Close Encounters of the Third and Fourth Kind lecture series, part 2 (conclusion)

Overview of Close Encounter of the Fourth Kind (with new category added)

Lecture # 12

The term “close encounters of the fourth kind” is a reference to a portion of the features that Webb and Bloecher identified in their Type G category for cases commonly referenced as Close Encounters of the Third Kind. (See lecture #9)  The partial feature for that category, which overall is basically pointing to cases where people go onboard the craft and have some extended contact with the unidentified beings, is the abduction of people with many of them taken onboard after the beings have employed some form of neurological control of them.  Now there are a growing body of published cases presented to us by retired Montana State University professor Dr. Ardy Sixkiller Clarke which appears to have expanded our view into the activities of multiple advanced alien civilizations and is revealing possible glimpses into civilizations that work with selected humans who participate willingly and without neurological control or altered awareness a factor in their experience.

Therefore, in this lecture I am introducing a new sub-category to “Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind”.  The cases involving the Grey/Insectoid project where abduction is employed in what appears to be the largest-scale alien operation will be labeled CE4-A cases and contact where abduction is not employed will be noted as CE4-B.

Needless to say, these beings are mostly unidentified, their originating point unknown, and the point of their presence and activities largely a mystery.  Yet, in an odd way, the beings in the CE4-A cases are very familiar:  the two types of aliens “coming out” at the end of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind were Hollywood visualizations of the Greys and Insectoids!  (Though in the movie, the Greys’ eyes are not all black and as huge as in “real life”….the image in the movie seems perhaps based on the description given by Betty and Barney Hill of the beings in their 1961 encounter.)

This overview of CE4s will include taking a look at some of the key imagination-based products (a normal human enterprise with sometimes pathological consequences) that have spawned quasi-religious and political movements inside the so-called “ufo community”. Some of this was previously addressed in the lecture surveying the ce3 and ce4 databases.

In 1992 a five-day “scientific conference” was held to examine ce4 cases. It was held at a M.I.T venue (a lecture hall) and co-hosted by a long-termed M.I.T professor, David E. Pritchard, and a Harvard psychiatrist with a Pulitzer Prize, Dr. John E. Mack. This conference brought together leading investigators, researchers, academics, therapists and some CE4a experiencers. In 1995 a major publishing house, Alfred A Knopf, released a book by a respected mainstream journalist and author:
Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs and the Conference at M.I.T by C.D.B. Bryan.

From the body of cases that some of the presenters at this conference had directly investigated, a clear pattern regarding alien focus and activities with abducted humans was discerned.

Twenty-five years later one of those who had been a key presenter at the M.I.T. conference, an academic specializing in folklore named Thomas Bullard, surveyed in depth what is the current state of affairs in “alien abduction” investigations and the updated picture conveyed by investigators, researchers, pundits and experiencers.

Bullard wrote the first article that begins Volume One of the 2017 published 3rd edition of The UFO Encyclopedia, “Abduction Phenomenon”, pages 1 thru 38.

These 2 references are the primary (but not only) references used in preparing this lecture.

Bullard opens his encyclopedia entry with a stark summary report on the difficult standing this aspect of the UFO subject has, even among ufologists (pg 1):

“Much about the UFO experience is unusual, even bizzare, but no accounts soar higher into the stratosphere of high strangeness than reports of alien abduction. UFO abductions refer to alien entities capturing humans from their bedrooms, vehicles, or open air, transporting the captives inside a UFO, and subjecting them to a physical examination before returning them to the capture site. Though latecomers as a recognized part of UFO activity, abductions moved from public debut in the mid-1960s to center stage in ufology during the 1980s and 1990s.

“More than any other type of UFO report, abductions promise answers to questions everyone has asked since the first flying saucer sighting. These accounts offer a literal look inside the spaceship, a chance to see the occupants up close, and clues about why they are here. Despite this outstanding information, alien abduction seems like an impossible prospect to swallow. It triggers a natural reflex to send the reports straight to the trash heap, yet these stories too fantastic to believe come from persons too credible to doubt, and this tension has driven a hotly disputed controversy without and within ufology over what to make of this most complex of UFO experiences.”

How has the picture of alien abduction events changed over these last 25 years (since the MIT conference)? Bullard, page 13:

“In some sense the classic abduction story is out of date. Its basic plot with additions and variations laid out the floor plan for most reports up until the late 1980s, and most accounts since then remain faithful to the same scheme. Yet new episodes, variety, and direction have remodeled the story until abduction is no longer the straightforward process with occasional extras that characterized the past…”

So while the basic patterns in an unfolding alien abduction experience have remained the same through now, over the decades new activities have arisen in the common sequence of events.

This could possibly be explained in a key contextual factor seemingly very common in abduction reports:
abductions run in family lines. Many abductees, often first approached in early childhood, share a history with family members of previous generations.

Retired Temple University professor David Jacobs worked directly with many abductees over a long period and found that this multi-generational experience can be traced back (presumably through passed on family lore) to the late 1800s. That is possibly suggestive of the beginning of a project with todays increasing elaborations on the events suggestive of a maturing project (which in Jacobs’ view involves the large-scale creation of hybrid beings…see lecture #9 for various hypotheses and later in this lecture more will be reported on differing views).

For a sketch of the different aspects of this experience (being reported and investigated), we have five tables that Thomas “Eddie” Bullard provided in his 2017 entry on the “Abduction Phenomenon” in volume one of The UFO Encyclopedia to use as a good starting point. These tables were based on the cases fleshed out in detail in these four studies:

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.

Table One addresses “Location and Duration of Abduction” and presents a statistical analysis for three main factors: Circumstances (taken from bedroom; or vehicle; or open air); Duration (less than 1 hour; 1-2 hours; more than 2 hours); First Abduction After Age 35 (which ranged from 14 to 21% in the two studies above that had data for this factor).

Table Two is way more complicated and addresses “Sequence of Episodes and Events in the Abduction Story”. This quantitative data analysis addressed these factors or features:

(Alien beings acquire and transport subject to UFO)
Intrusion (Onset of strange appearances, feelings, reactions)
Restlessness, anxiety, premonition
UFO appears (present during initial stages of capture)
Beam of light appears
Drone, buzz, hum, or musical sound
Oz Factor (Strange changes occur in physical environment)
“Vacuum” effect, stillness, silence, absence of traffic
Vehicle interference, electromagnetic effects
Time lapse (Changes in consciousness or behavior)
Behaviors inappropriate to the situation, involuntary acts
Paralysis, creeping lethargy
Missing time (loss of memory)
Full consciousness maintained [note; in 2 studies with data on this, one had 8% and the other 7%; important to note for later points made]
Procurement (Alien control abductee and transport to craft)
Beam of light or drawing force pulls, lifts abductee
Beings appear
Escort being touches or holds abductee
Abductee floats or feels sensation of floating
Enters craft suddenly or with momentary memory lapse
EXAMINATION (Beings subject abductee to probes and tests)
Preparation (Beings prepare abductee for examination)
Abductee undresses, changes into smock or robe
Cleansing (application of liquid to skin, bath of light)
Abductee lies restrained on examination table
Physical examination (Attention to body)
Manual inspection (beings touch, use handheld instruments)
Eyelike device scans abductee
Instrumental examination (devices probe abductee’s body)
Beings collect samples of blood or other body materials
Reproductive examination, taking of genital materials
Neurological exam (Attention to head or mental functions)
Mind scan (close, intent staring by alien)
Tiny object implanted or removed; close attention to head
Behavioral, emotional tests
Envisioning, operation of machines, staging
CONFERENCE (Meeting, conversation, lecture, instruction)
Topics of conversation
Interrogation (question and answer session)
Explanation (beings reveal their origin and purpose)
Task assignment (beings teach abductee, give mission)
Warning against certain human actions
Prophecy or images of future events or catastrophe
TOUR (Abductee visits various parts of the craft)
Visit to incubatorium, nusery
Touching, holding infants, play with children
Instruct, socialize hybrids
JOURNEY/OTHERWORLDLY JOURNEY
Travel to place on Earth (often underground)
Travel to/view of otherworldly environment
Area is barren, desert-like, dim, or devastated
Area is bright, lush, but no sun and enclosed or underground
THEOPHANY (Religious or spiritual experience, ritual) [two studies with data on this both reported 9%)
RETURN (Departs ship, returns to normal consciousness)
Farewell (Beings friendly, impart final message)
Beings promise to return to find abductee again
Instruction to forget
Abductee sad or reluctant to leave; feeling of rapture
Exit from ship (walk or floated)
Abductee leaves craft suddenly or with brief memory lapse
Ship departs (seen by abductee)
Reentry
Memory of experience fades
Abductee finds himself in different place; clothes in disarray
AFTERMATH
Immediate/short-term aftereffects (To two weeks; physical)
Eye irritation, watering, burning
Dehydration, unusual thirst
Dizziness, headache, problems with balance, coordination
Gastrointestinal upset (diarrhea, nausea, general illness)
Cuts, scars, punctures
Burns, spots, sunburn, blisters
Nosebleed
Wristwatch impaired
Inexplicable actions, feeling of dirtiness or desire to bathe
Intermediate aftereffects (Onset within days to months; psychological)
Anxieties, situational anxieties (e.g. fear of doctor’s office)
Specific fears and phobias (e.g. sight of large-eyed animal)
Site compulsion (desire to return to where abduction occurred)
Nightmares, sleep disturbance
Flashbacks, memory return
Desire to keep experience secret, feel shame for revealing
Long-term aftereffects (onset after months, years, personality)
Men in Black
Apparitions, poltergeist phenomena
ESP develops, psychic experiences increase
Change in interests, habits, personality, lifestyle
Greater spiritual awareness, more interest in religion
Additional abductions, UFO sightings, entity encounters
Other family members have UFO/abduction experiences

Table 3 addresses “Descriptions of Entities’ Appearance and Behavior” and is a little less complicated than table number 2;

TYPE OF ENTITY
Humanoid
Short Gray (“standard”) humanoid
Short to average height (less than 5′ 5″)
Tall Gray
Insectoid or mantis
Reptilian
Nordic (tall, blonde, attractive human)
Ordinary human
Hybrid (human-humanoid alien mix)
Monster, oddity, robot, ape
Mixture of two or more types in one crew
DESCRIPTION OF HUMANOIDS
Head
Large cranium, pear-shaped, pointed chin
Hairless
Face
Eyes large
Shape slanted, almond, wrap-around
Color dark, black, little or no pupil
Nose vestigial (holes, slight protrusion only)
Ears vestigial (none or holes, small structure)
Mouth slit (small, lipless)
Body
Skin gray, pallid, white, ashen
Skin tan, dark blue
Body build thin, frail, lacking in musculature
Hands have fewer than five fingers
Clothing
Coverall, one-piece jumpsuit
Skintight, so entities appear nude or nearly so
BEHAVIOR OF ENTITIES
Movement
Float, glide, levitate
Stiff, waddling, military step
Communication with abductee by telepathy (Note: percentages very high for this one, across the board of the 4 studies)
Social organization
One entity serves as leader or liaison
One entity familiar to abductee, more caring
Personality in treatment of abductee
Cold and businesslike
Warm and considerate
Entities polite, reassuring (but manipulative)
Entities evasive, deceitful, dislike being watched

Table 4 entails the descriptions of the craft, both externally and internally. From the high percentages granted to the following factors regarding the interior of the craft (and from what I have gleaned from extensive readings of cases), the following factors seem to fairly and accurately describe what is most commonly reported: The examination room is round, domed, smooth with the lighting diffuse and indirect. The atmosphere is cold, damp and misty. There is a exam table or recliner or bed in this setting. The most commonly reported shape of the craft altogether is disk, domed-disk, or Saturn-shaped.

Table 5 addresses “Descriptions of Mental and Physical Control” which includes pacification and relief of pain, altered states of consciousness. Often a touch by them can effect this changes.

In lecture #9, the various interpretative schools of thought related to the abductions were described, They ranged from the deep worries of David Jacobs and the late Budd Hopkins to the more positive and nuanced visions of John Mack and Whitley Strieber.

John Mack is no longer here to weigh in today about what it all means, but in his 2019 non-fiction book A New World, Strieber weighs in and confirms from his perch of experience the existence of the hybridization program, but adds a further dynamic he feels is in play:

“What we would appear to be looking at, then, in both the close encounter and near death experiences, is a massive increase in initiation. So this is not so much about the arrival of aliens as it is about a change in awareness—essentially, a deepening of the human experience of reality. These experiences challenge the way the mind sees the world, and even change, along with meditative practices, how the brain works. While there is an expansion of consciousness in process on a massive scale, I personally cannot ignore the findings of Hopkins and Jacobs. This is because the horrors they describe in their books happened to me and Anne. During my abduction, a device was inserted into my rectum that caused an erection. This wasn’t anything exotic. It was an electrostimulator, used in those days in cases of sexual dysfunction and still common in animal husbandry. My frantic effort to push it out was what caused the rectal tear that left me in pain for years thereafter. In my second hypnosis session, you can hear me reliving the experience and commenting with confusion in my voice that I have an erection. Semen was then extracted from me. Sometime in the next year, Anne and I had the experience of being shown a baby, exactly as Hopkins and Jacobs report.”

Strieber also asserts in this book that this abduction-for-hybridization project has basicly ended. I asked about this at his website’s forum and on November 18 2019 he stated:

“I do go into this in A New World. The experience has changed greatly since the large-scale abductions were taking place, but they do still happen from time to time, and many of the witnesses who were abducted still have the visitors in their lives, as I do. Generally, these people are having quite dynamic and often very unusual relationships with them, not particularly comfortable or easy, but definitely enlightening.”

In a November 23 2019 post at his Unknowncountry website forum, Whitley Strieber noted this to a poster he was conversing with:

“There is a short paper in the April, 1977 edition of the magazine Science by T. B. H. Kuiper and Mark Morris, two astrophysicists, the most basic “why” of the secrecy. It does not start here with us, as I point out in A New World.

I have no idea if either of them were aware of what was and is going on sub rosa, but they hit the nail on the head when they said a) that it should be assumed that any civilization capable of traveling among the stars has probably already colonized the galaxy; b) their only reason for being here would be to find something new, because they will have already absorbed most knowledge; c) therefore, they will keep their presence secret.

What has happened here is that, starting with WWII, they realized that we were going extinct and are now trying to help us avoid this, but without disempowering our own culture by revealing theirs, which is so far in advance of ours that it will turn us into supplicants and end innovation.

You can get an abstract of their article here, but to find the concepts above, you need to read the whole thing, not just the abstract: https://science.sciencemag.org/content/196/4290/616

My book A New World is available on Amazon. In it, I quote from the article and discuss its significance, especially in view of the fact that it has recently been discovered that, when you include stellar motion in calculations, interplanetary distances become more manageable. So they probably are here, and more than one “they,” it would seem.

As I understand it, the government does keep their secrets, and for the reasons outlined in the article. At the same time, it and other governments, working through their defense industries and scientific establishments, attempt to close the gap between us technologically while a small group of academics and writers seeks to do the same thing intellectually and philosophically. Once we are close enough, there will be a meeting of minds and a more public presence. I don’t think it will be long in coming at this point.”

As noted in the beginning, the beings described in the charts above are not the only type of apparent extraterrestrial beings that people have reported interacting with. And, doing so without force or neurological control utilized. I am not referring to any of the contactee cults worldwide, which are largely religious-styled movements. But instead to the many cases where people have randomly encountered beings and had interactions (even aboard the craft).

One thing seems very clear from the ce3 and 4 cases: whatever type of being has been encountered, they all seemed interested in our resources.

So many cases, like the one involving 62 school kids from the Ariel elementary school in 1994 in Zimbabwe, clearly convey to the world messages of a deep concern over our activities that are causing a degradation to the environment and our rich natural resources.

So many inagination-based movements have been, and undoubtly will be, established in response to the presence of advanced “alien” beings. Many people will project their hopes and fears onto these beings. Right now, both fear porn (about nasty aliens) and hagiographic porn (extolling aliens as saviors) are already being heavily marketed.

Are you ready for open contact?

———-

Close Encounters of the 4th Kind and Military and Intelligence Personnel

Lecture # 14

Long-time UFO research Robert Hastings’ second editioned “UFOs and Nukes, Extraordinary Encounters at Nuclear Weapons Sites” published in 2017 would, at the end of 2017, be profoundly reinforced in its informing impact. The December 16 2017 revelations in the NY Times of U.S. Navy gun camera film of UFOs and the subsequent reporting by former U.S. Senate Majority and Minority Leader Harry Reid and government officials (like the retiring DOD official Luis Elizondo) of UFO incursions into sensitive nuclear weapons sites gave credence to the long-standing work of Robert Hastings.

On October 30 2019, Hastings published what he says may be his last book due to the onset of a serious heart disease requiring mind-clouding medications. Yet, he reports in the very first sentence of his book that “several friends and acquaintances have urged me not to write this book”. This book is co-written by Dr. Bob Jacobs, a retired university professor in communications and a key military witness of a UFO event at a launch of a dummy nuclear warhead off the west coast in 1964.

Both men courageously “out” themselves publicly as people who have had direct encounters with non-human beings associated with UFOs. In CONFESSIONS, Our Hidden Alien Encounters Revealed, the stories of several other military personnel involved in witnessing UFOs at sensitive nuclear weapons sites likewise encountering non-human beings are also related.

Robert Hastings had serious concerns about coming forth as he had established a well-deserved reputation for serious research and investigation, grounded in a body of the governments own now declassified documentation and in-depth testimony from over 160 military personnel gathered over a four decade period.

The so-called “alien abduction” subject is very taboo, even in many quarters of the “ufo community”, and most people do seem most psychologically comfortable in not straying from a focus on close encounters of the first and second kind. Hastings notes that in going public now “that there will be negative consequences for me personally and for my reputation as a reliable, nuts-and-bolts researcher who models his work on principles integral to investigative journalism”. (page one)

He explains why he came forward (page 5, Introduction):

“Nevertheless, after all these years, I am still left with the unanswered question as to why I’ve devoted so much time and effort to studying the topic of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites. It is not an exaggeration to say that I am compelled to do so, for reasons I don’t really understand.

“That said, in the back of my mind I have long suspected that I already knew the answer to this question. The experiences I will describe in this book–one occurring in early childhood—suggest, at least to me, that a very real but mostly unseen guidance has existed in my life, emanating from a source that might be called ‘alien’. If I am correct, this outside influence, in effect, nudged me down the path that culminated in my research career and instilled in me the urgent sense that I must present my findings publicly as part of a consciousness-raising effort.

“Similiarly, now that I am getting on in years, I’ve belatedly decided that some value may derive from my going public with my personal, paranormal encounters. I am certain that many other closet experiencers have agonized over their situation and wondered whether they should openly discuss it with others. Perhaps this book will give them the courage to do so. At the very least, it will be therapeutic for me to be able to openly discuss my long-held initiative.”

Hastings’ memories of his experiences are very spotty and were not too sigificantly enhanced by multiple hynoptic sessions. So, he notes that he is likely “to disappoint those readers who anticipate a thorough, insightful narrative about my abduction experiences..” (pg 8) In his case, he seems to have been encountered by the Greys, and what he is able to recall seems to fit the basic pattern and features reported by other experiencers of this type of close encounter.

In many abduction reports, abductees note being on board a craft where other humans are also gathered, most (but not all) as if dazed, subdued neurologically, and entranced. Individuals in military uniforms are among those who have been seen in such a situation.

Hastings himself was not in the military but his Dad was a career Air Force guy and they lived near Air Force bases. And, Hastings himself worked as a custodian while in high school at a base where his Dad worked and there is where (in 1967) he first heard of a fresh UFO encounter at the base. Thirteen or so years later, after several years of research and FOIA request work where he had gathered documentation on UFO/military events, Hastings became a regular speaker on the college lecture circuit. (I saw him speak at a junior college in Napa in the 1980s.) Today, due to his experiences, he strongly senses (as noted in a quote above), that these beings are ENCOURAGING his public education work (while he has at the same time been clearly harassed on occasion by likely government agents).

A retired CIA official named Jim Semivan, who today is associated with other retired government insiders working through Tom DeLonge’s inspired To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences, has publicly reported that he and his wife some years ago had a very puzzling encounter with alien beings who had suddenly appeared in their home. He has not shared publicly the details of that, only that they had an encounter that to this day leaves them very puzzled. And, unclear as to what it was all about.

On July 17 2019, Tom DeLonge in the course of a radio interview excitedly (as is his custom) blurted out something jaw dropping that possibly relates to all of this, I suspect:

“DeLonge: You know, there might be. [radio interviewer had asked if it was possible a cloaked alien could be in the studio with them, lol] But I will tell you this: I have met very, very, very high-ranking intelligence officials that have had encounters. Direct…

Ryder: Is that right?!

Allie McKay: Experiences? Direct Encounters?

DeLonge: Yeah,there’s actually some unnerving aspects as far…you know, there’s one thing….there’s one program where there’s hundreds of operatives that have been having contact and they’re trying to figure out what that’s all about. It’s wild.”

For the full transcript done by Joe Murgia of Las Vegas of this radio interview on the Kevin and Bean show on KROQ, see:

Transcript of DeLonge on KROQ: Very High-ranking Intelligence Officials Have Had Direct Encounters. Hundreds of Operatives Have Been Having Contact

Hearing this obviously arouses questions about any covert governmental addressing of all of this. We do know that Air Force Office of Special Investigation agents often interview and debrief, and then commit to silence, military witnesses in the course of their duty.

In CONFESSION, Robert Hastings cites one odd anecdote from a military witness of a UFO event in 1975 who only came out after retiring as an attorney (with his final job as an Assistant Attorney General in Vermont in 2011). Hastings has interview Terry Lovelace, who bared all in a 2018 book called Incident at Devil’s Den. When Lovelace and a fellow Air Force medic responded to the site of a missile silo at Whiteman AFB in Missouri to help an injured airman (in 1975), and along with the security personnel witnessed a rectangular shaped UFO hovering over a silo and then silently rapidly ascending, they were debriefed by the Hospital Squadron Commander, told they saw a secret helicopter prototype, and to stay quiet about it. They weren’t debriefed by OSI. Two years later, he and his medic partner went camping to film eagles at an isolated and wild site away from the base. They reportedly were abducted and underwent traumatic medical testing. Hastings, pg176 in CONFESSION: “…Afterward, the two men were interrogated and even hypnotized by OSI agents back at Whiteman AFB, WHO HAD SOMEHOW LEARNED OF THEIR ENCOUNTER [my emphasis, not RH’s]…”

While there is extensive lore conveyed to the audience of those with a significant UFO-interest that suggests many different things about what is going on in relation to alien activities and any covert governmental response that attempts to address and understand the alien presence, we know NOTHING about all that in reality. We have had confirmation, though, from Harry Reid, Luis Elizondo and others that there exists within the military and intelligence communities factions or individuals who strongly push for ignoring all of this because they feel that the beings are a demonic presence that shouldn’t be encouraged with attention. Apparently, according to these tidbits coming out characterizing the divided insider dynamics of the pentagon, there are others who feel serious attention needs to be brought to bear on all of this.

As Robert Hastings wisely observes, the subject of humans directly encountering non-human beings associated with so called UFOs is not something likely to receive significant attention for a very long time even from within the field of “ufology” let alone members of Congress, journalists, scientists, academics, and the general public.

Of course, that actually may change. But, not because of any governmental disclosure. There are possible signs that these beings are actually emerging more into the open as we enter what appears to be mankind’s most difficult chapters ahead.