I know I may get some crap for this, but I've been transcribing the interview I conducted a few months back with Dr. David Jacobs, and I'm once again finding myself impressed and intrigued by some of his observations.
The interview was, of course, for my book about the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, but Dr. Jacobs inserted quite a few asides about UFOlogy in general, and I think one of them is worth mentioning here. At one point in the interview, when we were talking about Dr. Hynek's impact on UFO research, Dr. Jacobs made this statement:
"Everything we could possibly learn about UFOs we had already learned by the mid-1970s."
Then, after admitting with a chuckle that "everybody will disagree with me," he continued on his theme:
"Everything that has come out about UFOs since then is verification that there are UFOs. It’s extremely important: the more verification we get, the better. And people say the new thing now is triangular UFOs; there were triangular UFOs back when. The number of triangular UFOs is different… but it’s still verification, it doesn’t tell us anything."Although the volume of UFO sighting reports remains very high, he said, the level of interest in the phenomenon from the scientific and academic communities has never been lower. He then went on to list several reasons for this sad state of affairs.
First, he thinks that "The UFO phenomenon is old hat," and it's hard to argue otherwise, in my opinion. UFOs haven't really put on much of a show in a long, long time. Back in the day we could always count on UFOS to buzz Washington, D.C., to lure Air Force pilots to their deaths and to abduct all sorts of people, but what have they done for us lately?
Second, Jacobs thinks that the saturation of cable TV with UFO programming has, in a way, cheapened the phenomenon. "Like ghosts or angels, it’s a matter of faith and belief and not necessarily of (research)," he said. "Therefore it’s less important for science and more important for sociology."
Third, he feels that UFO research has become dominated by conspiracy theories. Conspiracy theories, as compelling as they can be, are, in the end, a distraction. "As a historian of 20th Century U.S. history, I fail to find the evidence for conspiracy to be compelling," he told me. "But, you can’t prove a negative. You can’t prove there isn’t a conspiracy."
(Case in point, just yesterday this news item appeared: "UFO Experts Say 'We Are Not Alone'". Does anyone think this is good for UFOlogy?)
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Fourth, Jacobs knows from personal experience that nothing angers and alienates (no pun intended) scientists and academics like abduction cases.
Surprised? I was, and I still am. Throughout the interview, Dr. Jacobs acknowledged his less-than-stellar status in the field of UFOlogy, but always in good humor. I thought he had a lot of interesting and worthwhile things to say about the state of UFO research, and I'll go into more of that in the book.
For now, I'm interested to learn what readers thinks of the observations I've recounted here. Has Jacobs got it right? I think he has. What do you think?