An Essay: The Charlatan Ufologist
Ufology has always had a bit of a bad rep, even in the “good old days” of saucerdom. It wasn’t bad enough that some witnesses’ stories were incredible, but some witnesses themselves were literally not credible. Media had a field day with many claims, and the resulting headlines expounded the view that flying saucers were flights of fancy.
And then there’s the ufologists themselves. Since there’s no accredited body that grants degrees in ufology, anyone can claim expertise in the field. Traditionally, astronomers have been selected by media as having the most knowledge in the subject of UFOs, but that’s on the assumption that aliens are piloting the craft, and since aliens are from outer space, that’s the astronomers’ bag.
But investigative ufologists and seasoned researchers know that the astronomy/UFO connection isn’t all that firm. In fact, arguments can be made that atmospheric physicists or psychologists or theologians might be more knowledgeable in this case.
So it’s not surprising that pop ufology is populated mostly by self-proclaimed experts whose expertise seems mostly to be in successful media management. No one really has the answers, else there wouldn’t be such intense debate as to the nature of UFOs. Arm-waving speculation is at a frenzied rate at UFO conferences, oftentimes reaching propeller intensity.
And many popular speakers today are considerably less than credible, even less than in the Golden Age of Ufology. Their antics do little more than muddy the waters and confuse an increasingly befuddled public, who have a strong desire to know The Truth but lack the resources to investigate or research the subject or cases themselves. So they turn to “experts” who expound on how aliens help us to raise our collective terrestrial consciousness, promise imminent Disclosure of government cover-up, or claim to have hybrid children living in numinous realms.
Most ufologists readily admit that the field has been riddled with charlatans and hoaxers over the past seven decades. One of the most prominent in the early days was George Adamski, who called himself “Professor George Adamski,” even though he had no parchment to that effect. He claimed personal contact with Venusians and travels in various spacecraft, even producing several fuzzy and out-of-focus photos of the Venusian saucers in which he flew. These were the forerunners of the classic blurry UFO photos that are presented as proof of UFOs even today.
Although it was obvious to most people that Adamski made up his stories of alien contact, many people believed him and even today there are said to be pockets of Adamski adherents. His claims in the late 1940s were effectively duplicated by contactee Billy Meier thirty years later, who claimed he also met aliens and took photographs of spacecraft. His hoaxing was uncovered by many people; his photo of the female alien named Semjase was shown to be a published photo of an entertainer, and models of saucers matching the appearance of the “real ones” he said he photographed in flight were found in a barn near his home. Again, despite his obvious hoaxing, Meier still has many followers today who insist he actually had contact with aliens.
The recent expose of a purported photograph of a mummified alien as a human child wrapped in cloth shows that the will to believe is still driving some people to accept claims by ufologists without critical examination. But if the proponents of such claims are themselves not aware their “earth-shattering evidence” is spurious, are they indeed charlatans or simply blind followers of The Truth? Upon being illuminated as to the nature of their misdiagnoses, would they not be obliged to offer their audiences a mea culpa and move on to the next artefact or object of interest?
Hoaxers and charlatans have kept ufology’s alien corpses alive in a strictly figurative sense. The lack of real and unquestionable proof of alien visitation has forced believers to look to others with seemingly profound and intimate information about UFOs for guidance and leadership, and as sources of “the good stuff.” As a consequence, those who are actively pursuing avenues of productive research on the subject are almost completely ignored or otherwise relegated to the backwaters of Forteana in favour of much more fanciful and exciting storytellers who weave tales of contact with “tall whites” or “evil Reptilians” bent on genetic manipulation of us terrans.
It’s much more exhilarating to believe we, as mere Earthlings, can use remote viewing to examine alien bases on the Moon than to accept that our best efforts to reach for the stars have forced us to be more grounded in physical reality. It’s better to think we can be selected to become terrestrial ambassadors to far-off races than to be simple humans living on a slightly damp rock in an arm of a nondescript galaxy in a universe that has little interest in our existence.
And yet, it is in our nature to gaze upward at the cosmos... and wonder.