New York Times Writer: UFO Skepticism Destroys "Euphoria" of Believing in Aliens
I had one of those weird moments this morning that shades into disturbing. This morning at the grocery store a man I have never met walked up to me and asked, “Did you attend Ithaca College?” He told me that the reason that he asked is that he attended a conference there, and the school showed him pictures of its former students, in which he saw me. “I’m usually pretty good with faces,” he said, indicating that he recognized me from a 15-year-old photograph. I’m not sure whether it’s stranger that Ithaca College is using pictures of me (without my knowledge) or that even with different glasses and beneath a scarf and winter hat I’m that recognizable.
Recently, the New York Times ran a lengthy piece by Raquel Cepeda, a journalist best known for covering the hip hop industry, about her UFO vacation. Cepeda and her husband, hip hop journalist Sacha Jenkins, are huge fans of Ancient Aliens, so for their fifth wedding anniversary they decided to seek out a “spiritual” connection to ancient aliens and UFOs, which they did not necessarily believe in but were open to the possibility. What makes this piece especially interesting is that Cepeda is a Dominican-American Latina, while Jenkins is a Black Haitian-American—two ethnic groups whose experience with UFO culture and the ancient astronaut theory is rarely given prominent display.
Cepeda wrote that she and Jenkins consider Ancient Aliens a “guilty pleasure,” and in her piece she pretends not to know Giorgio Tsoukalos’s name, describing him only as a “talking head with the a tousled mane.” During a commercial break in the show, she and her husband formed a plan, one based on New Age fringe ideas:
And I knew from researching the region and from indigenous-American folklore that Arizona was considered by many to be an ethereal place, a spiritual vortex if you will. We would be exploring the world beyond our perception — terrestrial and astral — but essentially discarding cynicism to focus on a belief system that sounds as fantastic as the idea that soul mates actually exist. Not a bad way to mark an anniversary.
Therefore, the pair traveled to Sedona, Arizona, to take the Sedona UFO Sky Tour with professional UFO contactee Kim Carlsberg, whom Cepeda doesn’t tell readers is also a former guest on Ancient Aliens. Carlsberg claims that while working as a photographer on the TV series Baywatch she began to be abducted by aliens two or three times per week for eight years, and that the military also taps her phones and routinely abducts her to suppress the truth. She claims to have given birth to a hybrid alien child who visits her in her sleep. His name is Qual. As a result of her experiences, she claims to have formed a new worldview at odds with the “mainstream.”
Carlsberg guarantees that those who take her tour will see UFOs, for a minimum payment of $90. That seems pretty steep for standing out in the desert for two hours, but it includes the ability to look at the sky through Cepeda’s military-grade night vision goggles.
Cepeda and Jenkins arrived for Carlsberg’s tour, and they were joined by a man who called himself Jude and babbled endlessly about aliens and his journey as a believer. I think we’ve all met one of those people, who are all too common in fringe circles. During their adventure, Cepeda claims that she saw forty UFOs in two hours, and that she became “swept up in the sense of euphoria that came with abandoning doubt.” She claims that none of these lights was a plane, or satellite, or drone—but she also admits that as a longtime resident of light-polluted New York City, she hadn’t seen dark night sky to know what was up there. For her, the experience wasn’t about meeting aliens—which, by rights, ought to be at least as terrifying as meeting a lion or a bear—but about spirituality, in which lights in the sky are the physical manifestation of the New Age:
There we were, just four of us there, necks craned, hoping to catch a glimpse of what might lie beyond our planet in this vast world. You had to open yourself to the ludicrous, be a fool, so to speak, to have faith, in life and in love.
She is here alluding to 1 Corinthians 4:10, in which St. Paul writes ironically that he and the Apostles are “fools in Christ,” against the false sophistication of the Corinthians. Cepeda notes, too, that she and her husband—journalists both—refused to look for other, scientific explanations for what they saw that night because “that would have seemed a surrender to skepticism.” In short, they wanted to have a spiritual experience, one that connected them to the cosmos, to indigenous cultures, and to an alternative to the mainstream; and they purposely chose ignorance to preserve what even they suspected was a mere illusion.
If you’ve read this far, you probably noticed that in her piece, Cepeda equated “doubt,” “skepticism,” and “cynicism” and set all of them in opposition to the “euphoria” and joy of believing. It is, frankly, astounding to hear a journalist make such claims, particularly though the claim that the search for truth destroys joy, for ignorance is bliss.
It is not the most ringing endorsement of UFO culture, but probably a true one.
1/3/2015 02:53:13 am
I didn't know the southwest was quixotic.
1/3/2015 03:12:55 am
something amusing to curl up on the sofa with
1/3/2015 03:28:13 am
A bit paranoid and narcissistic in the beginning. A man-in-black, right?
1/3/2015 03:47:23 am
I, too, have looked up and the night sky and wondered if we are alone. I don't believe that we are, but I don't believe that aliens (either recent or ancient) have ever visited. I wouldn't pay some huskster ninety dollars or even ninety cents to have an experience that is free to all.
1/3/2015 03:57:14 am
1/3/2015 04:10:44 am
William Emmette Coleman, “The Sources of Madame Blavatsky's Writings” (in Vsevolod Sergeevich Solov'ev, A Modern Priestess of Isis, 1895)
1/3/2015 08:43:42 am
she actually has an interesting Twitter page.
1/6/2015 03:13:51 pm
The myth of "cultural appropriation" is about as big a hoax as UFOs. Normal people just call it "culture".
1/6/2015 05:11:44 pm
Normally, I'd agree. But spookyparadigm actually used the term properly.
1/3/2015 05:27:52 am
Too bad they didn't take the time to explore some of the cool stuff, plants/animals, that actually exist in the desert.
1/5/2015 10:55:00 am
Irritated, I agree with you. I would much rather have a 'spiritual' moment with any living creature or plant,etc.
1/3/2015 05:32:17 am
"I’m not sure whether it’s stranger that Ithaca College is using pictures of me (without my knowledge) or that even with different glasses and beneath a scarf and winter hat I’m that recognizable."
1/3/2015 05:40:50 am
If Jason was a wooist, that could easily have become a MIB story.
1/3/2015 05:42:53 am
It already is, according to one hostile comment above.
1/3/2015 06:10:40 am
Ah, yes, of course.
1/3/2015 06:23:56 am
1/3/2015 06:09:02 am
“We would be exploring the world beyond our perception”
1/3/2015 07:09:51 am
Ahhhh yes, Uncle Ron, now you have dredged up memories of my younger years. The cost of my "euphoria" back then was $10 a "lid". I once picked up a pound for $100. My friends and I enjoyed many nights of euphoric bliss from that purchase, but I never saw a UFO or an alien.
1/3/2015 08:22:36 am
Must not have been very good stuff .
1/3/2015 08:38:29 am
Oh, but it was, at least it did the job for me. Keep in mind I am talking about the late 60's - early 70's in Phoenix, AZ. Back then my '68 'Vette that I purchased off the showroom floor only cost me $4800.
1/11/2015 12:44:32 pm
Maybe you forgot to play the 17 minute version of Iron Butterfly's Inna-gadda-da-vida on the record player while you were toking up. That always works for me!
1/3/2015 07:21:25 am
"If you’ve read this far, you probably noticed that in her piece, Cepeda equated “doubt,” “skepticism,” and “cynicism” and set all of them in opposition to the “euphoria” and joy of believing. It is, frankly, astounding to hear a journalist make such claims, particularly though the claim that the search for truth destroys joy, for ignorance is bliss."
1/3/2015 07:46:03 am
The person in the store could heave easily checked your pages and googled the college directory. It could even be one of SW's trolls.
1/3/2015 01:30:35 pm
I hadn't thought of the possible X-Files/BEK thing. I think one would still want to look at the ubiquity of Grays at that time in paranormal media, but that's interesting.
1/3/2015 07:47:56 am
Fools in Christ and fools for false Prophets are two different things.
K-Mart does layaways
1/3/2015 07:48:11 am
200 tourists = price of a FLIR?
1/3/2015 08:58:36 am
we took her tour last year, we live in AZ and have very open minds but it was beyond lame. Just a weird chick with 2 or 3 pairs of binocs with night vision for 5 or 6 people. We saw many, many satellites. The night sky was truly enough of a phenom. We left after an hour, sitting in cheap lawn chairs, not enough binocs to go around. Just a bizarre chick. In my opinion a complete hoax, I don't even thinks she believes it herself. Nice enough person, just vague.
bored of polemics
1/3/2015 11:19:46 am
Yep, these are devastating bores in real life.
12/29/2015 09:58:31 pm
Has the New York Times reported Steven Greer's research into UFO's? The government cover up of UFO's in all the news that is fit to print. I searched and only found your one article. Where is NY times when we need truth?
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