Sunday, June 12, 2011
Migraine auras and UFO encounters
In 1998, having read the book Migraine, by Oliver Sacks, I published an article suggesting that it was possible that some descriptions of UFO encounters were similar to descriptions of the symptoms of migraine, particularly the distortions of perception associated with the migraine aura. When this article appeared on the UFO UpDates mailing list, my views were dismissed as nonsense, on the grounds that I had not presented a fully developed, testable theory, even though I had only suggested the idea as being possibly worthy of further investigation. For the details, search for "migraine" in the UFO UpDates archive.
Nobody seemed interested after this rejection, perhaps because possible explanations for UFO experiences are not very popular, as so many ufologists do not want explanations, they want the space aliens. However, I recently came across a discussion on this theme by Pauline Wilson on the Australian UFOs - scientific research blog.
This one is based on a book titled Migraine Auras: When the visual world fails, by Richard Grossinger. She appears not to have heard of Sacks's book, as she remarks that the book is "the first comprehensive compilation of material about migraine auras". One quote which she gives from the book seems particularly relevant to the question of why this subject is rarely considered by ufologists and UFO percipients:
"Despite their commonness and frequency, migraine auras become an enigma. A majority of people in the West have either never heard of them or, if they have, do not know their nature, degree of seriousness, or ubiquity. Most people who have experienced their spontaneous distortions of vision have no name for these and have gotten no diagnosis."
Obviously, it would be absurd to suppose that migraine auras might account for all or most UFO reports, but surely a knowledge of them and other distortions of perception, might provide clues to the real nature of some otherwise puzzling UFO reports - apart from hoaxes, of course.
The Gralien Report