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A few days ago, I wrote a Top 10-themed post at my World of Whatever blog on what I personally see as some of the biggest faults of Ufology. It was a post with which many agreed, others found amusing, and some hated (the latter, probably, because they recognized dubious character traits and flaws that were too close to home, and, as a result, got all moody and defensive. Whatever.). But, regardless of what people thought of the article, it prompted one emailer to ask me: “What do you think of the future for Ufology?” Well, that’s a very good question. Here’s my thoughts…

First and foremost, I don’t fear, worry or care about Ufology not existing in – let’s say, hypothetically – 100 years from now. Or even 200 years. In some format, I think that as a movement, it will still exist. I guess my biggest concern is that nothing will have changed by then, aside from the field having become even more dinosaur-like and stuck in its ways than it is today, still filled with influential souls who loudly demand we adhere to the Extra-Terrestrial Hypothesis and nothing else, still droning on about Roswell, still obsessed with what might be going on at Area 51, still debating on what Kenneth Arnold saw, and still pondering on what really happened at Rendlesham.

Ufology’s biggest problem also happens to be what made the Ramones the greatest band that ever existed: never-changing. For the latter, it worked perfectly. If, like me, you liked the mop-topped, super-fast punks in the beginning, then you still like them when they disbanded in 1996. Throughout their career, they looked the same, sounded the same, and were the same. For them, it worked very well. For Ufology, not so well. Not at all.

The reality is that 65 years after our Holy Lord and Master (Sir Kenneth of Arnoldshire) saw whatever it was that he saw on that fateful June 24, 1947 day, Ufology has been static and unchanging. It has endorsed and firmly embraced the ETH not as the belief-system which it actually is, but as a likely fact. And Ufology insists on doing so in stubborn, mule-like fashion. In that sense, Ufology has become a religion. And organized religion is all about upholding unproved old belief-systems and presenting them as hard fact, despite deep, ongoing changes in society, trends and culture. Just like Ufology.

If Ufology is to play a meaningful role in the future, then it needs to focus far less on personal beliefs and wanting UFOs to be extraterrestrial, and far more on admitting that the ETH is just one theory of many – and, while not discarding the ETH, at least moving onwards, upwards and outwards. Can you imagine if the major UFO conference of the year in the United States had a group of speakers where the presentations were on alien-abductions and DMT; the Aleister Crowley-Lam controversy; Ufological synchronicities; and the UFO-occult connection? And Roswell, Area 51, and Flying Triangles weren’t even in sight at all?

Well, imagine is just about all you’ll be able to do, as it ain’t gonna happen anytime soon!

While such matters do, of course, occasionally get mentioned on the UFO-themed lecture circuit today, the fact is that mainstream Ufology (and specifically mainstream ufological organizations, where more time is spent on deciding what utterly ridiculous title everyone will have than on doing investigations) will largely not touch such matters, or even consider them ripe for debate at their conferences. Why? Simple: they want everything to be as it was in the “Good Old Days” of the past. Well, tough: the past is gone, and no-one has succeeded in proving the ETH. So, give the highly alternative theories – and theorists – a chance for a change.

“Nooooo!” cries the old brigade. For them, that won’t work at all, because they don’t want to see the ETH-themed domain that has been so carefully nurtured for decades infected and infiltrated by matters ignorantly perceived as being of a “Hocus Pocus” nature. What they do want is crashed UFOs; aliens taking soil samples; landing traces; abductions undertaken to steal our DNA, etc, etc, blah, blah. Or, as it is scientifically and technically called: Outdated Old School Shit. They don’t want talk of altered states; mind-expanding and entity-invoking drugs; conjured-up beings from other realms; or rites, rituals and manifested Tulpas.

What this stubborn attitude demonstrates is: (A) a fear of change; (B) a fear of having been on the wrong track for decades; and (C) a fear of the unknown. Yes: mainstream, old-time Ufology lives in fear. It should be living in a state of strength. And it should be a strength born of a willingness to address everything, not just the stuff that some conference organizer thinks will attract the biggest audience. But Ufology commits the biggest crime of all: being weak and unsure in the face of new concepts and making like an ostrich when it encounters sand. Actually, I’m wrong. Ufology commits an even bigger crime as it coasts aimlessly along like an empty ship on the ocean waves: it avoids the alternative theories knowingly and fully aware of the long-term, and potentially disastrous, consequences that a one-sided, biased approach may very well provoke for the field.

If Ufology is to move ahead,  find answers, and actually have some meaningful future, it needs to totally do away with belief systems and recognize that every belief is just a theory, an hypothesis, an idea. And that’s all. Ufologists need to embrace alternative ideas and paradigms, since many suggest far easier, and more successful, ways of understanding the various phenomena that comprise the UFO enigma than endlessly studying radar-blips, gun-camera footage, FOIA documentation, and blurry photos.

Should Ufology fail to seize the growing challenge it already faces, then will it die or fade away? Nope, it will still be here and here, popping up now and again. Not unlike a nasty, itchy rash picked up in the “private room” at the local strip-joint on a Friday night that never quite goes away. Probably even 100 or 200 years from now. But, it will be a Ufological Tyrannosaurus Rex: its sell-by date long gone, clinging on to an era also long gone, and perceived by the public of that era as we, today, perceive those nutcases who hold on to centuries-old beliefs that if you sail far enough you’ll fall off the edge of the planet. Or, the deluded souls who think the women on those terrible “Reality TV” shows that sit around arguing over lunch are really arguing.

Ufology can have a future. It can even have a great future. But, to achieve that, it needs change, progression and radical thinking. It needs to expand its collective mind. It needs to be revamped. Other than collecting reports in massive amounts, nothing tangible and provable (in terms of nailing – to the wall – the true nature of the phenomenon) has been achieved. Nothing! Bulging filing cabinets, and endless data-saturated thumb-drives, do not mean we have proved our case. It means we simply have lots of reports and nothing else. We need proof and undeniable evidence, not more reports. Ufology – as it has existed for decades – has consistently failed to provide that proof as a result of largely only following in the wake of the ETH and nothing else. Yes: UFOLOGY HAS FAILED.

There is still time for Ufology to break out of its total failure to have ever achieved anything solid, however. It does not have to become an even bigger, stagnant caricature of itself than it is already. And it can approach the subject in a new, fresh fashion that will ensure it a vital, healthy, long and vibrant life in the future, instead of what it is today. And what might that be today? I’ll tell you: A steady, mind-numbing 55 MPH drive on a never-ending highway where each and every exit-road is marked: “The ETH And Nothing Else: This Way. Forever.”

I really do hope I’m wrong, but I have a horrible suspicion that one hundred years from now, the big topic at the annual, and equally big, UFO conference will be: Roswell: Why Mogul Isn’t The Answer, followed by: Area 51: Latest Revelations of Crashed Saucers. And if that is the case, Ufology is screwed. Officially.

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Nick Redfern works full time as a writer, lecturer, and journalist. He writes about a wide range of unsolved mysteries, including Bigfoot, UFOs, the Loch Ness Monster, alien encounters, and government conspiracies. Nick has written 41 books, writes for Mysterious Universe and has appeared on numerous television shows on the The History Channel, National Geographic Channel and SyFy Channel.
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