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San Diego's spiritualists battle local scientists

Unarius, UFO Society vs. San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry

Unarius site. Preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship.
Unarius site. Preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship.

In San Diego, a network of quacks and charlatans, and opposing them, skeptics and scientists, debate the existence of UFOs, ghosts, and government conspiracies. San Diego is a logical venue for disputes over the paranormal: it is home to alternative lifestylers and first-rate science and research institutions. The landscape of the region also breeds opposing explanations of odd phenomena. Desert places attract spiritualists and scientists, both pursuing answers to serious questions among extreme geography and light-streaked night skies. And the military’s presence here complicates these matters: its furtive experiments and luminescent flying machines are mistaken for paranormal activity or, according to the more liberal-minded, for investigating the paranormal. The Web is the ideal nexus for arguments over these questions. A place to post theories, often free from editorial review and other checks of print publication, Web text is by nature spurious—often anonymously written and without citations. Not surprisingly then, a number of San Diego-based Web sites engage in debates over abductions, haunted houses, and CIA plots.

One of the more visible San Diego organizations participating in the fight for our faith is the Unarius Academy of Science (visit www.Unarius. org/index. html). The Academy was founded in 1954 by Dr. Ernest L. and Ruth E. Norman, “Cosmic Visionaries.” Unarius — an acronym for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science — is dedicated to “exploring the frontiers of science and expanding our awareness and connection with galactic intelligence.” The crux of the Academy’s mission is preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship on a rising portion of Atlantis in the area of the Bermuda Triangle in the year 2001. (Pleiadeans, by the way, are individuals living on seven planets within the Taurus cluster, and they are, thankfully, a “positive force.”) The Normans “laid down a bridge that is a cosmic link to the Space Brothers,” and now the Academy encourages you to “turn on your green light of welcome!” and prepare for the “beginning of an age of logic and reason,” which this site (perhaps in an ironic gesture of self-effacement) makes clear is badly needed.

Some would argue that we already live in an age of logic and reason and that critical thinking is as liberating as any promise of a good-willed visitation. The San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry, or SDARI (www.biology.ucsd.edu/~jamurray/sdari/home.html), is a local nonprofit organization that encourages “rational and scientific thinking by serving as an informational resource about paranormal and other extraordinary claims.” Keith Taylor presides over SDARI, and he explained to me that the Association aligns itself with state and national organizations of skeptics and that the primary ambition of the group is not to debunk theories of the paranormal, but to offer critical analysis of claims made by the likes of Marshall Applewhite, of Heaven’s Gate infamy.

SDARI casts a wide net. Its members — composed of scientists, professors, and lawyers — are indiscriminate; they target psychics, cult leaders, dowsers, mail fraud, and pyramid schemes. The Association tries hard to be methodical and fair: Taylor values freedom of the press above all else, and one member is quoted in a Union-Tribune article as saying, “Being skeptical doesn’t mean you dismiss new things out of hand — if you’re skeptical of everything, that’s cynicism.” Still, San Diego has some use for a coalition of skeptics.

If you aren’t sure where you spent last night or if driving between La Jolla and Santee on Highway 52 you see a flickering aircraft or a hitchhiker with really long fingers, you can visit either the San Diego UFO Information Homepage (n6rpf.com-us.net/) or the Web page of the San Diego UFO Society (www. 1999.com/ufo/sdufo.htm) for some answers — though you might try contacting the Miramar Naval Air Station first. By providing links to sites such as “Mars News” and the ominous sounding “McDaniel Report,” the UFO Homepage aims to help you make sense of your sighting (be warned, however, it rejects “UFO cults and the practice of religious suicide”). The UFO Society, on the other hand, is geared to the believer in you and, if nothing else, is a wonderful resource for becoming familiar with the vernacular of this subject.

The Society’s survey reveals a great deal about its purposes. Prospective members are asked 47 questions meant to gauge their place on a scale of belief. Among these are whether or not you believe: (1) “man to be a higher life forms science project,” (2) “aliens seeded the planet and we are their offspring,” and (3) “the aliens are us from the future traveling here back through time.” You will also be asked if you “would definitely go for an indeterminate ride on an alien craft willingly.” For many these are difficult questions, and that’s what perplexes the San Diego Association of Rational Inquiry, which in a noble gesture is linked at the UFO society’s site.

SDARI can be as stubborn as the organizations it targets. Mostly, though, it responds to spacey flights of reason by promising that the terrestrial world is interesting and that anyone who engages it with a critical mind will uncover enough answers and mysteries to stick with it.

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Unarius site. Preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship.
Unarius site. Preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship.

In San Diego, a network of quacks and charlatans, and opposing them, skeptics and scientists, debate the existence of UFOs, ghosts, and government conspiracies. San Diego is a logical venue for disputes over the paranormal: it is home to alternative lifestylers and first-rate science and research institutions. The landscape of the region also breeds opposing explanations of odd phenomena. Desert places attract spiritualists and scientists, both pursuing answers to serious questions among extreme geography and light-streaked night skies. And the military’s presence here complicates these matters: its furtive experiments and luminescent flying machines are mistaken for paranormal activity or, according to the more liberal-minded, for investigating the paranormal. The Web is the ideal nexus for arguments over these questions. A place to post theories, often free from editorial review and other checks of print publication, Web text is by nature spurious—often anonymously written and without citations. Not surprisingly then, a number of San Diego-based Web sites engage in debates over abductions, haunted houses, and CIA plots.

One of the more visible San Diego organizations participating in the fight for our faith is the Unarius Academy of Science (visit www.Unarius. org/index. html). The Academy was founded in 1954 by Dr. Ernest L. and Ruth E. Norman, “Cosmic Visionaries.” Unarius — an acronym for Universal Articulate Interdimensional Understanding of Science — is dedicated to “exploring the frontiers of science and expanding our awareness and connection with galactic intelligence.” The crux of the Academy’s mission is preparing for the landing of a Pleiadean starship on a rising portion of Atlantis in the area of the Bermuda Triangle in the year 2001. (Pleiadeans, by the way, are individuals living on seven planets within the Taurus cluster, and they are, thankfully, a “positive force.”) The Normans “laid down a bridge that is a cosmic link to the Space Brothers,” and now the Academy encourages you to “turn on your green light of welcome!” and prepare for the “beginning of an age of logic and reason,” which this site (perhaps in an ironic gesture of self-effacement) makes clear is badly needed.

Some would argue that we already live in an age of logic and reason and that critical thinking is as liberating as any promise of a good-willed visitation. The San Diego Association for Rational Inquiry, or SDARI (www.biology.ucsd.edu/~jamurray/sdari/home.html), is a local nonprofit organization that encourages “rational and scientific thinking by serving as an informational resource about paranormal and other extraordinary claims.” Keith Taylor presides over SDARI, and he explained to me that the Association aligns itself with state and national organizations of skeptics and that the primary ambition of the group is not to debunk theories of the paranormal, but to offer critical analysis of claims made by the likes of Marshall Applewhite, of Heaven’s Gate infamy.

SDARI casts a wide net. Its members — composed of scientists, professors, and lawyers — are indiscriminate; they target psychics, cult leaders, dowsers, mail fraud, and pyramid schemes. The Association tries hard to be methodical and fair: Taylor values freedom of the press above all else, and one member is quoted in a Union-Tribune article as saying, “Being skeptical doesn’t mean you dismiss new things out of hand — if you’re skeptical of everything, that’s cynicism.” Still, San Diego has some use for a coalition of skeptics.

If you aren’t sure where you spent last night or if driving between La Jolla and Santee on Highway 52 you see a flickering aircraft or a hitchhiker with really long fingers, you can visit either the San Diego UFO Information Homepage (n6rpf.com-us.net/) or the Web page of the San Diego UFO Society (www. 1999.com/ufo/sdufo.htm) for some answers — though you might try contacting the Miramar Naval Air Station first. By providing links to sites such as “Mars News” and the ominous sounding “McDaniel Report,” the UFO Homepage aims to help you make sense of your sighting (be warned, however, it rejects “UFO cults and the practice of religious suicide”). The UFO Society, on the other hand, is geared to the believer in you and, if nothing else, is a wonderful resource for becoming familiar with the vernacular of this subject.

The Society’s survey reveals a great deal about its purposes. Prospective members are asked 47 questions meant to gauge their place on a scale of belief. Among these are whether or not you believe: (1) “man to be a higher life forms science project,” (2) “aliens seeded the planet and we are their offspring,” and (3) “the aliens are us from the future traveling here back through time.” You will also be asked if you “would definitely go for an indeterminate ride on an alien craft willingly.” For many these are difficult questions, and that’s what perplexes the San Diego Association of Rational Inquiry, which in a noble gesture is linked at the UFO society’s site.

SDARI can be as stubborn as the organizations it targets. Mostly, though, it responds to spacey flights of reason by promising that the terrestrial world is interesting and that anyone who engages it with a critical mind will uncover enough answers and mysteries to stick with it.

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