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Thursday, April 3, 2014

High Strangeness

A good portion of my childhood, and most of the origins for my interest in paranormal/fortean topics, stems from The X-Files. So most weekends while doing homework, I have the show on in the background thanks to it being on Netflix.  I watched one of my favorite episodes this past weekend. The episode is called ‘Jose Chung’s From Outer Space’. It centered around an author, Jose Chung played by the late Charles Nelson Reilly, who was sent by his publisher to write a book on an alleged alien abduction event which Mulder and Scully had also investigated. The episode is not only a fantastic example of what makes the X-Files great; it has humor, mystery, celebrity guest stars, but it is also does a great job representing all of the related weirdness which is inexplicably related to the UFO enigma.

In the episode, which I highly recommend you watch, you have military abductions, alien abductions, inner earth new-age religions being founded, military personnel impersonating aliens and flying “UFOs”, and Men in Black! About the only thing not included, probably because it was already a jam packed episode, is the poltergeist or “ghost” activity that sometimes follows or precedes UFO encounters.  A good catch-all term for the related phenomena which occurs in tandem with UFO sightings and alien abductions is ‘High Strangeness’.

Dr. J Allen Hynek, of “swamp gas” fame, first used the term in a paper which he presented to the American Association for the Advancement of Science in December 1969. Hynek assigned cases a “strangeness” index as means of offering some kind of classification for UFO reports. Hynek further clarifies and defines this concept in his 1974 book The UFO Experience wherein he states that high strangeness is “a measure of the number of information bits the report contains, each of which is difficult to explain in common-sense terms.”  

Stories and personal accounts which involve “High Strangeness” have always fascinated, especially when it comes to the investigators responses towards this aspect of the phenomenon. I was looking over some specific MUFON case files from the 90’s when I came across a really weird encounter which someone had, related below, but there was a caveat before the report which bothered me. In setting up the witnesses encounters, the investigators note that “Background paranormal events have not been included in this report.” I don’t wish to go off on a tangent, but since we know nothing about what may or may not be behind this phenomena, why not include all points of data? (I suppose that is the Fortean in me coming out).

Anyway, after reading some of the witnesses experiences, I couldn't help but wonder what in the world they had left out? As it stands some of her stories certainly qualify as high strange even with MUFON investigators leaving out the “background paranormal” events. Here’s a link to all of her experiences, but I wish to focus on one really bizarre encounter the witness had with an entity she called “Marcus”. Her account is as follows:

The witness was awakened to see an entity, in the form of a human(oid) male floating to the right side of the foot of her bed.  She indicated that when she saw the entity she knew that it was male, and that she knew who he was.  She was told, in a nonverbal manner, that his name was "Marcus", and he was there for her. She felt that their relationship was, in some way, very close.
She described the entity as being tall, and approximately human in appearance, but with a catlike face.  She described his appearance as "a cross between Worf (on Star Trek) and the beast "Vincent" in the TV show Beauty and the Beast". He appeared to be dressed in a manner that suggested to her a military officer from an earlier time period, with an apparent breast plate arranged in a chevron design.

The entity held his hands out to her, palms up, and she instinctively knew to put her hands in his.  She indicated that she then rose up, and he pulled her in closer to him.  [CL Note: She indicates that she was under the covers when the entity appeared.  If this was a physical movement, it is not clear how the bed covers were removed.]

At that point she felt that they were within a ball of light, and as if they were "dancing".  She didn't remember any sound, and was not sure whether or not they were still within the room, but felt that
there was not enough space within the room to have "danced" in the manner which they presently were.  Thus, she feels that they must have been somewhere else while this interaction occurred.  She indicates that this "dance" felt more like a "complete spiritual union", than physical motion to music (the traditional definition of dance). She did not feel that there was music present.

The witness sketched “Marcus” for our benefits, I admit I do enjoy seeing the person’s representation of the figures they have allegedly seen. Here is here sketch:


I would like to highlight the “aftermath” as the investigators labeled it, because I think it is an important detail which crops up in a lot of these kinds of reports. It’s something which Jacques Vallee pointed out in a number of his books. The investigators relate:

This event appears to be the start of her consciously remembered experiences.  She indicates that since that time, she has been very interested in spiritual topics, reading extensively in the area religion and spirituality, with subsequent interest in the field of UFOs and close encounters.

I don’t know what to make of cases such as this one. It wanted to dance with her? Let’s assume for a moment that it was an ET, could it not find a dance partner on it’s home planet? I’m slightly joking of course, I don’t mean to belittle the witness or her account. Honestly, I’m perplexed by what it is she allegedly experienced. Though she is not the only one. John Keel’s books are full of high strangeness encounters which people have purportedly had. I recently spoke about The Case of Indrid Cold, which is but one example of the variety of high strangeness reports which Keel spoke about.

In his book Real Ghosts, Restless Spirits, and Haunted Places, author Brad Steiger relates another classic example of high strangeness which accompanies a, relatively, mundane UFO sighting. The story is below:

An Iowa farmer named Gary C. saw a UFO one night as he was working late in the field during spring plowing. The next morning over breakfast, he learned that his wife, Melanie, 14-year-old son Jake, and 12-year-old daughter Lisa had also seen the bright object as the kids were getting ready for bed.

That day at school, a man who claimed to be from the state board of education asked to interview Jake. He told the principal of the junior high school that the boy had attracted attention because of his high scores in the state tests and that Jake had been selected to participate in a special educational project ... A call to the state office revealed that they had no one on their staff by the man’s name, and they had no special project for junior high students in progress.

When the principal entered the private room to confront the imposter, he found a puzzled Jake sitting alone. The teenager could only shrug that the special state project must be about space travel, for all the man asked him were questions about UFOS, aliens, and life on other planets. Jake had glanced away from his interrogator for just a moment, and when he looked back at him, he seemed to have vanished.

About the time that Jake was being interviewed by the mysterious stranger at school, out on the farm Gary and Melanie received a visit from two men dressed in black while they were eating lunch. The men identified themselves as agents of a special government task force investigating UFOS and said they had learned that the family had sighted a bright object in the sky on the previous evening.

Melanie and Gary were puzzled, since they had not told anyone of their sighting. The alleged government agents suddenly adopted a threatening manner and demanded that Melanie and Gary turn over any photographs they may have taken of the UFO. The farm couple said that they had taken no photographs, but the two agents refused to accept their denials and threatened that they had better cooperate if they knew what was good for them. “You must cooperate,” the taller of the two men said, “for your own good, the good of your country, the good of your world.”

Later that afternoon, Gary was certain that he saw the two men watching him from the shadows of his machine shed while he fed the cattle on the feedlot. In the farmhouse, Melanie answered the telephone on four occasions to hear nothing but a peculiar static. Finally, on the fifth ring, a voice in a strange accent told her to forget all she knew about UFOs or terrible things would happen to her entire family.

That night, shortly after the children went to bed, Lisa began screaming that some animal had crawled under her covers. When Gary and Melanie investigated, they found nothing, but then Jake yelled that his bed was jumping up and down. As they ran to his room, they could hear the thumping sounds of his bed lifting and slamming to the floor. Such poltergeistic disturbances continued on a nightly basis for nearly a week before dissipating.

What are we to make of these strange tales? Why would strange “government” agents show up after a sighting of a light in the sky? Why would the family see strange creatures and experience poltergeist-like activity following the sighting? It seems obvious that something peculiar is going on. I remain unconvinced that we will ever have an “answer” or solution to the UFO enigma, but I think that by looking into the High Strangeness reports (or the “damned data”) we may come closer to an understanding. Otherwise we will have failed to learn the lesson which Charles Fort attempted to teach. Data, no matter how bizarre or strange, needs to be taken into account. 


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