1 November 2012


The Pelican's campaign to Make Ufology History has been hampered by the efforts of ufologists and journalists to provide the credulous proletariat with an unending supply of amazing UFO testimony, fake photos and videos, and, for the dedicated UFO believers, the lecture-circuit liars who tour those crazy UFO conferences.

Recently, though, there have been encouraging signs of the decline of what Supreme Commander Jim Moseley decribes as Serious Ufologists. They include those who like to argue that some UFO reports are sightings of extraterrestrial craft and that some of these have landed, or even crashed, and provided physical evidence. They also include those who regard belief in "true" UFOs as a virtue, as if ufology were some kind of quasi-religious cult. Another strange belief of the Serious Ufologist is that while individual UFO reports might not be convincing, the sheer number of them means that you have to take them seriously enough to believe that some of them must be the real thing. They seem not to understand the simple logic that if you add garbage to garbage you just get more garbage.

In the good old days of the old-fashioned UFO UpDates mailing list there used to be many fascinating, lengthy and detailed arguments between believers and sceptics, as well as the drivel contributed by the inevitable head bangers, which provided some light relief from the often bewildering technicalities described by some of the more erudite list members. (Anyone who read these carefully and critically could see that some of these technical arguments were quite bogus, but that only added to the fun.)

Lately, however, UFO UpDates has gone for days at a time without any contributions appearing, which The Pelican attributes partly to the extraordinary effects of the publication of Leslie Kean's book, UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go on the Record . When the book came out several ufologists, including intelligent and thoughtful ones who ought to have known better, read it and were delighted to find that it told them just what they wanted to hear, and wrote glowing reviews. Being Serious Ufologists, they were also delighted to note that there were no stories about little grey aliens gliding through bedroom walls to abduct people. A number of sceptics ("skeptibunkers" in the believers' jargon) read the book rather more carefully and pointed out that Kean had published contributions by UFO believers without any critical comment. She just accepted their stories without asking any awkward questions. The sceptics gleefully noted that many of the allegedly amazing stories had long since been thoroughly investigated and explained, as hoaxes or misinterpretations or combinations of both. The sceptics were given even more cause to gloat when it was revealed that the photographer of the amazing triangular UFO over Belgium in 1990 admitted that he had faked it. In Kean's book a learned professor explains why it must be genuine.

A critical look at the reports described in this book would not only have to mention the findings of serious (i.e. honest and objective) investigators but would also have to attempt to refute them. Kean deals with this problem by simply ignoring them. It thus slowly began to dawn on some of the Serious Ufologists that the book was having the opposite effect, on people whose opinions matter, than that which was presumably intended. The suspicion that Kean was more interested in cheap sensationalism than plain truth was confirmed when she recently got involved in publicity over videos of alleged UFOs over an airfield in Chile. When it was established that these were nearby insects rather than distant saucers, she refused to accept this and even the more credulous Serious Ufologists found it difficult to continue taking her seriously.

The decline in the activities of UFO believers is thus caused, in The Pelican's expert opinion, by the mental conflict between the desire to believe in interstellar spacecraft and the growing realisation that most of the evidence is faked or misinterpretations of ordinary events. The decline of UFO UpDates is thus due to some bad cases of cognitive dissonance.


  1. nearby insects rather than distant saucers

    "So you see... these are small, those are far away."

    Sounds like a great story - got a link?

    1. Yes.


      This post has helpful GIFs of the same footage, plus analysis of Kean's silly claims.

  2. The Pelican reads UFO Updates so the rest of us don't have to, so thanks for this informative posting. Cognitive dissonance indeed.

  3. Fortunately, the archives are still available for those of us new to the field. It's interesting to go back and see ufologists criticising classic cases -- unless, of course, skeptics or Magonians were doing the critiquing, in which case the list turned into a schoolyard brawl.

    Anyway, critiques rarely arise now, except for new cases, which are sometimes discussed and occasionally poo-pooed, as long as these critiques don't upset old cases or are proferred by ex-wives.

  4. Thank God there's nothing to any of this UFO stuff. For a while, life was getting terrifyingly interesting. With my obsessive belief in UFOs dispelled, I can apply myself to tasks at work much more efficiently. The boss smiles at me more now, and nothing makes me happier than the boss smiling at me.

  5. Having looked at UFO Updates only a couple of times I observed that

    1) It looks like a printout of an early 1980s DOS-based system screen (how quaint and charming), and

    2) It reads very much like the e-mail strings forwarded to me at work -- the ones that have about 15 prior e-mails in them (none of which were addressed to me) that make no sense at all because I wasn't part of the initial discussions, and now somebody's just added my name to the e-mail routing in the hope of tossing the hot potato to me (who needs more of that?).

    Anyway, some seem to take UFO Updates much too seriously and feel the need to criticize it regularly (it appears devoted to pointless and uninformative bickering, so why bother?). Is it because UFO Updates well may be the genesis of the surly and macho street brawler attitude so au courant among today's Ufologists?