Ufoology: As Much Fun as a Barrelful of Aliens

Matt Graeber
Magonia 83, December 2003

About ten years ago, I coined the term “ufoology” in a letter to Jim Moseley, who is the publisher and editor of the USA’s longest-running newsletter on the UFO enigma. Jim’s Saucer Smear is legendary as a gossip and scandal sheet that has been exposing the intellectual short-comings and indiscretions of the self-appointed UFO experts, some of their “star-witnesses” and, of course, the UFO group leaders that have endorsed the rantings of these individuals.

The story that I’m about to tell pertains to ‘real events, but I will refrain from identifying the individuals involved in these events (for reasons that will become readily apparent to Magonia’s readers). Let me start by saying that I am not attempting to embarrass, ridicule or hurt anyone’s feelings by writing this essay. What I am attempting to do is take Magonia readers behind the scenes of contemporary American ufology – not the pretty-faced, serious-minded and seemingly scientific world that is presented in the UFO ‘experts’ books; but, rather, the side of that ufoological world that they ignore, and to which they prefer to turn a blind eye, ufoology is a phenomenon unto itself. (a phenomenon within a phenomenon) and is truly a subject worthy of serious study by sociologists, folklorists, and psychologists.

In Jim’s book, Shockingly Close to the Truth, [1] many wonderful examples of it can be found. The phenomenon appears to be the end result of what Jim’s co-author, Karl Pflock describes as ‘Saucer Logic’ (i.e., a form of mental functioning or, dysfunctioning … take your pick… that actually does not appear to involve logic or critical thinking processes at all).

Interestingly, ufoology (or Saucer Logic) is an unchecked epidemic in UFO circles: and. for the most part, it affects UFO buffs that are entirely compos mentos (or, normal) in regard to anything other than their beliefs about UFOs. Many of these individuals are successes in business, socially active, appear to be level-headed and well-intended about their interests in the mysterious UFO situation.

Of course, some of the saucer fans that I’ve met during my years as a UFO researcher may not actually be in touch with reality much of the time. but, the thrust of this essay does not involve these mentally-unstable folks, or their 9ctivities in American saucerdom. They do not suffer from ufoology – theirs is a malady that autonomously comes upon them and one that they have limited control over (other than seeking professional counselling and medications).

The malady of ufoology, however, is something that the afflicted individuals do have complete control over and can immediately remedy by simply making sure that their brain is fully engaged before they put their mouths (or, themselves) into gear.

Examples of Ufoological symptoms:

I received a telephone call from a nice fellow whom I met at a MUFON group meeting in Lafayette Hill, Pa. He is obviously very bright. well-read and inquisitive about the UFO phenomenon. After a bit of small-talk he asked, “Matt, have you seen the movie Men In Black yet?”

I reply, (and I’m paraphrasing here) “No. Fred, I haven’t seen it but I plan to take my grandson, age eleven, to see it this weekend”.

Fred replies, with a degree of concern in his voice, “Ya know, there are some scary scenes in the film and you might want to reconsider taking the boy along”.

I responded. “Well, I have seen the trailers on TV about it and realise that there are some weird special effects in the movie – but, it’s a comedy – just a UFO spoof and I doubt that he’ll have bad dream’s about it.”

Fred replied, “Yeah, it is kind of funny at times … but, there’s a lot of stuff in the storyline that reveals what’s really going on.” I ask: “What are you talking about Fred?” His response was, “Obviously, the government used this film to leak certain information to the public about the reality of the UFO phenomenon!”

After seeing the MIB movie, and pondering Fred’s remarks. I wasn’t sure if he was referring to MIB ‘K’s’ comments that there are about 1500 alien entities (other than foreign-born nationals) wandering the streets of Manhattan on any given day; or, if Fred was thinking about the secretive MIBs (i.e., Government Agents) shameful use of that memory-erasing ‘blinky thing’ on perfectly reliable UFO witnesses? But, Fred did feel compelled to alert me to ‘the leakage’ which ufoologists believe is an ongoing governmental programme specifically designed to “prepare we humans for the truth about the presence of UFOs and the aliens amongst us”.

Interestingly. I had heard similar comments from others ‘in the field’ (as Jim Moseley calls the UFO subculture) when the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind was released, and even when the ancient astronauts film, TV documentaries and books were in UFO-vogue. Moreover, Jim Moseley informs me that George Adamski once told him that the 1951 SF classic The Day the Earth Stood Still was based on a real UFO incident. One wonders, why does this outlandish assumption keep popping up? I gave this some thought and came to yet another assumption on the `government leakage programme’.

Perhaps the assumptions on the leakage program are a device used by ufoloogists to confirm their suspicions, beliefs, wants, and desires about the government’s long-term cover up and denials concerning the UFO matter. I recalled that back when I was investigating UFO reports, many of the witnesses asked me if anyone else had reported seeing a UFO similar to theirs, especially on the date of their sighting or near the location of that incident).

At that time, I felt that the witnesses had a need to know that they were not the only ones to see the strange thing that suddenly appeared before them. They needed to know that they were not alone and not hallucinating the event. They wanted to feet stabilised in an unstable situation that had been thrust upon them. Perhaps, the Governmental leaks that the ufoologists think they see in movies offers them a similar form of confirmation and foundation. The difference being that the unsuspecting UFO observer desperately wants to re-establish his or her real world model after their experience – while the ufoologists’ seek to further solidify their delusional model of reality.

At the time of my experience with Fred, I was attending monthly meetings of a UFO group consisting of about twenty-five people; and their interests in the phenomenon ranged from the typical ‘nuts-and-bolts’ ETHers, to Roswellians. abduction buffs, ancient astronaut enthusiasts, and a few uncommitted folks that simply had a general interest in the subject. I had befriended the group’s leader about a year before the MUFONites started holding regular meetings, and usually was the one that contacted speakers to appear at the gatherings, As the group entered its second year of activities, quite a few of the attendees were starting to lose interest in the UFO gabfests because the group leader (we’ll call him Sam) had been discussing his ongoing and near obsessional Roswell investigations – boring folks to death with photographic slide after slide of the ‘debris field’ where the ill-fated UFO is alleged to have created a gouge in the soil. (Actually, these photos were little more than a batch of bland desert landscapes with an occasional bush, cacti, or prairie dog hole.)

But, the suffering group’s displeasure seemed to reach its high-water mark when they were subjected to a long-winded presentation about a somewhat nefarious and deceased Roswell witness named Cactus Jack. Jack’s story was brutally served up with about twenty full-colour slides of Jack’s tombstone along with a genuine photostatic copy of his last drivers license – just to prove that Jack actually had existed.

But even though Jack had reportedly been at the Roswell saucer crash site and was chased away by a small contingent of soldiers, Cactus Jack also had a tainted past and had even gone to prison for killing his girlfriend. Sam (the group leader) knew that some people might feel that Jack may have been a bit too “veracity-challenged” and -’shadowy’ to believe (as a star saucer witness) – but Sam was quick to point out the fact that Jack said the killing was an accident, that he panicked and foolishly dumped his girlfriend’s body in the desert.


Moreover, Sam felt that this indiscretion and Jack’s long history of questionable activities was not reason enough to doubt his status as a bona-fide UFO witness in good standing. Sam said, “Ya know, we researchers can’t expect all of our witnesses to be squeaky-clean!’- This seemed to be a far cry from Sam’s earlier renunciation of Jack when Sam called him a lowlife son-of-a-bitch, whose name Sam wished he had never heard!

The pleas for relief from the dwindling members prompted me to take desperate measures and ask Fred. of MIB movie fame, to invite several of his friends from another group to visit with us the following month. That group’s leader (Sylvia) was said to be a psychic and UFO experiencer who offered to speak at that gathering. Up to that point, Sam’s group of MUFONites hadn’t heard a psychic speaker and fortunately, as things turned out, she was to be our last! Svlvia appeared with five male companions and proceeded to inform us that they were all ‘walk-ins’. I ufoolishly thought that they had missed the bus on their way to the gathering – but was astonished to learn that she really meant they were not entirely-human human beings – as Alien Entities (or, their spirits) had walked into their bodies and now inhabited them!

It was 'Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (albeit, without the cumbersome seed pods). I quickly glanced about the room to make sure that no one was drifting off to sleep, because that’s when they take over your body! As luck would have it everyone was wide awake and sitting on the edge of their seat … except for Fred, who actually was snoozing; but then again, he was known to catch a wink or two at those exciting MUFON meetings. With that I realised that Fred was probably talking about. MIB ‘K’s remark concerning the 1500 aliens strolling about in Manhattan was, indeed, the government’s way of leaking the news to the public about all the walk-ins currently residing in New York City.

I had broken the code of Fred’s idiosyncratic Saucer Logic by applying the first rule of ufoology to his case. That being: “discard all common sense principles and safeguards normally associated with reasoning when making quantum-leaps of Saucer Logic,’

Now, I must quickly add that Sam was something of a psychic too – although he never actually made such a claim – but, he did inform us of his unique investigative ability to “just know when a Roswell witness was lying to him”. Apparently this ‘psychic skill’ enabled Sam to unmask reluctant witnesses who claimed to have absolutely no knowledge of the saucer crash. His frustration with these individuals was reaching the point of critical mass, and he saw them as an irritating and loathsome research obstacle. Some folks in the group thought that perhaps these assumed-to-be-lying witnesses really didn’t know anything about the Roswell UFO incident, and were simply trying to distance themselves from our saucer-nut leader who was badgering them with stupid questions.

Curiously, Sams psychic skills did not enable him to detect the obvious lies of several key witnesses to the crash. So, I guess that Sam was what one might call a selective psychic. As you’ve probably foreseen, such total command of selective psychic abilities in ufoological researching tends to ‘verify the unverifiable’ and permit the ufoologist to move on to the next level of their investigative uforia.

In yet another stunning example of ufoology, Sam was contacted by two men from Roswell, NM., who claimed that they had discovered a box full of artifacts from the debris field (which was obviously stashed away by an Army Airman who was stationed at the Roswell base back in 1947). As the story goes, the current owner of the house where the airman once resided was attempting to locate a leaky plumbing pipe in a basement wall when he inadvertently broke through the wall and discovered “a little hidden room”. Peering through the hole in the wall, he and his buddy saw a box, “with a lot of stuff in it.” There were official-looking documents rolled up on top of a heap of tin foil scraps of varying size, several strange little I-beam things, and on top of it all rested an Army Air Corps officer’s flight cap of World War II vintage.

Eureka! And at long last, the ‘smoking gun’ evidence had been found! Sam and his research colleague almost had the Holy Grail of ufoology in their hands. But first, they requested that the homeowner E-mail them some sort of photographic proof that he really had found the fabled Roswellian treasure trove. The homeowner complied: and with that. Sam excitedly boarded the next available (2,250 km) flight to Roswell NM from Philadelphia’s International airport (clutching in his hand, the photo of the Air Corps officer’s flight cap he had received from the dos amigos in New Mexico).

For those of Magonia’s readers who are not psychically gifted (like Sam) I’ll continue this sad story a bit further. As things turned out, there wasn’t a hole in the basement wall, no hidden room, no box filled with saucer debris and no documents to look over. All Sam got from the pair of pranksters was an apology, along with the explanation that they never really intended to carry the joke so far. But westerners almost always say that sort of thing to eastern city-slickers that they’ve bamboozled in such grand fashion!

At another meeting of the saucer group, Sam told of his recent conversation with a Roswell witness who had been threatened bv a nasty (black) non-commissioned officer at the Air Base when the witness happened to see a military ambulance with strange-looking pieces of metal piled up within it. According to the witness, he had a girlfriend at the base (an army nurse) who actually assisted in the autopsy of an alien creature’s body which was retrieved from the downed UFO. The witness was warned not to talk about what he had seen or heard at the base, or else. he might end up with his bones bleaching in the desert sun!

But despite receiving this ominous threat, the witness has repeatedly told his story to to the press, magazine writers, TV documentary journalists, on radio talk-shows and to a large number of UFO researchers that have published his story in their groups’ journals. In fact the witness even has a financial interest in the Roswell UFO Museum and Research Centre (where he presently holds an executive position) Well, according to Sam, this witness was recently harassed by a young black man who abruptly pushed open his half-opened office door at the museum and blurted out, “Are you the guy that saw that stuff in the ambulance?” With that, the young man took a snapshot of the witness, turned and dashed out of the building.

Sam continued, the ageing witness was “badly shaken” by the experience and felt that the young man was probably the son of the NCO that had threatened him more than fifty years earlier. I offhandedly mentioned that the story seemed to be a bit far-fetched and ridiculous and was immediately tossed out of the meeting, and even barred from attending future gatherings. Sam was furious and blurted out “You don’t know what I have to go through to get this stuff!” As l left the room, shunned and disgraced, the focus of discussion had shifted to the distinct possibility that Mormons and Freemasons were involved in the Roswell cover up. (I’ll ask Magonia’s readers to figure this bit of Saucer Logic out for themselves.)

About a month or so after my exile from the group, I happened to be talking to a UFO researcher from New Mexico who knew the witness in question quite well. He asked if it was true that I had been “banished from the land of the MUFONites”, so to speak, and we briefly discussed what had happened. He said, “Wait a minute, Matt, I’m familiar with this witness’s story – but, when he told me about it – about a year and a half ago – the young man was an Airman on vacation with his wife and they visited the museum because they had seen a TV documentary about the UFO crash. I recall that the young fellow asked if he could have a photo taken of himself with the witness as a sort of personalised souvenir of the couple’s trip to New Mexico”.

Upon learning that the witness had fibbed to Sam, I wrote him a letter about the situation with the hopes of sparing him the embarrassment of investing too much confidence in the witness’s account of the activities at the Roswell base in ’47, the threatening NCO story, and his harrowing experience with the NCO’s son. Sam never did respond to that letter; but, he did contact the researcher that told me about the contents of the story’s original version. Upon hearing this from my source, Sam’s reaction to the news was not being disappointed in his yarn-spinning witness (as one might expect) – rather, he simply shifted his ufoological gears and wondered why the witness had lied to him? (e.g., had he finally succumbed to the military’s threats; or was he covering up the fact that he knew much more than he had already divulged to Sam and many other UFO researchers?)

Obviously, the second principal of ufoology had saved the day for Sam in this sad turn of events (i.e., always avoid the obvious and never use common sense when confronted with the discrediting of key witnesses. If that is very difficult to do – simply create excuses for them and move along as if nothing had happened).

Back in the early days of UFO investigation, witnesses that were caught in fibs were abandoned and the researchers that had believed their stories were embarrassed. Reports of landings and sightings of UFO occupants were always highly suspect and people that reported multiple sightings were considered to be kooky attention seekers. But, contemporary ufoological researchers tend to feel that multiple UFO experiencers are `targeted individuals’ who are the `real scientists’ and that they (and the abduction experts) are merely the recorders of such paranormal events, and the UFO experiencers’ conduit to the general public. In other words, the self-appointed UFO experts are the publicists and historians of these alleged events.

How to be a fully-fledged investigative Ufoologist:

So, if one embraces the theory and practice of Saucer Logic, an automobile with five people in it may have been involved in a UFO sighting, and four of the five witnesses think that the object they observed flying above the auto was an airliner. But the fifth person said it was a flying saucer! Today’s UFO investigators would tend to believe the UFO observer’s story, thinking that the other folks in the car were ‘switched off’ by the aliens, and that their recollections of the UFO sighting were tainted by an alien-instilled screen memory of the event. Of course, it never occurs to the overzealous ufoologists that if the aliens actually could switch an individual off, why wouldn’t they simply switch everyone in the car off and do as they damn well please in the covert fashion that they are said to be so skilled at’?

But, if that were the case, there wouldn’t be any UFO sighting experiences to hypnotically elucidate from the witnesses, simply because no one in the car would have suspected that they saw anything unusual in the first place. There wouldn’t be a juicy sighting report to publish in the MUFON journal. The abduction experts wouldn’t have any dreadfully- shocking abduction tales to write about and present at UFO conferences. There wouldn’t be any abduction support groups or the therapeutic cottage industry that has sprung up in response to the abductee’s `special needs’.

Out on the open range of the Wild West, cowpokes, without much school learn’n', had the uncanny ability to just know when a feller was “all hat and no cattle”. Today’s ufoologists seem to wear very large hats too. Out west, the yarn-spinners and braggarts were attempting to fool the fellers that thev were “a talk’n to”, while many modern-day ufoologists are trying to fool everyone … including themselves.

As an observer of this remarkable retreat from objective research protocols and down-to earth reasoning, I’ve learnt to never underestimate the Power of Ufoology, and have witnessed its effect upon UFO researchers who believe that their Saucer Logic has actually brought them to the edge of momentous discovery about the UFO phenomenon, when, in fact, it has merely brought them closer to the edge of reality.

Ufoology is a malady that is endemic in the American UFO research community. The malady is not only a contributing factor to the paralysis of genuine UFO research, because it permeates and contaminates the researcher’s database, it is the main reason why the real scientific establishment tends to keep a safe distance from the subject. As long as ufoology and Saucer Logic are a part of the fabric of UFO researching, American ufology will remain firmly entrenched in its strangely humorous Dark Ages.