UFO Conjectures

Monday, February 24, 2014

UFO Faith, UFO Atheism, and UFO Nescience

An article in the February 17/24 New Yorker by Adam Gopnik [Bigger Than Phil: When Did Faith Start to Fade?] deals with Atheism and Faith, about God, of course.

But some of writer Gopnik’s observations apply to the UFO topic, which is rife with believers and atheists (skeptics). It also allows the entry of ignorance to the matter.

Readers here know that UFO mavens consist of rabid believers and equally rabid skeptics. (I’ve dealt with this a number of times, as you know.)

What is disturbing is the raft of ignorant people and their ignorant contributions to the UFO topic, mine included, I’m sorry to write.

New Yorker writer Gopnik notes that “polemicists…[work] not to persuade but to stiffen the spines of their supporters and irritate the stomach linings of their enemies.” [Page 107]

This is obvious in the UFO contributions that clutter the internet.

But lately we’re stunned that our friends at The Anomalist, who generously acknowledge my meager efforts, have taken to lauding material that is magnificently obtuse, when Gopnik tells his readers this: “Argos, the hundred-eyed watchman might have had more sight than other giants, but he didn’t have sharper sight.” [Page 108]

That is, Anomalist seeks out the fringe, with little or no discernment for the quality, or lack thereof, of what they promote. Why? Nescience.

Gopnik offers that “The difficulty, as always with the popular chronicles of ideas, is not that ideas don’t matter; it’s that we too readily skip over the question of how they come to matter. What seeded the ground is the historian’s easy question; what made the ground receive the seed is the hard one.” [Page 108]

If atheists [UFO non-believers] underestimate the fudginess in [UFO] faith, [UFO] believers underestimate the soupiness of [UFO] doubt. [Page 110]

About Christianity  ,which mimics the vicissitudes of UFO faith, Gopnik writes, “Christian rites were mocked among the Romans for their vulgarity long before they were denounced for the absurdity.” [Page 110]

This applies to “ufology” also, the skeptics adopting the Roman stance.

Gopnok cites author John Updike who wrote that “The power of materialist science to explain everything … seems to be inarguable and the principle glory of the modern mind. On the other hand …illusions composes the basic substance of our existence, and religion [UFO belief], in its many forms, attempts to address, organize, and placate these.” [Page 111]

In the theological/religious universe, atheism seems to have a foothold. And in the UFO universe, skepticism hopes to gain a foothold and may have already.

And while newbies in academia misunderstand the belief/atheistic divide, such UFO advisory groups, as The Anomalist, often misunderstand the UFO landscape.

The Anomalist noted that I think UFOs are on a downhill run and about to go belly up. Anomalist pooh-poohed my view with an aside about how many old UFO sightings still need reclamation and study.

That’s true, and I’ve listed many of the classic cases here that seem to contain elements that could lead to an understanding of the UFO phenomenon.

But the Anomalist editors – not Patrick Huyghe! – are relative UFO newbies. They, unlike CDA or me, haven’t been around during the UFO heyday, when flying saucer sightings were vibrant and arresting.

Today’s UFO sightings and reports are poor examples of what was.

And today’s commentary about UFOs are so much poorer than the writing and excitement during the early modern years of UFOs or flying saucers, evidenced by a comparison of the early UFO books and magazine articles to today’s UFO effluvia.

UFO writer Nick Redfern knows this and writes as a bona fide historian of the UFO lore, new and old.

But others, that get recognized as relevant, are anything but.

And the UFO faithful get swamped by the UFO atheists because as Gopnik sees it (about religion and the belief in or not in God), “True rationalists are as rare in life as actual deconstructionists are in university English departments …” [Page 109]

No one deconstructs UFOs, not even those that The Anomalist lauds.

The field of UFO study is awash in nescience, even by those who think they are above and beyond the epithet.

RR