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Aliens in silhouette, screencap from The X-Files

Jacques Vallee – On Messengers of Deception

Daily Grail Publishing has just released a reprint of Jacques Vallee’s UFO classic, Messengers of Deception (Amazon US and Amazon UK). Last week I had a quick chat with Jacques about the book, and the controversy it created in ufology. It was intentionally short – I could talk to Jacques for a couple of days on all manner of topics, but in this case I just wanted to address the elements of his work which have made him, as he describes it, “a heretic among heretics” – namely, his concern about uncritical acceptance of the UFO phenomenon, and also the ‘psychic’ manifestations found in UFO reports which suggest that they may not be “nuts and bolts” craft.

Jacques’ answers are succinct and incisive – here are a few pull-outs:

“Many erstwhile ufologists don’t want the deceptive reports exposed, just as the Catholic Church long denied instances of abuse in its ranks.”

“People linked to the intelligence community of the major countries have been closely involved in studying UFO cases since World War Two. That interest is legitimate, whether it is purely personal (as most of them claim) or related to their official duties. The same is true in parapsychology.”

“[T]he phenomenon comes in an environment of manifestations that include heightened awareness of synchronicities, paranormal sounds and lights and occasionally absurd coincidences similar to those described in the poltergeist literature.”

“By denying the reality of the reports, brushing aside the witnesses…and treating them like fools or crooks, the academic skeptics are actually teaching the public that science is impotent at studying the phenomenon.”

The full interview is below.


TDG: Jacques, thanks for talking with us here at The Daily Grail. Let’s get straight to the new release: the original publication of Messengers of Deception in 1979 marked quite a turning point in your standing with the ufology community. Your warning that we should be more careful about embracing the phenomenon, and that its underlying qualities could well be negative and deceitful in nature rather than benevolent, was rejected by many (and still seems to cause angst to this day). I’m keen to know what acted as the catalyst for the writing of Messengers of Deception, and if you have thoughts on why so many in the UFO research community paint it as a betrayal of sorts?

Jacques Vallee: The evidence for an “undercurrent” of deceit behind some alleged UFO cases only becomes visible when you spend time in the field interviewing witnesses and tracking down the evidence. It became annoying to me because it represented a waste of time and a distraction from studying genuine observations. Researchers who collect reports only through books or media accounts would not necessarily encounter this level of the phenomenon and would understandably resist the suggestion that the belief in extraterrestrial intervention is being manipulated to serve political or cultist goals.Book cover for Jacques Vallee's Messengers of Deception

Even people who are fully aware of this negative aspect don’t want to bring it up into the open because they think it will call disrepute to the subject. Many erstwhile ufologists don’t want the deceptive reports exposed, just as the Catholic Church long denied instances of abuse in its ranks. Whistle-blowing is never welcome. My own position has always been that, on the contrary, the best way to gain the respect of the intellectual community is to expose hoaxes, sloppy research and manipulation whenever we encounter them.

TDG: The underlying message of the book seems more relevant now than ever – in the last few years, we’ve had the “Serpo” case gain high traction in certain parts of the community, and now the “CARET Drones” story seems to have taken on a life of its own, despite there being little to no evidence behind either. Considering the dangers in uncritical belief that you warn of in Messengers of Deception, do you think high profile ufologists and media should be more diligent in exercising a ‘duty of care’ when presenting these cases so eagerly?

Jacques Vallee: If we do not establish a high standard for the data we publish, the entire field suffers. Then it becomes easy for skeptics to claim that the phenomenon only appears before “cranks and weirdoes,” as astrophysicist Stephen Hawking recently stated in England. This is exacerbated by the increased credulity of the public and its blatant exploitation by the media. It seems that people – including some highly educated folks – are ready to believe almost anything they see on the Internet or on Larry King.

TDG: In Messengers of Deception, you warn people to be careful of ‘psy-ops’ initiated by intelligence agencies and the military – you cite the World War II case of the ‘London Controlling Section’ (LCS), whose sole purpose was strategic deception, often using “tricks of science”. How far do we take this caution though? A large portion of ufologists, most of the individuals who have worked in researching/conducting remote viewing, and also a significant portion of parapsychologists, all have fairly strong links to military or intelligence groups. Should we therefore be highly skeptical of the claims made in regards to each topic, even if it seems scientifically sound?

Jacques Vallee: The same standards should apply here that apply in science generally: Look at the evidence behind every claim, track down the references, and test the data yourself. People linked to the intelligence community of the major countries have been closely involved in studying UFO cases since World War Two. That interest is legitimate, whether it is purely personal (as most of them claim) or related to their official duties. The same is true in parapsychology.

This only becomes a problem when that quasi-official interest goes beyond pure research and extends to actually faking sightings, disseminating false photographs or films and promoting weird beliefs, either to serve as distraction from actual intelligence operations, or as a cover for the development of advanced prototypes. A good example is given by the claims of UFOs seen over the USSR in the seventies, that were planted by the KGB to cover-up the launching of soviet satellites that violated the SALT treaties. Every nation can play this game, and has.

TDG: When we look at ufology in the 1960s, versus today, I’m not sure a lot of progress has been made (perhaps even the opposite). Is ufology a sisyphean endeavour, unworthy of our prolonged attention? You’ve personally devoted almost 50 years of research and writing to exploring the phenomenon – can you give a simple opinion to the question: what is behind the UFO phenomenon?

Jacques Vallee: You’re asking me two different questions here. I have convinced myself that there was a real UFO phenomenon once the errors, hoaxes and occasional manipulations were screened out. We do know a great deal more today than we did just 10 years ago, thanks to dedicated researchers who have invested their time and resources to documenting the data. That is not as good as a serious scientific research effort, but one should never underestimate what can be achieved by motivated amateurs. This being said, it would be unrealistic to expect quick solutions, in this field as in any other scientific endeavor.

I have also been interested in the nature of consciousness, and that field has not gotten closer to a solution in fifty years either. Similarly, look at some of the lingering enigmas in archaeology, or in medicine: all we can do is document our data and hope someone will make sense of it at a later time.

TDG: Turning to another aspect of your research that has made you a ‘heretic’ within ufology: You were one of the first to explore the idea that UFO events were as much ‘psychic’ in nature as ‘physical’. Can you detail some of these ‘psychic’ aspects, and what you think the cause is?

Jacques Vallee: This is still a little-known aspect of the sightings because most investigators don’t probe into this area, either for lack of background in parapsychology, or simply because they think they already know the answer, and it must involve simple “nuts and bolts” spacecraft. It takes a very brave witness to bring up such experiences in the face of skeptical researchers. I don’t believe a UFO observation makes anyone “psychic,” to use the popular terminology, but the phenomenon comes in an environment of manifestations that include heightened awareness of synchronicities, paranormal sounds and lights and occasionally absurd coincidences similar to those described in the poltergeist literature.

TDG: On that note, Margaret Mead once wrote: “When we want to understand something strange, something previously unknown, we have to begin with an entirely different set of questions. What is it? How does it work? Are there recurrent regularities?” I’ve been intrigued myself with some of these “recurrent regularities” when it comes to paranormal phenomenon – in particular the strange sounds heard, although there are other things such as strange fogs, odd tastes and smells in the mouth – but find it odd that ufology research doesn’t seem to address these so much. From your own research, have you been able to identify such “recurrent regularities”, which to me would provide solid evidence that there is some sort of objective, structured phenomenon at work here?

Jacques Vallee: The phenomenon is very robust in its manifestations, both physical and physiological. The former can be seen when plotting the time of day when observations are made (the “Law of the Times”) and the development of specific waves or flaps. Physical traces, interference with car ignition, patterns of light phenomena and energy have all been documented by serious authors. The physiological factors include evidence of exposure to UV radiation, frequent effects on the eyes (from conjunctivitis to temporary blindness), skin blisters or injuries in reaction to focused beams of light, temporary inhibition of muscle control, disturbances in the sleep cycle, and general fatigue and anemia lasting over 7 days and life-threatening in some extreme cases.

TDG: Despite these intriguing pieces of evidence though, ‘skeptics’ (of the CSICOPian kind) still tend to write off ufology as a mass of “Venus sightings”. Is the skeptical/rationalist movement – and academia in general – guilty of ignoring the phenomenon based almost purely on intellectual ego and fear of embarrassment? And is there a danger that by alienating themselves (pardon the pun) from the experiences of the public, they will actually enable those very beliefs? As you rightly note in Messengers of Deception, “When the Establishment is rational, absurdity is dynamite.”

Jacques Vallee: By denying the reality of the reports, brushing aside the witnesses (including trained observers like pilots or military personnel) and treating them like fools or crooks, the academic skeptics are actually teaching the public that science is impotent at studying the phenomenon. As the belief in the reality of UFOs grows among the population along with the evidence that a real phenomenon exists, people naturally tend to turn away from science in their search for answers, and that is a very dangerous trend.

TDG: Similarly, in Messengers of Deception you note that “the experience of a close encounter with a UFO is a shattering physical and mental ordeal”. Are UFO experiencers unfairly shunned (and worse, ridiculed) by medical and psychological support networks, based simply on the nature of their experience?

Jacques Vallee: What these people go through is worse than being shunned. In most cases, they are left to fend for themselves, and they become easy preys for groups with quick answers. In the words of a woman who wrote to me after she had a horrible experience she interpreted as an alien abduction, followed by a series of disastrous hypnotic sessions at the hands of incompetent researchers, “the ufologists were worse than the beings who abducted me.” The vacuum that has been created by academic neglect is getting filled by all kinds of irrational belief systems, often linked to conspiracy theories and political paranoia. That was true when I wrote the book thirty years ago, and it is even more true now.

The 2008 reprint of Jacques Vallee’s classic work “Messengers of Deception” has been re-edited by Dr Vallee, and also comes with a new Foreword. You can purchase the book via Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Jacques Vallee was born in France, where he received a B.S. in mathematics at the Sorbonne and an M.S. in astrophysics at Lille University. Coming to the U.S. as an astronomer at the University of Texas, where he co-developed the first computer-based map of Mars for NASA, Jacques later moved to Northwestern University where he received his Ph.D. in computer science. He went on to work at SRI International and the Institute for the Future, where he directed the project to build the world’s first network-based groupware system as a Principal Investigator on Arpanet, the prototype for the Internet. He is now a venture capitalist, and lives in San Francisco. He continues to research the UFO phenomenon.

  1. the Edgar Mitchell interview in light of Messengers of Deception
    Re Edgar Mitchell’s now-famous interview: In my opinion he DID make a “startling new revelation”, but one that is not quite what it appears to be on the surface – especially in light of Dr. Vallee’s assertion in MESSENGERS OF DECEPTION that UFO groups count many members of the various intelligence agencies among their members, as well as a statement he once posted on a website that, in his opinion, the “government coverup” of the UFO phenomenon was largely a coverup of their own ignorance.

    As for Edgar Mitchell:

    1) We know he has been talking for many years about his sightings of UFOs when he was an astronaut.

    2) In his interview, he said that the U.S. government has been trying to hush up their knowledge of the UFO phenomenon, but it’s leaked out anyway, despite their best efforts.

    3) He also said that he has been briefed BY the government on more than one occasion as to the fact that the UFO phenomenon is real, that we (presumably the government) are in contact with extraterrestrials.


    There is a great deal of hard evidence the UFO phenomenon is real, and inexplicable according to conventional science. I also believe that various governments or governmental cliques or extra-governmental groups are trying to capitalize on this phenomenon by floating
    “official” denials that it exists (against massive and mounting evidence) AND clandestinely leaking stories suggesting that it does exist. Why would they do this? Well, if they were to officially admit its existence, they would either have to say “we don’t know what it is and we can’t control it” — thus undercutting their authority with the masses — or they would have to produce the alien diplomats in question so they could appear on the Oprah show. Since they can’t produce those diplomats, they would rather let a growing segment of the population believe that they are in contact with extraterrestrials, but must hide this to prevent mass panic. By acting as I believe they are, they are suggesting to the populace that they have immensely powerful allies, allies who do not hold their offices by the will of the people; and they are also preventing their lack of understanding of the UFO phenomenon from being publicly exposed. So what we have is a mass social engineering project piggybacking on a real phenomenon that may or may not, in itself, be behind that project. And one of the goals of this effort might well be to break down all traditional worldviews, particularly religious ones, so as to prepare the population of the world to accept something on the order of a One World Government without undue resistance.

    Evidence of events that appear to be “controlled leaks” could be collected and studied under that theory. Has anyone explored this avenue? For example, according to one story I ran across (without recording the source), someone admitted to an Air Force base caught a glimpse of an object resembling a UFO through an open hangar door. As soon as he saw it, the door was closed and he was told “you weren’t supposed to see that”. Then, a few days later, the proverbial “men in black” arrived at his door, threatening reprisals if he told anyone what he had seen. This is a classic case of psychological manipulation, where an event that might have made little impression on him suddenly, through the use of terror, assumed the status of a dark revelation: “If these people are desperate enough to threaten to harm me or my family if I reveal what I know, THEN WHAT I SAW MUST BE REAL.”

    Be that as it may, can anyone explain to me why the government, whom Mitchell says has been trying to deny the reality of the UFO phenomenon, would brief him on it, knowing that he would probably reveal what he heard to the public? Richard Hall of MUFON, in an e-mail to me, made the valid point that “the government” is not a monolithic entity, that one faction could be leaking information to Mitchell that other factions want to keep quiet. Yet Mitchell in his interview clearly wanted to give the impression that “official sources” had “briefed” him as to the fact that the UFO phenomenon is real, and that our government and/or others are in contact with extra-
    terrestrials. He didn’t say “this is what I was told – but of course I have no way of independently verifying the part about government contact with extraterrestrial intelligences; my informants might have been lying to me” – No: he told it as “The Truth”. His apparently implicit belief in the honesty and reliability of his informants demonstrates either a great naivete – unlikely in a man of his stature and background — or spots him as an agent dedicated to disseminating their version of reality.

    Charles Upton

    1. Very good
      Charles, the ideas you posit are indeed worthy of consideration Re the possible purposes behind these “disclosure/disinformation?” leaks. Many researchers of the phenomenon like Greg Bishop are wondering exactly the same thing.

      I’ve always wondered something about Spielberg’s movie ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’. What exactly do you imagine happens AFTER the big-ass moher ship departs? Were these G-man going to keep this under wraps from the rest of the public? and if so, for how long?

      Another thing about that movie is that the government was trying to have some sort of contact with these little guys, but obviously that contact did not necesarilly meant a direct form of control on behalf of the government.

      And speaking of movies, back at UFO Mystic it has been brough up that Dr. Mitchell was a consultant of the TV series ‘The X Files’ back at when he made a simmilar “revelation” about ETs in 1998 (Read this), and altough it is certainly interesting the timing coincidences between Dr. Mitchell’s new interview and the release of the new X-Files movie, and wouldn’t go as fas as believing they are necessarily linked for any possible economic inerests on behalf of Mitchell—as the author of the above article proposes.

      PS: Another interesting coincedence(?) is the upcoming release of the movie ‘Watchmen’ on March of 2009. If you want to know what a “super-hero comic book” has got to do with all this, I suggest you read it 😉

      It’s not the depth of the rabbit hole that bugs me…
      It’s all the rabbit SH*T you stumble over on your way down!!!

      Red Pill Junkie

  2. Outstanding.
    Thanks so much for making this possible. It’s great to see Vallee being outspoken and active again — his books are the best in the field, along with Dolan’s masterpiece. THANK YOU DAILY GRAIL, THANK YOU JACQUES VALLEE.

  3. UFO – psychic connection
    Jacques Vallée is a rare case of cold headedness in the field. Cold headedness implies an approach that does not attempt to steer to conclusions that are ‘acceptable’.

    It appears to be a very touchy subject when both physical and apparently immaterial phenomena overlap.

    The rational being wants to stick to materialistic solutions, and the spiritual being wants to keep the invisible at a sacred level.

    Angels and aliens and dead souls and all then remain segregated to never meet so that you don’t ever get a synthesis, like today’s science and and parasciences don’t meet and that we do not have a solution to create unity between quantum and standard models.

    As far as I am concerned, both the materialistic and the spiritual establishments, as well as those who adhere to their positions, are responsible for ignorance in a certain way.

    And it will remain that way so long as science and spirituality won’t have been replaced with a view that is not limited to presumptions.

  4. Thanks so much for making
    Thanks so much for making this possible. It’s great to see Vallee being outspoken and active again — his books are the best in the field, along with Dolan’s masterpiece. THANK YOU DAILY GRAIL, THANK YOU JACQUES VALLEE.

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