My pal Nick Redfern (author / researcher / journalist / raconteur - below) e-mailed me today with a response to my two latest columns, "Winning the Ufological PR Battle" (www.redstarfilms.blogspot.com/2005/07/winning-ufological-pr-battle.html) and "Ufology - Going... Going... Gone?" (www.redstarfilms.blogspot.com/2005/07/ufology-going-going-gone.html).
As he gave me permission to publish his remarks, here they are.
"Hey Paul -
I just read the latest at your Blog re the lack of UFO books local to you, etc., and the implications for Ufology. I agree.
While those of us in Ufology that endlessly debate on UFO Updates, on the lecture circuit, in magazines, and elsewhere think that we are doing something important (and hopefully - to the people who share our interests, at least - for the most part we are!), as you have noted, the unfortunate reality is that 99.99999, etc., etc., of the population does not care in the slightest about UFOs.
And aside from watching the occasional TV show, or reading the occasional book on the subject, they won't care until the aliens land. If they land. If they exist. If we'll even still be around when they do finally say "Hi!" or say "XXZZGLP!" or whatever they say by way of a greeting.
They may, of course, also say the equivalent of "Eat Ray-Gun, Pal." And then it will matter even less what Ufologists think because we will all be worm fodder.
Ufology is not winning any PR battle.
In fact, ufology is a dwindling arena, with magazine sales dropping, membership of groups (including some very high-profile groups) dropping, and conferences suffering from dwindling audiences. The Golden Years of ufology have gone. People should just deal with it.
Today's world is one built upon reality TV; the erosion of civil liberties; the careful introduction of a Surveillance State; and the War on Terror.
One day, probably not too far into this century, I predict that ufology will be a thing of the past - completely - viewed by the generation after the next generation as some minor oddity of the 20th Century that came and went.
Will there be people still looking into the mysteries of this world? Of course, but I predict that in a few decades research into Ufology will be viewed in the same way that research into spoon-bending, Goblins and Pixies, and the Victorian era of spiritualism is viewed today.
But is that a bad thing? Maybe not. If we focus our energies on research instead of worrying about Ufological PR, we're far more likely to get the answers that we are looking for.
And I think that it's actually answers that most of us are looking for, not whether or not we have good PR or the public or the media cares.
So that's where we should focus: research. It doesn't matter what the public thinks of the subject - or doesn't think of the subject.
Well, actually, I suppose it does matter to some Ufologists, but they are the ones whose motives are not to resolve things, but to perpetuate the mystery to carefully continue their position on the lecture circuit, etc.
That's the point: the only people - as far as I can see - who are worried about Ufology losing its PR battle, are the ones who use the subject precisely for PR purposes. If people are into Ufology as I am, and as you are, to do research, then it shouldn't - and doesn't matter - what the rest of the world thinks.
They can go on losing sleep over who is going to get kicked off Survivor next week.
Some people may not agree with the data that appears in Body Snatchers in the Desert. But no-one can accuse me of trying to lengthen the controversy to ensure it goes on forever. I'm trying to do the exact opposite and lay it to rest, precisely so we can move on to other areas of the subject.
But that's life. In the words of the God-like Ramones: "Here today, gone tomorrow..." Or in the words of the equally God-like Sex Pistols: "No Future, No Future, No Future, for you..." Very apt, I predict for the subject!
Feel free to post this to your Blog if you wish.
Much of what Nick says certainly resonates with me, and hopefully will resonate with ufology in general.
I still think that "winning the PR battle" is important because a real search for the truth requires serious scientific (and historical and journalistic) effort, and that will only come about if the public demands it.
That's why broadcasters spend lots and lots of money on reality shows - because people want to watch them.
That's why scientists seem to be writing a lot of popular books about time travel and parallel universes these days - because people seem to find them fascinating (I do).
No public demand = no resources for serious UFO investigation.
Exopolitics, "ETH as fact" statements, and personal attacks on anyone who questions ETH orthodoxy = No public demand.
Because they'll think ufology is too far "out there."
Until this changes, there can be no doubt that ufologists - the good, serious ones, like Dick Hall, Jan Aldrich, Brad Sparks, Stan Friedman and Jerry Clark - will be left to wonder, in the words of the equally God-like Smiths (hey, if Nick can quote rock musicians, so can I - especially as I used to be one):
"How soon is now?"