"It's a very dangerous thing to believe in nonsense." -- James Randi
|Volume 6 Issue 2||February 1998|
A Plastic Phenomenon
by Martin KottmeyerIn the early decades of the UFO controversy, leading UFOlogists like Donald Keyhoe and Coral Lorenzen used to argue that the UFO phenomenon was changing over time. It was passing through a series of stages, becoming more visible, bolder, more dangerous and invasive. Eventually, they felt, these trends would lead to a mass landing or full-scale takeover. This sense of a future metamorphosis faded and has given way to an opposite sensibility. The UFO phenomenon is now felt to be a basically stable presence, the same 50 years ago as it is today. David Jacobs, the leading proponent of this view, argues it is so stable it poses a paradox to those who deny the reality of UFOs.1 Variation is a hallmark of fiction and myth.
Even some individuals who do not take a nuts and bolts view of the UFO phenomenon have taken to thinking of UFOlogy as a basically static collection of beliefs and stories. This may partly be a consequence of the language adopted by UFOlogists. Nouns like objects and phenomenon promote a static image whereas the reality may actually be dynamic and, it is tempting to say, ephemeral. Though it is far too late to challenge such established conventions, there is an obvious corrective in simply reminding ourselves how UFOs have demonstrably changed over the past half century. The logical starting place is a visit to Ted Bloechers monumental labor of love, Report on the UFO Wave of 1947 (author, 1967). The portrait of the flying saucer phenomenon which emerges from the study of these 853 cases differs from later portraits in nearly every aspect. More