A respected British researcher recently said that the study of UFOs was dead and buried; like the proverbial parrot, it was deceased, no more and in a state of permanent non-existence, never to be resurrected. Well, you can’t put it plainer than that.
Ah, but is it true? I would venture not. Ufology is not dead; it is merely going through a period of transformation.
For at least two decades there has been an ever-widening gulf between researchers in the UK and the USA. In America investigators of one of our most enduring enigmas are far more likely to go for the “nuts and bolts” theories regarding UFOs and their origins. In the USA you can still vouch forth the opinion that UFOs are interstellar spacecraft without being pilloried. In Great Britain it’s not so easy. Here, there has been a radical swing away from more conventional theories towards exotic notions that see UFOs as projections of our own psyches. Follow this lead and you’ll be more likely to find the answers you’re looking for in the works of Jung and Freud than in the experiences of Betty and Barney Hill or Lonnie Zamora.
The reasons behind this shift are not hard to figure out. Sceptics routinely point out that despite literally thousands of sightings we still lack objective proof that UFOs exist. Of course, this conveniently ignores the strenuous arguments that objective proof does exist, but it is simply being withheld from the general public. Mind you, the sceptics have a point; what sort of proof is it if you can’t see it, touch it or subject it to rigorous scientific examination in the public domain? To say, “There is proof, but I just can’t show it to you”, is no better than having no proof at all.
Personally the fact that no incontrovertible evidence for the existence of UFOs has yet been “outed” doesn’t bother me. In time it will happen. What does bother me is the way in which many people have abandoned the ET hypothesis simply because we haven’t seen a UFO land on the White House Lawn. It’s as if researchers have got tired of waiting. Like the Biblical prophet they have come to believe that “where there is no vision the people perish”, and strayed off towards pastures new for their answers. Pop psychology provides the perfect watering hole for disenchanted ufologists.
One writer who used to accept the ET hypothesis recently told me that she now favoured the “psychological approach”, and believed that UFOs were actually “thought forms” projected from deep within the subconscious. It seems more than a little convenient to me that such notions have become popular just when the ET hypothesis is on the wane, at least here in the UK. Promoting UFOs as abstract projections from within the darkest recesses of the cerebrum allows us to believe in UFOs in a sense, but negates the need to provide objective proof. Do I discount the psychological explanations altogether? No; there may be some truth in them, and I learned decades ago never to say never. I just don’t think we should abandon the ET hypothesis at the drop of a hat.
William of Occam was responsible for crystallizing the scientific adage known as Occam’s Razor. Basically, the idea is that if you have a number of solutions to a problem then you should likely choose the simple one because it’s probably right. Occam’s razor is decidedly useful when mulling over the UFO phenomenon. If three people tell me that they saw an oval UFO land in a field and a number of green-skinned occupants wandering around nearby then the likelihood is that that is indeed what they saw. My only reason for looking for nebulous psychological answers would be because my vision is too narrow. If the borders of my imagination are too constrained, then I’m likely to plump for an explanation that doesn’t involve accepting extra-terrestrials as real because I find the notion too hard to grasp.
Without cheapening the psychological approach, or denying that there may indeed be a degree of truth in it, Occam’s Razor nudges me towards the ET theory most of the time. If UFOs look like hi-tech aerial craft then that’s probably what they are. If it looks like a dog, bark likes a dog and enjoys sinking its teeth into the postman – well, it’s probably a dog.
Last week a reader told me of her own experience in Bournemouth. One Sunday afternoon she spotted a triangular UFO flying over the coast. Her husband and nephew saw it too. They said it made a “pulsating, swishing” sound as it passed. Seconds later they claimed to have seen an RAF fighter tearing through the blue after it. Both eventually faded out of sight.
Assuming that the woman was telling the truth – and I have no reason to believe otherwise – then it seems to me that if the triangle was a UFO then the ET hypothesis is far more plausible. If the woman was imagining the object, or projecting a subconscious thought into the sky, I fail to see how her husband and nephew saw it too. It’s also hard to understand why the RAF would be chasing something that wasn’t really there, unless they imagined the plane too, of course. But then again, maybe I imagined her. Or her me. Is your head hurting too?
Ah, I remember the good ol’ days when aliens used to say, “Take me to your leader!”
“Make me an appointment with your psychotherapist!” just doesn’t have the same ring to it, does it?
Keep watching the skies…
© Mike Hallowell, 2007