I cancelled my subscription to UFO Updates last week, after several years of receiving the posts on a daily basis.
Because Updates has become more about ego gratification and personal attacks, and less about a reasoned and rational debate / discussion about the UFO phenomenon. Frankly, I had enough.
Then, just days later, this latest brouhaha erupts between the RRR Group and Alfred Lehmberg. Because RRR cc'ed me on their original question re: Mr. Lehmberg, which was sent to Errol Bruce-Knapp, Mr. Bruce-Knapp cc'ed me on his response. It can be found at http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2005/oct/m31-007.shtml.
My response, sent in an e-mail to Messrs. Lehmberg, Bruce-Knapp, and Reynolds et al, and copied to a number of List subscribers and leading ufologists, was as follows:
I have withdrawn from Updates, prior to this current RRR - AL brouhaha. Therefore, there is no need to send me anything that is related to Updates.
What Jay did was wrong. Even in private. If I had been Errol, I would have booted him from Updates too. I have a great deal of difficulty thinking of anything worse than being linked to child porn, short of murder. So - and I don't want there to be any misunderstanding here - it was wrong.
Having said that, let me say this:
I would have booted Wendy Connors from Updates when she smeared Rich Reynolds [see: www.redstarfilms.blogspot.com/2005/06/good-bad-in-ufology.html]. I would have booted Mr. Lehmberg a long time ago, for his smear attacks at Alien View (to which www.virtuallystrange.net, which hosts Updates, has a direct link) and elsewhere on me and so many others. Errol, you took no action against Ms. Connors after her remarks against Reynolds, and you have done and continue to do nothing about Mr. Lehmberg. Again, that is wrong. You are employing a double standard.
Of course, none of this has anything to do with the UFO phenomenon, or a reasoned and rational debate. People can disagree - even vehemently - without it getting personal. But that isn't the way it seems to go with some in ufology these days.
And it was for this reason that I left Updates (without any public fanfare), which was once a significant tool to aid in legitimate research. Not anymore. It is now a symbol of the intellectual
bankruptcy of contemporary ufology. There are good people in the "field" - I am copying this e-mail to some of the ones that I know and have corresponded with over the years, or worked with, in the hopes that maybe they'll finally stand up and say "enough," and withdraw from any list or group that allows this kind of behaviour - no matter what the source.
Frankly, to paraphrase the Joker in Batman, what ufology needs is an enema.
Here's another suggestion - ufologists agree to draw up a uniform code of conduct, with same basic general principles. Lawyers do it. We do it in the film industry. Most groups of people do it. Perhaps it's time for ufology as well. People could then sign it - as Canadian producers do, for example, with the Independent Production Agreement with ACTRA - and would be bound by it. They would agree not to participate in any list or group that did not agree to be bound by the uniform code, nor attend any conference etc., or appear on any radio or television program, that did not similarly agree. And so on.
In other words, get together and set an example.
Until then, the considerable efforts of the various people I have copied this e-mail to will continue to be largely ignored.
And that's the real shame."
This is a subject that I have addressed before at The Other Side of Truth - see "The Good & the Bad in Ufology" for example (www.redstarfilms.blogspot.com/2005/06/good-bad-in-ufology.html) and "Separating 'Business' from 'Personal"
Until this nonsense stops - and that will require the "elder statesmen" of ufology to put aside their differences and agree to some code of conduct (does anyone think Mr. Bruce-Knapp would countenance Mr. Lehmberg's viciousness if Stan Friedman, Kevin Randle, Dick Hall, Jerry Clark, John Rimmer, Brad Sparks et al told him that they were leaving unless he did something about it), nothing will change. If they fail to do this, from hereon out they can consider themselves as far beyond the pale as people like Alfred Lehmberg and Christopher Jay have become because, by their silence, they will be allowing such behaviour to continue.
Here's a suggestion.
Adopt some of the relevant rules that govern lawyers in the Province of Nova Scotia (similar rules exist in all Canadian jurisdictions).
A good place to start would be Chapter 13 of the Nova Scotia Legal Ethics and Professional Conduct Handbook - "Duties to Other Lawyers."
"A lawyer has a duty to treat and deal with other lawyers courteously and in good faith."
Substitute "ufologist" for "lawyer."
That doesn't mean an end to spirited disagreements about theories, or evidence, or even the question of the existence or non-existence of life on other planets / in other dimensions. What it does mean is an end to the petty bickering and the personal attacks on people who might hold views other than your own.
After all, one can criticize the position a person holds without criticizing the person. Educated, rational and mature adults understand that.
So, for everyone willing to conduct themselves as adults, it's time to stand up and be counted. Past sins and transgressions should be considered water under the bridge. Let everyone - Mr. Lehmberg and Mr. Jay included, if they agree - begin with a clean slate, should they accept the basic rule set out above.
Let the focus be on the issues, the cases, and the evidence, from hereon in.
Consider me the first person to step forward.
I hope I won't be the last.