Monday, August 27, 2012
Ufologists: Do NOT Do These Things!
Not too long ago, I wrote a Top 10-themed post here on one of the most ridiculous things in the field of Forteana. What is it? The absolute pile of crap that currently passes for paranormal-themed "reality" TV, that's what.
You know the shows: they're the ones full of people running around forests/old buildings/deserts with night-scope equipment saying in whispered tones: "Did you hear that?! Did you see that?!"
No, we didn't see it! No, we didn't hear it! And, no, WE DON'T CARE!
Well, with that said, I thought it was time I offered a few more insights into what I see as rampant, Fortean idiocy. And, this time, it's all UFO-based.
As someone who has written a number of books on UFOs, these are my personal Top 10 (in no particular order) ufological "things" that - in my view, and in the dickhead stakes - are hard to beat.
1. THE MYSTERIOUS MIDDLE INITIAL
Whether it's due to the nefarious actions of sinister ETs or just a lack of imagination, have you noticed how, when someone writes a book on UFOs, their name magically changes? Yes, amazingly, it's true: the first name becomes longer than normal and a mysterious middle initial appears on the cover! My middle name is David. So, if I want to be a real UFO investigator/author, instead of my name appearing on my books as "Nick Redfern," it should actually appear as "Nicholas D. Redfern." Right? No! Wrong! Or as we say back in England: "Fakk Orf!" It may come as a surprise to some researchers, but letting the world loudly know you are now Robert instead of Bob, or James instead of Jim, and that (shock! horror!) you even have a middle initial, will not advance your credibility when your book comes out. Ufologist: Don't do it!
2. THE LETTERS AFTER THE NAME
Ah, yes, one of my all-time favorites. Pray tell, please, how does having academic letters after your name aid in furthering our knowledge of Ufology? Simple: it doesn't. People use letters because they think they look flash and will impress those they feel need impressing. Er, excuse me, but does anyone really think that in a field where ET has - at various times - allegedly probed people's rear-ends, made pancakes for them, had sex with them, and devoured gallons of Strawberry Ice-Cream (maybe, all at the same time...), having letters after their names will somehow aid in getting the message across, or make people look at them with wide-eyed approval and wonder? Perhaps, astonishingly, some Ufologists actually do think it helps. But, I say: Ufologist: Don't do it!
3. THE UFOLOGICAL DRESS CODE
Quite possibly the one thing that is guaranteed to make me spit venom and my head spin all the way around while speaking in ancient and terrible tongues: the theory that black suit + crisp white shirt + red tie + plus shiny black shoes somehow makes the relevant researcher - and their attendant message - credible. Posing, peacock-like, on stage as if you are running for Numero Uno position in the White House achieves nothing. Suits are what you wear when you bury someone. Or when you marry someone. Or when you...well, that's about it. Nothing you wear will ever, EVER, improve your position as a Ufologist in the eyes of the bigger world outside. The only thing which can ever achieve that is the discovery and presentation of hard, physical evidence of the UFO phenomenon. And, if that happens, it matters not a bit if - like me - you like to wear t-shirts and jeans, or you get decked out like a posh waiter or someone who runs a funeral-home. Ufologist: Don't do it!
4. SAYING THE RIGHT THING TO THE (ALLEGEDLY) INFLUENTIAL PEOPLE
No, no, no, no, no!! I've seen it time and time again at UFO conferences. And, no doubt, I'll continue to see it time and time again. It's the ufological equivalent of letting the boss win a game of golf (which nobody should be doing either). Or, as it's also known: seeking out the people in Ufology who you think can best help you advance your career (conference organizers, magazine editors, the leading-lights in the big UFO groups), and saying what you think they will want to hear, and not saying what you really think. Have some dignity! Say what you think about George Adamski, the Men in Black, or Area 51. Not what this or that person thinks! Okay, claiming old George merely took photos of a few lampshades tossed into the air probably won't get you booked at the next Contactee-themed event. But, you have, at least, been honest to yourself. So, when it comes to kissing ass, Ufologist: Don't do it!
5. CREATING AN IMAGE OF: "DON'T TALK TO ME! I'M A FAMOUS UFOLOGIST!"
Ufologist: You're not some Hollywood star. Lighten the fuck up. And don't make like it's a big deal when someone - who has paid good money to see you lecture and buy your books - wants to hang out with you for a while and ask a question or several. I've seen it far more times than I care to remember at UFO conferences, and it's downright embarrassing: the yawning Ufologist with their eyes on their watch, and who can't even be bothered to spend 5 minutes chatting about this case or that case with someone who looks up to them. And why can't they be bothered? Because they want to be having lunch with all the other self-important ufological souls on the panel. They're the ones who, at the conferences, huddle together around a big table in the corner of the restaurant and pretend they - and they alone - are in possession of some big ufological secret that the rest of us are not worthy of knowing. Ufologist: Don't do it!
6. "THE TRUTH IS COMING"
If there's one thing that pisses me off about Ufology, it's the endless assertion (usually offered with endless assurances) that "the truth" behind the UFO phenomenon is "coming soon." Yep: amazing revelations courtesy of the Government, or the dreaded "THEM." People have been saying that since Kenneth Arnold was still being breast-fed! Well, maybe not. But you get my point. Many ufologists do, for some reason, feel it's important to try and make us all feel warm and cuddly by saying something like: "Don't worry. None of your decades of research will be in vain. I have heard from a high-ranking source - that I can never name - that the truth will begin to surface at 9.45 a week next Thursday. And that's AM. not P.M." Well, I don't need to feel warm and cuddly at all, thank-you very much. And if you cannot stand by - or utterly verify - your date and claim as to when "the truth" is coming, then keep your mouth shut until you can. Which, given "the Government's" track record on disclosure, is likely to be forever. You know what's coming by now: Ufologist: Don't do it!
7. IT'S E.T. FOREVER!
For reasons I have never been able to fathom, there seems to be an underlying rule in much of Ufology: "Thou shalt not changed, alter or modify thy views." I have never got that one. In the same way that, today, I don't watch the same TV shows, or read the same books, as I did when I was a little kid, why should I - or any of us in Ufology - be expected to hang on to old, out-moded and out-dated theories and beliefs in light of new ideas, themes and paradigms? I'll tell you why: because it's expected! It's expected because the old-school wants the old ways and the old beliefs to be upheld. But, all that happens is they become...well...old. It's almost like: she's the abduction researcher who thinks it's aliens. He's the guy who believes Roswell was time-travelers. She's the person who writes about UFOs being inter-dimensional. He tells us it's Venusians. Etc, etc. Blah, blah. I kind of think that some researchers believe a change of opinion = weakness and unsureness. What a load of crap! Demonstrating that you're specifically not caught up in a position of "it's this or nothing" and are willing to take on board other scenarios is a stance born of strength. Not being able to face the idea of changing your views shows one thing and one thing only: you are emotionally driven by a need to believe and you have a fear of the unknown and of new challenges. Ufologist: Don't do it!
8. NEVER TURNING OFF THE "I'M A UFOLOGIST" SWITCH
Can you imagine being interested in UFOs and never talking about anything else? I can't, and I hope that applies to you, too. But, it's hardly something unknown in Ufology. It doesn't hurt now and again - actually, as often as possible - to have a life away from everything bug-eyed and saucer-shaped. Whether it's down the pub, at a restaurant, at a conference, or anywhere, it is actually permissible to speak about other things, like football ("soccer" as the unenlightened call it), life, music, travel, the list goes on and on. But, when we're all in a social context, let's have a break now and then from never-ending discussion about how many bodies were found at Roswell, or whether the Grays like their mutilated cattle cooked rare or well-done. Droning on about UFOs all night will (a) demonstrate your lack of a life; (b) fail to get you laid; and (c) quite possibly see you on the receiving end of a powerful punch on the jaw from someone who cannot take another 3-hours of waffle about memory-metal found in the New Mexico desert 60-something years ago. When it comes to being stuck like an old and scratchy vinyl album, Ufologist: Don't do it!
As someone who has done far more cryptozoological research than UFO research, I often like to bring up the fact that someone has seen Bigfoot race across the road at the same place - and in the same precise time-frame - that someone else saw a UFO land in the woods. One of the reasons I like to bring it up is because it makes many a Ufologist and Cryptozoologist cringe. The reason: it suggests their carefully constructed beliefs might need to be revised. And, neither of these two "ologies" want that! But, why? What's wrong with pointing out that there are a significant number of cases on record where one Fortean puzzle most certainly crosses paths with another? Answer: there's nothing wrong with it! For those fearful of what their peers might think, however, it is a problem. So, they stay weak and silent. I say: Ufologist: Don't do it!
10. UFOLOGICAL WORRIES
For all their desires to spread the ufological word at conferences, on TV, on radio, and on the Net, I have seen more than a few Ufologists squirm and go bright red when they are forced to answer to people outside of their field the question of: "So, what do you do?" Again, this is due to lack of self-worth, lack of character, lack of self-belief, etc. Of course people are going to laugh a bit (maybe a lot!) when you say "I look for aliens." But, instead of avoiding discussion, say it loud and proud. If you think the best thing to say about your beliefs is to say nothing at all, I can only add those four words one more time: Ufologist, don't do it!