“the absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” – Donald Rumsfeld
An amusing article in national UK newspaper The Daily Telegraph suggests that UFO chasers are getting bored of the lack of proof regarding ongoing extra terrestrial contact. According to the article the lack of physical evidence to support their faith is killing off the enthusiasm of true believers.
Somone should perhaps explain the ongoing success of religion to the journalist in question…
For decades, they have been scanning the skies for signs of alien activity.
But having failed to establish any evidence for the existence of extraterrestrial life, Britain’s UFO watchers are reaching the conclusion that the truth might not be out there after all.
Enthusiasts admit that a continued failure to provide proof and a decline in the number of “flying saucer” sightings suggests that aliens do not exist after all and could mean the end of “Ufology” – the study of UFOs – within the next decade.
Dozens of groups interested in the flying saucers and other unidentified craft have already closed because of lack of interest and next week one of the country’s foremost organisations involved in UFO research is holding a conference to discuss whether the subject has any future.
Dave Wood, chairman of the Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (Assap), said the meeting had been called to address the crisis in the subject and see if UFOs were a thing of the past.
“It is certainly a possibility that in ten years time, it will be a dead subject,” he added.
“We look at these things on the balance of probabilities and this area of study has been ongoing for many decades.
“The lack of compelling evidence beyond the pure anecdotal suggests that on the balance of probabilities that nothing is out there.
“I think that any UFO researcher would tell you that 98 per cent of sightings that happen are very easily explainable. One of the conclusions to draw from that is that perhaps there isn’t anything there. The days of compelling eyewitness sightings seem to be over.”
He said that far from leading to an increase in UFO sightings and research, the advent of the internet had coincided with a decline.
Assap’s UFO cases have dropped by 96 per cent since 1988, while the number of other groups involved in UFO research has fallen from well over 100 in the 1990s to around 30 now.
Among those to have closed are the British Flying Saucer Bureau, the Northern UFO Network, and the Northern Anomalies Research Organisation.
As well as a fall in sightings and lack of proof, Mr Wood said the lack of new developments meant that the main focus for the dwindling numbers of enthusiasts was supposed UFO encounters that took place several decades ago and conspiracy theories that surround them.
In particular, he cited the Roswell incident, in 1947 when an alien spaceship is said to have crashed in New Mexico, and the Rendlesham incident in 1980, often described as the British equivalent, when airmen from a US airbase in Suffolk reported a spaceship landing.
Mr Wood added: “When you go to UFO conferences it is mainly people going over these old cases, rather than bringing new ones to the fore.
“There is a trend where a large proportion of UFO studies are tending towards conspiracy theories, which I don’t think is particularly helpful.”
The issue is to be debated at a summit at the University of Worcester on November 17 and the conclusions reported in the next edition of the association’s journal, Anomaly.
In the long view I think what is happening to the UK’s UFO community is it’s consolidating rather than shrinking. However, despite its slightly breathless style the debate itself is interesting. I briefly became a focal point for parts of the UFO community when I interviewed the astronaught Edgar Mitchell a few years back. The sheer number of obviously tragic mentally ill people you encounter is a barrier to further investigation, as is a lack of verifiable physical evidence.
That said, once you’ve got the UFO bug it’s unlikely a lack of physical evidence will put you off. I still can’t help but feel it’s only a matter of time until we discover that we are not alone. I think only then will UFOlogy have to hold a debate to decide if it has a future.