Are you new to the field of Ufology? Have you been attracted by one fantastic story or another? Or maybe you’ve been experiencing some strange events or phenomenon in your life and you have questions.
Before you dive too deeply into this strange, seedy world – I would like to issue all travelers a caution and some advice. The question we’re going to answer today is why do people join cults?
The Nature of Ufology Today
In my 2010 radio conversation with long-time Ufologist Don Ecker, Don asked me why my friend Stephen Broadbent and started the Reality Uncovered website. At the time, this was a (now defunct) investigation site dedicated to the skeptical analysis of various Ufology scam artists.
I figured this question would come up, because I get asked it often whenever I introduce someone to what I do. The skeptical analysis of Ufology don’t quite fit into the “mold” of the typical person interested in Ufology.
When you’re a skeptic, you’re not an instant believer in the phenomenon. You require all claims are backed by solid, verifiable evidence. However, you are also enough of a believer to discuss many issues that knee-jerk skeptics instantly dismiss. You’re willing to explore topics like spirituality, cryptozoology and many other topics that the “mainstream” might automatically consider “weird.”
Here’s the thing – these topics aren’t actually “weird,” it’s just that so many people who are drawn to these topics are mentally unstable. This makes it difficult for sane people, like you, to find some respectable and “normal” place to try to find answers.
The answer that I gave Don surprised him, I think. I quoted him.
The quote came from an essay he wrote in 2007, published by Kevin Randle, titled Don Ecker Quits Ufology. In the essay, the most powerful paragraphs express the frustration and exhaustion that many respectable researchers and writers throughout Ufology feel:
“I’m tired of the media that is blinded by their prejudice about UFOs, their snide and condescending remarks about something that quite frankly they know nothing about. I’m tired of people claiming to be researchers that refuse to accept the truth about something regardless of how many times it jumps up and bites them in the ass.
I’m tired of government agencies that continuously lie about a subject that has shown to be something real and even possibly affect our national security… and getting away with it for over 60 years. I’m tired of believers that become upset when their fuzzy illogic is shown to be as full of holes as Swiss Cheese. I’m tired of frauds and clowns in this field that are shown to be frauds and clowns and yet still are treated like they are stars with something important to say. I suppose you could just say I’m tired of all of it.”
Many of you reading this are probably nodding your heads in agreement. The hoaxes and con games from so many of those mentally unstable individuals lead to a phenomenon known as disinformation overload.
Now, overwhelmingly the evidence shows that most of that disinformation comes from con artists who are simply using the field as a platform to gain notoriety or fame, even if on a small scale and within a fringe community.
Oddly, some of the hoaxes also seem to involve small private groups of people as well – people who tend to gravitate to and conduct scientific research on fringe topics. They try to remain under the radar in their efforts – but every now and then you get a glimpse of one of them on the wings of many of these false stories.
The Creation of Cults
In his examination of the field of Ufology, Jacques Vallee often touches upon this strange phenomenon – that of small groups of individuals forming a cohesive group that shares a collective belief system regarding the phenomenon.
Vallee thoroughly explored the question, why do people join cults… For the cohesive group, the belief system doesn’t need to be based in any physical reality or upon any real evidence – it just needs to somehow explain the phenomenon that they’ve all experienced.
Vallee said it best when he wrote in his 1989 book Dimensions:
“I think the stage is set for the appearance of new faiths, centered on the UFO belief. To a greater degree than all phenomena modern science is confronting, the UFO can inspire awe, the sense of the smallness of man, and an idea of the possibility of contact with the cosmic. The religions we have briefly surveyed began with the miraculous experiences of one person, but today there are thousands for whom the belief in otherworldly contact is based on intimate conviction, drawn from what they regard as personal contact with UFOs and their occupants.” (page 192).
This collective belief system makes these groups feel normal, because they share those beliefs. These ideas may include that UFO sightings are caused by extra-terrestrials from other planets, that Intelligence communities across the world have an elaborate system of cover-up of alien visitations, or that aliens are channeling important messages for humanity through contactees or “mediums.”
Whenever a piece of evidence surfaces that runs counter to this group’s “belief-system,” the reaction from cult-members is rather astonishing.
Normally kind and mature adults will resort to name-calling. Ordinarily law-abiding citizens will attempt to terrorize or slander anyone involved in revealing that truth.
In Messengers of Deception, Vallee describes this best:
“Human beings are under the control of a strange force that bends them in absurd ways, forcing them to play a role in a bizarre game of deception.” (p. 20)
Are You Involved With a Cult?
So, why do people join cults? They do so for the very reason you, yourself are reading this blog entry.
In fact, you are a perfect candidate for these cults. You have questions about a strange experience you’ve had that feels very real to you. You would like answers that you can’t get from mainstream sources that scorn you for your experiences, or treat you as though you’re crazy.
You are certain that you aren’t having delusional visions or any other symptoms of mental illness – so where do you turn?
Well – you would typically end up where the “sick” people (who are actually having delusional visions) end up, on UFO forums that are essentially UFO cults. You may find a welcoming community that acknowledges your experiences and make you feel as though they are “normal.”
You find a home. This is why people join cults – because they do not realize they’re joining a cult.
So what’s the test – how do you know if you’re joining up with a cult community?
Well, the best approach I can think of to test a UFO community is to see if they adhere to the sort of litmus test that Vallee applied to UFO sightings called the “SVP” code.
If the community follows this behavior upon any new report or claim turning up – then you’ve found a winner that you should join – one that is not a UFO cult.
- Members study the reliability of the source of the story. An anonymous source isn’t given much credit. A person with a known criminal record is given even less. The community automatically filters out stories from such sources.
- Researchers put “boots on the ground.” Researchers pick up the phone to call sources or visit witnesses and interview them to verify potentially valid claims.
- Third, do members of the community first try to explain the story or claim with common sense? Do they initially explore natural phenomenon or conventional environmental factors that could explain the phenomena? This behavior isn’t skepticism, it is a healthy way to identify potentially valid paranormal phenomenon through the process of elimination.
All three of these factors were listed in Vallee’s model, rated from 0 to 4. A “444” is the gold standard of a truly “impressive” event, or in the case of UFO’s – a sighting that simply can not be explained away.
So, why do people join cults? Because they are looking for answers. If the group that you’re considering joining handles new stories or events in the manner described above – that’s the community that you want to join.
That’s the community that will help you find the truth, and you don’t have to worry that you may be inadvertently stepping into a UFO cult community.Originally published on TopSecretWriters.com