Friday, April 15, 2011

UFOlogy's Dystopian Present

Pauline Wilson of UFOs - Scientific Research, like a lot of other people, is pondering the future of UFOlogy:
After reading a number of new books about the UFO phenomenon recently, I took time out the other day to reflect on what was contained in these works.

Martin Plowman in his book "The UFO Diaries" (click here for my review post) concludes at one point that UFOlogy "'s as far from proving the existence of UFOs as it ever has been." (p.281.)

John B Alexander in his book "UFOs:Myths, conspiracies and realities" (my review is here) wrote (p.273) "I conclude that the ufo observations are manifestations of issues that are anfractuous and beyond current comprehension."

These statements made me wonder, what is the future of UFOlogy? There is little doubt in my mind that the popular cultural version of the UFO phenomenon will continue, and perhaps even grow. However, what of serious research?

Leslie Kean in her book "UFOs" (click here for my review) calls for the establishment of a small "UFO Office" based in a US Government agency. John Alexander doubts the political possibility of this happening.
I'm just enough of an ass to attempt an answer:  The future of UFOlogy depends on inclusive, open source, multidisciplinary cooperative research with an emphasis on real time field investigation.

UFOlogy's stasis is largely attributable to social stratification, ideological factionalism and egoism converging to form an imbalanced, gridlocked environment weighted heavily toward individual competition at the expense of cooperative research.

"Serious" research is not the exclusive domain of academics and institutions.  Were it otherwise, there would be no need for this discussion.

The credentials fetishism so prevalent among UFO aficionados reflects a very narrow awareness of, and appreciation for, the nature and variety of human intelligence.  It creates a significant impediment to developing egalitarian approaches to evidence gathering and analysis which could very well lead to deeper understanding of the phenomenon.  The result is a hierarchical research model - with scientists, politicians and their sycophants at the top of the hierarchy - that has outlived whatever usefulness it may have once served.  UFOlogy's dead end is a consequence of plain old human intransigence.

Societies have long been conditioned to expect government, academia, private enterprise and mass media will provide answers to the most vexing problems facing humanity; yet, most of us carry those expectations without examining the interdependency of these institutional constructs, and so we fail to comprehend the motivations driving them - and us.  One needn't look any further than the conspicuous official silence about radiation entering the food chain in North America because of the Fukushima disaster - or, for that matter, the slow-rolling nightmare of last year's BP/USG slaughter of the Gulf of Mexico - to understand the primary purpose of our most revered institutions is singular:  preserving an exploitative economic system responsible for the plodding ecocide and incalculable misery of myriad life forms, including humans - all, for the grossly disproportionate benefit of a relative few.

Technological advancements are meaningless without corresponding developments in human consciousness.  It is incumbent upon each and every one of us to deliberately push ourselves beyond the dark comfort zones of complacency, cynicism, malice and resignation.  Until we begin to do so, humanity's positive potential will continue withering on the vine.

Everyone has something to contribute. Horror of horrors!  By my estimation, we are not yet close to appreciating this, and our collective and selective myopia is hardly unique to UFOlogy.  Bitching about "fortune tellers" ruining UFO conferences, dismissively harrumphing about people who subscribe to religious and spiritual paradigms, and devising Litmus tests to determine the credibility of people who are simply looking for - and, occasionally, perhaps, finding - pieces of the puzzle does nothing to advance the field, and only serves to illustrate a more formidable and pervasive obstacle: tribalism.

I never said it would be easy.

If UFOlogy - like the human race itself - is to reverse its dying potential, it will be because we learn the value of working together by marshaling the diverse talents, skills and capabilities of all interested parties, and develop insights derived from individual and group experiences which can be synthesized into coherent hypotheses, tested, shared and progressively built upon. 

There are few reasons to be optimistic about UFOlogy's prospects in the coming years.  But I live for surprises, and, very often, being proven wrong is the best surprise of all.

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