A series of extracts from the latest edition of Alien Worlds magazine issue 3
1. Professor Paul Davies interview.
Actually, the Prof doesn’t quite make the claim in the headline, but almost does. This is what he had to say about UFOs and abductions:
I was, as a closing question, because I was told, and I don’t know how accurate this is, that at the very beginning of your career, there was a period of time when you had some truck with UFOs in that you were prepared to consider that they might have some interest.
I’m always prepared to consider and evaluate ideas, however out of the ordinary they might be. I knew Allan Hynek, who was the Chief Scientific Advisor to the US Air Force Project Blue Book, and so I visited him and looked at some of his data and investigated a few cases myself because they were fascinating stories. I was able to explain two or three of these cases, including one rather famous case in Britain involving strange lights over Stonehenge which I managed to identify as military flares. It featured in a Granada television production.
As scientists I think we should be open minded and be prepared to look at the evidence and in the case of UFOs, I’m one of the few scientists who has actually looked at the evidence. I’ve read the Condon Report which came out of Project Blue Book and talked to witnesses. Obviously people see things in the sky all the time and the vast majority of sightings are just misperceptions or atmospheric phenomena of various sorts.
Then there’s a tougher residue that’s harder to explain and I would say two things about those. One is that these are real experiences - I don’t think anyone is lying. The second thing is that to me, they don’t have the hallmark of extraterrestrial visitation and it is not what I would expect from ET. So whatever lies behind this, and there may be different explanations for different things, I don’t think will be extraterrestrial visitation will be one of them.
The one situation where I do feel I have an understanding of what’s going on is with alien abduction, which I think are closely related to lucid dreams.
Not sleep paralysis?
That’s more or less the same thing. I have had lucid dreams and have enjoyed the experience of them. First of all you’re paralysed and secondly, unless you’re experienced with this, you don’t know you’re dreaming and you think you’re awake and there’s always a sense of malevolent presence in the room.
And you’ve experienced that sensation yourself? How did you rationalise it?
I went and learned a bit about it. I bought a face mask from the New Scientist magazine that could induce lucid dreams and I have them a few times a year, although I don’t use the face mask very much any more. The last time I had one, I did an experiment. Interestingly, because I hadn’t thought of it in advance but my dream self did at the time, I looked at my image in a mirror to see if it was the mirror image or the inverted image, and it was the mirror image. This was like doing a physics type experiment in a lucid dream.
If you don’t know you are dreaming, I think these lucid dreams can be very scary and have all of the hallmarks of an abduction experience. I think that is easily the most plausible explanation for what’s going on there.
The upshot of all this is, in principle we could be being visited but I don’t think we are. I don’t think it is happening now and if it is, I’m very disappointed in ET.
Why would you be disappointed? You said before that it wasn’t what you would expect from him. What would you expect?
I would expect that if there was going to be actual contact, that this would be a civilisation-changing event that would be carefully managed by the other side, and not just a few extraterrestrials flitting around as tourists or whatever they’re supposed to be doing. If they are here right now, then what exactly are they doing and where are they now and where do they go at night? Where’s the warehouse? This was always the problem with UFOs. People see them but they are just some sort of local phenomenon. They appear and they disappear and they’re not around. It just doesn’t make any sort of sense.
So unless we’re dealing with something that is just truly outside our experience, something that is in the realm of the paranormal, then I see no reason to invoke those sorts of explanations. In the cases I investigated personally, I was always open minded, and when I investigated them, I could see that even when presented with the reality, people would often remain in a state of denial. If you’re not a trained observer or scientist and you see something weird that comes and goes, a transitory phenomenon, then you retain a certain memory and your brain rationalises the experience. If then later somebody explains to you what it was you saw it can be that you will still say, “Well, I don’t believe it”
We’ve just had a case in Phoenix last week where people saw lights, and then some guy fessed up shortly after. And yet witnesses still refused to believe it. Its great fun and endlessly entertaining, but just another depressing aspect of the whole UFO scene.
I got interested in the subject in my teens and as you correctly say, I met witnesses and was interested in the material but nothing has really changed since then. We’re still getting the same sort of dismal reports forty years on. Nothing has moved forwards. Richard Fineman was the person who expressed it well. He said, “In good science, the more observations you make, the better the science gets. With bad science, the worse it gets” and it seems to me the UFO thing is exactly like that. No matter how many observations are made, you get no further forward and so that suggests to me this is not a scientific phenomenon. We’re not dealing with extraterrestrial visitation but instead probably a whole range of different things.
The full interview is carried in issue 3 of Alien Worlds. Please see
and the following link for purchasing a copy or a subscription