Thursday, August 23, 2007

Nick Redfern on Ufology

In two comments at one of his UFO Mystic posts, Nick Redfern hits the nail square on the head with a spot-on analysis that will make many people within ufology cringe, or complain, or argue... but that won't change the fact that he's absolutely right.

Nick writes:

I predict that ufology will never be anymore than a subject that attracts a few thousand people on a regular basis (and maybe less now).

Many ufologists confidently think that the world is waiting for them to finally deliver the ET goods and go down in history.

They’re not. Most people outside could not care less about the petty arguments in ufology (and don’t know about it anyway) and unless someone really makes a major breakthrough (along the lines of proving that Roswell was ET, for example), we will not be remembered by science, the media or the public.

A good many ufologists are ego-driven and full of self-importance. But at the end of the day, we are just a group of largely unrecognized people who argue with each other, and publish things here and there that get read by a few thousand people. And that’s it.

Same as it ever was. Same as it always will be. I think the biggest problems facing ufology are (a) the image that we have with the scientific community and with the media - namely that we are all viewed as nutcases, eccentrics etc; (b) the fact that we lack any hard evidence in terms of something tangible that can be studied and proved to be anomalous (rather than different people having different opinions on something that remains enigmatic or unresolved); and (c) that we lack large funding to really devote to a deep study of the data.

I’m not sure how we change things, but I believe that things can only change if we can find some form of hard evidence to support the idea that UFOs exist.

But that will only ever happen (I personally think) if UFOs are literal nuts and bolts craft. If they have far stranger origins, it may well be impossible to get tangible, hard evidence. In which case, we may be perceived by the human race of the late 21st century and 22nd century in the same way that we view people who - 100 years ago - searched for fairies, or knocked on tables trying to contact the dead, etc.

In other words, we’ll be viewed as a group of people who looked into some unusual areas in search of the truth about aliens, but never really found any hard evidence that proved ET was visiting.

Ironically, if ET really does land, I personally think that ufology will be swept away in an instant as the public demands answers from the media, who in turn demand answeres [sic] from the government and the mainstream scientific community.

We may get a brief 5 minutes to say “we told you so,” but that will be it.

Unless we stumble on it first somehow.

The odds of anyone in ufology stumbling onto "the truth" (whatever that may be) are somewhere between slim and none, and most likely much closer to "none".

The one thing I'm absolutely certain of (and I talked about this on a Binnall of America appearance last year) is that if aliens ever do land, Nick is spot-on right that ufologists will be lucky to get 5 minutes to say "we told you so".

So, in the meantime, everyone should focus on the intriguing mystery, and have some fun, because that's what mysteries should be - fun.

This means that there should be room for some of the more "out there" theories (FYI - as far as the mainstream is concerned, that includes the ETH), even to the point of speculation. Where would I draw the line? When people are clearly lying, or when the theories and speculation goes so far as to be preposterous, at which point let 'em have it.

But that's me. Everyone needs to draw their own line in the sand, and then move forward from there.

Meanwhile, this doesn't mean that one can't make an effort to get science to take the UFO phenomenon seriously. We just have to remember that "ufology" is not a scientific endeavour - it is, by and large, a hobby, or entertainment. This is like the difference between serious scientists who study Mars on the one hand, and people like Richard Hoagland on the other - one should never confuse Hoagland with serious scientific study of anything, but he is entertaining, and that has its place, in the same way that the Jerry Springer Show is not real therapy for the people involved, but it has its place as entertainment.

Of course, there are people, like Nick and I, who walk the line between the two - serious study on the one hand, and entertainment on the other - but we understand that there is a difference.

Paul Kimball


Anonymous said...

That's about as sober and insightful a statement as we're ever likely to see about the whole enchilada. One thing: on a global level, the number of folks deeply interested in the conversation is north of the few thousand; you'll find that many in South America alone.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Still -- every time I turn the tube on: UFOs are in the news, the subject of a program, or in an ad (there are three green EBEs trying to get me to re-finance my home right now at the top of my screen).

I suspect that there is more interest than Mr. Redfern is allowing for, and that you don't have to scratch too deeply on anyone before an intense interest is revealed.

I further suspect my "good friend and ardent admirer" Mr. Biedny would agree with same, eh? [g].

I've never seen legitimate stats on this, but I've heard for years that UFOs, with regard to interest, are #2 on the INTERNET behind porn, for example.

Sincerely, given the amount of space, time, and surface area extant in just the observable universe, how could someone not be interested in same?
>> AVG Blog --
>>> U F O M a g a z i n e --

Alfred Lehmberg said...

...And something I failed to mention: inerrantly drawing the attention of persons as diverse as ourselves.
>> AVG Blog --
>>> U F O M a g a z i n e --

Paul Kimball said...

suspect that there is more interest than Mr. Redfern is allowing for, and that you don't have to scratch too deeply on anyone before an intense interest is revealed.

I think things are exactly the opposite. I think if you stood on a street corner, and asked passers-by to name the ten things / issues that were most important to them, without any prompting, none of them would cite the UFO phenomenon. Further, almost no-one is willing to pony up any of their own money for UFO research. Finally, as Nick could tell you, very few people actually buy books about the UFO phenomenon; and, as I can tell you, it may seem like a lot of films about UFOs are being made, but that's just not the case, especially when stacked up against all the other subjects that are being covered, even within the paranormal sub-genre, much less by the media as a whole.

As for the Internet, well, when porn is #1, that should tell you all you really need to know about the quality of the interest, as opposed to the quantity.


Alfred Lehmberg said...

I don't know Mr. Kimball, what is it provoking a person such as yourself to produce four films in their regard to an ostensible audience you suspect is there, one, and two, with regard to persons challenged to provide you your list why would you think you're _not_ getting... not what they really think, but what they think rewards them.

If what they really think is important is picking their noses and eating the snots they're hardly going to report it to you.

And three? Yes, the vast majority of people on this planet are hugely interested in sex they are not otherwise getting, eh? And have found same electronically via the internet to a degree.

I have to be just bit amused that you go all church-lady in aspect there a little bit... how sweetly provential... and yes, yes it's a harsh hard business -- though largely what it has been relegated to and not the activity extant.

Inculcated something's dirty? Why, its dirty? No surprise.

True tantrics aren't conflicted like that... indeed they _go_ somewhere... but I digress. It remains, UFOs #2?

Also remaining, a lot more than mere thousands, I suspect.

Really, instructed on the potentialities outlined by persons such as yourself? How could one not?
>> AVG Blog --
>>> U F O M a g a z i n e --

Mac said...

As for the Internet, well, when porn is #1, that should tell you all you really need to know about the quality of the interest, as opposed to the quantity.

That's why we need UFO porn!

Greg Bishop said...

I was sort of surprised to see this up here as I posted on this very subject in mid-February.

Anonymous said...

I think Nick and other parties here are being unduly pessimistic.

I challenge the basis for that incipient meme with the following few comments:

I suspect we are in a "quiet" phase of the phenomenon, and that within the next few years what many perceive as a lack of interest will turn around, especially if there is an uptick in ufo/uap incidents, which for some reasons I think will also occur.

What should be done in this interim period is to evolve ways to organize those parties who are truly scientific and objective in outlook about these varied phenomena, both natural and potentially otherwise, and to spend more time and effort developing better standards for the conduct of investigations, an effective process of peer-review and data sharing via the internet, tools and tech for better evidence-gathering, and an outreach to other countries to try to create a more unified approach to the subject. Some of the work done at Hessdalen is pertinent to these areas and issues, for example.

We really need to get beyond the "hobbyist" and "armchair expert" phase, if possible, and spend time on analysis and interpretation of the _patterns_ of evidence within the record of the best several hundred cases since WWII.

Also, some aspects of the field, such as the "alien abduction" scenario, for example, need to dealt with more empirically and objectively analyzed. In this example, more objective investigation of the percipients needs to be brought to bear.

Perhaps it's time to try to separate the wheat from the chaff in our areas of mutual interest in the ufo/uap arena. I'd also like to see more focus on exposing hoaxes and their perpretators, like in the case of MJ-12, and a more expansive and broader perspective that is less bound to the "nuts and bolts" school, which to me is too simplistic, and considers more deeply European, Asian, and South American cultural perspectives and case analysis. Vallee has made several suggestions along these lines that I think are quite valid.

And much less ego-driven conflict. I think the field needs to take some steps back, do a meta-review, and perhaps develop some proposals to for more coherent research for the purposes of obtaining funding.

I don't think this is just a pipe dream, either. It could be done, if the will is there, and the newer generation of researchers with different viewpoints can be mentored and encouraged to participate. Perhaps a kind of "anomalists league" should be considered as a part of that process, and to begin to develop a real science and body of research that might lead eventually to a true science of "anomalistics", as it were.

I certainly intend to do some of these things. I am not giving up, even though there is a lull in incidents and interest.

There is a real, unknown variety of phenomena, both rare and natural, and possibly otherwise, which, if part of these phenomena represent advanced non-human intelligence or consciousness of some kind, and that we can begin to better define the difference between these two primary areas, will aid those who come after us, and may even kick-start a greater degree of public interest, possible funding for real research, and would also draw interest and involvement from the more mainstream scientific community.

That is my hope and that will be my personal approach and effort. As always, time will tell whether that will end up being worthwhile. This may be a road less travelled, but the importance and potential of these issues is quite crucial.

I don't assume this may be possible within our lifetimes, and there are many more pressing issues (such as global warming) that will and should take precedence, but, in parallel, I believe the question at hand is worth the attempt.