As many of you know, the editor of Paranthropology asked me to write a response to Steven Mizrach’s article on the possibility that beings from another dimension are responsible for the UFO phenomenon, the so-called Ultra-Terrestrial Hypothesis (UTH). I’ve been struggling with a couple of issues as I consider my response. The first is the disconnect between the article and Mizrach’s later posting on my website about it. The article is titled “The Case for the UTH,” and in it Mizrach says that the evidence leads him to support the UTH as “the best model, for now” to explain UFOs (p. 17); his later posting on my blog walks this back somewhat: “I only put forward the UTH as a hypothesis. Not necessarily even the best or only one, just one that could be considered for some cases.” Do I respond to the article as written, or as amended? Tentatively, I will respond to the article as written.
The other issue I’m struggling with is how to address what, for a lack of a better expression, I’d have to call the misrepresentation of textual sources. As you will recall, Mizrach selectively quoted the Condon Report of 1969 to argue that “official” science had discounted any value to studying UFOs, thereby making the “alternatives” he described three coequal hypotheses worthy of serious consideration. In fact, the Condon Report made quite clear that there was value to studying UFOs, but for the social sciences not astrophysics, engineering, or biology.
That is a fairly cut-and-dried case, but it’s more difficult in dealing with Mizrach’s primary source and inspiration, Jacques Vallee, whose work I have now read in detail and which I find to fall on a range between utterly incompetent and intentionally fictitious. I’ve already documented how Vallee has systematically manipulated ancient material to fabricate a case for prehistoric UFOs, and now that I’ve had the chance to read more of his more recent cases, I am just shocked by the utter fabrication in them.
Take this example Vallee and his coauthor Chris Aubeck present in Wonders in the Sky (2009). It concerns beings that visited Facius Cardan, father of Jerome Cardan (Gerolamo Cardano), who wrote the following (De Subtilitate, book 19) as Vallee presents it under the heading “Summoning the Aliens”:
When I had completed the customary rites, at about the 20th hour of the day, seven men duly appeared to me clothed in silken garments resembling Greek togas, and wearing, as it were, shining shoes. The undergarments beneath their glistening and ruddy breastplates seemed to be wrought of crimson and were of extraordinary glory and beauty. Nevertheless all were not dressed in this fashion, but only two who seemed of nobler rank than the others. The taller of them who was of ruddy complexion was attended by two companions, and the second, who was fairer and of shorter stature, by three. Thus in all there were seven. They were about forty years of age, but they did not appear to be about thirty. When asked who they were, they said they were men composed, as it were, of air, and subject to birth and death. It was true that their lives were much longer than ours, and might even reach to three hundred years' duration. Questioned on the immortality of our soul, they affirmed that nothing survived which is peculiar to the individual...
If it sounds familiar, it’s because I’ve written about it before, when it appeared in Jacques Bergier’s Extraterrestrial Visitations (1970). (The story is a fable created to justify the secular philosophy of Averroes, whom the beings later cite as their favorite philosopher.) I take it that Bergier copied from Vallee’s Passport to Magonia (1969), where Vallee first discussed the case and cites the same quotation, since both authors, while translating differently from the Latin, use exactly the same set of disconnected excerpts from a longer section (though Bergier omits a couple of words at the end)—with the same key omission. Here’s what these fabricating authors left out at that key ellipsis at the end of the first paragraph:
The shorter of the two leaders had three hundred disciples in a public academy, and the other, two hundred. Indeed both were in the habit of lecturing publicly.
Now that makes a pretty big difference, doesn’t it? Surely the fact that these “aliens” were seen by hundreds of people and gave public lectures (!) at a school they ran (!!) ought to have some relevance. Now we know, anyway, where alternative authors keep getting their fake degrees in Sitchin Studies or what-have-you. It’s this kind of intentional deception and malicious manipulation that makes it so very difficult to come up with a civilized, logical counter-argument to a claim that rests on, essentially, falsehoods.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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