I spent an hour yesterday interviewing NUFORC director Peter Davenport for a profile piece now chilling in the editorial queue at Technorati. It’s scheduled for publication on Friday.
I also emailed the editor of Link, pitching the idea of a regular ufology column in his magazine. Edgy and hip and somewhat in-your-face though it is, Link does reside in Greenville, SC, so I’ll be surprised if the idea generates any interest. But nothing ventured …
Talking with Davenport yesterday and investigative journalist Paola Harris a few days earlier, I was struck by how absolutely normal they are, these prominent people in the crazy field of ufology.
I’m not so far removed from skepticism myself as to have forgotten how I used to expect everyone involved with UFOs to have a tick or a quirk or some symptom that I could point to and say, “See? Not playing with a full deck, that one. None of them are.”
One definition of insanity, however, is doing the same thing over and over and over again, expecting a different result.
So I stopped.
Davenport and Harris are two cogent, articulate professionals, both of whom are understandably amazed by what seems to be transpiring … all of it … from the phenomenon itself to the government’s refusal to acknowledge the phenomenon to the American media’s reluctance to report the government’s refusal. I share their amazement.
An X-Conference presentation comes to mind from several years ago, one given by former FAA official John Callaghan. I remember him holding up the bundle of air traffic control documents he’d brought to substantiate an unambiguous in-flight close encounter reported by a JAL pilot as he asked, “Now, who are you going to believe? The government, or your lying eyes?”
The pilot had been reprimanded for talking to the press and U.S. government officials had tried to make the incident disappear, as per usual.
This, I think, is the greater part of what fascinates me about whatever the hell is going on. Hundreds of credible witnesses, radar reports, photos, videos. The kind of evidence that would be admitted in court and more than enough of it to send people to prison if seeing a UFO were a crime.
Clearly, much of the “proof” is hoaxed or questionable, but much of it just as clearly isn’t. Stanton Friedman, one of the more popular speakers on the UFO lecture circuit, makes the point that most materials aren’t fissionable, but that nuclear physicists don’t care about those. They’re interested in the subset of materials that are fissionable. He’s a nuclear physicist himself, so I figure he knows what he’s talking about on that score.
Radio talkshow host Kevin Smith makes the complementary point that extraordinary claims actually don’t require extraordinary evidence, as Carl Sagan famously stated. They should be held to the same evidentiary standards as any other claims.
It would be extraordinary, for example, to claim that Tom Brokaw had stolen women’s underwear from a Victoria’s Secret store, but how much more difficult should it be to convict him of shoplifting than it would be to convict anyone else?
Friedman and Smith are reasonable men, as are so many others, but their voices get drowned out … by officials scoffing, “Lil’ green men!” and the press echoing, “Lil’ green men!” and the boys in the back of the pickup truck singing “Lil’ green men!”
Good night, America.
And good luck.