Originally published as ‘The Pelican Writes…’ in Magonia 89, August 2005.
In his previous column The Pelican discussed the falseness of ufology as a supposed subject for scientific investigation. Now he feels it is time to propose what to do about it. What is needed is a suitable slogan for the project and The Pelican has unashamedly borrowed an idea from the recent campaign to tackle poverty in Africa. Thus the rallying cry for all who want to launch a concerted attack on the false science of ufology is: Make Ufology History. This is a bit snappier than Andy Roberts’s slogan: Tough on ufology, tough on the causes of ufology.
How will the destruction of ufology be achieved by The Pelican, together with his horde of acolytes, sycophants, hero-worshippers and hangers-on? The answer is fairly simple. The social and psychological treatment of UFO reports should be pursued, but attempts must be made to discourage psychologists from over-simplifying the problem. A notable example of this is the tendency of those investigating persons claiming to have been abducted by aliens to assume that all of these experiences happen as a result of sleep disturbances, even though a large proportion of such cases are said to involve people who were out walking or even driving cars at the onset of their experiences. Failure to study the literature on the subject resulting in failure to be aware of its complexities only serves to bring their work into eventual disrepute and to encourage those who prefer some of the wilder interpretations of such experiences.
Another important task is to attempt to destroy the credibility of those ufologists who do not deserve it. These are usually those of the American nuts-and-bolts school, the people who believe that UFOs are extraterrestrial but prefer not to say so outright. Most of these people seem perfectly rational in their approach so long as one does not look too closely at their work, and so long as one ignores their regrettable tendency, which The Pelican has previously noted, to give credence to certain notorious hoaxes as being sightings of genuine UFOs. These ufologists seek to maintain their credibility by attacking those who are obviously charlatans or are mentally unhinged, making themselves look eminently respectable by contrast. What they have in common is the belief that behind all the misperceptions, lies, fantasies and nonsense, there lurks the genuine or ‘true’ UFO, just waiting to be discovered and its exotic nature proved beyond doubt, this being the fantasy which keeps them going.
In Britain, a small number of ufologists, most notably Andy Roberts, David Clarke and Jenny Randles have wrecked some of the schemes of ufological mystery-mongers by investigating and explaining certain high-profile UFO cases, thus so far frustrating their efforts to establish a ‘British Roswell’.
This brings The Pelican to the next task, which is to make it clear to the news media and the makers of documentaries that the great majority of the more prominent ufologists are basically not amateur scientists but entertainers. Their aim is not to discover the true facts concerning UFO reports and UFO witnesses, but to court media exposure and popularity by telling people what they obviously want to hear about UFOs – that they are real, and that the reason why this is not generally recognised is that governments have concealed The Truth from the public for nearly 60 years. This brings us to the next task.
This is one falsehood of ufology that needs to be exposed for the nonsense it is. In fact this will be surprisingly difficult as the persistence of such an utterly absurd belief is a mystery in itself. It can only be an indication of the power of the will-to-believe in UFOs. It is a belief strongly held not only by the lumpenproletariat of ufology but also by many of the more intelligent and highly educated. Of course, not all are sincere. The ufological entertainers, mentioned above, have incorporated it as part of their acts. When anyone asks why we don’t have any crashed UFOs or aliens available for public display they are told that they are all locked away at heavily guarded government establishments.
The government secrecy angle is particularly hilarious in American ufology, where the US government is accused of
concealing the evidence, silencing witnesses and confiscating every last piece of crashed UFO before it can be subjected to independent laboratory testing. In pursuing these fantasies American ufologists rarely pause to consider that every other nation would be either willing or able to pursue this policy. The maintenance of the government secrecy fantasy requires that, if at all possible, UFO crashes should take place only on US territory, otherwise it can get a bit complicated. In the case of the notorious Varginha, Brazil, incident in which a UFO is said to have crashed and its occupants captured, someone added extra details to the story saying that the aliens had been flown out of Brazil on a US Air Force plane, thus removing the vital evidence to a place where the blanket of secrecy could be safely maintained.
American ufologist Royce J. Myers has a web site containing a ‘Hall of Shame’ which gives details of ufologists who have incurred his disapproval. Some of these characters would be on almost anyone’s lists. They are the usual frauds, hoaxers and fantasists, but others, such as Phil Klass and Dr Jill Tarter are there simply because they don’t believe in pursuing the holy grail of the ‘True UFO’. The Pelican’s Hall of Shame would be a much longer list and would include all but a very few ufologists, and The Pelican would not be short of cogent reasons for including them. However, he is inhibited by the prospect of attracting the unwelcome and expensive attentions of m’learned friends.
Readers are invited to join The Pelican to put ufological studies into their rightful place as a branch of modern folklore and Make Ufology History.