High Strangeness: UFO Wonderland

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

UFO Wonderland

Last week I had the opportunity to visit the Dr. J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) for the first time in several years. While I was in the midst of researching and writing my bio of Dr. Hynek, The Close Encounters Man, I practically lived at CUFOS, soaking up UFO legends and lore like crazy every chance I would get. This time I was visiting CUFOS to set up a shoot for my upcoming Travel Channel TV series (more on that soon), and it was a real nostalgia trip.

The center is housed in the Chicago home of CUFOS scientific director Dr. Mark Rodeghier, with an additional storage space, housing thousands of CUFOS case files, just around the block. Roaming the archives and visiting with Mark reminded me of what an adventure it was to spend hours digging through the files, getting to know Dr. Hynek through his correspondence with scientists, UFOlogists, celebrities and UFO witnesses, discovering long-lost secrets about famous UFO cases, and just generally reminding myself that, despite all the misinformation and confusion out there about Hynek, Project Blue Book, AATIP, tic-tac UFOs and the like, there is a wonderland of real UFO research being preserved for generations of real UFOlogists.

If they use it.

One of the treasures I discovered through CUFOS: Project Blue Book investigator Jennie Zeidman
One thing that came up in my conversation with Mark was the fact that very few researchers ever actually visit CUFOS (and I imagine the same is true of other UFO archives). Researchers generally find the website (here) and then email Mark asking for information. Which he is glad to do, I might add, so long as the request is a serious one from a legit UFO researcher. But the fact is that visits like mine are rare, and that's sad. Sure, you can explain it away in large part as a natural consequence of the internet age, as we're all so used to dealing with instant digital information that we don't even think of visiting the source, and using our physical appendages to rustle through file folders filled with paper. But I think it's also a sign that UFO research all too often tends to be lazy, sloppy and insubstantial, and that many of the consumers of that research aren't all that concerned with accuracy and truth.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: UFOlogy needs a UFO Mecca, a (non-Roswell) destination vacation for UFO lovers and skeptics alike. What we really need is a central UFO museum/library/archive that, and I call dibs on running it. Anyone else want be on staff?

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