UFOs: Reframing The Debate
IF YOU LIKE YOUR UFO LITERATURE TO CONFIRM WHAT YOU ALREADY ‘KNOW,’ THIS IS NOT THE BOOK FOR YOU!
The UFO field has produced thousands of dedicated researchers over the years, and reams of literature; but to what end? What can we claim to know conclusively today about the underlying nature of UFO phenomena that we didn’t know in the late-1940s? UFO study has always suffered from major organizational and methodological problems. It has also become dangerously self-referential.
If ever we are to further our understanding of the UFO enigma, we must fundamentally reframe our debate. We must wipe the board clean and fill it with new ideas, new theories, even new language. We must be willing to start from scratch when the field stagnates. We must be critical, sober, and free of dogma—ready to rinse away the residue of our own beliefs.
UFOs: Reframing the Debate is a collection of original essays exploring alternative perspectives on UFOs and how we might more usefully study the phenomenon in the 21st Century. The book brings together some of the most progressive and iconoclastic thinkers in the field for an incisive deconstruction of current popular ideas. Critical but constructive, this challenging volume represents a range of differing (even conflicting) alternative viewpoints on UFOs and related phenomena.
UFOs: Reframing the Debate is a cold, hard, slap in the face for ‘UFOlogy,’ a call to break away from established ideas, approaches, and practices, and to boldly tread a new path in quest of understanding what may very well be the greatest mystery of all.
Featuring essays by:
- MJ Banias – Terra Obscura – Where Theory and High Strangeness Meet
- Greg Bishop – The Excluded Middle & Radio Misterioso – In-depth conversations on the paranormal alternating with weird music
- Robert Brandstetter – TEDxYouth@Mississuga (Video)
- Jack Brewer – The UFO Trail & The Greys Have Been Framed
- Mike Clelland – Hidden Experience & Mike Clelland.com
- Curt Collins – Blue Blurry Lines
- Lorin Cutts – High Strangeness Radio Show
- Susan Demeter-St. Clair – Out Of My Mind’s Eye – SusanStClair.com
- Micah Hanks – Micah Hanks.com & The Gralien Report – The Future Is Now
Chris Rutkowski – Ufology Research
- Foreword by Diana Walsh Pasulka – Professor and Chair of the Department of Philosophy and Religion, University of North Carolina & author of American Cosmic: UFOs. Technology, Belief (forthcoming from Oxford University Press) and Heaven Can Wait from Oxford University Press
- Edited by Robbie Graham – Silver Screen Saucers: Sorting Fact from Fantasy in Hollywood’s UFO Movies
Editor, Robbie Graham, has done a highly commendable job in pulling together some disparate and rebellious views on what is – even at the best of times – a very difficult subject to navigate. Released in a couple of months that have seen yet more supposed Majestic 12 documents surface, another “alien” mummy controversy, MUFON (the world’s largest UFO research organization) embroiled in a PR disaster… and one of the best selling UFO books over the past two decades now likely to be largely fiction (Left At East Gate) – could this book come at a more important time? Here’s hoping that it may have an effect in shaping UFO research in the future – or at least provide some challenging food for thought amidst the endless ufotainment that propogates much of the UFO subject today.
*Read Robbie Graham’s full introduction to the book at Mysterious Universe.
There are many interviews out there to promote the book by various contributers – this is probably one of the best.
“Once in a while, when the study of UFOs sinks deep into stale complacency, a breath of fresh air blows in to wake up the participants and revitalize the discussion. This book is just such a refresher. Instead of the perennial standoff between believers, who treat extraterrestrial visitation as established fact, and skeptics, who dismiss the whole subject as obvious foolishness, the contributors to UFOs: Reframing the Debate find nuance and layers where too many others see only black and white or foregone conclusions. These essays honor the full scope of the phenomenon—the material, high-strangeness, experiential, psychological, social, cultural, expressive, mythic, and religious aspects alike—and recognize them as equally important, equally revealing dimensions of a complex whole. Each chapter will fascinate and infuriate readers with fixed ideas of what is true and important about UFOs, as well as set new ideas and connections buzzing in their brains. This brash, rejuvenating effort to lift ufology out of its intellectual morass is an achievement of Fortean thinking that Charles Fort himself might envy.”
—Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D.
Author of The Myth and Mystery of UFOs
Robbie Graham’s UFO anthology reframes the UFO from facile tabloid fare into its real challenge—how to interpret strange experiences offering hints of an Underlying Fundamental Ontology. To tackle such a difficult and at times bewildering task, a deep multidisciplinary dive is required. And that’s exactly what you’ll find in this thoughtful and stimulating book.”
—Dean Radin, Ph.D.
Chief Scientist, Institute of Noetic Sciences
Author of Supernormal
“Robbie Graham has assembled a set of essays with very subversive insights into the nature of UFO phenomena. If you intend to seriously study UFOs, you must read this book.”
—George P. Hansen
Author of The Trickster and the Paranormal
“More than another recitation of the latest UFO events, UFOs: Reframing the Debate takes one giant step backward to get a good look at where the field as a whole stands in these early decades of the 21st century. Whether you are a hard-core materialist fan of the extraterrestrial hypothesis of UFO origins, gobsmacked and captivated by the frequency of ‘high strangeness’ UFO sighting reports, or a devotee of the ‘space brothers’ camp of UFO enthusiasts, there’s something herein that is sure to delight and offend you, by turns. These thoughtful, critical essays deserve a thoughtful, critical reading by all who have ever wondered ‘what about…’ and ‘what if…’”
—Brenda Denzler, Ph.D.
Author of The Lure of the Edge
“The UFO, to paraphrase a wise man who may never have lived, is a sphere whose center is everywhere and circumference nowhere. It might be a vehicle; it might be a passage between worlds; it might be a world in itself; it might be an intelligent other; it might be an intelligent us. It is a symbol representing everything we don’t yet understand about the worlds we inhabit, and, most importantly, our relationships to them. Collectively, the contributors to this timely volume recognize this; they understand that there is no UFO phenomenon, there are only phenomena, just as there is no UFO story, there are only UFO stories. Despite the best efforts of some luminous minds, many of them included here, the UFO debate has, for far too long, been a circular one—this book should help that circle to become a sphere.”
Author of Mirage Men
SELECTED THOUGHTS FROM THE VOLUME
“Although adherents insist they are on a quest for ‘truth,’ their insistence they already ‘know’ such truth undermines attempts by UFO researchers and investigators to understand the true nature of the phenomenon.”
“UFO zealots cannot be convinced to become more scientific in their approach, largely because they are faith-based and religious in nature. They operate on preconceived notions and a set of beliefs that preclude rigorous analysis. Their worldview is clearly metamodernist, accepting any and all claims and statements without critical examination.”
“If these experiences are what they seem to be, then it should be no surprise that they [UFO experiencers] can come across like fanatical zealots.”
“This weirder stuff gets ignored because some folks feel a need to be taken seriously. I would love to be taken seriously too, but I also feel a need to honestly share what’s happened to me.”
“This is an esoteric mystery and it requires esoteric methodologies to peel back its secrets.”
“The UFO Mythological Zone… is the gap between fact and belief, what we see and what we want to see, what we experience and how we interpret it.”
“People are forming highly personalized variations of the one core belief—the belief in a UFO reality. All else is up for individual interpretation via the UFO mythological zone. In the absence of facts, many people simply choose what they want to believe.”
“We might consider that understanding someone’s point of view doesn’t necessarily equate to agreement.”
“A great deal of completely inaccurate—and often, at best, unverified—information is widely accepted, then spread as if it were reliable. We then tend to form beliefs and make up our minds about things which haven’t actually been adequately explained. People subsequently not only reject revisions and corrections, but tend to embrace beliefs even more tightly when those beliefs are shown to be incorrect.”
“From materialism’s ashes, a new model of reality will arise wherein the scientific establishment accepts the completely intangible, wholly interiorized phenomenon of human consciousness can manifest measurable effects in our physical world.”
“Moving beyond materialism is about honestly confronting the fact that we know nothing for certain about UFOs, yet choosing to be inspired rather than frustrated by this realization, leading to a type of non-dogmatic gnosticism.”
“I can respect, communicate, and interact with people who do not share my own ideas.”
“Modern skepticism can, I think, be summarized in many instances as an ideology, around which a social movement has been built—one that, today, also runs tangent with atheism—and as a paradoxically evangelical attitude about the supremacy of science above all other forms of knowledge.”
“I advocate for a multi-theory interpretation of the UFO phenomenon. I don’t think there is any one explanation that accounts for all the data. I think there are a number of things going on simultaneously.”
“Human belief in alien Others creates cults, religions, and social movements of significance… it is clear that a wide variety of human agencies have manipulated the superstitions and myths surrounding stories of contact with non-human entities—folklore has been weaponized as a means to various ends.”
“What the Roswell Slides episode did was to expose the serious flaws common in standard ufology research practices… We were told that the evidence had been subjected to expert analysis, but the promoters themselves were the ones deciding which experts were qualified, only presenting findings supporting their existing beliefs that the body in the Slides was something non-human.”
“By pooling our resources, we each had the best available data, access to the counsel of our peers, and the inspiration and encouragement to keep trying to find the truth. Groups can be great tools, but they have their limitations. Each of us must remain objective, seek the best evidence and ask challenging questions, whether as part of a team or as individuals.”
“There is no future for ufology, and UFO discourse as a whole, in the mainstream. If a grandiose extraterrestrial contact event occurred tomorrow, and the UFO question was forced into mainstream ideology, ufology would die an instant death as the entire subject would become quickly negotiated into the general sciences, and therefore into capitalist ideological structures. If we assume that the status quo is maintained, and there is no public announcement regarding extraterrestrials, ufology will remain where it is.”
“Many of my colleagues in ufological circles would argue that it is essential for UFO discourse to move away from the theological, and towards the scientific method. I would agree with them; however, the razor cuts both ways, and the ideological mechanisms of the sciences can be as dogmatic as the religious tenets of the UFO believers.”
“Empires bloom and crumble to dust, and yet the mystery of the UFO lingers still—for it perhaps is not a puzzle meant to be unlocked by a consensus, but confronted and dealt with by each and every one of us when the proper time comes.”
“I have successfully turned my lifelong obsession for UFOs into my personal alchemy, encouraging myself to pursue questions I know full well are without easy answers, and to grow both intellectually and spiritually for it. To assume one is certain of the phenomenon’s true origins and intentions at this stage is beyond arrogant—it is childishly naive.”
—RED PILL JUNKIE
“While I can appreciate and respect a ‘nuts and bolts’ approach to the phenomenon, the one clearly tangible vehicle central to any UFO story is the human witness. To ignore certain aspects of the experience that are described as ‘paranormal’ by the people who witness them is an act of folly.”
“By cherry-picking reports and ignoring or being unsympathetic towards cases of high strangeness, researchers are losing valuable pieces of information and data that could work towards a greater understanding of the experience as a whole.”
—SUSAN DEMETER-ST. CLAIR
“To even scratch the surface of the UFO enigma, we must move past the mentality that we are dealing purely with nuts and bolts, past the notion that the key to the UFO phenomenon lies in physical analysis.”
“Instead of watching a phantom war between realists and dreamers, perhaps we might benefit from standing, if only for a little while, with one foot in each camp.”
“How much do we bring to the dance during a paranormal encounter? In other words, how much of the UFO experience is the result of our subconscious minds trying to make sense of unexpected, startling, and/or frightening input, and leaving us with an insane placeholder when it can’t decide on anything else?”
“UFOs and anything walking out of them are never expected and always strange. In the act of first experiencing the event, and then, more importantly, in remembering it and telling the story about it to ourselves and others, we are adding many layers of cultural baggage and other input that help us to make sense of the experience. In so doing, we are taking ourselves step-by-step away from our original impressions.”
“If we are to better know the UFO then we must learn first how to disentangle ourselves from the hallucinatory nature of seeing and accept that much of what is reported in closer encounter events is so very strange because it is beyond the borders of what can be witnessed.”
“In longing to make contact with the alien Other, we can destabilize ourselves in ways that are not always healthy in how we endure our lonely existential hours… To dare to know the song the siren sings is to sink oneself into a void of self-design. The pursuit of the UFO mystery offers much of the same. There is a danger in surrendering the ego and identity, and so the call of the UFO may simply be one that is mirroring something much simpler to us. Do not try to penetrate the mystery, for that is not the way, but learn about yourself and what you are at the edges of the capacities of your biology.”