Mysteries & Paranormal /

Shane Cashman: Is the Truth Out There?


By Shane Cashman

It’s almost midnight and I’m sitting alone in a diner outside of Washington D.C. studying a map with over a century’s worth of reported UFO encounters in the country. Saucers over Possum Kingdom, Texas. Large triangles in Boise. Y-shaped objects in the trees. Orbs, fireballs, spheres, phantoms, and teardrops falling from the sky all over the states.

The diner is wedged between a massive field and a cemetery. It’s just the cook and me in the bright-lit place with the Red Hot Chili Peppers on the radio singing: psychic spies from China try to steal your mind’s elation…

“I have a weird question for you?” I ask the cook. “Any strange alien-type stories in this area?” I don’t tell him I just drove down from New York to take a job writing and researching about the paranormal.

He takes a second to answer. 

“Nothing I can think of,” he says, as if he’s shocked he doesn’t have a better answer. 

“I guess that’s good,” I say, hoping I don’t sound too disappointed. 

“It’s weird though because, like, there’s all types of weird stuff around here,” he says. “Camp David’s not far and D.C.’s so close…” 

When I tell people I write about the paranormal, the first thing they typically want to know is whether or not I’ve encountered anything strange. As if I’m some type of freak-priest with access to supernatural proof beyond the realm of reason. And I wish that were the case. 

Nearly every night, when my wife and I put our 5-year-old son to bed, he asks us if ghosts or aliens or monsters are real––and sometimes I hesitate to answer. Of course, I should just say, ‘no.’ 

No kid wants to hear, “well, maybe…” just before bedtime. Thankfully, my wife steps in and says ‘no’ so our kid can go to sleep with at least some comfort knowing there’s nothing hiding in the shadows or hovering outside his bedroom window.  

As much as I might hesitate to tell my son, no… I also hesitate to say yes to everyone else when they ask me about ghosts or aliens. That doesn’t mean I haven’t seen green orbs fly through cars, or what I believe to be ghosts walking in and out of houses, or appliances with minds of their own, or UFOs, or abandoned graveyards that seem like gateways to Hell, and more.  

I am optimistically agnostic about the supernatural. Since childhood, I have felt that there is a fracture in the fabric of our reality––that, clearly, it’s impossible to have all the answers or explain away everything that might make us uncomfortable or challenge the accepted narratives. On the flip side, if aliens were to step out of the sky tomorrow, my gut reaction would probably be to find out where James Cameron or Steven Spielberg are to make sure they’re not using some new CIA/Hollywood technology that I don’t know exists yet. My sense of the world, and all the strange things in and around it, is in a constant tug-of-war between pragmatism and wanting desperately to believe in things that defy the laws of physics. 

I can’t help it. I grew up in a forgotten little river town where, supposedly, we have trolls and witches, aliens, ghosts, wolf boys, skeletons missing from the local graveyard, and monsters in the river. I suppose I’ve always co-existed with these stories in the same way that Jordan Peterson once responded to a question about whether or not he believes in God. “I act as if God exists,” Peterson said. And, so, I’ve likewise always acted as if the supernatural exists. I have this instinct, or maybe it’s a curse, to always try to peek behind the curtain. 

I used to laugh at the number of UFO sightings near my hometown until I saw one myself hovering in the sky just above my car. I was driving alone at night when I saw three blue lights blinking in the dark of the fog above the mountain. I thought it was a police helicopter. I slowed down. The lights pulsed. I made the final turn and on my left, above the silhouette of the mountain, there was this tall isosceles triangle with three blue lights––suspended in the dark sky. I braked in the middle of the road, stared at the UFO for a minute, and then sped off. 

I went back the next night to see if the UFO was still there. This time I brought a friend. Someone to validate me. The fog still cloaked the valley. And when we returned, we saw the same blue lights blinking over the same mountain. I hesitated to get closer. What were the odds that it’d still be there? Would it destroy us? Abduct us? We were both genuinely in awe of the sight. After a few minutes, the fog receded enough to get a good look at the alien technology. As soon as the fog cleared, we realized it was a cellphone tower. 

It’s an embarrassing story. In many ways, I wish I never went back to find out the truth because for 24 hours, I 100% believed. Even though I proved myself wrong––I will never forget the feeling of being an absolute believer for just one day. I admit this so you know that I will always take everyone’s stories of UFOs or ghosts or anything strange––deadly serious. Even if I know I might be able to uncover an explanation, I try to always start from a place of empathy and true curiosity. 

Look at how we talk about UFOs today. It wasn’t that long ago that the idea of UFOs was low hanging fruit for the non-believers. You were a conspiracy theorist for hinting at massive government cover-ups and shadow agencies investigating encounters with otherworldly crafts. But, in the last few years, we’ve seen actual headlines (and videos) about what we now call Unidentified Aerial Phenomena, or UAPs, that may or may not be of this planet. Whether or not we know these crafts to be alien yet, doesn’t matter––but the story has entered the mainstream and the majority of people seem bored by the revelation. I like to think that in a post-plague world we have learned what science tells us as definitive truth yesterday might become nothing more than myth and superstition tomorrow. The UFOs might be extraterrestrial, or they might be government-funded technology built in secret like a modern day Manhattan Project. Either way, it seems like the public at large is not as shocked by the news as I think we should be. Our indifference, to be honest, is more shocking than the news of the UAPs themselves. 

I think Eric Weinstein summed it up well on one of the latest episodes of the The Realignment Podcast. 

“My guess is that our phones have changed us so that nothing excites us…” Weinstein told hosts Marshall Kosloff and Saagar Enjeti. “We have UFOs, the craziest story in the world, so far as I can tell… Imagine that you found this really mysterious canyon in southern Utah, and you clap, and you expect to hear an echo, and then you hear a bird. And you clap again, and there’s nothing. And you clap again, and it says, ‘there’s no one here, go away, this is not a CIA facility.’ And you’re thinking, ‘this is not behaving like a normal canyon…’”  

He’s got a point, although I worry about these blanket statements that trace our modern desensitization to just one thing because it reminds me of the talking heads on TV back in the late 90s telling me that the heavy metal and gangster rap I was listening to would turn me into a satanic gangbanger. That didn’t exactly pan out. However, the idea of becoming desensitized by our technology seems to me, at least, to have some validity in the wake of our government revealing things like UAP footage or how they formed programs like the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program. And there’s a deafening sigh from the general public. 

The complexities of our universe have been condensed and flattened into a piece of glass we keep in our pockets. Weinstein might be on to something because I also sense widespread Meaninglessness taking place today. We’ve been pacified, subdued, and drugged by the Internet, TV, social media, politicians, narratives, and fear. I’m not anti-technology. I love that I can use YouTube to time travel to concerts that happened before I was born, or use my phone as a telescope into deep space, but I also think the phones and TVs have robbed us of much of the beauty in the mysteries of physical human existence. 

I recently asked my friends and family on social media if they ever had any encounters with the supernatural. I was flooded with stories. Jessica saw orbs floating with the bodies in the funeral home cooler. Cheryl saw a ghost in an ambulance. Will had some thing sit on his bed in Puerto Rico. Amanda grew up with a ghost that terrorized her brother’s girlfriends. Susan had a ghost in her closet that communicated by knocking. Liz has seen cryptids and spirits. Mark met a woman who met a troll. Finn knew a ghost named Josh. Sarah said she doesn’t believe in ghosts, but one time she and her roommate both saw a man walk through their apartment––even though all the doors and windows were locked––they looked everywhere and never found him. My friend Matt’s grandfather used to drive cross-country to the desert and wait for UFOs. That’s just a fraction of the stories I received. Maybe there’s still a stigma attached to the paranormal and that’s why more people aren’t talking about it as much as I thought they would. But the response from friends reminded me that I’m certainly not alone in walking the line between skepticism and belief. I like to think we can still be excited. 

When COVID hit, reports of paranormal activity were on the rise. COVID, in general, punched a hole in the way many people perceive reality. Fear and confusion warped our sense of the world. But, at the same time, it’s just as conceivable to me that people were home more than they’d ever been, and bored, which allowed people to witness strange things about their surroundings that they hadn’t previously noticed. 

Sometimes it does seem like an unremarkable world if we only view it through the lens of our phones and televisions. We can get lost in the distortion of constant news. I want to remember how strange life can be. That the mysteries do make us remarkable. 

The cook at the diner finally rings me up.  A photo of Lucille Ball smiles at me from near the register. I’m reminded of how Ball once told Dick Cavett that she received transmissions of Morse Code through her dental fillings while driving through Coldwater Canyon in California.  She’d said that the FBI traced the signal to an underground Japanese station––this was during World War 2. I guess that’s all I’m doing, looking for a signal and trying to track it down for some answers. 

“Aren’t they supposed to be releasing all that UFO stuff soon?” the cook asks, referring to the upcoming Congressional report on UFOs.

“Supposedly… I thought that’d be bigger news. Right?”

“People would rather fight about their political views, man,” he says. 

“Can’t we just talk about aliens?” I ask. The cook laughs. 

They’re the ones that are gonna round us all up and conquer the planet…” he says, and points up at the night sky through the window. 

*For corrections please email corrections@timcast.com*

44 responses to “Shane Cashman: Is the Truth Out There?”

  1. Deademcee says:

    “ Our indifference, to be honest, is more shocking than the news of the UAPs themselves.” So true

  2. Stickywicket1977 says:

    There are no aliens or UFOs from outer space

  3. DocLockJ says:

    Nicely done. I’ve never seen any UFO/UAP stuff before but I’m very familiar in ghosts and some supernatural. I had a near death experience when I was younger with a full out of body experience. I also grew up in a very haunted house where my entire family witnessed it. Since then every once in a while I see things follow me from time to time. My dad also has his dead cat follow him around and I’ve heard and saw the cat on a few occasions. To continue I also have premonitions and know things will happen when I shouldn’t although I can’t really control it for some reason.
    I know there is some kind of power and something we can’t measure/objectively observe exists. I just wish we could advance our understanding and technology so we can.

  4. cutter says:

    “I want to believe.”

  5. MontyLalado says:

    You should’ve added, “my friend Tim say he doesn’t believe in ghosts but maybe there real, well hold up, actually they’re not real but if you see something and you actually believe it doesn’t that make it real after all

  6. FuzzyMarineVet says:

    Welcome, Shane. I hope your curiosity is satiated by the new job. I can tell you’re a polished wordsmith, so the articles will be interesting to read even if you don’t find definitive proof, one way or the other, on each issue.

  7. ellen3sons says:

    Mr Cashman, I so look forward to what you will bring to timcast.com. I have one story for you once you’ve tackled the Big Ones.

  8. Red-Pill_Ruggs says:

    “Either way, it seems like the public at large is not as shocked by the news as I think we should be. Our indifference, to be honest, is more shocking than the news of the UAPs themselves.”

    I felt the same when the Snowden/ Wiki leaks bombshell dropped… no one seemed to care the government was spying and collecting private data on its own citizens.

  9. Maverick says:

    Well damn. That was an incredible piece. Thank you. I’m pretty dry when it comes to these things, fun as they are, I need proof.

    The following is not a tale, this actually happened.
    When I was 15, we lives in a 250 year old farm house in England. Being the youngest, I had the smallest bedroom, at the top of the stairs on the right. In my teenage frustration I overtly nicknamed it ‘The Ant’s Bum hole’. It stuck.
    One day in the Summer Holidays I walked up the stairs and opened the door. Before I entered the room my body froze. On the wall right next to the door way was a ‘Moet et Chandon’ full length mirror and in that mirror was the reflection of the opposite diagonal corner of the room. I froze because I wasn’t used to seeing a 6′ tall black mass just .. there. I immediately focused in on this dark object and I saw it. I could see it in detail. All this happened in a fraction of a second. Then a sudden and overwhelming feeling came over me, not of fear (oddly) but just..
    of being extremely unwelcome. Almost without control and without actually craning my neck around the door to see it without the mirror’s assistance I stepped back out if the door way and shut the door firmly in my own face.
    I slowly but very purposefully walked back down the stairs thinking ‘I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here.’ After spending an hour downstairs fairly terrified I pulled myself together and decided to venture back because ‘There are no such as Ghosts!’. This time, it was just an empty room.

    3 years later at College I randomly met a man who lived across the road as a boy in the 50s. He told me the family that lived there had locked their ‘misbehaving daughter’ in that room, later on she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. He said he could hear her screaming from across the road.

    Anyway, I remember telling myself never to fold to adult minded pressure of ‘It didn’t happen! You were just a kid!’ It was clear as day and I can remember it right now as I write this. I can remember every detail of what it looked like.

    No such thing as Ghosts.. maybe.. but this wasn’t just a Ghost.

  10. Maverick says:

    Well damn. That was an incredible piece. Thank you. I’m pretty dry when it comes to these things, fun as they are, I need proof.

    When I was 15, we lives in a 250 year old farm house in England. Being the youngest, I had the smallest bedroom, at the top of the stairs on the right. In my teenage frustration I overtly nicknamed it ‘The Ant’s Bum hole’. It stuck.
    One day in the Summer Holidays I walked up the stairs and opened the door. Before I entered the room my body froze. On the wall right next to the door way was a ‘Moet et Chandon’ full length mirror and in that mirror was the reflection of the opposite diagonal corner of the room. I froze because I wasn’t used to seeing a 6′ tall black mass just .. there. I immediately focused in on this dark object and I saw it. I could saw it in detail. All this happened in a fraction of a second. Then a sudden and overwhelming feeling came over me, not if fear (oddly) but just..
    of being extremely unwelcome. Almost without control and without actually craning my neck around the door to see it without the mirror’s assistance I stepped back out if the door way and shut the door firmly in my own face.
    I slowly but very purposefully walked back down the stairs thinking ‘I shouldn’t be here. I shouldn’t be here.’ After spending an hour downstairs fairly terrified I pulled myself together and decided to venture back because ‘There are no such as Ghosts!’. This time, it was just an empty room.

    3 years later at College I randomly met a man who lived across the road as a boy in the 50s. He told me the family that lived there had locked their ‘misbehaving daughter’ in that room, later on she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia.

    Anyway, I remember telling myself never to fold to adult minded pressure of ‘It didn’t happen! You were just a kid!’ It was clear as day and I can remember it right now as I write this.

    No such thing as Ghosts.. maybe.. but this wasn’t just a Ghost.

  11. LiquidLogic says:

    Great article! Fascinating. I would love to learn about Keel and his later knowledge and the things we found out after his death.

    A great book to read is Roswell and the Reich by Joseph P Farrell

    It may not be the most popular version of that event among UFO buffs, but it has more truth in it than any other book.

    Great work and you make this site an even more enjoyable destination!
    🔥

  12. LiquidLogic says:

    Great article! Fascinating. I would love to learn about Keel and his later knowledge and the things we found out after his death.

    A great book to read is Roswell and the Reich by Joseph P Farrell

    It may not be the most popular version of that event among UFO buffs, but it has more truth in it than any other book.

    Great work and you make this site an even more enjoyable destination!

    🔥

  13. Georgiegirl1216 says:

    Great writing. Can’t wait to read more.

  14. Yobuyahouse says:

    Great piece. I’ve seen things I can’t explain and am the weird guy who says anything bad happens to him its his dad, my dad was a trickester and he is dead.

  15. jsnforce says:

    Great start. I’ve felt the same way: Wanting to believe, but never really seeing anything legitimately unexplainable. My high school friend insisted that his home was haunted by a former resident. An old woman who’d died there. His parents even backed him up. I never saw anything though, and at this point I wonder if they weren’t all just getting in a joke at my expense. I wanted to see something, even though I was terrified at the idea of actually seeing something. If even just one supernatural thing can be true, maybe all of it is, and much of it isn’t friendly. Still, finding “magic” in the world again would be like being reborn.

    In all the unexplored places one might discover many new things, but they’ll always just be something expected. Some new plant species in an otherwise typical jungle. Another ugly fish deep in the ocean. They might be interesting, but they’re also just so…reasonable, predictable, mundane. I need something impossible. Something that smacks me in the face and shatters my sense of normalcy.

    The UFO reports are all interesting in the same way as the new plant and ugly fish. It’s news, but not really anything special.

  16. klevermoniker says:

    Very well written! I enjoyed both the content and quality of this article. Looking forward to more from Mr. Cashman.

  17. BFairfax123 says:

    I think your not seeing the social impact of things like Gangster rap and Metal on people that are more susceptible to propaganda . Those same people have in some ways been able to be influenced to do many things that could be said to be actually against their best interest . So no not everyone was influenced by media but many people are . It’s literally the issue that’s put us in our current cultural revolution .PS the idea of UFOs is even scarier than another world war as a former soldier ,simply because you have no idea who or what your up against .

    • BFairfax123 says:

      Oh and by the by I spent the 80’s and 90’s totally immersed in the Metal and Rap scene in DC and the other places I was stationed . Partly because Tipper Gore said we shouldn’t be .

  18. Tigranes says:

    When my son asks if there are aliens I tell him “Yes.” Any other answer would be a baseless lie. Are they on earth? Most likely not. I ask him why any intelligent race would want to hang out with a group of psycho idiots? Conqueror us for resources or food (serve man)? Why would they wait until we have nukes in spades? Maybe help us? Why? If they are really that smart would they want them in their neighborhood? Think of it as cosmic redlining. The truth always seems work better.

  19. ZedS says:

    Good article. I look forward to more from this writer.

  20. Crowefans says:

    Will you be covering UFO only or will you cover Cryptids? Covering Applachia Cryptids would be interesting. Blue book was all over the region. Mothman ect.

  21. dreamscape.artisan says:

    This is a wonderful article! Can’t wait to hear more from Mr. Cashman!!

  22. DeathBySexy says:

    great post to start out the paranormal content! very excited to read more stuff from you!

  23. JnTBull says:

    So excited to read and watch more of these stories!
    Welcome to the cast Shane, great introduction piece!
    Side note: I have loved alien and ghosts stories for years, but I also find I’m not excited for the “alien declassification” coming soon. This is likely because the info the government often provides us is redacted and crap-tastic. But we shall see…
    Confederate gold story should be interesting too!

  24. Echrisinthemiddle says:

    Such a fantastic article! Very well written overall just a great story.

  25. Pikoroju says:

    This was such a great read whether you believe or not! Well worded, through and very openminded while exploring different perspectives. This is what is needed across the board <3

  26. PolishMP731 says:

    My wife and son are big into the paranormal, and we’ve gone on a few ghost hunts, locally. I have watched some of the ghost hunting shows, and I’ve always been dismissive, not buying it. After our first ghost hunt, when reviewing some of the pictures and recordings, we did see/hear some unexplained things. I’m still skeptical, still dismissive of the shows, but I’m willing to entertain the idea.

  27. burtj says:

    I’d suggest looking at David Paulides writings (Missing 411) that deal with missing people under consistently unusual circumstances.

  28. AChambers0427 says:

    Can’t wait to read more of these!

  29. DischordantVibe says:

    Very thoughtful piece. Should provide a nice springboard for conversation.

    Well done.

  30. Smitty says:

    This is amazing. I’m super excited for Shane to keep exploring the unknown and possibly light up some of the darkness surrounding these mysteries.

  31. Plaguen says:

    Great introduction, congrats on the new position. I can’t wait to see what is to come.
    I’m sure you can even get some ideas from the members here. I can tell you I have a few experiences but they might make for a better short story not a full on article.

  32. YayaMac says:

    It’s good you’re somewhat skeptical. It will create an atmosphere of objectivity. That being said, as a realist (some would say pessimist), my logical explanation of things has occasionally been decimated by experiences that cannot be explained. I look forward to more of your writing as well as the podcast.

  33. Darthdav1776 says:

    And so begins our great journey into the mysteries of the night. Looking forward to your work.

  34. 51773 says:

    This is really good reporting, it would be great if Tim pool kept the promises he made in the launch video of the record breaking SCNR / Subverse wefunder and delivered this kind of reporting there as well. Maybe then all those investors wouldn’t feel like they were lied to.