Close Encounters of the Third and Fourth Kind, part 1

Surveying the Databases for Close Encounters of the 3rd and 4th Kind Cases

In the earliest decades of the 20th Century a NYC recluse named Charles Fort catalogued many reports of anomalous events, including sightings of what he concluded were extraterrestrial craft and encounters with ET beings. Decades later, beginning in 1952, the husband and wife team of Coral and Jim Lorenzen would begin their work, soon making them the pioneers of focused study on cases now called “close encounters of the 3rd and 4th kind”. The trail they pioneered, where today people like Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke walk to bring us valuable stories, has brought back to us a treasure trove of reported encounters with the occupants of so-called “ufos”.

This paper surveys the databases that exist for reported cases of encounters with beings associated with craft exhibiting extraordinarily advanced technology. The beings themselves often display unusual capacities, so there is the difficult-to-grasp thread of “high strangeness” in many of these stories.

The first body of data to note comes from the early 20th Cenury. Charles Fort compiled anomalous events by poring over old newspaper accounts, historical documents and records etc for years in the NYC libraries. Later in life he published books which became classic, well-known works. This spawned the Fortean movement of exploring anomalies of all sorts that people report.

Jerome Clark (here in The UFO Book, 1998) identifies Fort’s work:

“After these two failed efforts [to submit his works] Fort found his own voice in The Book of the Damned (1919), written with the distinctive blend of mocking humor, penetrating insight, and calculated outrageousness that soon would be described as ‘Fortean’. In this and 2 other books, New Lands (1923) and Lo! (1931), as well as in correspondence with readers and in letters to newspapers, Fort outlined his evidence for otherworldly visitation.”

The first real focusing in on close encounters that went beyond sightings of craft in the sky and included reports of landed craft and sightings and even encounters with the craft’s occupants came from the work of a wife/husband team who formed the first major UFO organization in 1952.

Coral and Jim Lorenzen didnt feel that occupant sightings and encounters should be ignored, and by developing over time an extensive international network of field investigators as well as panels of scientific consultants, they gathered reports of ce3s from newspaper accounts and their own investigations.

The other major UFO organization, formed in 1956, would in its initial years be very reluctant to address these types of cases. The National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) focused on sightings of craft in the sky and the occasional cases involving the craft affecting power systems (of cars, for example, that come in close proximity.

During these early years, the head of NICAP, Marine Major Donald Keyhoe, would especially focus on the government coverup issues in his tv appearances and in his popular books.

The Lorenzens, on the other hand, shared many ce3 cases in their also best selling paperbacks as well as their APRO Bulletin. The cases they shared would become a significant part of the compilations others would develop from multiple sources and investigations.

“Close encounters of the third kind” is a categorization offered by Dr. J. Allen Hynek in his 1972 book, The UFO Experience, A Scientific Inquiry. These cases were ones “in which the presence of animated creatures is reported”.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, ufologists Ted Bloecher and David Webb compiled decades of close encounter of the 3td kind cases up through 1977 reports.

That compilation is archived here:

Webb and Bloecher used 7 categories to the HUMCAT cases (showing different evident features):

Type A: Entity is observed inside the object (the true ‘occupant’ report.

Tupe B: Entity is observed entering and/or leaving the object.

Type C: ‘Inferred’ association: entity is observed in the immediate area of a UFO sighting, but is not seeing entering or leaving the object.

Type D: ‘Circumstantial’ association: entity is observed during period of general UFO activity in the area, but no object is reported by the witness of the entity.

Tupe E: No association can be established between entity and UFO activity.

Type F: Situation in which no entity or UFO is physically involved, but information reportedly is conveyed by means of telepathic ‘contact’ or psychic experience.

Type G: Witnesses experiences an on board situation, either voluntary or by abduction. Entities may or may not be present, but their presence is implicit or explicit.

The earliest index of cases in the HUMCAT database covers 1790 thru 1896 and following indexes cover subsequent time periods.

Aside from old historical records, many old cases came to light as described here, by Jerome Clark, pg 261 of Vol 1 of The UFO Encyclopedia:

“As is the case with most pre-1947 20th Century UFO reports, whether of objects in the air or occupants on the ground, we must rely in large part on retrospective testimony from—and the fallible memories of—persons who came forward in the years when it became possible to talk about such things, or simply to put such experiences in a perspective unavailable to witnesses before the onset of the UFO age. Sometimes such testimony comes spontaneously from persons who contact UFO writers or organizations; at other times it has come from children or grandchildren who urged reluctant witnesses to report what for years were stories known only within families.”

The largest published compilation existing of ce3 plus cases goes beyond 1977 and is still being actively worked on by a Miami man working in law enforcement for over 30 years. Albert S. Rosales has been motivated by strange experiences he began having as a child in his native Cuba (born in 1958, he and his family migrated to the US and he is a long-time citizen).

For years, Rosales posted his growing compilations online but very recently the last remnants of that went off line. Instead, as he reported years he ago he was planning, he has published 15 volumes (inexpensively available).
I have his “Humanoid Encounters: The Others Amongst Us 1975-1979” on Amazon Kindle.

Rosales adopted the catergorization system Webb and Bloecher used for HUMCAT and added 2 more categories:

Type H: When there is a report of an alleged crash or forced landing of a UFO with recovery of its occupants or when an anomalous entity is captured or killed either by a witness or military personnel.

Type X: When the situation is so uncanny that it doesnt fit any of the previous classifications. A new classification, there are several such cases in the files already. I would call these cases “extremely high strangeness”.

I can remember (at his former website) him alerting readers of his archive that the bad cases (hoaxes, tall tales, delusions, etc) were not filtered out.

In the 1980s and beyond an enhanced focus on the cases Webb and Bloecher had classified as Type G (which includes “abduction” by aliens) would come to the forefront.

The Type G cases are in this lecture, and commonly everywhere else, identified as “close encounters of the 4th kind”.

In the 1980s and 1990s (and beyond), 4 persons in particular would bring us many encounter stories that found a wide audience:

Budd Hopkins, NY artist
David Jacobs, Temple University historian and professor
Whitley Strieber, an author who at the time was rapidly becoming the next Stephen King
John Mack, Harvard psychologist and professor, Pulitzer Prize winner

In concrete terms, the picture comveyed by this story-sharing suggested a network of beings were engaged in a genetics/reproduction program.

Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs used hypnosis to uncover memories from people reporting “missing time”. As did Dr. Mack. Strieber’s stories are largely based on normal recall but in the earliest years he also resorted to being hypnotized.

Over time, Hopkins and Jacobs developed a picture from their cases which made them very nervous about the alien agenda. Whereas, Strieber and Mack felt features of this type of encounter were suggestive of an alien agenda of midwiving our growth and transformation.

In the August 24, 2011 NY Times article by Margalit Fox for the Art and Design section, written soon after Hopkin’s death from cancer, Hopkins’ conclusions were characterized:

“These narratives, Mr. Hopkins wrote, led him to a distasteful but inescapable conclusion: The aliens–‘or “visitors”, as he preferred to call them—were practicing a form of extraterrestrial eugenics, aiming to shore up their declining race by crossbreeding with Homo sapiens.”

While that was certainly what Hopkins thought in the early years, he later came closer to the developing view of Jacobs that the agenda was to supplant our dominant role here with a large number of hybrids suspected by them after the results of a 1992 Roper survey was published.

In a 2003 book he co wrote with filmaker (and his wife) Carol Rainey, it was suggested that these “transgenic” hybrids could pass for humans while following directions from the aliens while they live among us.

David Jacobs and Budd Hopkins teamed up with sociologist Ron Westrum in 1992 and devised 5 questions for a Roper poll. The questions they crafted were related to experiential signs in people experiencing missing time and who later uncovered memories of abduction by aliens. A few percent of respondents reported at least 4 of the 5 signs. To Westrum, Hopkins, and Jacobs that meant millions of us could be abductees and not know it.

In more recent years, criticism of methodology has arisen.

Thomas Bullard, PhD (academic folklorist) in writing the “Abduction Phenomenon” entry for the 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia reports on the sharp critical eye turned on to the work of Hopkins and Jacobs [pg 12 vol 1]:

“The most damaging attacks on the quality and integrity of abduction investigation have come from people with firstand experience of it. Carol Rainey was the wife and coworker of Budd Hopkins during the writing of “Witnessed” and coauthor of “Sight Unseen”. Familiarity with scientific research led her to perceive a litany of faults and the well-meaning but amateur investigations she observed. Critics denounce lax standards of inquiry, lack of oversight or review, use of techniques that enable confabulation [ie hypnosis], and uncritical acceptance of claims so long as they fit the investigator’s agenda—naive and unregulated activities that would never be tolerated in therapy or research outside of ufology…”

[Carol Rainey’s article: “The Priests of High Strangeness”: Co-Creation of the ‘Alien Abduction Phenomenon’”; Paratopia Magazine, 1/15/2011… ]

Budd Hopkins’ Intruders Foundation (formed in 1989) apparently didnt survive his death.

Historian David Jacobs, formerly with Temple University, reads his database developed from his own cases and says that he is now frightened. He maintains online the “International Center For Abduction Research” (ICAR):

Key Books by Budd Hopkins:

Missing Time; A Documented Study of UFO Abductions, New York: Richard Marek Publishers, 1981

Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods, New York: Random House, 1987

Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge Abductions, New York: Pocket Books, 1996

Key Books by David Jacobs:

Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992

The Threat: The Secret Alien Agenda, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1998

Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity, San Francisco, CA: Disinformation Books 2015

One person who was quietly a participant in the earliest days of an alien abduction support group hosted by Budd Hopkins would later, with his wife Anne (now deceased), provide a public database of direct encounter reports in their cowriiten book The Communion Letters:

The Communion Letters, Whitley and Anne Strieber, Harper Prism, 1997

Subtitled: Authentic, vivid, first-person testimony selected ftom the hundreds of thousands of letters reporting actual encounters, abductions, and visitations.

At the time of outting himself as a so-called abductee, Whitley Strieber was already finding great success with best-selling books being adapted for the big screen.

A recent article chronicles what to him over subsequent decades:

He was supposed to be the next Stephen King. Then the aliens came.

By the late 90s, Strieber and his wife Anne, who was most “hands on”, had collected and organized letters from many people who shared their own encounter experiences.

Anne Strieber often did followup interviews with correspondents. No hypnosis was used. So, this database is based simply on the collection and sharing of stories, and then published “as is”. It also represents a compilation of cases with much more detail shared about the cases than those identified in compilations noted earlier here by me.

I purchased Communion Letter last year and was in for a big surprise: five years before this book came out, one of their correspondents had contacted MUFON and I was one of two investigators called to duty on that! We met the man behind the story and his sister (and found him to be credible).

The title and opening lines of that story in The Communion Letters:

“Children Discover an Underground Facility

Thanks for the interest in the underground UFO base near Hamilton Field, California. When we moved there the area was still fairly rural….”

Early key books by Strieber on his experiences:

Communion: A True Story, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1987

Transformation: The Breakthrough, New York: William Morrow and Company, 1888

Harvard psychologist John Mack (who died in 2003, killed by a drunk driver in London) devoted his last years to hearing out from people their encounter stories. His vision of what it all meant was in line with the open-ended inquiry Strieber encouraged (ie, keep questions open). Also, like Strieber and others, he was seeing in the stories potential positive signs of a transformative agenda at work.

Key books on this by Dr. Mack

Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens, New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1994

Passport to the Cosmos, New York: Crown Publishers, 1999

During the late 1980s thru late 1990s there were 4 key studies on CE4s by two individuals preparing academic papers for the Fund for UFO Research and for MUFON:

1) Comparative Study of Abduction Reports. Vol 1 of UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery. Mount Ranier. MD; Fund for UFO Research 1987 by Thomas Bullard.

In The UFO Encyclopedia, 2018 3rd edition, vol 1, Thomas Bullard describes this paper as “a catalogue of reports in the literature up to 1985 [that] contains about 300 cases, 103 of which offer both extensibe information and a reliable investigation”.

2) The Sympathetic Ear: Investigators as Variables in UFO Abduction Reports; Mount Ranier, MD; Fund for UFO Research 1995 by Thomas Bullard.

Bullard in his UFO Encyclopedia article discussing alien abductions reports that this was “a survey of 13 abduction investigators’ draw on their collective experience with some 1,700 cases.”

3) “Commonalities and Disparities: Findings of the MUFON Abduction Study Project” in MUFON 1995 International UFO Symposium Proceedings by Dan Wright pgs 163-203.

Bullard describes this paper (pg 13 of The UFO Encyclopedia Vol 1): “Dan Wright’s MUFON Abduction Transcription Project results are based on 142 accounts directly from abductees”.

4) “What’s New in UFO Abductions? Has the Story Changed in 30 Years?” MUFON 1999 International Symposium Proceedings, pgs 170-99 by Thomas Bullard.

Bullard notes this was a comparative study of 437 cases from the literature.

Over the past five years there has been a massive research effort based on an in-depth surveying of “over 4,200 individuals from over 100 countries”. This project is the product of a non-profit calked The Dr. Edgar Mitchell Foundation for Research into Extraterrestrial and Extraordinary Experiences (FREE).

This study had 3 phases involving people responding to online questions via “survey monkey”. The pool of respondents for the 3rd phase was smaller, about 1000, as many open-ended questions (requiring detailed written responses) were asked to enable a qualitative analysis. The first 2 phases provided data that underwent quantitative analysis.

A wide variety of contributors took up the task of analyzing aspects of the data in a first volume work:

Beyond UFOs: The Science of Consciousness and Contact with Non-Human Intelligence, volume 1, edited by Rey Hernandez J.D., M.C.P, Dr. Jon Klimo, PhD, and Dr. Rudy Schild, PhD.

Finally, there is what may be our most treasured body of data, still coming out and growing through the hands of a retired professor from Montana State University. Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke for over 35 years quietly collected encounter stories with over 4000 taped interviews in her hands and 4 published books of well-described cases in our hands.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind 

The term “close encounters of the third kind” was used in a 1972 book by the astronomer and former Air Force consultant for the public UFO program (1948-1969), Dr. J. Allen Hynek.  THE UFO EXPERIENCE: A SCIENTIFIC INQUIRY by Hynek was published 3 years after the Air Force (and government altogether) announced they were ending their UFO program, which Hynek had served under its names “Sign”, “Grudge”, and “Blue Book”.  In the later years of his involvement with this program, Hynek had become increasingly concerned over its growing debunking emphasis in lieu of carrying out serious investigations.  By the time his consultant role with the government had ended, he felt that the UFO events demanded much more serious attention.

In Chapter 10 of this book, Hynek categorized UFO reports this way (the classification adopted widely in ufology):

Close Encounters of the 1st Kind: Sightings where “objects or very brilliant lights” were “less than 500 feet away”.

Close Encounters of the 2nd Kind: Close UFO sighting entails also the manifestation of a “physical effect on either animate or inanimate matter”.

Close Encounters of the 3rd Kind: Cases ‘in which the presence of animated creatures is reported”.

Ufologists in the early days were generally reluctant to address, or acknowledge, the cases involving close encounters of the 3rd kind.  Fortunately, that was NOT the case with the earliest large UFO organization (founded 1952), APRO, which rapidly developed an international capacity to collect and investigate these (and other types) type of cases through a wide network of field investigators and with panels of scientific consultants available to help analyze.  Yet the other early UFO giant org, NICAP, was extremely reluctant to take a look at them, or write about them.  The founders of APRO (Coral and Jim Lorenzen) would publish a large number of CE3 cases over the years, whereas, as Jerome Clark (UFO historian) reports (from Vol 1 of The UFO Encyclopedia, p273):  “In 1964, NICAP released a thick book, THE UFO EVIDENCE.  The issue of UFO occupants was left to a terse, unenthusiastic discussion confined to a handful of paragraphs on two of EVIDENCE’s concluding pages…”

Contributing to the taboo against attending to these types of cases was the popularity of bogus UFO contactee cults.  The Lorenzens were very harsh critics of these cults along with everyone else, which involved Savior-like aliens interacting with their chosen prophets.  They were apparently able to discern the difference between grandiose Prophets and ordinary people accidentally encountering, or seeing, alien beings apparently associated with a landed craft.

In the paper referencing the now existing databases of compiled CE3 reports, mention was made of what looks like cases of CE3’s before the beginning of what has been called the modern UFO era (during 1947). These suggestive cases are not to be confused with the folklore throughout the world which relate stories of humans encountering humanoid non-human beings (ranging from little people like fairies and leprechauns to the mythical races of giants and including mankind’s earliest identified pantheon of gods). That will be looked at in the lectures on the subject of “ancient aliens”.

Thomas Bullard, ufology’s most noted academic-based folklorist, noted in a 57 page article in the Journal of UFO Studies, “Folkloric Dimensions of the UFO Phenomenon” (1991) that “comparisons of UFOs to other phenomena may be overrated, depending too much on superficial analogies and too little on verifiable homologies”.

[Homologies: in this case, he means that there is too little to go on to assert that say, for example, that the little leprechauns or giant Titans of folklore are the same as the small humanoid beings or giant ones often in UFO occupant cases.]

In the late 1960s, popular writers like Jacques Vallee and John Keel would propose that the reports of modern-day encounters with various types of humanoid non-humans were with the otherworldly beings manifesting to humans in the stories of folklore. They felt that any differences from our contemporary reports, where very sophisticated and advanced technology is employed by the unknown beings, are due to how a cultural framework conditioning human perceptions of things shapes the nature of how these beings may appear and act. In the early 1970s, Dr. J. Allen Hynek (who had a strong interest in occult matters, like Vallee did) also leaned in this conceptual direction and thus was born the main alternative to the extraterrestrial hypothesis and is still to this day the alternative to the still dominant ETH. Basically, they assert the beings in UFO reports are “ultra terrestrials” or beings who manifest to us out of some slightly more subtle energetic realm not normally perceptible to our senses, but right here in our midst, on earth.

Giving ammunition to this “paraphysical” or occult theory are factors ufologists for a long time now have called “High Strangeness” (aliens exhibiting very magic-like capacities) and the “Oz Factor” (witnesses having their state of consciousness altered, often with sense of time affected).

The young branch of science known as “exobiology” has not, as of yet, taken into account the description of the different beings, and their activities, as characterized in CE3 reports. Even though it is a study focused on the nature of life forms on other planets. For now, it is a branch of science that delves deeply in determining how life developed on this planet and, and since our manned space program, how it adapts to near-Earth space conditions. Also, the growing hunt and discovery of exoplanets is revealing planets in the habitable zone and is one source of developing data to aid in speculative efforts; in the near future with our soon-established capacity of analyzing the atmospheric conditions of these far-away planets there may be our first signs of civilizations “out there”. (The upcoming launch and deployment of the James Webb satellite.)

To see more about the focus of this branch of study, the “Exobiology Program” for Nasa is here:

The speculative musings of exobiologists, to date, will be discussed in the lectures related to “Basic Science”.

There is a clear verdict coming from the CE3 database on the forms of at least some advanced forms of extraterrestrial life: they are beings exhibiting “bilateral symmetry” in their bodily form in all but the most rarest of cases. And, they are predominately “humanoid” or exhibiting a bilateral symmetry of sense organs (eyes and ears) and limbs (enabling locomotion and creative action). Bilateral symmetry entails a dividing midline (through the torso, aligned with the vetebrae or spinal line) for left and right sides which mirror each other. There are a large number of cases where the beings are even very human-like, but with clear differences: in cranium size, eye shape and size variations, both very small and exaggerated signs of ears and nose, height variations of beings from 3 feet to 8 feet or more, muscoskeletal variations, and more.

Living organisms on earth are categorized most generally as plants, animals, and micro organisms. Ninety-nine percent of “animals” (which includes the class of beings identified as mammals, birds, fish, reptiles, amphibians, and insects) are structured with bilateral symmetry.

The popular science Magazine, Discover, had a SETI Institute scientist (aligned also with NASA Astrobiology Institute projects) ponder the question of what aliens would likely look like. From “What Are Alien Species Like? Symmetrical, Solid, and Seeing (Probably)”, June 19, 2009, Discover, Rocco Mancinelli of SETI answered this question by Discover’s Amos Zeeberg:

‘What is the most likely form an alien would take?
Life’s architecture is difficult to predict because it depends on many factors involving the interaction of the environment and life through evolution and natural selection. We can, however, make some generalizations based on the vast number of morphological forms that life takes on earth.

Life on earth ranges from microscopic spheres and rods to macroscopic creatures exhibiting wide variations in their morphologies (e.g., spiders to humans). Nevertheless, nearly all life (everything except sponges) exhibits symmetry—either bilateral or radial symmetry. In bilateral symmetry (also called plane symmetry), only one plane, called the sagittal plane, will divide an organism into roughly mirror image halves. An organism with radial symmetry has no left or right sides, only a top and a bottom (dorsal and ventral surface). An alien life form, therefore, would most likely be symmetrical. The type of symmetry would be influenced on the environment in which it lived. From our basic knowledge of survival of macroscopic organisms whether they be aquatic or terrestrial it seems that bilateral symmetry dominates.”

Signs of the variances that may exist between the conditions of our planet and conditions on planets that may be home for the UFO occupants, might be discernible from some of the things CE3 witnesses report.

For example, a few things I have picked up on from decades of reading these cases:

—Some beings are seen wearing helmets, usually with face visible, and attached gear seemingly related to respiration needs. Suggesting different atmospheric gas mixtures existing on their planet?

—Beings are frequently observed wearing tight and form-fitting one-piece suits of clothes. A sign of different atmospheric pressure on their planet?

—Beings have been observed wearing very large and dark goggles. Signs of a different type of sun radiating a different intensity of light?

—Beings have been observed having difficulty in ambulating or moving about; others have been observed prancing about with the greatest of ease. A sign of different planetary gravity?

In his CE3 article for the 2018 edition of The UFO Encyclopedia, Jerome Clark notes what is apparent after absorbing a reading of cases (p.279, vol 1):

“In four out of five CE3 reports, the aliens are described as humanoid or even humanlike. (A surprising number of accounts involve beings of strikingly human appearance.) But under the broad heading of ‘humanoids’ we find a variety of beings.”

Or, as I said previously here (leading into discussion of bilateral symmetry in organisms):
“There are a large number of cases where the beings are even very human-like, but with clear differences: in cranium size, eye shape and size variations, both very small and exaggerated signs of ears and nose, height variations of beings from 3 feet to 8 feet or more, muscoskeletal variations, and more.”

The observations of the activities and apparent focus of the beings associated with landed craft indicate an interest in resources and our infrastructure.

The next paper starting off part 2 will be an “overview of close encounters of the fourth kind”. These types of cases are actually categorized as Type G in the Webb/Bloecher HUMCAT compilation of CE3 reports (of cases up thru 1977). These are cases where people report being “abducted” and taken on-board by non-human beings.