The podcast “Somewhere in the Skies” is a project of ufologist/UFO journalist Ryan Sprague. The latest episode features an interview he conducted with me a short while ago. Among other things, we discuss how I became interested in the history of UFOs, how science and ufology have related to one another, and what I am working on these days.
To my thinking, conversations like these are an essential part of the work of historians. As I have said before, I make no claims to being a ufologist. I am decidedly an outsider looking in (with all the advantages and shortcomings that come with that). But, from my perspective at least, sharing ideas, interests, and findings with those active in the field can only enhance and help refine all our research ventures.
In 1966, the University of Colorado became the home for an expert commission, headed by American physicist Edward Condon, to scientifically study UFOs. Already before the release of its report in 1968, the group’s work was being greeted by many with skepticism.
I have just published a new article on the history of the UFO phenomenon. The journal Public Understanding of Science has released the early online version of my piece, which is entitled “Making UFOs Make Sense: Ufology, Science, and the History of Their Mutual Mistrust.”
The focus and general argument of the article is summarized in the abstract below.
Reports of unidentified flying objects and alien encounters have sparked amateur research (ufology), government investigations, and popular interest in the subject. Historically, however, scientists have generally greeted the topic with skepticism, most often dismissing ufology as pseudoscience and believers in unidentified flying objects and aliens as irrational or abnormal. Believers, in turn, have expressed doubts about the accuracy of academic science. This study examines the historical sources of the mutual mistrust between ufologists and scientists. It demonstrates that any science doubt surrounding unidentified flying objects and aliens was not primarily due to the ignorance of ufologists about science, but rather a product of the respective research practices of and relations between ufology, the sciences, and government investigative bodies.
While copyright does not allow me to post the article here, I am happy to share it with those interested. Simply contact me via the email address listed in the “About” section of this blog.