January 8, 1997
Jacques Vallee hesitated before agreeing
to be interviewed about the subject for which heís most famous:
UFOs. Itís not that heís reluctant to discuss the topic, or tussle
with the skeptics. After all, heís written close to a dozen books on
UFOs, several of them best-sellers, analyzing a notoriously ethereal
subject as a hard-headed physical scientist, folklorist, and
sociologist. He believes there is more than enough solid evidence to
make a compelling case for the existence of UFOs, and he doesnít shy
away from an honest debate.
Itís the hard-core believers who give Vallee pause. Anyone who has
observed the semi-academic cockpit known as "UFOlogy" knows that
close encounters of the UFO expert kind shed little light and much
heat, dogma and territorial sniping. Valleeís views about UFOs are
far more exotic and far stranger than what he calls the reigning
"nuts and bolts" approach to the subject. Consequently, heís been
attacked by believers so often that he jokingly refers to himself a
"heretic among heretics."
As Vallee puts it,
"I will be disappointed
if UFOs turn out to be nothing more than spaceships."
In his recent autobiographical book, Forbidden Science, Vallee
summed up his views about the provenance of UFOs, a viewpoint that
heís developed through decades of research:
"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."
So much for anti-gravity-powered
starships ferrying Big Brothers from outer space. Vallee thinks UFOs
are likely "windows" to other dimensions manipulated by intelligent,
often mischievous, always enigmatic beings we have yet to
understand. (60 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time covers Valleeís
theories in detail.)
No other UFO researcher has contributed more to an admittedly
controversial field. But Vallee commands a measure of respect that
must leave his colleagues feeling a bit envious. Even Philip Klass,
the avionics expert and the mediaís favorite UFO-debunker, calls Vallee "one of the more distinguished members of the pro-UFO
community." Vallee, he adds, "is one of the brighter physical
scientists who believes in UFOs."
Vallee moved to America from his native France in the early 1960s,
as young astronomer-turned-computer scientist. Vallee pioneered the
use of computers to analyze and categorize the UFO phenomenon, and
his 1965 book, Anatomy of a Phenomenon, is still considered one of
the most scholarly books on UFOs ever written. At Northwestern
University, Vallee assisted Prof. J. Allen Hynek, the academic
consultant on the Air Forceís infamous
Project Bluebook, now seen by
most saucer students as either a half-hearted government effort to
address the UFO craze of the 1950s and 1960s or a full-blown coverup.
While working with Hynek, Vallee and his wife, Janine, compiled the
first-ever computer database of UFO sightings.
In 1969, Vallee published another groundbreaking book, Passport to Magonia, in which he collected a body of folkloric "myths" that read
remarkably like modern UFO encounters, from Celtic tales of
fairyland abductions to Biblical passages and medieval chronicles of
"visitors" from beyond. Building on Carl Jungís thesis that UFOs are
a sociological phenomenon, a product of the collective unconscious,
Vallee forever left behind the space-bound E.T. theorists.
folkloristís approach to the problem would influence a number of
later researchers and writers who continue to echo his ideas about
other-dimensional forms of consciousness. Best-selling author
Whitley Strieber, Harvard "abductee psychologist"
John Mack, and
journalist Keith Thompson (author of Angels and Aliens) all owe a
debt to Vallee. Stephen Spielberg paid homage to Vallee in Close
Encounters of the Third Kind, basing his French scientist character
(played by Francois Truffaut) on the real French UFO theorist.
We recently had lunch with Vallee in San Francisco at restaurant
around the corner from the offices of his high-technology venture
capital firm. Part 1 of that interview covers Valleeís theories
about UFOs and his belief that science can penetrate mystery of
flying disks and alien beings. In Part 2, which weíll publish later
this month, Vallee discusses the second sphere of his researches:
The connection between the UFO phenomenon and the religious impulse.
Vallee believes that the intelligence guiding UFOs is a kind of
control mechanism, an invisible hand shaping the development of
human consciousness over a period of eons. In the second installment
he also talks about the theory that from time to time governments
have manipulated public opinion through UFO mythology--in some
instances constructing elaborate hoaxes for propagandistic purposes.
60GCAT: Why are Americans
obsessed with the idea that outer space aliens are the pilots of
Vallee: I think Americans, if they are interested in the
subject, are very literal. They want to kick the tires, which is
a good American thing to do. They want to do reverse engineering
on the propulsion system. And when I tell them, "Look, maybe
those things donít have a propulsion system," you get a strange
reaction. Just like, if you remember, in Close Encounters, the Truffaut character keeps going around saying this is a
sociological phenomenon, not just physical. And he has a lot of
trouble getting that idea across.
60GCAT: At one point you subscribed to the theory that UFOs
might be extraterrestrial in origin. . . .
Vallee: When I met Stephen Spielberg, I argued with him that the
subject was even more interesting if it wasnít
extraterrestrials. If it was real, physical, but not ET. So he
said, "Youíre probably right, but thatís not what the public is
expecting--this is Hollywood and I want to give people something
thatís close to what they expect." Which is fair.
60GCAT: So what do we know for sure about the nature of UFOs?
Vallee: There is a phenomenon. We donít know where it comes
from. Itís characterized by its physical [traces]. Eighty
percent of all the cases have trivial explanations. But Iím
talking about the core phenomena. It seems to involve a lot of
energy in a small space; it seems to involve pulsed microwaves,
among other things.
There isnít much that is known about the
effect of pulsed microwaves on the brain, so itís quite possible
that some of the stories that you get from people are
essentially induced hallucinations in sincere witnesses--the
witnesses are not lying. They really have been exposed to
something genuine but there is no way to go back to what that
thing was, based on their description, because their brain has
been affected by proximity to that energy.
Having said that, I have plenty of colleagues in science and
technology I respect who tell me this could be a natural
phenomenon--this could be an undiscovered form of energy in the
atmosphere. We donít know much about the effect of
electromagnetic fields on the nervous system. Weíre going to be
discovering that as we go.
So, itís quite possible that there
could be a phenomenon like that, a very spontaneous thing. Or it
could be artificial. If itís artificial it could come from
another form of consciousness, which may or may not be
extraterrestrial. Itís a big universe out there. Who are we to
say where it comes from? We can only speculate on that point.
60GCAT: How can we use our own comparatively backward technology
to investigate this mystery?
Vallee: Where I think that technology can be of help is in
looking for patterns. And I did as much of that as anybody else.
I built, with my wife, the first computer database of UFO
sightings. But where I think computers could be used much better
is in applying artificial intelligence, reason, and inference to
eliminating the reports that have natural causes. I developed a
software prototype of that, which was called OVNIBASE, which I
turned over to the French CNES; presumably they are developing a
next version of it, and running it on their database.
60GCAT: What about other technologies that can help us analyze
evidence better than we could, say, 10 years ago?
Vallee: Digital enhancement of photographs is very useful. In my
book, Confrontations, I mention the photograph that I brought
back from Costa Rica, which was unusual because the object was
over a lake [Lago de Cote], so there was a uniform black
background. Everything is known about the aircraft that took the
At the time the picture was taken [in 1971], nobody on
the plane had seen the object. It was only after the film was
developed that the object was discovered. The camera used was
exceptional: It produced a very large negative--ten inches, very
detailed. You can see cows in the field. The time is known; the
latitude, longitude and attitude of the aircraft is known. So we
spent a lot of time analyzing that photograph, without being
able to find any obvious natural answer to the object. It seems
to be a very large, solid thing.
I obtained the negative from the government of Costa Rica--if
you donít have the negative, analysis is a waste of time. I also
obtained the negative of the picture taken before and the
picture after, all uncut. I took negatives to a friend of mine
in France who works for a firm that digitally analyzes satellite
photographs. They digitized the entire thing, and then analyzed
it to the extent that they could, and could not find an
explanation for the object.
60GCAT: Itís hard for Americans to grasp the idea that
UFOs might be a manifestation the other-dimensional...
Vallee: You have to keep an open mind. What I try to do is what
any cop would do: I try to listen to the witnesses instead of
printing my own theories. Theories are a dime a dozen. They
donít do any good. Itís much more useful, I think, just to
listen to what people are telling you, and Iíve been trying to
do that not just in the U.S., but also in Europe and other
places Iíve visited, like Brazil and Argentina, and try to look
"Iíve antagonized a lot of people because I think that the way
abductions are being handled is wrong. I tell people, donít let
anyone hypnotize you if youíve seen a strange light in the sky."
60GCAT: Youíre a bit of a controversial figure among UFO
researchers, mainly because you entertain theories more exotic
than the UFOs-are-from-outer-space paradigm.
Vallee: Iíve antagonized a number of the believers in UFOs.
Number one, because Iím not ready to jump to any conclusion that
itís necessarily extraterrestrial--weíre not smart enough to
know what they are at this point. And the research has not been
done. I certainly remember enough of my training in astronomy to
tell you that the universe is big enough to have other forms of
life than us; at least we hope that it does. But so far we
cannot prove it. So we cannot see how they would come here--they
probably would be much advanced with respect to our physics, and
they would have found a way to do it. But that does not explain
Iíve also antagonized a lot of people because I think that the
way abductions are being handled is wrong. Itís not only wrong
scientifically, itís wrong morally and ethically. Iíve been
telling people, donít let anyone hypnotize you if youíve seen a
strange light in the sky. I think a lot of those people
prominent in the press and in the National Enquirer and in the
talk shows and so on are creating abductees under hypnosis. They
are hypnotizing everybody whoís ever had a strange experience
and telling them they are abductees by suggestion. And they are
doing that in good faith. They donít realize what they are
doing. But to my way of thinking, thatís unethical.
60GCAT: What do you think of John Mack, the Harvard psychologist
who believes that alien abductions are a real phenomenon? Of
course, he uses hypnosis on his patients to liberate "repressed
memories" of those abductions.
Vallee: I respect him for his courage in addressing the issue,
but I donít agree with his methods.
Iíve taken some witnesses who wanted to be hypnotized, taken
them to specialists in two cases out of maybe 70 cases of
abductions that Iíve studied. And usually the specialists tell
me that hypnosis is not necessarily the best way of helping
these people. Nor is it the best way to recover memories. It may
help in very specific cases. But Iíve never hypnotized
anybody--Iím not qualified to do it.
60GCAT: How did you first become interested in UFOs and
Vallee: I started out wanting to do astronomy and I ruined
essentially a perfectly good career in science by becoming
interested in computers. This was in France in the early days of
computing and the earliest days of satellites and space
exploration. So I took some of the earliest computer courses at
My first job was at Paris observatory, tracking satellites. And
we started tracking objects that were not satellites, were
fairly elusive, and so we decided that we would pay attention to
those objects even though they were not on the schedule of
normal satellites. And one night we got eleven data points on
one of these objects--it was very bright. It was also
This was at a time when there was no rocket powerful
enough to launch a retrograde satellite, a satellite that goes
around opposite to the rotation of the earth, where you
obviously need to overcome the earthís gravity going the other
direction. You have to reach escape velocity in the direction
opposite the rotation of the earth, which takes a lot more
energy than the direct direction. And the man in charge of the
project confiscated the tape and erased it the next morning.
"The best UFO data has never been published. I think a great
deal of the misunderstanding about UFOs among scientists is that
the scientists have never had access to the best data."
So thatís really what got me interested. Because up to then I
thought, Scientists donít seem to be interested in UFOs,
astronomers donít report anything unusual in the sky, so there
probably isnít anything to it.
Effectively, I was in the same
position that most scientists are in today--you trust your
colleagues, and because you donít see any reports from credible,
technical witnesses, you assume that there is nothing. And there
I was with a technical report--I donít know what it was. It
wasnít a flying saucer--it didnít land close to the observatory.
But still, it was a mystery. And instead of looking at the data
and preserving the data, we were destroying it.
60GCAT: Why did he destroy it?
Vallee: Just fear of ridicule. He thought that the Americans
would laugh at us, if we sent it--all of the data on satellites
was being concentrated in the U.S. And we were exchanging our
data with international bodies. And he just didnít want Paris
observatory to look silly by reporting some thing that he could
not identify in the sky. [This was in] 1961. Later I found out
that other observatories had made exactly the same observation,
and that in fact American tracking stations had photographed the
same thing and could not identify it either. It was a first
magnitude object: it was as bright as [the star] Sirius.
couldnít miss it. It didnít reappear in successive weeks. Itís
just a little anecdote, but to me that fact that we destroyed it
was more important than what we saw. And that reopened the whole
question for me: Are there things that scientists are observing
and not talking about? And then I started extending a small
network of scientists, which is still active, and found that
there was a lot of data that was never published. In fact, the
best data has never been published. I think a great deal of the
misunderstanding about UFOs among scientists is that the
scientists have never had access to the best data.
60GCAT: Why has the best data never been published?
Vallee: I talk to a lot of technical companies where the
executives are aware of my interests, and Iíve had a lot of
reports under seal of confidentiality from people in science and
in business who had seen things. About a year ago, a vice
president at IBM took me aside after a conference and said, "Are
you the same Jacques Vallee who is interested in UFOs?" And he
described a perfectly classic UFO close encounter story that he
and his family had in upstate New York. This is not something
that is going to be in the National Enquirer.
I met a man who is president of a technical company in Silicon
Valley; he wanted to tell me about his experiences. He had been
a very-high ranking naval officer in command of a large ship,
and he had three experiences with UFOs, two of them in the
service in very sensitive positions--and at one time when he was
a test pilot. He has never reported any of the encounters, even
when he was a pilot. I said, "Werenít you under obligation to
report it?" And he said, "Maybe I was, but if they have the
slightest doubt about what you are seeing up there, you are
[considered to be] crazy--they wonít let you near the cockpit of
an experimental plane." And he said, "If youíre a pilot, you
want to fly.
You donít want to spend the next month filling out
forms for a bunch of psychiatrics." Which is what will happen. I
think any pilot will tell you the same thing, you know, over a
beer. So those are the cases that Iím interested in. The cases
that have not been reported in the press, havenít been distorted
in the retelling. When I have time, I follow up on those cases
with my own resources basically out of curiosity, with no
"Iím skeptical about stories of crashed saucers; I have an open
mind about it, but Iíve heard those stories for so many years
and they never really amount to anything tangible."
60GCAT: But skeptics always argue that even though there may be
anecdotal evidence, thereís no hard scientific data. . . .
Vallee: There is plenty of data--and it should be analyzed
further. But I do not think itís going to be a propeller from a
flying saucer. I think it is going to be things that would be
interesting if you could find a pattern to the material. Iím
skeptical about stories of crashed saucers; I have an open mind
about it, but Iíve heard those stories for so many years and
they never really amount to anything tangible. Also, I am
skeptical for another reason: We build technologies now that are
extremely reliable where there is the need. How often does your
hard disk crash? I mean, if you keep your computer for 15 years,
eventually the hard disk is going to crash. But you donít expect
that to happen. If you were going to build a technology that
takes you across interstellar space, it would have to be
60GCAT: In your books, you detail the hard data turned up in
Vallee: There is a small unit of the CNES, which is the French
equivalent of NASA, that has permission to investigate any cases
of UFOs. They were set up in the mid-í70s and theyíve been going
ever since. They found a number of cases that couldnít be
explained, and some cases were never published with all the
data. Cases where there were traces on the ground, where there
was evidence of heat, evidence of radiation, including pulsed
microwave radiation, and evidence of plants being affected.
Again, that doesnít prove anything. It just proves that there
was something there. It doesnít tell you what it was. But it
certainly is a valid technical issue.
This data doesnít tell you if the phenomenon is natural or not,
because it doesnít tell you enough about the conditions where
that happened. And thatís where I think a lot more research
should be done. People have come to me saying, "Look, I was a
pilot or in a radar station in Alaska, and we were tracking
UFOs--we recorded the data, and I was a pilot and followed one
of those things and got gun camera footage of it. When I landed
there was a guy waiting for me, in blue jeans and a sweater, who
said, íYou didnít see anything up there.í" Meanwhile, a guy with
a screwdriver is unhooking the camera from the fuselage.
witnesses have no idea where those guys come from. But somebody
has a lot of data; and I think that this hard data should be
turned over to science, certainly the stuff from 20 years ago--I
mean, how classified can it be? By now, we should have known if
it was an enemy, so we should turn over the data to the
scientific community. Let the skeptics analyze it from their
point of view and let anyone else analyze it from their point of
view. Thatís the way science should be done.
In Part 1 of our interview with UFO
sleuth/computer conferencing pioneer Jacques Vallee, we looked
at some of the scientific evidence bolstering the contention
that UFOs are a real, measurable phenomenon. In Part 2, below,
Vallee continues this theme as he talks about his samples of
"liquid sky"--the metallic debris occasionally seen ejected from
Then hold on to your propeller beanie as we depart
four-dimensional time space and look at some of Valleeís more
exotic theories about the origin of UFOs. As Vallee puts it,
"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."
Vallee refers to this complex system of control--which is
shaping human society over the course of thousands of years--as
an "interface of reality with consciousness." It sounds a lot
like Arthur C. Clarkeís science fictional theme in 2001: A Space
Odyssey--an alien intelligence subtly directing the course of
human development, toward mysterious ends. Talk about your
But Vallee also has controversial ideas about human-made UFO
"I was investigating some cases that were
physically real," he says, "but they were hoaxes--yet not hoaxes
on the part of the witnesses."
The two most stunning cases of faked UFO events that Vallee has
uncovered occurred rather recently in the history of saucer
sightings. In 1980, a strange object purportedly "crashed" in
Englandís Rendlesham Forest, a few miles away from an American
Air Force Base. Dozens of military personnel were dispatched
into the forest, without weapons, before the supposed crash of a
luminous object. After the incident conflicting stories leaked
to the press and to civilian investigators, some of the leaks
apparently originating from the front office of the military
base. Valleeís conclusion--controversial among UFO believers who
insist that aliens touched down in Rendlesham Forest--is that,
"the event had all the earmarks of being staged for the benefit
of the witnesses, perhaps so that their psychological reactions
could be studied."
Even more bizarre is the information turned up by French
investigators in the wake of a bizarre 1979 abduction case. An
unemployed young man named Franck Fontaine disappeared outside
of his apartment one morning, reportedly after his friends saw
him enveloped in a luminous fog. After a week of frenzied press
coverage and a fruitless search by the authorities, Fontaine
turned up in a field outside the apartment--with no memory of
his unusual experience. His friends insisted he had been
abducted by a UFO, and police investigators, though they doubted
that claim, found no other satisfactory explanation.
But as Vallee reports, investigators from GEPAN, the French
governmentís aerial phenomena study group, were led to an
official in the French Ministry of Defense who willingly
described the so-called UFO abduction as an "Exercise of General
Synthesis." What happened to Fontaine? "We put him to sleep and
he was put under an altered state of high suggestibility,"
replied the official. When asked if the "exercise" was intended
to test the investigative abilities of local law enforcement
agencies, the official said, "That would be a fair way to
Then he added, ominously, "If this operation had
been completed, the next phase would have been far worse." As Vallee notes in his best-selling book, Revelations, "It would be
fair to assume that the [Fontaine] operation could have been a
test, perhaps a prelude to an experiment of wider scope."
Vallee says he knows the name of the French official, an Air
Force officer, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
So what on earth--to pick an appropriate planet--is going on?
Vallee has several theories that might explain such UFO
flimflam. The military may be experimenting with psychological
warfare techniques, as the Germans did in World War I, when they
projected images of the Virgin Mary on banks of smoke in an
effort to spook the French into saying their Rosaries instead of
killing Germans. Vallee also thinks that sham UFO reports might
be used as cover for tests of new military stealth technology.
But the most troubling "deception theory" Vallee poses is that
from time to time, the target of UFO hoaxes might be the general
public, or a segment thereof.
"In some cases," he says, "the community of ufologists may
simply be used in a sociological experiment because they are a
convenient group of people to test, to see how they react to
Sounds a bit improbable, but Valleeís research into the growth
of UFO "contactee" cults is suggests that such manipulation
occurs. In his book, Messengers of Deception, Vallee explored
the rise of a new kind of religious movement throughout the
world: the UFO Messiah cults, in which believers await the
coming of bubble-headed saviors in saucers.
You can find these
groups in Europe and the Americas, in increasing numbers. Want a
glimpse of this otherworldly subculture? Just buzz into any of
the alt.alien Usenet groups or enter the magic word "UFO" into
any World Wide Web search engine and see how fast youíre
channeled into one of the most heavily trodden alternate
dimensions of online obsession since Big Brother went digital.
Listen to "Seth," the channeled alien being from beyond; hear
the Venusian commander known as Val Thor, who parks his
spaceship on Lake Mead near Las Vegas as if it were an
extraterrestrial houseboat (when heís not advising the
Pentagon); heed the warnings of
the well-heeled "Rael," who
speaks through a French contactee and runs a worldwide
According to Vallee, the French press has recently reported that
the notorious Order of the Solar Temple--in the news last year
after 53 members committed suicide in Switzerland and
Canada--told its followers that the highest levels of initiation
involved meetings with extraterrestrial beings. The cult used
holographic projectors purchased in the United States to fool
its members. "As you may recall," says Vallee, "members of the
cult were educated people and professionals--not crazy kids on
So without further ado, we present Part 2 of
the Jacques Vallee
60GCAT: Letís talk about some of the other forms of hard
evidence that scientists can look at when studying the UFO
problem. For instance, chunks of molten metal, the so-called
"liquid sky" samples.
Vallee: On their own, these metal samples are not compelling
evidence. But the existence of this material does show that
there is data that scientists can look at. When we received the
Bogota, Columbia, sample [supposedly the remnants of a plume of
liquid slag ejected from a flying disk over the University of
Bogota in the mid-1970s] we sawed off one little corner for
analysis. It turned out to be mostly aluminum.
doesnít prove anything: you could make a hunk of this stuff in
your backyard by pouring molten metal into a pool of water. Metallurgically, the Bogota sample is not that unusual--except
that it has gone through a violent heating, not just up to a
boiling point, but beyond. My point has always been that it is
interesting to see what patterns emerge from analysis of enough
of these samples. If you kept picking up specimens like that, it
might move your research into a particular direction.
60GCAT: One theory is that this liquid metal is part of the
UFOsí propulsion system.
Vallee: There are [man-made] motors that use liquid
metal--usually mercury--for liquid contact. But the temperatures
necessary for molten aluminum and other metals would have to be
60GCAT: What about liquid sky samples that are of a slightly
more exotic makeup than the aluminum slag?
Vallee: The only one thatís unusual is the one that Prof. Peter
Sturrock (a plasma physicist at Stanford University) has. It
comes from Ubatuba, Brazil. In the early 1930s, an object
exploded over a beach in Ubatuba. [In 1957, an alleged fragment
from the explosion turned up; its precise origin is uncertain.]
Subsequent analysis at the University and Colorado and Stanford
confirmed that the material was magnesium and magnesium oxide,
with a very minute amount of impurities. If the metal really did
originate in the 1930s, it would be very unusual because given
the technology of the day, someone would have had to go to a lot
of trouble to get it that pure.
The Cosmic Database
60GCAT: Letís talk about some of the implications of your
research. If the UFO phenomenon is real, but is not aliens from
outer space, weíre talking about new ways of thinking about
reality and cosmology, arenít we?
Vallee: Yes. In that sense, phenomenon is much more important
than visitors from another planet would be. Because it
fundamentally challenges the nature of reality. If UFOs are a
physical reality, they certainly violate everything we think we
know about reality. There are reliable reports of material UFOs
that become immaterial and disappear on the spot.
60GCAT: Your theories about UFOs and other "paranormal"
phenomena involve your metaphor of the "informational universe,"
where time and space and whatever other dimensions there might
be act as a kind of cosmic computer database. What do you mean
Vallee: You can get a consistent representation of reality if
you look at the world as a collection of events, or íinstancesí
(as the philosophy of Occasionalism did in the eleventh
century), rather than as a collection of material objects moving
in 3-dimensional space as time flows. In virtual reality, of
course, you canít tell the difference. In the real world
information and energy are actually the same physical quantity.
In a universe viewed as íinformational eventsí you should expect
coincidences, telepathy, time travel, multiple realities--all
those things that seem impossible in the 4-D energy universe.
me thatís why puzzles like UFOs are interesting. I donít have a
personal theory to "explain" them, but I see them as an
opportunity to pose new questions. If itís true that information
resides in the questions we ask, coming up with novel problems
may be more important than having answers, at this stage of our
very limited understanding of the universe.
60GCAT: So reality is like a computer database in that the right
search word or "incantation" might cause a piece of
information--a UFO or ghost or other anomaly--to materialize.
Vallee: If you think of [reality] as the software for the
universe, all it would take is for someone to change a comma in
the program and the chair you are sitting in wouldnít be a chair
at all. The major benefit from this model is that it handles
anomalies very well. Coincidences would be a normal expectation.
If you address a database with a request for anything with the
word "pool" you will get ads for sunscreen, lotions, billiard
balls and an investment prospectus or two. In parapsychology
gifted subjects may be forcing similar coincidences between
separate locations or separate minds.
One way of testing the
theory, by the way, is to create massive informational anomalies
and see what happens when they collapse. You could enhance
remote viewing experiments, for instance, by loading the site
with large quantities of data about highly unlikely events or
situations, then quickly erase that data to collapse the
60GCAT: Of course, now weíre talking about the intersection of
science and mysticism. Do you consider yourself a mystical
Vallee: I have never been comfortable with an arbitrary
separation of the world into the physical universe (which is
presumably what science studies) and the psychological, social
and psychic side of life. To me that arbitrary separation is the
major weakness of our intellectual system.
Most scientists who decide to study astronomy at an early age,
as I did, are probably motivated by something akin to a mystical
desire to understand the night sky and to embrace the larger
issues. As time goes on, of course, that desire gets eroded and
trivialized. In my case I managed to keep that curiosity fresh
because although I havenít had a "mystical" experience in a
religious sense, I have always suspected that there was another
level of consciousness and that it was accessible to the human
I have found similar feelings among many Net programmers,
who were drawn to networking by the impression of operating
outside the normal constraints of time and space, something akin
to what mystics describe, although of course much more mundane.
60GCAT: Youíve said that UFOs represent a form of alien
intelligence that is actively manipulating human society. How
and toward what end?
Vallee: A new computer analysis of historical trends, compiled
in the 1970s, led me to plot a striking graph of "waves" of UFO
activity that was anything but periodic. Fred Beckman and Dr.
Price Williams of UCLA pointed out that it resembled a schedule
of reinforcement typical of a learning or training process: the
phenomenon was more akin to a control system than to an
exploratory task force of alien travelers.
There are many
control systems around us, and some are a part of nature:
ecology, climate, etc. Some are man-made: the process of
education, the thermostat in your home. If the UFO phenomenon
represents a control system, can we test it to determine if it
is natural or artificial, open or closed? This is one of the
interesting questions about the phenomenon that has never been
Chariots of the Frauds
60GCAT: Speaking of control systems, some of your other avenues
of UFO research have led you to suggest that from time to time
human agencies--governments, cults, and other groups interested
in manipulating peopleís beliefs--have engineered UFO deceptions
and hoaxes. Now weíre really getting conspiratorial. . . .
Vallee: I think the place where ufology--the way it has
developed today--meets with my interest in communications, and
my interest in networks is in deception and manipulation. I
think that is an area of which people should be aware. Because I
think a lot of the things that are being discussed today, among
people who believe in UFOs, are either mythical or a part of
manipulation of some sort, which could include the stories of
little aliens and the hybrids and abductions and so forth.
of that may be either material that cults have injected into the
culture because it suits their own fantasy about the end of the
world or the millennium and all that.
Or, in a more sinister sense, in some of the cases Iíve
investigated, the deception hides a mind-control experiment.
Anybody who is aware of technology today should know that we
have much more than a stealth fighter flying around. We have
capabilities, theoretical or practical, to make all types of
things. There is a massive development of nonlethal platforms
going on that those platforms have to be tested somewhere, they
have to be disguised as something else from time to time.
has been massive development of RPVs--remotely piloted
vehicles--some of which are disk-shaped. There is massive
development of low observable technologies that are used for
reconnaissance and can be used for all sorts of other things.
And in many cases, the UFO stories are not simply fantasies in
the minds of a few witnesses, but may have been planted as part
of a cover for some very terrestrial technologies that we are
íMessengers of Deception?í
60GCAT: The UMMO cult, which you discuss at length in your
books, Revelations and Messengers of Deception, has an
impressive history of elaborate deception. Tell us about it.
Vallee: I think that the UMMO myth was started by a small group
of people, essentially cultists. What was intriguing about UMMO
was all its pseudo-scientific revelations [supposedly handed
down to earthling scientists like Vallee from UMMO-ites, beings
who hail from a planet 14.6 light years away from our sun]. But
these supposed revelations were not within the state of the art.
They didnít come up with proof of Fermatís theorem or something
like that, it was just perfectly good science fiction.
60GCAT: What about the French theory that UMMO was a
Vallee: Yeah, they thought that the cult had been used or was
manipulated by the KGB. Because for one thing, some of their
ideas--some of the data that was supposedly channeled from the
UMMO organization in the sky was very advanced cosmology. Very
advanced cosmology about twin universes involving some data that
was not stupid--it came straight out of the notes of Andre Sakarav, including some of the unpublished notes of Sakarav,
some things that Sakarav was known to have worked on, but had
And so some people--and I donít know whoís
right--felt that somebody had to have access to those notes, to
inspire those messages, perhaps the KGB. It wasnít just ordinary
science fiction; it was somebody who knew what some of the more
advanced cosmologists were thinking.
60GCAT: Why would the KGB or any intelligence agency perpetrate
such an arcane hoax?
Vallee: Well, let me tell you a little story. About fifteen
years ago there was a group that suddenly appeared in San
Francisco. They had a big party downtown. And they invited
everybody who was anybody in parapsychology. And they made a
little speech saying, "We have all this money from somebody who
wants to do good and help research, we know that there isnít
much money in parapsychology; we will entertain proposals for
research, give us your best ideas; we will send it to a panel
who will review it and we will fund the best research."
the party, a lot of people rushed home to their computers and
typed in all their best ideas, sent it on--but the organization
never existed, was never heard from again. Somebody was fishing.
So having a cover as a group sometimes, a completely weird
group, can be a convenient way of getting technical
intelligence. Itís a good way of doing technological assessment.
So some of those weird groups could be used for that. Now, that
doesnít explain why they would do it for ten years. In the case
of UMMO, why would you go on?
I think that UMMO became sort of a
goal in itself. It became self-propagating. because so many
people got drawn to it, psychologically. They started writing
things about each other and it became a self-sustaining myth.
Theyíre still sending me stuff. There is an index, catalogs; for
some people itís become their entire life. Increasingly, weíre
seeing those kinds of cults appearing in net space, cyberspace.
60GCAT: Is there something about online communications that
helps foster myths and deceptions?
Vallee: Because we live in a world where with communications
media based on digital networks, a small group of people can
have a tremendous impact on the belief of the masses. And we
also live in a world where the belief of the masses is a
strategic weapon. We have H-bombs but we canít use them. We have
neutron bombs, but we canít use them.
But if we found a way of
influencing the beliefs of masses of people, that would have
great strategic impact. The big problems in the world are the
problems of fundamentalism and religion--whether itís Islamic or
in other forms of religion. Those are the great destabilizing
forces in the world today. Well, belief in Extraterrestrials
coming here to save us can be induced in large masses of people
with the technical means that exist today.
The potential for contagion of absurd beliefs is a real one. In
the hands of people who might deliberately use the Internet to
create an epidemic of irrationalism we might see the emergence
of a whole new class of very dangerous, powerful cults with all
the trappings of high technology.
And I think somebody has to pay attention to that angle. So I
was led to that by finding-- I was investigating some cases that
were physically real, but were hoaxes--but not hoaxes on the
part of the witnesses. And the story about the object had in
fact been planted.
The Bentwaters case [in which American servicemen at an Air
Force base in England observed a disk-shaped craft land in the
forest] is a classic. At the landing site, they had a mix of
ordinary guards, officers, sentries and so on--they all had
orders to go to the site under a scenario. And thatís not what
would of happened if the encounter were real--if a strange
object landed on the base you wouldnít be sending out a hundred
people without weapons.
The thing has all the earmarks of being
staged for the benefit of the witnesses, so that they could be
studied and the reactions of the different psychological types
and of different ranks could be studied. And when you think
about it, itís not that weird. If you were in charge of a
project like that, youíd have to test it in conditions where
nobody is danger and you can get the data you need. In cases
like this one--not many but a few of them--that I investigated,
I had to conclude that these were tests of virtual reality
Psy-Ops from íBeyondí
60GCAT: So there might be military applications for this
technology of deception?
Vallee: Our gods have always come from the sky. And how would a
god come from the sky today? He would come down in some kind of
space ship. He couldnít just appear out of the clouds, I mean,
that wonít work. Although in World War I the Germans were using
psychological warfare by projecting photographs, slides, along
And Iím sure the French were doing the same thing
to the Germans. And there are very sophisticated devices now
being used in psychological warfare to create holograms, to
create visions to influence people. It might not work with you
and me today if we go out today and see something in the skies,
it might not destabilize us. But if we were under a lot of
stress--if youíve been fighting for a month on some little
island, and all of the sudden something like that happens--
I remember seeing a letter to the U.S. Air Force from a man who
was finally reporting something he had seen during World War II
in the Pacific. He said he was on top of a little island lookout
point. They were expecting a Japanese attack. They had been
fighting intensely on and off for several weeks. They were
fairly isolated. They saw an object in the sky that was
absolutely physical, that circled the island, was a disk, no
means of propulsion, no noise. It circled the island and went
And he said he had never reported it, not even to his wife.
The reason he didnít report it at the time was that his men were
under such stress that he wouldnít want them to think that their
commander might be flipping. So the same kind of psychological
means that wonít work with ordinary people and ordinary things
might work in exceptional cases.
60GCAT: And therefore cultists and UFO true believers--who are
under a kind of ideological stress--might be seen as ideal
targets for such manipulation.
Vallee: In some cases the UFO community may be simply used in a
sociological experiment because they are a convenient group of
people to see how they would react to different rumors. [Suppose
the government loses a nuclear weapon over a foreign country.]
You still have to go and recover that thing. And you canít tell
people what youíre doing, so you have to be able to very quickly
plant a story. You might plant a story that this was a flying
saucer from Venus.
That would be so ridiculous that scientists
wouldnít go check. You might have a few journalists there, but
you can tell them whatever you want, and you can give them
photographs of whatever. And so all you need is to distract
everybody for two or three days, time to bring the equipment,
get everything out, recover whatever was scattered and go away.
I think there are cases where exactly that has happened. And
those are sort of the great UFO stories that people still tell
But I think there was no UFO there. I think the UFO story was
invented-- I was saying earlier itís healthy to be skeptical. I
respect people who have a skeptical argument there. Jim Oberg,
who is a specialist in the Russian space program, pointed out to
me that some of the sightings that I published from the Soviet
Union--a strange yellowish crescent seen going through the sky
by many people in the Soviet Union--that those were rocket tests
that were illegal under the Salt agreement; and obviously, they
couldnít hide it in the sky. . . so the government planted the
story that there was a flying saucer, and that got into the
Again, the UFO research community is a useful laboratory in
which to observe the effects of propaganda and disinformation,
since it is driven in large part by an intent to expose "the
coverup." This creates an opportunity for people to masquerade
as good guys and "reveal" all sorts of unverifiable rumors.
meet with a receptive audience because the context is one of
"independent inquiry of original, bold, nonconformist ideas.
Does that mean we should necessarily believe the man who claims
he was in NATO intelligence and saw a classified document about
the four humanoid races that live on the moon? I donít think so.