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Alien Notion

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BESIDES being a successful Silicon Valley venture capitalist, Jacques Vallee has researched the UFO phenomenon perhaps more than any other person currently alive. He has written almost a dozen books on ufology, and he was the real-life model for the French UFO scientist in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Vallee lives in San Francisco, but he recently infiltrated Silicon Valley to summarize his four decades of research in a public presentation at the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology in Palo Alto.

The reason Vallee has irked so many ardent UFO believers for decades is that he doesn't believe UFOs are nuts-and-bolts machines from outer space or spinning silver disks operated by aliens from another universe. Crudely simplified, he was the first scientist to suggest that UFO experiences are in fact interactions with interdimensional beings that have always existed among us—invisible hands toying with human society from a different level of consciousness. It's not just a physical phenomenon. It's a sociological, spiritual and psychic experience all wrapped up into one.

Vallee also suggested in several books that many of these so-called "abduction" tales are the result of manipulation, either by the government or the interdimensional beings themselves. Even though his work was documented in former Metro scribe Jonathan Vankin's 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time, Vallee has commanded a huge amount of respect over the years, even from UFO debunkers. As he's been quoted everywhere, "The UFO Phenomenon exists. It has been with us throughout history. It is physical in nature, and it remains unexplained in terms of contemporary science. It represents a level of consciousness that we have not yet recognized, and which is able to manipulate dimensions beyond time and space as we understand them. It affects our own consciousness in ways that we do not grasp fully, and it generally behaves as a control system." He has also theorized that UFO experiences echo those of traditional contact with nonhuman consciousness in the form of elves, fairies or demons throughout several cultures for millennia.

Since Vallee has spent decades filtering out the lunatic fringe on this matter, he didn't want any advance press about his lecture, and I went along with that. He understandably didn't want kooks with preconceived conclusions showing up and turning the whole presentation into a circus. Instead, he wanted to keep the lecture purely a scientific one.

So it only makes sense that the event was hosted by the Foundation for Mind-Being Research (FMBR), a 25-year-old Silicon Valley-based organization of scientists, engineers, spiritualists, artists, philosophers, psychics and psychologists devoted to establishing consciousness studies as a bona fide science. One of FMBR's main principles is that the four-dimensional space-time world of ordinary human experience may be inadequate to accommodate the physics of the mind sciences. Vallee's research throughout the last four decades intertwines with that theory.

"This lecture was an experiment," he explained via email afterward. "I am staying away from the media and public presentations because the field has become so polarized between different ideologies that anything I would say as a scientist would be lost in the noise. The FMBR group is unique because it is open-minded and understands the nature of research. Thus it provided an opportunity to test my current conclusions about the phenomenon before a responsive, yet critical audience."

In the presentation, he explained that the entire UFO discourse has degenerated into a confrontational and polarized situation between the hard-core skeptics and the extraterrestrial believers, and we need new radical hypotheses. So Vallee and others are going back underground and returning to the days of the Invisible College, the title of his 1975 book about a group of scientists researching UFOs while keeping their names and activities out of the press.

"The phenomenon presents great opportunities to learn about the world and human nature," he explained. "I continue to do research, but I do it with my own resources, in communication with a small network of scientists and investigators around the world. Good progress can be done this way, in an environment of trust rather than confrontation or hype."

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From the May 4-10, 2005 issue of Metro, Silicon Valley's Weekly Newspaper.

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