Wednesday, June 28, 2006

Ufology - Onward and Upward

A. J. Gulyas is an interesting new-ish voice on the UFO scene. Here's an excerpt from his latest (the entire post can be found here):

I’m working up to something here–much of my reading and listening over the past six months or so has focused on the idea of “others” being here on Earth (extradimensional, cryptoterrestrial, whatever you want to call it). This isn’t a new idea in UFOlogy, but it’s one that hasn’t been talked about loudly or by the usual talking head subjects. I’m particularly fascinated by the idea that this could finally solve the mystery of the Contactees, which is the area where I’ve done most of my work.
Oddly enough, my thinking on this was sparked by some passages about Richard Shaver in, of all things, They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers by the late, great, Gray Barker.

So anyway, I’m trying to put together some sort of narrative scenario, a story, which might tie these threads to the Contactees, as an intellectual exercise not a serious theory. There are deeper guys than I doing that right now (Mac Tonnies, for one). I find it interesting that even though there are a number of people who have thought and are thinking along these lines, the UFOlogical mainstream is still focused on the ETH with an almost frightening single-mindedness.
Frankly, the question of whether ufology should be looking for more cases, or trying to grapple more with the various theories, is an interesting one.

Of course new cases should be investigated (although there are still plenty of old cases, particularly in the Blue Book files, that have yet to be properly investigated). But there seems to be an assumption that anyone can adequately investigate cases, interview witnesses, compile data, and examine that data. In my view, that's just false. You need intelligent, properly trained and supervised people, working within a well-defined methodology (i.e. professionals), in order to accomplish anything meaningful. That just doesn't exist these days, in large part because there's no money for it.

How about the suggestion that a civilian group could somehow "track" UFOs using modern technology? Unless the effort has significant institutional funding, you can place it in the same category as the amateur investigation of cases noted above. After all, if the Air Force and civilian aviation can't get a bead on UFOs (and they can't), I doubt Joe and Jane are going to be able to do it. No matter how sophisticated their equipment is, it isn't as good as the stuff that the military is using, and has been using. The main benefit to this approach, as I see it, would not be in the actual results, but in the "gee whiz" factor, i.e. the use of technology, which might encourage younger people to take an interest in the subject. That might bear some long term fruit, but of a different sort than the proponents of this idea might intend. Still, there's no harm in trying.

It's not like there's nothing happening, after all. There's no shortage of footage and photos popping up that can be analyzed, given proper resources and knowledge. There are still plenty of witnesses who can be interviewed, and lots of old cases that can be investigated, or re-investigated. In short, there's still lots to do. But I think one has to realistic about the prospects of any success under the status quo, or even under some of the proposed alternatives. Above all else, any future investigation needs to be an organized, properly funded effort, if it is to accomplish anything meaningful.

In the meantime, there's already an impressive body of data extant that indicates UFOs are a real phenomenon. Perhaps the real work to be done is in further refining, and / or deconstructing, the various theories as to what UFOs (or UAP, as NARCAP would say) might be. That's something that would, I think, be more likely to engage the kind of bright young minds that ufology needs if it is ever to progress. Extra-dimensionals? Extra-terrestrials? Time-travelers? Unknown atmospheric phenomena? There's a reasonably good (at least in the theoretical sense) case to be made for all four. Cryptoterrestrials? Perhaps. We'll have to wait and see where Mac Tonnies (and others, probably), go with it, and how he uses the evidence to support his theory.

In this regard, let Stan Friedman retire the "Cosmic Watergate" lecture, and dust off the "flying saucers and physics" lecture. Here's how it starts (I've heard him give it): "UFOs are real. Some are alien spacecraft. I'm going to show you how that is possible." Then let the debate begin, as it did once at Acadia University, twenty years ago, when Stan mentioned flying saucers and physics as part of a more general lecture. In the Q & A session afterwards, a group of young science students challenged him afterwards on the accuracy of... well, his science. Stan, of course, responded, and there was, as I recall, an interesting, if all too brief, dialogue. Most of the budding young scientists seemed to leave unconvinced, but they also seemed genuinely interested, and intrigued, not by the talk of grand government cover-ups, but by the possibilities inherent in the UFO phenomenon - just as guys like A. J. Gulyas are today.

So, in conclusion - continued investigation? Absolutely, although it needs to be done in a more organized fashion, and more objectively, i.e. without any pre-conceived notions, if it is to offer anything of real use to the existing body of knowledge. However, the truly interesting stuff, more and more, is not about just the investigation of the phenomenon, but rather the questions of "what", and "how". .. and perhaps even "why".

Paul Kimball

5 comments:

AJG said...

Paul,

Thanks for the mention!

I think that I (and ideally everyone in this field) is motivated by two things: what interests us, and what we feel qualified enough to discuss without looking like a dope. I like contactees and my degrees are in history, plus a little dabbling in cultural studies and philosophy--so that's what I talk about. If I were to discuss plasma, faster-than-light propulsion, the Fermi Paradox and the Drake Equation I'd go cross-eyed.

I strongly agree that we need a well-funded, expert group to examine these things from the perspective of the physical and biological sciences. Where that funding will come from is anyone's guess...

Kyle said...

aj -

Hopefully it (funding) will come from a benefactor yet unsung...like Paul Allen with civilian space-faring and SETI, or Jeff Bezos with his spcae program, or another Robert Bigelow, or Joe Firmage...just waiting for the field to "mature"...perhaps an "If we build it, he will come", sort of thing. LOL

And the idea of civilian monitoring and data-gathering is absolutely a LONG-TERM, slow growth proposition. And step one is to divorce from the stigma of the term "UFO". This works well with a new paradigm(s) as to the "what and why" as well.

Getting young people interested is absolutely essential regardless, in my view. From the physics, to the math, to the biology, to the theorizing. To the design of instruments to test these theories and collect the data.

But I am certainly intrigued by the prospect of an enlarged paradigm of just what constitutes the phenomena.

The field is in dire need of some new thinking and new directions.

Kyle
UFOReflections.blogspot.com

Paul Kimball said...

Kyle:

Long-term thinking? Now there's a... thought! :-)

Exactly so.

You're also right about needing money - but it can't come from just one source (witness what happened with Bigelow). It needs to come from varied places in order to provide true independence.

Paul

Kyle said...

Paul -

A single source...no. But a big-name benefactor of the caliber of Paul Allen or Jeff Bezos could definitely get the "ball" rolling...a shot of legitimacy sorely lacking at present.

I love Dan Aykroyd and all, but he just ain't gonna..."git 'er done!"...

Ok...I apologize for that last.

Kyle
UFOReflections.blogspot.com

Paul Kimball said...

Kyle:

"A single source...no. But a big-name benefactor of the caliber of Paul Allen or Jeff Bezos could definitely get the "ball" rolling...a shot of legitimacy sorely lacking at present."

Agreed.

Paul