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illumWe knew from the beginning that Eric Ouellet’s Illuminations: The UFO Experience as a Parapsychological Event would be a controversial book that would please neither UFOlogists nor parapsychologists. We were right; step on toes and people scream. But even critics like parapsychologist Renaud Evrard, in his review of the book in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, admits that “the perspective he adopts has never been discussed so extensively,” that perspective being that “social psi” is actually at the core of the UFO phenomenon. Could UFO experiences be like poltergeist events? Evrard finds that Ouellet’s “‘political sociology’ of UFO experiences and alien encounters is not really convincing. The symbolic perspective, although it remains attractive, gives him too much freedom to approximate a scientific analysis.” Meanwhile, UFOlogist Jerome Clark, who says he’s been there, done that, and moved on from such a perspective, argues in his review of the book in Fortean Times that we should stop “dragging in creaky concepts such as macro-PK, on its best days a hugely speculative notion, to explain anything [about UFOs]. And let’s keep social stresses out of it too. There are always social streeses, and there is no empirically demonstrated reason to link them to UFO sightings.” But he doesn’t entirely discount the possibility, as he ends his review with these words: “Show me real evidence that macro-PK, working selectively through ‘social stresses,’ creates UFO events, and we’ll talk.” Finally, Peter Rogerson, in his review at Magonia, calls it an “interesting book” that “certainly evoked a feeling of nostalgia in me, because I was thinking on similar lines back in 1970!” But he seems to have now rejected that view because “we certainly don’t know that psychokinesis or morphic fields or other psi processes exist.” Obviously Rogerson is not up on the parapsychological literature of the past 50 years! But if we were back in the early 1970s, he admits, “this is a book which I would have probably given a rave review.” Finally we have the opinion of David Halprin, who is neither a UFOlogist nor a parapsychologist. In his review on his blog, he finds Ouellet’s book “challenging, lucid, at times brilliant.” He doesn’t think that “all of Ouellet’s arguments are equally convincing. But all are stimulating, all are provocative. All contribute to making this book one of the most fascinating UFO books I’ve read in a long time–-a vital contribution to the understanding of the UFO as a social and psychological phenomenon.”

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