Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does Mike review other UFO books?

2. Does Mike believe aliens really exist and are literally abducting people?

No. I know of no credible scientific confirmation that extraterrestrial life either has existed or does exist. Equations (like the overblown Drake Equation) are not evidence for aliens. I reject the idea that the Bible affirms aliens (disguised as angels). ET life forms would be biological entities that need to perpetuate their species, draw nutrition, and are subject to dimensional laws of physics or else they would die. The Bible does not describe angels this way. Until science verifies (rather than speculates about) an intelligent ET life form, I see no reason to affirm their existence. However, I do think most people who claim to have been abducted are not lying or hoaxing. I believe they experienced something, but I see no reason to conclude alien abduction is the correct way to parse the experience.

My research into what is called "alien abduction" leads me to conclude that there are a range of possible explanations:

(1) Direct demonization of people; I think that is rare, however. Joe Jordan and his CE4 Research group have this as the focus of their work with abductees.

(2) Sleep paralysis. This is a common experience, and there is good research to connect this to some "abduction" experiences (see mysteriousuniverse.org and Sleep Paralysis).

(3) Abductions by military personnel (i.e., MILABS) who implant an alien screen memory into the victim's mind, using technology that has been known (and further developed) since the 70s. One researcher to watch here is Leah Haley. Leah has concluded, after years of work with abductees, that it has nothing to do with extraterrestrials.

(4) abductions where the victim's mind replaces their actual traumatizer with the alien - traumatization where the victim responds by what is known in psychology as dissociative identity disorder (DID) - what used to be called multiple personality disorder). This may or may not involve ritual traumatization by cults or other groups. I know several people who work with DID survivors.

I am well aware of the work of scholars in alien abduction research, like the late Dr. John Mack of Harvard and Dr. David Jacobs (Temple University) on the subject, but what I'd need to believe we were really dealing with aliens would be (a) actual evidence there are real aliens and (b) some sort of hybrid offspring — again, tested and verified by a credible laboratory. I don't expect any such thing to be brought forth. I also think that the Emma Woods incident (it is a large file) has tarnished Jacobs' work beyond the inherent criticisms of using hypnosis for retrieving repressed memories.

I still believe the best academic reading available on the subject of alien abduction are the papers from the 1992 MIT Conference on the alien abduction phenomenon: Alien Discussions : Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference Held at M.I.T.

3. Why is Mike involved in the UFO issue? Why bother speaking at conferences and doing radio shows that cover such subjects?

I do it for a couple of reasons. I'm a believer that scholars should serve the public interest. Too many scholars ignore strange subjects and bogus research that fascinates people whose worldview revolves around such ideas. They claim they're too busy or it's not important. I can't think of anything much more potentially paradigm-shifting than the question of whether there is extraterrestrial life or whether aliens came to earth in antiquity (i.e., the ancient astronaut strangeness). The issues take you into religion, politics, physics, metaphysics, etc., and potentially redefine reality as we know it. I don't like seeing people base their worldviews on ideas that are demonstrably wrong. People should not be duped, and scholars and scientists who know better should not stand on the sidelines allowing them to be duped.

Spiritually speaking, I want to minister to those whose experience has caused them to feel abandoned by their church or synagogue because their spiritual leadership isn't intellectually equipped to help them, or fears real interaction with the supernatural. And if there is a scientifically verifiable ET reality that can be divorced from demonic entities, and that reality has intersected with our own, the public has a right to know about it (at least at the "yes" or "no" level). The Church also needs to understand how its theology can accommodate it (since it's spent so much time laughing at it or ignoring it).

I've found there are basically five kinds of people involved in UFO research and the UFO community at large: (1) the nuts and bolts scientists - they are dealing with questions of interstellar travel, the possibility of ET life, and propulsion issues. The religious dimensions of the issue are barely on their radar. They typically have already dismissed God because of their faith in evolution (and their failure to discern the philosophical incoherence of an uncreated or self-created universe). A good number in this category are also politically active for the cause, but should not be confused with # 5 below. (2) The UFO or abduction experiencer who wants to keep their Judeo-Christian faith but is struggling with that. These are the people who have some experience and have tried in vain to get help from their pastor or other Christian friends to process the experience, to fit it into their faith worldview. They may or may not leave the organized church, but they surely are left on their own to deal with the experience. They rely on alternative sources of information and fellow experiencers to make spiritual sense out of it. They are vulnerable to nonsense like that of Zecharia Sitchin since some see it as the only way to make sense of things from their Bible. They are also vulnerable to redefining their faith in Gnostic terms. (3) The UFO or abduction experiencer who rejects the faith afterward, and who becomes antagonistic toward the faith. These people often operate out of anger toward the Church and may become openly hostile toward it. (4) The people who see the UFO / ET issue as the platform they've wanted for years to vent their hatred toward Christianity and make money while doing it. These are the self-styled pseudo-scholars in the movement (usually with respect to ancient texts that they can't actually translate). This crowd treats those of the Judeo-Christian faith with contempt and ridicule. These are the people whose bluff needs to be publicly called. (NOTE: I don't put Sitchin in this category since he doesn't seem overtly hostile to Christianity or traditional Judaism). (5) The "New Agers" who want to use the UFO issue for a religion, for left-wing political purposes, or to become avatars in their own time and mind. They see ET as their saviors in just about every way.

I'm guessing most of you in the Christian realm (academic or not) will consequently understand why I do this. If not, please feel free to email me and tell me why I should let the people in this community continue on in their Christ-less or God-less worldview, or why I should refuse to help them in their spiritual struggle.

4. How does Mike refute what ancient astronaut theorists say about the line in Genesis 1:26, "let US create humankind in OUR image"—that the verse proves aliens made humans?

Refer to my paper on the Elohim for a brief discussion on this, and see the question below on elohim for more. You can also visit my Sitchin site.

5. If the word "elohim" is plural how can it refer to the one God of Israel?

The Hebrew word elohim is morphologically plural (that is, it's "shaped" as a plural, or "spelled" as a plural). However, in roughly 2,200 cases (by far over 90% of the biblical occurrences), the word elohim is used as a proper name for the ONE God of Israel. We know this because it's a cold, hard fact from the text. In those 2,200 or so cases, elohim is the subject of a SINGULAR verb (all languages have subject-verb agreement) or is referred to by a SINGULAR pronoun (him, his). Don't take my word for it; you can see the data for yourself.

What this means is that, most of the time in the Hebrew Bible, although elohim has plural FORM, it's MEANING is singular. It all depends on the sentence in which it's found and the surrounding grammar and context. We have words like this in English. If I say "sheep", by itself you can't tell if I am referring to one sheep or more than one sheep. I need to put it in a sentence where the grammar tells you what is meant. "The sheep is lost" refers to ONE sheep since "is" = a singular verb form. "The sheep are lost" refers to more than one sheep because the verb form is plural. You can find more information on my elohim page. You can also visit my Sitchin site.

6. Is it true that Art Bell asked Mike to debate Zecharia Sitchin on his show? If so, why hasn't Sitchin responded?

Yes, this is true. The request was made in 2002 as I recall. I of course agreed immediately. As far as why Sitchin never agreed, I think the answer would be that he isn't stupid. He has nothing to gain and a lot to lose. But it was nice of Art to ask.

7. How can I reach Mike for an interview? Does he do much traveling and speaking?

I don't do much traveling to conferences to speak because I'd rather use my time off for family vacations. I like to restrict speaking events to 3-4 a year. I can do radio much more frequently. I can be reached at mshmichaelsheiser@gmail.com.

8. Where can I learn more about the divine council?

The best introductory resource is my divine council website. As far as published resources, there are many good scholarly articles, but nothing for the layperson. The closest one comes to that are dictionary articles in the following sources that will be in any Christian college library and many public libraries:

  • "Assembly, Divine" in Anchor Bible Dictionary
  • "Divine Council" (by yours truly) in InterVarsity Press's Dictionary of the Old Testament: Wisdom, Poetry and Writings
  • "Divine Council" (also by yours truly) in InterVarsity Press's Dictionary of the Old Testament: The Prophets
  • "Council" in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible
  • "Sons of God" in Dictionary of Deities and Demons in the Bible

9. Has Mike ever had any sort of paranormal experience? What sparked his interest in ufology?

Nope. I've just always been interested in anything that was old and strange.

10. Has Mike received any recognition for his work in ufology?

Yes. FATE Magazine named Mike to its list of "The 100 Most Influential People in UFOlogy."

11. I think I've had an abduction experience—what should I do? Does Mike know anyone he can recommend that I can talk to?

Yes. If you are specifically concerned about what you think was an abduction experience, I recommend you contact either Derrel Sims Guy Malone and Free and Amy at the AlienResistance.org in Roswell, Chris Ward, Joe Jordan, or Jim Wilhelmsen.

12. What are the most credible academic books for studying the UFO issue?

Here are my "must reads" for the subject of UFOs:

UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Coverup, 1941-1973, by Richard Dolan

UFOs and the National Security State: The Coverup Exposed: 1973-1991, by Richard Dolan

These volumes by Dolan are unquestionably the best for documenting the U.S. government’s burning interest in UFOs and its deliberate duplicity in informing the public about that interest. Rich is an academic (runner-up for a Rhodes scholarship as a grad student) and a careful researcher. If I had to pick one book to recommend to someone who said "convince me UFOs are worth looking into," Rich's first book would be it, or perhaps the shorter work by Leslie Kean below. A more general scholarly introduction would be the edited volume by Jacobs, also below.

UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record, by Leslie Kean

UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge, ed. David Jacobs (University of Kansas Press, 2000). This was the first book on UFOs every published by a university press (but see the note above about David Jacobs and the use of hypnosis for retrieving repressed memories).

The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence, ed. Peter Sturrock, PhD.

Also quite good. If you think there is no physical evidence for UFOs, you are uninformed. This book isn't about fuzzy photographs.

Passport to Magonia : On UFOs, Folklore, and Parallel Worlds by Jacques Vallee, PhD

The above title by Vallee is one of his early efforts at dealing with his view that "aliens" may not be truly extraterrestrial - but entities of a spiritual or inter-dimensional nature. The following three titles by Vallee are a trilogy and, as you can tell by the titles, reveal his less-than-optimistic verdict about the "goodness" of the visitors. Vallee's works are especially significant since he has no religious axe to grind. A more recent volume by a scholar who takes a folklore approach to UFOs and alleged alien contact is that of Bullard, below.

The Myth and Mystery of UFOs, by Thomas Bullard (University of Kansas Press, 2010)

Dimensions: A Casebook of Alien Contact by Jacques Vallee, PhD

Confrontations: A Scientist's Search for Alien Contact by Jacques Vallee, PhD

Revelations: Alien Contact and Human Deception by Jacques Vallee, PhD

UFOs: Operation Trojan Horse by John Keel (Putnam, 1970)

A classic by the author of The Mothman Prophecies. Like Vallee, Keel argues strongly that UFOs are a demonic presence—and he is not a Christian.

Project Beta: The Story of Paul Bennewitz, National Security, and the Creation of a Modern UFO Myth by Greg Bishop

A fascinating look at how the government systematically used now-deceased electrical physicist Paul Bennewitz to perpetuate disinformation about UFOs. Various government agencies fed Bennewitz him lies to keep him believing in an imminent alien invasion until he was completely discredited and utterly insane. Eventually, author and UFO researcher Bill Moore was recruited to help in the disinformation campaign.

13. What are the most credible academic resources for studying the alien abduction issue?

As I noted above, if it's on this list, it's worth reading. However, do not assume I endorse all or even most of the content. It's on the list because it's serious and content-rich, not necessarily because it's right in my mind.

Alien Abduction Phenomenon

14. What are the best online resources for learning about UFOs?

My answer here is about which sites are doing research and which ones are waxing eloquent about aliens(for which there is no proof). Here are the web resources I find most useful:

The Black Vault

This is the motherlode for genuine government documents relating to the UFO phenomenon. The site consists of its owner's scanned Freedom of Information Act requests, the scanned responses, and text-conversions of those scans. Literally tens of thousands of pages (most of which are unspectacular) demonstrate both the military's disingenuous attitude toward the UFO phenomenon and its own documented experiences.

Leslie Kean's UFOs on the Record Research Site

CUFOS (Dr. J. Allen Hynek's Center for UFO Studies)

UFO Related PDF Documents

UFO Casebook

This site reports on UFO news. There's pretty much a sighting a day, every day, though who knows what they actually are. It also provides good coverage to UFO research news of importance.

Mike's own linguistic report on the Majestic Documents

15. What does Mike think about the views of Zecharia Sitchin?

Not much. I actually don't think Sitchin knows any ancient languages. His books suggests that much. He even makes mistakes in Hebrew and he's Jewish. That's understandable, though. Just because Hebrew is one's native tongue doesn't mean that the person could do grammatical analysis in the Hebrew Bible (or even know much Hebrew grammar). Ask yourself as an English speaker - could you diagram the sentences in this paragraph? Could you tell me about the parts of speech? Could you explain the grammatical and syntactical functions? I think you get the idea. Sitchin just doesn't know his biblical Hebrew grammar, which is very important for this kind of work (and to back up his claims). For an overview of what I think about specific claims he has made, visit my Sitchin site.

16. When is the sequel to The Façade going to be released?