Some Thoughts on 'The UFO as an Anti-Scientific Symbol'

John Rimmer
Magonia 99, April 2009

I decided to reprint this article [1] in the last print issue of Magonia, as it is one of the most quoted and referred-to articles that I have written for MUFOB and Magonia. Before re-reading it in detail I was expecting to find it rather dated and irrelevant, but instead I was surprised by just how relevant it is to the current situation, and in fact how predictive it seems to have been - not just ufologically, but politically.

What I refer to as neo-Luddite attitudes have developed into current 'green' thinking with its hostility to almost all scientific and industrial development. I referred to "the development of pastoralism to an almost political movement". Of course, it is now the basis of at least one political party and increasingly informs the policies of the major parties.

Increasingly now, when I read the material which is published in UFO-related books and posted on web sites the degree of anti-scientific, even anti-human, sentiment that I find is alarming. The latest MUFON UFO Journal, for instance - which bears the statement 'MUFON's mission is the scientific study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity, research and education' - carries a review of a book called Blue Star: Fulfilling Prophecy, about the psychic messages given to a abductee/contactee, Miriam Delicado from aliens she describes as 'Tall Blondes'. These messages involve the fulfilment of "ancient Hopi Indian prophecies ... heralding dramatic changes for the earth and our civilization". Not unsurprisingly Miriam Delicado believes that she has a role to play in these transformations.

Now, to be fair, this is a book review, and we've reviewed some pretty weird stuff in Magonia over the years, so you can't take it as being necessarily indicative of the views of MUFON itself, inasmuch as it has any collective views. But this book seems typical of the type of material which is now swamping the UFO field. Another book reviewed in MUFON UFO Journal is Lupo - Conversations with an ET, and again Hopi Indian prophecies crop up, and, like Blue Star, it is enthusiastically reviewed.

In these books, and in dozens like them, there is the underlying assumption that mankind is some sort of inferior species that needs to be either redeemed or re-educated by the aliens, or wiped off the face of the earth altogether in some sort of cosmic cleansing - an idea which also appeals to many in the' Deep Green' movement. Jonathan Porrit, one of Britain's most prominent (in column-inch terms at least) Green Gurus, a close associate of our next king and an advisor to the Prime Minister, speaking at something called the Optimum Population Trust is calling for Britain's population to be radically reduced in the future. Any volunteers?

I comment in the article that "if science is a movement into the future, the UFO ... must be a movement into the past". The forty years that have passed since writing that have confirmed that view beyond doubt. Hopi Indian prophecies, Aztec calendars, messages from earth-spirits in the form of crop circles, all represent a continual retreat towards a pre-scientific world view.

Perhaps the thing which I got most wrong in my analysis was the assumption that the fauna of the UFO world would remain as mixed and diverse as it was in the 1960s, when tall Nordics rubbed shoulders with hairy dwarfs, space-suit clad sample-collectors, disembodied brains, walking trash-cans and a hundred other oddities. Nearly all now replaced by the global monopoly of the big-headed, black-eyed Greys, the Starbucks of the UFO world.

The sceptical attitude seems to have changed little since the late 'sixties as well. I referred to Hynek and Condon as 'sceptical priests', not believing in the subject, yet prepared to 'exorcise' it. Since then we have seen the arrival of a churchful of sceptical priests with the creation of CSICOP (recently renamed CSI, Crime Scene Investigation, presumably, for crimes against science!). Although Magonia is very much in alignment with most of CSICOP's expressed views on UFOs, we do feel at times they fall over in the area of heresy-hunters, and scepticism becomes a sort of game, where only they know the rules.

Allow me a brief diversion here. A question which I have asked a number of times on Internet forums such as UFO Updates, and never received an acknowledgment, let alone an answer, is this: why, by and large, have American sceptics like Klass and Menzel come to the subject from outside - academic science, technical journalism - whereas British sceptical ufologists seem to have risen through the ranks of 'gutter-roots' ufology (to use Peter Rogerson's evocative term) to achieve the sceptical positions they hold. 

In the essay, I describe the 'dated futurism' of the alien worlds described by contactees. Of course there aren't so many contactees around these days (but more than the 'Serious Ufologists' would have you believe) but the worlds of the abductees are just as dated in their 'futuristic' imaginings. In a world where humble old homo sapiens can work out the very structures of life from tiny scraps of DNA, our highly-advances, transport-you-through-brick-walls aliens are still going around gouging scoops out of victims legs, sticking probes up their noses, and doing God-knows-what with their nether regions!

Finally, even what I thought was my most dated reference, Che Guevara, seems to be current again, with the publication of The Motorcycle Diaries, and the recent release of Part Two of Stephen Soderberg's biopic -- 'Che lives!', and so, for the foreseeable future will the UFO, but from now on it'll have to manage without Magonia.

1. John Rimmer. 'The UFO as an Anti-Scientific Symbol, Merseyside UFO Bulletin, vol. 2, no. 4.