Modern Ufology has been a 'field' now for just over 60 years. We are far removed from the days of Blue Book and NICAP. Kenneth Arnold is no longer around and Donald Keyhoe isn't here to track down contacts that he had in the military in order to find insider information. It's safe to say that Ufology is not in its infancy any longer.
Yet, after all this time, we really don't have any more to show for all of the intervening years of 'research' than we did back in the heyday of Project Blue Book or NICAP. Oh, to be sure, many 'revelations' have been made since those days. We now 'know' about the existence of the Majestic 12 group and of course we 'know' that the government recovered an alien craft at Roswell. Or do we? All these stories do is bog down whatever actual research is being done into the reality behind UFOs. Clearly, something needs to change if we are ever to get anywhere.
In addition to the growing mythology of the UFO, we have to contend with the fact that the vast majority of people who are interested in this topic are very hardlined and set on the extraterrestrial hypothesis, or ETH. As people have come into the field, they have been treated to about 60 years worth of pop culture pre-loading and have basically bought into the mythology that surrounds the modern ETH.
You can visit any number of UFO websites, and they will reveal a startling list of 'truths' that those who are seeking UFOs 'know'. But if we already believe we have the answers, why would we bother to even look for any actual evidence (whatever that may mean). The minute we were to come across something that didn't fit into our ET world view, we would either not be able to deal with it or perhaps it would be seen as 'disinformation' from the government trying to hide the "Truth."
What we need to do is adopt a more open minded view of this, arguably, vast field. It seems that for every step forward, we take a few steps back. Back in the 1960's researchers like John Keel and Jacques Vallee had already moved beyond the ETH, recognizing that this explanation didn't seem to encapsulate all of the related phenomena. For John Keel, the phenomena represented a decidedly occult flavor. His Ultraterrestrials operated on some invisible aspect of the electromagnetic spectrum. To Keel, they represented the demons of yore. Or in other words Occultists and Demonologists were probably better equipped to handle the phenomena than anyone else.
Likewise, after studying the phenomenon for some time, Jacques Vallee offered up his concept of some kind of control system built into the world which acts not entirely unlike a thermostat regulates temperature. For Vallee, what was more important than collecting reports of lights in the skies, was the after affect that the sightings had on the person. He cited example after example of people that had completely changed personalities after their encounters. One of the better examples that stand out was a woman who went from having a typical diet consisting of meat and dairy products, to being a vegan after her encounter because she believes that all life was connected.
These guys were coming at the UFO enigma from arguably two different vantage points, but the common thread for both of them is that neither one was satisfied with the ETH as the answer to the mystery. The disheartening part is, of course, they were ready to look outside the box almost 50 years ago. So where are we today? Fast forward to 2011 and we are right back to the Donald Keyhoe 'aliens from outer space' theory of the 1950's. This is because too few people in the modern Ufological field are willing, or perhaps able, to understand that we can't say for certainty what the provenance of the UFO phenomena truly is. So, rather than being stuck with the mythologies, maybe we should begin to broaden our horizons. We need to understand that while there is nothing inherently wrong with the ETH, solely focusing on it hasn't really moved the field closer to any kind of understanding about the nature of the phenomenon. And if we hope to find answers we can't think that we already have them. I'm reminded of my favorite John Keel quote, "To hell with the answers! What's the question?"
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