UFOs and Gorillas – Reviewing Kirkus Reviews take on American Cosmic

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on October 30, 2018

American Cosmic - UFOs, Religion, Technology - Diana PasulkaKirkus Reviews has posted their synopsis of Dr. Diana Pasulka’s forthcoming book, American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2019)  – in the process offering us an incredible opportunity to see a prime example of the ‘What Gorilla?’ behavioral phenomenon that Dean Radin, senior scientist at the Institute of Noetic Sciences, has pointed out in the past:

“Imagine you’re watching a basketball game. Your favourite team is wearing white and the other team is in black. In the midst of the action, someone in a dark gorilla suit calmly walks to the centre of the court, waves to the crowd, then walks off the court. Do you think you would notice this peculiar event? Most people might say yes. Most people would be wrong.”(1)

Radin is drawing on research into ‘inattentional blindness’ – as he explains in an article for New Dawn Magazine, “when we pay attention to our favourite white-shirted basketball team, the likelihood of clearly seeing darker objects moving about is substantially reduced. That includes even obvious objects, like gorillas.” The same can occur when we encounter messages and ideas that do not fit our comfortable assumptions about reality. In addition, we face another psychological trick called ‘confabulation,’ in which memories form to fit a logical narrative rather than the actual experience.

Now imagine a well respected academic with focused expertise on how media affects belief and behavior writes a book based on years of in-depth ethnographic and archival investigation into the UFO phenomenon and how it relates to the development of our current technological society – do you think that a piece from Kirkus Reviews would highlight the importance of this peculiar event? Most people might say yes. Most people would be wrong:

“As the author documents, about one-third of Americans believe in UFOs. Enthusiasts hold conventions, and their websites pepper the internet, but Pasulka discovers a subculture of scientist believers who keep their research secret for fear of ruining their reputations. There is also an entirely public subculture of entrepreneurs that supports studies and serious amateurs working to document sightings, many of whom work equally hard to detect the ever present hoaxes. Many believers seem rational, and the fact that physical evidence remains steady at zero does not change matters.”

If you haven’t read the pre-publiction preface on the American Cosmic website (3) – or listened to any of Pasulka’s appearances on numerous podcasts – this might seem like a feasible description of the book – but I would ask you to consider (as I have in the past with OUP’s dry synopsis) if the review that Kirkus has posted sounds like the same book that lead Jacques Vallee to say:

“From a solid base of scholarship Dr. Pasulka introduces us to the players at the frontier of biological and physical research to pose some age-old questions in new ways: Can the human spirit transcend space/time? How will religious traditions be reframed when they collide with the long-suppressed evidence of non-human consciousness in our environment?

Her sharp insight is drawn from her research into spiritual phenomena, updated by her travels from the UFO crash sites of New Mexico to the archives of the Vatican.

The result is a timely introduction to the revelations in our collective future.”

Vallee mentions ‘players at the frontier of biological and physical research’ – Kirkus Reviews mentions a ‘public subculture of entrepreneurs…and serious amateurs.’

Vallee was part of the core team that designed the early computer conferencing systems that lead to the internet – the Kirkus reviewer is…anonymous.

Let’s just sit on that fact without falling (too far) into the error of appealing to Vallee’s authority – and lets not ignore the reality that Kirkus Reviews’ staid, somewhat spammy and outdated format precludes it from any kind of real analytic depth in comparison with more contemporary media.

Once American Cosmic is published you’ll be able to grab a copy and see for yourself whether the strange way reviewers seem to lose their contextual literacy and confabulate the contents of the book when encountering it speaks to a gorilla in the room or not.

Taking the UFO Phenomenon Seriously – Religion, Narrative, Media and the Flying Saucer

(1) https://www.newdawnmagazine.com/articles/what-gorilla-why-some-cant-see-psychic-phenomena

(2) https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/dw-pasulka/american-cosmic/

(3) https://americancosmic.com


Etherian Contact – Cult of Golgotha Series (5 of 8)

Posted in > ART by David on October 7, 2018


“The contacts from the dimension of Etheria have expressed a great desire to inspire the expansion of human awareness beyond the limitations of the mechanistic model of reality, into inner spaces so they may explore the quantum potentials inherent in the enlivened flesh and blood of one who possess the Sacramental Vision.”  

– Craig Williams, Cult of Golgotha (Etherian Physics), p 87 (Anathema Publishing, 2018)

Etherian Contact (Acrylic on Cardboard, 2018) –  created on July 7th, 2018, the 71st anniversary of the Associated Press article featuring quotes from Kenneth Arnold on the possible extraterrestrial origins of the unidentified flying objects that he reported seeing on June 24, 1947.

This piece is 1 of 2 in a ‘Post Human Futures’ series focusing on the evolutionary themes inherent in the post-nuclear era UFO narrative, which are becoming increasingly pertinent as we approach environmental collapse, drastic technological advances and the humanity’s potential future in space.


“The coalescence of elements and the coalescence of stems, the spherical geometry of the earth and psychical curvature of the mind harmonising to counterbalance the individual and collective forces of dispersion in the world and to impose unification — there at last we find the spring and secret of hominisation.

…Really I can see no coherent, and therefore scientific, way of grouping this immense succession of facts but as a gigantic psycho-biological operation, a sort of mega-synthesis, the ‘super-arrangement ‘ to which all the thinking elements of the earth find themselves today individually and collectively subject.” 

– Teilhard de Chardin, The Phenomenon of Man, p. 242-243 (Harper Collins, 1976)

For inquiries on availability for any of the pieces feel free to contact me directly at davidbmetcalfe @ gmail.com

Or visit our Ebay page to check for active listings – CLICK HERE

To read more about the series check out my guest post on Craig Williams’ blog:
Contact with Alien Intelligences – 8 examples from an ongoing series of painted trance-missions

UFO Economics — A quick look at the dollars and cents of Anomalistic Science

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on June 18, 2018

1_gUzvqlyJ2Ci3FKs3nDP7AwTake a brief moment to step outside of any speculations of motive and untoward manipulation or even the reality of the phenomenon itself and let’s get down to what really matters for most folks when we’re talking about anomalous experiences:

How much $MONEY$ can we make on this stuff if we figure it out?

While dollar signs might not spark that idealistic urge to leap into utopian dreams and unknown futures, they do drive research and development efforts and are a hearty incentive for mainstream organizations to start to take a more serious look. Without a clear opportunity for profit it’s almost assured that no dedicated resources will be put into these areas — Col. John Alexander often brings up the other option, frame the anomaly as a defense issue.

Dollars or danger, how do you want your UFO research funded?

Economics has been a powerful lens in the long term analysis that Dr. Andrew Chesnut and I have applied to the global growth of Santa Muerte’s (Saint Death) devotional tradition. Santa Muerte’s interaction with established religious and social organizations follows basic market dynamics which provide insight into the very fundamental elements of how belief interacts with society.

In Chesnut’s early research he was able to discover the surprising size of Saint Death’s devotional tradition through conversations with botanica owners, many of whom admitted that they were in the process of converting as much as 50% of their shelf space to products related to Santa Muerte.*

Tracked over time the ebb and flow of products gives a sense for the ebb and flow of the customers fulfilling their devotional needs at these spiritual supply stores — changes in these products also allow for insights into the changing needs of devotees. Taking this analysis further we can look at wider markets to track the presence of the symbols and imagery associated with Santa Muerte’s iconography and develop contexts in which to better understand the particular nuances and adaptations that occur when the devotional tradition takes root in different social environments.

Having seen rich returns in applying market analysis to la Nina Bonita, join me in taking a small step into looking at some very, very basic UFO economics!

“Now you might ask yourself, what can you prove from a videotape? I mean, you can see videotapes all over the Internet and so on. But this was data fusion. They are gun-camera tapes. There are these videotapes from the pilots, voice recordings, data link recordings from Aegis and many other military platforms, expert witnesses. So, in fact, the data density — and this is what’s changed the field a lot — our detection capability has gotten so advanced that we’re losing our inability to see exactly what’s going on.” — Dr. Hal Puthoff during his address to the joint SSE/IRVA Conference, Las Vegas, 8 June 2018*

While the recent publicity has raised the level of wider attention on this topic — we don’t need any of this robust new data set to start our simple exploration, in fact we can skip back to 1998 and a paper that Jacques Vallee published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration titled, Estimates of Optical Power Output in 6 cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Defined Luminosity Characteristics.

In this paper Vallee presents some of the results that have been gained from photo analysis in terms of the physical characteristics of a particular set of UAP sightings. We don’t even need to get too deep in the weeds in the results to do our simple analysis — let’s just look at one particular case featured in the paper — Case №1: August 27, 1956, McCleod, Alberta (Canada) — Classification: MA-1.

Sorry to say — especially for those of you who’ve yet to be enraptured by the hard science behind anomalistic studies — we can also avoid including any of the witness narrative or speculation on the origins of the object — we just need one number, the estimated optical power output for this particular case.

“Maccabee finds a range of 2.5 x 10⁹ W (2,500 megawatts) to 3 x 10¹⁰ W (30,000 megawatts) for the power output within the spectral range of the film. As he rightly points out, however, ‘the total power emitted over all frequencies might be much greater.” — Jacques Vallee, Estimates of Optical Power Output in 6 cases of Unexplained Aerial Objects with Defined Luminosity Characteristics, Journal of Scientific Exploration, Vol. 12/№3, Autumn 1998*

If we take these numbers and take an average of $0.15/Kilowatt Hour — or $150/Megawatt Hour ( $2.50/Megawatt Minute) — and we’re cautious and adjust for the possibility that the output is not sustainable — if it is stable for one minute, we have on the high end (30K Megawatt) an object generating $75,000.00 worth of energy per minute. On the low end (2,500 Megawatts) one generating $6,250.00 worth of energy per minute.

Now THAT is something investors can take to the bank, whatever it is — natural, supernatural, super natural, preternatural, paranormal, artificial, multi-trans-or omni dimensional, man made, extraterrestrial, time traveling, or straight from the hollow earth — it’s completely irrelevant if the thing is potentially churning out $75K of energy resources per minute. Then, whatever it is looks like something to put resources into figuring out.

This is the most crude and basic analysis that we could do on the potential profit, but it shows that there is a good possibility UFOs could translate into cold hard dollar signs and that is what will get organizations with serious resources to look at these areas.

Well…wait just a second…that is EXACTLY what has brought serious organizations to look into this phenomenon!

Those late to the game might have a bit of catching up to do!


Taking the UFO Phenomenon Seriously — Religion, Narrative, Media and the Flying Saucer

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on May 5, 2018

It’s been a strange opening to the Spring season spent thinking about questions that Diana Pasulka (UNC Wilmington) and Jeffrey Kripal (Rice University) will tackle today at the Ohio State University Center for the Study of Religion’s 4th Symposium on Religion, Narrative, and Media — Taking the UFO Phenomenon Seriously, that is, Religiously

According to the synopsis of Pasulka’s upcoming book, American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, Technology — more than half of adults and more than 75% of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life — a level rivaling belief in God!

What happens (is happening) to world religions and deeply embedded social infrastructures as they face increasing pressure to adapt to new scientific understanding of consciousness and intelligence — understandings forced through technological innovation in areas of machine learning and artificial intelligence, advances in neuroscience, increased integration of psychical research and practical occultism in mainstream discourse, and most recently by the mainstream media’s heightened focus on the physical aspects of the UFO phenomenon…

These are complicated questions that kind of hurt the brain — for myself I simplified it down to thinking about the rural area that I live in and wondering:

What do local Christian congregations do with flying saucers on Sunday morning?

“Hasn’t the Catholic Church taken a noncommittal position on UFOs? That seems to me a healthy response.” – Mitch Horowitz, author of Occult America: The Secret History of How Mysticism Shaped Our Nation (Bantam Books, 2009) and One Simple Idea: How Positive Thinking Reshaped Modern Life (Crown, 2014)

One of the things that struck me when I started considering these areas is the level to which the hard questions about the UFO phenomenon are so easily side stepped until the UFO object is brought to the forefront of the conversation.

This is brought out in Pasulka’s presentation for the symposium, The Incarnational Technological Self: The Case of the Crashed UFO Artifact, where she discusses how the presence of a ‘UFO artifact’ during her research for American Cosmic drastically changed the ways in which she considers not only the UFO question, but also the very development and integration of technology within society — the UFO object is a powerful game changer when it comes to thinking about this question.

As the presentation’s abstract explains,

“Over the course of a six-year ethnographic study, Dr. Pasulka interviewed successful and influential scientists in Silicon Valley, professionals, and entrepreneurs who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, thereby disproving the common misconception that only fringe members of society believe in UFOs. She argues that widespread belief in aliens is due to a number of factors including their ubiquity in modern media like The X-Files, which can influence memory, and the realist effect produced by the search for planets that might support life, as well as alleged alien artifacts that have recently made news in outlets such as the New York Times. This discussion explores the intriguing question of how people interpret unexplainable experiences, and argues that the media technologies have helped create new religious forms, among which the belief in non-human intelligent life is one example”

So what do we mean by UFO object?

UFO for most is merely a vague term associated with a vague set of phenomenon with unverifiable objective existence — the “UFO” for many is nothing more than a word read in a book or an image given to them through whatever other media they are exposed to, a purely psychologized symbolic object. The ‘flying saucer’ is a mediated object, a pop-culture trope that rarely represents eye witness or experiencer accounts.

The process of psychologizing these phenomenon is given free reign by their subjective status in the cultural narrative. As long as we talk about “belief in UFOs” we are left with the ability to take a ‘noncommittal position’ — however the really interesting questions come up when we face the objective reality associated with some of the phenomenon.

So far religious organizations can fit any number of narratives or avoidance mechanisms within the culture’s subjective status for the UFO — but a UFO object or contact with NHI changes that. It has to be faced directly, it completely alters the conversation.

This is what is so important when considering the current mainstream media interest in the UFO topic within the United States. Regardless of the factual nature of the videos themselves or their particular level of detail, where they came from, and so on — it changes the way that these topics are weighted — moving the dial from subjective “belief” to objective phenomenon — again regardless of the nature of the object in question.

What we are talking about is the way that the media acts as a measure of consensus reality — an authorized voice that speaks to a baseline of shared experience from which the culture can adapt and grow. When we start to address the “UFO object” something surprising happens, suddenly a lot of questions start to come up that unmoor standard positions across the spectrum of human experience.

Even if this object remains in the Mystery Box — its presence changes the way that we think about ourselves and our position in the world — as Remote Viewing pioneer, Ingo Swann said in his book The Super Powers of the Human Biomind:

“If one begins to hypothesize the possibility of ET intelligences, one necessarily sets into motion, without realizing it, subtle changes having to do with how we think of ourselves. We will ultimately have to wonder if and how the formats of our own Earth-based intelligence stack up against ET formats which might be encountered elsewhere, or FROM elsewhere.

A number of unfamiliar, and rather complicated, problem-like situations would download from this kind of hypothetical inquiry.

Among the first of these is that our own Earth-based ideas and/or knowledge regarding MIND and INTELLIGENCE would have to be studied more objectively, and examined in the larger contexts of our species as a whole.”

The demonological status of the UFO in fundamentalist discourse is framed by its subjective status in the wider cultural discourse. It can be psychologized and therefore is easily inserted as a placeholder for similarly psychologized frameworks that have already developed as Christianity has mutated under secular and alternative spiritual influences. Exorcism’s marginalization comes in part from the inability of institutionalized Christian culture to integrate some of the more extreme implications of a demonic physical manifestation.

Anecdotal accounts of believers seeking the services of an exorcist often begin with their failure to find an adequate solution in their own church/denomination. This is true in all religious traditions where there are enough adherents and devotees to allow for a spectrum of beliefs and spiritual service offerings. One of the driving forces behind the Vatican’s current push to train/promote exorcists is due to the services popularity and the market share being taken by alternative (ie. non-Catholic) service providers.

Once the demonic is given an objective status things change drastically in how a religious institution needs to frame it. With the UFO there is a very real question as to how religious institutions would be able to adapt to an objective confirmation of non-human intelligence.

“It’s hard to tell whether most people will accept the new ideas, or they will cause suspicion because they don’t conform with the experience of our normal waking consciousness.” — Greg Bishop, host of Radio Misterioso

The beginning of this process of integration starts with the narrative of the UFO object gaining more credibility in the culture through changes in the media’s framing of the topic — and it will be interesting to see how this plays out when/if this re-position of the media continues.

As writer and illustrator Miguel Romero pointed out on Twitter — the Mexican media hasn’t had the same fervor for the topic — and I’m sure folks in other countries may be seeing something similar.

In terms of the U.S. media there are a number of parallel narratives that the UFO topic can be aligned with — giving it a weighty bit of secondary use potential and driving some of the enthusiasm. Fitting into the wider narrative of political instability the UFO has become a complex signifier for everything from government over-reach, government under development, government hyper-sophistication, government’s total lack of sophistication — as in the religious domain its status as an unknown acts as a wild card whose malleable narrative elements can be fit to provide support for a wide range of innuendo, accusation and insinuation.

“For the first time in my life I dreamt of a flying saucer. The feeling was exactly the same as a demonic attack in the dream but oddly I felt the sense that I had been teleported to the flying saucer and sent back in a flash with only the slightest millisecond of a sense that something had happened…and without being able to do anything else I just blurted: “Thank you…” – Gabriel Dean Roberts, founder of Eris Films


While certain segments of the religious landscape label the UFO phenomenon as the ‘Ultimate End Times Deception’ — the concept of any long term interaction with non-human intelligence challenges doctrinal, dogmantic and underlying mythological structures in the world’s faith traditions. Apocalyptic frenzy can only last so long before the less reactionary elements of tradition reformulate around the new environmental realities.

Considering the implications of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning alone , beyond the additional question raised by research still in the margins, we must take seriously the question that Jacques Vallee asks in his introductory blurb for American Cosmic:

“How will religious traditions be reframed when they collide with the long-suppressed evidence of non-human consciousness in our environment?”

Over the past week of engaging with these topics on social media I’ve realized that the state of fragmentation within the religious landscape is such that the concrete nature of the question can be obscured by the central role of identity politics in the current discourse. The integral nature of religious life for many of the world’s people is overshadowed by the vocal concerns of an educated few whose understanding of spirituality is strongly affected by their exposure to the massive interconnected dialogue happening through global digital communications.

This is an area that Jeffrey Kripal addresses in his symposium presentation, Biological Gods: Science (Fiction) and Some Emergent Mythologies, which focuses on,

“ three texts: Philip K. Dick’s VALIS (1981), Whitley Strieber’s COMMUNION (1987) and Barbara Ehrenreich’s LIVING WITH A WILD GOD (2014). In each case, we will see how the author describes a deeply personal, life-changing encounter with what any earlier culture would have recognized as a deity or demon. Each author engages these earlier religious interpretations but finally moves outside of them to posit actual invisible species in the environment that interact with human beings at their own whims and for their own interests, perhaps, the authors speculate, to “feed off” of human emotion or to tame, domesticate or evolve us via sexual communion and interspecies symbiosis. The result is a new set of evolutionary panpsychisms, erotic vitalisms and biological polytheisms that pose a challenge to the reigning materialisms and projection theories of conventional science and the humanities.”

And there it is, the UFO just sitting there, hanging out in all its strange and ubiquitous glory at the center of concerns over globalization, cultural integration, and the long term stability of our shared cultural systems —and the long term stability of our shared concept of self identity — as the old religious infrastructure transitions further into the decentralized and destabilized environment of the future.

In the end we come back to the important question — how can these traditions that provide a center point in our culture compete or integrate with the very visible, tangible and operative miracles of applied science — and what happens when the day comes that contact with a non-human intelligence, whether it’s from the stars or from some sub-net AI, supersedes what we know of science itself…

Note: This article was originally published on Medium.com 

UFOs, Religion, Technology — A (very short) introduction to American Cosmic

Posted in > ANALYSIS by David on April 27, 2018

The Milky Way seen from the mountains of Northern California/Lewiston Lake (Photo: Ben Chasny/6 Organs of Admittance)

“From a solid base of scholarship Dr. Pasulka introduces us to the players at the frontier of biological and physical research to pose some age-old questions in new ways: Can the human spirit transcend space/time? How will religious traditions be reframed when they collide with the long-suppressed evidence of non-human consciousness in our environment?

Her sharp insight is drawn from her research into spiritual phenomena, updated by her travels from the UFO crash sites of New Mexico to the archives of the Vatican.

The result is a timely introduction to the revelations in our collective future.”

— Jacques Vallee, author of The Heart of the Internet: An Insider’s View of the Origin and Promise of the On-Line Revolution (Hampton Roads, 2003)

When you are introducing a book that will quietly and drastically change our understanding of what it means to be human, and what the implications are for the current explosion of technological innovation in our global culture, it’s best to start out slow. So let’s begin with the promotional description from the book’s publisher, Oxford University Press:

More than half of American adults and more than seventy-five percent of young Americans believe in intelligent extraterrestrial life. This level of belief rivals that of belief in God. American Cosmic examines the mechanisms at work behind the thriving belief system in extraterrestrial life, a system that is changing and even supplanting traditional religions.

Over the course of a six-year ethnographic study, D.W. Pasulka interviewed successful and influential scientists, professionals, and Silicon Valley entrepreneurs who believe in extraterrestrial intelligence, thereby disproving the common misconception that only fringe members of society believe in UFOs. She argues that widespread belief in aliens is due to a number of factors including their ubiquity in modern media like The X-Files, which can influence memory, and the believability lent to that media by the search for planets that might support life. American Cosmic explores the intriguing question of how people interpret unexplainable experiences, and argues that media is replacing religion as a cultural authority that offers believers answers about non-human intelligent life.

b7b70-15qlpkluy-g2xa-uqtwmc0aOk — now that you’ve digested that, let’s do a quick thought experiment:

You’ve read Oxford University Press’ description and you’ve let it sink in — go back and read the promotional blurb from Jacques Vallee again, he’s one of the ‘Silicon Valley entrepreneurs’ featured in Dr. Pasulka’s book.

Notice anything?

Do you find it strange that the OUP promo hedges a bit on the mundane side of things compared to the implications in Jacques Vallee’s endorsement?

”Stranger (still), the author discovers that technology does have connections to the paranormal, and the author’s interviews with technologists and her historical research into the Russian and American Space programs reveals the strange and perplexing origins of rocket technologies.

Pasulka draws on the latest research into digital and media technologies to reveal how the representation of the UFO passes into minds and bodies, informing memory, belief, and culture.”

— from the pre-publication preface for American Cosmic — UFOs, Religion, Technology (Oxford University Press, 2018)

The book is available for pre-order right now from OUP and the pre-publication preface is available on the American Cosmic website —by the end of the year you won’t “want to believe” — you’ll know more than you can possibly imagine: