God’s Celestial Ambassador: The Life and Times of Dr. Frank E. Stranges - Part XVIII
By Raymond A. Keller, PhD, a.k.a. “Cosmic Ray,” the author of the international awards-winning Venus Rising Series, published by Headline Books and available on Amazon.com, while supplies last.
In contemplating the establishment of a local UFO group in the Greater Los Angeles, California, area, Dr. Frank E. Stranges felt a certain “scientific decorum” would need to be maintained in order to create some semblance of credibility with the public at large.
Setting Up a UFO Research Group
Peter Kor, in countless articles in the paranormal publications edited by Raymond A. Palmer, firmly asserted that any comprehension of the saucer situation depended on the recognition of the following truths:
1. The entire saucer mystery and the movement it has spawned are based solely on unsubstantiated claims.
2. Not all claims are equal.
3. The patterns in the evidence are more important than the details.
Dr. Frank E. Stranges, in his contemplation of starting his own UFO investigations group in Southern California, believed that adherence to these tenets by the membership would at least secure some degree of credibility for any organization that he would establish and move forward with.
For the rational researcher of unidentified aerial objects and associated phenomena, her or his principal task would be to account for the claims themselves and not for what such claims allegedly involve. What this means is that any focus on the “objects,” “humanoids,” or even “phenomena” should be assiduously avoided. The researcher that succumbs to this error is making an assumption for something that has clearly yet to be proved. Making such an assumption insinuates that what is claimed to exist actually does.
Physicist Peter Kor pointed out a unique paradox regarding the inequality of saucer claims, to wit:
“While most ‘researchers’ would agree with the statement that ‘Not all claims are equal,’ they would not base their agreement on the correct standard. They would say that the best reports are the ones that are the most sure- such as cases with many witnesses, trained observers, instrument detection, etc. Yet these are the very cases that are the least extraordinary. The most substantiated reports are the least significant in content; and the claims that are the most significant in content are the least substantiated. The best cases vis-à-vis the nature and importance of the saucer mystery are the ones with the most extraordinary content, not the ones with the most substantiation.”
What Kor is saying here is that ‘researchers,’ so-called, have missed a crucial point due largely to their preoccupation with the term “UFO” to describe what is “observed.” Literally, a UFO could be a light, shape or object that cannot be identified on the basis of an on-the-spot observation or after-the-fact information. However, the lack of identification is not proof that the thing observed is in any way extraordinary. In other words, the witness might not have observed accurately; or, the observation might have taken place in such a way or under such conditions as to mask the very characteristics that would have made identification easier.
Yes, in the ufology community, even today, we as ufologists have all come to the conclusion that the very term “UFO” is quite an ambiguous one. It distinguishes between those “objects” that can conveniently be explained as conventional or “natural” as opposed to those that simply cannot be explained in any sense whatsoever. However, it does nothing to distinguish between those “objects” that might turn out not to be extraordinary as opposed to those that really are.
Throughout the decade of the 1950s and into the early 1960s, the historical ufologist would have to admit that those UFO cases with the most extraordinary and significant content would be those purported to have taken place at the level of close encounters of the third kind, by the experiencers that have come to be known as the contactees. Peter Kor, in those instances where he was researching such cases, preferred to use the term “flying saucers” as a reference to the “probes” and “ships” as described by the contactees themselves, thus to distinguish these particular objects from the more mundane UFOs popping up so frequently in the more ambiguous reports. Whereas the eyes of those reporting UFOs generally could have tricked in so many ways, those who encounter flying saucers and/or their occupants would be considered to be too intimately involved in the experience, at that time largely landings and friendly contacts with mostly human-looking alien beings. These contactees, involved in so intense a contact, would most likely not be uncertain or hesitant to testify as to the reality of the phenomena they were experiencing, i.e., less likely to make innocent errors. “Thus,” in the estimation of Peter Kor, “a comprehension of the saucer situation rides on an explanation of the claims of visitation.”
Also important to Peter Kor were the patterns in the evidence for UFO and alleged alien encounters. He even felt that these patterns assumed a greater importance than the details in these cases. Back in the 1950s and early 1960s, most saucer investigators spent the majority of their time cataloging the specific features of particular sightings and encounters. Apart from Keyhoe’s NICAP, little if any effort was being made to divine the patterns that such features defined. Dr. Frank E. Stranges, being an admirer and friend of the retired Marine Corps Major Donald E. Keyhoe, felt that Kor was absolutely correct about this. If he was going to establish a credible NICAP chapter in Southern California, or even his own national or international UFO group, he would have to make sure that he and those under his direction avoided the tendency to merely catalog sightings and saucer events, i.e., simply mimicking “scientific procedure.”
Kor explained it thusly to the readers of his privately published newsletter, distributed exclusively to those in his “inner circle:”
“He (or she, the ufologist) has visions of scientists examining specimens, conducting experiments and writing technical reports that detail the anatomy of what is being studied. Therefore, the ‘researcher’ feels compelled to produce reams of data about every sighting or encounter he (or she) investigates. Reports are filled with such information as the size, shape, color, altitude and velocity of the objects seen; the configurations of the stars and planets at the time of the encounter; and the features, noises and behavior of any creatures that might have been involved. Just as the scientist reveals more of the nature of what he (or she) is studying with examination and experiment, so does the ‘researcher’ believe that each detail gleaned from a claimed encounter is inexorably building a picture of the aliens he is pursuing.”
Members of MUFON, if all of this sounds familiar to you, read on, for Kor continues, “Unfortunately, for the ‘researcher,’ the analogy is fallacious. Not only doesn’t the ‘researcher’ have a specimen to examine, but he cannot even prove that the aliens or extraordinary phenomena that he (or she) is supposedly investigating actually exist!”
Assessment of the Situation
Dr. Frank E. Stranges had a great estimation for the truly scientific approach of such luminaries in the field of ufology as Peter Kor, Major Donald E. Keyhoe, and later Dr. Jacques Vallee, the computer expert from France, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the astronomer from Northwestern University outside of Chicago, Illinois, who was serving as the Air Force consultant on UFO investigations at Project Blue Book. These were gentlemen truly “thinking outside the box” when it came to UFO investigations, looking for discernable patterns in all the sightings and encounters, and not just jotting down the countless observations of “lights in the sky.”
These ufologists were among the early ones to notice that the various details unearthed from the countless UFO reports largely negated one another. For instance, in every claim that involved significant features that had been previously reported, there were scores of other claims that reported features that were drastically different. The only way to create a consistent picture of what was allegedly being encountered could only be accomplished by arbitrarily endorsing some claims while rejecting others. Frankly, there was no intellectual honest in such an approach; and as far as “science” goes, it was totally bereft of any semblance of it. Looking back in the history of UFO research, a good example of such a negligent approach might be found in the University of Colorado at Boulder physicist Dr. Eduard U. Condon’s famous and so-called Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (Boston, Massachusetts: E. P. Dutton, 1969), a.k.a. the Condon Report, produced with tax dollars, I might add.
Kor explained his thoughts on this matter, thusly:
'[Preoccupation with the specific features of the saucer claims not only gives those claims a false sense of tangibility, but obscures the general patterns in the evidence on which a comprehension of the saucer situation depends. For example, to focus on the ‘structure’ and ‘propulsion’ of a ‘space machine’ that a person claims he (or she) encountered makes it easy to evade the fact that no such claims are accompanied by the definitive evidence that is characteristic of machines. Since the pattern of no proof is demonstratable, while the claims, themselves, are not, the pattern must take precedence over the claims. Thus, the rational searcher will use the pattern as a basis for finding a new explanation for the claims, rather than accept the claims at face value and have to resort to increasingly bizarre explanations to account for the resulting confusion.”
While the government had long been carrying out a program of obfuscation with regard to the flying saucer phenomenon, it appears that the primary obstacle to a saucer solution was the lack of comprehension on the part of those in the hierarchy of the ufology universe. Dr. Stranges, in private conversations with Peter Kor, Raymond Palmer and others, quickly realized that many of the researchers in this emerging field were truly afraid of making any rigorous inquiry. Perhaps the flying saucers that they have been so pursuing for so long might not actually be “out there” after all. And maybe these ufologists, so-called, might even prefer a euphoric fantasy to the stark reality of the situation.
It was a time for making hard choices. Unless some breakthrough would emerge, Dr. Stranges would have to concede that Peter Kor’s pessimistic assessment was the correct one; and perchance he was wasting his time dabbling in this field of ufology. If the situation was as dire as Kor thought it was, then the ufologists had a lot more to learn than just the hard sciences. Unless they came to a realization that there are greater values involved than psychological salvation and ideological competition, then the field of ufology would go the way of all pseudo-science that had preceded it. As the great metaphysician Helena Blavatsky (1831-1891), co-founder of the Theosophical Society had noted, “There is no religion higher than truth.”
For Dr. Stranges, the search for truth must not be compromised. Given his own background, he saw the revelation mode as his best option in finding a solution to the flying saucer enigma. Therefore, the evangelist devoted himself to prayer and deep meditation on this subject. He needed an answer from God and patiently waited for it, not knowing what form it might take. Little did he realize that the traditional Contactee Era was soon coming to an end and that he would play such a central role in revitalizing the whole of ufology by providing an amazing contact account of his own, with an angelic messenger from Venus, no less!