Remember, when I started this list, I said it would be the top 10 developments or events of ufology in 2005, for good or ill. #9 definitely falls into the "ill" category.
I have dealt with Hellyer's entry into the UFO field elsewhere; see Paul Hellyer - The Big Fish Flops and Ladies and Gentlemen, Meet the REAL Paul Hellyer, columns that anyone who thinks this is "good" news should read carefully, and objectively. The man has been an embarassment for ufology, and, frankly, for Canada. He and his exopolitical fellow travellers have set the cause of the serious and scientific study of the UFO phenomenon back, not moved it forward. Last night on Strange Days... Indeed, Hellyer was called "courageous" by two commentators. There is nothing courageous about what he has done, because he had nothing left to lose (What? His reputation and credibility?? Sorry, but that ship sailed years ago). None of the exopolitics crowd have anything to lose. How is that courage?
Answer: it isn't.
Still, this development does symbolize two things, in a broader sense, for ufology.
First, it highlights the frustration felt by many people at the failure of the mainstream to take ufology seriously (a situation which isn't as bad as they sometimes make it out to be, and which as much ufology's fault as it is anyone else's). Most of these folks are good people, like Victor Viggiani, the Strange Days... Indeed co-host who organized the Toronto exopolitics conference this fall where Hellyer had his coming out party (and where Philip Corso's The Day After Roswell got a new lease on life). What these well-meaning people don't realize, however, is that things like exopolitics (and the constant, conspiratorial nattering on about the "Truth Embargo" and "disclosure" that goes with it), and Paul Hellyer's involvement therein, do far more harm than good to the serious study of the UFO phenomenon. It is the 21st century equivalent to the contactee movement of the 1950s. The attention that it draws to ufology is uniformly negative.
Second, it highlights a "methodology" that has elbowed it's way into the study of the UFO phenemenon, which is not really a methodology at all, but rather an evangelical belief system masquerading as a methodology. A read-through of any of the convoluted writings of Michael Salla, or Alfred Webre, reveals exopolitics to be nothing more than an unscientific, a-historical sham, foisted upon people who desperately want to have their belief in the Extra-terrestrial hypothesis confirmed, and will follow any pied-piper, no matter how ridiculous, down the merry-little path of self-delusion. It isn't science; it isn't even pseudo-science.
That would be fine, in the "hey, each to their own" sense, except for the fact that in the process of their whacked-out, New Age, ETH evangelism, the expolitics crowd taints all of ufology. It is, after all, easy to dismiss someone like Dick Hall, Kevin Randle or Brad Sparks these days - just point to Salla, Hellyer, Webre, and Steven Bassett (a self-important quartet if ever there was one), and say, "well, they're all part of the same bunch." Indeed, it forces good guys like Randle, Sparks, and Hall, to waste their time countering the garbage put out by the exopolitics cadre, in the hopes of setting the record straight. Alas, as the exopolitics gurus seem to be making a full-time career of it, it's almost impossible to keep up; they drown out the voices of reason simply by the amount of material that they produce, almost as if they were being paid by the word, like a hack pulp novelist churning out bad sci-fi paperbacks .
Alas, quantity seems to be trumping quality these days, as the guys who are getting the publicity are the Hellyer's of the world - ridiculed on American television, in the Canadian press, and so forth.
This is a good thing?
Lately, Webre et al, with Hellyer as front man, have been calling for public hearings / disclosure here in Canada (does this remind anyone of similar calls for disclosure made a few years ago by that Steven Greer south of the border??). Here is a confident prediction for 2006 - nothing will come of it, except for more ridicule heaped on ufology in general, and more television and radio appearances for the publicity hounds that steer the exopolitical ship - a "ship" which, more and more, seems to be dragging ufology in it's wake.
It's time for ufology to change course... before that "ship" sinks, and drags ufology down under, once and for all, into the depths of complete and utter irrelevance.