He went on to describe other instances of people who had spiritual encounters with owls, including a woman named Louise who had frequently seen UFOs, and around the time she was diagnosed with cancer she saw an owl and later dreamed of meeting an angel. The author means for us to interpret the collection of events as evidence that spiritual beings or space aliens intervened to ensure Louise would survive cancer, but the author provides nothing to support the implication. But Clelland feels that this is OK because he believes that the UFO-owl enigma exists outside of “the tidy box of logic.”
Someone approaching this material from a logical and rational perspective would start by questioning whether there is truly any connection between owls and UFOs beyond the suggestion that fantasy-prone individuals are more likely to ascribe supernatural motives to ambiguous events. But Clelland feels that this is too limiting an approach because it denies the idea that there is a meaningful force managing all of the world’s coincidences—synchronicity. This is itself a fallacy, one that misunderstands the fact that unusual coincidences are inevitable given the sheer volume of events that occur each and every day. There is a force that imposes meaning on them, but all measureable evidence indicates that it is the observer’s mind that creates that meaning.
What, however, was most enlightening is Clelland’s confession that UFOs are not for him a scientific question but a spiritual one, an inward-focused fetish object for meditating on one’s own place in the universe and connection to the supernatural. Note the implicit equivalence of spirituality with UFO investigation in this passage:
I have a friend who meditates, goes to spiritual retreats, has a guru and all that stuff. When we talk we both really get into it. We’ll push each other, struggling to articulate elusive metaphysical concepts, and the conversation ends up getting deeper and deeper. We fall into a kind of spiritual one-upmanship, and at some point he’ll get all frustrated and tell me, “I can’t believe you don’t meditate!” And I’ll snap back, “I can’t believe you don’t read UFO books!”
But to conclude today, I thought I’d mention news on a somewhat different subject. Many of you will remember TV producer Kevin Burns as the force behind such wretched stink bombs as Ancient Aliens, In Search of Aliens, America’s Book of Secrets, and The Curse of Oak Island. Burns is now overseeing a new comic book series that is adapting two unproduced scripts for the 1960s Lost in Space TV series. (He wrote the 1998 TV movie about the series, Lost in Space Forever.) I certainly don’t begrudge Burns his fun in branching out to adapting TV for comics, but it’s worth pointing out that Burns’s TV production and writing career shows the same kind of close interweaving of interests in fantasy, science fiction, horror, and pseudoscience that tends to predispose people to accepting the ancient astronaut theory. Burns has written, directed, or produced documentaries about Star Wars, superheroes, Universal horror monsters, (fictional) aliens, science fiction and horror movies, and (in another vein) trashy reality shows. Ancient Aliens and his other History conspiracy shows rather stand out on his list unless one thinks of them as an extension of the science fiction and fantasy world, or a reality show disguised as a documentary. I have no idea whether Burns actually believes the crap he foists onto viewers—anyone who would pass off Kendra on Top as “reality” or “television” certainly has a loose definition of both—but it’s always interesting to see how the ancient astronaut theory seems inseparable from science fiction and horror.