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The State of UFO Research

Author: Martin Gottschall, PhD ©

When the UFO phenomenon entered the public domain in the late 1940s, the exploration of the universe beyond our planet was just beginning to move beyond the use of the optical telescope as the only means of extraterrestrial observation. Radio astronomy followed hard upon the wartime developments of radar, and ballistic missiles, also a wartime development was starting to be used to lift new instruments of observation above the terrestrial atmosphere.

Science fiction had already gained a large public following, and notions about extraterrestrial life were in common currency. Throughout the history of modern science, ever since the true nature of the solar system began to be recognized, and the motions of planets and moons understood, both scientists and the public contemplated questions about life on other worlds. On this question there was a shortage of useful scientific data and inevitably much speculation was needed to fill in the huge gaps in our knowledge. As new discoveries were made with the passing of the centuries, the errors in this speculation were revealed, much to the embarrassment of scientists.

By the middle of the 20th century, many speculations had been found wanting, and had been replaced by other speculation based on new discoveries, only to suffer the same fate as well. The very question of life on other worlds had become a taboo topic, and its devotees had largely gone “underground”. This vacuum spawned a particular type of arrogance, similar to the arrogance of the religion of a half millennium before which taught that the Earth was the centre of the universe. In the modern self-portrait, man was no longer at the centre of the universe, but he was the only known intelligent species in a vastly larger universe than the ancients could conceive of. The only outpost of life and intelligence. This is the environment into which the UFO phenomenon entered. Modern man understood technology very well. A new superior technology displayed itself for many to see, and its properties were proof of a superior science beyond our present comprehension. To add to the confusion, the apparent objectives of extraterrestrial visitors seemed to be wholly at odds with what we would have done in their place – another body of failed speculation. Somehow we had convinced ourselves that if we evolved over a period of centuries to a point similar to the visiting ET’s, our objectives then would be just the same as what we might want to do now if that technology were to somehow fall into our laps.

When UFOs showed up, it was a signal to the most educated people on our planet that it was time for them to go back to kindergarten. That their education, far from being completed, had hardly begun. It is a matter of historical record that as a group, our educated people were not going to do any such thing, and they would sooner ignore the entire UFO phenomenon. This was easier decided than done. UFOs have physical attributes whatever they might ultimately be. They could be seen, photographed, made to crash etc. When it came to UFOs it was perfectly OK to explain them away with bad science and denigrate the witnesses whoever they might be. But above all, any contact of humans with the occupants of these craft was totally out of the question. The Visitors were relegated to the collective scientific unconscious.

This attitude has rubbed off on UFO researchers as well. When “Flying Saucers” began to be reported, and the authorities began to debunk sightings, researchers accepted that the phenomenon was real, and that there was an official cover-up. However, when contactees came forward with accounts of meetings with UFO occupants, conversations, and trips in their vehicles, many of these same researchers balked. It was too much for them to deal with the reality of the visitors.

It is possible to identify three major sources of information about the UFO phenomenon. The first and also the most readily accessible source is sightings by people from all walks of life and from every country and culture on the planet. The second source is people who have met with and had some kind of interaction with UFO occupants. They have frequently entered the craft and can describe their interior, and report on what they might have been told. Their information is clearly different from sightings information, and fills a vital gap in our knowledge. The third source of information is the authorities who have retrieved crashed and shot down UFOs and their occupants, may have had communications and/or dealings with them, and have obviously engaged highly qualified personnel to secretly study the culture, biology, science and technology of the visitors.

Of these three sources of information, UFO research has accessed only the first. It wilfully ignored the second source of information for the first two decades (1950 to 1970), and belatedly extended its span of study to a particular type of ET contact described as “abductions”. It has had sporadic access to leaked secret information, on which opinions were usually so divided that more than a decade passed before even some material was accepted, and much was either rejected or forgotten. UFO research, over the past half century, has been characterised by excellent work on the part of a few individuals and groups and inadequate work from most of the rest, though not necessarily for want of dedication or effort. We have lacked the conceptual tools which might have allowed us to choose the most effective strategies, we have lacked the training which, if applied to this work, might have taken us further faster, and we have been distracted by sceptics, debunkers and a so-called “scientific attitude” which was in fact a form of closed mindedness peculiar to that mentality.

Most importantly, perhaps we have been led astray from within. We have ignored contactee information, and while we have bemoaned official secrecy, we failed to capitalize on the few “disclosures” that came our way, such as for example the “Majestic 12” revelations or the “Autopsy Footage”, or most recently, the “Disclosure Project”. UFO researchers have talked themselves into a corner. They have made a religion out of the cover-up, and could not recognize “disclosure” if it was thrown at them. They have rejected genuine information from ET’s, and have become confused by statements falsely attributed to them. Despite half a century of a lack of progress in our understanding, they will not search for and use the new ideas and concepts which have the power to encompass and give meaning to the facts we have, and lead us to the facts we have yet to recognize.

The time has come for a new and free professionalism to take UFO research forward, one that will give allegiance to only the truth.

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