The field of ufology as we know it is constantly changing and evolving. This, of course, isn't anything peculiar or specific to the study of UFOs however, since virtually all branches of science can be found to exist in a similar state of flux. As we learn, some old ideas are thrown out, like the old Newtonian notion that light would behave like a wave of energy... only to be readopted with the unsteady accumulation of insights that point to both particle and wavelike behavior of that most mysterious of energetic illuminations dispersed throughout our galaxy.
Much the same, close friends and associates of mine know one of my favorite gripes about the existing state of research into the unexplained: there is so much emphasis on gathering case studies that, while interesting from an anecdotal or storytelling sense to curious readers, primarily only seek to accumulate random bits of data that have been gathered in the field. Despite the patterns and associations that might be drawn between such reports, it is difficult to establish causal relationships between similar phenomenon. This may be due to on of two reasons: the caution exerted by the most scientific researchers out there... or the simple fact that few too many are attempting to read between the lines in the first place.
In preparation for an upcoming interview I'll be conducting with author Colin Bennett, I've been reading his new book Flying Saucers Over the Whitehouse, which takes an autobiographical look at the UFO research of Edward J. Ruppelt. Though it is an enlightening (and remarkably savvy) glimpse at the life of this early Ufologist, there are other things about the text that have struck me as being rather insightful. I must point out first that various bloggers have already compared my own work, along with that of Greg Bishop and Nick Redfern, to Bennett's under the construct of a so-called emerging "New Ufology." Thus, I was delighted to see why those sorts of parallels were being made, upon seeing the following sentiments expressed by the author:
There is a need to construct a New Ufology which gets away from the passive listing of countless case histories from the past. Ufological studies should be integrated with the latest developments in psychology and mathematics, along with up-to-date Postmodern views on Artificial Intelligence and Image Processing.
I've long held the notion that revised mathematical and scientific approaches to the study of UFOs should be a necessity if we are to progress with any degree of clarity in this field of research, along with something kin to a classical philosophical approach that might help us define clearly, in human terms, what we may be dealing with based on logical assumptions. Alas, the days of Jacques Vallee and perhaps a handful of others getting out there and calculating the energetic potential of a craft based on the cancellation of car headlights by the UFO's own hyper-illumination seem to have drifted slowly behind the horizon (not to say that Vallee, a titan in the field, isn't still writing and researching, of course). Still, I've noticed many new books on UFOs drifting back to those sorts of case studies of yesteryear, reporting witness testimonies, time and dates, descriptions of odd illuminations and etc ad nauseum... how I've wished there were more like Vallee who were (to put it admirably) dorky enough to apply mathematics and physics to those case studies. In my opinion, it's the only way we'll really ever discern anything noteworthy about ufology as a whole.
Seeing Mr. Bennett's feelings articulated thusly gives me a little hope and inspiration... and for a guy like myself, whose reading list over the last 24 hours has included Physics for Dummies, The Roots of Coincidence: An Excursion into Parapsychology by Arthur Koestler, and The Varieties of Scientific Experience by Carl Sagan, maybe it's proof there are kindred spirits out there after all!