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We See The Story We Want To Believe
Filed under: RUMINT
I don’t believe in aliens or flying saucers. There is only one way this will ever change.
Show me the flying saucers.
Show them to me in the middle of Washington, DC.
Have them land on the Nationals baseball diamond like in The Day The Earth Stood Still, in front of a crowd.
Then I will maybe — maybe — believe they exist. Until that happens, shut up about them. Literally stop talking. They don’t exist. Hush.
Blurry photographs or pilot testimony or secondhand whistleblowers who claim that aliens, and alien spacecraft, are visiting our planet with some frequency, are not evidence that flying saucers exist.
Unusual does not equal interstellar.
All motion being relative, a jet pilot’s recording of a fuzzy blob that seems to defy the laws of physics on camera does not prove the laws of physics can be broken, much less that aliens from a distant solar system are breaking the laws of physics in our skies.
Radar telemetry is garbage-in, garbage-out. A whole industry of radar engineers labors to fool enemy sensors. Testing stealth designs and electronic warfare equipment have been key missions for the famous Area 51 since the 1950s.
Show me the saucers or STFU. I will never be convinced that unexplained aerial phenomena (UAPs) are from somewhere else other than earth until I see the flying saucers land in front of me. Even then, I will remain unconvinced that they are alien flying saucers, or that spacefaring aliens exist, until living aliens step out of the saucers and introduce themselves properly.
Dead aliens are not enough evidence to convince me that aliens exist. Alien autopsy footage was a hilarious joke in 1995. Today it is yawn-inducing. Introduce me to a living alien or else shut up about aliens.
They don’t exist. None of it is real. Stop.
Furthermore, if the reader could prove that aliens and spaceships exist, they would not prove anything else about the universe to me, or anyone else.
Depictions of alien arrival treat it as an epochal event which alters everything. Actual scientists have debated whether, and in what way, the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence should be announced to the world so as to minimize the potential upheavals. Philosophers and theologians have considered the profound implications and worry that humans will worship the aliens, as many crackpots already do.
But humans do not change like that.
When the SETI at Home project launched in 1999, participants gave their reasons for donating CPU time to process the sky survey for alien signals. A volunteer myself, I spent a couple of hours poring over other people’s responses, taking an informal survey.
As I recall 24 years later, the two most common reasons people wanted to find aliens ‘out there’ were (1) to prove God exists, and (2) to prove God does not exist, in about equal numbers.
If actual aliens revealed themselves to the human race tomorrow, both groups of people would have their world views confirmed. None of them would change.
We who remain skeptical that aliens visit earth with any frequency at all — people like me — we are the only people whose opinions would have to change. But this is the only opinion of ours that would have to change.
Everyone else would feel justified in their prior beliefs if the aliens did land in world capitals and say hello. No earthling would change their mind about matters here on earth. Every voter would remain inclined to choose the same candidates they were already inclined to choose, interpreting the event according to what they already believe.
Fox News viewers would watch Fox News talk about the aliens, CNN viewers would watch CNN talk about the aliens, Tucker Carlson fans would watch him talk about the aliens. Lions would not lie down with lambs. Peace would not break out, nor would Armageddon.
A corollary argument arises. Aliens, if they exist, and visit earth, will have technologies we do not possess. These abilities will seem magic to us, but they will not be magic, simply science that we have not mastered yet. No matter how many incredible powers they seem to have, the aliens would not be gods, or angels, or lesser divine beings.
According to David Grusch, the latest UFO ‘whistleblower,’ some of the ‘real’ aliens are a little bit demonic — highly-advanced trickster beings that have injured and killed humans on purpose, at times.
Grusch also leans away from interstellar aliens, claiming that “non-human intelligence” (NHI) exists in a parallel dimension to ours, alongside us, just like the 2008 television show Fringe, or the more recent streaming series Counterpart.
Or ghosts. Or angels and demons. Or jinn. This stuff is actually quite old.
UFOlogy has always developed in historical parallel with pop culture depictions of alien contact. Xenobiology takes a thousand forms in film, but the stereotypical slender, gray aliens with flat noses and big, black eyes did not appear in films or television until the 1977 film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Steven Spielberg’s childlike aliens then became the dominant depiction of extraterrestrial intelligence across the media landscape, right until the present day, even when the aliens are portrayed as menacing.
Storytelling elements are added or discarded in every iteration of this narrative. For example, Grusch claims that Benito Mussolini obtained an NHI vehicle, presumably crashed or shot down during the Second World War, which then passed through the hands of the Vatican on its way to the United States, much as Nazi camp doctors left Europe on the Ratlines.
This sublimated retelling of Operation Paper Clip and Wehrner von Braun coming to America has been done before, and better. Flying saucers have supposedly been recovered ever since a rash of “flying saucer” sightings hit America just as the Second World War ended.
As part of the war effort, weather science ballooning exploded. Radiosonde electronics for data transmission had just been invented. ‘They said it was a weather balloon’ became a joke among UFO enthusiasts because so many alleged sightings were correctly identified as weather balloons.
Mussolini’s ‘UAP’ may have been one.
Among the associated technical developments of the weather balloon trend was metallic foil products. A person encountering metal foil for the first time might think it was magical, even alien. But it is not magical or alien. It is just a metallic foil.
Grusch also hints at some sort of arrangement between some of the NHI-aliens and the United States government, implying there have been sinister shenanigans and interdimensional compromises, a Gordian knot of mystery.
It sounds like The X-Files because it is indeed the storytelling legacy of Fox Mulder. New scriptwriters can keep a show going, season after season, long after the original cast has moved on, using pieces of the old story to construct a new story for every new season. The story never actually resolves, though. It has a beginning — Roswell, New Mexico in 1947, by most tellings — and then an infinite middle. Chris Carter’s television show was very much an expression of the story that UFO culture told itself by the 1990s, when the psychic trauma of Vietnam was still very real. Most fans agree it lasted at least a season too long.
Trust no one. The truth is out there. Fight the future. These are Sisyphean slogans. They are not meant to be fulfilled. Rather, they explain suffering. You can hate your bullshit job because the aliens are among us and you have no power, anyway. You can hate the president and the government and the feds, and give up on things getting better, because the aliens control everything, anyway. We all fancy ourselves as Roddy Piper in They Live, able to see the subliminal threat and fight bravely against it, but in practice what we do is resign and give up.
“There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet,” Kay explains to Agent J in Men in Black, “and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they do not know about it.” But we do know, or think that we know, and so discouragement sets in.
Grusch wants to end the secrecy and talk about the Arquillian Battle Cruiser in our skies. Rather than travel many light years, he claims, the NHI-aliens achieve interdimensional travel by bending space and time. These spacecraft (dimensioncraft?) appear larger from outside than they are on the inside, with disorienting effects on the humans who have been inside them, according to Grusch.
So, a reverse Tardis, basically.
Perhaps those mind-bending characteristics also make the NHI-aliens drive badly, occasionally crashing on random remote farmsteads.
Which brings us to the logical flaw that I first observed in the form of a US Army Predator drone buzzing back and forth over the training area at Fort Huachuca, Arizona in 1996. Why would intelligent aliens come here at all, when they could send a drone?
The aliens in Signs or Battlefield Los Angeles or Independence Day risk themselves to conquer earth. Real aliens would send drones instead. That might not make for a thrilling movie script but it would likely succeed.
So far as we know, the United States has no weapons to counter Grusch’s NHI-aliens. If they meant to do us harm, they could overwhelm humans in a ‘first strike’ scenario and face no retaliation at all. If that is the case, then Congress needs to know so they can allocate immediate defense funding.
The story Grusch tells — that all of these UFO/UAP ‘whistleblowers’ tell — never really allows the supposed aliens to operate their advanced machines in ways that a species more advanced than ourselves would operate a machine more advanced than our machines.
Their reported actions seem unintelligent. Their motives are mysterious, their execution incompetent.
Flying saucers have always ‘crashed.’ Alien corpses have allegedly littered the ground like an accident scene in a driver’s ed film from the 1970s. Some military pilots complain that UAPs come dangerously close to colliding with them in midair, as if the NHI-aliens are visiting our world just to play chicken. Grusch says that aliens have landed some recovered craft and just walked away, presumably leaving the keys in the ignition, perhaps to go visit a casino.
The reason these aliens seem so unintelligent is that they are the product of human minds imagining a greater-than-human intelligence. Like imagining God, basically.
Source imaginations are working from source material. As we have established, much of this material is cultural and temporal. Soviet-era flying saucer accounts differ from more recent ones in Russia, and so on, because the times change. New stories get told that seem very like the old ones. Some elements recur, others fade.
For example, it is notable that Grusch does not endorse alien abductions. Popularized by entertainment media, especially author Whitley Streiber, whose book Communion purported to be a work of nonfiction, the alien abduction scenario has declined since its heyday in the 1990s. Most nighttime abduction experiences are now understood to be the result of sleep apnea or paralysis, conditions that were interpreted in previous centuries as the work of witches or demons. A ‘whistleblower’ who wants to be taken seriously in 2023 would not make those sorts of claims.
Instead, the usual UFO suspects are all amplifying Grusch to espouse their own pet theories on the supposed strength of his very specific, and maybe not quite so crazy-seeming(?), allegations. (Skeptic Mick Ryan did a thorough dissection of Grusch at YouTube and he lists all the whistleblower’s associations with familiar figures in the flying saucer fan fiction world at the 31:10 mark.)
To be clear, I am not calling David Grusch a liar. He probably believes what he is saying and his associates are using him for their own agenda. It is entirely believable that he really did see some documents and photographs related to NHI-aliens and recovered spacecraft.
However, by his own admission, everything Grusch describes is secondhand.
Let us take him at his word that he really saw pictures and documents, and that they really contained the claims he made on Joe Rogan’s podcast. Even if he is telling the literal truth, it still does not prove that aliens exist, or that they flit about in our skies.
It only proves that documents and photos of alleged spacecraft and aliens exist.
My question is why the documents and photos exist. Something has been going on, clearly, though no one with any real authority is willing to say exactly what.
Sen. Marco Rubio recently announced that other witnesses have come forward with information, intimating that we may get some answers to this decades-old question soon.
But Rubio did not affirm that Red Lectroids are coming from the 8th dimension to menace the earth. While support in Congress for hearings and disclosures has reached a critical mass in recent years, no one on Capitol Hill has endorsed Grusch’s story in full, either.
One potential clue to the real story, per Grusch, is a specific detail in his account that has a clear pedigree. Grusch spoke of an “extremely strange, heavy, atomic metal, you know, high up at the periodic table, arrangements that we don’t understand” used in the construction of the NHI-alien dimension-ships.
He was talking about Muscovium.
To date, element 115 of the periodic table has only existed for 100 millionths of a second in a single laboratory. Theoretically, a super-stable isotope of Muscovium ought to be possible, but no one has figured out how to make it. All the heaviest elements in the universe come from the collision of neutron star pairs, so making stable Muscovium would require absurdly high energy outputs, among other technical challenges.
An international team was only able to make four atoms of Muscovium that only lasted for an instant. Interstellar or interdimensional craft the size of football fields, as Grusch reports to exist in both government and private hands right now, would require a whole industry to manufacture many tons of Muscovium. As the synthetic version is quite radioactive, quality control would presumably be a huge issue.
Muscovium had not been synthesized in a laboratory yet when Robert Scott Lazar first told a Las Vegas, Nevada television station that it was used in recovered alien spaceships held at Area 51 in 1989. It was only a theoretical element.
Lazar, the original source for the story of element 115, claimed this knowledge based on his brief experience working at ‘S-4’, a facility that supposedly stood near Papoose Lake inside the Area 51 restriction zone.
Although he does seem to have been employed by a federal government contractor in a low-level capacity, Lazar was never at Area 51. He never attended MIT and CalTech as he claims, either. (You can watch late nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman demolish Lazar’s educational resumé in this YouTube video.)
His experience, while fantastical, resonates with the story of David Grusch turning ‘whistleblower.’
Lazar “signed one document allowing his home telephone to be monitored and another that waived his constitutional rights,” reporter Annie Jacobson relates in Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base. “Then he was shown a flying saucer,” allegedly one of nine, “and told it would be his job to reverse engineer its antigravity propulsion system.”
He says that he was given a manual that explained that the flying saucers had come from another planet. Lazar also said he was shown drawings of beings that looked like aliens — the pilots, he inferred, of these outer space-crafts.
According to Lazar, over the following winter, he worked at S-4, mostly during the night, for a total of approximately ten days. The work was intense but sporadic, which frustrated him. Sometimes he worked only one night a week. He longed for more. He never told anyone what he was doing at S-4, not even his wife, Tracy, or his best friend Gene Huff. One night in early March of 1989, Lazar was being escorted down a hallway inside S-4 by two armed guards when he was ordered to keep his eyes forward. Instead, curiosity seized Bob Lazar. He glanced sideways, through a small, nine by nine inch window, and for a brief moment, he says, he saw inside an unmarked room. He thought he saw a small, gray alien with a large head standing between two men dressed in white coats. When he tried to get a better look, he was pushed by a guard who told him to keep his eyes forward and down.
For Lazar, it was a turning point. Something shifted in him and he felt he could no longer bear the secret of the flying saucers or what was maybe an alien but “could have been a million things.” Like the tragic literary figure Faust, Lazar had yearned for secret knowledge, information that other men did not possess. He got that at S-4. But unlike Faust, Bob Lazar did not hold up his end of the bargain. Instead, Lazar felt compelled to share what he had learned with his wife and his friend, meaning he broke his Area 51 secrecy oath.
And just like that, another UFO cult was born. Lazar camped out at Groom Lake with his wife and friend to watch the skies over Area 51. He got his story on Japanese television and it made global headlines. A model company manufactured kits of the flying saucer he described and drew on paper.
A teenager and model-builder at the time, I considered purchasing one and decided against it. One look, and I knew it was fake, because Lazar’s flying saucer looked like a slightly-modified version of the lame-ass fake flying saucers in UFO: Contact from the Pleiades, a coffee table book published by the Billy Meier cult in the 1980s.
One of Meier’s hoax photos is the subject of the famous poster on the wall of Fox Mulder’s FBI basement office. An uncle had given me the book for Christmas and it shaped me into a skeptic, for its internal logic was inconsistent and its messianic pretensions so overt.
Lazar’s story never made much sense either. Why would the guards march him right past a window he was not allowed to look through? Who would trust a man with no genuine credentials to reverse-engineer a flying saucer?
Lazar ducked hard questions and explained that the government had erased his educational records to make him look bad. In other words, there was a conspiracy to silence him. He had been interrogated by nameless agents, he said, and they had tried to break his will by showing him transcripts of phone calls in which his wife cheated on him.
One year after he appeared on TV, Lazar was arrested for his involvement in an illegal brothel. He pleaded guilty to felony pandering and served no prison time. Federal agents raided his business, United Nuclear, in 2006. The company was later fined for selling hazardous substances. Neither criminal case received anywhere near the kind of attention that his bullshit story got.
Thanks to The X-Files, as well as relentless late night radio talkers, especially Art Bell, during the 1990s the Roswell crash story and the Bob Lazar story fused into one narrative in the public imagination. The legendarium of Cold War paranoia now had its Genesis creation myth. Science fiction has now produced a million variations of this gospel and the cult is widespread, for so many people want to believe.
The UFO cult is so widespread, it even inhabits the United States government.
Polls show that a majority of American voters think their government is hiding something about flying saucers. According to a Department of Defense spokesman, the Pentagon has "not discovered any verifiable information to substantiate claims that any programs regarding the possession or reverse-engineering of any extraterrestrial materials have existed in the past or exist currently." Which is excactly what a flying saucer cover-up government would say.
Fanciful stories about secret alien spaceships held in government facilities have always been unfalsifiable. They cannot be proven to not exist. No amount of denial will persuade the convinced believer that their beloved aliens are a pipe dream. They want to believe, you see, and people who want to believe a thing will believe it no matter how much effort one puts into debunking those beliefs.
A person can argue that ‘crashed spaceships’ probably refers to foreign satellites, such as Kosmos 954, and that a secret program of ‘reverse-engineering’ those recovered objects has likely been confused for a program of reverse-engineering alien technology. We can sound reasonable like this all day long, talking until we are blue in the face, and never make an inch of progress with converts to the cult of the flying saucer, because there is always a David Grusch out there, purporting to have intimate knowledge of disturbing realities lying just underneath the surface-reality of our normal lives.
Annie Jacobsen’s book ends with a year-long interview process in which she tries amd ultimately fails to get clear answers. Her interviewee claimed to be one of the original ‘Sigma Four’ (S-4) program engineers working for EG&G, a national defense contractor that has reportedly operated at Area 51 since 1951.
His story is obvious fiction and yet another permutation of the familiar script. After the defeat of the Nazis in World War II, he claimed, the notorious SS camp doctor Josef Mengele struck a bargain with Joseph Stalin to make several children with enlarged heads which, through circuitous circumstances as bizarre as their supposed creation, wound up at the site of a crashed spaceship near Roswell, New Mexico in 1947.
Mengele supposedly did this in postwar Germany before he escaped to South America on the Vatican Ratlines and inspired the ‘Hitler clone’ thriller Boys From Brazil. Jacobsen incorrectly asserts that Mengele still had his records of the grisly experiments carried out at Auschwitz. In reality, Mengele regretted the loss of those records to the Red Army when they overran the camp, exclaiming “what a pity!” to one witness.
Flawed, the book remains essential reading. “For months I asked the engineer why President Truman didn’t use the remains from the Roswell crash to show the world what an evil, abhorrent man Joseph Stalin was,” Jacobsen writes. “For a long time, I never did get an answer, just a shaking of the head.”
Finally, he answered: “Because we were doing the same thing … They wanted to push science. They wanted to see how far they could go.”
Then he said: “We did things I wish we had not done.”
Then: “We performed medical experiments on handicapped children and prisoners.”
“But you are not a doctor,” I said.
“They wanted engineers.”
“People were killed,” he claims. “In this great United States.” Jacobsen’s source points an accusing finger at Vannevar Bush, a key figure in the Manhattan Project, and the Department of Energy, which established Area 51. The great majority of Jacobsen’s book is an exploration of this secret history.
Details of the alleged killings were not forthcoming, though. Instead, the source kept telling Jacobsen that the ‘real story’ was beyond her scope of understanding.
He wouldn’t say more. He said he was hurting. That soon he would die. That, really, it was best I did not learn any more because I didn’t have a need-to-know. But it was not just me who needs to know. We need to be able to keep secrets, but this kind of secret-keeping — of this kind of secret — is the work of totalitarian states, like the one fought against during the five decades of the Cold War.
Jacobsen worries that programs which are too secret to share with the president are “a precedent” that “makes it easier for a group of powerful men to set up a program that defies the Constitution and defiles morality in the name of science and national security, all under the deceptive cover that no one has a need-to-know.”
“I believe that though the engineer did not tell me everything, that is why he told me what he did.”
I say this is nonsense. I say that the engineer recycled conspiracy theories about the Cold War, and played on the documented excesses of American Cold War research programs, in order to promote his beliefs to a leading journalist writing what promised to be a bestseller.
If Jacobsen put the lunches on her expense account, then she has simply been conned out of free lunches by a bullshitter.
UFO politics have always been anti-statist, anti-government, and libertarian, though they appeal to left and right. Visiting the famous Little Ale’Inn at Rachel, Nevada in 2010, I noted that the wall behind the deli bar was festooned with bumper stickers on the theme of God and guns being our safeguard, generalized distrust of the Clintons, and so on. For many Americans, flying saucers are an epistemology. They explain JFK and Vietnam and Big Government and the scientific hubris of our times. Area 51 is not a crime, it is the cover-up. It is the symbol of all cover-ups.
If we accept that Jacobsen’s source really worked for EG&G from 1951, then this belief-system is exactly as old as the Cold War, and we should not be surprised to find fossilized political struggles of the past preserved in it, or the oldest Cold warriors purging their personal demons and recanting the misdeeds of their generation.
We should also not be surprised if people like Jacobsen’s source have written classified reports of flying saucers, complete with ‘photography,’ and distributed them in clandestine fashion to gullible co-workers, for decades.
Evangelism like that may explain how such a document got into the hands of David Grusch.
Or maybe this is all a practical joke that has outlived its creator. Or maybe that report is some sort of stress test that Grusch failed.
Answers may come. I do not expect them to include aliens or spacecraft or for that to have any effect on believers. While the probability that real answers come out in future congressional hearings is orders of magnitude greater than aliens landing their dimension-ships in the middle of Washington to explain themselves, it will not matter to believers.
If a dozen witnesses disclose every mundane detail of this weird secret history, right down to the nails, tens of millions of Americans who vote will still believe the government is covering something up.
They want to believe that. No amount of true information can ever make them stop wanting to believe it. Supernaturalism is human and so is stubbornness.
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