Robert A. Freitas Jr., Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA, 1979;

(c) 1979 Robert A. Freitas Jr. All Rights Reserved.




Chapter 3.  The Aliens Among Us

"These {‘ancient astronaut’} books may be pitiful stumbling efforts in the morasses of technical and historical scholarship... but as religion they are worthy of respect as picture-language wrestlings with the deep matters all persons face -- or evade -- in the stillness of the heart. On this level their scientific and historical failings may not matter so much."
          -- Ronald Story, in The Space Gods Revealed (1976)1870

"I saw a disk up in the air,
A silver disk that wasn’t there.
Two more weren’t there again today --
Oh how I wish they’d go away."
          -- Men’s room graffiti, White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico (1967)

"Where are they?"
          -- Enrico Fermi (1943)

"I am sure they saw something."
          -- Albert Einstein17

"Further extensive study of unidentified flying objects probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."
          -- Dr. Edward U. Condon (1968)17

"By 2100 A.D. on Earth, three species of cetacean had been recognized as intelligent and admitted to the United Nations. Their lawsuit against the former whaling nations had not been resolved, and in fact never was. The cetaceans enjoyed the legal gymnastics too much ever to end it."
          -- Larry Niven, in "At the Bottom of a Hole" (1966)548


Closely paralleling the historical development of xenology has been the widespread but unverified conviction that aliens already are, or have been, visitors to Earth. Despite the pseudoscience cults and charlatans frequently associated with "ancient astronaut" and "flying saucer" theories, the hypothesis that intelligent extraterrestrials might have played some role in the evolution or emergence of human civilization is fascinating and certainly warrants critical study.



3.1  Xenoarchaeology

It has recently become fashionable to postulate that ETs landed on our planet ages ago, whether to influence our biological or social evolution, to collect zoo specimens, or to make anthropological surveys.1215,1221,1326,1327,1328 Extravagant speculations abound: One bock attributes to alien benevolence the discoveries of subatomic physics, general relativity, and the double helix!1880

Xenoarchaeology - the search for evidence of ancient visitation by interstellar travelers - is at best a difficult and confused field of study. Precisely because hopes and expectations are so high, it is often harder to maintain a strong, healthy skepticism. Hence, in the words of astronomer Carl Sagan,

"we must accept arguments for extraterrestrial visitations to earth only when the evidence is compelling."1870

At present, an exhaustive survey of all pertinent literature and other evidence fails to uncover a single incontrovertible case of past alien presence on our planet.

Of course there is nothing a priori absurd about the basic idea of ancient astronauts. The Hypothesis of Mediocrity allows that, as a general rule, when one goes exploring one finds inferior things.1040 For example, Columbus discovered America because European transportation technology was well advanced beyond that of the native Americans. Were this not the case, the natives would have discovered Europe! It is plausible to conclude that if the Galaxy is teeming with life, a superior intelligence from another star system could have visited Earth for any of a myriad of good reasons.

Speculation has centered on three specific areas. First, there is the possibility that aliens arrived geological timescales (millions or billions of years) ago. Biochemical and genetic evidence has been marshaled in an attempt to demonstrate that our natural biological evolution may have been adjusted, enhanced or tampered with in some manner.

A second proposition is that extraterrestrial "gods" and "saviors" have materially affected the development of human society and culture. The most common evidence advanced in favor of this is the virtual ubiquity of legends describing visitors from the sky. Usually these yarns seem to suggest either that the human race was exported to Earth from other worlds, or that ETs came among men and helped launch human civilization.

Naturally, a mere account of strange beings who live in the heavens and perform miracles is not compelling proof. (Where else might gods reside but in the skies?554) And the clear correlation between the movement of stars and constellations in the celestial vault and the changing seasons has probably been recognized at least since the emergence of Cro-Magnon man. Primitive belief systems often attribute divinity and magical forces to such regular features in the environment.

Yet how easy it would be for an alien humanoid to "curse" hapless natives with a portable x-ray machine! It may be that all interstellar First Contact operations include a Thaumaturgy Division, whose duty it is to create miracles and god-myths to keep the curious at a safe distance in the unlikely event of an emergency landing. These thaumaturgists could create spectacular displays to awe primitive onlookers, such as transmutation of drinking fluids, variable-rigidity lances, and advanced force-field technology (which might perhaps be demonstrated on local bodies of water).

The third specific area of xenoarchaeological research is the quest for alien artifacts and other physical manifestations of their presence. This is of great importance, because it is often urged that in such important matters "the only acceptable evidence would be hardware."373 For instance, the discovery of a piece of advanced electronics embedded in a coal seam millions of years old, accompanied by indisputably nonhuman skeletons, might be acceptable as convincing evidence of past visitation.

Another common suggestion is that the aliens might have left a durable marker of some kind, such as the black monolith depicted in the science fiction movie 2001: A Space Odessey. In fact the Moon would be an ideal location: The artifact would last millions of years without disturbance and could only be detected by a reasonably advanced spacefaring civilization.

But we must beware of technological chauvinism in assessing possible artifacts. We can interpret certain objects as airfields, nails, or evidence of the use of nuclear explosives, but this is because we have just acquired this technology ourselves. Two hundred years ago the interpretation would have been much different; two centuries hence, it will again radically change. The fact is that the technology of space visitors will most likely be highly non-contemporary with our own.

The problems involved in tracking down evidence of extraterrestrial contacts in ancient times are vastly different from those of conventional archaeology and anthropology. It would not be remarkable if a few brief visits by ETs to limited areas of this planet have left no traces. Continental drift and tectonic shuffling, ice ages, volcanic activity and sedimentation will have taken their toll.

Archaeologists generally search for human settlements. Yet the chances of, say, a spacecraft crash landing near one of these is extremely small. It is highly unlikely that we could ever detect anything less than widespread, intensive alien involvement.

Let us assume arguendo that ten aerial vehicles crashed somewhere on Earth in ancient times, spewing their debris over a swath covering 10,000 m2. If the affected stratum is one meter deep and lies under an average of 10 meters of sediment, this leaves about 1015 cubic meters of soil and rock to be examined.

If we then assume that all crashes occurred only over that 10% of the Earth’s land area which is "interesting" to the ETs, and that there are ten archaeologists with suitable engineering and technical credentials searching full time for the sites (excavating an average of 10 m3 each day per investigator), it would take roughly 15,000 years just to have a 50/50 chance of finding a crash site. Even then, and assuming favorable corrosion conditions, the chances of spotting recognizable remnants of an accident would still be miniscule.

For these reasons and others, many have renewed the hunt for reconstructable contact legends passed down from early human civilizations. There is some reason to cautiously assert the validity of this technique, because we know that historical events have occasionally been faithfully recorded in myth and folklore.

Perhaps the best-known of these was the first meeting between the Tlingit people on the northeast coast of North America and a European expedition in 1786 led by the French explorer Jean La Pérouse. The oral native account of the incident remained true to the original a century later, although some of the descriptions of advanced European technology (e.g., giant sailing ships) had acquired a distinct mythological flavor over the years.554 And many other accounts of such phenomena as supernovae1557 and great floods862 have likewise survived through centuries of verbal narration.

One useful test of the validity of legendary encounters with ETs might be whether or not information is contained in the tale which couldn’t possibly have been generated by the primitive civilization itself.15 For example, an ancient manuscript containing modern circuit diagrams or a "holy number" worshipped throughout the ages (which turned out to be the transcendental e or the nuclear fine structure constant) might be sufficient if it could be independently authenticated.

Carl Sagan has articulated three factors which maximize the probability that an historical encounter with aliens would be recorded in a reconstructable manner:

1. The account must be committed to writing soon after the event;
2. The contacted society undergoes a major change because of the contact; and
3. The aliens make no attempt to disguise their exogenous nature.554

If these stringent requirements can be satisfied in even a single instance, xenoarchaeologists may be able to secure proof that Earth has been visited by intelligent ETs.


3.1.1  Extraterrestrial Intervention in Biological Evolution

The evidence that man’s biogenetic evolution has been interfered with by aliens is scanty and highly questionable. Perhaps one of the earliest mythological accounts of possible biological experimentation on apes is mentioned in the Ramayama, the second of the great Indian epic poems. Hanuman the monkey god was supposedly conceived when Shivar (a dweller in the heavens) gave Anjana (an Earth ape) a sacred cake to eat. The monkey god thus born was super-strong and highly intelligent.310 But despite the fact that Hanuman was followed by legions of other ape-heroes (Sugriva, Brahaspati, Bali, Tara and Gandha, among others), there was never any suggestion that these were the biological precursors of men.

Greek mythology is full of tales of "interplanetary adultery." Zeus, king of the gods, had scores of human concubines and was reportedly responsible for many rapes of human females. Apollo, Aphrodite, Hermes and Ares all had affairs with mere mortals. Yet most biologists today agree that a successful sexual mating between two species from different planets is improbable at best. Although lions and tigers have been crossbred in captivity (to make "ligers"), such is not the rule. Even Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal man, two species of humans, are not believed to have been interfertile.

Benevolent ETs would probably have come to Earth, not to hybridize or perpetuate their own genome, but to improve ours. This could easily be done using advanced genetic engineering to accelerate the normal evolutionary processes. The native myths of the Marquesas Islands, Hawaii, Indonesia and Tahiti all tell that the first men on Earth were given birth to by a celestial couple.310 If one wanted to do this sort of thing and a humanoid was the desired end-product, it might make sense to modify some of the local primate stock. Marmosets and many other monkeys have the same number of chromosomes as man; gorillas, chimps and orangutans have only two extra.

Erich von Daniken has suggested something along these lines, although his factual support is notoriously weak. He claims in his several books that man is an artificial mutation, separated from the ape stock long ago by alien intervention.1221

In Chariots of the Gods we find:

Dim ages ago an unknown spaceship discovered our planet. The crew of the ship soon found out that the earth had all the prerequisites for intelligent life to develop. The spacemen artificially fertilized some human female members of {an advanced primate species}

They repeated their breeding experiment several times until they produced a creature intelligent enough to have the rules of society imparted to it. The space travelers destroyed the unsuccessful specimens, {fearing that men} might retrogress and mate with animals again.1326

Unfortunately, no solid verifiable facts are adduced in favor of the hypothesis.

This area of xenoarchaeology has been severely handicapped by a dearth of qualified researchers and an excessive quantity of unusually poor scholarship.1948 A case in point is Mankind -- Child of the Stars by Max H. Flindt and Otto O. Binder.1215 Their proposal, simply stated, is that we are the hybridized descendants of intelligent extraterrestrials. Apparently following Larry Niven's excellent science fiction novel Protector first published seven years earlier,1909 Flindt and Binder assert that the human race is merely a colony founded and maintained -- and later abandoned -- by beings from another world.

Decades of detailed paleontological and evolutionary data are casually swept aside: We are asked to believe that man could not have evolved fast enough on Earth. Hence the "starmen" must be responsible.

Supposedly, humans are sexier than other animals because the ETs were downright lecherous. Not only did the starmen bring their own genes to Earth for our benefit, but "the primate line was imported"1215 as well. As if this were not enough, the authors of Mankind attribute the evolution of hundreds of species of food animals and other extinct creatures to the aliens’ kindly influence. Again, factual support is totally nonexistent.

But serious xenoarchaeological theories are being pursued by competent scientists in spite of the deluge of popularized pseudoscience on the subject. Ronald Bracewell, a respected Stanford University radioastronomer, has proposed that it would be a fine gesture for a passing extraterrestrial to have seeded our then-sterile planet, billions of years ago, with the first microorganisms that would later lead to the evolution of intelligent life.80

A less glamorous version of this conception of the origin of life is widely known as the Gold Garbage Theory. According to Dr. Thomas Gold of the Center for Radiophysics and Space Research at Cornell University, life here might have spread from a pile of waste products accidentally dumped on a barren Earth long ago.22,1910

A. G. Cairns-Smith, a well-known biochemist at the University of Glasgow in Great Britain, suggests that our original ancestors might have had alien biochemistries and has presented some (as yet nonconclusive) evidence to support this possibility.1460

But the best-known of the "earth-seeding" ideas has come from two of the world’s most eminent molecular biologists: Francis Crick at Cambridge, England and Leslie Orgel at the Salk Institute in San Diego, California. According to their theory, first presented in 1971 at the joint Soviet-American Byurakan CETI conference, organisms may have been directly transmitted to the Earth by intelligent space beings -- deliberately.1283 This "directed panspermia," as they call it, could be accomplished simply by sending out unmanned space probes bearing a ton or so of assorted microorganisms capable of infecting a sterile host planet.

Crick and Orgel cite as evidence the inordinately large role of the element molybdenum in terrestrial biochemistry, peculiar because it is such a rare substance. Chromium and nickel, which are 10 and 100 times more abundant in the environment, respectively, are relatively unimportant in biochemistry. The theory has been debated extensively in the literature without conclusion.1294,1295,1296,1911,2100



3.1.2  Extraterrestrial Cultural Intervention

Early primates may have been set on the path of sociocultural development because of alien intervention, as portrayed in the popular production 2001: A Space Odyssey.1912 But there is no need to resort to fiction. Human folklore is replete with tales of interactions with strange beings from the skies.

Among the lesser-known myths is that of the Eskimos. Eskimo legends tell of being transported to the frozen northern lands in "giant metal birds". According to Pauwels and Bergier, attention has been drawn to curious cultural parallels between various archaeological sites located in Greenland, Siberia and Ceylon.1913 But apparently the claim cannot be authenticated.1001

One case which most nearly meets Sagan’s three stringent criteria (see above) is the ancient Sumerian civilization.20,554 The Sumerians were profoundly affected by the Apkallu (possible representatives of an advanced, nonhuman, amphibious extraterrestrial society), who taught them laws, science and architecture. No attempt was made by the aliens to conceal their nature. However, the first requirement -- that there be a contemporary written account -- is partially lacking. The only description that has survived appears in the Babylonian Gilgamesh Epic (ca. 2000 B.C.), one of the oldest existing written texts in the world today. But second-hand reports are just not good enough.

The Sumer legend is interesting because the creatures are always spoken of as "beings," "endowed with reason," and "personages" -- but never as "gods"! Were it not for the unusual subject matter the account would doubtless be considered an ordinary historical event, as there are no mystical or super natural overtones in the writing.

Most other legends don’t appear to represent a radical alteration of any culture. The 3,500-year-old Egyptian bible called the Book of the Dead speaks of "those who with their knowledge reach the vault of the sky" and mentions "those who live among the stars".1914 Although the work purports to describe the life of Thoth, a god from the sky alleged to have given the people of the Nile the beginnings of science, literature and medicine, the Book of the Dead is laced with mythological serpents, devils and demons.

In India, the Mahabharata is one of two beloved epic poems. The twenty-volume work, written several thousand years ago, is a history of Indian religion and mythology. The poem speaks of "vimanas" that fly through the air bearing gods. In another section, two legendary characters battle each other with incredible weaponry that causes the winds to blow. . .meteors lashing down from the firmament. . .a thick gloom. . .the sun no longer gave any heat. . .clouds roared. . . . The elephants and other creatures of the land, scorched by the energy of that weapon, ran in fright. The very waters heated, the creatures residing in that element. . . seemed to burn. The forms of the slain could not be distinguished.746

The Dogon of Mali in Africa worship a pyramid with a square, flat top, upon which it is said the "sky gods" landed during their visits in ancient times. Such beings supposedly taught the natives the essentials of surveying and agricultural techniques, but are always referred to as gods.310 The tale, however, appears to be purely allegorical.*

About the time the Toltec and Mayan cultures were beginning to intermingle (ca. 900 A.D.) there arose the legend of Quetzalcoatl, a bearded, light-skinned man who flew down from the sky to teach men law, astronomy, math, art, and the cultivation of corn and cotton. The feathered serpent was his symbol, and the pyramid built in his honor is the largest in the world (it has a volume nearly 30% greater than the largest Egyptian structure). When Quetzalcoatl’s mission to Earth was completed he returned to the morning star, promising to return someday.

The Mayans themselves are also fascinating because of the extreme accuracy of their calendar system. Furthermore, the units of time in the Mayan system included the alautun, a period of roughly 63,000,000 years! One inscription de scribes events that occurred 90 million years ago, and another makes mention of a date 400 million years in the past.1848 But without more, unfortunately, a long time-Sense alone cannot be considered compelling proof.

For those who wish to find evidence for extraterrestrials, the Christian Bible is chock-full of marvelous possibilities. The prophet Elijah, for in stance, was protected by a fire that came down from heaven and destroyed 100 soldiers and their captains (IV Kings 1:9-12). Soon thereafter he was abducted by a "fiery chariot," and "Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven." (IV Kings 2:11). Similarly, Enoch is reported shanghaied by God (Genesis 5:24), although his tour of the "seven heavens" and subsequent return to Earth is published elsewhere (in The Book of the Secrets of Enoch).

Jacob wrestles with an angel until dawn and finally overpowers it (Genesis 32:22-33). After forcing the angel to bless him, Jacob releases it, exclaiming in relief: "I have seen a heavenly being face to face, yet my life has been spared."** Daniel encountered a being on a "throne like flames of fire." (Daniel 7:9). In Revelations 4:1-6, Saint John observed "a door standing open in heaven" and then a throne "from which proceeded flashes of lightning, rumblings, and peals of thunder... and before the throne was a sea of glass like unto crystal." Seated on the throne is a humanoid, surrounded by twenty-four others (the "elders"). The list of biblical tales is virtually endless:

The God to whom Moses frequently speaks appears to lack that strength of resolve we might expect from an omniscient deity. For example, when God is about to destroy Moses’ people the prophet manages to talk the Lord out of it! (Exodus 32:7-14)

Furthermore, Moses communicates with the being upon demand in a specially constructed Meeting Tent:

"As Moses entered the Tent, the column of cloud would come down and stand at its entrance while the Lord spoke with Moses." (Exodus 33:9)

And God seems strangely concerned with promulgating an ethical rule that prohibits maltreatment of foreign-looking humanoids: "When an alien resides with you in your land, do not molest him." (Leviticus 19:33)

Dr. Vyacheslav Zaitzev746 and Alexander Kazentsev981 have theorized that both Jesus Christ and the biblical angels might have been ETs. (It is interesting to note that the births of both John the Baptist and Jesus were announced to the respective mothers by angels long before they themselves knew they were pregnant, and that both mothers were barren or virgin at the time.)

Then we have the problem of the Genesis Plurals. There are many of them, but two are of special concern here. The first is as follows:

"And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness." (Genesis 1:26)

The fact that the plurals "us" and "our" are used gives rise to the speculation that many gods are involved, that is, extraterrestrials. But it is generally accepted that these particular plurals are a veiled reference to the existence of more than one person in God (i.e., the Trinity).

The second Genesis Plural is rather harder to interpret:

"And it came to pass. . .that the sons of God saw the daughters of men...and they took them wives of all which they chose. ... When the sons of God came in unto the daughters of men they bore children to them." (Genesis 6:1-4)

Who are these "sons of God"? More extraterrestrials?1845 One common explanation is that they are the descendants of Seth and Enos. Ronald Story has suggested that they were "divine beings who belonged to the heavenly court."1870

The issue remains unresolved.

One of the most controversial "contact events" in the Bible may be found in the Book of Ezekiel.

To pick one passage of many:

Now it came to pass in the thirtieth year, in the fourth month, on the fifth day of the month, when I was in the midst of the captives by the river Chobar, the heavens were opened, and I saw visions of God. And I saw, and beheld a whirlwind come out of the north, and a great cloud, and a fire enfolding it, and brightness was about it, and out of the midst thereof...was the likeness of four living creatures; and this was their appearance; there was the likeness of a man in them.

Every one had four faces, and every one four wings. Their feet were straight feet, and the sole of their foot... sparkled like the appearance of glowing brass. And they had the hands of a man under their wings on their four sides; and they had faces, and wings on the four sides, and the wings of one were joined to the wings of another.

After this "landing," Ezekiel continues:

This was the vision running to and fro in the midst of the living creatures, a bright fire and lightning going forth from the fire. And the living creatures ran and returned like flashes of lightning. Now as I beheld... there appeared upon the earth by the living creatures one wheel with four faces... a wheel within a wheel. When they went they went by their four parts, and they turned not when they went...

And over the heads of the living creatures was the likeness of the firmament, as the appearance of crystal, terrible to behold, and stretched out over their heads above... And I heard the noise of their wings, like the noise of many waters... and when they stood, their wings were let down. For when a voice came from above the firmament that was over their heads, they stood and let down their wings. And above the firmament was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of the sapphire stone, and upon the throne was the appearance of a man above upon it. (Ezekiel 1:1-26)

According to the late Josef Blumrich, former chief of the systems layout branch at the Marshall Spaceflight Center of NASA, Ezekiel was confronted with an "Earth Excursion Module" (Figure 3.1) manned by an alien pilot.1058 In Spaceships of Ezekiel, Blumrich presents detailed engineering analyses of a plug-nozzle planetary landing vehicle that has been seriously considered by aeronautical designers at NASA1977 and elsewhere.1001 Its "wings" are helicopter blades affixed to four columns supporting the rocket mechanism (Figure 3.2).

The aerospace engineer concludes that his design would be optimal for the required missions, which are: (1) Earth-to-orbit, and (2) Short surface-to-surface hops.


Figure 3.1. The spaceship seen from a distance of about 190 feet (from Blumrich1058)

An example of the depiction of the traditional interpretation. The spacecraft began its flight to the earth with the separation from the mothership at an altitude of probably about 220 nautical miles. During the flight through the atmosphere, its speed was reduced by aerodynamic drag until eventually, at low altitudes, a brief firing of the rocket engine reduced the speed enough so that the spaceship could use its helicopters for the rest of the descent. This last phase of the flight, which begins with the brief firing of the rocket engine, was witnessed and described by Ezekiel.

Later he observes the spacecraft as it hovers a few feet above the ground in search of a suitable landing site. The brief bursts of the control rockets occur in a sequence seen as irregular by Ezekiel who construes them as lightning flickering in the space that separates the living beings. This diverts his attention from the fascinating beings to the area between them, and thus he now sees the radiator of the reactor glowing like smoldering coals.

The spacecraft has landed.

Wheels, which were housed in the lower portion of the helicopter units during the flight, have now been deployed. The straight legs with their round feet no longer touch the ground.



Figure 3.2. Helicopter unit seen from a distance of about 25 feet (from Blumrich1058)

As the great archaeologist Heinrich Schliemann discovered the ancient city of Troy by accepting the Homeric epics literally, Blumrich has attempted to take Ezekiel at his word and reinterpret what the Hebrew prophet saw in terms of reasonable modern technology. Certainly it is doubtful that Ezekiel - a man of the 5th century B.C. - could have recognized the form or function of a bonafide spacecraft if he had seen one.

Unfortunately, most biblical reconstructions such as the above fall short of the three stringent requirements demanded by Sagan. Although the events described in the Bible clearly had an enormous effect on many cultures, the translated and retranslated record of whatever did happen 2000 years ago is now a hopelessly confused jumble of conflicting testimony. (The two accounts of Creation in Genesis, for instance, explicitly contradict each other!)

Besides the incorrectness of the astronomy and celestial mechanics in most biblical (and other) tales, the evidence here also fails because any hypothetical extraterrestrials apparently took great pains to generate a god-myth and conceal their exogenous nature. Unlike the Sumerian legends discussed earlier, the Bible is loaded with spiritual, mystical overtones which render virtually impossible the conclusive extraction of any historical visitation events that may be hidden there.


* It is interesting that the oral tradition mentions a "dark brother" of the star. Sirius.310,2022 In modern times it has been discovered that the Dog Star does possess a dark companion star, a fact unknown until a little over a century ago. Nevertheless, this can hardly be viewed as compelling evidence of extraterrestrial visitation because it is a trivial point which could easily have been adopted at random by the Dogon.

** It is notable that until about the 6th century A.D., the Church did not accept the spiritual nature of angels but considered them to be physical beings without wings.



3.1.3  Extraterrestrial Artifacts and Manifestations

From time to time peculiar artifacts have turned up, often touted as remains of alien technology here on Earth. At best most of the finds are unauthenticated, unverifiable, and frequently irrelevant.

Perhaps the oldest known artifact is the so-called Salzburg Cube. This object was found in 1885 in a Tertiary Period coal seam by a Dr. Gurlt. It measured 67 x 67 x 47 millimeters (with a deep groove running around its middle), weighed about 785 grams, and was said to resemble in composition a hard nickel-carbon steel.600 However, mere steel should not have been able to survive 12-70 million years of the successive acid/alkaline reactions found in the decaying vegetation in a coal bed.1001 The Cube reposed in the Salzburg Museum in Austria until 1910, when it apparently was lost.45

Bullet holes in prehistoric bison,310 remains of screws,1327 nails,49 and sparkplugs (the "Coso Artifact")83 have been unearthed, as well as handprints310 and footprints1327 molded in solidified sandstone, instruments,1326 small gem statuettes,1269 and peculiar coins.49,1001 A diffraction grating etched on a polished copper mirror was found in an early Egyptian (3rd or 4th Dynasty) tomb.49 And about 700 strange granite disks were rumored recovered from caves in the mountains of Payenk Ara Ulaa in China, in 1938. These disks bore engraved symbols telling of creatures landing a craft and meeting the local natives.746 However, the lack of corroborating artifacts is suspicious.

The Baghdad Batteries are small ovoid jars capable of producing a weak current when filled with vinegar. About a dozen such objects turned up during heavy construction work near the capital of Iraq. Ronald Story has suggested that they might have been used for primitive electroplating of silver onto copper, certainly a far cry from advanced extraterrestrial technology.1870

Another technological "gift from the gods" appears in the Bible. In Exodus 25:10-22 God tells Moses how to erect the Ark of the Covenant, which serves as a transceiver to heaven. The construction details of the Ark are such that when completed, Moses should have had a giant capacitor charged to a hundred volts or so.1915,778,1326 While it is true that an arch of acacia wood with gold leaf trimmings can hardly be considered advanced technology,1870 the ability of ovens, cars and other metallic objects to audibly receive modulated radio broadcasts (on rare occasions) is a documented fact. If laboratory tests with models of the Ark can demonstrate this ability, a good case could be made in favor of alien influence: The ETs would simply have been ordering the manufacture of the simplest radio device manageable with the limited tools available to humans millennia ago.

Another Biblical tale often attributed to extraterrestrial activities is the "nuclear explosion" that destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah around 2000 B.C.1915,1326 As related in Genesis 19:24-28, "the Lord poured down on Sodom and Gomorrah sulphur and fire from out of heaven." Later that morning there was "smoke rising from the earth as though from a furnace."

But there are excellent grounds for believing that the cataclysm was the result of a great earthquake1918 followed by explosions of natural gas.1870

Excavations at the site in 1928 revealed large burned out regions of oil, sulphur and asphalt overlying a subterranean salt dome 50 meters thick. There is clear geological evidence that "a great rupture in the strata took place centuries ago. "1870

There are countless other artifacts which could and have been attributed to space visitors, including the following: The construction of the pyramids and mummification technology,1326,1915 the Baalbek terraces as launching platforms,746,1326 the rustproof iron pillar in India,1326 the Nazca desert "spaceport" in Peru,1326,1915 the subterranean tunnels and golden tablets of Juan Moricz in Ecuador,1916 the giant cement cylinders of New Caledonia,83 the peculiar statues on Easter Island,1326 and the "catastrophic results of a landing attempt" in Tungus, Siberia in 1908,600,2202 Unfortunately, more prosaic explanations exist in all cases.80,1758,1870,1917,2008


3.2  Ufology

Flying saucers and their progeny are largely a product of the Space Age. Since we now possess rudimentary spaceflight capability, people ask, could not aliens as well? This kind of reasoning has given added plausibility to the reports that Earth is now being regularly visited by ETs possessing high performance aerial vehicles with remarkable maneuverability (Mach-10 speeds with no sonic booms, right angle turns, vertical takeoff and landing, etc.)

This is not to suggest that the problem of UFOs ("Unidentified Flying Objects") is a new one. Humanity has been seeing strange lights in the sky for thousands of years. In 213 B.C. in Hadria, an "altar" was seen in the sky followed by the appearance of a humanoid in flowing white robes.1673 There were at least a dozen similar sightings during the next two hundred years. In 100 B.C., Pliny observed "a burning shield scattering sparks {as it} ran across the sky at sunset from east to west."720

The phenomena persisted into later times. In Nuremburg in 1561, for example, there reportedly was a mass sighting of flying balls and discs in the neighborhood of the rising sun.1920 The great astronomer Edmund Halley in 1716 apparently saw an object that illuminated the night sky so brightly that it could serve as a reading light for several hours.1673

It is easy to find thousands of "flying saucer" sightings, especially if we are willing to suspend our scholarly skepticism and uncritically accept all such accounts as being factual descriptions of aliens buzzing our planet. Most scientists would agree that there are many peculiar things to be seen in the heavens; it is the modern interpretation, by and large, with which they take issue.

A recent poll of the members of the American Institute of Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineers turned up sightings from only 2% of the sample of 1,175 scientists.1919 But popular polls yield different results. In 1966 pollster Gallup found that more than five million Americans claimed to have seen what they believed was a genuine UFO.17 By November, 1973 the number had climbed to fifteen million (fully 11% of the adult population), and for the first time a majority of the American public believed that UFOs were real.1347

The literature in this field1790,1791 is extremely variable in quality, and opinions tend to be highly polarized with little rational debate. Typical books written by "uncritical believers" include those by Leslie and Adamski,1787 Edwards,1639 Lorenzen,1672 Sanderson,632 Keyhoe1623 and Holzer.1858 (In 1974 one "ufologist," Ralph Blum, confidently predicted that "by 1975 the government will release definite proof that extraterrestrials are watching us."1347) Slightly less credulous, perhaps, are Vallee,787,1189,1673 Cohen,331 Hynek,341,597 Saunders and Harkins,1789 McCampbell,1778 and Emmeneker,1640 who present facts somewhat more cautiously while maintaining their devout belief in the mysterious. Finally we have the debunking books written by the "hardened skeptics," such as Menzel,1788 McCrosky and Broeschenstein,1792 Condon,17 Klass,695 and Story.1870


3.2.1  Why Believe in UFOs?

Why is support for the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (that UFOs are craft piloted by aliens) so widespread today? Part of the explanation must be the renewed interest in the subject of life on other planets. Ufologist B. L. Trench listed nearly 20 worldwide UFO investigative organizations;596 his favorite -- Contact -- had branch offices in 27 countries in 1971. And the television-viewing public eats it up. When the series "The Invaders"* was brought out about a decade ago, the American Broadcasting Company sold the show to fifteen foreign networks as well.695

But there is much more to the phenomenon than the current fascination with xenological topics. Man has always had religion, it is said, both to preserve moral values and to impart a measure of predictability and uniformity to the environment. In a world where morality seems as fluid as the winds and where total annihilation may be only 15 minutes away, traditional religions have been unable to supply the answers to many hard questions. It is this uneasiness about the future that has given rise to what Ronald Story appropriately labels the "new mythology".1870

The ancient-astronautists spawned by Erich von Daniken’s writings, and the contactee cults such as the Aetherius Society,1870 The Two,1921 and Gabriel Green’s Amalgamated Flying Saucer Clubs of America333 are extreme examples of a belief pattern suffusing our entire culture. Many people have begun to view extraterrestrial visitors not merely as friendly, but as technological angels who will guide us successfully through the uncertain years ahead.1347

Just as the biblical angels were the mythical beings proper to the age of early Christianity, UFOs and their benevolent alien occupants are the mythical beings proper to the Space Age.615 The famous psychiatrist Dr. Carl Gustav Jung did not find it at all surprising that scientific instead of religious imagery would be used by many to assimilate the accelerated pace of modern civilization.1920 Flying saucers serve as a partial substitute for God.346

A related idea is the Status Inconsistency Theory of UFO sightings proposed by Donald I. Warren, a University of Michigan sociologist.336 In this theory the belief in flying saucers is linked to the degree to which a person feels alienated from society. Persons who perceive their social status (as measured by, say, income) as different from their abilities or true worth (e.g., education, ethnicity) have been found to be more likely to report UFOs than those who do not have this internal conflict.

Such inconsistency forces the individual to withdraw from society to a certain extent, and the resulting void is often filled by a belief in extraterrestrial benefactors. Another modern dilemma is the virtually universal distrust of governments and politicians, and a nostalgic yearning for the great leaders of the past. There is much evidence that the known propensity of the authorities to classify and conceal has done little to reassure the public that no pertinent information on flying saucers is being withheld from them.18,694,1347

For example, a poll taken in 1971 by the engineering periodical Industrial Research showed that 76% of the respondents believed the government was hiding some of the UFO facts. Since paranoia is self-reinforcing, the conviction that aliens are commuting to Earth has not been dampened by official proclamations to the contrary.

Finally there is the problem of boredom in daily life. With more leisure time on our hands than ever before, we seek amusement and fun. Certainly the discovery of beings from another world would be both an amusing and exciting distraction from routine. As Story points out tongue-in-cheek: "Who knows? They might even let us ride in one of their spaceships!"1870

Carl Sagan believes that flying saucers are a kind of psychological projective test -- a "cosmic Rorschach" -- by which humans project their hopes, frailties and self-perceptions onto alien beings.15 As he says, "the idea of extraterrestrial visitation resonates with the spirit of the times in which we live."18


* The theme was that aliens are infiltrating our government as a prelude to conquest of Earth.



3.2.2  The Evidence for UFOs

While it is certainly true that hidden xenoarchaeological treasures may lie veiled forever in ancient legend and folklore, the observational data for flying saucers are frequently completely worthless. As British writer Maxwell Cade notes, "there is clear evidence of much fraud, more hysteria, and still more wishful thinking."45 Such bitter experience has taught us that when we have an emotional vested interest in a particular result and expectations run feverishly high, we must demand only the most scrupulous honesty from ourselves and refuse to accept any but the most rigorous, compelling evidence.20,562

Most researchers would be delighted to find extraterrestrial life be cause it would be such a momentous discovery. Perhaps the strictest rule of evidence in xenology is that all conclusions must be compelled by the facts. There must remain no rational alternative explanations.

L. Sprague de Camp has set forth the following criteria by which to judge the authenticity of UFO reports: (1) The report must be first-hand; (2) The teller must show no obvious bias or prejudice; (3) The teller must be a trained observer; (4) The data must be adequate and available for checking; and (5) The teller must be clearly identified.1922 A case which satisfies these requirements, and which can perhaps be checked independently with a large number of witnesses, would be considered reliable by the majority of the scientific community.

But in addition to being reliable, UFO reports must also be exotic. An exotic case is one which is inexplicable in terms of common phenomena; for example, a strange moving light in the sky could be an aerial refueling operation, a satellite passing overhead, a police helicopter with a searchlight, etc.15

Sagan maintains that to date there are no reliable cases which are exotic, and no exotic ones which are reliable.18

Can flying saucers exist? Sagan himself has presented an interesting paradox which apparently rules out the possibility of ufonaut exploration of Earth. If there are many advanced civilizations in our galaxy then there is probably nothing terribly unusual about what is going on here. Hence, there is no urgent reason for aliens to go to the enormous expense of visiting us. On the other hand, if there are few technical cultures around, there won't be enough of them advanced enough to send visitors!15

Skeptics often cite the fact that observed UFOs are totally nonstandardized in size and shape -- repeat visits by the same craft are rare. In general we would expect such standardization from experienced aliens, since the retention of a single configuration over a long period of time is possible only when its design has matured. Given a specific mission and a specific level of technology, an optimal definitive form can usually be found. So how can we explain the fact that UFOs appear to be shaped not only as cigars and disks, but also cubes, spheres, doughnuts, insect shapes, etc.?

Other arguments purporting to dispute the legitimacy of UFOs have been submitted by Friedman,694 Sagan,20,1317 Abell,1908 and Chiu.1311 The logic proceeds as follows: Using the acceptable estimates that there are a million communicative extraterrestrial civilizations (in our galaxy of 200 billion stars) each having a lifetime of ten million years, then if each culture dispatches one exploratory starship per year, Earth -- by random chance -- should be visited only about once every 100,000 years. Of course, if the ETs discovered something interesting happening on our planet they’d come more often to keep closer tabs on us. What is not clear is whether humans are of such inordinate interest as to justify the large investment of alien time and resources that ufologists claim is being made.

When dealing with ufology the careful reader will always bear one additional question in mind: If we put ourselves in the aliens’ shoes, what is the most rational way to go about planning a successful first contact effort with a planet like Earth? Although this xenological problem is explored in greater depth later on, a few issues can profitably be raised now:

1. Disturbance of the system -- Since they are the ones with high technology, they will not fear us.1208 Thus the greatest danger to the enterprise is that of observer influence (a common problem in measurement science).77{?} If the mere act of observation will disrupt or destroy the system under observation, it behooves the observer to minimize that disruption. As Richard J. Rosa of Avco Everett Laboratories puts it: "A hundred years {may be} of little consequence to them. The fact that Columbus did not hesitate to talk to the Indians was not without consequences that were unfortunate for Europe and tragic for the Indians. Perhaps our interstellar visitors have learned to be more cautious -- and considerate."344

2. Minimizing the disruption -- An advanced society can certainly make a planetary survey without the primitive indigenes knowing about it.377 As added security in maintaining anonymity, aliens and their artifacts could sport many clever disguises.49 Ufologist Jacques Vallee notes:

"To make ultimate detection impossible, {the aliens} would have to project an image just beyond the belief structure of the target society."1189

In fact, it is rather difficult to explain why, if they wish to avoid contact, the UFOs allow themselves to be seen at all.747

3. Standard first contact procedures -- Spacefaring ETs will undoubtedly be experienced at the business of contacting other cultures.

The following has been suggested by anthropologists familiar with the problem:

"Exploration will proceed in a series of ordered steps. At each star the team will investigate the system and locate any planets. If they find a planet they will evaluate its habitability, physical resources and life forms. If any signs of intelligent life are discovered the survey team will have to decide whether to withdraw or attempt contact.

This will involve careful observation from a distance to acquire information before actually making contact. At first, in order to gain language skills and social understanding, contact will be limited to individuals in small groups. In this way we can increase the chance of success at the official, formal meeting with ET leaders to arrange recognition and continued contact."615

Most rational observers would agree that the vast majority of sightings are the result of misidentification of familiar objects viewed under unusual conditions of lighting, weather, and so forth.18

There are also a multitude of outright hoaxes and exaggerations on record. For instance, in what Time magazine called the "gullibility experiment," three Cal Tech undergrads launched helium-filled polyethylene balloons from which were suspended metal rods with vanes and lighted railroad flares. Throughout the Los Angeles area reports came in of red, orange and green lights in the sky that moved at "fantastic speed."335 Similar deliberate hoaxes were arranged two years later near Castle Rock, Colorado.1312

Not all sightings of flying saucers can be summarily dismissed as hoax, weather balloon, or ball lightning.337,339,345 Dr. David Saunders at the University of Colorado has collected more than 70,000 unidentifieds and has placed them in a computer indexing and retrieval system.1789 There even seems to be enough data for meaningful statistics to begin to appear.

According to Poher and Vallee, both computer specialists, several trends and conclusions have already emerged: (1) The frequency of UFO reports increases with increased atmospheric visibility (which would not be the case if they were hoaxes); (2) the number of sightings is a bell-shaped distribution as a function of the logarithm of sighting duration; (3) the number of reports increases for objects farther away from the observer; and (4) the data show a peak a few hours before midnight, and a smaller secondary peak a few hours after midnight.787

What kind of information would be needed to really verify a UFO sighting? Eyewitness accounts are unreliable, heavily dependent upon the observer’s education, health, emotional state, and predisposition to falsehood. The kind of evidence that would be really compelling must be primarily physical. Photographs, for instance, are generally regarded as hard evidence by scientists. But pictures showing aliens, lights in the sky, or actual UFOs in flight are extremely easy to fake, as illustrated by the shots in Figure 3.3. (The author made a double exposure of a street light with a telephoto lens.)


Figure 3.3. UFO photographed by the author on March 30, 1976

Photographed by the author using Pentax Spotamatic and Kodak ASA-125 Plus-X Panchromatic. The object appears to fly off to upper right in the frame. See text for details.


After fifteen years of looking into the UFO phenomenon, NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena) director Stuart Nixon reported in November, 1972, the following conclusion regarding the literally thousands of photos he had received:

"NICAP has never analyzed a structured object picture that is fully consistent with the claim that an extraordinary flying device was photographed. In every case, there has been some small detail, or group of details, that raised the suspicion of a hoax or mistake."695

As Philip Klass aptly notes, there are more than 80 million cameras in the United States alone shooting roughly 5 billion still photos every year.695 Deft cameramen have managed to capture on film such rare occurrences as meteor falls, tornadoes, and plane crashes. And yet there is not a single photograph of UFOs or their occupants which can stand the strictest scrutiny and compel our acceptance of its authenticity.*

What about astronomical photography? Each night hundreds of telescopes turn skyward to record events occurring in the heavens. Thornton Page, Chairman of the AAAS Special Committee on UFOs, states that "professional telescopes are not an efficient patrol net for extraterrestrial visitors" because they don’t see enough of the sky often enough.340 However, the Smithsonian Prairie Meteorite Network has sixteen wide-angle Schmidt telescopes covering an estimated 440,000 square miles of the Earth’s surface. Canadian and Czech meteor networks add a small additional area to the coverage.

According to Page’s calculations, assuming a 50/50 chance of a UFO being photographed by one of the networks and given that none have so far been detected, there can be no more than 690 luminous UFOs worldwide per year. If we just look at the United States, the upper limit becomes only 25 objects per year. (That is, if more than 25 UFOs were tracking across our skies each year, then the chances would be better than 50/50 that at least one of them would be spotted by a network telescope and recorded on film.) In conclusion, observational astronomy can neither convincingly rule out nor compellingly affirm the existence of UFOs.

How about radar sightings? Although it is true that many UFOs have been detected on radar screens in the last few decades, a radar return need not always correspond to a real physical object. For instance, it was discovered early in World War II that meteor trails could cause radar echoes.49

Birds and swarms of insects produced baffling returns until the true cause was ascertained.1773 Temperature inversions, so familiar to the inhabitants of the smog-filled Los Angeles basin, can cause radar beams to bend along a "duct," thus permitting the detection of objects much farther away than normal.1788 Radar signals can bounce off clear air turbulence or reflect back from patches of air whose temperature, humidity, or ionization differ from their surroundings.18

Naturally, the Early Warning BMEWS network would be ideal for picking up UFOs. In 1966 it was reported that more than 700 "uncorrelated targets" were being detected monthly.1189 Unfortunately for ufologists, the BMEWS, SAGE, and NORAD computers automatically discard any object that appears not to be following a ballistic trajectory or an Earth-orbital ellipse.18,597 And some really good cases of combined visual and radar tracking are probably being withheld for security reasons (e.g., "spoofing" tests, etc.).

But Sagan and Page have pointed out that even a combination visual and radar sighting might not indicate a solid body -- it could be an aurora, for instance, or mistaken identification.18 We see that it is only through the concatenation of many independent sources of confirmation that the authenticity of a UFO report can be compellingly demonstrated.


Figure 3.4 UFO-Related Objects and Phenomena17,18

Meteorological -- subsun, sundogs (parhelia), moondogs (paraselene), lenticular clouds, noctilucent clouds, mirages, "dust devils", St. Elmo’s fire, grindstone clouds, solar reflections on low-hanging clouds, lightning (ball, streak, chain, sheet), Brocken ghosts, green fireballs(around NaCl crystals or dust), swamp gas flickers (ignis fatuus, methane combustion,"will-o-the-wisp"), large flattened gliding hailstones, sun glint off shiny objects, rainbow-related phenomena, bolides, ducted ground light reflection, ice flakes, coronal effects, tornado lightning, volcano lightning, Earthquake-Associated Sky Luminescence (EASL), AgI used in cloud-seeding, pile d’assiettes clouds(stack of coins), ice halo, pilot’s halo

Astronomical -- meteors, fireballs, satellite reentries, auroras, planets (Venus, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn), stars (Capella, Sirius), objects seen through haze/jet trails or magnified by temperature inversion, Moon, sunspots and solar flares, comets

Experimental and Technological -- balloons sandwiched between dense air layers, test aircraft unconventional aircraft, helicopters with bright lights, high-altitude projectiles, rocket launches, contrails, aircraft reflection or after burners, bomb tests, refueling operations, searchlight reflections, military flares, satellites, blimps, parachutes, radiosondes and pibals, landing lights

Physiological and Psychological -- autokinesis (perceived motion of stationary objects), autostasis (perceived stopping of moving objects), "airship effect" (perceived connection of separate sources), "excitedness effect", hallucination and mass hysteria, afterimages, autosuggestion (seeing what one is looking for), entopic effects (retinal or vitreous humor defects within the eyeball), motes on the cornea (perceived as spots), astigmatism and myopia, failure to wear glasses, reflections from glasses, religious invention

Photographic -- development defects, internal camera reflections lens flare, deliberate fakes (moon, street lamps, garbage can lids, phonograph records, hubcaps, lens cap suspended by thread, straw hat, Frisbee, models, window glass reflections)

Radar -- temperature inversions and ducting effects, ionized gases in upper atmosphere, angels, bogies, phantoms, false returns (ice-laden clouds, birds, insects), "window" (long strips of chaff), ranging/calibration balls, hot-air bubble reflections

Biological -- airborne debris (leaves, feathers, milkweed seeds), "angel hair" (gossamer spider parachutes), birds or flocks of birds, insect swarms, luminous fungi on birds, fireflies, glowing owl eyes, seagulls, moths, tumbleweeds

Industrial -- detergent foam, soap bubbles, refuse from defective filter in chemical-industrial plant (milk, rayon), smoke plumes

Miscellaneous -- kites, firefly trapped between window panes, radio astronomy dish, plastic bag with candles or flares, searchlight & headlight reflections off clouds, flashing ambulance light, tossed lighted cigarette, fireworks displays, reflection off building’s windows, airborne loose paper, beacon lights and lighthouses, water tanks, lightning rods, TV antennas, weathervanes, hoaxes


Despite prosaic explanations (Figure 3.4, Table 3.1), occasionally more exotic physical evidence will turn up. Coral Lorenzen described a detailed chemical and spectroscopic analysis of the alleged remains of a UFO which exploded off the coast of Brazil, near Ubatuba, in 1957.1672 The metal fragments were touted as magnesium metal purer than any manufacturer could have produced at the time of the catastrophe.

The case was investigated by the Air Force-sponsored Condon Committee study group in Colorado, authors of the 1000-plus page report on UFOs that came out in 1969.17 It turned out that magnesium of suitable purity had been produced, though only in relatively small batches, by one American company several years prior to the event at Ubatuba.

In no case to date has any piece of an alleged alien spacecraft shown signs of other than terrestrial manufacture.1312


Table 3.1 UFO Sightings and Unidentifieds
U. S. Air Force Project Blue Book17,18


All Sightings



All Sightings



All Sightings









































































701 (~5.6%)


Other physical evidence (largely unconvincing) was also examined during the two year study at the University of Colorado, including stalled automobile engines, evidence of strong magnetic field fluences,** circular burn marks and "landing pad" depressions on the ground, broken tree limbs, and so forth -- all to no avail.

A growing number of UFO reports in recent times involve observation of the alien occupants themselves. For example, the following articles appeared in the British Flying Saucer Review, perhaps the oldest and most respected ufology journal in the world: "Violent Humanoid Encountered in Bolivia" (1970 case -- includes photograph of parked UFO and humanoid posing nearby);775 "The Humanoid at Kinnula" (1971 case -- close encounter with genuine "little green man");777 "The Extraordinary Case of Rejuvenation" (1973 case -- advanced medical knowledge imparted telepathically by humanoid aliens with "round ears and slit eyes," standing roughly 1.8 meters tall);780 "Remarkable Encounter at Draguinan" (1974 case -- a group of French UFO enthusiasts are accosted by three silvery humanoids more than two meters tall);785 and "UFO Landing and Repair by Crew" (1974 case -- light-skinned, eight-foot-tall humanoids garbed in "wetsuits" are observed giving their flying saucer a tune-up in the forest, using wrenches and screwdrivers).782

Perhaps the first alleged contactee in modern times was the medium Helen Smith. Her travels in space were published in 1900 along with a dictionary for translating Martian into French.1924 More recently, everything from sexual seduction of humans by aliens1623 to miraculous cures of myopia and rheumatism1347 has been attributed to direct contact with UFOs and their occupants. One of the more notorious contactees was the late George Adamski, who claimed to have shaken hands with visitors from Venus when they landed in the desert near his hamburger stand in the early 1950's.1193,1787 (Adamski has since been shown to be a fake by a member of the British UFO Society.289)

And then there are the persistent rumors that UFOs have crashed and their contents are being studied in secret by the government.814 One unconfirmed report states that the bodies of twelve tiny humanoids are being kept in cryogenic suspension in Hangar 17 at Wright Air Development Center near Dayton, Ohio. The alien corpses, and various parts of a flying saucer, are supposedly the remains of a UFO crash in the New Mexico desert in 1948.1672

Probably the most celebrated contactee case is that of Betty and Barney Hill, alleged to have been abducted aboard a spacecraft on September 19, 1961, and given a thorough medical examination by ETs.1795 (Betty was able to recall the incident via hypnotic investigation five years later, though Barney apparently could not.695) One of the few corroborative pieces of evidence is a star map which Betty had been shown by the alien pilot, and which she later reproduced from memory. Marjorie Fish, an Ohio schoolteacher, attempted to fit the map to the known positions of actual nearby suns in space. The fit she came up with contains fifteen Sol-like stars which all lie in a single geometric plane and center on what is presumably the extraterrestrials' home sun: Zeta Reticuli.351,1775

Carl Sagan and Steven Soter have disputed the authenticity of the Fish interpretation of the Hill map, but the case remains one of the most fascinating of its kind on record. Zeta Reticuli is a double star system, each sun believed to be suitable for the evolution of life as we know it and separated by a mere 0.05 light-years (only 1% of the distance to our nearest neighbor, Proxima Centauri).

Unusually rapid technological advancement on the part of the sentient inhabitants of either of the Zeta Reticuli stellar systems might well result from the tantalizing closeness of the two stars. As the giant, luminous Moon beckoned to man throughout the centuries, perhaps the Zeta Reticulans too would find the challenge irresistible - only sooner.


* The two best-known motion picture films of UFOs in flight, a total of 1425 frames shot in Utah and Montana in the early 1950’s,1923 are highly questionable.695

** In case anyone is interested, I have in my files a circuit diagram for a most unusual piece of equipment -- entitled "The Electronic UFO Detector".770



3.2.3  The UFO Game

The National Enquirer is offering a reward of $50,000 to the first person to submit incontrovertible proof that UFOs are of extraterrestrial origin.1347 Entries have been submitted, but the prize has yet to be awarded.

Fighting fire with fire, Philip Klass in UFOs Explained declared he was so certain that UFOs are not piloted by aliens that he would personally refund the full price of his book to any purchaser if positive proof to the contrary ever comes to light.695 As an additional expression of confidence, Klass has extended a $10,000 bet to any and all takers that UFOs are not extraterrestrial spacecraft.

The jackpot pays off if any one of the following events occurs: (l) Any crashed spacecraft or piece thereof is found that clearly has extraterrestrial design or construction, in the opinion of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences; or (2) the U.S. National Academy of Sciences reaches the same conclusion based on other pertinent evidence; or (3) "The first bona fide ET visitor, who was born on a celestial body other than the Earth, appears live before the General Assembly of the United Nations or on a national television program."695

What are UFOs? Besides alien spaceships, these possibilities have been proposed: Time travelers from our future789,1189,1845 natural or artificial biological mechanisms,632 Satanic devils,562 and remote-controlled robots and androids.1623 Vallee claims that UFOs may be a purely "psychic" event akin to mass telekinesis,659 while astronomer-ufologist J. Allen Hynek warns us that "we may have to face the fact that the scientific framework, by its very internal logic, excludes certain classes of phenomena of which UFOs may be one. . . . It should not surprise us if a phenomenon that is inaccessible to a scientific procedure appears irrational."597 However, while few serious ufologists would categorically assert that flying saucers are manifestations of extraterrestrial life, many consider it to be the leading hypothesis.1448

As for future research, Hynek has quietly organized the Center for UFO Studies in Northfield, Illinois. A toll-free hotline phone number has been distributed to law enforcement and other government agencies to make UFO reporting fast and convenient.1671 An independent UFO-watch station crammed with more than $20,000 worth of sophisticated electronic gear has been set up on a 400-acre site 20 miles northwest of Austin, Texas.

The equipment at Project Starlight International (as the observatory is called) includes a 30-meter-diameter circle of sequenced spotlights and a low-power helium-neon red light laser to attract the saucer’s attention -- should one be spotted nearby.1925

Although it is probably the opinion of the majority of physical scientists that no compelling evidence now exists for extraterrestrial UFOs, it would be unreasonable not to continue to pursue ufology with an open mind. Judgment cannot be passed until all the evidence is in.



3.3  The Resident Aliens

The thrust of the chapter thus far has been the search for evidence of ETs on Earth in both ancient and contemporary mythology. But we must be careful not to overlook a possibly limitless source of alien intelligence indigenous to our own planet.

Until quite recently it was supposed that the basic mental capacities of thinking or reasoning -- intelligence -- served as a clear distinction between humans and other members of the animal world. Today we know we’re not so unique. It appears that virtually all living creatures possess at least the rudiments of intelligence; many elements of intellect appear in varying degrees across the phyla of the animal kingdom (especially the chordates and mollusks). Intelligence is therefore not a quality peculiar to humans or mammals alone but is developed and refined by all lifeforms.

The textbook definition of intelligence is:

"The capacity to utilize experience in adapting to new situations."

But what do we really mean by intelligent behavior? Even a virus could be said to be "learning" when its DNA changes to adapt to new environments.

There are two approaches. The first is functional, keying on the important functions of intellect such as the capacity for self-awareness.

The second approach is structural: What is the ultimate mental capacity of the neural network of a creature, viewed as a system? The structural approach allows facility of comparison between various animal species, and the results are rather interesting. The analysis focuses on a single organ possessed by virtually every animal -- the brain.

While it is widely recognized that high intelligence is the product of an elaborate brain,439,443,1000 a few qualifications are in order. First, within the normal range of variations of a species among its members, difference in brain size is unrelated to the intelligence of the individual animal.444 As much as 800 grams has separated human brains of apparently equal intelligence.

And since organ proportions change during growth, only mature average organisms can be validly compared. Brain size is a valuable criterion only when we compare differences between adult members of different species of animal (Table 3.2).

Table 3.2 Brain Sizes for Various Animals*








Fin whale




10 %



Humpback whale




4.8 %

Dolphin, Phocaena


African elephant




4.7 %

Dolphin, Tursiops


Sperm whale



Tzactl hummingbird

4.2 %

White whale


White whale



Vampire bat

3.3 %

African elephant


Dolphin, Phocaena




3.0 %



Dolphin, Tursiops




2.9 %







1.9 %






Dolphin, Phocaena

1.2 %

Humpback whale






1.2 %

Thoroughbred horse





Dolphin, Tursiops

1.2 %

Polar bear


Thoroughbred horse




1.1 %

Fin whale





House cat

0.98 %







0.86 %



Polar bear




0.84 %






White whale

0.63 %

Alaskan husky


Guernsey cow




0.58 %







0.48 %

Sperm whale





Alaskan husky

0.41 %



Alaskan Husky




0.32 %



Tiger shark




0.24 %

Guernsey cow






0.17 %






Polar bear

0.16 %

House cat


Old World ostrich



Thoroughbred horse

0.15 %



House cat




0.14 %





90 gm.

Guernsey cow

0.090 %

Tiger shark




250 gm.

African elephant

0.087 %





70 gm.


0.086 %





40 gm.


0.057 %





6.14 gm.

Tiger shark

0.054 %

Vampire bat


Vampire bat


28 gm


0.054 %

Old World ostrich




16 gm.

Old World ostrich

0.034 %

Tzactl hummingbird




85 gm.


0.018 %



Tzactl hummingbird


4.8 gm.

Humpback whale

0.016 %


8 x 10-6


6.9 x 10-4

.12 gm.

Fin whale

0.012 %


2 x 10-7


2.4 x 10-7

2.4 x 10-6 gm.

Sperm whale

0.010 %


9 x 10-10

* Adapted from Altman Dittmer,368 Spector,48 Lilly,217 Allen,309 Portmann-Stingelin,960 and Buettner-Janusch.1927
** Normalized to 1.00 for man.

Note: b is average species adult male brain weight, in grams. (b/B) is fraction of body weight represented by brain.  The last column, b•(b/B), is the product of both these factors. A large value indicates that the organism has both a high brain mass and a high brain-to-body weight ratio, which raises the presumption of higher intellective capacity.


Further, size alone is not a sufficient determinant of the depth of intellect although it does fix the perimeters of mental complexity. Other factors such as neuronal density, complexity and design of brain tissue convolutions, size and efficiency of neurons, average number of intersynaptic connections and so forth are also important. Gross bulk, while a rough correlate of intelligence, is not a precise measure of it.565,2560

It is difficult to say exactly where the threshold of human intelligence lies. It is known that human infants become facile with language only after their brain mass exceeds 800-1000 grams.217 Yet this is not a reliable cutoff point because, for instance, chimpanzees (brain weight 440 grams) raised in human company have acquired vocabularies of as many as 200 different word-symbols. Dogs, with smaller brains still, utilize a larger repertoire of signals than do many primates (but this may be because primates are vegetarian browsers while dogs are pack hunters requiring reliable intragroup communications1542). Conversely, the walrus (brain weight 1130 grams) is not known to have any symbolic language at all.

Besides absolute brain size, the relative size of the organ with respect to the rest of the body is also important. This ratio is representative of the investment made by the organism in intelligence as a survival mechanism. (It is known, for example, that even the brains of some social insects are relatively larger than those of some vertebrates.965)

Of course, these are only rough indicia of intellective capacity, good only for comparing the order of magnitude of a creature’s mental acuity. But it is a safe bet that, in general, a 1000 gram brain will be smarter than a 100 gram brain, and a brain which represents 10% of the total body weight will be more complex than one which only embodies 1% of the total.20,965

Were we to find on this planet other conscious minds with whom we might converse, it would be an excellent opportunity to practice our communication skills -- before attempting first contact with ETs with whom we share no common biological heritage. We might also discover some problems the extraterrestrials may confront in trying to deal with us, and learn to anticipate the solutions. Are there resident aliens on Earth?

As can be seen in the last column of Table 3.2, the cetaceans (dolphins and whales) come closest to man in terms of both absolute and relative brain size. Much has been written about the intelligence of cetaceans in popular fact15,1698,1699,1929 and fiction.1931 Their brains are highly convoluted and larger than human brains, and they are extremely social animals (aggregations of up to 100,000 individual saddle-backed dolphins have been observed roaming the open seas565).

Anecdotes of friendly and helpful attitudes towards men abound. There are reports of porpoises saving persons from drowning, guiding ships through narrow, fog bound straits, and even of performing psychological15 and psychophysiological217 tests on their human captors.

It is most difficult to measure dolphin intelligence and social abilities.1724 The famous undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau has pointed out four basic conditions necessary "for the elaboration of a civilized society." These are: Brain, hand, language, and longevity.1723

Porpoise and other cetaceans have brains nearly equal to our own, and possess lifespans of many decades. Whether or not they have a language remains to be proved. It is known that the humpback whale sings songs that often last more than 30 minutes and which are repeated with amazing accuracy.1931 Each season the songs are different.422 Dolphins, too, are capable of amazing mimicry of sounds and human speech.

They could have a language of their own: One anecdote tells of a porpoise held in captivity and later released which emitted a long, involved sequence of sounds in the presence of a school of dolphins it had encountered.15

Unfortunately, cetaceans do not have hands; any intelligence they may have cannot be worked out in technology. Sagan has hinted that the dolphins’ creative energies might have been diverted to social instead of material technology. Asks he:

"Are whales and dolphins like human Homers before the invention of writing, telling of great deeds done in years gone by in the depths and far reaches of the sea?"15

Apparently a single whale song contains roughly the same number of bits of information as The Odyssey does! Cetaceans may turn out to be "fluked philosophers... introverts who can think but not do."96

All this has motivated Arthur C. Clarke to proclaim: "There seems little doubt that dolphins think and speak much more rapidly than we do... And yet after decades of dedicated research into human/dolphin communication no major breakthroughs have occurred. Either the animal is not as intelligent as we had hoped, or communication with alien minds is a far more demanding task than anticipated.

Of course, the very fact that we have a vested emotional interest in finding porpoises to be intelligent should raise a flag of caution to the xenologist. The cardinal rule of evidence in xenology is that evidence must be compelling to be convincing. And most zoologists would agree that at present no such evidence exists in favor of cetacean super-intellect.565,1723

Hence, while the dolphin possesses a huge brain and an exceptional ability to mimic, this does not necessarily imply consciousness or even high intelligence. Elephants, whose brains are more than three times larger than those of cetaceans, are known with reasonable certainty to possess an intelligence far below human level.565 Mynah birds and parrots are capable of imitating human speech rather well.

The much-heralded altruistic cooperative behavior of marine mammals in rescuing injured comrades is also observed in wild dogs, African elephants and baboons,565 and may even be instinctual as a result of environmental necessities. Sociobiologist E. O. Wilson claims that delphinid, communication systems are no larger nor more complex that that of other mammals or birds.565 The common consensus among zoologists appears to be that the intelligence of the bottle-nosed dolphin can be ranked somewhere between the dog and the rhesus monkey.1724,1932

This should not be taken as conclusive that cetaceans are not extraordinarily intelligent; the simple fact is that we just don’t know yet one way or the other. Certainly no evidence exists that would rule out this possibility. But because of the great potential inherent in such a discovery, we owe it to ourselves both to continue delphinology research with vigor and to demand compelling evidence before accepting specific conclusions.

As John Lilly has pointed out, there are two dangerous pitfalls to be studiously avoided during first contact. First is the danger of anthropomorphizing -- of assuming that the alien creature possesses the same psychological constitution as humans. The second danger is what Lilly calls zoo morphizing, the mistake of denying the existence of high intellect in complex, large-brained creatures solely by inference from data on much smaller-brained animals.217 (Brian Aldiss addresses this very question in his science fiction satire The Dark Light Years.226)

Perhaps to truly comprehend the mind of the dolphin we shall have to learn to "live wetly." We must be willing to climb down into a tank of water and live as the alien himself lives. Both Lilly201 and Brunner442 have suggested that this may be the only way for true interspecies understanding to occur. A kind of primal empathy must be established between the two communicators.

Despite the tremendous promise of cetacean intelligence research, hundreds of thousands of dolphins are ruthlessly slaughtered for food each year by the Japanese and Russians. Our own merchant fleets have been killing comparable numbers incidental to tuna fishing operations.*

During the 1800’s whalers caught perhaps one animal per ship per month, but during the record catches of the last decade the average ship was hauling in a carcass every day.422,1928

The explosive harpoon used by whalers has caused intense pain and suffering:

A 150 lb. weapon carrying an explosive head which bursts generally in the whale’s intestines, and the sight of one of these creatures pouring blood and gasping along on the surface, towing a 400-ton catching vessel by a heavy harpoon rope, is pitiful. So often an hour or more of torture is inflicted before the agony ends in death. I have experienced a case of five hours and nine harpoons needed to kill one mother blue whale.710

Although it is true that "the exploiters of the cetaceans are spoiling our relationships to them,"201 this is almost a trivial observation. There is a much larger lesson to be learned here.2036

Speciesism is a chauvinism so fundamental that its unabated continuance could wreck our relations with alien intelligences. As Peter Singer, a philosopher currently associated with La Trobe University in Australia, defines it:

"…{Speciesism is} to discriminate against beings solely on account of their species, {an unethical practice} the same way that discrimination on the basis of race is immoral and indefensible."712

Most of us are devout speciesists. Each year in the United States we condone the slaughter of ten million pigs, thirty million cattle, and more than three billion poultry animals to adorn our dinner plates. Sixty million rabbits, rats, and other pain-feeling creatures are tortured annually in experiments frequently unnecessary or useless.

Singer explains the moral dilemma this way: The modern philosophy of "equality," strictly speaking, is false. There are no two humans who are strictly equal physically or mentally. The scope of equality (unless tied to self-interest) must therefore be determined by some objective criterion, some common characteristic capable of distinguishing those who are equal from those who are not. The problem is that any trait possessed by all humans will also be possessed by some nonhuman animals; if the conditions are tightened so as to eliminate these animals, some humans will then be eliminated. (Check, for instance, the criteria of pain-feeling, rational thought, memory, etc.)

Most distinctions that can be drawn between humans and other animals are not sharp and unmistakable. Zoologically, most attributes smoothly blend into a continuum among the many animal species. And yet whenever there is a clash of interests, even if it is a choice between the life of a nonhuman animal and a human palate, the interests of the nonhuman are disregarded.712 No amount of pain and suffering on the part of our fellow creatures seems too high a price to pay for the slightest whims of people.

This attitude is most unhealthy from the xenological point of view. If mere membership in the Homo sapiens club is sufficient to grant us ethical license to cruelly maim laboratory animals, why cannot superior, research-minded aliens pick out "mere humans" for similar honors? If we may brutally slash and torment bulls in bullfights, why might not ETs be able to similarly justify the staging of gladiatorial mortal combats between "human dumb animals"? If we allow ourselves to eat the nonhumans who share this planet with us, what ethical barrier can stand in the way of highly-evolved, hungry aliens seeking to augment their menu with hairless primate meat?1949** Speciesism is clearly one of our most dangerous chauvinisms.2115,2118,2136

When sentient lifeforms are found elsewhere in our galaxy, we’ll need all the help we can get from terrestrial interspecies communication research. Experience must be gained in empathizing with nonhuman bodies, minds, and environments. Such experience will give us the unique opportunity to view human culture through alien eyes, a necessary preliminary to our understanding of how extraterrestrial aliens may evaluate us. And communication with resident aliens would be a major step towards the goal of eliminating our speciesist biases.

As Carl Sagan poignantly observes:

It is not a question of whether we are emotionally prepared in the long run to confront a message from the stars. It is whether we can develop a sense that beings with quite different evolutionary histories, beings who may look far different from us, even "monstrous," may, nevertheless, be worthy of friendship and reverence, brotherhood and trust. We have far to go; while there is every sign that the human community is moving in this direction, the question is, are we moving fast enough?15


* The use of any marine mammal for food in the United States was outlawed by the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. A white meat preparation known as mahi mahi (or "dolphinfish") is fish and not porpoise-flesh (which is full of hemoglobin and therefore dark red in color633) as some mistakenly believe.

** More than a decade ago, science fiction author Michael Kurland (and others) drew up a list of advantages in joining the Galactic Federation, to be presented to the United Nations should the appropriate occasion ever arise. At the top of the list was the following: All intelligent species shall have the right not to serve as food for other races.78

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