The UFO craze has experienced a resurgence in recent months. Prominent news stories about a purported ‘government coverup’ have hit the magazines, and various documentaries about ‘sightings’ have gripped the airwaves. UFO cultists have salivated over the prospects of uncovering government secrets.
Shambhala, Tibet and the occult
To be sure, the United States is not the first country to host and elevate interest in the occult, the alien and the pseudoscientific. Nazi Germany provided resources and personnel on numerous quests to substantiate – as they saw it – white Aryan racial superiority theories, by delving into mysterious and mythical pasts. Tibet, long considered by the West a Shangri-La of mysticism and esoteric powers, provided the Nazi leadership with a target to indulge their pseudoscientific theories.
Various Aryan racial theories swirled around regarding Tibet as the ancient ancestral home of the Aryan/Germans. The 1938-39 German expedition to Tibet, reinforced the occultism preoccupation of the Nazi elite. Possessing political as well as pseudoscientific objectives, the SS personnel who visited Tibet, at the invitation of the ruling lama elite, were intent on finding rationalisations for their mystical beliefs in a long lost ancient white Aryan race.
The Nazi delegation that made it to Tibet, underscored by the SS think tank the Ahnenerbe, Ancestral Heritage, not only engaged in scientific activities while in Lhasa. They raised the Nazi swastika in Tibet, hoping to detach the latter from China, and use that territory as a base to threaten British-occupied India. The Nazi delegation collected botanical samples, measured the skulls of the indigenous Tibetans, took in the esoteric myths of Tibetan culture, and never lost sight of the underlying Aryan pseudoarchaeology of their mission.
The Nazi leadership never found the remnants of the mythical lost race up there in the Tibetan plateau. What we can see here is the interplay of quasi-scientific elements with political and economic objectives, and access to media channels, and the pseudoscience spreads. No, UFologists are not neo-Nazis, but belief in the occult and paranormal becomes a danger to society when it is supported by powerful economic and political interests.
The Pentagon and UFOs
Over the last few months, there has been a renewed frenzy regarding UFOs – or to use the new term Unidentified Aerial Phenomena (UAP). The CIA released a trove of archival material detailing the Pentagon’s projects to research psychic phenomena, and whether UFOs represent a national security threat. Billions of dollars has been spent, such as on Operation Stargate, to evaluate the veracity, if any, of using paranormal powers to spy on hostile powers. No evidentiary basis has ever been found for alien spacecraft or psychic abilities, but this has not stopped the UFO conspiracy theorists from screaming vindication. Project Stargate ended in failure.
This is not the first instance of the US government declassifying materials on its secretive and expensive forays into the paranormal and UFO subjects. Back in 2018, the federal authorities released information on their multibillion dollar projects, such as the Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program (AATIP), to hunt down UFOs and alien beings. After all that research and funding, the project was terminated – but not before UFO cultists went mad claiming that the US government endorsed their views.
What has occurred is that the same UFOlogists and billionaire advocates of alien astronauts have carried out successful PR campaigns to legitimate their pseudoscientific theories. For instance, billionaire pseudoscientist and UFO cultists Robert Bigelow, has put considerable amounts of money into new ‘think tanks’ dedicated to promoting UFology. Coupled with heavyweight political supporters, the UFologists have been able to spread their views far and wide.
American physicist and paranormal advocate Harold ‘Hal’ Puthoff, a military contractor, helped to platform pseudoscientific views about the occult and UFOs. Using his finances and connections, he has built various science ‘discovery’ institutes dedicated to exploring the mystical side. Skinwalker Ranch, a site of purported UFO activity, has been purchased by alien enthusiasts over the years. The name refers to a Navajo story of a demonic shapeshifter that transforms from humanoid to animalistic form, thus melding myths from differing cultures.
The US government’s embrace of the occult has provided a springboard for the proliferation of pseudoscientific theories and alien astronaut preoccupations. Weaponising psychic powers was the original underlying motivation; investing in the paranormal has given rise to a Frankenstein monster of pseudoscientific myths that infiltrate the general public.
We are all familiar with the impact of Lysenkoism on Soviet genetics; American writers have long been selectively enthusiastic about empirical veracity and the destiny of science in ‘official enemy’ nations. It is time to apply that passion for the fate of science to our own societies as well.
The commingling of UFology, the occult and the paranormal may seem like harmless fun – until we realise that the interconnected threats of climate change, the pandemic, ecological destruction and white supremacy require our urgent attention, and we cannot afford the diversion of our resources to fruitless pursuits.