The idea that the human race shares the Earth with one or more hidden sister species and that one of these hidden species (living beneath the Earth in caverns/a Hollow Earth/under Antarctica/a non-specific `other-dimension' - take your pick) might have developed a technology in advance of our own which is wholly or partly responsible for the UFO phenomenon, is a very old one. It's fair to say that no evidence worthy of science supports this idea, nor ever has.
In his manuscript for `The Cryptoterrestrials' the late Mac Tonnies reheats these old ideas and stirs in the speculations of Jacques Vallee, John Keel and others from past decades that an Earth-bound intelligence is behind at least some of the UFO phenomenon and attempts societal manipulation by deceiving humans with whom it chooses to interact into believing they're seeing extraterrestrials. He names the resulting stew his `Cryptoterrestrial Hypothesis' (CTH for short). However the CTH as explained in the book is neither a new idea nor a true hypothesis, as (unlike the ETH) it lacks supporting evidence and fails to address the obvious questions. It's a loose unfinished essay more than a book; speculation rather than serious theory, and perhaps the author's own term a `meditation' is more appropriate.
Mac admitted he did no original research, no field work and conducted no interviews with UFO witnesses or experiencers: he was an armchair theorist and internet blogger, absorbing and rehashing the work of others, usually with intelligence and eloquence. The author rails against the ETH and those who give it credence, and repeats Vallee's old arguments from the 1970s thus:
"That the UFO phenomenon is so rampant argues against extraterrestrial origin and favors an intelligence with a penchant for theatre..." (p36)
Like Vallee, Mac fails to convince us why the ubiquity of UFO encounters and the frequent attendant strangeness rules out an extraterrestrial origin. On the contrary, many argue more convincingly that this very ubiquity and strangeness - and more especially the occasionally evident "penchant for theatre" - forcibly strengthens the ETH. He then promptly reveals his hand by falling into the anthropomorphic trap typical of Sagan or Shostak by declaring "I believe genuine ET visitors would not do this, instead they would do that..."
So this is evidently the root of the author's thought process: a crypto-anthropomorphic belief-system which allows for certain beliefs and disallows others, regardless of evidence.
His `meditation' may be summarised as follows:
1. UFOs and alien/humanoid encounters are definitely real phenomena: the number of accounts over time is high and geographically dispersed, and the narratives reasonably consistent
So far so good, but then the belief-driven mindset kicks in:
2. I do not believe that `genuine' extraterrestrials would behave like this: they wouldn't do what they are reported to do, they should be doing something else instead because my belief-system says so
3. However, an Earth-originated tribe of elusive `cryptoterrestrials' can be imagined who I can accept might do these things
4. Furthermore we can fantasise that these imagined cryptoterrestrials might suffer from some genetic malady which would explain their abductions of humans; be reclusive and declining in number; and engage in theatrical deception to convince the human population with whom they share the planet that they are extraterrestrial
The argument, such as it is, is assumptive and full of holes. The case against the ETH is not proven, and even a weak case for the so-called `CTH' is not successfully made. What we're left with is yesterday's leftovers, speculative ideas re-heated, spiced and served with new garnish, supported by no evidence.
There is also unfortunately more than a hint of arrogance: of youthful confidence (the author was only 34 when he died in October 2009) believing its intellect superior to older, wiser minds and even misrepresenting - perhaps through misunderstanding rather than intent - the convictions of others in order to demonstrate this superior intellect. One example of many: he more than once claims Budd Hopkins to be a champion of the ETH, a hypothesis pilloried and rejected by Mac as misguided and plain wrong. Well, I happen to know not only Budd Hopkins' writings but the man himself very well personally, and have spent many rich hours with him over the years in face-to-face discussion. In the many hundreds of cases investigated over 35 years and in all his writings, lectures and works, he has never declared any firm belief that the abductors are of extraterrestrial origin. He refers to them as `alien' advisedly: as he says, this word denotes `others', a different intelligence than us, outsiders. Whether they are from The Pleiades, from the centre of the Earth, from another `dimension', time travellers or some other phenomenon hitherto unknown is of supreme irrelevance to him and something about which he does not and will not speculate. That many abductions are linked to structured craft - UFOs - is certain, as there are simply too many cases and too much evidence for any field investigator to deny. But this is not the same thing as belief in the ETH: to characterize Hopkins this way is to misrepresent his views - knowing or unknowing, it's still misrepresentation. It would have been easy to find out Budd's views on this issue: just ask him. Tonnies obviously never bothered, and there is a bit too much of this kind of thing in his short book, I'm afraid, and rather too much assumptive and not-too-well-informed speculation masquerading as intellectual superiority for my taste.
The writing however is refreshingly literate. The author favours vocabulary difficult for most readers (one of Mac's favourite words, - memes - seems to equal the late John Mack's reliance on `ontological' to explain himself) and rarely uses a familiar or simple word where something more obscure is available. Taken more or less at random, from p106:
"...these `emissaries' are enticingly liminal...their home turf seems to be a Keelian interzone, as if their passport to our domain forever hovers on the verge of expiration."
Well, you get the idea: keep your dictionary close by. This might make reading the short book a mildly challenging experience for some. And `short' is used advisedly: the book is only 120 pages including the praise-gushing foreword by Nick Redfern and afterword by Greg Bishop, obviously friends and champions of Mac. As a print-on-demand title from Anomalist Books, it has to be said the quality ain't that great. My copy arrived with the text noticeably misaligned to the page at a 10-degree angle on the first 36 pages, and after one careful reading the binding is so poor that the pages are already mostly detached from the spine and falling out, which does not bode well for the longevity of this edition nor its saleability on the second-hand market in future years. A few typos have eluded the editing process. Nadia Sobin's striking cover image may help sales a bit, as imaginary and speculative as the content of the text. The small cartoons at the start each chapter are a nice touch though, and well drawn.
So in summary: an unfinished essay slightly over-hyped as an `important' book, which it isn't. At best, it's old ideas repackaged into an unsupported and speculative `meditation.' If you've read Jacques Vallee's books from the 1970s to the 1990s and John Keel's `UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse' then you've read this stuff before. Two stars for the literacy and the cartoons. However you may find the book mildly irritating if you value genuine investigation, use of the scientific method or original thought, because unfortunately there ain't much of any of this in evidence, and for these reasons this book doesn't deserve a higher rating. It's OK in its limited way and quite well written, but there's better reading out there on the subject if your time is valuable.
RIP Mac, and may you find the answers wherever you are now.