Reality Checking—Alternate Perceptions Magazine, March 2021
UFOs and Psychic Phenomena:
Not a new story
by: Brent Raynes
Recently I was thumbing through some old mimeographed editions of Saucer Scoop magazine from 1969 when I came across this article entitled “Flying Saucers May Be Psychic Phenomena,” authored by none other than John Keel, who as many of you know I wrote a book not long ago entitled, “John A. Keel: The Man, The Myths, and the Ongoing Mysteries.” To me, Keel was a genuine pioneer in the UFO field and his recognition of the psychic connectivity involved with the UFO experience was a very significant insight. Reading it, which I’ve included elsewhere in this edition of AP, and reading an editorial in this same issue of Scoop, was like a déjà vu moment for me. I was mentally transported back to 1969. It seemed like a magical time wherein it felt like we were discovering exciting and thought-provoking hidden truths and secrets. Joan Whritenour, the editor of Saucer Scoop, wrote in her editorial:
“There has, of late, been a miserable trend among some UFO research groups to ‘give up the ghost’ – literally. Upon the realization that ufology was leading them into avenues of research which previously had been considered ‘taboo,’ namely so-called ‘poltergeist phenomenon,’ ‘ghostly visitations,’ and paranormal situations, some ‘stout-hearted’ investigators instead of facing the problem squarely, sanely and calmly, ran.”
“They still quack on and on concerning ‘metallic objects,’ radar blips, landing gear impressions on the ground, etc. Positively, these types of reports exist. And, equally as positive, are the statements of the witnesses, observers and reporters of paranormal happenings directly involved with the same said landing or ‘fly-over.’ How can any investigator (who also calls himself a ‘researcher’) concentrate on ONLY the physical aspects when the PSYCHIC aspects are still standing there, refusing to be ignored, and refusing to be swept under the nearest rug?”
“To be considered an investigator, one has to be just that. One has to have the courage to actually investigate a situation; whether or not he personally believes that event he is researching is completely unnecessary. His opinions matter not. EVIDENCE DOES!”
Back at that time, I contributed newspaper stories and personally investigated cases for the Scoop. I was a teenager who was feeling excited and proud to be a part of this, and Mrs. Whritenour invited me to become a member of the publication’s Board of Directors, making me a director for the state of Maine. Noted author Brad Steiger was the magazine’s public relations director and on its advisory panel that included such noted figures in the UFO field as George Fawcett, August Roberts, Otto Binder, John and Mary Robinson, and more. Brad wrote a variety of magazine articles with Mrs. Whritenour and a number of books like Flying Saucer Invasion: Target Earth and Flying Saucers Are Hostile. However, when I shared my joy at being a Scoop board member with APRO’s founder and director Coral Lorenzen [I was a member of that organization at the time] I soon learned of her disapproval, and I remember how she informed me that if I was affiliated with that group then I couldn’t be an APRO [Aerial Phenomena Research Organization] field investigator. While I can laugh about it now, I was seriously feeling let down and bummed out at the time, and that same year, while returning with my mom and dad from a trip to Miami, Florida, we stopped in Washington, D.C. on the way home, and I walked into the main office of NICAP [National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenoman], the second largest civilian UFO organization at that time, and found a man clicking away on the keys of a typewriter. I was informed that the office was closed to the public at that time and that he was there just completing some paperwork. Trying to engage him in a little friendly conversation, I thought I’d let him know that the 17-year-old standing before him was a card-carrying member of APRO, a fellow serious student of ufology, and all I remember that happened next was he briefly glanced up at me and said something like, “Oh, oh, you know we don’t get along with APRO.” And then he was back at his typing. I showed my way out.
I was finding out early in the game that ufologists with their different perspectives and beliefs too often set up roadblocks in thier interactions and access to the open sharing of information and ideas. I learned not to expect that I was going to get along with everyone else in the field, even though we are all trying to document and understand essentially the same phenomenon. But it’s our different beliefs, along with our human biases and egos that can stand in the way of progress, cooperation and effective communications.
As this issue is being compiled I’ve just reviewed Joshua Cutchin and Timothy Renner’s second volume of Where The Footprints End for this edition, which like the first volume earlier in 2020 delves further into the high-strangeness crossover anomalies to be found in cryptozoology [i.e., orbs, UFOs, apparitions, poltergeists, faeries, etc.], comparatively reminiscent, though from a different position on the puzzle board [though it doesn’t seem to really matter], to Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia [comparing modern UFO landings and occupant reports to faerie folklore] and John Keel’s Operation Trojan Horse [detailing psychic components with UFO contacts, cryptids, faeries, and religious phenomena] half a century ago.
When I decided so long ago at age 14 to enter the field of ufology, it was only twenty years since the modern UFO era had begun back in 1947. This year we’re looking at 74 years. In my 54 years of being a part of this controversial field I have reflected here on where we’re at now and how far we’ve come.
While I’ve been encouraged in recent years to see increased numbers of academic professionals taking a serious and active interest in researching and investigating the UFO phenomenon and its high-strange crossover components, as with the Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences, which I had the distinct pleasure of working closely with distinguished Ph.D.’s from backgrounds like psychology and neuroscience from that organization, I am reminded of a phone conversation with John Keel once in which he said we were all too often rather like a dog chasing it’s tail, going around and around in circles.
So while I’m pleased to see the subject getting more serious attention from academics too, it’s still often a house divided, one group still looking at the physical only and rejecting the psychic implications, even though it’s in the very midst of the data, and so while we’re generating more awareness and feeling some vindication for the hard-earned progress that has been made, it’s still too obvious from my 54 years of involvement that we’re still asking the same questions, still searching for the elusive proof positive, and engaging in the same intellectual battles and disagreements.
It’s frustrating. Sometimes I’m not sure exactly what to say in my column here. Sometimes I feel like a broken record. I feel like I’m often saying pretty much the same things over and over, using different case evidence and different wording, but again and again arriving at the same place, expressing the same key points.
Sadly, Angelia Sheer [March 12, 1958-February 12, 2021], Tennessee’s MUFON State Director, the CEO of Parasheer Research LLC, and the author of UFO Encounters: How High Strange Events Transform Human Perceptions (2020), lost her brief battle with brain cancer. She had been a very serious and dedicated investigator of the UFO phenomenon for over 35 years and had interviewed over 2000 witnesses. She is greatly missed by so many.