Tag: UFOs

Announcing: The Warbler Weekly (And a Book Review!)

According to the Gregorian calendar, it is nearly the end of February. Somewhere around the middle of this month—and truth be told, I can’t remember the exact date—The Warbler celebrated its seventh birthday. Seven years! It’s been an interesting time, to say the least, and I am immensely grateful to you, readers and friends, for helping me forge my love of reading into something tangible.

Today, I’m delighted to tell you about something new. More than a few of you know that I, along with several colleagues and friends, host a weekly writing podcast called Write Right on which we discuss a variety of writerly topics near and dear to my heart. I’ve been mulling over the idea of expanding this blog into a multimedia extravaganza for some time, and at the repeated insistence of my friend G. Derek Adams, I have done just that.

Meet The Warbler Weekly. It’s a companion to this blog (which I’ll continue trying to update with written reviews as often as I am able) in which I’ll cover one book or several works by a single author every week. The podcast will likely expand into other topics as I pursue a variety of endeavors, so I’m keeping it very loose. I’ll be publishing a post on the site every time I publish a new episode, too.

I’m using Anchor to host and distribute it, but the platform offers a bunch of neat features. For instance, if you download it, you can record questions or comments on episodes and send them to me, which I can in turn feature on future episodes. An asynchronous conversation, audible to all kinds of book nerds. Sounds fun, right?

The first episode is up right now, and you can subscribe to the podcast on any of your favorite services—links below to the big ones.

The first book review on The Warbler Weekly is Aliens: The World’s Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life, a book of nonfiction essays compiled by Jim Al-Khalili. Give the episode a listen and let me know what you think!

Anchor Podcasts      Apple Podcasts       Google Play Music      PocketCasts

Passport to the Cosmos – Dr. John E. Mack

MackCover And now for something completely different. Many of you, my adoring fans, are fully aware that I have a casual obsession with UFOs and “aliens.” I haven’t been abducted — and my general feelings on the abduction phenomenon are complicated at best — and I think I’ve seen a flying object of unknown (read: non-earthly) origin, but I like to maintain a healthy skepticism about the UFO/ET community, lest my hair begin to rise and I start declaiming that I’ve been given an honorary doctorate, and suddenly I get the privilege of a television program on which I deliver some nonsensical ramblings on how the only way primitive cultures could have survived without modern science is through alien intervention.

The creation of megalithic structures that we still don’t fully understand notwithstanding, there’s definitely something fishy going on here. At the very least, it is mathematically (scientifically) impossible that we are alone in the universe. There are simply too many opportunities for life to exist between the innumerable planets around the hundreds of billions of stars within the hundreds of billions of galaxies that make up our universe, and the many theories of multiple universes/dimensions make it even more likely. Simply put: there is other life out there.

The real question comes down to this: If a sufficiently evolved life-form that had the capacity to visit other planets:

  1. Why now (after what presumably was a significant gap in time, between ancient humanity and roughly the 1500s)
  2. Why so sporadically, now that you’re here, and
  3. How are you choosing whom to contact (because seriously y’all need to branch out.)

Aliens

Which brings me to the book! Dr. John E. Mack’s Passport to the Cosmos: Human Tranformaion and Alien Encounters is a meandering collection of abstract pseudo-scientific conclusions based on the stories of several “abduction experiencers” (Dr. Mack’s name for abductees,) many of whom are American or British. The book does get much more interesting when Dr. Mack consults three tribal/spiritual leaders about their “ancient knowledge” of visitors from other worlds (or dimensions.) Regrettably, the book doesn’t commit to a single tone; rather, it fluctuates between an attempt at narrative and hard-science report. This makes the book feel like it’s of two minds regarding its own arguments, which weakens them considerably. Dr. Mack devotes precious resources (pages upon pages) to justifying arguments that fail logic tests (or general principles of critical thinking,) then follows them up with hearsay tales, far too good to be true, and urges the reader to swallow them hole, as gospel.

I imagine I’d have had much less trouble with the book’s shifting tone if Dr. Mack hadn’t devoted almost 100 pages at the outset describing why, despite the fact that the use of subjective tales is problematic for delivering objective fact-based reporting, we should totally believe the stories that follow. Then, he takes us on a wild journey, where abduction experiencers are put through a wringer and made to suffer, or learn to love, or understand history, or produce human-alien offspring, or have out-of-body experiences, or learn of the doom that the human race has been damned to due to its own arrogance, blah blah blah. It’s the same song-and-dance, however applicable to our lives, as every other new age text, most of which I tend to enjoy. I think my issue truly was that the book was poorly edited and, truth be told, poorly written.

After sending us on this incredible (and I truly mean in-credible here) journey alongside these souls who’ve undergone such trauma — information he extracts using regression therapy treatments, the technique of which sounded dubious at best — he closes the book with a huge caveat: he says, almost sheepishly, that he isn’t too sure he believes that any of these abductions actually happened. He follows up that statement with a casual “but we should still pay attention, because what they’re saying about saving the world and human unity is important.”

Yeah. It’s important. But dude, the whole book is predicated upon the “factual” nature of these reports, which you so carefully stressed needed to be taken seriously at the start of your book. Then you preach for almost two hundred pages about the future of humanity, basing your arguments entirely on the validity of these experiencers’ statements, then you follow it up with a “yeah well it might actually not be true because we can’t prove any of it.” Can’t you see why I feel like you’ve wasted my time?

For what it’s worth, I will definitely continue reading books on UFO and abduction phenomena. I know that the universe is simply too vast for our planet to be the only one with intelligent life — it’s mathematically impossible for us to be alone in the universe. What I don’t know is that we’ve been visited, and Dr. Mack’s book gives me no reason to suddenly believe in the truth of these events. At the end of the day, I really, really want to believe this is true, but I need more than the story of some people from New Mexico, or a Shaman from South America, or a Medicine Man from South Africa, or a Native American Healer. Despite the fact that they have good advice — love one another, stop wars, stop depleting the planet’s resources, there’s literally no reason to believe any of this stuff happened. And Dr. Mack apparently agrees. Save yourself the trouble and avoid reading this one. There are far better books on the subject out there.

WannaBelieve