Monday, December 17, 2007

The Clowns in the "Sorry" State

A recent piece by Frank Warren inspired me to go off on one of my own favorite rants; that of the so-called “sorry state” of UFOlogy. As Warren says, underscoring Richard Dolan's point, the idea that there's a "state" of UFOlogy is inaccurate and misses the point. You can read Warren's piece here: What is The State of Ufology? Wrong Question!

I often rant against those who call for a “new UFOlogy.” What’s wrong with the old one? More to the point, what in the world makes those who want a “new” UFOlogy, a better or a different or a cleaner or a neater or a “more scientific” (oy) UFOlogy that anyone outside of UFOlogy cares?

Who says it’s “sorry?” Because we have the expected jokers around? The Raelians make the mainstream news, not the serious, interesting UFO cases that may also contain some evidence. (Other than anecdotal.) So?

What else do you expect from the mainstream media? They’ve always been cheesy, sleazy and exploitive, that’s what they do. I promise you, if we all got up some kind of serious, somber, clinical “New UFOlogical” whatever, no one would give a damn. We would, (some of us) but no one listens to us. And then there’s this: after a short time, it isn’t too long before this “new” UFOlogy will be perceived -- and possibly turn into -- a stodgy, rigid, snooty mini-infrastructure of scientism in its own right. Before that point thought, this "new" UFOlogy will be scrambling to be accepted by those they've decided long ago they need: mainstream science, academia, the media, politics. Wow, talk about idealism! But those institutions have turned their noses up at UFOlogy; a "new" UFOlogy will have to dance real fast and real well in order to be accepted. Which means, much of what makes UFOflogy the thing that it is will have to be discarded before this "new" state gets in the door. And at that point, of course, you don't have a real (authentic) UFOlogy, but you still have a very "sorry" state indeed. Irony!

Don't you find it ironic that a diverse,individual, subjective, elusive and contradictory phenomenon such as UFOs is persistenlty being forced into some kind of stable state where everyone agrees (pretty much) and the personal is silenced, or at least told to shush?

One thing wrong about screaming for a new UFOlogy or repairing its “state” is the belief we would do better without the clowns. First, we have to acknowledge that there is a clown like atmosphere to much of UFO and Fortean events, and it’s a natural part of the anomalous. There are many ways to deal with this, depending on the situation and where the clown antics fall on the UFOlogical clown scale. (New Age clowns, Contactee clowns, Bigfoot-UFO clowns, Abduction clowns, My Lizard Lover clowns, etc.)

We can ignore them. Call them on their stuff. Expose them for the lying clowns they are. But what if they’re not lying clowns? They could be clowns for a number of reasons, but not liars. At some point, it’s subjective. Trust comes in. Intuition. Meanwhile, we’re all distracted by trying to shove out these clowns, argue over who’s a clown and who isn’t, and the actual work isn’t getting done. We’ve been too busy chasing after those we’ve decided are clowns. Talk about a circus.

Then we get back to work, feeling smug and justified that we cleaned up the mess, only to realize more clowns have sneaked in. That’s the nature of the anomalous clown beast. You just can’t get rid of them. In fact, the harder you try, the more return. Like Sisyphus, once you roll that rock uphill, it just comes back.

The mainstream media and the pathological skeptics will never avert their attention from the clown side of things, for that would mean they have to admit there is something of value and truth to all this.

(Actually, the mainstream media at times slowly turns to the light; little bits of UFO reality get by and we experience a respite from little green men jokes by talking heads.)

We can learn from the clowns. Instead of chasing after them with brooms we can stop and just watch them for awhile. What are they up to, and why? Might turn out it was a waste of time, so what? Might turn out you learned something. Maybe that clown wasn’t just a lampshade on its head bore, but a true Fool leading you down a much neglected and magickical path. You could return from that journey with something of value to share with the “sorry state” of UFOlogy.

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Lesley said...

I agree with all that!

The thing I find most funny is that certain people think the media perceives any differences in those involved in ufology. To the media, if you believe in ufos you are automatically a clown. To them there is no difference between Stanton Friedman, Richard Dolan, or anyone else and Michael Horn. We are all the same. The media has not been about truth in years, they are all about ratings and that is why celeb scandals are often on 24/7. My guess is that as they continue to do ufology related programming they will turn more to the "crazies" because they are often far more entertaining than the others and since we are all crazy in their eyes anyway, it doesn't really matter who they pick.

This thought that ufology can somehow become respected in the eyes of the media, science and so on is silly. Nobody really cares about ufology except those involved.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Forgetting for a moment that one of the last churlish bunches who presumed to "clean up Dodge" was that scabrously scurrilous scut Rich Reynolds of "RRR Group" who scatted ferociously in my direction accusations of sex crimes and then skated blithely away without apology and without damages!

...My general irritation with "corroberating Dodge cleaners" is their enmity to me as an obstinate loose canon who won't validate their personal paradigms and tolerate discussion on same (without sneering), or otherwise making a place for me, and other sincere ~individuals~, in their new world order.

As to my seemingly reflexive opposition of the current honored coterie pretending the attempt? Hey, a group composed of Kimball, Bishop, Tonnies, Biedny, and Brenton et sig al just calls out for a necessary opposition... of needs, eh?

Someboby's gotta watch the watcher, right?
>> AVG Blog --
>>> U F O M a g a z i n e --

Lesley said...

Very good point about opposition. I had to laugh when I read this line in the paracast newsletter -

"During this conversation, Daniel will deliver a new proposal to reform the UFO field and eliminate much of the in-fighting that has prevented consistent and reliable research."

Groups always create division. The entire reason there is so much in fighting in ufology is that people feel loyal to certain social groups within it. Groups always divide. Look at the repugs and demorats, need I say more?

R. Lee said...

Hi Lesley,

Daniel has something about this on his blog; I left a comment over there.

I like Daniel tons, it's just I disagree with him on this one.

Many are in agreement with these ideas, many I respect, like Greg Bishop, etc. But it's unnecessary, and distracting, has the potential to be elitist, is naive, etc.

Lesley said...

I like Daniel too and just have to disagree with him on this. RRR Group is still very fresh in my memory. Besides which I have never believed in organized groups. I finally joined MUFON last year, but just so I could get the journal. I have never even attended a meeting. Whatever good motives such things start out with they always end up agenda driven and elitist. As the saying goes, the road to hell is paved with good intentions.

Jeremy said...

As I learned from NARCAP Director Ted Roe, this is wrong. It is possible to be taken seriously. NARCAP works with politicians and military from around the globe. They have NASA guys and Jacques Vallee under their umbrella.

NASA. Think about that.

So while it may take changing the term UFO to UAP and a very specific focal point (pilot testimony under the guise that UAPs often affect vehicle controls and are a security risk, it is possible to grab the ears of "important" people because they care about this but aren't willing to join the circus built around it.

Regan Lee said...

Yes, there's an "invisible college" but my point is the infrastructure, the mainstream. . . You have "NASA guys" but you don't have NASA.

As to changing the term UFO to UAP: it's a bad idea. It's just semantics, the idealism behind the reason will quickly disappear, and UAP will soon just end up as another term for silly people seeing silly things, as far as the infrastructure goes.

The "circus" -- we're not going to get very far as long as we continue to deny it exists, or refuse to take some part in it.