Has Contact Already Been Made?
A Synergetic Theory of UFO’s


The UFO Experience is the title of a book by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, former scientific advisor to the Air Force’s Project Bluebook and now director of the civilian Center for UFO Studies in Evanston, Illinois. It is an excellent title, and the purpose of this brief article is to take that title seriously—more seriously than Dr. Hynek has taken it himself, in fact.

Broadly speaking, there are two major theories about UFOs known to the general public. Both of these popular theories are objective in the classical sense—they assume the UFO is something out there, apart from the human observer. They are also elementalistic, in the sense in which that word was used by the semanticist, Alfred Korzybski, to denote the error of considering the part in isolation from the whole.

The more popular theory, originated by Major Donald Keyhoe (US Marines, ret.), is that the UFO is a spaceship from somewhere in outer space. The less popular theory, held by certain die-hard isolationists, is that the UFO is a group label or mislabel for a variety of atmospheric phenomena, including sundogs, heat inversions, swamp gas, weather balloons etc.

A certain redundancy is necessary at this point, for the sake of clarity later. When I say that both of these models are objective, I mean that they regard the UFO as something located in space somewhere outside the human observer, and when I say that they are elementalistic I mean that they approach the UFO as something to be explained in itself without reference to the nervous
system of the human through whom we hear about it.

I propose to offer a different model for the UFO experience, treating it as the experience of a human nervous system. I wish us to consider the UFO-human system as a synergetic whole which is (see the definition of synergy in your dictionary) greater than the sum of its parts. This may seem a remarkable approach at first, but it is merely looking at the UFO experience in the holistic manner of Relativity theory, quantum mechanics, Gestalt psychology, General Systems Theory, ecology and similar non-elementalistic sciences.

It seems a mere tautology but it is worth noting up front that we have no reports of UFOs without human observers; even UFOs picked up on radar become “unidentified” rather than “identified” through processes of evaluation in the nervous system of the radar technicians. As Nobel physicist Percy W. Bridgman argued (in The Logic of Modern Physics) when something is never divided in nature we risk grave errors by artificially dividing it in our verbalizations or conceptualizations. For instance, space and time are never divided in nature, but once we began dividing them verbally we introduced so many fallacies into our thinking that it took milleniums of progress and the genius of Einstein to get them back together again into the space-time continuum of modern science.

What happens if we try to unify the human “observer” into a synergetic UFO-human system? To begin with, we have to throw out the word “observer” right away, since otherwise we will re-introduce the elementalistic fallacy we are trying to avoid. Fortunately, quantum physics rides to the rescue. As John Archibald Wheeler indicates in Gravitation, when it is obvious that we cannot speak of the scientific observer any longer, we must speak of the scientific participant.

Let us denote the human participant as H (for human). Since we want to avoid premature dogma, let us denote the other part of the system, the UFO, as X. The UFO experience is, then, a function of H and X:
UFOexp = f(H,X)

Now let us consider the most mysterious part of the UFO experience—the occupants or UFOnauts who appear in Close Encounters of the Third Kind, especially in Close Encounters of what Dr. Jacques Vallee calls the Seventh Degree of Strangeness.

Here is a partial list, taken from The Unidentified by Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman (Warner Books, 1975) of the variety of UFOnauts that have been reported by Contactees:

Black men, blue men, green men, black-faced men with green bodies, fish-scaled men, hairy dwarfs, huge-headed bald dwarfs, armless humanoids, dwarfs with three fingers, dwarfs with eight fingers, claw-handed men, one-eyed men, elephant-eared men, long-haired sexless WoMen, manapes, man-birds, robots, beer-can-shaped objects walking on fins, headless things, dwarfs in Nazi uniforms.

And here is a list of the kind of craft favored by this odd crew, taken from Brad Steiger’s Gods of Aquarius: big blobs of light, little blobs of light, clusters of lights, hard “metallic”-looking ships, flat-bottom discs, conic discs, coin-like discs, domed discs, ovals, spheres, spheroids, cigar-shaped craft, cubes, tetrahedrons, crescents, “eggs,” teardrop shapes.

No standard description, either of the UFO or the UFOnaut, has emerged from thousands of Close Encounters worldwide. “We are being invaded by beings from dozens of galaxies,” exclaimed Otto Binder, a True Believer in the extraterrestrial hypothesis, when this data was shown to him. Astronomer Carl Sagan, looking at the same data, concluded that ordinary people do a lot more hallucinating that is generally realized. Please note, one more time, that both of these explanations suffer from the objectivist-elementalistic bias that we are trying to avoid.

Rather than settling for either of these easy explanations, let us ask instead: where else do we find this bizarre variety of reports from people who have had the “same” (or allegedly the “same”) experience? The first answer to leap to the mind is: in psychopharmacology, the study of human response to various drugs. Look back over the list of UFOs and UFOnauts and compare it to the conflicting reports of people who have had the exact same dose of LSD, for instance.

And how do people respond to Close Encounters? Again, we find a broad spectrum of reactions in published reports, but, significantly, a distinct clustering at two opposite extremes: one group which is terrified, traumatized and may even require hospitalization for shock or nervous collapse; and a second group which is tranquilized, reassured, given signals of peace and joy, and generally seems to have had a religious or mystical experience. Does this diversity not also remind us of LSD?

I am not asserting that the UFO is a chemical effluvium similar to LSD which floats around this planet and occasionally Turns On the brain of a human who encounters it. I have picked LSD only as a dramatic example of a brain change device. John Lilly, M.D., has duplicated many LSD trips by simple isolation in a “Lilly tank.” Jean Millay has duplicated others with biofeedback equipment. Jose Delgado of Yale has produced equally dramatic effects with Electrical Stimulation of the Brain (ESB).

The UFO experience is a rapid brain change occurring in a human being. It is similar to other forms of sudden brain mutation found in several areas of modern neuro-science.

Anxiety attacks or outright terror can be induced by drugs, by ESB, by operant conditioning—and by UFOs. Beatific vision and messianic drive to saw the world can be induced by drugs, by ESB, by yoga, by isolation—and by UFOs. Visions of lovely space ladies, horrid hairy dwarfs and various inhuman critters can be induced by drugs, Jungian depth-analysis, ceremonial magic, yoga—and by UFOs. A propensity for synchronicity (seemingly meaningful coincidence) and what seems like ESP are also reported in drug research, biofeedback, yoga—and among UFO Contactees. Reports of sexual intercourse with beautiful nonhuman females are found in Tibetan Buddhism, among the ancient Greeks, in medieval inquisitorial witch-trials—and among UFO Contactees.

The human UFO system is a rapid brain mutation matrix, full of Freudian, Jungian, parapsychological and “mystical” material. Since the Freudian and Jungian material can be assumed to be latent in the subject (or victim), we may tentatively guess that the ESP and mystic Oneness with the All are also latent in all of us, merely waiting to be activated.

It is commonplace in modern neurology that the right hemisphere of the brain is passive most of the time, leaving the work to the left hemisphere. The right hemisphere becomes abruptly and dramatically active during LSD ingestion, in deep yogic meditation, while playing music and during ESP experiments.

A reading of Robert Ornstein’s Psychology of Consciousness, Julian Jaynes‘ The Origins of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind and Timothy Leary’s Exo-Psychology strongly suggests that the body of evidence now at hand in neurology would support the generalization that the usually active left hemisphere controls the linear and rational decision-making of ordinary life, while all the Freudian-Jungian-spook-and-mysticism material I have listed as typical of drugs, shamanism, yoga and the UFO experience are aspects of the sudden activation of the right hemisphere.

Thus, the human/UFO matrix is a system which switches control, temporarily or for some length of time, from the linear left hemisphere of the brain to the synergetic and timeless right hemisphere. What we are obtaining, in reports of the Close Encounters, is very little information about the alleged stimulus of this brainstorm (the presumed UFO “out there” beyond the body) and a great deal of information about the functioning of our own right hemispheres when they are Turned On very high very fast.

The UFO-human experience feeds back to the human a dramatic mirror-image of the untapped potentials of the human nervous system. The range of mutations thus triggered covers the gamut from paranoid schizophrenia (with either the U.S. Air Force or hostile extraterrestrials as the persecutors) all the way across the board to that high, happy state which many modern psychologists (following Dr. Andrew Weil) call metanoia. Metanoia is as far above the typical ego-centered, time-dominated, perpetually worried ordinary consciousness of humanity as that (statistically) “normal” state is above clinical paranoia. Metanoia is most frequently found in mystics, artists, creative scientists and those superhealthy beings that Dr. Arbraham Maslow called “self-actualizing personalities.”

Consider the following cluster of events: Hiroshima—growing awareness of the possibility of nuclear holocaust—ecology—world-wide fear of ecological disaster—the Nazi atrocities—recognition of humanity’s capacity for insane destructiveness. It can safely be generalized that those who lived through the horrors of the 1940s, or who grew up since then, have lived with intimations of Apocalypse.

Now consider the following cluster, beginning with the first UFO reports in 1947: the Human Potential movement—the LSD revolution—the recognition of parapsychology as a science by the American Association for the Advancement of Science—the yoga and Zen fads—Group Encounter—Esalen—Uri Geller—And note, above all, that the majority of Contactees get messages from the UFOnauts speaking directly to the problems of nuclear and ecological disaster.

Whatever is the X factor that triggers that UFO experience, whether it is “inside” or “outside” the Contactee, the mutation that is occurring is part of a much bigger process which we have come to matter-of-factly call the Consciousness Revolution. It is a quantum jump from left hemisphere domination to synergetic left-right hemisphere unity.

But, some exasperated readers will be asking, what is the X, the stimulus that triggers this brainstorm? A minimal answer is that It is a „blinding“ light that flickers rapidly; this appears in virtually all Contactee stories that I have studied. It is often accompanied by rhythmic humming. As any student of hypnotism and ceremonial magic knows, flickering lights (especially those of blinding intensity) and rhythmic humming (mantra) are excellent techniques for inducing Altered States of Consciousness.

It may be some kind of electrical, magnetic or atmospheric oddity which triggers these LSD-like visions anybody whose brain gets too close to the source of It.

It may be caused by an occult gang (as well-organized, efficient, secretive and expert at covering their tracks as the cattle-mutilators, but less malign—let us hope) who are going around zapping people with an electrical brain stimulator of some sort, to induce these visions, and accelerate the Consciousness Revolution.

Or It may really be the alien spaceships beloved by True Believers; but even in that case, I think we need to keep in mind the synergetic theory suggested here and evaluate the reports not as objective events occurring outside the human observer, but as subjective visions triggered by those events.

The theory outlined (all too briefly) in this article is not quite as simple as it looks. For instance, if you really understand this synergetic model of the human/UFO experience, you will never agam ask the mischievious and misleading question, “Why haven’t They contacted our leaders?” The Contact has already happened, on a level far deeper than that of mere politics. Whether the Contact has come from the collective unconscious of humanity, or through the collective unconscious, remains to be determined, but the signal has been received. As the ads for Close Encounters say,

For purely rational reasons, based on growing scientific evidence supporting the “cosmological principle” (things are much the same everywhere in the universe), most astronomers now accept that simple statement: life is everywhere. Since the majority of humanity does not react to purely rational arguments and scientific evidence, the UFO (as a product mediated from or through the unconscious mind) has made the message clear to non-scientists—to more than 50% of the population, according to a recent Gallup poll. Evidently, for reasons buried deep in the genetic code, the fact that we are not alone is a piece of information which we need to know at this time; and we need to give it expression not just in scientific papers but in works of art, in books and films, in Rock songs, in cartoons, in jokes, in mass-culture, in myth. The function of the UFO experience is to give the message that sort of depth, density and saturation in the human community, as we prepare for our own leap into extraterrestrial space.

While I take full responsibility for the heresies uttered in this paper, it is only fair to say that whatever is wrong with me has been vastly encouraged by Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky, by Carl Jung, Harcourt Brace, New York, 1959; Our Haunted Planet, by John Keel, Fawcett, New York, 1971; The Invisible College, by Jacques Vallee, Dutton, New York, 1976; The Roots of Coincidence, by Arthur Koestler, Vintage, New York, 1973; The Unidentified, by Jerome Clark and Loren Coleman, Warner, New York, 1975. I also owe a great deal to Dr. Jack Sarfatti, Dr. Nick Herbert and Saul Paul Sirag of the Physics/Consciousness Research Group.

Has Contact Already Been Made?
A Synergetic Theory of UFO’s

by Robert Anton Wilson appeared in Second Look, Volume 1, Issue 2 in December 1978.