the problem, but let’s notice that the Phoenix case is not unique: it coincides with many unexplained observations of large sets of objects (or lights associated with a big object) in the USA and elsewhere as in the unsolved case of 5 November 1990 in France.

Material debris do exist and they don’t necessarily come from a “crash.” I have published an analysis of several samples I was entrusted with after an observation of a low altitude object ejecting a liquid metal : The results are instructive. Of course, the Holy Grail might be a piece of a crashed machine but it is not obvious that our laboratories are equipped to understand it: As someone said, give a garage door opener to Léonardo da Vinci…

Q7: According to your knowledge and statistical data, is it possible that the system control solves these manifestations again by changing radically? Which would mean that Ufos could become more discreet and make way for a new kind of folklore having the same constants.

If we have a look at the history of the phenomenon over centuries, which we can do now thanks to Chris Aubeck’s researches and his group “Magoniax” on Internet, we can find both some constants (in the appearance of the phenomenon, its evolution and its physical effects) and changes of presentation which seem slightly in advance of technological ideas of the time. Americans of the 19th century saw impossible airships some decades before the building of the first airships, for instance. After the Second World War, we heard about flying saucers with silly small aerials as in the imagination of Comics. Is it a characteristic of the control system? Or simply an effect of a society that puts imagination in the framework of a mysterious phenomenon which still remains unexplained? I agree with your last hypothesis: a new kind of folklore with the same constants.

Q8: You prefaced Bob Pratt’s book entitled Ovnis – danger – appel à la vigilance (in English: Ufo Danger Zone: Terror & Death in Brazil). Have you known new disturbing cases over the last few years?

I haven’t returned to Brazil since the 80s. But we keep receiving information which confirms what Bob Pratt described in his book and what witnesses told me at the spot, including Brazilian Air Force Intelligence officers like Colonel Hollanda Lima.

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  1. avatar

    Cryptid fans should check out the premiere of MONSTERS UNDERGROUND on Destination America on Friday, August 22nd at 10/9c.

    The first episode will follow a team of four hunters into Volcano Caverns in Flagstaff, Arizona, as they search for the reptilian/bat “cave demon” known as the Olitiau.

    Future episodes will explore the dangerous caves of the American Southwest in search of cryptids including the Aswang, Mapinguari, Subterralien, and more.
     

    Check out a preview of MONSTERS UNDERGROUND here: http://vimeo.com/102164001

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