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