Saturday, December 22, 2012

Assembling an Anomaly with Micah Hanks

We are excited to announce the formal publication of our new release The UFO Singularity from Micah Hanks.  

The false but widespread assumption that a UFO is, of necessity, an alien spaceship is usually the reason the term generates such an exaggerated and confusing range of emotional responses. A recognition of the extraterrestrial hypothesis as being a valid, although unproved, possible explanation worthy of further scientific scrutiny is something entirely different from approaching the subject of UFOs as if this discovery had already been made.
—Leslie Kean, UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record

Since my early youth, I admit to being wholly absorbed with all the compelling possibilities that surrounded the UFO mystery. Even the grainiest and least aesthetically impressive black and white photographs that had emerged into the wide and ever-expanding dossier of UFO reports up to that time boasted a certain degree of promise in my young mind. To me, each of those otherwise-unimpressive images, depicting amorphous globs of light and barely discernible shapes coasting through the airspace above our planet, might have held the potential for incredible realities and bold new kinds of life that might have come from, of all places, somewhere outside this little celestial island we call Earth.

It is rather strange to me now, thinking back to those years of eager and hopeful early exploits in the field of ufology, that notions regarding the origins of those strange saucers—at least so far as being from someplace other than outer space—had seldom crossed my mind. Today, things are quite different, and I can state with certainty that the man I would eventually become, equipped with a more complete understanding of the scientific meth­odology that any serious researcher must apply in his or her respective field, has illuminated a number of new potentials in the realm of what UFOs might be. If any­thing, my thought processes regarding the possibilities this complicated mystery may yet afford us have only continued to broaden, especially the further I get from that old notion that UFOs, quite simply, are interstellar spacecraft from another world.

To be fair, the reasoned scientist should not (nor would he in practice) eliminate any possibility on the mere grounds that available evidence seemed to be lack­ing in one particular area or another. For all we know of the UFOs themselves—or the presumption that they are occupied by some kind of physical beings like you or me, for that matter—the ongoing enigma of the flying sau­cers very well may be representative of alien life from some distant star system. Therefore, far be it from me, let alone the staunchest skeptics among us, to hope to derail anyone else’s belief in alien visitation here on Earth. The bottom line is that we simply don’t know what, exactly, we may be dealing with when it comes to UFOs. At present, we only have a few reasonably good ideas.

Based on this fundamental notion that UFOs could either be nothing we have yet imagined, or that they are represented by a variety of different unexplained aerial phenomena, I have long advocated the use of a reasoned, philosophical process of inquiry we might call “specula­tive ufology” for use in their study. Although many in the scientific field lapse into a state of rhetorical cringes and curls at the mere utterance of that word—speculation— there must be some way to proceed with the unraveling of complex mysteries through the use of filling in cer­tain blank areas, so as to ponder a more likely outcome or resolution to any given set of circumstances. Think for a moment of how a skilled mathematician or physicist is given license, by virtue of his trade, to balance equations that are intricate in their difficulty by brainstorming a host of different variables. That is, he will go about the problem-solving process by replacing certain unknown elements with quantities that may, in the end, bring res­olution to a group of numbers arranged in such a way that they represent the complex mysteries surrounding things like time, space, gravity, and the cosmos. At the outset of his inquiry, this brilliant man of science will likely not be equipped with every piece needed to solve the puzzle before him; and thus, he improvises. This sort of educated guesswork is integral to the eventual unraveling of any great and complex mystery our universe may have to offer.

Much the same as math and numbers can be likened to being a universal language of the greater cosmos, the role of the speculative physicist is one who seeks to find “common ground” between disparate elements that exist throughout our reality. Why is it, for instance, that light energy in the form of photons being propelled through space will tend to behave differently in some parts of the universe as opposed to others? Though there may appear to be no physical mass present to influence their behav­ior, the light traveling along in such circumstances can be observed behaving as though there were, in fact, some­thing else there. Hence, such strange and questionable behavior has lead us to the presumption that things like black holes and antimatter must exist, and that the latter of these will likely share the same attractant forces that any “normal” matter would exert in terms of its influence on other objects. This, at least, has become a consensus among many in the scientific community, so far as being the most likely explanation for weird behavior that can be seen out there in deep space, and at times, perhaps even in our own backyard. The great challenge, however (or burden, depending on one’s viewpoint), always lies in the task of confirming such theories, a task that inevitably becomes daunting.

We are cursed with a very limited ability to physi­cally lay our hands on such mysteries as antimatter—and the same goes for things we would perceive as being nor­mal and everyday, such as light energy. We are unable to hold such things in our hands, turning them before our eyes and grasping them like any solid object, in order to observe their most miniscule and clandestine details. But because of this, can we say with certainty that light energy simply does not exist? Can we say that antimatter, despite its elusive nature, is not what we had originally presumed must be exerting its peculiar influences on other aspects of our universe? The modern scientist would scoff at the very proposition, right? And yet, that seems to be precisely how complex issues involving the UFO mys­tery end up being treated.

So why is there such a double standard here? How can bizarre concepts like alternate dimensions and time travel be completely acceptable, but only as long as there is a speculative physicist with a long string of letters after his name who divulges such potentials—and often stand­ing before a camera’s ever-watchful eye, presenting these bold “theories” to an audience of millions in some colorful science-themed television program? As soon as the humble ufologist steps up to the plate and begins to point out the scientific potentials that may surround things like UFO propulsion, or how intelligent life might travel through space, he gets laughed off the stage and called a lunatic. Go back home, freak. And try fitting that tin foil hat a bit tighter next time; you’re going to need it to protect your brain from being fried by those aliens you spend all day thinking about.

Yet unlike antimatter, there have been a number of photographs, videos, and reliable eyewitness testimonies that have emerged throughout the years that illustrate quite clearly how an entire host of intelligently controlled objects have been observed, albeit at sparring intervals, soaring through our skies. And to wit, as addressed ear­lier, these objects have succeeded in garnering atten­tion from intelligence agencies in the United States and elsewhere around the world time and time again. Despite the physical, observable nature of this phenomenon, the bottom line continues to be that, despite any amount of evidence promoting their existence, in large part the sci­entific community still seems to feel that there is little or no scientific merit to continuing UFO studies. After all, what could we possibly learn from the speculative study of things that appear so advanced that we can barely fathom what greater meaning or relevance they may keep for us as a species?

At this time, I suggest we put forth a new, different kind of bold idea: I say to hell with this “holier than thou” attitude toward the act of speculation, which we see so rife amid the greater scientific mainstream. Had Einstein or Oppenheimer never engaged in reasoned speculation, allowing their imaginations to drift away at times on the mere hope of possibility, then the proponents of things such as antimatter and alternate dimensions might instead find themselves employed among the ranks of one of your neighborhood fast food chains. Let’s give credit to some of our very finest speculators where credit is due.

Rather than to place limitations on thought and shy away from reasoned speculation, if we are to take on a greater, more complete understanding of what we call the UFO mystery, we must press on, pushing ahead by asking questions. Occasionally, we must fit variables into the gaps and spaces we uncover, fitting carefully molded ideas into the nooks and crannies of logic much like the steady hand of the mathematician, as he draws lines and symbols upon the powdery surface of his chalkboard. Above all, we must use this logic and reason we obtain to discern what we can from what sparring evidence we have been afforded at this time.

Remembering the words of Spock, Captain Kirk’s unexcitable science advisor aboard the Starship Enter­prise in J.J. Abrams’s 2009 re-visioning of the Star Trek mythos: “Once you have eliminated the impossible, what­ever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” The same quote can, in fact, be traced to a much earlier source: none other than Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s famous sleuth, Sherlock Holmes. Regardless of the origin of the phrase, I’m certain neither character—Spock nor Holmes—would disapprove of the logic I’m advocating here. 

Micah Hanks is a writer and researcher whose work addresses a variety of unexplained phenomena. With regard to UFOs, Hanks has studied the more esoteric realms of the strange and unusual, but also researches cultural phenomena, human history, and, of course, the prospects of our technological future as a species through science and transhumanism. He is author of Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule, and writes for a variety of magazines and other publications such as FATE Magazine, Fortean Times, UFO Magazine, The Journal of Anomalous Sciences, and New Dawn. Hanks has also appeared on numerous TV and radio programs, including Travel Channel’s Weird Travels program, National Geographic’s Paranatural, the History Channel’s Guts and Bolts, CNN Radio, and The Jeff Rense Program. He also produces a weekly podcast that follows his research at his popular Website, Hanks makes his home near Asheville, North Carolina.

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