Did I Ever Think I Was Crazy?

well-rested

The face of crazy.

Thanks, those of you who tuned in to Paranormal Waypoint last night. I didn’t expect to go through a primer of my personal history from A-liens to Z-eus.(1)  But I’m glad I did because I think it’s important to remember where I (Jeff Ritzmann and I, actually) come from. I think when we tear apart the crappy research that has come to define alien abductions and ufology as a whole, it’s easy to forget that we’re experiencers, not debunkers. We’re not just experiencers, though–we’re really out there experiencers of some unabashedly outlandish stuff. We’re also discerning skeptically-minded people. We have to be. These are our lives we’re talking about here and we would like to see these subjects handled with care.

One question Jeff asked me was if I ever thought I was crazy. He was asking about the spiritual shenanigans–an energy in me, Jer 2.0, that wakes me up psychically and moves the body into yogic postures, tai chi movements, whirling dervish twirls, and things I haven’t the foggiest clue about. I had only a minute to respond so I said “No.” I’d like to explain that a bit….

With the unknown phenomena we seem all too eager to name “alien abduction” I did ponder the crazy question–or at least delusional. I remained open to the real possibility that because I saw this brilliant UFO in 8th grade that was other-worldly in appearance I then read up on UFOs and alien abductions and assumed I was an abductee. Perhaps every little creak, every little bump in the night and alien dream added up to me being an abductee simply because I saw an object I couldn’t explain and read some books that interpreted it for me. Maybe, just maybe, I suffered a neurotic snowball effect from that one sighting. I entertained that idea for years; seeing the Wee People of Wherever at my bedside in October 2001 changed that.

Even so, I could make a George Hansen style Trickster hypothesis work here and it goes something like this: I saw a UFO in 8th grade. I obsessed over it well into adulthood. I feared having intimate relationships with women because I didn’t want to bring this into their lives. As a result, the night after I had sex for the first time–in New York City fresh off of the 9/11 attacks, no less–I saw aliens. This is thanks to the anti-structural context I found myself in culturally and personally coupled with a release of the aforementioned deeply held fear, because aliens didn’t show up when I lost my virginity. I breathed a sigh or relief and then, like a cosmic joke, they showed up the next night instead.

It’s The Secret in action, right? You obsess, you let go, you receive from the universe. Maybe. It doesn’t really fly with me because of all the evidence (and by that I mean personal experiences of the ufological and paranormal variety) I’m glossing over to make this work.

The point is, with alleged  aliens I can see some ways in which I could have deluded myself. But the spiritual stuff? Emphatically NO. I know making declarative statements is taboo but I DO know what this energy is doing overall, even if I don’t understand the details or the mechanics. And I know without it we will never be whole. We will always be dysfunctional egos running the world into the mud. We are fundamentally flawed and in 2.0 mode you see that this is not human nature–this is humans running from nature and calling it human nature so they never have to confront the issue.

That is what we do.

The spiritual stuff is me. But the alien abduction stuff happens to me. Anything that is not me is open to debate.(2) A lot more guess work and a lot less acceptance goes into a presumably outside intelligence interacting with me. I can include the question of hallucinations and delusion there. But this energy I talk about is in me every moment. It is as undeniable as my arms and legs.

Finally, when I talk about the energy as an it, this is just a convenience of language. I don’t want to give the impression that I’m the host to some possessive intelligence or something along those lines. It’s not that–although there’s no law that says one intelligent energy has to manifest as one intelligence. After all, look at the universe. Look closer–look at Earth. Look at the chattering human psyche.

Look at you.

———————
(1) Sorry. That’s as “god” as I can get with a Z. I’m part Greek so it works, right?
(2) Yes, I know at the core all is one but I’m talking about the day to day level in which we exist.

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9 thoughts on “Did I Ever Think I Was Crazy?

  1. Ever think that this stuff might just be mental masturbation, instead of real direction and purpose? I personally, speaking from experience, am starting to question my own mental flossing, and wonder if instead of bringing me closer to a place that is really, really who I am, just leading me in circles, pointlessly, endlessly, and without meaning.

    • Depends on the experience I suppose. I don’t feel that way but I wonder if the “trickster” element isn’t something another intelligence is doing on purpose for a laugh or whatever but is simply a really bad word being used to describe a confluence of events that are needed to either open a door or just plain old perceive them. If true then it may seem like we’re being jerked around because we’re misinterpreting “trickster.”

  2. Seems to me that, much like the people you (and Jeff) disdain who have pet theories about alien breeding programs, Reptilian wars in space, and so forth, you’ve ended up creating your own limiting box of theories propped up by your considerable intellect. As such, you’ve practically created your own self-perpetuating “brand” now that combines a certain style of Gen-Y skepticism with what ideas you’re personally willing to entertain, along with an exclusive, inner circle of people who fit your idea of acceptable. Is it really the noble crusade against shoddy ufology you seem to want to think it is? Or is it just, “what I’m selling is better than what you’re selling”?

    While I certainly could be wrong, I find no value in the whole “trickster” theory, which is one of your favored fallback positions for at least one way of how to frame paranormal experience. To me it might as well be the Easter Bunny, and ultimately adds nothing to our understanding.

    Another truism you and Jeff have that I think is just plain wrong about the paranormal is, “the more you give the more you get”. While I’ve had times in my life when that seemed sort of true, I’ve had other extended periods of time when I could knock on that door all I wanted and nobody was answering. What I think is a lot more likely is the more you get caught up in thoughts about these things, the more likely you are to A) notice or interpret events through that lens, and B) have more related non-waking experiences, e.g. vivid dreams, hallucinations, etc. This is not to say there are not also genuinely odd things that take place that might also be caught on camera–I’m just challenging the idea that attention generates experience, and there are countless examples where people have claimed the most outrageously paranormal experiences while apparently having no thought or energies devoted to the subject at the time.

    As a corollary to this, I also don’t believe there’s much value in your hypothesis about anti-structural life being a key ingredient to paranormal experience. It could easily just be that “anti-structural” people have fewer perceptual filters, and feel more free to tell other people about these things, having less fear of being perceived as different (because they’ve already crossed that line.)

    I find myself kind of agreeing with Turtle. Not that I think it’s bad to continue having dialogue about what the heck is going on, the meaning of life, humanity on the path to destruction, etc., but you need to recognize when you’ve become narrow and repetitive with no beneficial results. The phrase that comes spontaneously to mind is, “challenge your own hype.”

    You’re a smart guy, often funny (humor being a good sign of real intelligence IMO), and suitably unimpressed with bad science, Beyond that, I’m not convinced you’re any closer to understanding any of this stuff better than was the living Budd Hopkins, and in fact may be somewhat stuck in your own creation.

    • Some of what you say here is valid enough, but let me take the problem areas. Flat out, neither Jeff nor I have an explanation for the “alien” mystery. There are certain facets of the Trickster Theory that we both see demonstrated time and again. They are repeatable. Just saying you don’t believe it isn’t good enough against the preponderance of evidence. On Paratopia alone, how many guests have come on and validate that they were in an anti-structural time in their lives (moving, divorce, what have you) when paranormal activity amped up in their lives? We didn’t adopt facets of the theory in a vacuum and build a show around them. We hadn’t even heard George Hansen’s theory until we had him on and then we saw some of it in action and concluded George Hansen was onto something. Conversely, we’ve never seen the reptilian overlords shapeshifting their way into political power as anything more than sci fi fantasy, to name but one example.

      That said, I don’t totally buy into the Trickster theory. I am picking and choosing the elements I see working and exploring those.

      “The more you give the more you get” is more Jeff’s thing–but I’ve noticed it too, so I like to name it when it’s present. I can think of a number of reasons you don’t see this happening in all cases, but that’s another essay.

      Lastly, and most importantly, I think your characterization of me/Jeff is unfair and, funny enough, is something I was going to address about a “rising star” in ufology in a Center For Bad Ideas post later this week–and that is, it’s not intelligent “outside of the box” thinking to replace one theory with another with zero evidence. Writing a book about how it’s not aliens it’s time travelers with zero credible evidence is masturbatory. You might as well say it’s unicorns. The difference between how we explore and that type of theorizing is that we are experiencers trying to understand our own stuff. And so, we’re taking what works and discarding what doesn’t based on our own lives. That’s really all we can do and it DOES leave a lot of room for error.

      To say I’m stuck in my own box means I’m married to my ideas. (I’m not. If anything turns out to be wrong, I’ll call it for sure. Remember: until the Jacobs fiasco I believed in the hypnosis material, too. I’ve read all those books. Only Jeff was smart enough to see this train wreck coming.) If I’ve boxed myself in it’s because I’ve experienced the elements that are my walls and also seen them reflected in other people’s testimony. If these elements have amped up in my life as a result of looking, then… pretty much that’s because the more you give the more you get or some trickster thing, right? I mean, how do you escape that? It’s not reducible to the psychological factor of, “Because I’m looking for it I’m noticing more of what was there all along” because it’s more than that. Sometimes the phenomenon itself answers the question in its own bizarre way. The intelligence interacts with the questioner. Sometimes.

      To invoke Budd Hopkins or any of the hypnotists, however, is a whole other kettle of fish. They are co-creating stories with hypnotized subjects to sell books, fantasy role play, and in certain cases for sexual gratification. The end. That’s not a line of inquiry, that is a crime. Or it should be, IMO. It’s not even as good an answer as unicorns.

      Now, here’s a question for you: Do you see a direction you think I should be looking that I’m not? I’m always open to that.

  3. Just read your response and appreciate, as usual, your rational view and even tone; thanks! It’s getting late and I’m going to think on it more before writing a longer reply. It’s entirely possible I’m being unfair to you and/or Jeff as you said, or there might be a disconnect between my meaning and your inference (for which I would at least share responsibility), or maybe it’s all justifiable provocation channeled from who knows where (maybe the Trickster? Now that would be a mindfuck.) For now I’ll just say this, if I suggest you’re stuck it’s because I’d like you to be unstuck, just as I wish it for myself.

    Good night for now. I will respond more specifically to your points next time, probably in the next day or two.

    • And so a couple of days later I didn’t become a remarkable genius on the subjects we’re discussing, but I do have a few further thoughts.

      Regarding The Trickster and anti-structural life, George Hansen’s theory is appealing on the surface. Personally I find it a bit too conveniently vague and “one size fits all”. Got something you can’t explain and it’s messing with your mind? It’s The Trickster!

      For me, I don’t see a shred of supporting evidence for it, nor do I think it fits the various phenomena very well, despite your saying there’s a “preponderance of evidence”. I think it’s possible that *some* phenomena could be some kind of poorly understood projection from the collective consciousness, but that’s more of a gut feel and it’s a weak one. Further, if I understand it right, one of the tenets of the Trickster phenomenon is that it’s a force or being that works to break down order and structure, possibly projected from our own collective need to not get stuck in a pattern for too long. Now, if that’s the case, why would this trickster be (as you and Jeff allege) mainly picking on people who are anti-structural to start with, or in a particularly anti-structural part of their lives? Wouldn’t it more go for the straight-laced, wife and 2-kids, house in the suburbs types, because THEY NEED THEIR STRUCTURE CHALLENGED? Yet they seem to usually be the ones living blissfully ignorant that their reality is kind of a sham, and think people like us who report strange experiences are nuts. So I think there’s a contradiction there.

      My final criticism, and this is also my response to your question about a direction to go in, is that your data gathering behind your ideas is very unscientific. It’s in that sense I think it bears some comparison with those you criticize in ufology. I’ve heard it on the show, like when Jeff is interviewing an experiencer and then he starts fishing for what (anti-structural) things in their lives at the time might have been giving them stress. “Hmm, well gee now that I think about it I guess I was going through a divorce at that time…” Bingo, another affirmation of the theory, and Jeff sounds pleased. That’s really not much better than David Jabobs asking hypnotized hotties if they see babies in test tubes in a flying saucer (so please send me your underwear.) To draw any valid conclusion, the question set has to pass some level of analysis for not leading the subject, the questioners shouldn’t know the objective of the study, there needs to be a control group, and statistical analysis must be done. We don’t know, for example, that if you took a random sampling of people and asked the same questions that you wouldn’t get the same percentage of similar responses about stress in their lives, and then any deviation between the groups has to be shown as statistically significant.

      Now about those hypnosis guys, obviously you’ve done a great job of exposing David Jacobs as a lascivious jerk. But I don’t get that same impression about Budd Hopkins. He may have been a very bad scientist and shown some really poor discernment, but I felt he was well-meaning and sincere about his work, whether he mainly hoped to sell books or not. ICBW. Plus I’m not really convinced there isn’t something to the alien hybrid breeding theory, even if the original source was poor. Even the Tricksters are alleged to interbreed with humans, if I understood correctly. As for hypnosis itself, I’m also not convinced it can’t be a good tool in the arsenal for recovering memories, if very carefully applied. Like my impression of how it was handled with Betty and Barney Hill, who kind of started the whole abduction and hypnosis thing, was appropriate and revealing. That is certainly a case where the hypnotist was not hoping to find or encourage stories about flying saucers. I tend to believe they were really abducted. I also think the same is true of Travis Walton, and neither of these would seem to have any fit to a Trickster IMO. What do you think about those cases?

      All for now. Cheers!
      -Bob

      • Mid-response to this, the internets hiccuped and erased my post. Then I accidentally erased it the second time as I was about to finish. Trickster, much? — In all seriousness, I’m not responding to anything else you write in this thread. No offense intended–I just don’t want to type long responses all day. Succinctly….

        1.) You don’t understand George Hansen’s Trickster hypothesis. He doesn’t talk about an intelligent being. The title is misleading. Tricksterish, even. But he does make a case for marginality and anti-structure, which Jeff found in virtually every experiencer he’s talked to about it. If you don’t find merit in testimony on one’s own background at the time something outrageous happened, I don’t know what to tell you. It’s kinda hypocritical. After all, this entire subject is based on testimony. We question what is being left out and what is being promoted to call it “alien abduction.” Shouldn’t we all be doing that?

        2.) Comparing asking an experiencer what was going on in their lives at the time of the experience to David Jacobs telling Emma what other subjects have relayed to him–while she is under hypnosis, no less–and then retrieving “memory” from her that reflects what he just told her? You might want to rethink that one.

        3.) Asking an artist and a writer to be scientific during conversation on their podcast is like asking an artist and a historian to be scientific in their books. Life just doesn’t work that way. That said, we are doing Project Core with two actual scientists. This will be more of what you’re looking for by way of data/scientific protocols. That, you will be able to critique.

        4.) And here’s where I become a grump…. I don’t care what your opinion of hypnosis is. It doesn’t matter because, in this case, there are actual facts involved. Hold yourself to the same standard you want to hold me and Google search what I’m about to write if you really care….

        It doesn’t matter who is doing the hypnosis; hypnosis is a behavior modification tool being used wrongly as a memory retrieval tool. ALL of the studies from the past 2 decades, at least, have shown this. (Oh look! Here’s one now!) The problem is that practitioners may not have read an academic study in forever. They may be going by the really old, outdated data. They’re talking about spontaneous regeneration when science has figured out that flies lay eggs.

        Dr. Simon, whom you cite, was doing hypnosis IN THE 1960s–LOOOONG before it was shown to not work well for memory. I assume that had he known then what we know now, he wouldn’t have used it. But even he thought the Hills were confabulating based on some dreams Betty had. (I’m not saying I believe that but I find it suspicious that people constantly cite the case as unimpeachable and say–not that you’re doing this, but others have–”Oh, lookie! A real psychologist did real hypnosis! That’s not an artist or historian! Therefore aliens!” Meanwhile, they conveniently leave out the part where the real psychologist concluded not-aliens. And the fact that alien imagery like they described was on TV and in movies at the time.)

        5.) I disagree with your assessment of Budd Hopkins. He was a complicated man, for sure, but that’s another story for another time. Suffice it to say that anyone willing to overlook all that he did in the “Linda Cortile” case isn’t in this for purely scientific reasons.

        6.) How would the Hills fit the Trickster hypothesis?–A Black man and a White woman married in the 1960s. There’s your two-for-one marginality/anti-structure deal right there! I don’t remember what Walton’s life was like at the time, but who’s going to believe a hick lumberjack and his drinking buddies? – Marginality.

        7.) What do I REALLY think about both cases? I think Travis Walton was taken by something for a number of days, but I can’t accept any of the details drawn from hypnosis. I want to believe the Hill case, too. It’s hard, though, because I bought a DVD interview with Betty in her old age talking about how aliens come to visit her all the time. She talks to them in the yard, that sort of thing. I think whatever happened to her, she’d lost it to age by then. So I don’t know. But again, I can’t put stock in anything from hypnosis. It’s not that there can’t be real memories in that testimony, it’s that the subject cannot differentiate between memory, TV show, imagination, books they’ve read, etc. Everything has equal emotional value in that state and when you’ve got a blank to fill in–who knows what you’re drawing on to fill it?

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