Some years ago I spoke, as did a number of my friends and colleagues, at a parapsychology related conference in one of our beautiful but wild Northwest states.
I was reminded this morning of an amusing incident at this conference. One of the speakers, a local and, I guess, probably politically influential Rancher, talked about his friends in the UFOs, the rides they took him on, the sights they showed him, etc…..I’m not a trained clinician, but to me he was obviously schizophrenic. Now I’m not making that judgment because of his unusual experiences per se, I’ve always been open to the idea that UFOs may stem from the activities of intelligent aliens, even though UFO-related delusions are common among the mentally ill. The stubborn conviction that we are the only intelligent life forms around, and that if we can’t think of a useful way to travel from one star system to another it must be impossible has always struck me as simple arrogance. But from the way this man talked, he was clearly, to use a delightful old phrase I haven’t heard anyone use in years, marching to the beat of a different drummer.
I talked to one of the conference organizers about him afterwards, how could they have such an obviously crazy person talk at a public conference like this? I was concerned that putting respectable scientific research on parapsychology on the same stage with such a crazy presentation would reflect badly on parapsychology, a “guilt-by-association” method much used by the pseudo-skeptics.
Well, I was told, all his friends and neighbors of course knew he was crazy – but it’s extremely difficult to find any decent water in those Northwestern states. His UFO alien friends had led him to some fantastically good places to drill wells, producing hundreds of gallons of good water per hour…..they wished had more crazy neighbors like him around……