A Candid and Personal Interview with the Editor, Brent Raynes
by Joan Raynes
Joan: You’ve been studying UFOs now for nearly four decades of your life. What do you personally believe is going on?
Brent: What you believe hinges on belief. In my idealistic youth I wanted, of course, absolute, simple, and straight-forward certainty. Really, who doesn’t? But in ufology too many folks have settled upon what they believe is solid and absolute proof with the answers to the UFO enigma, when to a large extent all that they’ve really done is settled for a psychological representation for concrete and absolute truth and proof. The so-called hard-core skeptics, those who vehemently deny any genuine and anomalous reality underlying the UFO picture, are at the opposite and equally fallible end of the belief spectrum. Both will likely fail to perceive the proverbial truth because of the psychological filters of belief that they pass all of their information through.
The UFO mystery is a lot more complicated than most realize or want to believe.
Joan: Well, how should one go about investigating UFOs?
Brent: Over the years, we’ve paid a good deal of lip service to the process, but generally fail to adequately employee it. It all comes back to objectivity, striving to walk that middle ground or path, and trying not to fall into the psychological traps that await both the believer and skeptic alike.
Certainly each one of us has some measure of bias and subjective ideation or personal gut appraisal of these things. We’re human. In reality, those subjective projections are a useful tool to employ, so long as we don’t go overboard and confuse theories with facts. We have to use restraint. Just because something seems to be going on and everything at the time seems to clearly point in a certain direction, always ask yourself the critical question: Is there any hard physical evidence that conclusively connects all of the proverbial dots? Is it a fact or a belief? It’s very important for us to maintain some self-control over our thought processes and an elevated level of awareness and alertness to the processes of objectivity.
Joan: So will anyone ever really know the ultimate answers?
Brent: I believe we’ll figure it out, by and large, one fine day. Or, should I say I hope so. But before we can zero in on it and make the grand sweep finale for the seizing of ultimate anything, we must struggle onward to focus on the waging of smaller battles and skirmishes at hand, settling for the gradual, step-by-step obtaining of enlightenment through the smaller scale victories that involve being objective and scientific in our thinking. We’ve got to try and build our evidence upon a pretty solid and substantial foundation. It’s a struggle, it can be psychologically painful and not as much fun, I admit, but it’s an essential and key part of the process.
Experience is our most crucial teacher. In my field work, I have had a number of personally disturbing experiences that well illustrated for me the difficulties with sometimes removing the color from and properly evaluating eyewitness testimony. The other night reading an interview in a 1989 issue of a UFO magazine of noted UFO skeptic Peter Kor I could identify with some of his field experiences. For example, he described how late one night he was with a group of people and looking down into a valley saw what they became convinced was a landed saucer! Kor states that he was the only one who didn’t panic and run the other way. Instead he walked down the hill and discovered that it was an oddly shaped greenhouse with a green glow to it. Later when they regrouped he couldn’t convince the others that it was simply a greenhouse, and couldn’t prove it to them because they were unable to find their way back to the same location. To this day, those people apparently remained convinced it was a landed saucer. Kor had other experiences of a similar vein, where people’s expectations caused them to misperceive ordinary events.
As I started to say, I’ve had similar experiences myself. For example, I was with a couple contactees and there was a buzzing sound in the room, and I remarked that it sounded like a fly. I was told no, it was a chakra opening or something along that line. But then I saw it...a fly! Another time there was a tapping on a window. I was told it was an energy beam hitting the window. I pulled a curtain back...it was a bug again! On another night I was riding with a noted abductee on a darkened country road when we unexpectedly came upon a bright light in the air. I got out and saw that it was attached to a tower. Then we drove on and came to a paved road and the abductee pointed to a compass on the seat and noted that we had moved out away from a magnetic field as the needle wasn’t vibrating as it had been doing earlier....while driving along the graveled country road! Later, this person and I were comparing reports that we had separately written about our observations during that period and I was surprised that she still included the light on the tower as a UFO, after I had gotten out and identified it! Then, a few years back, I was involved in a haunted house investigation. Someone excitedly told all of us that there was the sound of Indian drums emanating in an upstairs room. We all rushed up and listened, and then everyone seemed satisfied that “Yup, it sounds like Indian drumming. It’s another mysterious occurrence.” Then all of these people headed back downstairs. I was alone in the room. The noise was still there. It didn’t take me long and I was able to track it down to an old overhead ceiling fan that wasn’t revolving too smoothly. I went down to inform the others what I had figured out, and later mulled over the fact that if I hadn’t figured it out, this would have ended up being just another unexplained event connected with this “haunted house.” I was once involved in investigating another haunted site, and many attempts were made at trying to tape record spirit voices. During that time I developed a pretty keen ear for this work and paid close attention to what was going on around me. Often someone nearby would say something and not realize that the tape recorder would pick them up, and then when played back some would get excited. After months of doing this, I ended up with only a couple instances where I was puzzled by a recording. In both instances I was present, and yet in both instances I couldn’t be absolutely certain that it was a genuine paranormal manifestation either. Those interpretations can be tricky.
Nonetheless, on the other hand, I have been present when things happened that I couldn’t absolutely explain either. So it’s a bit of tit for tat. You go into these situations with a go-with- the-flow attitude and try to keep your head clear, your emotions in check, and keep yourself centered. Sometimes fear wants to cloud your judgement, like the time there was a bright and admittedly funny looking light on the horizon, and nearby this housewife began crying and saying something like, “Brent, what have you done? What is that thing?” Fortunately, it turned out to be just a bright heavenly body coming up over the early morning horizon! However, I must confess that this same housewife had been present one time before when I was experimenting at the site with psychometry (seemed to have had a number of successes there) and I predicted that if we all went outside at a certain time and looked in a certain direction, we’d see a UFO manifestation. Indeed we saw a very odd beam of light, and then others in other directions too. I never was able to explain that. Tit for tat.
Joan: So where do you go from here? What are you trying to achieve at the present time?
Brent: Some years back, I realized the importance of trying to take a comprehensive global and historical look at these reports. To see how they compared in light of geographical and cultural differences, as well as comparing present day events to similar ones in earlier time periods. Dr. Jacques Vallee’s Passport to Magonia, published back in 1969, was a pioneering, landmark classic in this regard. I’ve also learned from Dr. Vallee’s writings and from others the importance of opening your mind to alternative theories and possibilities. Many UFO researchers have rejected important data simply because it didn’t conform to their conditioned expectations. Many are narrowly focused on an either/or proposition revolving around extraterrestrial visitations. That’s a sorry state of affairs when an investigator throws out data and turns a deaf ear to testimony simply because it doesn’t jive with his or her pet mainstream ET-based belief system. But it happens.
The best approach to a UFO investigation is to allow the witness to tell his or her story in their own words without interruption. You don’t need to interrupt or distract them while they’re in the middle of giving you their account. Some important detail or details may end up being overlooked because you side-tracked them. Or, they may pick up on telling you what they think you’re specifically interested in, or what you are able to handle. So let them talk on, and then once they’ve given you the details of what they remember, in their own words, then proceed to ask questions that will clarify specific details or aspects that you may need to know or are curious about.
Back in the late 1970s, I had become interested in the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung’s thoughts on UFOs as synchronistic and archetypal manifestations, and then a few years later, I met Dr. Gregory Little in 1985. In 1993, we began editing this magazine together. Greg had earlier written The Archetype Experience, and later wrote People of the Web and Grand Illusions, all exploring Jung’s complex ideas of a collective unconscious, but also incorporating a great deal of updated material that included Michael Persinger’s lab studies dealing with subjects under the effects of magnetic fields, and Greg also arrived at a theory that borrowed some from John Keel’s electromagnetic spectrum theory and came up with archetypal EM/plasma energy forms that also possessed intelligence. Not just natural earth-based energy phenomena as Persinger was to insist, or Paul Devereux of Britain’s Project Dragon was to prefer.
Greg and I have had many private conversations on the significance of the spiritual and paranormal implications of UFO/contactee data. In addition, going back over three decades, I corresponded extensively with psychiatrist Dr. Berthold Eric Schwarz, author of the two volume UFO Dynamics (which includes a chapter I wrote). Before entering ufology, Dr. Schwarz was also a noted parapsychologist, and his UFO book is filled with both UFO and seemingly interrelated paranormal data of high strangeness. He has gone out into the field and personally investigated numerous cases. One of the cases in this book is an “abduction” case in Maine which he worked on with myself and fellow researcher Shirley Fickett, and now you know what my chapter in the book was about (which originally appeared back in 1976 in England’s well- known Flying Saucer Review).
So I guess you could say that I’ve gotten a well rounded and broad education that examined UFO data in conjunction with assorted physical, psychological, parapsychological, geophysical, electromagnetic, cosmic, spiritual, even shamanic, plus even quantum physics theories on alternative, other dimensional realities.
I’ve been pulled in a lot of different directions and looked at a whole lot of stuff from a lot of different angles. A few times, I thought I had found the proverbial iron-clad answer I had been seeking, but then something would come along and demolish my case.
You might assume that I’m very frustrated at this point. But really I’ve become very comfortable with the way things are. I’ve gone with the flow, rolled with the punches, and evolved a more easy going, relaxed and philosophical way of looking at these things and dealing with life. A couple of years ago, I wrote a book entitled Visitors From Hidden Realms. In it I reviewed the data and cases (many that I had personally had some involvement), exploring the evidence and theories, and tentatively concluding that a case can be made for UFO, paranormal, and spiritual/shamanic connections and similarities. One of the stories in my book concerned a Native American friend whose apparent UFO/past life memories seemed to be connected with hearing the ancient shamanic instruments known as the Peruvian whistling vessels, while she was standing on top of an Indian mound with others, involved in a ceremony, here in Tennessee. Now, for a little over a year, I have had the honor of being a keeper of a set of seven whistling vessels that have been on loan to me. I’ve carried them all the way to Virginia, back in December 2005, to incorporate into my presentation at the ARE’s UFO Conference. In November, I’ll return again to a local ARE retreat gathering at Tennessee’s Montgomery Bell State Park to do another presentation there. It’s been an incredible and kind of mysterious journey, and certainly a new learning experience. The whistles often seem to lull people into an altered state of consciousness, and sometimes what those people see and hear can be quite interesting and unusual. Noted abductee Betty Luca had quite a “vision” at the December conference in Virginia. (Details posted in my Reality Checking column in Alternate Perceptions, #97, January 2006). I see a lot of similarity between shamans and contactees/abductees. I know that it sounds like a strange pursuit, but I believe I’m onto something!