What the Black Death Can Teach Us About the UFO Problem – An Analogy (December 2, 2019)

Mid 14th century Europe was devastated by a disease commonly known as the bubonic plague or Black Death.  It reduced the human populations of affected areas in the European continent anywhere from 25 to 60%. Once the symptoms of the disease appeared, the victims had about a 50-50 chance of dying within a week.  The social and economic consequences of the plague were profound, not to mention the survivors’ psychological trauma and shaken confidence in how their world worked.

And how did their world work?  The paradigm at that time assured that God directed events.  Logic implied that since society was visited with such a catastrophe, it must have been punishment for humankind’s sins.  (Medieval thinkers liked conspiracy theories too – such as Jews poisoning water wells). That model may have satisfied some, but it left medieval society without a clue as to what was really causing the pandemic.  

And just what was causing it?  That wouldn’t be learned until 500 years later by a bacteriologist named Alexandre Yersin with the Pasteur Institute who discovered the bacterium Yersinia Pestis in 1894.

So what does all that have to do with UFOs?

In contemporary society we form assumptions, beliefs and theories about the world based on acquired knowledge.  Our models of how the universe works arise from scientific advances and rational thinking processes. We are as confident in our world view as the medievals were of theirs in the 14th century.  And that’s a problem.

When it comes to an ultimate understanding of the UFO issue, our notions could be as wrong as medieval society’s concerning the Black Plague.

You might be familiar with a knowledge matrix in which one of the quadrants contains the value “You Don’t Know That You Don’t Know” (the Blind Spot).  In terms of medieval society’s understanding the Black Plague in the 14th century, that quadrant value was huge. It could well be just as large for us moderns in our knowledge gap involving the true nature of the UFO phenomenon. If this analogy holds, it might mean we could be a very long way from a proper understanding of the problem.

Why?  In the middle ages, they did not have science, and society wasn’t aware of a level of knowledge and understanding beyond their God centered world model.  And so, we may need to entertain the possibility that there could be a level of knowledge and understanding beyond science as we know it!   As the medievals lacked the proper worldview, technology and mental skills to solve their plague problems, so we may lack the same in order to understand UFOs properly.

It’s nearly impossible to scratch our way out of our quadrant in the short term.  In the long run the challenge won’t require critical thinking so much as creative thinking.  Such creative thinking requires that all boundaries be loosened, that all bets are off, all rules null and void.  It means entertaining any and all possibilities. Nevertheless, with even the most skilled creative exploration, in the short run our ideas may be as irrelevant as those would have been in the 14th century with such an approach.

Getting where we need to be may involve incremental progress over many, many years.  Almost certainly it will require one or more breakthroughs and very likely a major paradigm shift. Our quadrant is a big fat blank spot, and it should be a lesson in humility for us.

To quote Jacques Vallee from his book Anatomy of a Phenomenon (page 42), “We are dealing with a very deep and complex system of stimuli whose study cannot be undertaken without asking fundamental questions concerning our vision of the world as a whole.”

Something to think about……