Tuesday, June 08, 2010

The Demise of Ufology

(Blogger's note: Ufologist Chris Rutkowski posted this at http://www.uforum.blogspot.com/ and I thought it an eloquent description of our UFO world today. I'm afraid he's all too right about this and that doesn't bode well for Disclosure or our acceptance into the mainstream world. I'm afraid that I share his view.)

I caused a bit of a stir several months ago when I called UFO case investigation a lost art. I'll go further this time: ufology looks like it's near death.

The bad news is: I'm an optimist.

I was having a conversation with Brian Savage recently, and he made the observation that the UFO phenomenon has been derailed. He was formerly with the Alberta UFO Study Group, an earlier incarnation that produced in-depth investigation reports and scoured government documents for historical Alberta cases. Brian's comment was in reference to the many popularized UFO-related developments over the past 20 years which have destroyed the legitimacy of serious UFO research.

Examples of these derailments include the alien autopsy film, Lazar's Element 115, the strawberry ice cream nonsense, Greer's telepathic vectoring of UFOs, crop circles, exopolitics, Nibiru, and the resurgence of the contactee phenomenon. These and others have served to draw public and popular attention away from serious UFO case investigations and into the realm of wild arm-waving speculation and wide-eyed fanaticism.

It's too bad; it really looked like there was something developing there, for a while.

UFO cases themselves have radically shifted characteristics. Things seemed so simple when Hynek formulated his Close Encounter classifications: CE1 was a sighting at close range; CE2 was a trace case; and CE3 involved seeing occupants. There was no CE4 or CE5, as adopted by some ufologists now, reflecting abductions and contactee incidents. Only three categories, nicely defined and delineated.

The CE2s went extinct first. Ted Philips had several thousand physical trace cases documented by the time crop circles arrived on the scene. Then - poof! No more CE2s. People stopped seeing UFOs landing and taking off; aliens stopped landing their scout craft and leaving behind scorched patches and tripod marks in fields. Instead, mysterious circles (and later, patterns) appeared, almost always without accompanying UFO sightings, and it was assumed that the aliens were using some kind of "rotating vortex" to power their ships.

Then the CE3s went AWOL. No more sightings of landed UFOs where entities were seen exiting and re-entering their crafts. Instead, abductions ballooned in number, eventually overtaking classic CE3s. Really, have you heard of a decent CE3 case recently? No bedroom visitations, no alien faces in windows, no telepathic instructions about saving the human race. Just a simple CE3 observation. No? No.

Even CE1s are mostly gone now, too. Instead, we have YouTube videos of "mysterious orbs" and "Galactic Lightships" seeming to dance all over the pace because the witness couldn't hold the video camera steady. On the other hand, we have goofballs with too much time on their hands using video toasters to create obvious hoaxed UFO videos that experienced UFO investigators can tell are not worth bothering with but go viral anyway, getting retweeted and reblogged everywhere by UFO fans.

But a well-witnessed, well-investigated CE1 case? Rarer than a straight-talking politician or oil executive. Sure, if you look at popular UFO websites that list UFO reports, there are dozens and dozens from all over the world, posted by witnesses. But follow-up to get additional details to make an evaluation, such as direction of movement, where the UFO was in the sky compared with other things, and even an accurate time? Forget it. Onsite investigation? Impossible. Referral to one of the few reliable UFO investigators who lives nearby the witness, to allow proper investigation? Can't, sorry; privacy of witnesses is guaranteed.

So what we have in ufology today is the maintaining of a high number of UFO sighting reports, but a decrease on information content of the cases. Public attention surges when UFO stories in the news go viral, but critical thinking goes out the window.

Part of this is because no one person is viewed as someone who can speak for ufology today. Following the death of Allen Hynek, no one was easily identifiable as someone to take his mantle. (Not even Philip Mantle.) Not Stan Friedman, not Jerome Clark, Mark Rodeghier, not Jenny Randles, not Kevin Randle, not Bill Birnes, not any other of the dozen or so who might (or might not) fit the bill.

(Similarly, who speaks for debunkery? After Phil Klass passed away, is it now Phil Plait? James Oberg? James Randi? Bill Nye? Even Larry King can't decide who is an authority and whom to have on as guests to debate UFOs.)

Poor MUFON and CUFOS, the few remaining doggedly determined UFO groups. They're hanging on, with declining revenue, losing staff and trying desperately to carry on with serious UFO study, when UFO fans have not the slightest interest in that.

Ufology is greatly fractured. With thousands of UFO-related web pages, everyone (and anyone) can be an expert. Anyone can tell you the "REAL Truth" about the aliens' presence on Earth and their nefarious dealings with the government and how Obama is an alien and why I've been chosen as their emissary and why alien hybrids have pale skin and why aliens will arrive in 2012 and where the underwater alien bases are in the Gulf of Mexico and why the hundreds of orbs in my photograph are mental images of aliens and not dust particles and why some UFO craft disguise themselves as airplanes and why chemtrails are not just contrails and why this blog is passing through into another dimension....


jtcapa said...

:-) I'm sensing a bit of frustration with the state of "investigations" from you. Naturally. It is a handy outgrowth of the internet in spreading opinions which take of the flavor and hue of data or facts.

I had a similar discussion with a "friend" in the BlackOps branch of the intel biz, and he mockingly admitted that mis-direction and mis-information is much easier to disseminate in today's UFO community, because of the internet.

He always told me that there never will be physical "proof", and without that you only have stories.

Never-the-less, you've done a stellar job of researching, compiling and investigating these incidents.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

I enjoyed your appearance on The Paracast.

Looking forward to hearing your opinion of Mr. Bragalia's latest article.



Terry the Censor said...

@jtcapa Did you even read this post? There is no need for you to invent a friend in black ops -- 90% of the UFO community is self-disinforming. They need no outside help being confused about facts and reality.

cda said...

Ufology is not dead. It lives on but in a different form. It lives on in internet discussion groups and forums. It has died in the form of books and films.It has also largely died in the form of UFO clubs, organisations and conferences.

But ufology lives. It will probably never become an 'accepted' science, but it will survive in some form.

Question: why is it that when I type the word 'ufology' using Microsoft Works/Word it gets converted into 'urology'?

starman said...

Too pessimistic, KDR. There was always a lot of bs in this field. Greer, element 115 and strawberry ice cream were no worse than George Adamski. Bs has been around from the start--Crisman and Dahl. But plenty of good reports continue to come in, like the TX humanoid case last December or the March incident involving two teens in a car. We just gotta hang in there. :)

jtcapa said...

I did read his post Terry, your fixation on where my comment came from is not relevant to the point of the internet filling in for what Kevin laments is the lack of real investigation.

It is one of the things I can appreciate about Mr. Randle, he is a very precise investigator. That is, or has become, very rare in the world of Journalism, let alone Ufology.

Selena said...

I heard you on Coast to Coast AM and one of the earlies cases of UFO crashes took place in 850 AD or something like that (if I heard you correctly). You had said, unless I'm mistaken, that monks in France had either tried to help or had stoned some survivors of a crash to death. There was a story written by Michael Flynn called "Eifelheim." The premise is that otherworldly travellers crash in a town in Germany and monks help them. It fast forwards to the modern era where archaeologists try to find out what happened as this town apparenty dissapeared after that event. You should check it out: http://www.amazon.com/Eifelheim-Michael-Flynn/dp/0765319101/ref=tmm_pap_title_0

Selena said...

I heard you on Coast to Coast AM and you had mentioned one of the earliest UFO crash cases took place in France in the 800's AD. Monks either helped or stoned crash survivors to death. There is a great story called "Eifelheim" by Michael Finn. This very same story takes place, only in Germany. Monks help aliens to survive in the plague years after they crash. Modern investigators are trying to find out why the village totally dissapeared after this event. I think you should read this and would love to hear what you think. Here's a link to Amazon's site:


Selena said...

My apologies for the double post re: "Eifelheim" by Michael Flynn. I thought one post didn't get through and wound up double posting it. *apologies*

Steve Sawyer said...

The comment below was made on Rutkowski's uforum blog in response to his article, and so is cross-posted here, if that's OK w/you KR. / sgs

I suppose it could be argued that ufology has always been "in decline," depending on who's making that determination and why, but perhaps instead of getting upset at the circus sideshows of recent decades as noted in your piece and in comments here, one should concentrate as best they can, if they want to seriously explore the topic of ufos, by both doing historical research and review of the best cases and more importantly conducting your own field research and investigation of cases locally. Vallee's "Invisible College" model is a good place to start, in terms of process.

Just like in research and interest in psychic phenomena and ghosts or just about any other paranormal subject, there always has been and will be the "woo" factor, sensational proclamations without substantiation, and exploitation and manipulation of these subjects by those either too dumb or gullible to want to conduct objective, careful, agnostic investigation or who simply want to be entertained and bolster their subjective belief systems.

That's just the way things are. Get over it. Forget the crap aspects and concentrate on what is of most interest to you, and learn how to do effective, empirical field research. Educate yourself. You don't have to be a member of any established group or follow their agendas. I agree CUFOS is moribund and that MUFON does not have coherent objectives or leadership, and keeps much of their field investigator's findings too close to the vest. These same kinds of problems affected NICAP and APRO also, so this is nothing new. Part of the problem today has been the relative dearth of sightings being seriously investigated combined with the lack of any domestic waves or flaps of real merit since about 1973.

Into this vacuum much hyperbole and fantasy has intruded, such as with Strieber and Hopkins surrounding the various alleged "alien abduction" scenarios which lack virtually any real, objective, non-anecdotal evidence. I don't think the internet can or should really be blamed--it's just another tool, like a knife, which can be used for both good or bad purposes.

I'd like to see a more comprehensive computer analysis of a variety of ufo reports for object size, colors, movement, appearance, witness effects, etc. in order to try to determine patterns within the body of reports which go largely unexamined from a cross-reference perspective.

Steve Sawyer said...

To paraphrase Mark Twain, reports of the death of ufology are greatly exaggerated.

But I do understand completely Rutkowski's attitude/opinion. Serious interest in ufology waxes and wanes. Serious, scientific ufology is in some decline, but there are various reasons for that, which I won't go into here.

What I found of most interest in Rutkowski's post were his comments on the decline and sequential reduction in CE I, II, and III cases over the past few decades.

Do you have any thoughts or opinions on why that might be, KR, et al?

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Doc Conjure said...

@ terry the censor:

You are spot on.

@ Kevin

Also a big problem...."celebrities" in the community who destroy it from within. I could list a few dozen names of individuals who have achieved undeserved fame, make all the rounds, appear on all the shows & podcasts, and don't contribute anything to our understanding of the subject at best, or at worse, destroy it with their anti-science approach. These people rant against "ETH"-ers in favor of complex and absurd fantastical nonsense believing it to be the superior approach. These people should seriously pack up camp and move on to something else. They don't help. Replacing critical thinking with magical thinking and science fantasy doesn't cut it.

SpiritChanneller said...

This is a great blog and as I read it I believe we should not only be interested in finding proof of so called aliens but in trying to prove Life after death and the ability of the spirits of our dead friends and relatives to come back with all their intelligence and the ability to still be able to communicate with us here on earth and continue to give us good ideas and continue with the research they were doing when death claimed their physical bodies.

When a person dies their spirit leaves their physical body and takes with it all its intelligence and from the world beyond they are able to find channells and continue their work and their good ideas just as they did when they were here on earth, but the problem is few humans believe in this but I from my own experiences know this to be absolutely true but because of peoples beliefs its almost impossible for a channel to convince people here on earth this is true.

What we need to focus on and try to prove is life beyond earth then perhaps we can prove what people are referring to as aliens.

Sarge said...

There are those who seek a physical UFO explaination, and those who seek a spiritual explaination.
Those who believe in real solid objects that travel through the sky, and those who think that these are a spiritual experience, a vision, or even an apparition.
Those who seek a spiritual answer often talk of "Soul Abductions", or "Spirit Abductions. While many who seek a solid object have trouble accepting most of the abduction stories as credible.
The CE I, II, and III cases have been replaced with a thousand Youtube videos of distant lights, moving insects, and computer graphics. We are drowning in a sea of drivel.
We can but hope, that in time the interest will wane and some kind of order may return.