OF STEPS & PHASES.
I first heard of the Seven Steps to Contact when it was referenced in 5 Things That Will Happen When Aliens Arrive, a Strange Mysteries video on YouTube. It made me tilt my head like a confused dog and lift a brow, too, for despite my obsession and rather thorough research on the subject I had never heard of it, not once. When a subsequent Google search only provided a few articles about it (none of which offered additional information) I began to suspect that I had never heard of it for the simple fact that it was bullshit that someone had relatively recently pulled out of their anal cavity.
I was wrong, however. Kind of.
It is really called the Seven Phases to Contact and it was first reported in the 1967 book, Flying Saucers — Here and Now! by Frank Edwards and later discussed in Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence and Civilization, a 1979 book by Robert Freitas. Allegedly it was among the subjects of a joint Army-Navy briefing regarding UFOs held in Washington DC during the summer of 1950. It was meant to provide an outline for how we might approach an extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) upon our discovery of it. By extension, it may also explain how an ETI might approach our own species. Though potentially bunk, the content of the Seven Phases is interesting nonetheless and well-worth consideration.
We might regard the first phase as one of remote detection and surveillance. The way Edwards described it in his book, this “would take place before we knew whether the planet was inhabited” and “would consist of a cautious and careful surveillance from a distance considered safe.” From earth and our orbiting satellites we might ascertain not only the presence, age and habitability of a distant exoplanet but even detect the signature of life through spectroscopic analysis of the atmosphere. SETI may even detect radio signals from the exoplanet.
Given the star system was a relatively nearby neighbor and/or we had warp technology or access to wormholes, we would move onto the next phase and send out covert probes that would take up orbit around the exoplanet to gather further intelligence. If there were any natural moons, we might make manned bases there as well, ensuring they could not detect our presence.
There have been consistent rumors of an extraterrestrial “black knight satellite” orbiting earth as well as some curious moon anomalies that would be consistent with the notion that we are under such surveillance ourselves.
If intelligence procured from the former two phases provided justification we would then engage in covert contact, deploying maneuverable, manned craft in order “to check the performance characteristics of vehicles belonging to the planetary inhabitants — to test their speed, types of propulsion, and maneuverability as compared to our own.” This is not unlike what UFOs started doing in the second World War as documented in Keith Chester’s 2010 book, Strange Company, and continue to do today, which is essentially antagonizing and play-fighting with commercial and military aircraft — as if to test their capabilities.
Next we would direct our craft to “make near approaches to determine whether the alien beings are hostile” as well as to “check radar locations and locations of military centers” so as to assess their degree of hostility and weapon capabilities. This is akin to the behavior of UFOs post-1947, where they began invading our airspace, focusing on our military bases and buzzing — and in a few unnerving instances, interfering — with our nuclear arsenals.
Finally, we would land, though Edwards states that this would be limited to “brief touchdowns in isolated areas to secure specimens of plants, animals, and (if possible) specimens of the intelligent beings themselves.” Freitas explains that xenologists (those who study extraterrestrial life) refer to this as “the snatch.” Of course, it also explains what is generally known as UFO or alien abduction. Alien beings have been observed taking plants as well as animals such as dogs, elk and, last but not least, human beings.
With respect to the next potential phase, one which we might call the “presentation” phase, Edwards explains:
If we have been successful in acquiring the information we needed by the preceding steps, we must now decide on the basis of that knowledge whether to abandon the project as too risky or otherwise undesirable — or whether to put into effect the sixth phase of the program. If we decide that the evidence seems to warrant some kind of eventual contact, direct or indirect, then phase six would consist of landings and low-level approaches where our craft and their operators could be seen — but not reached. These approaches would be made where they could be witnessed by the greatest possible number of inhabitants. If carried out successfully, this phase would demonstrate our existence and our non-hostile nature.
If the intelligence gathered from the former six phases suggested it was advisable we would then make overt contact, communicating and interacting with the ETI in person.
Referred to by our briefing officers as the ‘Overt Contact’ phase. This would be the deliberate, carefully planned and executed final step in the program. Contact would not be attempted unless we had excellent reason to believe that it would not be disastrous to either of the races involved. There are some good reasons why it might never come to pass — even though results of the first six phases might have indicated that it could be physically possible.
QUESTIONS, COMMENTS, REFLECTIONS.
Though not noted by either of the authors so far as I am aware, it seems clear to me that these seven phases — aside from the fifth phase, for some reason — could be grouped into pairs: phases one and two deal with covert surveillance; phases three and four deal with assessing their potential threat (their degree of hostility plus their technological capability); phases six and seven deal with incrementally conditioning them to our presence until overt contact can be safely initiated.
Phases six and seven also operate on what we could call the frog soup scenario. If you boil up the pot of water and then throw in the amphibious, ribbiting fuck, he’s going to hop out. So what you do instead is put him in a pot of room-temperature water and slowly crank up the heat. The change will be so gradual that he’ll never know what’s happening to him.
In his book UFOs, JFK, and Elvis, Richard Belzer quotes Jim Marrs, who described the process in what, to my mind, seems to be a far less ominous fashion:
Back in the 1970s, scientists discovered what appeared to be a Stone Age tribe living in a remote area of the Philippines. For the first time, instead of just rushing in with cloths and tools and Bibles and everything and saying, ‘Here, get civilized,’ we finally showed a little bit of smarts and quarantined the whole area. Then we sent in a pool of scientists who would condition these people — actually get them used to the reality of modern human beings — so they could accept the researchers as a normal part of their lives.
For the first week or so, the researchers would simply sit within the villagers’ view, but at a distance. The next week, they would move slightly closer — not close enough to interact, but within the villagers’ notice. In a few days, perhaps they would move to a clearing. Some time after that, they might start to smile and wave, and so on. After a while the tribesmen began to get acclimatized to the scientists’ presence. And they began to realize, Okay… These people are here. And by the time the scientists finally made contact, the villagers knew their visitors were neither enemies nor a threat.
This process is known as a gradual disclosure or leaky embargo, and it is certainly one way to explain the behavior of UFOs both collectively and in individual sightings and encounters.
As a whole, UFO sightings come in waves. There will be troughs nearly void of UFO sightings or encounters that will occasionally be broken by unpredictable spurts of activity. At some indeterminate point and at varying speeds and intensities this activity will increase, leading to a cluster of sightings and encounters, the frequency and intensity of which reaches a fever pitch until the wave crashes, leaving you in a trough once again. Just when the public seems to have forgotten about the UFO phenomenon, however, the surreal tide rises yet again.
Waves are only a general characteristic of their pattern of activity, however. When they speak about UFO flaps, they typically mean that UFO waves are centered around a specific, geographical area. UFO hot spots are meant to denote geographical areas in which activity seems both concentrated and enduring, as in Gulf Breeze, Florida, or in the aftermath of the videotaped sightings in Mexico during the solar eclipse of July 11, 1991.
When cases are examined individually, one finds that there seems to be an increasing proximity between witnesses and UFOs over time — or, in the very least, an increasing awareness of their proximity. At first there were only distant sightings of daylight discs and nocturnal lights and unnervingly validating radar-visual cases. Then there were Close Encounters of the First Kind, where UFOs were close enough that witnesses could clearly see that they were manufactured machines. There are countless individual reports but most notable are the sort of slow, low-level parades and mass sightings of large craft seen by thousands of people over New York and Connecticut beginning in 1983, in Phoenix, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico on March 13, 1997 and in Stephenville, Texas on January 8th, 2008.
Reinforcement for the objective reality of UFOs came in cases of the Second Kind, where the craft in question would appear to cause blackouts, stall cars and otherwise manipulate and often enough burn earth, vegetation as well as witnesses. During Close Encounters of the Third Kind they may see and even interact with occupants.
Are the aliens — a convenient term for the intelligence behind the UFO and abduction phenomenon — slowly conditioning us, acclimating us to not only their existence but their real-time presence? If we would approach an ETI in such a way, as suggested by the alleged Seven Phases of Contact, is it not at least conceivable that an ETI would approach us in an analogous fashion? And is there not suggestion in the form of the UFO phenomenon as a whole that we are currently in the seventh phase of the process?