Is the end of ufology upon us? Why has the fascination with UFOs seemingly dwindled?
via New York Magazine:
As the news of the day pulsed along the once seemingly unthinkable pathways of the information industry — boots on the ground in Gaza, slide show updates on Mila Kunis’s pregnancy — adherents of an earlier future gathered at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The occasion was the annual conference of the Mutual Unidentified Flying Objects Network, which, in accordance with this year’s theme, “UFOs and the Media,” was focused not on the ephemera of the news cycle but rather on the eternalities of what several in attendance called “the biggest single story in history,” i.e., the existence of extraterrestrial life on Earth and the cover-up of that presence by the United States government, the corporate structure, and their oblivious and/or sold-out lackeys in the mainstream press.
While this year’s symposium attracted a reported 400 people, this was a far cry from the thousands who attended the MUFON conference in the late 1970s, after Close Encounters of the Third Kind introduced extraterrestrials to the mainstream moviegoer. That was at a time when a lot of people actually believed that these mysterious things from the sky represented the biggest single thing in history. Since then, despite the recent astronomical findings of the so-called “Goldilocks zone” that postulates sentient life is possible throughout the galaxy, ufology has apparently lost its grip on the public imagination, and has been demoted to a neo-cult status. For the populace at large space is no longer the place. Not that this mattered to those gathered at Cherry Hill. Used to marginalization, they were resolved to keep watching the skies.
It is true that very little beyond a shadow of a doubt forensic proof of alien presence has come to light over the years, but there are a number of subsidiary reasons for the seeming twilight of the UFO moment. With voracious proliferation of vampires, New World Order conspiracies, and the unprecedented rise of evangelical Christianity, the simple flying disc from far, far away has become a quaint, almost nostalgic specter. The saucer may have been the post-war generation’s signifier of the strange, but even versions of the unknown outlive their usefulness. The end of the era may have commenced with William Gibson’s Neuromancer, which located the drama of the unknown inside the claustrophobic cyberspace accessible to the common keyboardist. Instead of the far-flung wonder to the universe, much of what falls under the rubric of contemporary ufology has become deeply interiorized, resigned to the viscous psych-sexual abduction phenomena described and popularized by people like Budd Hopkins, Whitley Strieber, and John Mack. It is a narrative bothers many “hard science” ufologists. “I’m trying to evaluate these sightings,” said Tom Deuley, a no nonsense retired Naval officer, former NSA employee and a leading MUFON investigator for 37 years. “When you bring in crop circles, time-traveling and abductions, these things are hard to quantify.”