In the past five years, I have identified an array of noteworthy concerns that I believe have derailed the study of Ufology. Regrettably, these problems have ruined the subject, degrading it to a point at which any discussion regarding UFOs is no longer taken seriously by society:
- There is a lack of investigative data-sharing among UFO groups and investigators.
- Most UFO conferences are a joke.
- The Internet has become a focal point at which people create, store, and disseminate thousands of fake UFO photos and videos, conspiracy theories, and hoaxes.
First, the scope of the problem regarding Ufology is not so much trying to find proof, beyond a reasonable doubt, that extraterrestrials exist. Instead, the primary problem crippling Ufology today is that there is no cohesive cooperation among the cadre of UFO groups out there, each claiming to be better than the other. Most, if not all, of the UFO research and investigations groups I have encountered compartmentalize their UFO reports; in almost all cases, they never make public the results of their investigations, thus keeping other UFO investigators from analyzing the reports. For example, while API conducted its UFO investigations, the team found cooperation with other UFO groups was lackluster at best. In most cases, any request for information that might have shaped or moved forward an API investigation were simply ignored by these organizations.
In my opinion, the newer UFO groups, which are slowly evolving, are a threat to established UFO groups. Rather than embracing the newer generation, made up of people who are savvy in the use of emerging technologies, the established UFO groups appear to isolate themselves, which wrecks their credibility. On one occasion, I was offered a leadership position in another UFO group, but the offer was conditional: I would have had to dismantle API. I rejected the offer because I knew API was making a noticeable impact in Ufology. Therefore, I stress that if the UFO community wishes to revive Ufology and bring it back to the worthy subject it once was, this data-sharing issue must be resolved immediately, and cooperation among investigators must solidify.
Second, in the last few decades, UFO conventions and expos have become gathering points at which conspiracy theorists, crypto-zoologists, and pseudo-psychics come together and share information that has no purpose in a Ufology setting. For example, many of the UFO conferences I have attended have been inundated with topics related to Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, chupacabra, Mothman, and even inter-dimensional beings (which contactees claim to have been in direct contact with). At a recent local UFO conference, I observed the following inappropriate events:
- A vendor attempted to persuade attendees to purchase massage therapy using “magic rocks and crystals.” According to the vendor, the origin of the rocks and crystals was unknown, but he stressed they harnessed an “inter-dimensional power” that could heal people… only, however, if you purchased a therapy session with him.
- A group of “mind-control psychics” claimed they were in direct contact with inter-dimensional beings. These psychics claimed they could tell people what the inter-dimensional beings were talking about at that very moment—for a price, of course.
At many of these UFO conferences, the main topic continued to center on decades-old events, such as the following:
- The Kenneth Arnold Sighting of 1947,
- the Roswell UFO Incident of 1947,
- and the alleged abduction of Betty and Barney Hill in 1961.
It is beyond my comprehension why these topics continue to choke UFO conferences, given that in the last 70 years hundreds of other worthy UFO incidents have occurred. To salvage these UFO conferences, and more importantly, to attract the newer and younger generation to them, UFO conference organizers must remove the topics that have no business in a UFO setting. Therefore, as we enter the twenty-first century, older UFO incidents must be shelved and more recent UFO news must be expanded upon.
Lastly, modern computer technology has become the chief culprit in creating and disseminating thousands of fake UFO photos and videos. The Internet has become the largest depository of these fake photos and videos. When we couple these two factors together, it becomes obvious that investigators can no longer accept any digital evidence without an extraordinary degree of skepticism. Even worse, the thousands of so-called UFO websites and depositories of alleged UFO photos have attracted an army of arm-chair UFO investigators—many of them come to their own investigative conclusions without even conducting witness interviews or fieldwork. On many UFO and conspiracy websites, skeptics and believers spend more time debating each other than they do in coming together to solve phenomena.
Unfortunately, the lack of data-sharing among UFO groups, cheesy UFO conventions, and swarms of Internet hoaxers and conspiracy theorists have all converged. This convergence has forced most, if not all, literature regarding Ufology to be shelved at the occult section of local bookstores or libraries. Ufology, in short, has been derailed to the point at which science, the U.S. government, and the general public no longer take the topic seriously.
The first step in reviving Ufology for the twenty-first century, in my opinion, must come from within UFO groups. Leaders in the UFO community must be willing to break away from the tradition of compartmentalizing their UFO investigations so that other investigators can incorporate the data into their own investigations. In the process known as “data fusion,” UFO investigators should be allowed to collect, gather, and analyze as much UFO investigative data as they need. This process will allow each UFO investigator to develop a strategic analytical picture of the phenomena, rather than being held hostage to only researching UFO activity in his or her immediate geographic area.
Second, in a step that is just as important as the first, leaders in the UFO community must refrain from allowing their UFO conventions to be high-jacked by vendors, speakers, and topics that have no purpose in a UFO convention. Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and the paranormal, for example, should not be allowed at any UFO convention. Additionally, these UFO conventions should be centered on current and fact-based presentations, not topics that entertain the physics of interstellar travel; inter-dimensional beings; alleged top-secret, anti-gravity propulsion systems; or conspiracy theories regarding alleged U.S. government efforts to reverse-engineer extraterrestrial technology. These topics belong at a science-fiction convention, not at a UFO convention.
Finally, the serious UFO investigator must limit his or her Internet research to credible sources of information and refrain from conducting too much research on conspiracy websites or UFO blogs that lack credibility. The UFO investigator must be willing to set aside the extraterrestrial hypotheses and collect data from a nuts-and-bolts perspective. Much of this investigative data can be derived from the following:
- experts and sources from a variety of scientific, U.S. government, and defense industry fields;
- in situ research and data collection where the activity is occurring;
- and data from other credible UFO investigations.
In closing, a convergence of three significant problems has derailed Ufology: a lack of data sharing, cheesy UFO conferences, and the littering of the Internet with hoaxes and conspiracies. There are, in contrast, several opportunities slowly emerging on the horizon that could salvage Ufology. First, the older generation of established Ufologists are slowly fading away, making room for a younger, more advanced generation of investigators capable of reshaping the Ufology landscape. Second, on the other end of the Internet spectrum, innovative UFO groups like API are exploiting the Internet and social media in order to educate the public regarding UFOs and, more importantly, what are not UFOs. These cyberspace efforts are centered on ensuring future UFO conferences, expos, and forums are not high-jacked by topics that have no bearing on Ufology. As these opportunities slowly converge, I have no doubt the twenty-first century will witness the revival of Ufology.