This morning the Daily Grail published an article describing an interview that writer Red Pill Junkie had with Jacques Vallée on Friday’s Grimerica podcast, and it was an embarrassing exercise in hero worship. RPJ, in fact, wrote that “I was just too 'starstruck' and intimidated by being in the presence of such a legend, anyway” to speak to him coherently. I swear I will not understand that. What I do understand is RPJ’s claim that his views on UFOs would change when “I would start rewatching the whole series of [Star Trek:] The Next Generation, available in its entirety on the Netflix platform.” The cross-pollination of science fiction and ufology, presence from the opening moments of the UFO era, is too well established to surprise
But the importance of this interview is that it offers more information of Vallée’s claim, made recently on the Skeptico podcast, that he was in the process of testing UFO debris and that the tests had found unearthly chemical composition.
Much of the Grimerica interview was rather long and dull and discussed subjects of little interest to me. A huge chunk, for example, discusses the Fatima apparition of the Virgin Mary, and Vallée describes the various oddities and inconsistencies of the story, to no conclusion. I was rather disappointed that Vallée is still promoting the same false claims about ancient Greco-Roman accounts of UFOs he’s been hawking since the 1960s, but he added a new claim, that such accounts were written “for the Triumvirate in Rome” and therefore were more credible than “just some local Roman newspaper. This was official record of the Empire.” Tell that to Livy’s accounts of odd animal prodigies. I needn’t say that the Triumvirate (first or second) never commissioned “official” UFO records, nor were the writings of the historians, which were almost universally hostile to the emperors, “official” in any sense.
In the interview, Vallée announced his newfound belief that so-called alien implants are anomalous bodies that require scientific investigation as potential evidence of alien encounters. The so-called “implants” tested by science have routinely proved to be splinters, odd bodily deposits, and other random earthly debris. RPJ is tickled pink by the idea that Vallée has come around to embracing a claim from popular ufology, praising him for changing his mind in light of “new” evidence. By “new” he presumably means anything added to ufology after 1970. (In fact, at one point he even says that it is fair to ask what is new in ufology since 1960.)
But more important is the question of the metal slag that Vallée had tested using a mass spectrometer. According to Vallée, the chunks of magnesium slag that supposedly fell off of damaged flying saucers returned isotopic ratios inconsistent with either earthly or meteoric metals. But because he has not provided the data, we have no way of evaluating whether these isotopic ratios are truly anomalous. One of the slag samples came from Argentina. He said that the results indicated that the metal had been “reengineered” by artificially separating and recombining the isotopes in novel ratios for an unfathomable purpose.
And here is the sorry state of ufology, even when funded by a venture capitalist using expensive equipment. Rather than testing additional examples of magnesium to determine whether there are natural or human processes that alter the isotopic ratios (the Murray Island slag had gone through industrial processing, for example), or whether they had missed something in their research, Vallée instead came to conclude that space aliens have the power to synthesize metal from pure energy:
RPJ: Are you saying these results suggest we're dealing with an agency not only capable of manipulating the space-time continuum—the way you and other researchers have documented in plenty of cases— but also capable of transforming energy into matter, and vice versa?
He added that he suspects that the United States government has been covering up these alien isotopes as part of a wide-ranging effort to suppress the truth about UFOs, and he said that he “knows” that U.S. government scientists have been doing similar research about ten years in advance of where Vallée is now. Vallée and RPJ wondered together that whether the connection between Vallée’s speculative reality-manipulating extraterrestrials and ancient Gnostic religious beliefs about an evil archon manipulating reality is more than coincidental. RPJ confesses that the whole discussion was inspired by a Star Trek episode he had recently seen, and which he and Vallée apparently take for an accidental truth. The episode in question, the show’s 1987 pilot “Encounter at Farpoint,” features a giant space jellyfish, more or less, that looks like a flying saucer and can synthesize energy into matter. Since I am not a Star Trek aficionado (and was 6 when the episode aired) I’ve never seen it, but it does answer a question I guess I didn’t know I have had for 20 years. In 1996, Karl Shuker, the cryptozoologist, wrote in his book The Unexplained that he wondered if UFOs were really flying aerial jellyfish. I had long credited him with originality in that speculation, but it turns out, he was just copying from Star Trek, a franchise that in turn had long been influenced by ancient astronauts and midcentury ufology, which in turn drew on Golden Age science fiction. The interesting thing is that one could write an entire history of ufology without ever having to deal with material evidence, largely because there really isn’t much that passes for it.
I guess that’s why Vallée is interested in slag.
But I guess I am more interested in the fact that Vallée and RPJ chose to view the even the supposed physical evidence of UFOs as the transmuted alchemical endpoint of a hypothetical reality-bending being that can fuse energy into matter, and all of that as a rendering of Gnostic beliefs about the evil and falseness of the material world. Vallée doesn’t make this claim explicit, but it is the underlying theme beneath his current research. He seems to be hunting for a way out of reality, and, like so many other ancient astronaut theorists, hopes to find transcendence by looking for physical proof of spiritual hopes.
I'm an author and editor who has published on a range of topics, including archaeology, science, and horror fiction. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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