From demons and fairies to UFOs and Bigfoot, tales of the unexplained have been a part of humanity’s story since the beginning. Ancient alien theorists will look at the Bible and chalk up every bizarre event to aliens, while a religious scholar may look at contemporary alien abductions as manifestations of demons. Bigfoot and other cryptids have a strange habit of showing up near UFO sightings… and those who encounter either of these phenomena often discover newfound psychic abilities. Could there be a common cause that explains all paranormal events?
One of the most famous sustained paranormal experiences is the Mothman incident of 1966: For 13 months, Point Pleasant, West Virginia was plagued with sightings of a bizarre winged humanoid, accompanied by mysterious lights in the sky, animal mutilations, and other accounts of paranormal activity. Journalist John Keel famously documented this prolonged period of unusual events in his book, The Mothman Prophecies, which was later made into a film of the same name.
These simultaneous events were not new to Keel. He often wrote of “window areas”: specific locations on our planet where paranormal events were far more likely, and even expected, to occur. For experiencers and believers of the paranormal, the greatest frustration often lies in the lack of abundant physical evidence. A few landing marks here, a bit of fur there, and even the occasional photograph don’t seem to be enough to convince the skeptics. After decades of researching such cases, Keel developed an elegant hypothesis, which explains the troublesome disparity between excessive testimony and scarce physical evidence.
His book, The Eighth Tower, written at the same time as The Mothman Prophecies, proposes a sort of unified theory to explain all paranormal events. These entities are able to shift up and down the electromagnetic spectrum, appearing and disappearing as they please. He called this the “superspectrum” and referred to the beings inhabiting it as “ultraterrestrials”.
This could explain the variety of electromagnetic effects often associated with paranormal events: Cars stall, widespread power outages occur, radios and telephones go crazy, and battery operated devices refuse to work. Clocks and watches have been known to stop in the presence of UFOs, monsters, and ghosts.
Keel believes these beings are native to the Earth, which explains their manifestation in different forms throughout the ages, but that they inhabit physical dimensions beyond normal human perception. This theory fits with scientific understandings of how our brains perceive the world around us: It is well known that our senses are only equipped to pick up a very small slice of physical activity. Dogs, cats, and other animals are able to hear audio frequencies we cannot. Is it simply coincidence that they seem to have a 6th sense for the paranormal?
Pet psychologist Marti Miller has said, “Sensing the supernatural is natural for dogs because they don’t judge it. People could see auras or spirits, but they either don’t believe they exist, or think that if they do exist, we could not see them.”
Furthermore, our sensory organs are constantly capturing far more information than our brains can process. One of the most critical functions of the brain’s sensory response is filtering out information that it deems unnecessary. Pattern recognition plays a large role in this process.
When you see something that looks like a tree, your brain acknowledges the general shape of a tree, and quickly creates the idea of a tree. But what happens when you observe something that fits no recognized pattern?
“What we pay attention to is largely determined by our expectations of what should be present,” said Christopher Chabris, a cognitive psychologist, in an interview with the New York Times. “Without expecting something, we’re unlikely to pay attention to it”, he says, and “when we are not paying attention to something, we are surprisingly likely to not see it.”
This could also explain the common motif, described by Keel and many other researchers, that when you start studying these phenomena, they begin to reflect back, occurring with more regularity and even responding to your thoughts. It seems that once your brain recognizes these phenomena, and begins paying attention to them, your odds of glimpsing them improve.
In the 1960s, writer Gustav Davidson was compiling a massive book of historical accounts called Dictionary of Angels. Davidson had never had a paranormal experience before, but during his writing he was “literally bedeviled by angels.”
Participants in the growing CE5 movement go one step further, intentionally working to summon this sort of contact. A “close encounter of the 5th kind” refers to an experience in which someone interacts in a purposeful way with an unidentified flying object or its inhabitants. Some ufologists, most notably Dr. Steven Greer, have developed protocols for intentionally initiating contact with these beings, believing that a focused meditation can promote contact with nearby beings. Practitioners claim a surprising level of success with these protocols, producing all manner of documentation showing strange lights and other manifestations during CE5 meditations.
Could it be that we are constantly surrounded by these “ultraterrestrials” and our focused attention is all that is necessary to perceive them? Of course, there is the possibility that the existence of paranormal entities throughout history could be chalked up to Jung’s theory of the “collective unconscious” revealing itself through vividly overactive imaginations. Or, could we be living on a densely populated, multi-dimensional planet, alongside beings who have interacted with us for centuries; leaving little trace within our own narrow perception of reality?