Tomorrow, the X-Conference kicks off in Washington. All of us interested in the UFO phenomenon should use this moment to ask: "whither ufology?"
Is it going to head down the Exo-politics road, following Michael Salla, Steven Greer, Steven Bassett, and all of their whistleblowers?
Is it going to head further down the Conspiracy of Silence / Cosmic Watergate path, which has always been an undercurrent to the study of the phenomenon, but which has, since Roswell, taken center stage?
Or is it going to head in a "new" direction - back to the actual study of the phenomenon, as pursued many years ago by the likes of Hynek and McDonald?
To judge by the speakers line-up at the X-Con, and most of the other UFO conferences out there, it seems that the future is going to be a combination of Exo-politics and conspiracy theory (the two do tend to go hand in hand).
But (insert moment when Rich Reynolds and others call me naive)...
Rather than being the New Paradigm, these are the dying gasps of the Cult of Conspiracy (and these aspects are cult-like, in the same way that the SETI folks are cult-like). Attendance at conferences is down, no matter how hard the conference organisers deny it. The days of the college lecture circuit for UFO speakers are largely over. The media, by and large, ignores the UFO phenomenon.
Not because of some grand government conspiracy. Nope - it's because most people are sick of Exopolitics and conspiracy theories. They've simply tuned out. As one broadcaster told me about Roswell - "oh God, not another Roswell film - it's been done to death."
Ufology made a tragic mistake in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Instead of continuing to look at the evidence of sightings, and trying to develop a coherent methodology for studying that evidence, it veered off (largely thanks to Roswell) into the conspiracy field. And that seemed to work, to an extent - for a while. But then people got tired of it.
Because it is a dead-end.
Here's the "other side of the truth" about Exo-politics and the government "cover-up."
Yes - the government has been less than forthcoming about the UFO phenomenon.
No - there's nothing we can do about it, no matter how many FOIA requests are filed.
The irony of the Exopolitics / Government "cover-up" group's position is that if the government is all pervasive, as Salla et al suggest, then the truth, at least as the government knows it, will remain buried.
What?? After 60 years they're suddenly going to succeed where everyone else failed??
If, on the other hand, there is no "cover-up," as I suspect is the case (this is different than saying that the government has been fully forthcoming about what it does and, more importantly, doesn't know), and the government has always been as confused about the UFO phenomenon as the rest of us, then the past twenty years have, to a great extent, been wasted.
Either way, there is no gold to be found in "them thar conspiracy hills." It is a road that has led to MJ-12, Alternative 3, Bill Cooper, Area 51, Bob Lazar, and Richard Dolan's "Death of the Republic." It is the fringe of the fringe, and it is, increasingly, irrelevant to people who want the "truth" about the UFO phenomenon.
The "gold" is, as it has always been, in the skies above us. This was the real message of the ABC Special Seeing is Believing.
Fortunately, more and more people are starting to realise that.
As a British pal of mine might say, "it's about bloody time."