Behind the Mask: Aliens or Cosmic Jokers?
February 11, 2012
By LYNN PICKNETT & CLIVE PRINCE—
In the 1970s, when we first became fascinated by the UFO phenomenon, opinion among researchers was divided between two views: the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) – UFOs are spacecraft from other worlds; and the ‘Magonian Hypothesis’ (after the 1970 book by the intelligent Ufologists’ hero Jacques Vallée, Passport to Magonia). Pro-Magonians believe something from Earth is behind UFOs, a race of tricksters that surface from time to time as alleged angels, visions of the Virgin, demons, fairies – and now, space-travelling aliens? They’ve just updated their image.
The theory acknowledges the close parallels between alien encounters and experiences with non-human entities that litter the annals of folklore. But it also recognises the often-reported absurdity and pointlessness – the ‘high strangeness’ – which challenge the simplistic notion of UFOs as technological craft crewed by biological entities. It was this Monty Pythonesque quality that led investigator John A. Keel to develop his ‘ultraterrestrial’ hypothesis – the aliens are visitors from another plane of existence – outlined in the 1973 classic UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse.
However, since 1980 this approach has lost ground to the ETH – a pity, as it offers a more complete explanation of the whole phenomenon. Even ETH-ers usually acknowledge a paranormal component in alien contact, most obviously in the mental manipulation of abductees, often at a distance. There’s also the most direct psychic contact, the channelling of alleged extraterrestrial entities.
The ETH has become so dominant partly because the Magonian approach challenges our cherished consensus reality so outrageously, whereas the concept of space ships from other planets doesn’t. Also, high-profile cases such as Roswell, Area 51 and Majestic 12 – all firmly based on the ET interpretation and centred on government conspiracies and cover-ups – came to dominate Ufology in the 1980s. But paradoxically they derive from the very agencies allegedly behind the conspiracy. In fact, trace any famous case back to its source and you will find that one way or another it originated within the military and intelligence community.
(It always amazes us that Ufologists often obey the unwritten rule: never believe anything that anyone in government, the military or the intelligence community tells you – unless it’s that UFOs are real ETs in secret contact with world authorities. Then believe everything they tell you…)
In fact, far from trying to cover up the existence of UFOs, government agencies have actively encouraged belief in them – specifically the ETH. Our own research has convinced us that this ‘Federal Hypothesis’ is the most accurate, and indeed there is a groundswell of similar opinion, as seen in Mark Pilkington’s recent Mirage Men and Lynn’s Mammoth Book of UFOs (2001). It does seem the whole UFO thing has been exploited – maybe even invented – to provide a convenient cover for all sorts of black ops, from testing secret aircraft to psychological warfare experiments. Even this, however, barely scrapes the surface of the sinister goings-on associated with over six decades of UFO research.
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