Saturday, May 2, 2020

Normalizing the Fantastic and Resisting the Rational

"Why have we normalized speculating about alien bases on the moon yet vilify a person trying to explain strange occurrences with grounded explanations?" Twitter user Inquiring Josh recently tweeted. 

Why, indeed. The UFO genre has a long and troubled history of treating extreme claims as the norm. Casual talk of alien bases is often bandied about without so much as a raised eyebrow. It's common. As Inquiring Josh suggests, the situation is confounded by the typical knee jerk dismissal of those who propose potential and much less extraordinary explanations for the many often heard fantastic stories.

Deep Prasad is a young UFO enthusiast who has been rising in popularity. He promotes a confident belief aliens are here - plentifully here - and he claims to have experienced an abduction-like event. These are fairly common beliefs in the grand scheme of things UFO, as those familiar with conferences, meet ups, popular online sites and such are well aware.

In his recent article, We Live in an Alien Playground, Prasad expressed beliefs as implied by the title. He also asserted there is tangible evidence of alien bases. He further asserted that multiple massive alien structures exist on the dark side of the moon, adding that key NASA and DoD personnel are well aware of them, as are high level officials in Russia and China.

Prasad stated in the article that he briefed the deputy commander of NORAD on how to detect and track hypersonic UFOs. The article was soon edited, however, to instead state he briefed a "prominent North American Aerospace Defence Organization". It is unclear why "Aerospace Defence Organization" was capitalized, as it is not a proper noun or agency name.

Prasad was emailed and asked if he would care to comment on the edit and clarify who was actually briefed. He did not immediately respond. The edit is indicated in the images below, before and after.

The extent the UFO subculture willingly shrugs off glaring questions in lieu of credulous acceptance of entirely unsupported material is rather amazing. My direct and personal observations in this area significantly contributed to my interest and writing about the genre. I came across so many of the incidents that I am confident I have now forgotten many more than I recall.

Inquiring Josh's tweet reminds me of a UFO person of interest to me who never really made it into my written material, certainly not in the ways it initially seemed they might. Their saga turned out to just be too convoluted and problematic.

The person achieved some degree of UFO notoriety and was on the radar of some relatively high profile researchers. I corresponded with them by email and phone for quite a while, periodically meeting in person. I found their claimed experiences to be difficult to accept at face value for a lot of reasons.

During one meeting in a public place, the individual was particularly suspicious that people around us were trying to eavesdrop. I did not share the suspicion. The person told me of alleged alien encounters and extremely subjective experiences during that interaction, but one of the most prominent things about that specific meeting was their concern intelligence agencies were actively interested in our conversation. The suggestion, in order to be feasible, had to be predicated on an agency's urgent interception of our emails and phone calls to know where we agreed to meet and subsequently place or secure an asset among the employees of the location, as the supposition went. I had a lot of questions about that. It should again be noted that, in the grand scheme of UFO culture, the general premise is a fairly commonly held belief in one form or another.

Nonetheless, just because it's common shouldn't necessarily mean to take it in stride. I also had a lot of questions about the integrity of the researchers who were apparently encouraging the person. Surely the individual behaved the same way around them, if not even more questionably, yet none of the information being published reflected any concerns about misinterpretations or overly subjective perceptions. Quite the contrary, actually. The person I knew as erratic and confused was described as level headed and reliable. The primary reason I never wrote about the person and their case was I thought it stood to do more emotional damage to them than it would benefit the collective UFO genre, particularly considering anyone practicing a reasonable amount of critical thinking would recognize the investigators involved as doing subpar work anyway.

Perhaps investigators are frequently content to omit mention of that which negates their argument, while promoting that which supports it. A lot of investigators seem to leave out the troublesome stuff because they want the rest of the material to seem more credible. It should be obvious that the reliability of such work is in serious question. Some such goings on in ufology are blatantly unethical - at absolute best.

Hopkins and Jacobs at a 2004 Intruders Foundation presentation
Credit: Carol Rainey

I piggybacked off the work of Emma Woods, Carol Rainey, Jeremy Vaeni, Jeff Ritzmann, and several others about events surrounding who Rainey termed "the priests of high strangeness," Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs. The hypnosis-advocating duo facilitated a train wreck of ethical research failings but, in the context of this post, I'm reminded how normalized it was to talk of aliens in the circles of people like Hopkins and Jacobs. To incredible extents, actually. The presence and activities of the non-human beings were taken for granted as objectively real. The only question was how much the creatures passed through each of our individual lives.

One of the many jaw-dropping scenarios uncovered by the above mentioned group involved David Jacobs and his subjects, for lack of a better term, "Elizabeth" and "Brian". Woods knew these people, and assisted with filling in detail and context (as well as shedding a great deal of light on her own infamous interactions with Jacobs). 

I explored an interview Vaeni and Ritzmann conducted with Brian, who had been doing instant message hypnosis sessions with Elizabeth. This rather incredible activity resulted from Jacobs's practice of doing the same. Jacobs at one point publicly stated an ET-human hybrid messaged him from Elizabeth's home while the hybrids rendered her defenseless. He claimed to believe this was actually occurring and among the most frightening things that ever happened to him (I personally interviewed Jacobs and asked about the claim, and found his statements to be an insult to intelligence). Here is a small sample of UFO cult-like behavior and its normalization, as facilitated by Jacobs, from The Greys Have Been Framed, pp66-67:

Brian went on to explain that he did some 18 such sessions with Elizabeth in 2007. The sessions would last for hours, as did telephone conversations between the two.
His trust for Elizabeth began to seriously unravel, Brian explained, when the “hybrid chats” which had occurred with Jacobs began to arise with him as well, and the content became increasingly ridiculous. It seems Elizabeth would allegedly fall under the control of the hybrids, leaving them to IM with Brian, who would exchange questions and answers with the unwelcome visitors. Elizabeth was supposedly rendered passive and without conscious recall of the occurrences. Essentially, Brian was supposed to accept that hybrids were storming the castle while he happened to have been conducting IM hypnosis with the woman, if not because he was doing so, and the hybrids were threatened that their plots and existence were becoming more widely known, all while Elizabeth would later be like, “What happened?”. Brian told Vaeni and Ritzmann that he strongly urged Elizabeth to use a web cam, which she always refused to do for one reason or another.
During interactions that did not allegedly involve hybrids, Elizabeth would apparently encourage Brian to use a pseudonym when IM'ing with the hybrids for reasons, according to Brian, she suggested included Brian's personal safety. Commenting on such hidden identities and the many aliases recommended and employed, Emma explained that Brian pretended to the alleged hybrids to be a doctor who lived in Austria.
“This came about because Dr. Jacobs had done a similar thing,” Emma continued. “Dr. Jacobs pretended to be numerous other people to the hybrids, including a female expert in MPD called Aloha Norton. He also used aliases when communicating with Elizabeth and me, and asked us to use the aliases when communicating with him, for when the aliens and hybrids read our minds. These aliases included him being someone called Lucille Scott, David Jacobsen and so on. He also wrote emails to us in code, and asked us to do the same thing. So Brian pretending to be a different person was based on that precedent from Dr. Jacobs.”

Believe it or not, that's actually far from the worst of Jacobs's exploitative actions. However, let's shake off the glazed-over eyes and numbed brains produced by that material and keep moving.

A designer golf cart sporting a "Q",
spotted by your author in The Villages, FL
It is frighteningly easier than many of us might like to think to become entrenched in questionable beliefs and the related social circles, one compromise at a time. No one woke up one morning and set out to get indoctrinated by lunatics or con men. It happens with an overly accepting, somewhat gullible willingness to hear "both sides," combined with what is often a reasonably valid distrust of authority. The groups themselves are often conducive to cultivating dependency through providing support and empathy for issues commonly dismissed by family and other more mainstream social circles. It is also noteworthy that a reasonable distrust of authority should not mindlessly evolve into uncritically accepting every far flung plot. Just because MKULTRA actually existed doesn't necessarily mean the CIA is eavesdropping via a waitress offering beverage refills. 

I have indeed found myself deeply involved with people harboring extreme fringe beliefs. I understand how we get there, and I understand how there can seem to be kernels of truth in some of the narratives. There may well be glimpses of currently unknown phenomena and covert plots of intelligence agencies to be found lurking within the UFO genre and material. 

That stated, I would like to think I have learned to exercise a willingness to seek information from multiple quality sources, not relying too heavily on any single witness account. I then rank the sources and their credibility as appropriate. Doing so can help us develop and implement a healthy, functional understanding of the fact-finding process. It comes as a result of extending an open-mindedness to the work of those who question UFO bandwagons as much as we extend it to those who drive them. It is also important to acquaint ourselves with such topics as identifiable flying objects, symptoms of emotional trauma, and various similar types of non-UFO yet quite relevant material. This should be done in generous proportion to subjecting ourselves to questionable stories in constant circulation on cable and the internet. This brings us back to the gist of Inquiring Josh's tweet.

Unreasonable as it is, UFO World indeed tends to accept and even celebrate assertions of massive alien structures on the moon without a blink of the eye, while adamantly resisting efforts at sensible discourse. To vilify those willing to apply healthy skepticism to the stories is a mistake. It's not just an attack on those individuals, but the very critical thinking they represent. It's a serious hole in the fact-finding process, while the only path to recognizing possible genuinely unknown phenomena goes directly through the critical review of the evidence. There's no way around it; the evidence must be published, and it must be subjected to critical review. Those who fail to embrace that are doomed to dwell in an echo chamber of unsupported fantastic assertions. 


  1. Why do some people tolerate, support and even worship charlatans? I posit these folks are highly submissive to authoritarianism. They want their beliefs, no matter how whacky, to be legitimized. This is true in religion, politics and yes, ufology. The rest of us stand appalled at the absurdity of it all. And that only gives more certainty to the insecure and highly defensive cultists.

    And all this coming from a guy who believes it audacious for us as a species to think we are the only intelligent beings in the universe or multiverse.

    Perhaps I'm the whacky one.

    1. As a result of learning about Jacobs & Hopkins unethical/abusive/fraudulent practices, I've gone from a lifelong interest in the UFO topic to being mostly disgusted with it. I was already disgusted with the majority of the culture/general community, and well aware that most of the material is rooted in stuff that has long been shown as highly questionable or outright fakery (like MJ12).... but learning about these guys is kind of like the final nail in the coffin, since most of the abduction material is based in hypnosis, if not directly the work of Hopkins or Jacobs.

      All the big, respected names continue to support Jacobs and reference his work, or even interview him.

      No one acknowledges the problems.

      I cannot retain any active respect for the validity of this community until these things are brought out into full view and fully reckoned with.

    2. You and me both, markov, you and me both.

  2. "...and found his statements to be an insult to intelligence.."

    You are being too kind..
    Has anyone ever looked into why a field like ufology that is quite interesting, has a vast and vocal majority that are off their heads bonkers?..
    I dont mean this to be just glib either.
    I once asked Dr Berthold Shwarz author of UFO Dynamics: Psychiatric and Psychic Aspects of the UFO Syndrome if the amount of hoaxes and half wits in this field was due to some form of trickster elements..he was unsure.

  3. Prasad has never actually done anything in the form of research. He just spills grand comments for his gang and they love it.

  4. At last a breath of fresh air and a double dose of common sense. Thank you for restoring my faith.....

  5. Let's build a new ufology without charlatans that's how intelligent people will come to help us investigate

    1. The problem all fringe subjects like ghosts etc..attracts the fringe.The majority of people interested in these subjects are not interested in any form of intelligent discussion or investigating anything.Have a look at any of the ufo groups on facebook..or go to the skinwalker ranch groups..seriously the average IQ is there appears to be under 80..