A SURVEY AMONG U.A.P. INVESTIGATORS AND SCHOLARS - PART XIII


It is a wonderful experience to get the opinion of a very selective group of people at an international level and get them together giving answers to just 8 questions referred to the Unusual Aerial Phenomena.

We give a big thanks to all those colleagues who are answering our survey and we are very pleased to present to you their ideas. We hope that what they say would be useful to you in your own work with the UAP and that their criteria would help to shape your own one.

We continue today the publication of the answers of these colleagues, and we are doing so in the order they were received.


Greg Eghigian is Professor of History at Penn State University (USA). He is a historian of science 

and medicine who has written extensively about the history of the human sciences, focusing on 

such subjects as disability, mental health, marginalization, and criminality. He is presently writing 

a book about the global history of UFOs and alien contact since 1946.

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1) Do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why?
 
Yes, I use it because historically it has been the most common usage. Most of the general public know of the phenomenon in these terms rather than as UAP.


2) Have your idea about UFOs changed along the time?
 

Oh, most certainly. I can certainly see a marked difference, of course, in how I viewed it as a young child – when I accepted claims uncritically – to later on in my youth – when I found skeptics more convincing. Now, I view the phenomenon through the eyes of historical ethnography. It's given me a new perspective, but opens up many new questions about how ufology – and the phenomena associated with it – have worked in tandem with one another.

3) Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?

 
Yes, to be sure. The two are parts of the same coin.
 

4) If there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be?
 

I myself seek explanations from the natural and behavioral sciences. It's not possible to always come up with a satisfying explanation in every individual case. But more often than not, these provide the best guides.
 

5) How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject?
 
My interest in UFOs is different than most ufologists. I am interested in the UFO phenomenon as a sociological and historical phenomenon. That is to say, I am interested in studying not simply UFO reports and sightings, but also in how those concerned with studying and thinking about UFOs have gone about their work over time. In these terms, I consider the UFO enterprise to be a social attempt at deriving meaning from the cultural aspirations and challenges surrounding the space age.


6) Is it possible to do something effective to bring the truth to the public and to change the mind of those who still proclaim or believe that extraterrestrial beings are living with us on Earth?
 

When it comes to persuasion, one can only do so much (politics, for instance, offers a good example of the limits of persuasion). In the end, I think it important to always listen respectfully to others with whom one disagrees and to address their concerns and notions in a fashion that does not try to diminish them as persons. Too often, discussions about such matters devolve into talking past one another and name-calling. 

7) Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid activities?

 
I remain skeptical about SETI. The effort strikes me as more than a little overly ambitious. But it remains a project about which I need to learn more before arriving at any definitive stance.


8) What is your idea about multiple universes?

 
I've not a read enough about the subject to come to any informed opinion.  So I'm loathe to express a judgment on the subject.

Next publication: answers from the historian Jan Aldrich

A SURVEY AMONG U.A.P. INVESTIGATORS AND SCHOLARS - PART XII


It is a wonderful experience to get the opinion of a very selective group of people at an international level and get them together giving answers to just 8 questions referred to the Unusual Aerial Phenomena.

We give a big thanks to all those colleagues who are answering our survey and we are very pleased to present to you their ideas. We hope that what they say would be useful to you in your own work with the UAP and that their criteria would help to shape your own one.

We continue today the publication of the answers of these colleagues, and we are doing so in the order they were received.
Photography not 
available. 

Martin Kottmeyer


I am retired.  Most people know me for my articles for Magonia, if they know me at all.  Entries I did for Ron Story’s Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters (2001) collect together the more significant advances I made for the psychosocial approach.  Maybe my book An Alien Who’s Who (2008) rates a mention, maybe not.  Since 2013, I’ve scribbled a stream of commentary and research on ufo topics and many ufo cases -frequently historical (pre-airship era) - on my Facebook page titled ‘Mrherr Zaar.’  

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1)     Do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why?
 
UFO is the term of preference in the general culture, being used around ten times more than UAP.



 
UAP may be significantly less presumptive thanUFO,


but it is still awkward to use.





2)     Have your idea about UFOs changed along the time?  
I have always had doubts about equating ufos with the activities of extraterrestrials, but while I would have once said I was agnostic about aliens visiting the earth, I am now solidly atheistic about it.  The reports themselves are profoundly diverse and diverge in a manner I term fractal for lack of any clearer metaphor.  This says to me the growth of the phenomenon thematically and in the sprawl of competing details is guided over-archingly by creative forces in the human mind rather like that seen in fiction and myth.  Individual cases often elude understanding, but no independent criteria exist which justifies selecting which individual reports are infallibly real and significantly different from the mass of irrelevancies, illusions and mistakes that are IFOs or potential IFOs or worse.  Analysis yields no practical basis to prove insight into the nature of any assumed extraterrestrial presence – recall e.g. the failure of the Mars theory of flaps and other ET-themed flap theories, the absence of progress in proving a widespread physical basis of engine stop cases, the failure of video traps to document repetitive alien abductions, etc.  There is no signal in the noise – it is all noise.

3)     Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?
 

You can if you want to and you should if you want to be taken seriously by people of science, but by now I think investigators are just spinning their wheels.  They’ve been investigating for 70 years and nothing extraordinary has been usefully demonstrated.  Mysteries are fun, but if you can’t get beyond the wonder into some form of consensual and pragmatic understanding, what really are you hoping to find in further investigation? Plenty of data and reports have been piled up already, what more do you really need to reach a weighty answer?

4)     If there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be?
 

Lack of sufficient information, lack of correct information, lack of explaining, lack of explaining correctly, solutions that are too silly to be believed.  An annoying example of the last is how some disbelieve that Arnold could be fooled by pelicans and even find it a laughable idea.  Yet silly as it is, it fits most of the given facts of observation and there is nothing impossible in someone seeing distant pelicans beyond the limits of resolution and making mistakes that would result in a puzzling report.  How many cases are celebrated as unsolved only because certain individuals cannot bring themselves to believe something they personally reject as unbelievable?  One would need a time machine to provide the firsthand evidence that would overcome the disbelief of people possessing certain presuppositions.
I feel that only a time machine could convince me that extraterrestrials are the basis of any ufo case at this point.  It has become literally unbelievable to me personally for a suite of reasons beginning with the problem of noncontact; the dream-like bizarreness of the collection of unprovens taken en masse; incongruities in form, behavior, and premise; inadequate and improvisational physical evidences; a social environment of overbelief; evolution of descriptions of craft and ufonauts over time, grey speciation, culture-tracking of technological instruments like scanners; breeding program themes - incubatoria – crowding into tagging and medical investigation themes; New Age contaminations; and more.


5)     How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject?

 
No aliens are visiting earth. Furtive aliens are not what people are looking at when they report ufo experiences.  Allan Hendry’s The UFO Handbook (1979) gives the general framework to solving and understanding most individual ufo reports.  As with unsolved crimes, some fraction of ufo reports will always go unsolved because testimony is garbled, clues are missed, errors happen.
Contactee and abductee experiences are minefields of false information.  Venus was the most common point of origin of the aliens met by contactees and everything they said about Venus was false.  Abductees have given information that is contradictory.  Predictions, usually of catastrophe, are consistently erroneous.  We don’t need a detailed psychosocial explanation to understand it is a mistake to believe what they say, but it would be nice to have something a little better than what has been put forward to date.
No mandate or funding exists for the level of scrutiny of personal psychology that a disciplined program of psychological exploration would ideally involve however. Money and expertise remains better directed in pursuit of understanding and predicting criminal behavior rather than explaining the quirks of ufo mythomania.  If there is to be any substantial progress though, a series of well-documented, critically disciplined and fully detailed, thorough psychological case studies of experiencers – contactees and abductees - is the final frontier.  None of that fantasy-prone personality b-s, puhleeese.


6)     Is it possible to do something effective to bring the truth to the public and to change the mind of those who still proclaim or believe that extraterrestrial beings are living with us on Earth?
 

No, it is entirely futile.  Belief is too ubiquitous. History Channel programming alone propagandizes for alien reality in such quantity and emotional vigor that disputing it will never be effective beyond single digit percentage points and only temporarily.  Paranoia perfuses ufo culture, evident in multiple stereotypical tenets of ufo speculation, and results in aggressively defended myths that are tantamount to religious convictions.  Debunking is ineffective and skepticism is actively shunned, ignored, even insulted if one tries to insist.  Ufo stories are perpetually recycled even when they have been confessed as hoaxes.
 I regard my own work as a personal hobby that feels more entertaining than crossword-solving.  I share my work with people who might find things of interest in it, but there is no point in jousting windmills that will continue to mindlessly spin and mill its grain.  Most ufo culture consumers will believe as they want to and I would be a fool to care.  If someone wants to understand why it is that aliens are irrelevant, I am willing to point them to my thinking.  But I don’t do stand-up. 


7)     Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid activities?
 

Knowing more about the universe is a good thing regardless of whether there are aliens somewhere in the vastness.  Spaceships studying the planets and moons are always coming up with interesting facts and images and the same can be said of telescopic study of the distant stars using any and all frequencies beyond that of light. 
Even the lack of results from such searches has implications: most probably the difficulty of evolving multi-cellular organisms; probable limits on the ‘L’ term in the Drake equation; the iffy energy economics of space-faring; the risks of communication projects to spread contagious delusions, dangerous religions, invasive DNA code [Species (1995)] or A.I. singularity code; or most abstractly the relentlessly universal nature of Murphy’s Law.


8)     What is your idea about multiple universes?

 
Parsimony.

Next publication: answers from  Prof. Greg Eghigian