The worldwide rumour about Flying Saucers presents a problem that challenges the psychologist for a number of reasons. The primary question – and apparently this is the most important point – is this: are they real or are they mere fantasy products? This question is by no means settled yet. If they are real, exactly what are they? If they are fantasy, why should such a rumour exist?
(Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies, 1958) --- C. G. Jung
In a South Park episode, originally broadcast in October of 2006, during the 10th season of that controversial and popular series, dealing with, among other things, 9/11 conspiracy theories and theorists, (entitled “Mystery of the Urinal Deuce,” for the cognoscenti), an interesting perspective on government control, power, and knowledge was explored.
Briefly summarizing: The South Park characters become involved in an investigation of 9/11 conspiracy theories that posit the U.S. government was behind and master-minded the attack. One thing leads to another and a scene in the Oval Office actually shows President Bush admitting that the government was behind the attacks. Bush then proceeds to execute the leader of a conspiracy-believing organization, who had accompanied Stan and Kyle, two young members of the core South Park cast, on their investigation, right in front of the boys. In the ruckus that ensues, the boys escape from the White House, in shock at the bizarre revelation and events.
Stan and Kyle, shortly thereafter, inexplicably, run in to the recently executed conspiracy group leader outside of a McDonald’s. He runs away, desperate to escape, only to now be cornered and shot again – this time for real – by the father of the “Hardly Boys,” who had been enlisted as co-investigators in the unfolding mystery. The group now gather at the Hardly house as the Hardly Boys reveal that their investigation has uncovered that all the 9/11 conspiracy websites are fronts that contain bogus information and are actually run by the government. President Bush and members of his administration now arrive confirming the Hardly Boys discovery and that the government was not behind the 9/11 attacks.
The motivation for all these shenanigans is to display and reinforce the view that the U. S. government really is all-powerful and that such an attack, as experienced by America on 9/11, could not have happened without official involvement. To admit otherwise is, in effect, an admission of weakness and lack of control on the part of those tasked to protect a newly vulnerable populace. Such qualities in a government, in the face of a mortal threat, one presumes, are something less than comforting from the perspective of your average citizen. And so, better to manufacture disinformation describing a vast government program of manipulation (and mass murder!) than admit to any weakness.
That, in the proverbial nutshell, is a comic and irreverent version of a fundamental theme we will be exploring in this multi-part series, beginning today. Government power – sovereignty – and its limits and the possible responses to those limits, courtesy of South Park and a couple of prominent political scientists, Alexander Wendt, of The Ohio State University and Raymond Duvall, of the University of Minnesota.
Do you believe in UFOs? By “believe” I mean think that UFOs are piloted or controlled by extra-terrestrial (ET) beings? If you do then you would be among the many who accept the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). Now, the balance of this article is not about that. It’s not about whether you believe in the ETH or not. It’s more about how we think about what we believe. How we come to believe what we believe – about UFOs. And by “we,” for the purposes of this series, we’re talking more about what would be considered the “Official WE” that constitutes, broadly-speaking, the “State,” the “Scientific Establishment,” and “Main-Stream Media” – accorded all their respective power and position, with that power and influence exercised via a vast array of organizations and institutions, both directly and indirectly, throughout our world society.
For Wendt and Duvall this collective entity is comprised of “modern elites.” Interestingly, Wendt and Duvall, themselves, as academics, would also be considered members of this modern elite class. (Perhaps, you, dear reader, number yourself among this clan as well.) As regards the “we” that constitutes the average man and woman in the street; well, I hope this doesn’t come as too much of a shock, but what that “we” believes – who can’t seem to get enough of the endlessly multiplying number of reality-based programs exploring UFOs and tangentially-related paranormal phenomena in our thousand-channel universe – doesn’t count. At all. Sorry. At least as far as what WE believe. And, not to belabor the point, but it’s what WE believe… that counts. Period. But how did WE come to believe what WE believe – about UFOs?
(Part 1 of 6)