Conclusion: Enacting a New Galactic Story
In each and every paranormal or anomalous experience there is always a Who (an experiencer), a How (a way of making contact, i.e., an informal or formal method or practice), and a What (an external set of objects, entities, or environments). Generally speaking, contemporary researchers are more or less comfortable with the first two elements and their associated types of pluralism: epistemological and methodological pluralism. This is in large part due to our Kantian heritage and the postmodern sensibilities that have been cultivated in us for decades.
It is not controversial to highlight the role that multiple perspectives, worldviews, and modes of consciousness have in our anomalous experience of the world. Nor is it that controversial to point out that much
is determined by the particular methods we take up to study or encounter various anomalous phenomena. Each method, we understand, has its own disclosive power, which simultaneously reveals and conceals the phenomenon it is “pointed” at. It is however, quite controversial to posit that the anomalous things, processes, beings, and realms encountered by some Whos using some Hows have an ontological reality to them. In short, culturally and scientifically, we have a lot of room for epistemological and methodological weirdness but very little tolerance for ontological weirdness.
As a result, we are more comfortable with NHIs encountered in anomalous experiences to be understood as just being part of the experiencer’s own consciousness (e.g., false memory syndrome, hallucination, sleep paralysis, misinterpretation, or an overactive imagination). And no doubt each of those are valid explanations in some cases. We are also generally open to NHIs encountered in the context of certain methods (e.g., psychedelics, shamanic voyaging, lucid dreams, intense trance meditations). Though we often are inclined to reduce the NHI encountered via such methods to an unreal status (i.e., intra- or interpsychic). After all, we argue the experiencer was in an altered state of consciousness and we tend to consider such states as being ontologically suspect. They are viewed as occurring in an altered state of mind (i.e., “unreal”) as opposed to an alternate reality that is real. It only counts as real if you encounter it in normal waking consciousness. Or so the assumption goes…
When we are pushed, we might concede that an anomalous phenomenon is some kind of psychosocial manifestation of the collective unconsciousness that can even in some cases manifest physical or quasi-physical characteristics. This can be a type of group psi or the power of group mind to manifest what appears to be an autonomous being or UFO but is actually just an archetype made manifest by the collective. And no doubt this too accounts for some NHI encounters.
In general, the last place we want to go is making room for the ontological existence of NHIs either as flesh and blood extraterrestrials or quasi-physical or subtle extradimensionals. No, that is just too much! Or is it? There is a lot of first-person testimony (whistleblowers and experiencers); second-person cultural, religious, sociological, and anthropological data; and even third-person physical and legal evidence as well as some scientific data—all of which point in this direction. There might not be conclusive, publicly verified evidence or a scientific consensus on the topic. But it is not hard to support the claim that there is enough first-, second-, and third-person evidence that we need to take very seriously the possibility of the ontological reality of UFOs and NHIs. Paradoxically, from an Exo Studies perspective we also want to hold all this lightly, too. The practice is to simultaneously take this evidence seriously and hold it lightly. Doubleness! Given the range and variety of evidence for UFOs and NHIs being “real” (keep in mind Sentes’  fourfold distinction discussed above), should we not develop a model that can account for the ontological status of NHIs even if psychological and psycho-social explanations of such beings (and their realms) are sometimes or often valid explanations of said phenomena? It only takes one white crow…
I feel strongly that we can no longer shy away from discussing, modeling, and researching the ontological status of NHIs, including ETs, EDs, as well as humans living in parallel worlds or alternate timelines. A worthwhile step in this direction involves what I outlined above as Integral Pluralism (the Who x the How x the What). This is important because it creates the context for an integral depth ontology (i.e., an ontology that is both dynamic and responsive to the consciousness of perceiving subjects and the various methods used to disclose/enact such ontological realities, and is grounded in a form of realism that prevents us from the slippery slope of solipsism in an enacted hall of mirrors). As noted above, my preferred form of realism for such a task is Complex Integral Realism.
Many NHIs exist independently of our observations and enactments of them. And yet our encounters with them always involve both a Who and a How and the ontological status of them lies in part on how they are enacted by both the observer and the method of observation. Now it is important to keep in mind that any given enactment of an NHI does not exhaust its being/ontology. In fact, most enactments are just one of many ontological layers or dimensions of the NHI (similar to how we show up differently with certain friends or while doing different activities). In other words, the NHIs are always more complex and multidimensional than any given (enacted) encounter reveals. This underscores the integral depth ontology at play: the consciousness of the experiencer both reveals and conceals aspects of the NHI, the contact modality (spontaneously or intentionally used) reveals and conceals aspects of the NHI, and the NHI itself reveals and conceals aspects of itself based on its own intentions, habits of being, and blind spots. Together the experiencer, the modality, and the NHI enact the encounter—not to mention that from the NHI’s perspective they are the Who, using a How to interact with us as the What. Thus, we are enacting them and at the same time they are enacting us. Along these lines, Patrick Harpur recounts how Carl Jung had a salient UFO dream in October 1958, which caused him to turn the whole notion of psychological projection “on its head.” After the dream, Jung observed “we always think that the U.F.O.s are projections of ours. Now it turns out that we are their projections” (as quoted in Harpur, 1994/2003, p. 88). This is a participatory ontology—we live in a multiverse where we humans and NHIs (and other types of beings as discussed above) are mutually creating each other in a cascading series of enacting encounters.
Making the case for the ontological status of NHIs is one of the most controversial issue/topics one can take on. It goes against basically every tenet of the scientific establishment and contemporary global worldview and as a result calls into question almost everything we take for granted as constituting reality. Nevertheless, I feel a strong post-positivist/post-materialist scientific case can and must be made—an integral mixed methods approach that combines qualitative and quantitative data using first-, second-, and third-person data. This is the foundation of an integrative metascience.
It is time we develop a much more sophisticated discourse around the existence of NHIs and our encounters with them. My hope is that the metafield of Exo Studies will support us in this task. Humanity has
been interacting with a wide range of NHIs from time immemorial. Most cultures and cosmologies across the planet and throughout the ages have or currently do make room for them. The fact that our secular modern scientific story does not is in fact the anomaly. Of course, we will need a post-mythic version of these NHI friendly cosmologies, one that re-enchants and re-wilds the Kosmos without the mythological baggage of yesteryear. We live in a Kosmos that is inhabited by denizens of many densities, worlds, dimensions, and realms. We would do well to acknowledge their ontological status and make a more coordinated effort to understand and engage with them. These beings are interacting with humanity on a regular basis, so the more we can do to come to terms with and understand this, the better off we will be collectively. This is especially important as we increasingly move toward becoming galactic citizens living on multiple planets.
I hope this article has piqued your curiosity about what that story might involve, and I invite you to join me as a co-author of it. Humanity is entering an exciting galactic age—it will not be long before we have a base on the Moon and are terraforming Mars. We need a bigger story—a metaverse—that can inspire and guide us as we continue to explore and understand this mysterious and awe-inspiring, diversely populated multidimensional multiverse—our Wild Kosmos!
I want to thank Tom Curren and Michael Zimmerman for their extensive engagement around the issues discussed in this article and for their review of early drafts. Also, I want to acknowledge the participants in the first “Exo Studies Master Course,” which ran for seven months (September 2019–March 2020) and served as the context where the ideas presented in this article emerged and were fine-tuned. Also, Lynwood Lord was instrumental in editing and formatting this article and Jon Kohl made a number of very helpful suggestions.
Exo Studies’ 150+ Disciplinary Fields, Domains, and Topics
Annotated Bibliography for Table Sources
- Hernandez, R., Klimo, J., & Schild, R. (2018). Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness and Contact with Non Human Intelligence. FREE Inc.
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A five-year (2012–2017) quantitative and qualitative study with over 3,256 individuals from more than 100 countries who had single or multiple encounters with NHIs. The descriptions of NHIs fall into 10 distinct types. One of these types is the catch-all category of “Other.” In the context of NHI encounters that took place within a UFO/UAP, 30% of all NHIs fell into the category of “other,” which was the fourth largest category of the 10. Similarly, in the context of NHI encounters that took place not in a “craft” but in a “matrixlike reality,” 39.4% of all NHIs fell into the category of “other.” This was the second largest category of the 10. Within this category of “other,” there were around 1,350 responses representing “hundreds of types” of NHI that did not easily fit into the other nine categories (Rey Hernandez, personal communication, March 2, 2020). This underscores the wide variety of NHIs encountered and highlights that while there are around 8 to 10 common types of NHIs encountered by people, there is still a lot of diversity in what these NHIs look like (i.e., their phenotype).
2. Salla, M. (2013). Galactic Diplomacy: Getting to Yes with ET. Kealakekua, HI: Exopolitics Institute.
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Michael Salla presents 19 “extraterrestrial races” (12 positive and 7 negative types) from various planets and star systems presented in two tables summarizing their main activities and the positive or negative global impact they have. This overview appears to be based on Salla’s analysis of first-person testimony and the UFO literature in general. He focuses more on where these NHIs are from and their benevolent or malevolent orientation toward Earth humans than their phenotype.
3. Nidle, S. (2005). Your Galactic Neighbors. Pukalani, HI: Blue Lodge Press.
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A lifelong experiencer, Sheldan Nidle was approached during a meditation in the early 2000s by a council of 22 beings representing their respective civilizations from “across the galaxy.” Their goal was to work with him “to help the peoples of Earth overcome their strong aversion to the appearance of many of this galaxy’s highly intelligent inhabitants” (p. xxi). Apparently, these 22 “star-nations” allegedly represent only “a very narrow segment of the extraordinary array of cultures and species found throughout [the Milky Way Galaxy]” (p. xxi). Nidle explains that “Many species, however, are not represented in this initial sample. They were omitted for a reason: their physical appearance is less than pleasing to limited conscious humans…” (p.xxii). Thus, these 22 types of beings are predominately “galactic humans” or humanoid in appearance. Nidle’s chapters present an overview of each star-nation, it’s location and ecology, social organization and cultural dynamics, their physical appearance and language use, and a description of their ships.
4. Huyghe, P. (1996). The Field Guide to Extraterrestrials: A Complete Overview of Alien Lifeforms–Based on Actual Accounts and Sightings. New York, NY: Avon Books.
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This was the first book of its kind providing a typological system based on the phenotype of NHIs encountered by people. Thus, each entry is based on an actual close encounter that was documented with enough detail about the phenotype of the being(s) to support the creation of an accurate drawing. Huyghe is deliberate in his selection of cases so as to provide readers with a representative overview of the kinds of NHIs encountered. His classification system identifies 4 classes (humanoid, animalian, robotic, and exotic) with 14 types spread across the 4 classes. In total, he showcases 49 different NHIs.
5. Webre, A. L. (2014). The Dimensional Ecology of the Omniverse. Universe Books.
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Alfred Lambremont Webre’s presentation of NHIs draws heavily on the research of Manuel Lamiroy, who has more than anyone mapped out the “exophenotypology” of NHIs (see https://www.exopaedia.org/ and Exophenotypology). Below is a schematic of the 9-class exophenotypology that Lamiroy has developed to date. He is still in the process of incorporating dozens of new phenotypes into his system as the result of gaining access to Albert Rosales’ database of over 17,000 contact cases. Webre also includes and discusses at length three Martian humanoid exophenotypes.
6. Redfern, N. (2019). The Alien Book: A Guide to Extraterrestrial Beings on Earth. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press.
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Nick Redfern provides an encyclopedic overview of 44 different NHIs, many of which are more commonly associated with being cryptids or creatures of legends than with “aliens.” Nevertheless, he points out that “Aliens come in all sizes, shapes, and colors. Some are friendly. Others are anything but friendly. They all have one thing in common: the human race has encountered them” (p. xix). Redfern’s compendium serves to expand the categories beyond the stereotypical humanoid types of NHIs most commonly associated with “extraterrestrials.”
7. Howe, L. M. (1994). Glimpses of Other Realities: Volume 1: Facts and Eyewitnesses. Albuquerque, NM:LMH Productions.
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In Chapters 3 and 4, Linda Moulton Howe provides a variety of eyewitness reports and drawings by experiencers. She provides “different alien descriptions” of 10 types of beings each with numerous illustrations. Howe is an Emmy award winning investigative journalist who graduated from Stanford University with a MA in Communications. She is considered by many to be one of the most established and well-respected UFO investigators in the field of UFO studies.
8. Mendonça, M. & Lamb, B. (2015). Meet the Hybrids: The Lives and Missions of ET Ambassadors on Earth. Scotts Valley, CA: Amazon CreateSpace; Mendonça, M. (2017). Being with the Beings: The How and the Why of ET Contact. Scotts Valley, CA: Amazon CreateSpace.
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These two books are quite unique in that they feature 13 human individuals who self-identify as an ET hybrid and/or who have had long term ongoing contact with an impressive variety of NHIs. Their descriptions of various types of beings, their encounters with them, and the nature of their worlds/planets is quite detailed and compelling. All of the hybrids interviewed claim to have multiple types of ET DNA. Descriptions of the NHIs though out these two books often include where they come from, their phenotype, and their specific group names.
9. Clarke, A. S. (2012). Encounters with Star People: Untold Stories of American Indians. San Antonio, TX: Anomalist Books; Clarke, A. S. (2015). Sky People: Untold Stories of Alien Encounters in Mesoamerica. Pompton Plains, NJ: The Career Press, Inc; Clarke, A. S. (2016). More Encounters with Star People: Urban American Indians Tell Their Stories. San Antonio, TX: Anomalist Books; & Clarke, A. S. (2019). Space Age Indians: Their Encounters with the Blue Men, Reptilians, and Other Star People. San Antonio, TX: Anomalist Books.
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Since the 1980s, Ardy Sixkiller Clarke, an ethnographic researcher and Professor Emeritus at Montana State University, has collected over 4,000 NHI encounter stories from American Indians and other indigenous people. She has published 157 of those accounts over four books, totaling 1,100 pages of material. Her body of work represents one of the most unique and important collections of experiencer accounts—especially since they all were recalled consciously without the aid of hypnosis. Also, her work helps show that these encounters are occurring within populations often not associated with the abduction phenomena or experiencer literature. Many of the encounters she documents appear to validate the many indigenous traditions globally that speak about “star beings” as their ancestors.
10. Vashta Narada’s Galactic Art (www.vashta.com). Retrieved March 6, 2020, from https://www.vashta.com/my-product_category/commisions/.
Vashta Narada is a long-term experiencer and intuitive artist who uses 3D graphic programs to “paint” pictures of “galactics.” She began doing this work around 2013 and to date she has done over 150 portraits. Most of these are done on commission for people who want her to depict a NHI that they are in contact with. Vashta typically connects with these beings and then does their portrait based on her own encounter. She notes however, that sometimes these beings do give her directions and guidance around how best to depict them. She is clear that her artwork should not be taken as a literal “photograph” of these beings, but rather captures the energetic quality or signature of each NHI. These portraits can be seen on her website or on her Facebook page. Her work is quite notable in that it uniquely provides a much more realistic depiction of what these NHIs look like and as such avoids the sometimes cartoonish style that can be associated with drawings done by experiencers who generally do not have an artistic background. As a result, looking at her gallery can give people a better sense of the kinds of NHIs that are being encountered by people all around the world.
11. Boylan, R. (2012). The Human–Star Nations Connection: Key to History, Current Secrets, and our Near Future. Boylan LLC.
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Dr. Richard Boylan has been researching human encounters with NHIs since 1989 and during the 1990s was considered a prominent abductee researcher. He claims there are nearly 1,500 “Star Nations Species who are currently operating within Earth’s energy zone…” In this book he focuses on those with whom humans have had the most frequent interactions. In total, he discusses 23 different “races” and notes that there are at least 12 different races of Zetas or Greys.
12. McDaniel, D. E. (2017). The Illustrated Guide to Reported Alien Species. Scotts Valley, CA: Amazon CreateSpace.
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Inspired by the dearth of good visuals aids that accompany encounter stories, David Erik McDaniel decided to create illustrations of 32 types of extraterrestrials selected from various reports, sightings, and the UFO literature in general. He aims to depict each NHI accurately based on the reports and only uses creative license to fill in details that were missing. His work does a great job of providing an illustration for 16 of the 25 humanoid NHIs listed in Table 3.
N O T E S
1 Upon reading this quote in September 2018, I immediately felt the calling to create an integrative metatheory of anomalist realities—what I am now calling Exo Studies (see www.exostudies.org). Also note this article is a slightly revised version of one that was published in June 2020.
2 Kosmos is used here in accordance with Wilber (1995), wherein a “k” is used à la the ancient Greeks to refer to not just the exterior dimensions of the cosmos, but both the exterior and interior dimensions, and Wild is used to refer to the ontological weirdness of reality. Thus, Wild Kosmos refers to all of reality—seen and unseen—in both its epistemologically understandable and forever elusive ontological expressions. I also refer to this as the metaverse, which is very similar to Alfred Lambremont Webre’s (2014) notion of the omniverse and its “dimensional ecology.” Wild is also inspired by William James’ (1960) wild facts and Charles Fort’s (1975) wild talents, both of which refer to paranormal realities.
3 I have in mind here J.F. Martel’s (2016) distinction between epistemological strangeness and ontological strangeness: We say that something is strange when it defies reason, when we cannot find an explanation satisfying enough to stop wondering what it is. There are at least two ways in which this can happen. A thing can be strange in effect or strange in fact. In philosophical terms, the first kind of strangeness might be called epistemological, meaning that it has to do with how we perceive things; the second kind of strangeness might be called ontological, meaning that it has to do with the way things actually are at their inmost. Epistemological strangeness arises when, though I can conceive of no rational explanation for the thing before me, I nevertheless maintain the belief that some explanation would obtain if I had more information…In contrast, ontological strangeness arises when an event is unexplainable in principle because it defies rational explanation in an absolute sense. This is an inborn strangeness pointing us to the strangeness of reality itself at the fundamental level. This echoes the weird realism associated with H.P. Lovecraft’s writing—that at its core there is something wholly weird about reality that allows it to ongoingly elude even our best ontological probing (see Harman, 2012).
4 See Esbjörn-Hargens (in press-b) where I articulate the outlines of an integral depth ontology based on the integration of Roy Bhaskar’s (2016) depth ontology with Wilber’s Integral Theory. This is part of my ongoing effort to develop Complex Integral Realism (CIR) (see endnote 6). One of the main tasks of Exo Studies is to use CIR as the metatheoretical basis from which to development an integrative metascience of UFOs and the paranormal.
5 See Kripal (2016a, pp. 8–11).
6 See Esbjörn-Hargens (2010, 2016, in press-a, and in press-b). Complex Integral Realism (CIR) situates what I call Integral Pluralism (an enactive view of reality) within an integral depth ontology (see endnote 4). This is discussed in more detail later in the article in the context of the Mutual Enactment Hypothesis.
7 In addition to Appendix 1 with its list of 150+ disciplinary fields, domains, and topics, I encourage readers to consult the 38-page bibliography “The 650 Essential Book for Exo Studies” found at exostudies.org. This extensive bibliography serves as a supplemental reference list to those resources found at the end of this article and provides readers with a more in depth sense of the core texts informing Exo Studies in general and this article in particular. A shorter list of 150+ essential Exo Studies books can also be found here.
8 This comparison of first-person experiential “psychic” data with second-person cultural “folkloric” data is important for doing a more sophisticated evaluation of the parallels and differences between 18th- and 19th-century faery folklore and 20th- and 21st-century UFO/abduction narratives. This could be part of a larger effort to study siddhis and psi abilities (e.g., clairaudience, claircognizance, clairsentience) that enable people to perceive and experience NHIs and other dimensions/realms.
9 See Zimmerman (2003) for a philosophical exploration of radical otherness and the “alien gaze” in the context of the abduction phenomenon
10 This includes Fort’s (1941/1974) notion of wild talents (i.e., the paranormal superpowers latent in human beings).
11 The phrase non-human intelligences is also used in some contexts to refer to either animal sentience and/or to artificial intelligence (e.g., androids). Within Exo Studies such usage will be obvious by the context.
12 Note that both spellings, Greys and Grays, are used to refer to the same NHIs. British spelling uses an “e” and American spelling uses an “a.” However, the British spelling seems to be more common in the encounter literature, so I will follow suit here and use Greys. These NHIs are also called Zetas, short for Zeta Reticulans, with Zeta Reticula being one of the primary star systems these beings are associated with.
13 See endnote 8. Also, while there are striking similarities between faeries and aliens there are a lot of reasons to believe they are actually distinct ontological beings associated with their own domain/realm even if they both have been mistaken for each other by various people at various points in history. I am using the spelling of faery to make a clear distinction between Victorian and Disney depictions of cute little-winged creatures and the actual subtle-bodied denizens
of Faerie who are described by seers and folklore.
14 Throughout The Super Natural (2016), Kripal cautions against such naïve comparative practices. For example, he encourages researchers to “shoot the arrow both ways” (2016d, p. 340) and be cautious when trying to interpret the past exclusively through the present (e.g., viewing 18th-century faery encounters or “lights in the sky” reports from the Middle Ages via a modern UFOlogical lens) or the present exclusively through the past (e.g., seeing current ET/ED reports as evidence of angels and demons). Thus, shooting the arrow in both directions means to paradoxically consider the insights that both interpretative approaches provide when taken seriously (and simultaneously held lightly).
15 See video by Barbara Lamb (2019).
16 In the Star Trek series, the Prime Directive is a non-interference policy that guides the Starfleet from interfering with the development of alien civilizations.
17 Given how controversial Susan Clancy’s research and subsequent book was among experiencers, it feels important to point out that David Jacobs (2006), a longtime alien abduction researcher, provided a strong rebuttal to Clancy’s claims in his book review that appeared in the Journal of Scientific Exploration. Also see Kathleen Marden’s (n.d.) wellresearched online essay “Psychological Studies on Abduction Experiences,” which also delivers a powerful critique of Clancy’s method and results. While I agree with Jacobs and Marden’s rebuttals to Clancy, I do feel that NHI researchers
need to do a better job of incorporating the insights and addressing the critiques associated with the IPH perspective as represented by researchers such as Clancy.
18 There are many ways our own brains obscure or distort exo phenomena. Thus, we need to better understand these cognitive and neurological dynamics of perception and interpretation. The next hypothesis—the CCH—heads in this direction in a productive way. The CCH is in many ways quite similar to the MEH. The MEH can be viewed as an expanded
more developed version of the CCH.
19 See Dennis Crenshaw’s The Secrets of Dellschau (2009).
20 As noted previously, this work builds on the previous work I did on Integral Pluralism and Complex Integral Realism (see endnotes 4 and 6).
21 See Stavish (2018) for a recent treatment of egregores.
22 The Breakaway Civilization Hypothesis (BCH) is unique among the other hypotheses listed in Table 4 in that it primarily involves Earth humans and not necessarily NHIs. Though some contend that the Earth humans involved with the BCH are collaborating with galactic humans and NHIs.
23 This is a play on the common expression, originally said by Mark Twain’s character Pudd’nhead Wilson in Following the Equator (1897), that “Truth is stranger than fiction.” Fiction is quite tame compared to science fiction, thus truth or what is real is even more bizarre than what is possible in science fiction which is quite fantastic to begin with. This connects to my earlier point about the Wild Kosmos and reality being ontologically weird (see endnotes 2 and 3).
24 It is worth noting here that Mack (1999/2008) points to my dear friend and Integral Theory colleague Michael Zimmerman as an example of a thinker who posits a “‘third zone’ of reality that is neither purely internal nor external but lies beyond, including or subsuming the familiar dualism of inner and outer world” (p. 288).
25 To date I have documented nearly 20 examples of how doubleness shows up within exo phenomena. For example, 1) disinformation includes both truth and lies, 2) good testimony often involves credible people claiming incredible things, 3) abductees often report both trauma and transcendence in relationship to their NHI encounters, 4) UFO disclosure, to paraphrase Richard Dolan, is both impossible and inevitable, 5) a majority of the general public believes we are not alone and that some UFOs are piloted by ETs but it is a taboo to talk about it among polite company, and 6) the U.S. government and military has a public position that UFOs are a “nothing burger” but behind closed doors they have studied them intensively for nearly 80 years. Additional examples of doubleness are noted throughout the article. There appear to be three key liminal boundaries involved with doubleness: the subject-object boundary, the self-other boundary, and the space-time boundary. From an Integral Theory perspective, these three boundaries correlate to the I, We, and It/Its spheres, which represent the three major domains of reality. Hence, exo phenomena transgress every major distinction used to navigate reality and make sense of ourselves, our communities, and our cosmos. This is what makes these liminal boundary crossings so perplexing and threatening to the status quo—they have the potential to destabilize everything we hold dear. I believe a better understanding of this doubleness is crucial for Exo Studies, in part because it can serve as a powerful catalyst for individual and social transformation, propelling us into more integrative forms of post-formal thinking and being. Thus, I am planning on dedicating a whole article to exo doubleness in the near future.
26 The use of the Real here is quite distinct from the notion of the Real in Bhaskar’s (2016) depth ontology within Critical Realism. See Esbjörn-Hargens (in press-b) for presentation of this notion and how it relates to Exo Studies.
27 Sentes’ (2019a, 2019b) fourfold distinction of the real is in part a response to Robbie Graham’s discussion of hyperreality in Silver Screen Saucers (2015). Graham’s discussion highlights another example of doubleness. Movies, he explains, that feature UFOs make them paradoxically both more real in public consciousness (because they saw them in a movie) and less real (because they saw them in a movie): “Cinematic simulations of UFOlogical history (UFO movies and TV shows) simultaneously actualize and fictionalize their underlying subject matter—it becomes hyperreal, both real and unreal” (p. 294). In short, UFOs via their media representations become hyperreal (real/unreal, fact/fantasy, true/false, real/imaginary). This is another example of doubleness (see endnote 25). While Sentes (2019b) appreciates the key thrust of Graham’s thesis, he offers some important counterpoints (e.g., that print media has more influence than Graham acknowledges and there were noteworthy cultural representations of UFOs/NHIs prior to Kenneth Arnold’s 1947 sighting, which Graham claims occurred before UFOs were part of media culture). In light of these two critiques, Sentes points out with emphasis, echoing the Mutual Enactment Hypothesis, “The experience and its mass cultural representations are always already mutually implicated.”
28 Patrick Harpur (1994/2003) points out that Carl Jung made a similar observation. For Jung, our hyper materialistic culture is highly split—repressing the daimonic, the subtle, and anything that is not immediately amendable to materialistic analysis. Thus, for Jung UFOs are a collective projection aimed at healing this split between science/matter/exteriors and spirituality/mind/interiors and making us whole again. According to Jung, a UFO can through the collective unconscious manifest enough of a physical dimension to the phenomena to generate a radar return and at the same time a real physical UFO is a canvas for mythological projections. “In other words, [Jung] thought it possible that projections from the collective unconscious might have a physical aspect; or else, although UFOs might be physical, they were not necessarily extraterrestrial space-craft” (p. 17) In this context Harpur points out that one of Jung’s great discoveries was that part of the psyche, the collective unconscious, is objective! “Thus [Jung] dissolves the question as to whether UFOs are subjective (“all in the mind”) or objective (“really out there”), and asserts that they are always objective, but they derive from the inner realm of the psyche.” (p. 17).
29 The Speculative Realists, such as Graham Harman (2011) with his quadruple object, have done interesting work on objects having agency, etc. I believe there are some really important contributions they make to both an integral depth ontology and Exo Studies.
30 When evidence is discussed within an exo phenomena context, the aphorism Carl Sagan made famous often is presented: “extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.” A full critique and deconstruction of this position will be left for another day. For now, I will just point out, as others have before me, that this is neither good science nor the way science works: any good evidence will suffice in supporting an extraordinary claim. Besides, there are no established criteria as to what counts as either an extraordinary claim or extraordinary evidence. This adage is more an illustration of sounding scientific while dismissing anomalist evidence that does not fit within a dominant worldview.
31 I want to acknowledge my colleague Jon Kohl for first using this funny “smoking (ray) gun” metaphor in our coauthored piece (Kohl & Esbjörn-Hargens, 2020).
32 The items listed in Table 5 are compiled from several online sources: Hutchinson (2020) and Lomer (2016) for legal evidence and Compound Interest (2015) for scientific evidence. These sources provide brief definitions of each type of evidence. For the purposes of this article I have chosen to leave these out as most of them will likely be straight forward and obvious to most readers.
33 Wilber (1997) develops this approach based on his four quadrants and inspired by Habermas’ (1979, 1984) notion of three types of validity claims (truth, rightness, and truthfulness) in communicative action. Habermas assigns each claim to a different world or domain of reality: objective world, social world, and subjective world, respectively.
34 See Wilber (1997).
35 In addition to the individual pieces of legal or scientific evidence, there is also something to be said for the accumulative meta-evidence that emerges when you include the evidence from multiple disciplines. Individually, much of it does not amount to much, but when taken together a series of suggestive (even convincing) metapatterns emerge, pointing to the reality of UFOs and NHIs. Consequently, the legal case for UFOs/NHIs appears to be much stronger than the scientific case for them. Skeptics routinely ignore the accumulation of evidence and instead focus on discrediting each individual piece of evidence.
36 This research is documented in Kelleher and Knapp (2005). Also see the documentary Hunt for the Skinwalker done by Jeremy Corbell in 2018. Currently the new owner is engaged in another round of scientific investigation (as evidenced by the History Channel’s new 8-episode series The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch (2020).
37 See McMillan (2020).
38 See Esbjörn-Hargens (in press-b). Also, Alan Bourey and Gary Schwartz’ recent The Case for Truth (2019) provides a number of important considerations for such an integrative metascience. Also see Rice (2020) for a provocative exploration of the rhetoric of evidence in a paranormal and conspiratorial context.
39 Here I intentionally use Kripal and Strieber’s (2016) notion of super natural (a synthetic view that is both scientific and spiritual/religious) in contrast to natural (a modern scientific view) or supernatural (a traditional religious view).
40 The ontological turn is most apparent in anthropology (e.g., Holbraad & Pedersen, 2017) and philosophy (e.g., DeLanda & Harman, 2017).
41 Bhaskar’s (2016) Critical Realism (since its inception in the 1970s) has always concerned itself with questions of ontology: “What must the world be like for x to be possible?” Here we might ask, “What must the Wild Kosmos be like for NHIs to have ontological status?” 42 Here I am using metamodernism in a general sense which includes the work of Hanzi Freinacht (2017, 2019) and its associated movement but is not restricted to this specific expression of metamodernism. 43 See endnotes 4, 6, and 26.
44 The movie The Others (2001) starring Nicole Kidman does a masterful job of presenting this thesis where (spoiler alert!) the big reveal at the end is the shocking twist where we realize the ghosts are the humans and vice versa.
45 See endnote 3 and Martel (2016). Epistemological weirdness is when we reduce any weirdness we or others encounter to us/them being in an altered state of mind, thereby inoculating ourselves from the ontological implications of those encounters. Similarly, in methodological weirdness we reduce the weirdness encountered to the methods that create the altered states or encounters: “Oh, he was on LSD!” We assume that the weirdness is attributable to an alternate reality found in our own mind in contrast to one found external to ourselves. Thus, ontological weirdness is when we practice ontological flooding (Hunter 2015, 2016) and take seriously the ontological implications of the encounter. This often leads us to realize that reality is weirder than we can imagine.
46 From James (1896) “…if you wish to upset the law that all crows are black you mustn’t seek to show that all crows are black, it is enough if you prove one single crow to be white.”
47 Complex Integral Realism is an integrative metatheory that is the synthetic result of Edgar Morin’s Complex Thought, Ken Wilber’s Integral Theory, Roy Bhaskar’s Critical Realism (see Esbjörn-Hargens, 2016).
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