While the objectives of the Disclosure Project are laudable, by now ufologists surely realize that the government is not going to cooperate by opening the secret files. Instead of throwing in the towel or hanging our heads I think it is time to establish an agenda that acknowledges the volatile politics of the subject.
As a scientific topic the study of UFOs was sabotaged in the late 1940s. Official military spokesman poisoned the well by claiming that military pilots had mistaken the planet Venus for a UFO and normal people had really seen swamp gas and not flying saucers. These officials even claimed that some people who made such reports were nuts. This skewed the publics perception of the phenomenon in a way that has made is all but impossible to engage in serious social discourse to this day.
The mass media has always treated the topic as a sideshow to the hard political, social and science news. As a result, it has not been embraced by academia nor have normally curious scientists rushed to the fore with requests to conduct UFO research. Politically, ufologists were sandbagged long ago. Official denial, cover-ups, half-hearted scientific investigations and ridicule inflicted a lot of damage.
In spite of all this negativity, serious independent research has moved forward and the case for the existence of UFOs has become very solid; the field is surely worthy of institutional study and funding. That said I would like to propose that even though it appears that the field is treading water I am convinced that progress can be made along several fronts. I have been waiting many years for the mass media to treat the topic in a serious manner, it finally happened in recent months.
February 20, 2004 marked the 50th anniversary of President Eisenhowers alleged secret meeting with extraterrestrials at Edwards Air Force Base. I admit to being astonished to finding an article with a no-nonsense tone commemorating this even published in the Washington Post. Turning to other recent cases I noticed that there has been a subtle shift in coverage. Reporters are actually reporting without the tongue-in-cheek ha, ha, ha, little green men undertone. The Triangle that was spotted near St. Louis was treated seriously.
I think it is time for UFO writers and researchers to hit the mass media with more in-depth pieces that explores the phenomenon in general way. Most of the coverage is still focused on the sensational aspects of single events. Getting respect, however, should be the first goal instead of whining over the failure to get full disclosure. The second important item that could be achieved is to challenge the way the phenomenon has been wrongly classified. Put under the proper scientific criteria, along with history, sociology and psychology, is the second leg of this modest proposal.
These may sound like very small issues, however, they can work synergistically to explode the old paradigm and usher in a new era of open, scientific inquiry and dialogue.
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