Jacques Vallée received his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Sorbonne, followed by his Master of Science in astrophysics from the University of Lille. He began his career as an astronomer at the Paris Observatory in 1961. He moved to the United States in 1962 and began working in astronomy at the University of Texas, where he worked on NASA’s first project making a detailed informational map of Mars.
In 1967, Vallée received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Northwestern University. While at the Institute for the Future from 1972 to 1976, he was a principal investigator on the large NSF project for computer networking, which developed one of the first conferencing systems, Planning Network (PLANET), on the ARPANET.
When I was beginning my career in science,” recalls Vallée, “the main argument against UFOs was that astronomers never saw them. I found that argument convincing.” Then, in 1961, he and other satellite trackers at the Paris Observatory detected something odd overhead. The project director erased the data tape before an orbit for the unidentified object could be computed. “I thought, here we are at a renowned institution, seeing something we can’t explain and destroying data for fear of ridicule. That, for me, reopened the entire question.”
In the mid-1960s, like many other UFO researchers, Vallée initially attempted to validate the popular Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). UFO researcher Jerome Clark argued that Vallée’s first two UFO books were among the most scientifically sophisticated defenses of the ETH ever mounted.
However, by 1969, Vallée’s conclusions had changed, and he publicly stated the ETH was too narrow and ignored too much data. Vallée began exploring the commonalities between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptid sightings, and psychic phenomena. Speculation about these potential links were first detailed in Vallée’s third UFO book, Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers.
Vallée’s views gradually became far more exotic and stranger than what he calls the reigning “nuts and bolts” approach to the subject. Consequently, he’s been attacked by believers and prominent ufologists so often that he jokingly refers to himself a “heretic among heretics.” As Vallée puts it, “I will be disappointed if UFOs turn out to be nothing more than spaceships.”
Vallée is often highly critical of UFO investigators overall, both believers and skeptics, asserting that what often passes for an acceptable level of investigation in a UFO context would be considered sloppy and seriously inadequate investigation in other fields. He has often pointed out logical and methodological flaws common in such research. Unlike many critics of UFO investigative efforts, his critiques are not condescending or dismissive and he indicates that he is simply interested in good science.
Vallée served as the real-life model for the character portrayed by Francois Truffaut in Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Vallée attempted to interest Spielberg in an alternative explanation for the phenomenon, saying he “argued with him that the subject was even more interesting if it wasn’t extraterrestrials. If it was real, physical, but not ET. So he said, ‘You’re probably right, but that’s not what the public is expecting — this is Hollywood and I want to give people something that’s close to what they expect.’”
Vallée proposes there is a genuine UFO phenomenon, partly associated with a form of non-human consciousness which manipulates space and time. The phenomenon has been active throughout human history and seems to masquerade in various forms to different cultures. In his opinion, the intelligence behind the phenomenon attempts social manipulation by using deception on the humans with whom they interact.
Vallée also proposes a secondary aspect of the UFO phenomenon involving human manipulation by humans. Witnesses of UFO phenomena undergo a manipulative and staged spectacle, meant to alter their belief system, and eventually influence human society by suggesting alien intervention from outer space. The ultimate motivation for this deception is probably a projected major change of human society and the breaking down of old belief systems and implementation of new ones. Vallée states the evidence, if carefully analysed, suggests an underlying plan for the deception of mankind by means of unknown, highly advanced methods.
Vallée has stated there must be a whole building somewhere filled with UFO hardware, but it’s unlikely that the government, or any government, has been able to understand who made it and how the technology works. Vallée also feels the entire subject of UFOs is mystified by charlatans and science fiction. He advocates a stronger and more serious involvement of science in the UFO research and debate, as only this can reveal the true nature of the UFO phenomenon.
In the epilogue from his most recent book, Forbidden Science 1: A Passion for Discovery, The Journals of Jacques Vallée 1957-1969 (2017), Vallée commented on his current position within the field:
“For some time various knowledgeable friends have urged me to take my research behind the scenes again. I intend to follow their advice. I cannot justify remaining associated with the field of ufology as it presents itself to the public today. Furthermore, I suspect that the phenomenon displays a very different structure once you leave behind the parochial disputes that disfigure the debate, confusing the researchable issues that interest me. The truly important scientific questions are elsewhere.”