UFO Conjectures

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Jung was right....for a while

Most of you are familiar with Carl Jung’s book, Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Sky.
In it, Jung , on page 131 of the (paperback) Bollingen  Series [Princeton University Press, 1978/1991], writes “ … in spite of the interest I have taken in the subject [UFOs] since about 1946 …”

1946?  What UFO (or flying saucer) accounts were extant in 1946? The “Ghost Rockets” reported over Sweden? (Jung lived in Switzerland.)

Then he offers “ … but I have found it impossible to determine even approximately the nature of these observations. So far only one thing is certain: it is not just a rumour, something is seen.” [Italics his]

This counters Zoam Chomsky’s “null hypothesis” argument that UFOs do not exist and never have, but then Jung provides this:

UFOs are psychical projections, a manifestation of the mandala, an “individuation” symbol, that derives from a myth, and is an unconscious archetype. [Pages 20/23]

This gives sustenance to French skeptic Gilles Fernandez, who insists that UFOs are mythic, aberrant cognition by “witnesses.”

Gilles may be right.

At the end of the 19th Century, time when great composers, artists, and writers were dying off, and culture was heading into an anxiety-ridden era – European upheaval, leading to World War I, and the vicissitudes of the Industrial Revolution – (matters that Jung addressed in his Modern Man in Search of a Soul, 1933, Civilization in Transition, 1970, and Man and His Symbols, posthumous), flying saucers were not a prominent feature of societal life.
It wasn’t until World War II and its atomic aftermath that flying saucers/UFOs came to prominence, as a paranoidal observation (perhaps), in the psychological genre that Jung advocated in his book: hallucinatory events brought on by the neurotic anxieties of the time.

When The Cold War ended (or seemed to), UFOs began to be diminutive in scope, which accounts for the lack of observations, which were once a kind of norm.

Now, UFOs are rarely witnessed, compared to the 1947-1970s heyday, and interest in them is paltry by any account.

Human anxiety is different in the 21st Century. Terrorist attacks and the economy present the current societal angst, not the total annihilation of humanity.

Jung was correct for the times his book covered. The UFO myth is no longer fecund, dying actually, and only the remnant inhabitants of the Cold War era keep the myth alive, but barely so.


  • Hey Rich,

    Jung, nice, you seem to feature all my favourites here : ) (OK, if you start to talk about Samuel Beckett, Jorge Luis Borges or J.G. Ballard then I´ll get nervous...)
    But seriously, I just started wondering that as people (obviously?) don´t see that much UFOs today, then what are they seeing? I really can´t believe that today we experience weird things less than before, they must´ve just changed their form...?
    And I think it´s a very good question how do the global politics affect the UFO sightings...there we´re a lot in the fifties, right? And today, hmm?
    Let´s keep wondering...


    By Blogger Jerry Cornelius, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • aberrant cognition by “witnesses.”

    Hmm, I have never used such words in my article.

    A contrario, I think that the witnesses of the 1896/97 wave have a perfectly logic cognition, because & due to the airships prevailing culture. This culture provides them an interpretation grid for the things in the sky they do not recognize.

    You may decline this to the UFO modern myth, I think..



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • Semantics aside, Gilles, how can a misinterpretation of something seen in the sky, no matter what the cultural milieu, be called logical?

    Either the observation is real or aberrant.

    As a cognitive psychologist you are mincing words for the witnesses and their pathological behavior (erratic observation).

    "perfectly logic cognition" you write. If that's the case, then their interpretation has to be valid: an airship.

    You're not saying that are you?

    Somehow I find your interpretation (explanation) flawed, or is it a matter of my not understanding your evaluation because of your "problems" with English or my not understanding your French?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • So Jung (and apparently Gilles) believes that UFOs are (only) "psychical projections" and not hardware (physical objects) that have an existence independent and apart from human perception. I wonder if Jung would have maintained that view given the hundreds of physical trace cases and radar data which has acculated over the last 40 years...which was unavailable to him when he wrote his UFO speculations. Was he an empiricist in any scientific sense?

    By Blogger Dominick, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • It's a bit more complicated than that, Dominick.

    One can argue the UFO trace cases and radar signals. They are not definitive by a long shot.

    As indicated by the quote I made sure to include in my post, Jung wrote that something real was seen, so he's a bit agnostic about his psychic viewpoint.

    You want UFOs to be real. They may not be, although something has been witnessed by a lot of people.

    One has to keep an open mind, about all the possibilities to explain UFO reports, even Zoam Chomsky's null hypothesis.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • We should keep open minds...but not so open that our brains fall out. I think that it is not rationally possible to agrue that there is not a physical component to the UFO mystery. I am perfectly willing to grant that 98% of all UFO reports are unreliable observations or misidentifications of terristeral or natural phenomena. Therefore, I agree with Jung that someTHING is seen. But 2% are truely troubling observations or measurements of someTHING with no obvious explanation. I want UFOs to be real? Nonsense. What I want is a reasonable explanation for that mysterious 2%. I think that both you and I agree that AI may be that reasonable explanation. And that is a reality based, not touch-feely, explanation which I can accept as a tentative hypothesis that awaits further empirical confirmation.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Wednesday, November 30, 2016  

  • Hello Rich,

    Well, logical, in the sens how our brain/cognition works facing ambiguous, rapid, unknown, etc. stimuli: our brain makes "unconscious inferences" sometimes based on pre-existing knowledge/information/expectation.

    Optical illusions have "logical" explanations (or hypothesis because we know not all about) as you well know (for example, physiological ones because excessive saturation by a color, brightness, etc. afterimage, aftereffect, etc. ; or biological cause the bio of our visual system.

    For example (illustration purpose), you may believe it is aberrant that despite a guy is watching a stationary pinpoint of light in the dark/night, ie a star, he will describe you it was in movement. Does it mean he is crazy or he have pathological problems? No.

    Of course, it is here the autokinetic effect, but it is "logical" in the sens one’s eye muscles became "fatigued", causing a slight eye movement: but because you have no points of reference, the movement/capture the image on the retina is perceived as if an actual movement in space. You have autostasis too, which is the inverse (despite a stimulus in movement, you will describe it was stationary at one moment).

    It is what I meant by "logic", aka they came not ex-nihilo or are not so aberrant in fact, but are or may be explained by how our cognition works.
    So, for our purpose, I find logic that (I summarize, it is a little more complex) if newspapers give/flood a population many images of airships, explain that patents are deposited, are explaining you how it will be a revolution concerning travel (domestic or exploration), are teasing that some tests and flights soon in your area (California ie), people "watch" the sky (consciously or by hasard), and an ambiguous stimulus (ie Venus) is then believed and reported as "I see an airship".

    Newspapers report such sightings to their readers and the "contamination" continues (mass delusion).

    I hope you understand better why I used the word "logic/logical".



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, December 01, 2016  

  • Thank you Gilles...

    I think I get it, now.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, December 01, 2016  

  • So Jung (and apparently Gilles) believes that UFOs are (only) "psychical projections" and not hardware (physical objects) that have an existence independent and apart from human perception.

    Hello Dominick,

    I prefer the terms coined by French "new ufologists school", because, in general, there is a or there are several physical stimuli under UFO reports/sightings.

    I quote again my article about the 1896/97 UFO wave:

    "What may explain cognitively what is happening here?

    Projective Transformation: The witness is seeing elements in line with his own "expectations" and is altering the characteristics of the stimulus during the perception. (Such information processing strategies are called in cognitive psychology, top-down processing versus bottom-up processing) or concept-driven processing (versus data-driven processing). It is well known that our knowledge and our culture influence what we perceive in the environment, and influence the retrieval and the recall of the event (by memory processes). Stored information from different sources can therefore complement, anticipate or replace what we see, mainly when the stimulus is not recognized as a "world element" because it’s too ambiguous, too fast, unknown, etc.
    Some witnesses then "saucerize" the stimulus and ufologists jump on these tales.
    During a UFO wave, for example, a witness is encouraged to watch the sky, and will add a detail or details that create the structure of an observed but not identified stimulus (prosaic/conventional stimulus in reality) in the likeness of a UFO broadcast by the media (see below).

    Projective Elaboration: The witness gradually develops a "cultural romance" during perception, adorned with many subjective and false memories (see below). A witness will evoke illusory physical interference of the UFO with the environment, providing psychological and/or physiological effects, an amalgamation of disparate elements close in time and space of the sighting, but having no relation between them in reality.

    In other words in the case of the 1896/97 airship wave, did the witnesses project their conscious or unconscious prevailing or surrounding knowledge of airships on another observed object, transforming it into something that looks less and less like the actual stimulus, and much more in line with expectations of airships?

    Dunno if it helps to precise "my" view.



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, December 01, 2016  

  • Our Buddy Dom says, "What I want is a reasonable explanation for that mysterious 2%."

    The obvious explanation is that there's no reason to think that the 2% is in any way different from the 98%. So there is no mystery, Dom, there never was. Insisting that there is--despite the utter lack of veracious physical evidence of any kind of true unknown after a century of reports of everything from airships, ghost ballons and rockets, flying saucers, orbs and triangles--only exhibits belief in what is known to be a popular-culture myth.

    And appealing in a general way to "hundreds of physical trace and radar" cases is an example of the fairy-tale factor in "UFO" advocate reasoning: Some bit of truth lies behind the mystery, but it's all long ago and faraway. Like Airship mania, that's just more wishful thinking.

    The truth is that if we investigated every one of those cases we'd find nothing more than what we have already, unsubstantiated and utterly inconsequential stories and ambiguous and ultimately inconclusive bits of mundane things: The 2% is no different than the 98%. Life is short. Who's going to waste their life chasing down every bit of "UFO" minutiae until they finally exhaust it and are convinced there's really nothing to any of it and never was?

    Here's one for you, Dom: A famous science writer and great skeptic who was an adult in 1947 told me that as soon as he read Ken Arnold's story in the news he knew it was a hoax, period. Guffaw! Knee Slap! Tell me another!

    Or as he was fond of saying, "Baloney!"

    That's the only reality this myth and social delusion has ever known.

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, December 03, 2016  

  • Gilles

    I think the biggest question is why the 1896/97 -airwave experiencers told about airships, not about angels, elves or monsters? They did experience the thing basically as an UFO contact, why? Just wondering...


    By Blogger Jerry Cornelius, at Sunday, December 04, 2016  

  • You've read Gilles' exegesis of the airship sightings, right, Jerry?


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, December 04, 2016  

  • Hello Jerry,

    "I think the biggest question is why the 1896/97 -airwave experiencers told about airships, not about angels, elves or monsters?"
    Sorry to be late, I'm just discovering your comment.

    I think "my" article replies or tries to reply to this (or here in short in this thread): My article pointed how the very same newspapers which will report/nourish the wave, previously gave/"flooded" their readers with airship imagery.

    They posted/teased that patents were deposed, that tests or flights are on the way or ready to be realized (in "your area" aka California were the "wave" will start, they exposed how airship will be a revolution for travels, exploration or warfare.

    People "watch" the sky (consciously or by hasard), and an ambiguous stimulus (ie Venus) is then believed and reported as "I see an airship" because SOME people full of "expectations and flooded by airship imagery".

    Because "airship" were a "big" subjects/thema in the newspaper, it is natural as expected, the very same newspapers will report such sightings.

    You have then here a powefull "feedbacks loop" aka the action in return of an effect on its own cause: the sequence of causes and effects thus forms a loop we/I may call a feedback loop, having, at the top level, a system with a feedback loop acts on itself.

    Hoping it is replying a little to your interesting question, or at least, my point of view.



    By Blogger Gilles Fernandez, at Thursday, December 08, 2016  

  • Gilles,

    yes, I read your article and I thought it was great, thanks!
    "People "watch" the sky (consciously or by hasard), and an ambiguous stimulus (ie Venus) is then believed and reported as "I see an airship" because SOME people full of "expectations and flooded by airship imagery"." Yes, that´s what I was thinking about. Like, today, the typical explanation for the lights in the sky is an extraterrestrial vehicle. Why? And your point of "feedback loops" is great, I think that´s really what´s going on, we see/experience what we expect to see.


    By Blogger Jerry Cornelius, at Friday, December 09, 2016  

  • "why the 1896/97 -airwave experiencers told about airships"

    Hi Jerry! As Gilles says:

    Illustrated science-fiction novels published as serials and sold on newsstands had depicted flying machines of various types for two decades before the Great Airship mania of 1896-97. They were generally flying steamships, sailing ships, submarines, or rocket-ships; and they sported paddlewheels, propellers, wings, sails, balloons, rudders, anchors, arc lamps, and headlights or any improbable combination of those.

    After the Sacramento Evening Bee hoax these odd images came to life in the minds of entirely predisposed and credulous observers. They reported seeing a headlight followed by a shadowy boat-like shape; they reported hearing motors and the voices of crews shouting commands--all completely imaginary.

    Reports of encounters with the pilots and passengers of landed airships consisted of generally friendly conversations with human English-speaking wizard-inventors and their assistants, some were naval crews, some were explorers, a few claimed to be from Mars. With a few exceptions they were uniformly human--all products of the imagination, suggested by science fictions and newspaper hoaxes of the time.

    Here's a typical example:

    By Blogger zoamchomsky, at Saturday, December 10, 2016  

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