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Contactees are persons who claim to have experienced contact with extraterrestrials. Some claimed ongoing encounters, while others claimed to have had as few as a single encounter. Evidence is anecdotal in all cases.

As a cultural phenomenon, contactees perhaps had their greatest notoriety from the late 1940s to the late 1950s, but individuals continue to make similar claims in the present. Some have shared their messages with small groups of followers, and many contactees have written books, published magazine and newspaper articles, issued newsletters or spoken at UFO conventions.

The contactee movement has seen serious attention from academics and mainstream scholars. Among the earliest was the 1956 study, When Prophecy Fails by Leon Festinger, Henry Riecken, and Stanley Schachter, which analyzed the phenomenon. There have been at least two university-level anthologies of scientific papers regarding the contactee movements.

Contactee accounts are generally different from those who allege alien abduction, in that while contactees usually describe positive experiences involving humanoid aliens, abductees rarely describe their experiences positively.


Astronomer J. Allen Hynek described contactees thus:

The visitation to the earth of generally benign beings whose ostensible purpose is to communicate (generally to a relatively few selected and favored persons) messages of "cosmic importance". These chosen recipients generally have repeated contact experiences, involving additional messages[1]

Contactees became a cultural phenomenon in the 1940s and continued throughout the 1950s and 1960s, often giving lectures and writing books about their experience. The phenomenon still exists today. Skeptics often hold that such "contactees" are deluded or dishonest in their claims. Susan Clancy wrote that such claims are "false memories" concocted out of a "blend of fantasy-proneness, memory distortion, culturally available scripts, sleep hallucinations, and scientific illiteracy".[2]

Contactees usually portrayed aliens as more or less identical in appearance and mannerisms to humans. The aliens are also almost invariably reported as disturbed by the violence, crime, and wars that infest the earth, and by the possession of various earth nations of nuclear and thermonuclear weapons. Curtis Peebles summarizes the common features of many contactee claims:[3]

  • Certain humans have had physical or mental contact with seemingly benevolent, humanoid space aliens.
  • The contactees have also flown aboard seemingly otherworldly spacecraft and traveled into space and to other planets.
  • The Aliens want to help mankind solve its problems, to stop nuclear testing and prevent the otherwise inevitable destruction of the human race.
  • This will be accomplished very simply by the brotherhood spreading a message of love and brotherhood across the world.
  • Other sinister beings, the Men in Black, use threats and force to continue the cover-up of UFOs, and suppress the message of hope.[3]


Early examples[edit]

As early as the 18th century, people like Emanuel Swedenborg were claiming to be in psychic contact with inhabitants of other planets. 1758 saw the publication of Concerning Earths in the Solar System, in which Swedenborg detailed his alleged journeys to the inhabited planets. J. Gordon Melton notes that Swedenborg's planetary tour stops at Saturn, the furthest planet discovered during Swedenborg's era, he did not visit then unknown Uranus, Neptune or Pluto.[4]

In 1891, Thomas Blott's book The Man From Mars was published. The author claimed to have met a Martian in Kentucky. Unusually for an early contactee, Blott reported that the Martian communicated not via telepathy, but in English.[5]


George Adamski, who later became probably the most prominent contactee of the UFO era, was one contactee with an earlier interest in the occult. Adamski founded the Royal Order of Tibet in the 1930s. Writes Michael Barkun, "His [later] messages from the Venusians sounded suspiciously like his own earlier occult teachings."[6]

Christopher Partridge notes, importantly, that the pre-1947 contactees "do not involve UFOs".[7]

Contactees in the UFO era[edit]

In support of their claims, early 1950s contactees often produced photographs of the alleged flying saucers or their occupants. A number of photos of a "Venusian scout ship" by George Adamski and identified by him as a typical extraterrestrial flying saucer were noted to suspiciously bear a remarkable resemblance to a type of once commonly available chicken egg incubator, complete with three light bulbs which Adamski said were "landing gear".[8]

For over two decades, contactee George Van Tassel hosted the annual "Giant Rock Interplanetary Spacecraft Convention" in the Mojave Desert.[9]

Response to contactee claims[edit]

Even in ufology—itself subject to at best very limited and sporadic mainstream scientific or academic interest—contactees were generally seen as the lunatic fringe, and serious ufologists subsequently avoided the subject, for fear it would harm their attempts at serious study of the UFO phenomenon.[10][11] Jacques Vallée notes, "No serious investigator has ever been very worried by the claims of the 'contactees'."[12]

Carl Sagan has expressed skepticism about contactees and alien contact in general, remarking that aliens seem very happy to answer vague questions but when confronted with specific, technical questions they are silent:

Occasionally, by the way, I get a letter from someone who is in "contact" with an extraterrestrial who invites me to "ask anything". And so I have a list of questions. The extraterrestrials are very advanced, remember. So I ask things like, "Please give a short proof of Fermat's Last Theorem." Or the Goldbach Conjecture. And then I have to explain what these are, because extraterrestrials will not call it Fermat's Last Theorem, so I write out the little equation with the exponents. I never get an answer. On the other hand, if I ask something like "Should we humans be good?" I always get an answer. I think something can be deduced from this differential ability to answer questions. Anything vague they are extremely happy to respond to, but anything specific, where there is a chance to find out if they actually know anything, there is only silence.[13]

Some time after the phenomenon had waned, Temple University historian David M. Jacobs noted a few interesting facts: the accounts of the prominent contactees grew ever more elaborate, and as new claimants gained notoriety, they typically backdated their first encounter, claiming it occurred earlier than anyone else's. Jacobs speculates that this was an attempt to gain a degree of "authenticity" to trump other contactees.[14]

List of contactees[edit]

Those who claim to be contactees include:


  1. ^ Hynek, J. Allen (1972). The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, p. 5. Henry Regnery Company. ISBN 978-0809291304.
  2. ^ Clancy, Susan (2005). Abducted, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674018796.
  3. ^ a b Peebles, Curtis (1994). Watch the Skies: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth, pp. 93–108. Smithsonian Institution, ISBN 1560983434.
  4. ^ Melton, Gordon J., "The Contactees: A Survey". In Levin, ed. (1995) The Gods Have Landed: New Religions From Other Worlds, pp. 1–13. Albany: University of New York Press. ISBN 0791423301.
  5. ^ Melton, p. 7.
  6. ^ Barkun, Michael (2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. Los Angeles: University of California Press, Berkeley. ISBN 0520238052
  7. ^ Partridge, Christopher. "Understanding UFO Religions and Abduction Spiritualities". In Partridge, Christopher (2003) ed. UFO Religions (2003), p. 8. London: Routledge. ISBN 0415263239,
  8. ^ "Profiles in Pseudoscience: George Adamski!". Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. Retrieved 2010-09-18.
  9. ^ "Calling Occupants". Fortean Times Archived April 5, 2007, at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ Sheaffer, Robert (1986). The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence, p. 18. Prometheus Books. ISBN 0879753382
  11. ^ Sheaffer, Robert (1998). UFO Sightings: The Evidence, pp. 34–35. Prometheus Books. ISBN 1573922137
  12. ^ Vallee, Jacques (1965). Anatomy of a Phenomenon: Unidentified Objects in Space, A Scientific Appraisal, p. 90. Henry Regnery Company. ISBN 0809298880.
  13. ^ Carl Sagan, "The Burden of Skepticism"
  14. ^ Jacobs, David M. (1975). The UFO Controversy In America. Indiana University Press. ISBN 0253190061.
  15. ^ Allingham, Cedric (February 14, 1955). "Meeting on the Moor". Time. Archived from the original on September 30, 2007. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  16. ^ Scott-Blair, Michael (August 13, 2003). "UFO pioneer inspires site's astronomy theme". The San Diego Union-Tribune. Archived from the original on 2005-12-26. Retrieved 2007-04-27.
  17. ^ a b c d e f g h Lewis, James R. (2000) UFOs and Popular Culture, Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, Inc., ISBN 1576072657
  18. ^ Curran, Douglas (1985) In Advance of the Landing, Abbeville Press, ISBN 0896595234
  19. ^ Time (1979-07-03) "Crash Pad" (2007-05-06)
  20. ^ a b Story, Ronald D. (2001) The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters, New American Library, ISBN 0451204247
  21. ^ Bethurum, Truman (1995) Messages from the People of the Planet Clarion, Inner Light Publications, ISBN 0938294555
  22. ^ Fry, Daniel W. (1954) The White Sands Incident, New Age Publishing Co, ASIN B000GS5BJ6
  23. ^ Ortega, Tony (March 5, 1998). "The Hack and the Quack". Phoenix New Times. Archived from the original on 2015-05-05. Retrieved 2007-05-05.
  24. ^ Hendrick, Bill (June 29, 1997). "The Mysteries Of Aliens And Area: Atlanta believers keep the faith in the otherworldly". The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Archived from the original on 2012-10-20. Retrieved 2007-05-12. Alt URL
  25. ^ "Special Collections, University Archives & Museum". Archived from the original on April 14, 2009.
  26. ^ "Venus Unveiled". Nova. October 17, 1995. Retrieved 2007-04-26.
  27. ^ Christopher, Paul (1998). Alien Intervention. Lafayette, LA: Huntington House. pp. 156–7]. ISBN 9781563841484.
  28. ^ My contact with flying saucers, London, N. Spearman [1959], OCLC 285784
  29. ^ Why we are here, Los Angeles: DeVorss & Co., 1959, OCLC 8923174
  30. ^ Roy Britt, Robert (June 15, 2009). "End of the World in 2012 (Cont.)". Live Science. Retrieved 2017-02-20.
  31. ^ Martin, Riley; Tan. "Chapter One - The Coming of Tan". The Coming of Tan. Historicity Productions. p. 6. Archived from the original on 2007-12-11. Retrieved 2007-04-06. I was but seven years of age in November of 1953, when I first saw the strange lights above the river near my home in Northeastern Arkansas.
  32. ^ Moosbrugger, Guido (2004). And Still They Fly! (Second Edition). Steelmark, ISBN 0971152314
  33. ^ My trip to Mars, the Moon, and Venus, UFOrum, Grand Rapids Flying Saucer Club, 1956, OCLC 6048493
  34. ^ Binder, Otto O. (June 1970). Ted Owens, Flying Saucer Spokesman, The Incredible Truth Behind the UFO's Mission to Earth. Saga. pp. 22–25, 90–94.
  35. ^ Paz Wells, Sixto (2002). The Invitation. 1st World Publishing. ISBN 978-1887472296.
  36. ^ L. D. Meagher (July 29, 1998). "Strieber's exuberance falls short of proving there are UFOs}publisher =CNN". Retrieved 2007-04-25. A review of Strieber, Whitley. Confirmation: The Hard Evidence of Aliens among Us. Saint Martin's Press.
  37. ^ Szwed, John F. Space Is the Place: The Lives and Times of Sun Ra, Pantheon, 1997, ISBN 978-0679435891; pp. 28–29
  38. ^ "Centralian Tells Strange Tale of Visiting Venus Space Ship in Eastern Lewis County", Centralia Daily Chronicle, April 1, 1950
  39. ^ Rael (2006). Intelligent Design. Nova Distribution. p. 109.
  40. ^ York, Malachi Z. Man From Planet Rizq Study Book One: Supreme Mathematics Class A For The Students Of The Holy Tabernacle p. 23

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