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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

History of UFOlogy

Oh, no, a UFO article right after yesterday's post on the release of British UFO records under their Freedom of Information Act? Yes, but this is coincidental and both articles are about the culture of UFOlogy. (I'll keep enough playdough around to model a mountain, just in case.)

This article by Robert Sheaffer, a columnist for the Sceptical Inquirer Magazine is about the history of UFOlogy, noting the trends of UFO sightings. One of the earliest sightings was quite telling. The sighting was of a boomerang-shaped object which was reported to skip across water like a saucer. Soon after, there were a rash of reports describing "flying saucers," which were amusingly inaccurate copycat sightings, but which had great impact on future sightings and fiction writing.

The author describes several phases or seasons of UFO events: In The Beginning (1947—1973), Abductions Gradually Replace Sightings (1966—1995), “New Age” vs. “Science Fiction” UFOlogy, UFO Crashes and Retrievals (1980—present). Interestingly, the author suggests that the New Age wing is inhabited mostly by women, while the Science Fiction wing is inhabited mostly by men. Other sections include "Conspiracies Abound," and "Promotion of UFO Belief Today." In the latter section, the author notes that UFO belief (or at least interest) is mostly a media activity to promote movies. There hasn't been a UFO best seller in 20 years.

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