Nancy du Tertre. How to Talk to an Alien. New Page Books, 2016

At first glance I got the impression that this book might be a serious study of stories of space aliens on Earth as modern folklore. I was quickly disillusioned when I saw that the foreword was written by "Stanton T. Friedman, Nuclear Physicist and Ufology Investigator". I was even more disillusioned when, at the beginning of Chapter 1, I was asked to understand that the alien presence on Earth is undisputed. The author's main purpose is to understand how aliens communicate with us so that we can communicate with them.

In the chapter on exolinguistics we are told that the aliens might use different methods to communicate with us than we would use to try to contact them. An example is given of a message sent into space using a digital binary code from Arecibo radio telescope in 1974. A reply, consisting of a modified version of the message was received in 2001 in the form of a crop circle next to a radio telescope in England. Admittedly, the author mentions the possibility that this might have been a hoax.

A discussion of whether the aliens are biologically equipped to talk considers the descriptions of them by persons who claim to have met some of them. There are many different types. "Most estimates come from military sources and range from four to 82 alien species known to be interacting with humans." How such an amazing fact remains unknown to most of us and how these aliens can walk along our streets without attracting unwelcome attention is not explained. However, some of them are apparently not very conspicuous, especially the Venusians. A photograph of a group of three of them is printed, showing that they look just like us (or perhaps most of us). The more exotic looking aliens would seem to be not so easy to photograph. Too camera shy, perhaps.

For the sceptical reader, the author's claims to be an expert in mediumship, telepathy, and remote viewing, as well as other subjects, including "health care politics, and the history of French porcelain", can be rather irritating. This is because, as is usual with claims of alleged amazing events, such as alien abductions, we are never given anything that can be confirmed independently. We are also given no good reasons to take any of the stories of aliens as possibly being literally true.

As is usual with such books, there is no discussion of the work of those who have taken UFO abduction or contact stories seriously, but have sought to explain them in psychological terms.

Throughout this book it becomes increasingly obvious to the discerning reader that the most unlikely stories are assumed to be true. For example, we are told that some of the surviving Roswell witnesses, or persons claiming to have been witnesses, have recently told their stories, or arranged for them to be released after their deaths. "Consequently, we are starting to get a better picture about what actually happened at Roswell." It apparently does not matter, then, that many of these stories contradict one another, or have been published by writers who have been exposed as liars.

A chapter on strange voices and noises heard on telephones, reported by ufologists and UFO witnesses, gives interesting descriptions. It should be noted, though, that nobody seems to have succeeded, or even tried, to record these sounds.

A lot more could be said about the general lack of objectivity, but it would be rather pointless. This is not a book for you if you are seriously interested in the subjects discussed. -- John Harney


  1. And zoamchomsky shows up in 3, 2, 1.....

  2. Stanton Friedman, who never omits the title "nuclear physicist" in describing himself, has referred to the SETI project as "silly effort to investigate". So presumably he would attach this meaning to the Aricebo radio message sent out and to the reply received.