Monday, July 18, 2016


The danger of UFO fandom

UFO fans can be a danger to society.

Okay, I said it.

I won't go as far as to endorse Philip Klass' book UFOs: A Dangerous Game, but I will say that in some circumstances, ardent UFO buffs can be a serious problem.

I received another message overnight from a rather uncritical UFO fan. I've heard from him before; he sees UFOs (READ: lights moving in the sky) fairly often and sends me his notes on observations. He's shown uncompromisingly poor judgement in his pursuit. He sees dozens of UFOs nearly every time he goes out skywatching, often in the middle of a populated area with many lights and with significant light pollution, and usually near flight paths leading towards airports. In addition, he sometimes sends me links to Beforeitsnews and some other hoax sites raving about how great they are.
In general, I didn't really think this kind of UFO fan caused any serious problems. They're annoying, but tolerable. And a bit embarrassing to serious ufology. 
But last night's message gave me concern.
He noted:
"Friday night was a goodnight for U.F.O hunting. From 11pm to 3am i saw 2 U.F.O's They had red and white lights on the corners shaped like a triangle or a boomerang object i could see it in my binoculars. The 1st one came straight down on the right side over the farmers yard light. Than it hovered slowly left over the trees. When i signaled it with the lazor pointer and the flash light it signaled me back with a brighter white light. Those 2 U.F.O's came back and forth over the hrs I was watching them. A perfect night in Tyndall for U.F.O hunting calm, clear and no wind out."
Yes, that's right. He's using a "lazor" pointer to shine at the UFOs he's seeing... which are obviously aircraft! So now, he's endangering human life!
What do we do? He will not believe me that it's an aircraft. he's convinced everything he sees is an alien ship.
He's not the first one, of course.
Brilliant ufological historian Isaac Koi pointed out to me that in 2011, a UFO fan got into legal trouble for doing this same thing, shining a laser pen at a police helicopter because he thought it was a UFO:
... although he got off easy:
UFO fans get their ideas to do this from several pro-contact writers and groups. Stu Hanberry noted that Greer's Sirius CSETI campouts include instructions for participants that note:
A good pair of binoculars is useful for viewing aerial or otherwise distant phenomena, and a laser pointer is helpful both for signaling and for pointing out objects when working in a group although should use should be minimized.
So what should dedicated ufological researchers do with such individuals? Most will not accept the possibility they have been only observing aircraft. The lights seen by Greer on a CSETI expedition to Florida several years ago (and which were likely a Search-and-Rescue operation) have been held up as definite contact with aliens by his adherents.

And the fellow who contacted me has never been swayed by my suggesting his many UFO sightings were not of alien spacecraft.

If only those aliens would stop disguising their saucers as terrestrial aircraft.


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