Dr. Jacques Vallee, a French-American computer specialist with a background in astrophysics, once served as consultant to NASA’s Mars Map project.

Jacques Vallee is one of ufology’s major figures – and also its most original thinker.

Vallee, who holds a master’s degree in astrophysics and a Ph.D. in computer science from Northwestern University, was an early scientific proponent of the theory that UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships. His first book, Anatomy of a Phenomenon (Henry Regnery, 1965), argued eloquently that “through UFO activity … the contours of an amazingly complex intelligent life beyond the earth can already be discerned.” In Challenge to Science – The UFO Enigma (Regnery, 1966) he and Janine Vallee (who is a psychologist by training, with a master’s degree from the University of Paris) urged the scientific community to consider the UFO evidence in this light.

But by 1969, when he published Passport to Magonia (Regnery), Vallee’s assessment of the UFO phenomenon had undergone a significant shift. Much to the consternation of the “scientific ufologists” who had seen him as one of their champions, Vallee now seemed to be backing away from the extraterrestrial hypotheses and advancing the radical view that UFOs are paranormal in nature and a modern space age manifestation of a phenomenon which assumes different guises in different historical contexts.

” When the underlying archetypes are extracted,” he wrote, “the saucer myth is seen to coincide to a remarkable degree with the fairy-faith of Celtic countries … religious miracles… and the widespread belief among all peoples concerning entities whose physical and psychological descriptions place them in the same category as the present-day ufonauts.”

In The Invisible College (E.P. Dutton, 1975) Vallee posits the idea of a “control system.” UFOs and related phenomena are “the means through which man’s concepts are being rearranged.” Their ultimate source may be unknowable, at least at this stage of human development; what we do know, according to Vallee, is that they are presenting us with continually recurring “absurd” messages and appearances which defy rational analysis but which nonetheless address human beings on the level of myth and imagination.

“When I speak of a control system for planet earth,” he says, ” I do not want my words to be misunderstood: I do not mean that some higher order of beings has locked us inside the constraints of a space-bound jail, closely monitored by psychic entities we might call angels or demons. I do not propose to redefine God. What I do mean is that mythology rules at a level of our social reality over which normal political and intellectual action has no power….”

Vallee is also coauthor, with J. Allen Hynek, of The Edge of Reality (Regnery, 1975). A resident of the San Francisco area, he is completing a book which further develops his theories concerning UFO phenomena.

We have talked together at some length about his beliefs. The following interview is a report of these conversations:

Clark: Since the great autumn 1973 sighting wave public attitudes about the UFO phenomenon seem to have changed dramatically, to the extent that society may be entering a pivotal period in its perception of the problem. What do you think will happen now?

Vallee: First, I expect increased government and scientific attention to it. More researchers will be pursuing the physical evidence aspects, conducting much more sophisticated investigations of traces left at landing sites and so on. The people moving into the field now are good physicists and good engineers who know what they are doing and who are convinced it is time for them to get involved.

At the same time I expect that public opinion will change also. Initially it probably will move strongly toward the extraterrestrial explanation. Most people see only two ways to look at the problem – either it’s all nonsense or we’re being visited from outer space. The current spate of movies, books and magazine articles is going to push people toward the extraterrestrial hypothesis. After that I expect a backlash effect may push them in the other direction. I don’t know where that’s going to leave scientists who want to do research.

Clark: You say that scientists are entering ufology in search of physical evidence. But is there physical evidence? And if there is, are they going to find it? What happens if they don’t?

Vallee: If I were speaking for them I would say, “Jerry, it’s premature to ask those questions.” One doesn’t know the answers until one really looks – and so far nobody has looked very seriously. So far the people who have looked have been military types searching for enemy craft or direct threats to national security. Or they’ve been superficial investigators, dedicated civilians with good training but limited time and limited resources.

But you’re asking me what I think. I think there are physical data. They are very, very interesting. They may contain a message. My inclination is to look at the message both in a physical sense and in a symbolic sense, but that’s because I’m an information scientist and not a physical scientist. I look for the meaning behind the object.

Let me give you an example of what I mean. Recently Paul Cerny investigated a case in northern California in which two older persons saw a UFO take off. Afterwards they saw a sort of ring on the ground. Within the ring they found some molten metal and a pile of sand.

Obviously here is physical evidence. Two tangible things – the molten metal, which turned out to be brass, and the sand. I took some of the latter to a geologist friend who knows about sand. He said it was highly unusual because it did not contain quartz and it was not stream sand or beach sand or residue from mining or anything else. It seemed to be artificial sand created from grinding together stones of different origin.

Well, to a physicist that may not mean too much. It’s an indication of something that turns out to be absurd. We can put it alongside other cases of physical traces and then we may start looking for patterns which might lead us to a better understanding of the modus operandi of whoever’s doing all this.

In that sense, yes, there is physical evidence. But if you mean physical evidence in the sense that we’re going to discover somebody’s propulsion system from it, I would have to say I don’t expect that to happen.

Clark: Can we infer from the existence of physical evidence, then, that there is a physical cause?

Vallee: If the UFO phenomenon had no physical cause at all, there would be no way for us to perceive it because human beings are physical entities. So it has to make an impression on our senses somehow. For that to take place, it has to be physical at some time.

Clark: So in other words there is such a thing as a solid, three-dimensional flying saucer.

Vallee: No, I didn’t say that. That may or may not be true. I don’t think there is such a thing as the flying saucer phenomenon. I think it has three components and we have to deal with them in different ways.

First, there is a physical object. That may be a flying saucer or it may be a projection or it may be something entirely different. All we know about it is that it represents a tremendous quantity of electromagnetic energy in a small volume. I say that based upon the evidence gathered from traces, from electromagnetic and radar detection and from perturbations of the electromagnetic fields such as Dr. Claude Poher, the French space scientist, has recorded.

Second, there’s the phenomenon the witnesses perceive. What they tell us is that they’ve seen a flying saucer. Now they may have seen that or they may have seen an image of a flying saucer or they may have hallucinated it under the influence of microwave radiation, or any of a number of things may have happened. The fact is that the witnesses were exposed to an event and as a result they experienced a highly complex alteration of perception which caused them to describe the object or objects that figure in their testimony.

Beyond there – the physical phenomenon and the perception phenomenon – we have the third component, the social phenomenon. That’s what happens when the reports are submitted to society and enter the cultural arena. That’s the part which I find most interesting.

Clark: Before we go into that, let’s clarify your views on the nature of the physical aspect. When I asked you if there was such a thing as a solid, three-dimensional flying saucer, I was thinking in these terms: Let’s suppose that somebody says he has seen a UFO, the bottom part of which was flat and circular. He says he saw the object come down, settle on the soil and then fly off again, leaving a flat circular impression. Doesn’t that clearly suggest the presence – at least for the duration of the sighting – of a solid object whose physical structure was more or less as the witness perceived it?

Vallee: Not necessarily. We have evidence that the phenomenon has the ability to create a distortion of the sense of reality or to substitute artificial sensations for the real ones. Look at some of the more bizarre close encounter cases – for example the incident from South America in which one man believed he had been abducted by a UFO while his companion thought he had boarded a bus which had suddenly appeared on the road behind then.

It is conceivable that there is one phenomenon which is visual and another which creates the physical traces. What I’m saying is that a strange kind of deception may be involved.

via: UFO Evidence.org