There are several different examples of the occult in the modern world, including UFO's, ESP, OBE's (out of body experiences), NDE's (near death experiences), astrology, ghosts, numerology, demonic possession, reincarnation, palmistry, and other psychics. I don't believe that there is anyone who really actually thinks that this stuff really actually exists, but there are people trying to make others think that they think it exists. In that, it contrasts with religion. There is no one trying to make other people think that they themselves actually think that not just this solar system or the galaxy but actually the entire infinite expanse of the entire Universe was somehow consciously intentionally deliberately made by some sort of conscious omnipotent entity. If hypothetically, someone were to try to pretend this, they would have a 100% chance of failure since no one could imagine such a person existing. Therefore with religion, people aren't pretending to think what they say. However, with the occult, people are pretending to think what they say. With the occult, people do try to make other people think that they actually think this. However, they don't actually think this. Keep in mind, that very stupid people don't think anything. The average person possesses beliefs as to how things work. The average person possesses a belief as to how a television works, an electron gun fires at the inside of the screen, or whatever, which may be totally inaccurate, but is their belief. If there was something for which they had no belief as to how it worked, they would feel curiosity. There exist very stupid people, whom I call "vacuuskull", who have no beliefs of any sort, inaccurate or otherwise. They don't possess any belief whatsoever as to how a television works. Futhermore, they have no curiosity as to how it works. You tell a member of the vacuuskull anything whatsoever, and they would believe it to the extent that they believe anything, and then they would forget it. You could say, "The sky is really pink. You just see it as blue." They would say, "Oh, really?" and then forget it. If you said, "Aliens have visited the Earth", they would say, "Oh, really?" and then forget it. They wouldn't retain it or "possess" it as a belief. They wouldn't really think that since they don't really think anything.
I'll discuss the first example of the occult that I gave: UFO's. There is no one who actually thinks that aliens have visited the Earth, in the same manner that you know that you're sitting on a chair right now. Probably 95% of people who claim to believe that UFO's exist, or to have seen UFO's, are flat out lying. There is a whole industry of con men and charlatans promoting belief in UFO's. Many people pretend to have been abducted by aliens. There are consummate liars and skilled actors who can put on a very convincing performance. There are people can appear very honast and genuine but it's all an act. Why would someone pretend to have been abducted by aliens? They would only be dismissed as loons and goofballs. There are people who crave attention of any sort. They get to be in books and magazines. They get to be on televison, and be the center of attention at conventions. This is similar to why people choose to be on talk shows. Even though they are laughed at by millions, they get to be on television. Probably the primary motivation of organizations such as MUFON is financial. The more people who are concerned with UFO's, the more magazines and merchandise they sell. Also, a part of their motivation is a sense of power. If you can make people think something you know is false, that gives you a sense of power similar to that which the Nazi propagandists felt. So you have all these people pretending to have seen UFO's, and it's directed at the vacuuskull who say, "wow, maybe, who knows?" That's it. That's really all there is to the UFO phenomenon, or any other example of the occult. If a bunch of con men get some sort of ego trip off making some vacuuskull say, "wow, maybe, gosh", let them have their hollow victory.
I wondered if there was anyone outside these two categories, the con men and the vacuuskull, who are concerned with UFO's. Some reports of alien encounters may have a scientific explanation. Some incidents may have actually been physiological effects in the brain. There exists a well known condition known as sleep paralysis. When this occurs, the brain receives data from both the hippocampus, as in dreaming, and the senses. You wake up while you're still dreaming, so it's a waking dream. It can also happen when you're falling asleep. It's essentially an error occurring during the transition between sleep and awake, that leaves you temporarily in a hybrid state. Since you experience data from the dream and the senses, the result is incredibly vivid hallucinations that are very different from a normal dream or imagining something. When you're in a dream, you move your muscles in the dream but your real muscles don't move. When your in this unusual state, you will your muscles to move but they simply don't move, because the brain thinks you're still in a dream. The result is total paralysis. If you feel like you can't get up, one interpretation of this is that there is a great weight on your chest, and you feel pinned down. It's very common for people to sense a presence, like there's someone nearby. People often interprete this to mean that someone is sitting on their chest. Occasionally all of this is enough to stimulate dream-creating parts of the brain to create a visual hallucination of the creature. Simply, the paralysis alone can be absolutely terrifying. For centuries, this was interpreted as being visited by a demon. A demon, some other spirit, or maybe the Devil himself, comes and sits on your chest, and won't let you move. There are versions of this in folklore all over the world. The Hmong believe that the Gray Ghost comes and sits on your chest. In Norway, it is believed that the Old Hag comes and sits on your chest. All of this has a very striking resemblance to stories of alien abductions. People wake up in the middle of the night and feel a presence, like they're being visited by a powerful otherworldly creature. They are strapped down to a table and can't move. They see the powerful beings over them, and are terrified. It is so similar to the scientifically documented condition, and all of the folklore surrounding it, it appears to be simply the latest version of the myth. Sleep paralysis is well understood. Someone coming from one culture would see a witch, and someone having the same condition in another culture would see aliens. Some people see other things. A woman might think it's a rapist breaking into her house. At any rate, there's nothing mysterious about it.
There's another, more rare, condition of the brain which may be relevant to alien abductions, called temporal lobe displacement or temporal lobe seizure. The temporal lobes control your sense of time and space, and so a seizure or unusual activity in that part of the brain alters your sense of time and space. You feel yourself pulled in a specific direction. You could have a feeling of very rapid movement such as flying. It could create hallucinations or a feeling of being prodded by some external force. It could also create a surge of sexual arousal. All of this is similar to many stories. It's similar to hundreds of stories of faerie abductions, in that you feel that you're being pulled or moved away by someone. The sexual aspect is similar to stories about incubi and succubi. The feeling of rapid undefined movement, if you decide that your body is stationary, is similar to accounts of out of body experiences and near death experiences. Again, there is a very striking resemblance to accounts of alien abductions. You feel yourself being pulled and carried off by unknown creatures. You feel yourself being prodded. There is a sexual aspect common in accounts of alien abductions.
There are other well understood physiological effects within the brain which account for out of body experiences and near death experiences. Near death experiences are caused by a lack of oxygen to the brain. When pilots suffering many g's pass out due to lack of oxygen to the brain, they suffer near death experiences.
Often when people see something in the sky, it's something analogous to the proverbial weather balloon. About 90% of the time, it's some type of human aircraft. Other times, it's hoaxes, the planet Venus, stars, space debris burning up on re-entry, lighthouses, car headlights on a distant road at night, meteors, aurea borealis, light shining through the clouds in a certain way, something being blown by the wind, birds, or some other harmless explanation. The sudden proliferation of weather balloons in the late 1940's and early 1950's led to an explosion of UFO sightings, which almost created the subject of UFO's itself. People also have a remarkable ability to tie together things that have nothing to do with each other. During a famous UFO incident in Woodbridge, Suffolk in 1980, people linked together such disconnected things as a meteor, a lighthouse, the lights of a distant police car, rabbit diggings, and axe cuts in the bark of trees to indicate that they were ready to be felled. If each thing alone would not be taken as evidence for UFO's, there's no reason why all of them together should not be similarly dismissed.
It's possible that ball lightning could account for some accounts of UFO's. It is possible that energy released during seismic activity could ionize gas in the air causing a brief glowing bubble in the air. This hasn't been proven. This leads to another subject. Even if you entertain the possibility that ball lightning, or even energy released by seismic activity, could account for some UFO's, there is a big difference between that and saying that earthquakes miles under ground somehow magically cause giant luminous UFO's to fly around about 50 feet in the air for hours, and this happens months before the earthquake takes place. This latter rediculous thing is called earth lights, or luminous phenomena, and is a type of occult in its own right. What's sad that many supposed UFO skeptics, in their desperation to disprove UFO's, throw out earth lights as an alternative, as if that's some sort of improvement. You're simply replacing one untrue thing with another untrue thing. What makes this complicated is that these people are blind to the distinction between ball lightning, which is plausible although unproven, and earth lights, which are absurd, and might as well be the product of witchcraft. Another example of this is that some supposed UFO skeptics say that UFO's are actually black projects, which are supposed to be top secret ultra-high tech military aircraft. This is all fine and good except black projects don't exist, so you're still pretending that a fictional thing exists, if you ascribe to that theory.
In previous centuries, if people saw some luminous phenomena or some other unexplained thing in the sky, it would be described as a ghost, angel, or some other apparition. In the 20th Century, if people saw luminous phenomena or some other unexplained thing in the sky, it would be described as a UFO. What is interesting to me is how in the middle of the 20th Century, people switched from folktales about faeries, demons, and other supernatural creatures to stories about beings from other planets. Stories of demons pinning you to your bed were converted to stories of aliens pinning you to an examination table. Stories of being abducted by faeries were converted into stories of being abducted by aliens. Stories of an incubus or succubus visiting you in the middle of the night and having sex with you were converted into stories of an alien visiting you in the middle of the night and having sex with you. Whereas in the past, people would imagine seeing ghosts on lonely country roads, today people imagine seeing UFO's. The weather balloons in the 1940's and 1950's gave rise to an explosion of UFO sightings instead of angel sightings.
I'll give you three other examples of this conversion. Around 1500 B.C., a village on the Greek island of Santorini, or Thira, was destroyed by a volcanic eruption. The event was recorded by the Egyptians, and was taken back to Greece in the 6th Century B.C. by Solenos. This became the basis of Plato's account of the lost city of Atlantis. This was just another version of the famous archtypical myth of a wonderland land existing in the past, but the people became corrupt and were punished by the gods. Other examples of similar stories include the story of Adam and Eve, and story of the Biblical Flood, which also appears in the Epic of Gilgamesh. Plato's version of the Atlantis story was a rehash of the same plot. However, Atlantis became very famous as a mythical land of paradise, people apparently ignoring the end of the story. According to some folklore, Atlantis still existed as paradise on Earth, and if you could find it, you'd find paradise. The story was related to El Dorado in the New World and Shangrila in the Himalayas. In the 19th Century, Atlantis became popular within the Victorian occult. People, pulling in reincarnation, claimed that in past lives, they had been Atlanteans. In the 20th Century, Atlantis was incorporated into UFO belief. Either the Atlanteans had contact with aliens or they were aliens. Some people claim that Atlantis is an alien colony or outpost on Earth, a base of operations for all of the UFO's.
Atlantis has been associated with the Bermuda Triangle. The Bimini Road, a naturally occurring rock formation which is said to be part of Atlantis, is near the supposed Bermuda Triangle. The waters of the Bermuda Triangle were very dangerous for the first European explorers. It's full of coral reefs that lie just below the surface of the water, and areas where the ocean becomes shallow very suddenly. It's dangerous if you know where everything is, so you can imagine how dangerous it was when it was unexplored. It was an area prone to hurricanes. Later it became a high traffic area with intense commerce in tobacco, sugar, rum, and slaves. It's no wonder that a large number of ships were lost. Whenever there is a dangerous area, sailors like to say that the area is cursed. Often very elaborate folklore can grow up around these cursed areas. A perfect example is Scylla and Charybdis from Greek Mythology. Stories about the Bermuda Triangle in the 19th Century were that it was cursed with black magic. In the 20th Century, there arose stories that aliens were responsible for the Bermuda Triangle. The aliens delibrately downed ships and aircraft so they could carry out expirements on their crews. Some people go on to say that the alien city of Atlantis is buried beneath the Bermuda Triangle. Again, you have a pre-existing myth appropriated by UFO fanatics. However, although Atlantis can be traced back to 1500 B.C. and was famous since Plato in the 4th Century B.C., the Bermuda Triangle was almost created in the middle of the 20th Century. With both the Bermuda Triangle and the Loch Ness Monster, there are references to the myth going back centuries, but it became a million times more famous in this century, as the myth was almost created by the media.
The Egyptian pyramids at Giza, built in the 25th Century B.C., are awe-inspiring. The Great Pyramid of Snefru or Cheops, the last of the Seven Wonders of the World, remained the tallest man made object until the Eiffel Tower was completed in 1889. People have always been mesmerized by their size and grandeur. For this reason, for centuries they have been a focal point for the occult. In "A Thousand and One Nights", the great pyramid is said to be filled with treasure and ruled by powerful jinn. In the 19th Century, the pyramids figured prominently in the occult, which was called pyramidology. I'll give a single example of such belief called Christian Pyramidology. According to this belief, the pyramids were built by the Hebrews while they were enslaved by Pharaoh. God gave the Hebrews secret knowledge. Most of it, they wrote down in the Old Testament, but not all of it. The rest, they secretly hid in the pyramids. Pharaoh thought they were only building his tomb, but without his knowledge, they incorporated God's plan into its architecture and design. If we could study the pyramids and crack the code, we could get the rest of the Old Testament. In modern Egyptian superstition, the pyramids have the magic ability to sharpen razor blades. When your razor gets dull, just insert the blade in a crevice between two large stones, and it will be sharpened by the magic power of the pyramid. Therefore you don't have to waste monet buying new blades. In the 20th Century, such stories fell to the wayside and were replaced by stories that the pyramids were built by extraterrestrials. UFO fanatics, masquerading Egyptologists throw out bogus claims that the dimensions of the pyramids are identical to that of the northern hemisphere of the Earth, or somehow contain the exact distance to the Sun. What really is unfortunate is that Egyptologists are less willing to admit the astronomical aspects of the pyramids at Giza that really do exist in real life because of the existence of this rubbish. There are shafts in the Great Pyramid that point to Orion and other constellations. It's possible that the layout of the three pyramids at Giza was inspired by Orion's belt. Unfortunately, this reminds Egyptologists of pyramidology, and so they're overly skeptical. At any rate, this is another example of the traditional occult being incorporated into the UFO cannon. Similarly, a large number of ancient structures, including Stonehenge, pyramids in Mexico, the Nazca lines, and the Tiwanaku gate, have been said to be of alien origin.
Why did this conversion take place? Why were stories of supernatural beings converted into stories about aliens? You could say that in the early 20th Century, we became a scientific society within which someone could not claim that faeries, ghosts, demons, or angels exist. Yet the early 20th Century was not the first time that we became more scientific. Many times in history, we became more scientific than we were previously. In Ancient Greece, around the 5th Century B.C., was the dawn of science. In the 15th and 16th Centuries, was the Renaissance. In the 17th and 18th Century, there was Isaac Newton, and people advocated a rational logical view of the world. In the 19th Century, there was James Maxwell all of the scientific achievements of that time. The Victorians prided themselves on having an industrial, in their mind technological, society. The Victorians advocated a rational view of the world. Among the elite, it was more politically correct to call yourself an "agnostic" than religious. Therefore why did this conversion not take place earlier? The beginning of the 20th Century was different than these other times. In a short period of time, in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, there was a flood of inventions that had a dramatic effect on the lives of the average person. They include the incandescent light bulb, the phonograph, the telephone, the motion picture, radio, the automobile, and the airplane. These are seven major things in a relatively short period of time. People felt that their daily lives had changed. People credited "scientists" for all of these things. People held science in higher regard than they ever had previously. During the Scopes trial, the average person agreed that anyone against evolution, and thus against science, was ignorant. In such an environment, even uneducated people would feel uncomfortable speaking about faeries, ghosts, or demons. However, H.G. Wells' book "War of the Worlds" provided an alternative. The faerie realm or the nether regions may not exist but we know that the planet Mars does exist. Maybe the creatures could be from there? That was somehow more acceptable.
This was based on the premise that UFO's do not involve magic unlike the traditional occult that does. I maintain that UFO's really do involve magic. Magic is something that is not only unexplained but something for which there does not exist an explanation. Talking not about stories but ways of explaining the world, in science, there's a reason for everything even if we don't know what it is. In mythology, there are things for which there is no reason, even one that's not known to us. Something is the way it is just because that's the way it is. Something causes something to happen just because that's what it does. You have this same concept, called magic, in works of fiction. If in a story, a witch casts a spell, there is no "how it works". We've had stories involving magic since we were stone age tribes of hunter gatherers. Fantasy remains a popular genre of fiction today. However in the 19th Century, H.G. Wells and Jules Verne invented a new genre called science-fiction. Probably the first work of science-fiction was "Frankenstein" written by Mary Shelley in 1818. Therefore modern science-fiction and modern horror can be traced back to the same book. In science-fiction, the supposed explanation for the impossible things is "advanced technology". If "Frankenstein" had been written a century earlier, the monster would have been raised by some sort of necromantic spell. Since it was written during the 19th Century, when people were awed by what technology could do, the monster was brought to life by being pumped full of electricity. The impossible thing was supposed to be explained by saying that electricity was used. However in real life, electricity would never bring a corpse to life. How did electricity do this? That's unexplained. Therefore, it's still unexplained. You have only the illusion of an explanation. You have something impossible that's unexplained. That's magic. The only difference is that it's hidden. Science-fiction stories contain just as much magic as more overtly magical fantasy stories. The only difference is that it's under a veneer of science which is so highly prized by our society. Therefore I maintain that UFO's are just as magic as the more traditional occult. The only difference is that it's more subtle which makes it more acceptable to a scientific society.
It's amazing to watch both science-fiction fans and UFO fans so reticent in admitting the obvious fact that their stories are based on magic. On the TV shows "Hercules" and "Xena", the gods and goddesses instantly transport from one location to another. There is no explanation. There is no "how they do it". No one would say that's not magic. On Star Trek, people are constantly doing the exact same thing. Again, there is no explanation. There is no "how they do it". This is magic. However, in this case, the fans get angry if you say it's magic, since in this case the magical element is suppose to be hidden under a cloak of supposed science, which they act like is an explanation when none exists. You have the same thing with UFO's. If someone engages in the tradional occult, such as ESP, astrology, ghosts, or witchcraft, no one would say that's not magic. With UFO's, people claim equally impossible things but pretend that it's not magic since the magical element is supposed to be hidden under a cloak of supposed science, which they act like an explanation when none exists. I don't have to explain to the reader that UFO's are physically impossible. There is no such thing as "faster than light". Instellar distances are so incredibly vast, that instellar travel is impossible. We can all wish that wasn't true. Wishing something doesn't alter reality. Both science-fiction writers and UFO fanatics try to get around this by inventing a magical thing called "faster than light" travel. That is magic. It is not like there exists such a thing as speeds faster than light that are somehow forbidden to us. The phrase "faster than light" is an oxymoron. The speed of light, about 2.99 x 10^8 m/s, is the velocity of a massless particle from the reference frame of a particle with mass. Any particle with even tiny mass with go slower than this. The more force you impart to a particle with mass, the closer it will go the speed of light, but it will never go that speed. The phrase "faster than light" is a meaningless expression analogous to "south of the South Pole". This has nothing to do with your technology. It's like someone saying "If we had sufficiently advanced technology, we could break the elusive South Pole Barrier and finally enter the mysterious land south of Antarctica." This is what science-fiction writers and UFO con men say. It would take a photon 52,000 years to get here from the opposite side of the galaxy, and a particle with mass would intrinsically take longer than that. If a ship had an average velocity of 50% of the speed of light, it would it take 52,000 years to get here from the center of the galaxy. Also, aliens would have no way of knowing that there's life in this Solar System. Are they supposedly traveling to every single star in the galaxy in case there's life on a world near that star? Some UFO people claim that the aliens just happen to be from a star right next to the Sun, so it would take them only a few decades to get here. However, there are so few stars such a "short" distance from the Sun, the likelihood of life existing on a world near one of those stars is infinitesimal. Therefore the UFO's are based on magic. They are imagined to have magic powers. There's no way around it. However, unlike the traditional occult, the magic is masked, so it's more acceptable to our society.
I've never seen a picture of a UFO that I couldn't fake. Some are so obviously fake that I almost feel embarrassed for the people who made them. As you look at UFO pictures over the last few decades you can see how the technology at faking pictures had advanced. It's like looking at movies over the last few decades and seeing how special effects have improved. Even without modern special effects, you can make impressive pictures with things as simple as paper plates and tin foil. With modern digital effects, which the average person can now do on their home computer, you can effortlessly make anything. Most videotapes of UFO's that you see aren't hoaxes per say, but rather someone videotaping something they actually saw, which was just some normal mundane thing. Most are airplanes, helicopters, etc. Sometimes people don't notice the "UFO" until they watch the tape. A lot of these are actually insects. You see this tiny dot darting around the screen, and they say that it's a giant UFO up in the sky miles away, and it's actually a mosquito about an inch from the lens. Sometimes on both still cameras and videocameras, you have light bouncing around inside the compound lens, and it creates these spots of light on the picture or tape. Most people, if they get such a picture back, think "drat, didn't come out". Some people think they've accidentally photographed a ghost. Other people think it's a UFO. Probably, the most popular UFO hoax is crop circles. The first crop circle was made by Doug Bower and David Chorley in 1981 at Cheesefoot Head near Wincester, England. In 1988, there were 50 circles, but in 1989, there were only 30 since Doug and Dave had a falling out. When it began being noticed by the press, other people started copying it. In 1990, there were 232 circles. In 1991, Doug and Dave admitted their hoaxing in a newspaper. Since then, it's become such common knowledge that they're made by people, that the practice has evolved into a genre of art. Not all crop circle enthusiasts said that the circles were made by UFO's. Some said that they were made by a "plasma vortex", a race of unknown people living inside the Earth in the manner of Edgar Rice Burroughs, or teams of hedgehogs charging around in unison.
One of the funniest UFO flaps was the supposed Face on Mars. Often planetary astronomers give descriptive names for features they see. Examples include the Great Red Spot on Jupiter, the Great Dark Spot on Neptune, and Pancakes and Arachnoids on Venus. When in 1976, Viking 1 sent back a picture of a particular feature on Mars, they named it the Face, never thinking anyone would attach greater significance to it. About a decade later, UFO fanatics stumbled upon the picture, and started screaming that it looked so much like a face, it had to be made by aliens. I never thought it looked much like a face anyway. On April 5, 1998, the Mars Global Surveyor took a picture of the exact same site with much greater resolution, and in this picture, it doesn't look even remotely like a face at all. None of this has stopped con men from computer enhancing the original picture, to make it look even more like a face, and passing it off as undoctored. It's as if a decade from now, someone found a picture of the Martian rock named Scoobydoo, and claimed that the name was not metaphorical, and that it was somehow the real Scoobydoo.
You couldn't write a paper on UFO's without mentioning Roswell. That itself is odd since the original incident was so trivial and uninteresting that it was completely ignored by the even the most fanatical UFO nuts for 40 years until the 1980's. In about a ten year interval after that, it assumed mythic proportions. In 1947, the U.S. Army had a top secret program called Project Mogul in which they used high altitude balloons carrying instruments designed to detect Soviet nuclear tests. In June 1947, one of these crashed on the ranch of W.W. Brazel in Lincoln County, New Mexico.