The field of the unexplained and the paranormal is very much often focused on finding explanations to gain insight into and make sense of the things that seem to defy or elude conventional understanding. UFOS, ghosts, cryptids, there are as many attempts to explain them as there are people who gaze at them in wonder, some more plausible, others quite unique, and some which seem seek to force things to make sense. For instance, are UFOs aliens, inter-dimensional beings, time travelers, a trick of light, a weird cloud, tall tales, Venus reflecting off of the moon reflected off of whatever, a flock of birds? What about ghosts, Bigfoot, Nessie, or any of the other menageries of weird entities and beasts that populate the realm of the unexplained? You may very well get a different answer for every person you ask. But what if at least some instances of these phenomena are not anything real or tangible at all? What if they are merely holograms? This is something I had never really given much thought to before, yet the theory is floating around out there and it is an interesting one, that some cases of unexplained phenomena just might be holographic projections of some sort. Is there anything to this? Let's take a look.

A very intriguing article first brought this unique possibility to my attention, which was originally published in the March, 2003 issue of Fate Magazine and entitled “Holograms and High Strangeness.” One of the highlights concerns a report from the country of Argentina, where in August of 2002 there was a flap of UFO sightings and subsequent cattle mutilations, which caught the attention of many a UFO researcher in the region. Among all of this high strangeness was the account of a young woman named Gabriela Lencinas,15, who says that one day in January of 2002 she was riding her bicycle back to the town of Paso Lovera after spending a day out with a friend, Griselda Olivera, 19, when they came across something beyond their experience.

As the two girls pedaled through the quiet countryside they purportedly came across a massive, ape-like figure standing well over 15 feet in height in the middle of the path and wearing what was described as a “ski outfit," with long arms that were outstretched in front of it and spiky hair that seemed to be “standing on end.” The face could not be clearly made out, and seemed to be almost obfuscated or blurry. A the girls stood there gawking at the towering giant, a car is said to have come driving along only to stop at the sight of the thing. The driver reportedly got out, looked at the looming figure in fear and awe, and then sped away right through its legs, not under them but through them, as if the creature was just an illusion or mirage.

The girls then snapped out of their baffled daze and peddled towards it, after which the figure allegedly began to hover about 15 feet over the ground before vanishing in a puff of black smoke. It would later be ascertained that two caretakers of a nearby ranch had seen the enormous entity as well. Researchers Francisco Villagrén, Eduardo Lopez, Omar Vallejos, and UFO investigator Pablo Omastott apparently interviewed the girls and came to the conclusion that they may have seen some sort of holographic image. What possible connection this surreal incident had with the numerous UFO reports at the time, if any, remains unknown.

A few years earlier, in 2000, people in the Ciudad Atlántida neighborhood of the city of Punta Alta began reporting sightings of strange, “semi-solid” apparitions upon the sand dunes leading to the Arroyo Pareja Municipal Beach, which lies near the Puerto Belgrano Naval Base. The entities were always seen in the early morning hours, often by large groups of people, and were described as being glowing and somewhat tenuous and immaterial in form, as if they were partial mirages, with red eyes and faces that seemed to be nebulous and partially transparent like they were made of thin glass.

Witnesses said that the strange creatures always came from beyond the dunes, from the direction of the Naval base lying out there, and that they showed great interest in some water tanks that were situated in the area. Other details were that when they appeared the air seemed to become calm, still, and somewhat warmer, as if the beings were emanating heat, that the area would become noticeably dimmer, and that stray cats and dogs would gather about to stare at the creatures in a trance. Some witnesses explained that the air would adopt a sort of charged quality, like the air before a violent electrical storm, or that their hair would stand up on end as if being affected by static electricity. Obstacles seemed to be nothing to the strange creatures, as they would merely sort of melt around anything that got in their way, like they were ghosts. Some researchers who looked into the matter speculated that the sightings could have been some sort of holographic experiment being conducted by the nearby Naval Base.

The Fate article furthers the mystery of potential holograms by fast forwarding to to April of 1982 in Cuba, when a procession of locals suddenly witnesses a flash of light in the sky that formed into what looked like a religious figure, the Cuban version of the Blessed Virgin called la Caridad del Cobre, hovering over them. The figure was described as wearing a brightly glowing mantle and had arms outstretched towards the witnesses. The whole thing was rather impressive, and hundreds of witnesses allegedly saw it. A few days later, another such apparition would be seen at the port of Mariel fixed up in the air, where panicked and frightened soldiers reportedly actually fired upon it. According to reports, the soldiers:

Opened automatic fire against the unknown quantity in a show of force. Bullets, according to eyewitnesses, splashed harmlessly in the water around the phenomenon. At times, the machine-gun blasts could be seen to pass right through the phenomenon.

It is said that after these incidents Cuban authorities tried to brush it all under the carpet, but researcher and author Andreas Faber Kaiser would later speculate that it had all been the result of U.S. Naval craft off the coast using some sort of advanced technology to project holograms in order to confuse and terrorize the local populace as part of a psychological warfare campaign. The motives for doing so here would not be so surprising considering that the U.S. had been waging an intense psychological warfare campaign against the reclusive island nation for decades.

Adding to the whole hologram conspiracy in Cuba was an incident in the city of Trinidad, not far from Havana, in which images of the divine Caridad del Cobre also supposedly appeared, followed by smoke creeping up from the floors of nearby houses and strange unidentified smells pervading the air. At around this time, word of the entity spread to Havana, where crowds of people gathered in the streets to the point that they had to be dispersed by police. One Mongolian diplomat would later insist that U.S. intelligence had at the time been looking to implant the idea within the Cuban populace that Fidel Castro was the Antichrist, and that they had been working on technology to project a full image of Jesus Christ into the Cuban skies with the aim of terrifying the locals into inciting a rebellion.

How plausible is any of this? And why would anyone really want to do it? With the religious images in particular, the idea of a device to produce incredibly realistic images of religious figures is not exactly new. The Pentagon has supposedly long considered using a holographic “Face of Allah” weapon for the purpose of projecting a realistic deity in order to incite fear, awe, and confusion on the battlefield for psychological warfare purposes. Playing on an enemy’s superstitions and religious beliefs would be nothing new to the military. For instance, during the Vietnam War there was Operation Wandering Soul, which involved blasting ghostly voices through the jungle to convince the Viet Cong that their fallen comrades and people had come back from the dead as spirits doomed to eternally wander the world of the living. It is a topic I have covered here at Mysterious Universe before, and although its ultimate effectiveness remains unknown, it shows the theory and rationale behind such programs.

The potential tactical benefits of holograms are certainly promising and understandable. Imagine if it were possible to beam the image of some religious figure, or fully believable ghosts, goblins, and other assorted creatures for that matter at the enemy, and the confusion, panic and fear this would cause, especially in superstitious people. The same could be said for UFOs, Bigfoot, or any other entity one wanted to project into the world for the purpose of beguiling and frightening those who see them. Do you want to keep people away from some property? Conjure up some holograms of ghosts or other fantastical creatures. Do you want to slowly condition the public to accept the idea of visitors from another world? Beam up some images of UFOs. Do you want to terrify and harass the enemy? Simply create some life-like assimilations of whatever it is that scares them or holds them in shock or awe.

In the Gulf War, the United States was very interested in using such holograms to cast “an angry God” onto the battlefield, which would theoretically be used to convince the startled and terrified Iraqis to surrender, but the logistics of such an endeavor were difficult at the time and the means and technology to do so just didn’t exist yet. Such military holograms would not even have to necessarily be incredibly fantastical or awe inspiring to be effective. For instance, they could be used to mask true troop numbers, produce holographic smoke, create illusory walls or displays behind which soldiers could hide, or various holographic obstacles.

The reasons for the idea behind creating holograms to generate such images seems clear, to manipulate, confuse, and terrify the enemy or create decoys or hide troops, but is it even within the realm of possibility to do so? As a matter of fact, several countries have been working on the technology for quite awhile now. In Japan, for instance, there was a demonstration of such strange technology in 2006, in which  Japan’s National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST) used lasers to project real three-dimensional images in mid-air. The device used lasers that were fired in rapid successive bursts to create various shapes over it, during which time the heat emitted from the equipment caused the air to expand and crackle with an effect like a series of tiny explosions, as well as creating an ozone-like smell. Interestingly, strange smells have been reported during some other supposed hologram sightings, such as the visions seen in Cuba. Indeed, could the heat, charged, electrified air of the Argentine dune humanoids not have been the effects of such a device?

In 2012, the country of China apparently unleashed a holographic image on a massive scale for the populace of the town of Guangzhou. It was here that an entire holographic city was allegedly beamed into the air, along with a UFO for good measure, which many people supposedly filmed. The Chinese government had apparently been very explicit with its aims to test out a hologram and had announced its plans before hand, so there was not too much panic involved, but if it is true the effect was purportedly quite realistic indeed. An odd detail is that during the display there was apparently heard a very distinctive crackling sound booming through the air and that ozone smell which is very reminiscent of the Japanese experiment.

In as early as 1978 the United States was tinkering with the use of holographic projections for use in war with its program known as Project Blue Beam. Also, in 1991 the JFK Center and School for Special Warfare was allegedly working on a psy-ops holographic system that could be used to beam out a wide range of different images, such as weather patterns, buildings, religious figures, and others, for use as decoys or as instruments of inciting terror. In a 1994 article of Defense Week, there was also talk of the Pentagon engaging in experiments with so-called “futurewar” tactics, such as computer warfare and holograms for military purposes. The article mentioned that the military had been considering holograms for inclusion as a non-lethal form of combat and that there were various “black projects” pursuing this.

In 1999 there was also a Washington Post report on the US Air Force’s research program to develop a holographic projector as an instrument of psychological warfare, also called “strategic perception management,” which would be used to “project information power from space… for special operations deception missions.” There has been some conspiracy speculation that this is precisely the reason why the U.S. has so many satellites in space; for the purpose of creating a sort of 3D projection system by beaming images off of each other to create realistic 360 degree illusions, essentially an enormous 3D theater, with some even suggesting the possibility for technology enabling the recreation of physical sensations to flesh out the detail, such as sound, light, heat, and even smell. One 1999 Air Force Manual purportedly writes of the device thus:

The holograph projector plays a three-dimensional visual image in a desired location, removed from a display generator. The projector can be used for psychological operations and strategic perception management. It is also useful for optical deception, and cloaking, providing a momentary distraction when engaging an unsophisticated adversary. And it has capabilities for precision projection of three-dimensional visual images into a selected area. Supports Psy-Op and strategic deception management and provides deception and cloaking against optical centers.

So what about UFOs? Are some of them holographic in nature? Although the idea may seem preposterous to some hard-core UFOlogists, the idea has been bandied about for years. The exact aims of doing so remain ambiguous, but some researchers have chimed in on the matter. A Dr. Frank Salisbury, who wrote a paper on the phenomenon titled Are UFOs from Outer Space?, had this to say on the subject:

Maybe the UFOs are not tangible objects; they are three-dimensional projected holographs. This has been suggested often in recent years…I know of one case in the Uintah Basin where an Indian shot at a UFO with his deer rifle and heard the bullet ricochet off…but I thought, what if those who project the holograph up there are so clever that they are prepared for people to shoot at them and have a recording of ricochet to play at that exact moment?

There various other unexplained phenomena out there that could possibly have their origins in holograms, such as ghosts, cryptids, you name it. As far out as the hologram theory may seem, it would actually explain a lot of the inconvenient details which go hand in hand with some cases. For instance, a lack of any physical evidence left behind in some reports or the presence of creatures such as Bigfoot in locales where they should in no way be found. For example, did you know that there are numerous reports of hairy hominids from the United Kingdom and even Hawaii? What about sightings where the beast seems to vanish or leaves no tracks or physical evidence behind? There are also the accounts of massive lake monsters seen in bodies of water that could not possibly support such organisms if they were flesh and blood creatures. Is the idea that some of these accounts may have their origin in holographic projections any more  absurd, implausible, strange, or far-fetched than proposing that these large, hairy bipedal apes have managed to wind up in these places and that lake monsters dwell in these locations, or that they are nature spirits, ghosts, thought projections, or inter-dimensional beings of some sort? In the case of ghosts, their fleeting, ethereal and nebulous forms lend themselves perfectly to the images one might expect an advanced hologram to produce.

The problem with this theory is that the holographic technology that we know of at present is not able to achieve totally realistic images that could truly fool a person, is not able to display motion but rather only static images, and the images are not able to be projected particularly long distances or through obstacles, at least not yet. But what if the technology had been perfected in secret and these details have been ironed out? What if holographic capabilities have been brought to a level beyond what we know of? Considering how much such research seems to have been pursued, it does not seem totally out of the realm of possibility. Taking the idea into further bizarre territory is that idea that these holograms might not always be projected by us at all, but rather by the very entities that they depict, using their advanced technology to make these mirages for purposes we may never understand. It is a fairly far-out notion that adds another layer of bizarreness to it all, but a rather interesting one, and just yet another odd idea to add to the pile.

Now I am in no way proposing that all sightings of cryptids, UFOs, ghosts, and other strange phenomena have their basis in holograms. I firmly believe that these are phenomena that are devoid of any simple explanation that can cover the whole range of accounts, and there are most likely a variety of causes, spanning the mundane to the truly bizarre. There are also many, many reports that would not fit into what a hologram would produce, no matter how advanced. I get that. I am not even sure if such holograms even exist or not. What I am doing is just offering up another possible explanation among many, something to think about. I am asking questions to ponder and speculate upon. Are some cases of these phenomena caused by holograms? Has this technology been developed and used in the field? Is this a possibility worth considering in some select cases, or is it to be dismissed as anything worth pursuing? This might all be just might be grasping at straws, merely smoke and mirrors like the very holograms this notion proposes, but it seems to nevertheless be something worth speculating and thinking on, yet another possible explanation in the sea of explanations we try to wade through in search of the truth.

Brent Swancer

Brent Swancer is an author and crypto expert living in Japan. Biology, nature, and cryptozoology still remain Brent Swancer’s first intellectual loves. He's written articles for MU and Daily Grail and has been a guest on Coast to Coast AM and Binnal of America.

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