|Contactees, Cults and
David Stupple & William
cults traditionally have been a source of
amusement to outsiders; but since the Jonestown
mass suicide, amusement has changed to fear.
Correctly sensing that cult organizations are
inherently unstable, cult members are assumed to
be irrational. In so many words, the
man-in-the-street, and the research scientist
alike, openly wonder: "What is wrong with these
people that they think strange thoughts and act in
a bizarre manner?" In this paper we argue that
this pathological model of cult membership is both
gratuitous and inaccurate.
traditionally have been a source of amusement to
outsiders; but since the Jonestown mass suicide,
amusement has changed to fear. Correctly sensing
that cult organizations are inherently unstable,
cult members are assumed to be irrational. In so
many words, the man-in-the-street, and the
research scientist alike, openly wonder: "What is
wrong with these people that they think strange
thoughts and act in a bizarre manner?" In this
paper we argue that this pathological model of
cult membership is both gratuitous and inaccurate.
reader is asked to consult his/her own
experience--perhaps a parent-teacher organization
to which he/she belongs. Don't people join such
organizations for a variety of reasons? One person
may join because he/she is concerned about his/her
daughter's education. A second person may be
seeking companionship. A third person, with
political ambitions, may be trying to expand
his/her circle of influential friends. But from
the point of view of the ongoing activities of the
parent-teacher organization, it is the behavior of
the member, and not the motive that activates that
behavior, that is crucial. Cynical and sincere
behavior may be equally functional (ref. 1).
Furthermore, since social systems require the
completion of a variety of tasks, people with a
variety of skills and behavioral orientations are
required. For these two reasons it is faulty to
assume that cult members are alike in
psychological or sociological characteristics.
success of a cult, at least a flying saucer cult,
requires the existence of four factors: (1) a
mystagogue, (2) an epistemic community, (3) a
seedbed subculture from which members are
recruited, and (4) personnel with requisite skills
and motivation to perform the tasks required for
the cult's ongoing life. We shall discuss the
first three of these factors and then consider
their application to a concrete example--the
Institute for Cosmic Science, a charming, if
disarming, Detroit area flying saucer cult that,
during the period 1967-1974, involved over one
hundred persons who, at one time or another,
worked on the construction of a flying saucer that
they hoped would fly into outer space and save
Earth from impending disaster (ref. 2).
term mystagogue was introduced by German
sociologist Max Weber who used it to describe a
"magician with a congregation." (ref. 3) In an
article on the Aetherius Society, British
sociologist Roy Wallis used the term to describe
George King, a flying saucer contactee who claims
to be Earth's representative of certain space
people who enlist him and his congregation in
projects of galactic importance. (ref. 4)
term epistemic community, introduced by American
sociologist Burkart Holzner, refers to an
organization of people who have common procedures
for creating, elaborating, and testing reality
systems. (ref. 5) These reality systems become the
mental "home base" into which mental subuniverses
must terminate. For the ordinary person common
sense is the mental home base, and mental
subuniverses include the worlds of dreams,
science, fantasy, and religious experience. (ref.
6) In an epistemic community another reality--for
instance science or religion--becomes the home
base and common sense becomes a mental subuniverse
to be explained (see Figures 1 and 2). Flying
saucer cults organized around mystagogic
contactees would be epistemic communities. To be
effective, epistemic communities must control the
spatial and temporal distribution of the
(objective) situations and (subjective)
orientations of their members. This observation,
as we shall see, is of particular use in our
account of the Institute for Cosmic Science.
Figure 1. The World of
Common Sense and Various Mental Subuniverses
The World of Science
The World of Fantasy
The World of Dreams
The World of Religious Experience
Figure 2. An Epistemic
System with Religion as a Mental Home Base
The World of Science
The World of Fantasy
The World of Dreams
The World of Common Sense
The World of
Studies of flying saucer cults repeatedly show
that they are part of a larger occult social
world. (ref. 7) This social world is a source of
(1) recruits, and (2) folklore themes that
constitute the cults official belief systems.
Historically, the first wave of flying saucer
contactees that appeared in the early 1950's
consisted of occultists who associated flying
saucers with other purported anomalies. These
included process anomalies like telepathy,
automatic writing, and astral projection and
anomalous objects like geological wonders,
monsters, and lost civilizations. (ref. 8) Today,
flying saucers are an enduring, though minor,
occult theme. The typical occultist shares an
excitement about a variety of wonders, seldom
restricting his or her interest to only one topic.
Touring mystagogic speakers are assured an
audience by groups whose business it is to sponsor
such lectures, and local mystagogues compete for
the everyday allegiance of followers. A pattern
discovered by our research in Detroit revealed
three types of followers. First is the hard core
devotee who gives his/her total allegiance to one
mystagogue. The hard core devotee, as in the case
of the Aetherius Society, meets the mystagogue's
considerable demands on his/her time, energy, and
other resources. Next to this first stratum of
members is a second stratum of occult dilettantes
who divide their allegiance between two or more
groups. Thus a person may be a sometime attendee
at Aetherius Society meetings, Self-Realization
Fellowship meetings, and Summit Lighthouse
meetings. A third type of follower, marginal to
the occult social world, is the curiosity seeker
who is interested but not knowledgeable about
occultisms. Attracted, perhaps, by advertisements
like the sign in the Detroit Aetherius Society's
storefront window, which reads, "Messages from
Mars Here," curiosity seekers make both symbolic
and financial contributions. For some groups these
persons represent the outside world that, at least
in theory, they hope to influence.
three part division of the seedbed occult social
world is paralleled in the organization of the
Institute for Cosmic Research, a topic to which we
THE INSTITUTE FOR COSMIC
Institute for Cosmic Research was organized around
"Gordon," a contactee who learned his trade by
reading books written by contactees and by
attending their lectures in Detroit during the
1950's. Born in 1914, the son of prominent
Michigan parents and the husband of a former
Detroit debutante, Gordon was trained in
electrical engineering and had been working in Ann
Arbor on what he referred to as "rocket research"
when illness forced him into early retirement. He
supported himself by building and selling houses
on his family's property, three hundred miles from
Gordon's career as a contactee came of age in
April, 1959 when he flew to Oklahoma City to
participate in a most curious misadventure-the
aborted flight of Otis T. Carr and the OTC-XI
Circular Foil Space Craft. Otis Carr, the
anti-hero of this episode, was one of several
flying saucer personalities who had been appearing
on the Long John Nebel radio talk show in New York
City. One day in 1957 Carr announced that he had
invented a fourth dimensional spacecraft. The
machine according to one report, was completely
round and completely square. (ref. 9) Operating in
unison with the "free energy of space," the OTC-XI
used an ultron electric accumulator. Carr had
plans to produce family-sized versions of his
invention for general consumption. But two years
later when the day finally came for the first
public demonstration of the OTC-XI, things did not
go well. When Nebel and the media arrived in
Oklahoma City they found the OTC-XI demolished in
a local warehouse, and Carr in a local hospital.
Gordon had his own version of the Carr incident,
complete with photographs which substantiated his
claim that he, too, was on the scene. In Gordon's
account he personally destroyed the OTC-XI on
orders from "space brothers from Io" who objected
to Carr's involvement with "financial
speculators." Gordon also claimed that after the
explosion he went to the hospital (where Carr
recognized him as a "man from other worlds") and
proceeded to heal the by-then thoroughly confused
would-be space pilot.
from "victory" over Otis Carr, Gordon set out to
build his own one-man free energy space ship,
claiming the full cooperation of the space people
who sent him to Oklahoma City. That ship was never
built but he did produce photographs of two small,
allegedly airborne model space ships and a "free
energy light"--props that he later used to
convince people of his abilities as an inventor.
Birth of the Cult
Gordon's reputation was such by this time that he
was accepting offers to lecture to flying saucer
clubs three and four hundred miles from his home.
He turned out to be a popular speaker, and one
night in Toledo, Ohio, after describing his plans
to build a space ship, he was asked if he would
consider enlarging the project to include more
passengers. Gordon agreed that this would be a
splendid idea and, in 1967, the Institute for
Cosmic Research was formed and chartered by the
state of Michigan as a nonprofit organization
"dedicated to the advancement of religion,
science, and space travel."
members were drawn from friendship cliques that
extended into informal flying saucer study groups
and small flying saucer cults devoted to
nationally known contactees. There were three of
the latter: the Aetherius Society (George King),
the Interplanetary Space Center (Laura Mundo), and
Understanding Unlimited (Daniel Fry). Members also
came from occult and metaphysical groups like the
Rosicrucians, the I Am, and the Self-Realization
Fellowship. During the period 1971-1975, when we
did the bulk of our research the Institute had
about one hundred members, perhaps half of which
could be considered "active." A strict membership
list was maintained. New members were carefully
selected: candidates were sponsored by established
members and prospects with desired skills were
preferentially recruited. All members paid seven
dollars annual dues which entitled them to work on
the flying saucer (known as the "Bluebird") and to
receive an irregularly published newsletter. Over
the years the newsletter took on the
characteristics of semi-sacred scripture.
Bluebird was located in a protected backwoods area
near Gordon's rural home. A dozen members lived
close by; others would have too, if they could
have found employment. Several people bought
nearby property (from Gordon) indicating future
plans to move into the community. Those that did
not live in the area had to make long pilgrimages
from their urban homes, a six hundred mile round
trip. Understandably, most members made the trip
infrequently, but a hardy few did so every third
or fourth weekend, weather permitting.
members came to the construction site they worked
on the Bluebird in the daytime and gathered at
Gordon's home at night. With his followers
assembled around his kitchen table, Gordon
tirelessly told his stories. What listeners heard
was a cosmology that appeared bizarre and
disconnected at first, but with some perseverance,
became intelligible and orderly. For various
reasons, few people took the time to understand
the total system, thereby heightening the sense of
The Space Brothers
key to Gordon's cosmology lay in certain
revelations that the reports were given to him by
friendly extraterrestrials who appeared one day
happily returning an experimental rocket that he
had sent into the stratosphere. The space brothers
told Gordon that Earth is in perilous straits. It
faces another ice age because Earthlings have been
violating "Universal Law," the law by which people
from more highly evolved planets live. The space
brothers announced that Earth's vortex is about to
break because of an excess amount of hatred on the
planet. Planets are like plants, the visitors
explained: give them love and they prosper; give
them hate and they die. Earth is reacting to an
overload of hatred and the inhabitants of other
planets in the solar system are alarmed because if
Earth disintegrates, the balance of the solar
system will be destroyed.
there is hope. If Earthlings will change their
ways the ice age will be avoided and the planet
will be turned into a "Heaven on Earth." The space
brothers had a plan. They chose to provide Gordon
with the technology to build a small flying
saucer. In turn, Gordon was to round up a group of
highly evolved Earthlings who practice Universal
Law, build the saucer, and fly it into the skies.
At this point Gordon and his crew would be joined
by saucers from other planets. Together they would
circle Earth for three days, darkening the sky.
People would "look up and wonder why"--then fall
on their knees and start practicing Universal Law.
key to space travel, the space brothers revealed,
lies in tapping free energy. Powerful "lines of
force" exist throughout the universe and cross at
right angles forming squares. Within each square
is a vortex where free energy is contained. The
Bluebird would be an anti-gravity machine that
would harness free energy and thread its way
through a pathway of vortexes called the "Stairway
in the Sky." Continuing their explanation, the
space brothers reported that the sun is cold and
sends out a "phagon ray." The phagon ray turns
oxygen into heat and light. Thus all the "stars"
that are seen at night are actually planets
glowing with oxygen; they are all inhabited.
Gordon was well prepared for his role in this
drama. In a recent past life he was a
distinguished scientist on the lost continent of
Atlantis. Now, one of seven Great White Brothers,
each working in a different country for Earth's
salvation, he alone was trusted with the plans for
building the Bluebird, and therefore was "in
charge." Selected audiences were told about his
"virgin birth." In this story a flying saucer
appeared over his mother's house and Gordon simply
"arrived" in his non-pregnant mother's lap wrapped
head to toe in white muslin. As the evening rolled
on, members heard tales of heroic encounters with
communists, the Mafia, Black Panthers and
humanoids from Pluto who were after his secrets.
(ref. 11) On the brighter side were stories of
visits from the space brothers from Io (a
satellite of Jupiter that Gordon preferred to
refer to as a planet). They ate meals at his home
and played with his children. They protected him
by monitoring the conversations and thoughts of
visitors at his home. The space brothers also kept
"complete records" of Institute members.
1968 Gordon allegedly went to Io where, according
to one newsletter, he had "fantastic adventures."
He reported that he represented Earth at
"Intergalactic Council meetings " and to the
obvious delight of many, he darkly suggested that
some Institute members may secretly be space
people. These imaginative tales were liberally
embedded with occult motifs: telepathy, astral
projection, pyramidology, the hollow earth legend,
the pineal gland, Music of the Spheres, the "real
Bible from Tibet," reincarnation, the human aura,
Members responded in different ways to Gordon and
the idea of building a flying saucer. Three
subcultures, each with its distinctive subjective
orientation can be isolated: (1) a religious
subculture that had the status of an epistemic
community, (2) a technical subculture of persons
interested in the mechanics of building an
antigravity machine, and (3) an occult subculture
that included the construction of the Bluebird as
one of several fascinations. These subcultures,
while analytically distinct, were empirically
interpenetrating. The religious subculture
dominated the other two when they came into
contact with each other but the existence of all
three subcultures--and all three were necessary
for the success of the entire system--depended on
an allocation of segregated times and locations
where each could flourish.
Several members, including everyone who lived
around the construction site and perhaps a dozen
who lived in Detroit shared a religious
orientation. Some were middle-class women, well
established in the group; the others were
relatively new members (mostly male) in their
early twenties. They were united in a common mood
of devotion and uncritical acceptance of Gordon as
their charismatic leader.
Ironically, members of the religious subculture
showed little interest in the construction of the
Bluebird and, as a rule, only offered their
services when requested. Some worked on plans to
build a residential lodge and a printing press,
both of which, it was thought, would be necessary
when the Bluebird flew and the Institute became a
tourist attraction. But the religionists' greatest
contribution was their acceptance of Gordon's
worldview, which strengthened his position as
leader and undisputed interpreter of reality.
Members were stratified according to their ability
to contribute in that fashion.
highest stratum was the witnesses who testified to
miracles. Examples included an over-the-telephone
healing of a baby's night-time fever, a
four-person sighting of an extraterrestrial
"mothership," and various reports of receiving
"good vibrations," and even an electrical charge,
from the center pole of a fifteen-foot pyramid
that was the personal property of one of the more
imaginative cult members, Gordon also alluded to
other "unavailable" witnesses who reportedly met
humanoids and saw him turn base metals into gold.
came a stratum of verifiers unable to have psychic
experiences but ready to contribute by asking
Gordon the "right questions" and by showing
approval of his answers. During kitchen table
discussions Gordon focused his attention on his
most trusted verifier when he spoke. For this
reason it was possible to rank-order verifiers by
observing sociometric patterns during these
came the neophytes who were unfamiliar with
Gordon's ideas but, for various reasons, were
eager to learn about them. Some neophytes
obviously were looking for a cheap thrill, a
chance to talk to a man who claims to speak with
space people and a chance to help build a flying
saucer. There were so many of these people passing
through that Gordon's adult son Ronald once
remarked that he did not bother to learn their
second community consisted of members who were
primarily interested in flying saucers and in
building the Bluebird. The Bluebird was not only
their dream, it was a monument in plastic, wood,
and non-ferrous metal. It was also a creative
outlet for talented craftsmen. The forty-foot-wide
ship was housed in its own attractive
hangar--itself a major architectural achievement.
Twin flanges promised to spin in opposite
directions on a thirty-two-foot bearing (the
largest bearing in the world!). A sophisticated
transmission, immodestly valued at one hundred
thousand dollars, was installed. The final
assembly awaited the installation of the
anti-gravity motor that Gordon claimed to have in
his secret basement laboratory but never produced.
Gordon was not the leader of the technical
community and therefore did not spend much time in
the hangar. Soon after the construction of the
ship got underway, it became obvious that he was
not prepared to solve the day-to-day engineering
problems (there was no blueprint) nor to supervise
the work of others. The task finally fell to
Roger, the owner of a machine shop. Roger had two
friends who also owned their own machine shops in
Detroit. Roger's brother-in-law, while not a
member, was another person who owned a machine
shop in Detroit and cooperated with the Institute.
The actual manufacture of many parts of the
Bluebird occurred in these Detroit shops. The
parts later were transported to the hangar for
second stratum, composed of skilled craftsmen,
including a custom carpenter and an upholsterer,
worked under the direction of the machine shop
owners. These workers were followed by a third
stratum of mechanically inclined, semi-skilled
technicians and a fourth stratum of
undistinguished, but willing, laborers.
Members of the technical subculture were
interested in the day-to-day problems of building
the ship--stress relief (for which one member held
a patent), how to hang styrofoam on the frame of
the upper flange, and seeing that the transmission
was properly mounted and that it turned freely,
What they, almost without exception, were not
interested in, was Gordon's cosmology. Responding
to normative pressure, however, they seldom
challenged his claims, adopting instead a "let's
pretend" attitude--at least during his lectures.
They generally limited their questions to the
subject of space travel.
third orientation was exhibited by some
twenty-five to thirty Institute members who met
regularly at Roger's Detroit home. These meetings
were originally designed to inform Detroit
members, who infrequently traveled to the
construction site, of the progress of the
construction, New members were brought to these
meetings and shown photographs of "the project"
and new parts manufactured at the Detroit machine
shops. A second activity was the "study" of
Gordon's newsletters and fellow contactee George
Adamski's (ref. 12) course on telepathy.
the summer of 1973 disenchantment with the
progress of the Bluebird's construction was
expressed at these meetings and rival occultisms
were discussed. The Detroit chapter of the
Institute quickly became just another occult
discussion group, The most prestigious members of
this group were three veteran occult virtuosos who
for years had been active in the Detroit
Rosicrucian and Theosophical circles. Next in rank
were younger occultists who favored contemporary
occult and metaphysical systems like
Transcendental Meditation and Silva Mind Control.
Last were newcomers, untutored in occult belief
systems, concepts, and argot. By this time the
Institute for Cosmic Research was out of favor
and, at best, was tolerated as a subject for
Meanwhile, back at his home, Gordon was informed
by members of the occult subculture who remained
loyal to him of the developing heresy in Detroit.
Being three hundred miles away he was in poor
position to maintain control. Finally, on 1 March
1974, Gordon came to Detroit for a showdown. The
occasion was the Institute's annual
open-to-the-public mass meeting. That evening
Gordon was well prepared. Following painfully over
rehearsed introductions by three disciples, he
coolly told an astonished crowd of eighty persons
that he had a secret revelation in 1962 that
foretold "everything that would happen until the
summer of 1974...street riots, gas and fuel
shortages...." Furthermore, he announced that in
1962 he built a machine that could convert water
into "practically anything you want.... acid,
energy for homes, automobiles...."
twelve years, the startled audience now learned,
Gordon had been waiting for the space brothers'
okay to construct new machines-machines that were
more advanced than their now suddenly
-insignificant flying saucer. Condescendingly,
Gordon acknowledged that many people were anxious
to "come out with the free energy machine." But,"
he explained, "I held them back because I had to
go along with this revelation.... In 1962 I didn't
know if the new machine would come first. I was to
wait for a sign and that sign came...." "Tim, a
college student," Gordon continued, "found the
sign by accident. It was an unusual ground
configuration that he sighted while flying an
airplane around the Upper Peninsula."
Excited by these revelations, the audience
exploded with questions...
Can you tell us what the sign meant?
A. Yes, this was the sign of creation.... It
described how the machine works, how the pyramids
work, how the world works.
Q. Is it still there?
A. Yes, it is still there--ah--there aren't any
tracks to it.... I sent some boys to check it.
There were even earthen pots set in certain
sections representing the moon and such things.
Everything was according to Hoyle.
Q. Is that in Michigan?
A. It isn't far from where I live.
Q. Was it quite new?
A. Yes, it was burnt into the ground. There was
grass on the side burnt down to an inch or less.
Burnt with acid or radiation.
Q. Was it anything like Adamski received from the
space people? (ref. 13)
A. No, not at all.... That was part of it; he
received signs all right. But this was the sign of
all creation--lines of force--the circle in the
square--the whole thing.... This area was all
checked out. There were no tractor tracks, no
truck tracks, car tracks. There hadn't been anyone
there before the boys got there. It was a huge
sign. There was even a roadway cut away from the
sign showing a road into civilization.... It even
had a spring in that road and all around it shows
the water that was used in this machine. Someday
I'll let you see it. It won't be long.
Q. What does the sign signify?
A. I had a revelation in 1962. I was to wait for a
sign to bring out this new type energy. Now, I've
had the energy to run an anti-gravity machine, as
you know--you've worked on it--but I wasn't
allowed to use this new type machine until I had a
sign from above. And I've been waiting all these
years. I was told the world would be conditioned.
As you know we have the Watergate affair. We have
a shortage of energy as they say. Let's say the
world is being conditioned.
Q. Gordon, what is your impression of Silva Mind
A. I never read anything about it but I can tell
you where the word "silva" comes from. It goes all
the way back to Atlantis. Silva means NEGATIVE
NOVA FORCE. So you can take it from there, any way
you want to.
was Gordon at his best. He checkmated the
insurgents and gave the faithful new mysteries to
contemplate. He introduced Dennis, an attentive
twenty-two-year-old student, as the new leader at
"Detroit area operations" (even though Dennis
lived two hundred miles from Detroit). And finally
he ended the meeting by doubling membership dues,
announcing the termination of his irregularly
published newsletter, and by taking prepublication
orders for a book he was yet to complete.
Silva Mind Control discredited, and with it, by
implication, all competing occult and metaphysical
systems, Detroit members saw no clear way to
participate in the Institute. They could not help
construct the new mystery machines like they had
helped construct the flying saucer. (Gordon
side-stepped a question about how much involvement
could take place.) Some members, who had found
jobs, formed a small religious colony around
Gordon's home; but being tied to jobs and
mortgages in Detroit, this was not a reasonable
possibility for most members.
increased membership dues were collected
immediately but only twenty persons were willing
to pay; the others suddenly became "outsiders."
And with transformed goals and a shake up in
leadership, the Institute for Cosmic Research was
no more. For four and one-half more years, when we
terminated our research, Gordon directed a new
cult based on a mysterious water machine that he
allegedly was perfecting. And the old members who
had given so much to the construction of the
flying saucer gathered their forces long enough to
file an unsuccessful lawsuit against Gordon, held
two reunion meetings, and then disbanded, seeing
each other only informally in friendship cliques.
Multiple Realities and
real story of the Institute for Cosmic Research
lies in the fact that it held together for seven
years and accomplished so much. The explanation
for this is two-fold: (1) the requirements of the
organization, considered as a social system, were
satisfied, and (2) sources of stress and internal
disruption were effectively contained.
Bluebird was the focal point of the organization
and as long as members were not disenchanted with
progress on its construction, the organization
hung together. An unlikely assembly of technically
oriented workers carried out its construction to
virtual completion. Work on the project was
legitimated by Gordon and the religious community.
And finally, in its early stages, the occult
subculture was a source for recruiting and
socializing new personnel.
Ability to participate in each of these
subcultures depended on the repertoire of
orientations (mental universes) that each
participant had. The capacity of members to
participate in the three subcultures was
determined by how the skills and orientations they
had available matched the demands of the
situation. The occult virtuoso, being able
to distinguish between several methods of
mediation, would outrank the newcomer to the
occult culture but that same person, being only
semi-skilled in technical abilities, would take
orders from a machine shop owner while working at
the hangar; and if the same person was untutored
in Gordon's religious scheme, he/she would play a
minor role in Gordon's kitchen table ceremonies.
Many other possibilities can be imagined. In
actual practice the technical and occult
communities were most commonly aligned. And while
some high status religionists were active in the
occult subculture, they seldom played but minor
roles in the community of technicians.
built-in tension between the three subcultures
existed but was contained by segregating
activities by time and space. The religionists'
domain was Gordon's kitchen; the technicians'
domain was the hangar; and the occultists' domain
was Roger's Detroit, pine-paneled basement. When
all three communities met together, as they did in
annual open-to-the-public meetings, the religious
definition of the situation prevailed. This system
worked well until the tension no longer was
manageable, Gordon expelled the technicians and
occultists, and the cult collapsed.
1. Goffman, (1956)
2. The Institute for Cosmic Science
is a pseudonym and the names of its participants
have also been changed.
3. Weber, (1922)
4. Wallis, 1974.
5. Holzner, 1968:60-72.
6. James, 1893, chapter
7. See Wallis, 1974;
Festinger, Riecken and Schachter, 1956; Buckner,
(1965) 1968; McNeece, 1975; Balch and Taylor,
1976. Ironically, people who purchase books about
flying saucer contactees sold by the Saucerian
Press, Clarksburg, West Virginia, typically do not
belong to flying saucer cults or express interest
in occultisms. See Stupple, 1977.
8. Truzzi, 1972:9.
9. Nebel, (1961)
10. A close look at the
photographs shows a wire attached to each
"airborne" spaceship. Obviously these defects
could have been removed by manipulations; the fact
that this was not done and that the photographs
still convinced many people suggests that
Institute members were more than willing to
believe. One cynical former member produced a
magazine which showed how the amazing "free energy
light" could be purchased through the mail.
11. According to Gordon,
Pluto and Earth are the lowest evolved planets in
our solar system. Plutonians are more highly
evolved technically, but not spiritually, than
Earthlings. They have spaceships and are
considered dangerous. Institute members are
cautioned to avoid Plutonian ships (which smell
like sulphur) because they capture Earthlings and
use them for sexual experiments. Spaceships from
other planets smell like clover and ozone; they
are not to be feared.
12. Adamski, 1958.
Gordon claimed to be an associate of George
Adamski, historically the most important
13. Adamski and Leslie,
1953:185-216. Adamski, in a famous alleged
encounter with a Venusian on a California desert
received a cryptic message in the sand. See also
George Hunt Williamson, 1953:95-151.
Telepathy: The Cosmic or Universal Science. Vista,
California: The George Adamski Foundation.
Adamski, George and Desmond Leslie
Flying Saucers Have Landed. London: The British
Balch, Robert and David
1976 "Salvation in a UFO." Psychology
Today (October) 10:58-106+.
Buckner H. Taylor
(1965) "The Flying Saucerians: An Open Door
Cult." pp. 223-230
1968 in Marcello Truzzi
(ed.), Sociology and Everyday Life. Englewood
Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall.
Festinger, Leon, Henry
W. Riecken and Stanley Schachter
Prophecy Fails. New York: Harper and Row. 1964
(1956) The Presentation of Self in Everyday
Life. New York:
1968 Reality Construction in Society.
Cambridge, Massachusetts: Schenkman.
The Principles of Psychology. New York: Henry
1975 Building a Flying Saucer: A Study in
Parsonian Theory. Unpublished M.A. thesis,
Ypsilanti, Michigan: Eastern Michigan University.
Nebel, Long John
(1961) The Way Out World. New York: Lancer
Organizational Goals and Support-Seeking Behavior:
A Comparative Study of Social Movement
Organizations in the UFO (Flying Saucer) Field.
Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation. Evanston,
Illinois: Northwestern University.
"Flying Saucers and Multiple Realities:. A Case
Study in Phenomenological Theory." Journal of
1972 "Definitions of the Occult: Towards a
Sociological Perspective." pp. 6-16 in Robert
Galbreath (ed.), The Occult: Studies and
Evaluations. Bowling Green, Ohio: Bowling Green
University Popular Press.
"The Aetherius Society: A Case Study in the
Formation of a Mystagogic Congregation." The
Sociological Review (February) 22:22-44.
The Sociology of Religion. Boston: Beacon Press.
Williamson, George Hunt
1953 Other Tongues--Other Flesh. Amherst,
Wisconsin: Amherst Press.
Stupple is an associate professor of sociology
at Eastern Michigan University where he teaches
courses on sociology theory. He is active
in the Popular Culture Association and has
published articles on popular culture in various
journals. He is editor of The Michigan
Sociological Review. Since 1971 Mr.
Stupple has been studying the flying saucer
social movement and is compiling a social
history of that movement.
was born October 19, 1938 in Evanston,
Illinois. He received his B.A. (business
administration) from Lake Forest College in
1960, M.A. (sociology) University of Missouri at
Kansas City in 1965, and his Ph.D. (sociology)
University of Missouri at Columbia in
1969. He joined MUFON as a Field
Investigator on December 28, 1972 and became a
Consultant in Sociology on April 24, 1976.
He is married and has two children.
(Webmasters Note: It
has come to my attention that Mr. Stupple has
unfortunately passed away, he will be missed.)
McNeece is an adjunct lecturer of sociology at
The University of Michigan-Dearborn, and Henry
Ford Community College. Bill acquired his
B.A. (sociology) from Eastern Michigan
University in 1970 and a M.A. (sociology) also
from Eastern Michigan University in 1975. His
master's thesis was titled "Building a Flying
Saucer: A Study in Parsonian
Theory". He is currently Director of
Photography for the Pluralism Project at The
University of Michigan-Dearborn http://www.umd.umich.edu/pluralisman affiliate of the parent
program at Harvard University. This
research is studying the growing religious
diversity of the U.S. with a special view to new
immigrants. Special attention is given to
the presence of Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, Jain,
Sikh, Afro-Caribbean, and Mandeaen
communities. Bill McNeece and his wife,
Valerie reside in Farmington, Michigan. He and
David Stupple have co-authored the published
paper "Contactees, Cults, and Culture".