Science Fiction’s Influence on UFO Pop Culture – Offworld Episode 29

welcome back to offer on the show where
we talk about all things space exploration and pop culture I’m Ariel
Waldman and I’m norm Chen I’ve got a classic science fiction film for you
this week it’s Spielberg’s be second best well-known Close Encounters of the
Third Kind yeah it’s I don’t know it’s delightful
you know it’s delightful film in so much as you know it’s very much 1977 and it
it’s a long film Scylla already elements it’s weird but you know it’s a classic
it became a classic sort of unbeknownst to the Spielberg I think at the time and
I I’m really excited to have our guest today like dive into it and talk about
UF follow gee UFO culture language how do we even communicate with aliens I
don’t know is it was really fun to dive into this movie finally well let’s take
a listen okay so we’re talking about Close Encounters of the Third Kind I
actually hadn’t watched this movie for a while and I’m really excited to have
both of you on the show today at Rose could you introduce yourself say a
little bit about what you do yeah sure so I’m Rose I’m the host
flash-forward which is a podcast about the future possible and maybe less
possible future scenarios this movies probably more on the latter side the way
it plays out but um I also write column for Wired and write other places but
mostly cover the future yeah yeah well I’m excited to have you on the show and
Laura tell us a little bit about what you do and and and who you are yeah well
my my background is in linguistics so I was kind of trained as an academic
linguist but I am now in the world of nonprofits and I work for the long now
foundation I’m the director of operations there and I work out our
language programs at our library programs I’m also on the board of
directors of many international yes which I’m on the advisory board of I
believe yeah thanks for coming on the show today so as I mentioned like we all
watched Close Encounters I think I think for all of us maybe it had been awhile
since we watched it or watched it the whole way through
film from 1977 definitely of its time I would say definitely there
70s in more ways than one how do you think you know our views of aliens and
extraterrestrial intelligence and just extraterrestrials in general has changed
since 1977 or has it you know this is like a pinnacle film of you know aliens
being you know little green men and and I don’t know lots of different concepts
to sort of dive into with it so so do you think are our concepts sort of in
the mainstream of aliens from 1977 to today has changed much or has it not
there’s a whole thing with area 51 right now right so I mean I think in that
respect maybe not so much I mean there’s still kind of this idea in our culture
of I think the same kind of aliens are the gray aliens alien abductions kind of
the government doing secret things in communication with aliens I think that’s
very prominent but also I think you know with the discovery of exoplanets and and
more I think awareness about SETI and also many activities the idea that we
could potentially communicate or establish some kind of contact seems a
little bit more kind of realistic but within the realm of sort of scientific
reality rather than just kind of fiction yeah what do you think Rose yeah I mean
right like in the last year or so there have been more than one I think New York
Times articles about like government reports about UFOs right which is like
central in many ways to this movie I think that you know you see a little bit
more of a hopeful idea of what aliens might be perhaps in this in that like
they’re ultimately friendly and they ultimately just like want to teach us
some notes right and tell us something whereas you know I think there is now a
little bit more anxiety and there are like prominent thinkers who have said
you know even if you believe there is life out there we shouldn’t necessarily
go looking for it because they’ll probably destroy us or whatever it is I
think they like that that’s not really a piece of it I mean alien obviously is
very scary in moments of this movie wouldn’t like it abducts a small child
and like there there are scary things happening but ultimately at the end it
kind of winds up being this like benevolent kind of like strange
misunderstood they’re like childlike and then they like smile and they do
little hand motions right it like ultimately winds up being it’s not
trying to destroy the earth whereas I feel like now there’s a little bit more
of a fear and I don’t know if that’s because the world right now feels very
scary in general and so like of course everyone or else must be but I think
it’s a little bit different but yeah we’re still I mean obsessed with aliens
I think yeah and I don’t I don’t know if we fully qualified you know Mehdi is all
about like messaging extraterrestrial intelligence which is highly you know
contentious for some people and and you know I thought it was interesting to
sort of look at this film from the lens of you know if this film because this
film ended up being successful if it sort of positively or negatively
impacted people’s views of aliens and I feel like it’s you almost can look at it
through the lens positively or negatively because you see them scaring
people you see them abducting people but then it’s like but it’s okay and you
know so I feel like it might be one of those movies where like depending on who
you are and sort of like you know how you look at it you can sort of see both
sides do you feel like this movie made an influence on people of how they view
aliens positively or negatively I have to say at the end of the movie I was
actually scared for Richard Dreyfuss and the other people going on to the ship I
like I just don’t I don’t trust them yet hurry up people they’ve just kind of
delivered back a bunch of abductees but while they’re like you know contacting
us and trying to do this this swap you know they’re still abducting people and
you think they might ask the people that came off how it was before sending
another person on like you know the scene where they have that kind of
religious ceremony for the people who are going onto the ship I’m like who
last rites man so that’s kind of how I was still kind of scared at the end
interesting interesting that’s so interesting yeah I mean like I you know
was not alive when this movie came out so it’s hard for me to necessarily say
like if it impacted things I do think that it did very much play into this
conversation of like the government covering up what they know right because
that’s like a huge part of this they’re like you know giving sleep gas to these
animals to make it seem like there’s this big toxic spill to cover up the
fact that like and that is the thing that has been with
us for a really long time talking about aliens like of course the government
must know that this is happening and they write and they like aren’t telling
us and so I think maybe that I don’t think that this like quelled any of
those fears or like those ideas because it does sort of show how they might do
that I love the scene where they’re like trying to figure out what to do like how
to evacuate that area where they’re like anthrax no we’re gonna like we’re gonna
flood it there’s no water there’s like ultra and then the one guy when he
recommends antics are like I love it I love it it’s like so funny like they’re
like little plotting at their math and stuff but yeah I think it like that’s
the main thing that I would think maybe it had impacted where it’s people are
like yeah probably does yeah well and I mean something that was really
interesting about the the making of this film or or how it came about is that you
know it’s based off of this this French researcher who is a UFO gist and is
trying to study people’s experiences with alien encounters and and this is
actually based off of a real person who’s still alive today is Jacques
Vallee in the movie he has a cameo at the end I he might like smoking a pipe
at the very end when the aliens come I may have missed it I should have looked
for it but yeah so it’s based off of it yeah Jacques Vallee and who has studied
you know people’s experiences with UFOs from the viewpoint of you know whether
or not they actually had an encounter there are interesting things to learn
from it do you think there is a place for UFOs in terms of like what we can
learn I guess perhaps more about ourselves and then
aliens yeah you know what that reminded me of you know cuz I looked up his scale
and Close Encounters are kind of like in the middle of the scale and the scales
kind of been broader now but in linguistics there’s a there’s an area of
linguistics where you study study like narratives and stories that people tell
and sometimes they cohere in really interesting ways like there’s common
threads to the stories that people tell here in the Bay Area about if they’ve
experienced the 1989 earthquake and you can kind of kind of line them up and say
oh well this kind of fits a category and it seems like I didn’t read his original
work but it seems like he did this sort of discourse and
of people’s experiences of or you know you know how they’re narrating this
experience that they had you know real or psychological and they kind of fit in
these buckets and he’s kind of just kind of categorizing them according to his
his sort of template to it but it felt very much like a kind of a discourse
analysis study which is also kind of a psychological study that’s so
interesting right because like in the movie they all have that same vision of
the devil’s point which is like a sacred place to many Native American tribes and
we probably shouldn’t be like shooting movies at but like they all have that
same thing it all is like kind of clumps together almost in the way that you’re
talking about and well and they probably did have according to the the world of
the movie these shared experiences because they when they were interviewing
Richard Dreyfuss and they said you know did you get hives did you feel like your
body heat up have you you know like all of these kind of whole kind of array of
symptoms and you can imagine I mean it’s probably in these narratives that are
people are telling about their their UFO abduction experiences that they
basically similar kinds of things and UFO culture is a whole thing you know
and it’s been a thing that sort of been it predated the Internet
certainly and now of course on the internet there are a lot of different
cultures that are sort of around things that may or may not have happened but
yeah I feel like UFO culture is is this interesting thing to study do you get so
you probably get like letters from people who believe that this has
happened to them I would imagine I actually you know I don’t I’m friends
with people who do I usually get emails asking if I can send stuff into space
for people okay people think I have like access to like a rocket launch like
anytime you like because you know if you write about certain topics right you end
up getting mail from readers about those topics right and like I do wonder if
folks like can see those same patterns in just like the reader mail or like the
viewer mail that they get about things like UFOs like I wonder if I see I don’t
guy don’t cover this very often so I don’t get those I get I get a different
bucket of like odd letters from people but yeah I do wonder if there is like
pet if you can find patterns within that as well yeah well I mean so if
something you have covered though is been telepathy on your podcast so you
talked to experts about whether telepathy is really in the realm of
science or possibility what what did you learn about that and what do you think
does or doesn’t apply to what was depicted in the film yeah it’s so
interesting to me you know I always loved like learning the history of some
of these things and like telepathy is an idea that we’ve wanted to believe in
it’s for so long and the words lepa the actually goes back to the early 1900’s
this guy named Frederick Meyer and he it was kind of the time when like a lot of
these scientists were grappling with the fact that like science was starting to
explain things that they believed were divine right it’s like how do you both
believe in science and also believe in God right like Darwin had the same
problem right these people are like trying to grapple with this and so they
jump through these sort of like logical hoops to like be like oh well we can
prove telepathy and therefore like we can talk to dead people therefore their
will is an afterlife and therefore like everything’s time you know I’m sure all
of these experiments done and actually like the field of telepathy was hugely
instrumental in science it basically developed the double-blind study that’s
like that’s where it comes from and very famous people Thomas Edison Alexander
Graham Bell Tesla they all basically would write like as if it was like oh
yeah in just a couple of years we’re gonna prove to Levicy like it’s a total
like the way the people today talk about like we’ll have self-driving cars
tomorrow or like whatever it is like that’s totally normal and natural and
it’s still alive and well in 1977 and the film yeah people are getting visions
of was it doubles doubles point and they’re sort of all of a sudden going
like I I just have this thing in my brain that I have to make artwork around
a point and I asked yep yeah and like now today we don’t call it tool apathy
we call it brain to brain communication because that sounds fancier which is
actually exactly what they did that’s what Frederik Meijer invented the word
telepathy because like saying mind-reading was – whoo whoo so you
invented telepathy they also they also they invented all these names for like
things – some make them sound scientific so like they’ve renamed haunted houses
fantazmo genetic centers so that it would sound scientific so now we call it
brain to brain communication and there is like real research on this right like
and it’s so funny because even in the early nineteen hundreds they would say
things like well you know they had discovered x-rays they were discovering
like you know the telephone like all this invisible stuff
was happening and so they’re like well why wouldn’t the body emit some kind of
signal that we can’t see but like if you can take an x-ray and like look into
your body like why wouldn’t you be able like it sort of seems natural and they
would write things like oh well the brain probably like generates electrical
signals and then we could read them and you’re like well yes it does but like
not the strength at which you would need but so today they actually do the
electrical signals they pick up in the brain and they tried it there all these
interesting experiments where they try to kind of like connect to people via
these brain connections and see if they can play a game together or see if they
can direct something and there’s a an experiment where they try to drive a car
where they they’re like using their brain headset to like drive the car and
it’s interesting from a linguistic perspective they never it’s never like
works that they’re trying to get people to picture or two like transmit it’s
always either like images or just frequencies because words are actually
really hard and complicated like to figure out how that works where like
what they’ll usually do is or they’ll like make people watch movie trailers
for like hours and hours and hours and like look at their brain while they’re
doing it and then try to kind of reconstruct what they’re watching so
there’s just like lots of really interesting research out there because I
think we do like it’s such an alluring idea that like you could I mean
everyone’s had that experience where you’re like trying to explain something
and you can’t if you could just like beam the picture over it would just make
everything so much easier so it’s super like it is really alluring so there’s
still like a lot of research in this kind of world not related to aliens
giving us that but we’ll get there well and and you know so that’s how the
aliens are communicating to us but what we see in the movie that we try to do to
communicate to the aliens is use music like I was really interested in your
thoughts on like using music as a communication tool and like how much we
can actually convey to another species really know that answer to that question
but but yeah what do you think about using music as language or at least how
its depicted in the film yeah we use it we use music for kind of communication
ourselves humans do right and it can communicate some things that we can’t
put into words the idea of using it as like a kind of a structured language I
think is a lot trickier I think on this podcast you had Doug
mccottry on this and he from many did he talk about the the sonar MIDI message I
can’t remember if you talked about the sonar one or not yeah there might have
been it was around the time that we were doing that transmission arrival yes yes
so the so I mentioned it because that was a transmission that we sent out that
was structured to introduce a bunch of music and so there there’s a musical
component tune to it but the musical kind of tutorial part of it was kind of
limited in terms of like if you wanted to have a full conversation it was
mostly trying to say you know we’re going to be sending music and this is
how kind of worsening we’re introducing you to music by sending you like
digitally encoded frequencies at like 100 Hertz 200 400 800 1600 and then
sending combinations of them so like you know prepare for combinations of you
know frequencies and in in this show it was implied that there was a lot more
going back and forth with music and even at the very end as yeah so there’s this
like musical conversation that happens you know and when kind of they they have
the heat the person who’s controlling the the keyboard stop and like the
computer takes over that’s when the conversation really gets heated up and
like it’s kind of flying and the the the spaceship is really kind of flying with
their music and back and forth so you get this such the idea that a lot of
information is being kind of transferred back and forth but at that point like
how much could they have really established because like if you’re going
to use it for language you need to have established a whole bunch of different
reference right like what are all the nouns what are all the verbs you know
how do you connect all of those things you would need kind of a means of doing
that and you know that that isn’t elaborated
but at the end at the very end like I think after just after the all look the
people walk on the spaceship that are going to go up with them and the look
home Truffaut’s character is out there and and looking at the alien and then
Truffaut does the hand signals right I remember exactly what they are you know
but he does and I counted them he does seven and the alien that he’s looking at
does five back to him and they’re all the symbols that we’ve seen before they
kind of map onto the pentatonic scale the ones that the main theme is but
there’s so there’s clearly like somehow the Lacombe character has sort of
intuited meeting and he’s sending some kind of communication to this alien and
getting like something in reply so it’s implied that there is more there but you
know whether it doesn’t seem very natural for humans to be able to use a
system like that it would need to be mediated you know maybe if they get the
whales like there’s the implication that the researcher travels to India gets
music or sounds that are being used by people there to seemingly communicate
with God and then uses that as like sort of the chords to communicate with the
aliens and I guess maybe this is my reading into it but the implication
being oh oh all this time we were making all these chants and everything to God
but actually we’ve been talking to aliens unknowingly and so of course
they’re going to understand these chords in these notes I don’t know maybe I’m
like missing is a long movie but that like because I was also like well wait
like you don’t have any kind of like rosetta stone type thing so like how are
you talking to each other if you’ve never confirmed that you know what these
things mean but my partner was watching with was like oh he had assumed that
like you know when there’s that all those shots of people looking at the
spaceship and they have all have that like look on their face the same look
that you see from Richard Dreyfuss character like when he kind of like gets
that like he’s like doing the thing he was sort of like oh the aliens are
like telepathy zhing into your brain and like they’re sort of giving you the
information as the things are playing because you do see one moment where the
keyboard guy which I love that like they instead of just like pre recording the
notes they like have a whole keyboard and he’s like blank you are it is
amazing there’s a great story behind him being there oh good okay I want to get
to that but like there is a moment where he looks at the spaceship and he does
that you see that like the eyes that you see and like the little kid and like all
that stuff I had not thought of that but this is what my partner said my was like
that like it’s kind of an explanation that would maybe work but like I did not
read that into the movie but I watched it yeah I didn’t either yeah we don’t
need the story so the background story so first of all that um the keyboard
that they used was like a new model by this company I forget the name of the
company but the model is like a RP 2500 or something and there were only it
wasn’t commercially successful they only made a hundred of them and one of them
is in this movie and it’s it’s an analogue monophonic synthesizer so you
can only play one note at a time so like at the end I should have gone back and
double-check this but I’m pretty sure like when they’re going it’s just it’s
one note at a time is no chords right but the guy that they said it’s like a
huge panel and they structured this whole arena around it’s like this big
like music light so right he’s got this giant thing that he’s controlling and
somebody standing next to him going you know like up a fifth down a third you
know do some equators and you know he’s basically just kind of punching in these
notes with with these military people directing him but that guy was sent he
worked for the company that made the synthesizer and he was the one to
deliver it to the Senate well you know this moment of like wide-eyed wonder
yeah but yeah he was the tech yeah that’s really yeah well I mean you talk
about like the the actually the sort of government setup that they have I wanted
to ask like you know in this scenario in Close Encounters
the government has full knowledge of everything wants to keep the public
completely out to the point that they’re killing them and also gaslighting them
and you know telling that man nothing this is happening but they don’t seem
freaked out and they’re just like we got this we’re gonna communicate to them
it’s gonna be awesome he’s like walk underneath the IP party
you know with alien if we discovered something that was as close as we can
get to definitive of extraterrestrial intelligence that was anywhere near
Earth what is your hope for how we would handle that like you know just I guess
in terms of like you know should the government lead the way it should it be
grassroots should it be nonprofits who are dead I don’t know how would you wish
we would handle it so one thing I was thinking about is that I think you know
I think the scientists would be more involved I think it international
scientists right I think you would get lots of people listening both amateurs
and professional scientists lots of confirmations around the world that they
were actually getting communication I mean weird I’m not talking about like
the math telepathy er was like blasting images into people’s heads but but if
you got like a radio singing other people would be hearing it and trying to
confirm it so I think the scientists would know I think the scientists would
be interacting with the governments this this showed I mean there was Truffaut’s
character who’s French but other and then I think in the is that the Gobi
Desert when they find the ship and the trucks that are driving it I think those
were UN flags on those trucks so it seems like there’s some sort of
international cooperation but you only ever see Truffaut is that like the only
other person who isn’t American apparently so you would think that there
would be like and presumably people were being abducted from all over the world
right so the the world has an interest in this but it’s only you know Americans
that are kind of running the show and kind of setting up the stage for this
encounter which i thought was a little odd I’d I don’t imagine it would be the
same way today and I think probably the world would know about it because the
scientists would know about it and would be
talking about it yeah I mean it’s in the context of this movie in particular like
it’s hard to imagine I mean in 1977 which I think is the year this movie
came out you know so the year that the Voyager missions launch right thank you
you know the idea that you know it’s just I loved that like there’s that
point that um two foes characters character makes where he’s like these
are only the people who’s happened to see that thing on TV right that like
they had this vision of this structure they just happened to have the TV on at
the time whereas now like there’s the internet and like people can share
things and like people would immediately find other people right these are like
there’s also this idea that like these people have these visions and they
haven’t they can’t connect to each other they all think they’re individually kind
of like losing their minds but like online you can find all the other people
who are losing their mind in the same way that you are very quickly and like
that is a thing that happens and that is sometimes that’s good and sometimes it’s
not good but like you know it feels like today it would just be so much harder
and I unbelievable to me as you say that like how they would be able to keep it
that this would work as it did in the movie but particularly now it just feels
like completely impossible that they would be able to like keep all these
people in the dark and gas like them as you said and be like all this isn’t
happening just it’s so much easier to like check things and like connect with
each other and be like well if thousands of people have the same exact image in
their mind and not just the three charcoal drawing so he has but like all
of them it’s much harder to be like no nothing is happening yeah well and I
mean I think that gets me into to my final question for both of you because
this film was interesting that it even took off because I think Spielberg
himself sort of viewed this as his weird art school sort of film like a weird
arty film and it I mean you can tell us very long and there’s a lot of like
human emotion in it and then you can tell yeah this is a weird art film but
it took off and it was massively successful and it became a mainstream
film and and you mentioned the stuff from the internet and everything so my
final question for both of you is really you know what would you like to see in a
modern iteration of this film because we have had films like arrival and
everything that are more modern and a very different sort of vibe but they
still don’t really incorporate the Internet very
you know if there was a modern film that was sort of mainstream like Close
Encounters of the Third Kind like what what aspects are things would you like
to see depicted but I really loved when they wouldn’t got the whole globe
because I needed to figure a geographical coordinate of the world I
mean I think some of the old technology was just so much a part of the charm of
this for me my favorite is the dog gas mask when the mom picks up the phone
like the old kind of dumbbell phone and she yeah so in modern version I would
like to see them incorporate more of we were talking about the marine mammals I
mean there there are analogs on earth where where other species are using
music very much for communication there are people studying those and trying to
understand them like bringing that into like still focusing on the music I love
that like it’s sort of like John Williams did the score and it’s just
like if he could do it again and incorporate all these modern things into
it we would just like if he could I don’t know has John well he’s ever done
anything with whales that would be awesome
I read that he wrote like 300 versions of that one all thing before they like
landed on the one that they went with I would love to hear all 300 just like
know what they were like ah not that one yeah I mean it’s great I mean they did a
great job um I think that sort of similar what you said earlier like the
international aspect I feel like it’s something that’s often missing from
these movies and I get that like as a narrative it’s hard to like to talk
about the whole globe right but like we have you know it’s not just the u.s. is
looking for aliens right like lots of countries have really powerful systems
that are trying to look for this everyone’s interested everyone has also
like different cultural assumptions about what we should be sending and how
we should send it and like what kind of music gets sent and like all of this
stuff is like all sort of mired and like who we are as like a people and who is
sort of behind the program and all of this stuff and I think you know like
something that really does get at yeah that like this is a global search
for a like a you know in out in the universe and that it’s like the chances
of it happening in the US are actually like not high right like it they might
it might land in the middle of ocean or like in another place and like how does
it how do other people kind of like deal with that and I mean I actually loved
arrival I thought it was really great and I love the linguistic element of it
like right like how do you actually try to do this
yeah I think like some of the like international relations around this like
what happens if you know India does make a discovery like this like how do you
like who leads the charge and like how to and like there are some protocols
that I’m sure you know about more than I do but like what does that look like in
reality and also like people are messy and like when they have something
exciting like this nobody really wants to follow like all the rules cuz it’s
like you’re so excited so just seeing like how that would work and how like a
non-white Western audience might like react to these aliens because it’s all
like associating like US films that’s like all we ever see so I’d love to see
them thing a little bit we’re international yeah absolutely well thank
you both so much for being on the show today
thanks thank you yeah can you play can you play it yeah so um yeah so I should
say this is a this is a keyboard calculator and this yes this kit was
invented well it came out on the market in late 1979 and I have to say I’m older
than this this is old but I am older than this but when it came out it was
just so cool and it’s featured and a bunch of you know popular music like
Devo you know the da da da song huh you don’t use this so and I sort of know how
to play it but so it so I switched it on to its keyboard not it’s a calculator
function which is y’all know so um so the pen the pentatonic scale goes like
this for C and so the the main theme just uses
those notes a little differently so oh so if you know a keyboard this is
your C and that’s D so d e C octave down 1/5 up okay I’m gonna just go by the
numbers cuz I’m the worst musician in the entire world huh don’t this my said nope do okay
you failed communicate okay my nieces and nephews can I have your finger yes
yeah okay I gotta make a little stiffer there okay okay amazing good air all that was really fun
something that as I was listening to it made me wonder they never really
explained what why it’s called Close Encounters of the Third Kind and that’s
because that there is a leveling up there was a close encounter of the first
kind or the second kind being a visual sighting of UFOs or some type of
physical interaction you know interference radio interference and of
course then the Third Kind is is first contact yes so yeah third base with
aliens means actually going to talk with them and interact with them and ya know
the movie doesn’t really explain it to my knowledge but I explained a whole lot
else and it was really cool to talk with rose and Laura about yeah just about all
the different weird aspects of it and what they found interesting and
especially what they would like to see in a modern take on it
it may be communication with whales who knows I mean sensibilities have changed
in the thirty years and as we were narrowing on this film we even discussed
the fact that the whole culture of ufology of people thinking like they’ve
had these shared experiences or even identifying like a certain kind of
stereotype for an alien a lot of that is this feedback loop between science
fiction and and mainstream culture and which then through this film gets turned
back into science fiction and it kind of influences everything that’s come after
it I love that you effect that you mentioned arrival and the illusions of
things like Star Trek it’s all part of popular culture and it’s started close
to here absolutely well we have more fun conversations like that on other
episodes of off world you can listen to the show as a podcast as well just go to
test comm slash offworld or watch it as a video if you’re doing that right now
and we’ll see you at the next episode you

  1. I’m surprised scientists have not figured out how to contact the older ones yet. I mean really, once you figure out time, matter and gravity face inward like a torus; you’ll understand. #physics

  2. Adam Savage should call pETER rEES. (AKA me !). Nathan Adam Sydney Dutton: +61 457461888 . …. aUATRALIAS. REMEMBER ME ?.

  3. There are other variations of the 'singing abacus' that I think predate this one. Fun to see this as a discussion point. Another angle of this is the aspect that there have been musicians who have adapted Morse Code into musical constructs (another method of communication) presuming you know what your listening for (like signals in space). I believe that Mannheim Steamroller on its album Saving the Wildlife on album track "Rhinos and Elephants" uses S O S in the piano rift of the song. Go take a listen some time.

  4. It's as much about mental health and obsession as it is about aliens. But that – nor Truffaut being in it – does not make it an "art" film. It's a straightforward mainstream movie.

  5. Totally off the topic but has Tested ever covered the film "Silent Running"?

    Would love to hear their opinions on it, particularly Adam's?

    Trumbull, the director of the film, previously a 'special effects' man on "2001 A Space Odyssey" and later "Blade Runner". Five double amputee actors hired to play the trio of robots: 'Huey, Louis and Dewey'.

    A lot to investigate!

  6. Speaking of aliens, one of the things I've found interesting about supposed photographs of UFOs through the years (going back to the 50s and going forward) is that the photographed UFOs always look they were made using human technology of the day. For example, if you look at the UFOs from the 50s they look like they're made from sheet metal and riveted together. Then through the 60s composite materials started coming to the fore and the UFOs of the late 60s and through the 70s look like they were made from composites. Once you hit the CGI era they're much more convincing… while, at the same time, looking as if they were made using CGI. LOL

  7. There aren't many films with benevolent aliens these days for two reasons. first, Hollywood is out of ideas. Their writers are lazy, that's why most movies are either re=makes of 80s TV shows or comic book movies, and stories with benevolent aliens are harder to write. But more importantly secondly, people are more fearful now and the world seems more scary, even though in truth the world is safer than it's ever been before. Even though people are living longer and fewer people are dying in wars, the governments of the world want to keep us scared so that we are easier to manipulate. The subtext is "BEWARE OF THINGS THAT ARE DIFFERENT". If you think you are not being manipulated, just remember, it's easier to manipulate those who are unaware they are being manipulated.

  8. Norman Chan that's the first thing they explain in the movie about why it's called Close Encouters of the Third Kind obviously you were not paying attention but of course what a nerd like you will notice .

  9. Nope you've got it back to front. The movies and imagery are inspired by preceding decades of UFO reports. As Speilburg said numerous times, the aliens in Close Encounters were based on 'abduction accounts' (real or not) of aliens.To claim everyone seeing unknown aircraft defy the known laws of physics (see recent Nimitz pilots' account for details) are simply deluded by movies in absurd.

  10. My proud America brain says the aliens will go to the relatively highest techno signature country– that's been us for a long time. No clue as to why they would take aim at corn fields or remote lakes, but you get my point. And of course, this Americo-centric idea persists back to the dawn of good UFO imaging, like those done with Polaroid cameras.
    I well remember that "Spielberg" (et al) was accused of trying to make America and the world, one presumes from a foreign distribution point of view, more accepting of aliens. "Alien" was just released and we were all freaking out about xenomorphs. Of course, now we know better. (Oh yeah, Lucas was lumped in with the same accusation– Star Wars trying to make us love robots as well as aliens! Again, now we know better!)
    Fun show, you guys– love the musical interlude!

  11. ADAM SAVAGE'S TESTED: Corrections-Please note: 'Claude Lacombe' was the French scientist character based on Jacques Vallée. The film director François Truffaut played the role of 'Lacombe'. J. Allen Hynek was the scientist who made a cameo at the end w/the pipe. He was also special advisor to Spielberg & the movie's name was derived from Hynek's U.F.O. sighting scale not Vallée's. Sheesh…


  12. This comment is for Episode 30 since comments are disabled for understandable reasons (silly minds with keyboards).

    Here it is: Never seen this podcast, ever… Decided to listen on Ep. 30 because the topic is surely important. Loved the reasons and perspectives they gave and would love to hear them speak about more topics around female leads and the bad news around it all. Good stuff! 🙂

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