Undergirding the UFO movement is a spiritual longing for immortality, and increasingly, the advocates of UFO research are making no show of even pretending otherwise. In a new article for Edge Science, expanded from passages in Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, Colm Kelleher tries and fails to argue that visitors to Skinwalker Ranch, especially “disrespectful” ones, attract poltergeists that follow them home and then infect their family and friends, until they meet people who don’t believe in them, at which point they apparently stop spreading their blue orbs and werewolves. Leaving aside the obvious failures of logic—it’s no surprise to anyone who studies paranormal experiences that impressionable teenagers and fantasy-prone adult believers are the ones seeing these orbs and mistaking coyotes for werewolves, and there is no way to measure whether an alleged ghost came from Skinwalker Ranch or was already haunting someone’s home, ignored until panic triggered perception—the real takeaway is that Kelleher is actually looking to use the paranormal to overturn materialism and thus argue, implicitly, for the survival of the soul after death.
The proposal that consciousness is “prime” and actually undergirds physical reality and is not emergent from neurochemical trafficking in the brain is fundamental to this new viewpoint. One implication of the new perspective on human consciousness is that the brain may act as a “filter” of consciousness, as proposed by Aldous Huxley.
Underneath the scientific babble, the proposal is rather radical, and radically old—eighteenth and nineteenth century (ontological) idealism, that all reality is a mental construct or a spiritual reality of which the material plane is an illusion. It is no coincidence that idealism rose and fell in tandem with is baser paranormal parallel, Spiritualism. Thus, at root, the hunt for evidence of the paranormal becomes an effort to reimagine the world in a way that denies death and provides a way to legitimate the heavenly promise of religion in the idiom of science. It is a return to the nineteenth century—which, frankly—is an overriding theme across those who dissent from reality.
Kelleher falls on the more mystical end of the spectrum, but Avi Loeb’s mechanical immortality is cut from the same cloth, albeit in an inverted way. Where the Bigelow crew, such as Kelleher, want to raise themselves to the ranks of the immortals, Loeb hates humans and wants to degrade humanity and imagine our replacement with a better, mechanical immortal species more deserving of divinity. In a new blog post, Loeb reacts to headlines falsely claiming that Google artificial intelligence chat bot has achieved sentience and fantasizes that space aliens are visiting Earth to monitor and bond with our A.I. systems.
We tend to imagine extraterrestrial intelligence superior to ours, but in fact — our own AI systems might supersede us. If they end up being more effective than humans at identifying smarter kids on our cosmic block, we would watch them with awe but with limited ability to comprehend how they mastered that talent. In the long arc of historical progress, we might be remembered as the agency that emerged from random chemical processes on Earth and gave rise to AI systems that took over the reign of our cosmic destiny.
But, it’s probably worth noting that our foremost public advocate of cosmic intellectual masochism is projecting his own relationship with his father onto his longing to find sky parents. He literally compares UFO-AI speculation to his weird relationship with his father:
During a conference in celebration of my 60th birthday last week, I confessed that throughout my life I exchanged very few words with my father. The reasons were simple: he was generous and we understood each other without words. Communication based on kinship often transcends the barrier of language.
Apparently, he hopes for omniscient aliens that will teach us “the meaning of life” wordlessly because he is still looking for another daddy in the stars.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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