What is the Future of “UFOlogy”?

Picture: "Argentina" (PD)

“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.

Nick Margerrison

I write on Disinfo for fun, I've been a fan of the company for years.

In the real world I'm a freelance TV/radio presenter. I've worked for LBC, Kerrang Radio, The Bay, Edge Media TV, Hallam FM and The BBC.

My podcast is here: http://thecultofnick.libsyn.com/

13 Comments on "What is the Future of “UFOlogy”?"

  1. Trevor James Constable and his book, Cosmic Pulse of Life. (Orgone and Ether, the basis of life) . Jacque Valle and his many books. ( working in mythology, folklore, disinformation, the basis of reality).
    Those are enough to revise the research. ha ha ‘ not enough physical evidence’? Look at the topic we are dealing in. It is not that the topic is done, the paradigm that has controlled the topic for 60+ years is becoming exhausted, and for good reason.

    • David Howe | Nov 7, 2012 at 10:17 pm |

      yeah. simple reality is clearly the problem, not the blurry pictures and utter absence of evidence. paradigm schmaradigm

  2. David Howe | Nov 7, 2012 at 8:54 pm |

    the future of UFOlogy will have clear pictures and remnants of spaceships for us to study.

  3. "Big" Richard Johnson | Nov 8, 2012 at 2:07 am |

    Those safaris the greys run are legit.

  4. prophetofdoom | Nov 8, 2012 at 1:21 pm |

    Perhaps governments and/or aliens have become more vigilant in controlling sightings and leaks due to the Internet? Also, technology has been a double-edged sword for ufology since it results in a lot of disinformation and fakery difficult to assess.

    • nostromo | Nov 9, 2012 at 5:02 am |

      Yes there are many more fakes than in the past but reports from credible people continue to turn up, mass sightings by entire communities, commercial aircraft are grounded at airports due to sightings, military insiders whistleblowing. It’s disinfo, plain and simple.

    • David Howe | Nov 9, 2012 at 7:16 am |

      Yeah, I’m sure that’s why we continue to see the same fuzzy photographs and unverifiable eyewitness accounts

  5. nostromo | Nov 8, 2012 at 1:23 pm |

    They pull out disinformation/psyop articles like this every few years. It almost seems to co-arise with spikes in UFO sightings and whistleblowing from politicians, military/intell insiders. The article truly is disinformation.

    Here is a brief and incomplete collection of reports in the past week:

    UFOs sightings skyrocket across Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal

    Another Mysterious Translucent Aerial Object, This One Over Gardiner, New York (photo by Trained Pilot and photographer)

    Viewer Letters About Unidentified Aerial Triangles and Odd Lights

  6. I’ve seen 2 different ufo’s in polk county florida (one during broad daylight). I saw an orange orb in the sky in Boynton Beach back in march. Port St Lucie Folorida seems to be a haven for these sightings in the last few years http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uKqB17P0TJM

  7. the one’s I’ve seen were actually moving but the ones in this film are kinda chillin’ up there http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dmpCbftotXw

  8. Myself I think many UFOs are secret surveillance drones, and as such they are interesting enough.

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