For some truly amazing physics crackpottery I recommend checking out Pentcho Valev (useful introduction here), but Valev is hardly American. Jacques Fabrice Vallée qualifies, though – although French-born, Vallée is at least currently residing in California. Indeed, Vallée is a former astronomer and computer scientist, noted for co-developing the first computerized mapping of Mars for NASA and for his work at SRI International on the network information center for the ARPANET, who at some point turned into a venture capitalist and ufologist. He is, however, notable for rejecting the “extraterrestrial hypothesis” – that is, the idea that UFOs are alien spacecrafts – advocating instead a “multidimensional visitation hypothesis”. Rejecting a stupid claim for an incoherent one, in other words (fans of Vallée include John Weldon and John Ankerberg).
He claims to have experienced rather conclusive evidence for his UFOs, but – of course – the powers that be, to keep their conspiracy going, have tended to destroy it for him. In the late 1960s, however, he decided that there was a link between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptic sightings, and psychic phenomena (based on “many commonalities” – human psychology being not one of the ones he considered). Speculations about these potential links were detailed in Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers. He also argued that the UFO reports are simply not consistent with visitations from space, which is true, though Vallée somehow misses the obvious conclusion to draw from that, suggesting instead his interdimensional rubbish. He even claimed that the so-called “Fátima Miracle”, Marian apparitions and possibly the visions of Joseph Smith were … instances of UFOs (so, once again, the obvious explanations elude him). Indeed, his idea that UFOs are associated with some form of non-human consciousness that manipulates space and time and has been active throughout human history, masquerading in various forms to different cultures, does suggest a rather evident religious subtext to his writings – not that far removed from Joseph Smith himself, come to think of it.
Many of his ideas were developed together with his mentor, the infamous late ufologist J. Allen Hynek.
What sometimes seems to lend him a whiff of credibility is his tendency to engage with the craziest and most delusional ideas among ufologists and conspiracy theorists to show how these are wrong, and thereby occasionally managing to come off as a voice of reason in debates – despite the fact that his own views are rarely less crazy than those of his opponents.
Diagnosis: Standard, wild-eyed pseudoscientist and loon.