Tuesday, December 20, 2005

2005 Ufological Top 10 - #7 The "Return" of Jacques Vallee

An event that slipped under many people's radar was the appearance of Dr. Jacques Vallee at the UFOs: The Full Spectrum Conference, held from December 1st to the 3rd in Virginia Beach, where he gave a presentation entitled "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena: Beyond the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis."

This came as a surprise to many because for years Vallee has shied away from public appearances, preferring to work behind the scenes. Why? Because he offered a critique of the ETH, and a different possible theory to explain the UFO phenomenon - two things that, in the world of American ufology at least, mark you as an outsider, or, as Vallee called it, a "heretic amongst heretics."

In 1990, he provided a concise statement of his reasons in for this switch in "Five Arguments Against the Extraterrestrial Origin of Unidentified Flying Objects," in the Journal of Scientific Exploration:

"Scientific opinion has generally followed public opinion in the belief that unidentified flying objects either do not exist (the "natural phenomena hypothesis") or, if they do, must represent evidence of a visitation by some advanced race of space travelers (the extraterrestrial hypothesis or "ETH"). It is the view of the author that research on UFOs need not be restricted to these two alternatives. On the contrary, the accumulated data base exhibits several patterns tending to indicate that UFOs are real, represent a previously unrecognized phenomenon, and that the facts do not support the common concept of "space visitors." Five specific arguments articulated here contradict the ETH:

(1) unexplained close encounters are far more numerous than required for any physical survey of the earth;
(2) the humanoid body structure of the alleged "aliens" is not likely to have originated on another planet and is not biologically adapted to space travel;
(3) the reported behavior in thousands of abduction reports contradicts the hypothesis of genetic or scientific experimentation on humans by an advanced race;
(4) the extension of the phenomenon throughout recorded human history demonstrates that UFOs are not a contemporary phenomenon; and
(5) the apparent ability of UFOs to manipulate space and time suggests radically different and richer alternatives."

Is Vallee right? Who knows? I find his theories intriguing, but, like the ETH (which I still tend to favour, among all of the non-mundane explanations on offer), unproved. Still, ufology has suffered from his absence on the public stage. In my list of the Top 10 ufologists of all time, I ranked Vallee at #1. I wrote:

"A respected scientist (he has an MS in astrophysics and a Ph.D in computer science), Vallee is unquestionably Ufology's "deep thinker," i.e. one of the few ufologists to consider the more existential aspects of the phenomenon, and possibilities beyond the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), of which he was initially a supporter... Vallee is often at odds with die-hard ETH proponents, particularly in the United States, and as a result has largely withdrawn from the public realm of ufology, even as he continues his work in private."

His appearance at the Full Spectrum Conference is a welcome development, especially if it portends further public appearances by Vallee in 2006. His presence in ufology adds much needed credibility to the study of the UFO phenomenon, and he provides a serious alternative theory to the ETH that is worthy of discussion and debate.

Paul Kimball


William said...

It's sad that I didn't realize this conference was going on in my own back yard!



Paul Kimball said...


It would have been worth it just to see the leading proponent of the ETH, Stan Friedman, sharing a stage (and, I'm told, dinner) with the leading proponent of the EDH.

Not to mention the fact that the weather was probably better in VB than it was here in Halifax!


wrathful manjushri said...

online audio or video of his talk would make a nice christmas present.

Paul Kimball said...


That would be nice, but I suspect - and certainly would understand - that the conference organizers would be selling copies of the lectures, as most do these days, as opposed to distributing it for free, and then using the sales to off-set the costs of actually running the conference. If they do so, I would buy a copy. :-)

The Odd Emperor said...

If I were of a fannish bent (which I’m not) I would be a big fan of Dr, Vallee, I’ve read most of his stuff (including Fastwalker which, as an ex-military type—I must say it confused me profoundly.) Vallee seems to have come closest to understanding this strange subject. He’s not part of the UFOlogy circus (at least not in the US) and he allows the data to drive his conclusions, very rare bird indeed!

Unfortunately, most of his suppositions do not qualify as theories (they are not verifiable or falsifiable.) The idea of extra-spatial encounters with things that only partially exist in our realm is very intriguing and happens to fit the reports. But how do you study stuff that literally does not exist (not in a way we understand or *may be capable of understanding.*)

It’s almost anti-scientific because it so overwhelmingly complicates the field. Maybe that’s why I like him!

Isaac Koi said...

Hi Paul,

In relation to the possibility of obtaining tapes of the conference, I note that the website at the link below states : "Tapes and cds of most conferences are sold at the ARE by calling 1-800-333-4499".


Wishing you a Merry Christmas,

Isaac Koi

Paul Kimball said...


Thanks for the info, and Merry Christmas to you, too!


mndoc said...

Thanks Paul for letting the world know that Dr Vallee is still actively involved in this endeavor. I've been looking for any indication that he's been active and I found your comments helpful. Jacques Vallee is one of the very few in this area that truly thinks "outside the box". New knowledge is unlikely to come from neither the debunkers nor the true believers, but rather from those who dare to consider new paradigms. Have a great New Year. Great blog, by the way....

Paul Kimball said...


You wrote:

"New knowledge is unlikely to come from neither the debunkers nor the true believers, but rather from those who dare to consider new paradigms."

I agree - to a point. The "new paradigm" to me is really just the old paradigm of reasonable skepticism (as opposed to debunkerism), and good, solid research. It isn't "sexy," but real science, and real history, and real research, seldom is.

Thanks for stopping by - much obliged for the kind words! :-)