1.12.09

MAGONIA 17, OCTOBER 1984

One feature of the old print version of Magonia that I quite liked doing was the ‘25 Years Ago’ piece. One reason was that it was always useful for filling in the odd half page that invariably seemed to be left over once I’d got everything else laid out for the printers.

The other, rather better, reason was that it gave a glimpse of how attitudes to UFOs and ufology had changed in the intervening quarter-century - or more usually how little had changed. So I thought I’d start giving it a go here on the blog.

For some reason the October 1984 Magonia was a special ETH issue, with contributions from Jenny Randles and Luis Gonzáles, as well as Magonia’s regular mobsters, John Harney and Peter Rogerson.

Jenny’s piece was a careful bet-hedging exercise, concluding: “…are the UFO phenomena alien in origin? If we mean in the traditional sense of gravity-powered spaceships from Alpha Centuri my answer must be no.” But not so fast, chaps: “But I have a growing suspicion that the ETH is a more subtle - or quasi-conscious - sense may yet provide a few surprises.” Well, 25 years on and we’re still waiting!

Peter Rogerson’s article, People of a Different Shape, pointed out the basic contradiction in the ETH argument, in that all attempts to define it are constrained by our own evolution and culture, and that even those things we take as universal constants - physics, chemistry, mathematics - are themselves “products of the way we human beings perceive the universe”.

As Magonia’s professional contrarian, John Harney came up with a Plea for the ETH, even going so far as to look at the question from the ET’s point of view, and raising the possibility that they might be here, but we haven’t noticed them. Rather like Jenny, he concludes: “There is a chance that the revival of the ETH in a more subtle and sophisticated form might possibly yield interesting results”. Hmmm.

Luis Gonzáles’s piece considered something also touched on in John’s article: that ET contact with Earth may have been operating over a timescale of several centuries, imagining a self-sustaining ‘world ship’ ship with a population of up to a million ETs, settled somewhere in the asteroid belt. He makes quite a good case for it, confessing that he almost convinced himself. But in a mood of regret concludes: “We need the ETH. If UFOs were explained and psychologists, sociologists, geophysicists, etc., etc., take over, what are we poor ufologists going to talk about?”

Indeed!

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