2015 March

Con-artist-tactees

By | Contactees | 3 Comments

Though I believe that most of the Contactees of the ’50s were sincere in the telling of their stories, this doesn’t necessarily mean they were telling the objective truth–they were telling the truth as they knew it.  And saucer fans of the day were eager to hear what they had to say.

Unfortunately, this put them at risk of a few less-than-reputable types who saw the saucer craze as a way to make a buck.  This, of course, is one of the main criticisms of the Contactees in general, that they were just trying to make easy money off all the rubes who’d buy their books.

The thing is, there wasn’t a ton of money–and their still isn’t, by the way–in telling tales of going to the moon with Space Brothers.  And it’s a grueling lifestyle, going from convention to lecture to personal appearance and back again.  Short of a movie deal, there’s not much opportunity for striking it rich.

Unless you’re clever, like Otis T. Carr.  While not a claimed contactee himself, he defrauded contactees and saucer fans by selling stock in his business of creating a working flying saucer capable of flying to the moon and back.  When it came time to demonstrate this miracle machine, he claimed to have contracted a mysterious illness and didn’t show up.  He later went to prison for selling stock in his fraudulent scheme.

There’s also the story of Reinhold O. Schmidt, a man who claimed to have encountered a landed saucer outside of Kearney, Nebraska in 1957.  Then he said he went inside the saucer, speaking to the beautiful space brothers in perfect high German, before they escorted him back outside and the ship took off. From there, Schmidt’s story takes a dark turn, for when he reported this incident, he was held in a mental hospital for several days until his employer secured his release.  But only a few years later he was convicted of defrauding a 61-year old widow out of $5000 for “free energy crystals” with the power to heal.

And while not strictly a contactee tale, the Aztec saucer crash as told in Frank Scully’s book Behind the Flying Saucers, was eventually exposed as a hoax perpetrated by Silas Newton and Leo GeBauer as a ploy to get investors in oil-detecting equipment.

Flying saucers, because they’re neither provable nor disprovable, provide a fertile ground in which the seeds of deception can grow.  And as such, these sorts of cons can easily claim victims.  Many skeptics today would say that all flying saucer stories are cons of some degree, and their victims are those with little talent for critical thinking.  I tend to think the truth is somewhere in the middle of that range.  Just because there are bogus pharmaceuticals out there is no reason to discount the entire field of medicine.  Just because there are stories from deceivers and deceived both when it comes to UFOs, one cannot simply throw all the stories out.

An Alien Perspective

By | Ramblings, Religion | No Comments

When Edgar Mitchell, astronaut on Apollo 14 and current record holder for longest stroll on the moon, was returning to Earth in 1971, he saw the planet from space and had something of a religious experience.  Seeing our planet from so high up, beyond all our petty conflicts, he realized that our home was a complete, interconnected, living system, of which we are an integral part.  As a result, he abandoned outer space for the inner kind, and founded the Institute of Noetic Sciences.  Mitchell’s experience was so intense, in fact, that he remains transformed even now, 44 years later.

Contactees report similar transformative experiences, sometimes as a result of seeing their planet from above, from seeing technology so far beyond ours as to be magical, or simply from meeting beings from above.  Recently, I spoke with a Contactee about his experience, and he described it as “like meeting Jesus.”  He said that his life was forever changed in the space of a few moments, and he will never see anything the same way again.  That shift was not easy and almost destroyed his marriage and reputation.  But he persisted in the face of such opposition and stuck to what had happened and became outspoken about it.

This is key to the Contact experience.  Whatever happens to Contactees, whether it’s a hallucinatory break or an actual meeting with beings from another world, their lives are transformed.  Orfeo Angelucci comes to mind.

On May 23, 1952, Angelucci started feeling ill at work.  While driving home, he claims he encountered beings who appeared to him in holographic form and gave him an elixir to drink that immediately cured his ailment.  He describes his reaction to these beings in The Secret of the Saucers:

As I listened to that kind, gentle voice I began to feel a warm, glowing wave of love enfold me; so powerful that it seemed as a tangible soft, golden light.  For a wonderful moment I felt infinitely greater, finer and stronger than I knew myself to be.  It was as though momentarily I had transcended mortality and was somehow related to these superior beings.

Phrases like “I had transcended mortality” give Angelucci’s story a religious flair, and that is one of the common criticisms of the Contactees: that they are religious fanatics grasping at the flying saucers as their new source of prophecy.  And the conversation ends there.  But why?

I’ve said before that belief in the Contactees is irrelevant to the study of their claims; it’s that moment of “religion” that comes over them and transforms their lives that makes them worthy of attention.

It’s no different than the shift in perspective that might come from someone being born again at a revival on a riverbank; from seeing the sun rise over Haleakala in Maui; from looking at the Earth from a vantage point of millions of miles away; or from meditating under a bodhi tree.

The source doesn’t matter nearly as much as the shift in perspective that comes with it.  The Contactees claimed the Space Brothers could tell us how to run our planet because they were literally coming from a higher perspective.  They were emissaries of that higher perspective, trying to explain to us the beauty and interconnectedness of us all.

This idea of interconnectedness is often applied to spiritual and New Age topics, but I’m more interested in how they are directly applicable in perfectly practical ways.  Our ecosystems are interconnected.  So are our economies, our lives, our shopping habits, our hygiene, but most importantly, our belief systems.  What we believe about our world and our universe affects everything else.  For example, if we believe that humans have no role in runaway climate change, then we strip ourselves of the power to change it, potentially affecting our ecosystem irreparably, which in turn would affect our economies, and so on.

We all know this.  But I think we forget it, and that’s why we need people like the Contactees.

There’s nothing new in what the Contactees said, only in the way they said it.  Like Moses before the burning bush, the Contactees struggled to express that sense of awe.  Their burning bushes were shiny metal discs, and their angels wore blue jumpsuits.  But the message was the same.  They were unable to explain their sense of awe at what had just happened to them, whether it was real or imagined.  But that sense of awe, of having one’s perspective shifted even momentarily to a higher level, can be life-changing.  And if someone is willing to throw away their reputations, their marriages, their careers to attempt to express this, then I think it’s at least worth a listen.