Frank Soriano and James Bouck. UFOs Above the Law: True Incidents Law Enforcement Officers’ Encounters with UFOs. Schiffer, 2011

Carmen McLaren. UFO Conspiracy. Schiffer, 2011.

Preston Dennett. UFOs over New Mexico: A True History of Extraterrestrial Encounters in the Land of Enchantment. Schiffer, 2011

Austerity and nostalgia rather meet in the first two of this collection of books from Schiffer. This is ufology stripping down to its 1950/60s bones, ditching much of the accretions it has accumulated in recent years. The first is by a retired police officer (or made redundant nearly thirty years ago,) and a corrections officer (i.e. prison guard) and presents a number of UFO reports involving police officers, including giving detailed transcripts. Of course, not being there and in the witness’s heads it is difficult to know what is going on in such cases.

The authors seem to think that coppers and screws are especially trained witnesses, but the life of me I cannot see why. Police officers are surely meant to keep their eyes firmly on the ground, looking out for the antisocial teenagers, joy riders, drunk drivers, burglars and thugs who are their stock in trade. They are also actually trained to be rather paranoid, to see suspicious activity where there is none, rather than ignore potential trouble. I would have thought that the screws spent most of their time indoors looking after their charges and have absolutely no expertise in strange lights in the sky. Perhaps I am mistaken though and in the US they spend their time looking at the stars, while the various prison gangs spend the night stabbing, raping and beating each other to death.

Their credibility is not enhanced by their taking at face values the Rendlesham stories of Larry Warren, the abduction story of Linda Neopolitano and Varingha case

Soriano has a video of something in the sky, which has been pronounced unexplained by Bruce Maccabee, who has also endorsed the faked photos of Ed Walters. I suspect that this implies that Maccabee is one of those ‘experts’ who is so taken by their own expertise and techniques that they are quite incapable of questioning them when they lead to obviously absurd conclusions, and get into the state of thinking that they are so brilliant that only a super-genius like Leonardo da Vinci could get one over on them. This does not mean that Soriano’s video is faked, but that analyses from more neutral sources would be of interest.

McClaren’s book is a real return to the ufology of the 1950s and 1960s. a large catalogue of “selected” UFO reports, the aim of which is not to persuade people that there is something interesting going on that needs study, but that UFOs are alien spaceships, that the US government knows this, and this is ammo to get them to “tell the truth” (i.e. confirm ufologists beliefs).

If this was a really careful, critical selection, then whatever the intention, it might demonstrate that there are indeed very puzzling UFO reports. There still may some in this book, but the trouble is that it is both careless and credulous. Thus we get one of the most exaggerated incorrect versions of the original Magonia story that I have ever seen; the Thutmose UFO story (exploded in the Condon Report more than forty years ago; the Byfield abbey UFO (a hoax); the Sawbill occupant case (a fictional story written for a company magazine); the old chestnut of Oliver Larch (fiction based on a short story by Ambrose Bierce); the Mantell, Chiles-Whitted and Gorman classics rescued from the IFO files; the Vidal abduction (fiction), a completely inaccurate account of the Gill case (even the year is wrong!!); the Oldfield UFO film presented as a genuine UFO case, which was shown to be a refraction in a plane's window by the BBC’s Tomorrow’s World programme, by the simple procedure of restaging the flight and filming the same effect. To add to this he endorses Ed Walters. After this I have very little confidence in the accuracy any of his accounts.

The third book, that by Preston Dennett, though, I suspect, not intended as such, should be viewed as a collection of folklore. It simply gives by date and category, collections of UFO reports from the state. The first section, that of UFO reports is in many ways similar to that of McLaren, some of these reports may well be very puzzling, though others will, no doubt, be easy to discount IFOs. As seems to be the standard, the more dramatic stories are those reported years or decades after the alleged events. It is when we get into the realms of abductions, contactees and UFO crashes that we enter closer into the domain of pure folklore. Dennett’s attempt to square the circle of the various different accounts of Roswell is amusing, of course he never mentions that “witness” after “witness” has been discredited by subsequent events.

These books also reveals the curious love/hate relationship that Americans seem to have with their government. One the one hand it is seen to be all-wise and all-knowing, capable of doing anything, even investigating UFO reports and coming to a conclusion, but also as malevolent, engaged in vast conspiracies to hide the “truth” from the public. Instead of research, ufologists like McLaren and Dennett prefer Tea Party type populism. Needless to say anyone who disagrees with them is not just someone who has different opinions, or is even mistaken. No, they are paid agents of ‘the Government’ (always presented as monolithic entity and not as a collection of disparate individuals). In case Her Majesty’s Revenue shows an interest, I can confirm that I for one have never received a cent from the wicked old Feds.

They also seem to present an impression of the inhabitants of “land of the free and the home of the brave” as collection of milk sop wimps who cringe at the sight of a uniform. Brits of my old dad’s generation if told to keep silent by some guy in a uniform would have replied “****!!! off, I'm not in your ******* army now”, and told them that it was our taxes who paid jumped up little Hitlers like them their wages.

These books also show again that for many ufologists the subject is not an enquiry to find out what generates UFO reports, but a faith community. They ‘know’ that UFOs are extraterrestrial spaceships and that the US government knows this, they simply amass reports in other to convert other people to their beliefs. – Peter Rogerson.

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