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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vallee's journey into the saucer cults plunges him into deep waters, 24 Feb 2011
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This review is from: Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Paperback)
Jacques Vallee's sixth book on the UFO/contactee phenomena was first published in 1979, and an updated paperback edition (including a new introduction by the author) appeared in 2008. Like most of Vallee's published work, `Messengers of Deception' is densely written, contains almost no padding and is backed up by extensive field research and casework by the author, very much worth reading but at the same time problematic with plausible conclusions thin on the ground.

Some of the themes initially explored in the author's 1975 book `The Invisible College' are re-engaged in MoD: the idea that the UFO phenomenon is possibly a super-cosmic algorithm acting as a barometric control system on human consciousness, may not be ET in origin, and that its predominant features are not only physical (he stresses the phenomenon has unmistakable hard, physical aspects) but psychic and social.

MoD reads more like a collection of loosely connected essays than a continuous narrative building a cohesive argument. In the first chapter `The Case Against the Spacecraft' the author outlines his doubts about the so-called extraterrestrial hypothesis. Vallee's objections are confined to the simplistic idea of UFOs being ET spacecraft engaged in `investigative surveillance' originally put forward in the 1950s by writers such as Donald Keyhoe, subsequently adopted by science fiction creations such as `The Day the Earth Stood Still' (1951) and Spielberg's CE3 & ET. Despite what some people mistakenly believe of him, Vallee does not reject the ETH per se: rather, he points out that any hypothesis to explain these phenomena needs to encompass all the data; i.e. why the enormous number of reported contacts? - a question many others have asked and some, researching the abduction issue, had by the late 1990s plausibly answered. Other data include objects reported to appear/disappear and that seem to manipulate space-time, and the destabilising effects on percipients of absurdity and psycho-social elements as principle components; so a sophisticated ETH allowing for very advanced technology and long involvement with the human race might indeed prove correct in the long run. However, Vallee sticks to his control system idea as the back-stop of his interpretation of the phenomenon and this is the major factor in MoD's less-than-convincing conclusions, as he tries to force-fit the data to a seemingly flawed model.

Vallee does not believe that the governments of the world, or the military or intelligence agencies employed by them, necessarily understand the UFO phenomenon or its origins and refuse to disclose to the public what they know. Supported by `information' from an anonymous intelligence-agency contact referred to as `Major Murphy', he postulates instead that ignorance and puzzlement may be the pre-eminent governing factors at play, but that which is understood about the phenomenon is sometimes used deliberately to control and deceive - what he terms `the manipulation hypothesis.' Though the idea is mildly interesting the ends of the string don't quite meet; his case is over-intellectualised and the sum turns out to be less than its multiple, varied and thoroughly researched parts. (Major Murphy, BTW, sounds like Col John Alexander.)

Most of the chapters are filled with detailed investigations into secret societies and flying saucer contactee-cults who in general espouse the idea that benign brothers from space plan to rescue mankind from its errant ways and claim to be, each and every one, the sole repository of divine truth. Vallee's analysis of these cults and their common themes - Melchizedek and its various offshoots, the Urantia-channelling group, the Raelians and others - is insightful:

"Below the attention of academic science, below the dignity of official history, there are groups, cults and sects that serve as leading indicators of mass movements."

The rise of such cults and sects Vallee postulates to be a direct consequence of the action of his `control system' on the percipients, who consequently begin to replace rationality and science with revelatory and messianic belief systems. These cults were in 1979 found not only in the USA but all over the western world. The internet age has forced some into decline whilst others have morphed into looser entities promoting broadly similar conspiratorial ideologies across the web. Vallee saw the trend in 1979 as anti-intellectual and anti-scientific, messianic and authoritarian - for example belief that enlightened ETs plan to guide/civilize the human race towards forward evolution with their superior knowledge, implicitly renders redundant current human political and social structures like democracy. Like virtually all conspiracy theories and messianic cult-thinking, these ideologies infantilise people by creating simplistic alternate narratives with good guys and villains, free from the nuanced complexity of geopolitical realities, sophisticated economic structures and the burdens of investigative science.

Historic parallels are drawn with the decline of the science-based culture of classical Greece and its gradual replacement with superstition and religious mysticism where `revelation' and belief-ideology displaced inquiry, observation and experiment as the governing cultural paradigms, leading to the so-called `dark ages' where the ideology of the Christian Church became the ruling orthodoxy and scientific advances were for a time arrested.

Vallee has a habit of attempting to condense his ideas into lists; five reasons for this, seven types of that, four categories of something else, and in MoD he summarises six potential social consequences of this trend, some of which overlap:

1. Belief in UFOs widens the gap between the public and scientific institutions
2. Contactee propaganda undermines the image of human beings as masters of their own destiny
3. Increased attention given to UFO activity promotes the concept of political unification of the planet
4. Contactee organizations may become the basis of a new "high demand" religion
5. Irrational motivations based on faith are spreading hand in hand with the belief in ET intervention
6. Contactee philosophies often include belief in higher races and in totalitarian systems that would eliminate democracy

MoD also contains a chapter (intriguingly titled `A Cow for NORAD') on the cattle mutilations, fresh in the news in the 1970s following the investigative work of Linda Howe. Vallee does not integrate this disturbing phenomenon into his argument very well, except to suggest his theoretical UFO-contact manipulators may be behind the activity in order to instil fear and panic. He also touches on how improbable synchronicities might reveal the universe to be a kind of information-based matrix - an idea previously investigated in `The Invisible College' and later explored both in Michael Talbot's excellent book `The Holographic Universe' and in Ray Fowler's less well known `Synchrofile' (Vallee has a fine example of synchronicity: taking a taxi in LA driven by the only person in the city who happened to have the name Melchizedek - the name of the cult he was currently researching). These observations bolt on to the end of the book and support the central essay only on the periphery.

It needs to be emphasised that like most (not all) of Vallee's work on the UFO issue, MoD is definitely worth reading. The complex, odd and sometimes over-intellectualised ideas he puts forth deserve attention if only because they are unusual. He is an excellent writer, thorough researcher and a real field investigator who listens to actual witnesses without discrimination; he is not an armchair theorist, and is in some small ways an original thinker.

Maybe Vallee does sometimes exhibit `out-of-the-box' thinking; ultimately though, the thinking is just as constrained inside a different box. Be advised that at the end of MoD although you might emerge with a marginally deeper understanding - especially about the beliefs of contactee cults in the 1970s and the trend away from rationality - you may also, like Jacques, feel even more confused and none the wiser about the true nature, origins and purposes of these bizarre but pervasive phenomena.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Book, 7 May 2013
This review is from: Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Paperback)
This is the strongest book I have read on ET/UFO phenomena, largely because it addresses what I have suspected for some time - that the belief in such phenomena, whether or not there have been actual ET visitations, has been actively promoted and manipulated by certain agents of the military and intelligence communities around the world, principally the United States. Contrary to what another reviewer has intimated, I found this to be the strongest part of the book - unpalatable reading for those who want to believe, but it seems apparent that such belief has been the subject of high level manipulation; something that Vallee excellently illustrates. Knowledge of the operational history of leading intelligence agencies that can be picked up from reading any number of the many books on their Cold War and Second World War shenanigans I would argue allows one to see the hands of these people all over ufology. The book also does a fantastic job of warning about the dangers of these kinds of belief systems, and as mentioned by another reviewer, Vallee excellently makes the point that ancient Greek society was the victim of similar superstitions. It is dangerous to think that gains made in recent human history are irreversible, ignorance and fascism have an enduring power unfortunately. UFOs should be understood first and foremost as a fascinating social phenomenon, something that has always been an enormous industry, and this merits serious analysis in and of itself, nether mind questions of validity. Indeed, from their earliest days in the modern mass-media age UFOs have had an enormous hold on the popular imagination (think Orson Welles), and it is worth remembering that the books by the earliest `contactees' sold in vast quantities, propelling them into world-wide fame - this is not a phenomenon of the internet age only. Vallee's book works so well because it engages ET/UFO phenomena at the social level, something that few other works have done unfortunately. Ufologists sadly don't seem to realise that they would benefit greatly from turning their gaze inwards on their own field, and along with a limited number of books and articles written by social scientists on the subject, this book, decades on from its publication, continues to largely stand on its own against the tide.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Hidden agendas, 27 May 2012
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This review is from: Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Paperback)
Jacques Vallee has written an interesting account of the various ufo cults and the mysterious 'messengers' behind them. It is quite apparent that the ufo phenomenon is not just about alien races visiting us, as whatever this intelliegence is, it has been with humans for millenia and is apparently native to Earth. Vallee gives an eerie account of a 'coincidence' he experienced while reseaching this book. It appears that we are all being watched, but by whom?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A tip-top account from Vallee, 11 July 2013
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This review is from: Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults (Paperback)
This is a really well written book. I wanted to go back in time a bit, and read what some of the earlier pioneers into this phenomenon thought, and this is one of the best I have come across...
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Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults
Messengers of Deception: UFO Contacts and Cults by Jacques Vallee (Paperback - 1 Jun 2008)
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