High Strangeness: Our UFO Dad

Monday, February 26, 2018

Our UFO Dad

Who are the UFO leaders of tomorrow? I've been wondering about that for a while, and it's been a tough question to answer. It seems so many UFO conversations always get hijacked or derailed by showboats who make big, splashy promises but never deliver, or by "UFO experts" who have been been around for decades telling the same stories over and over again without ever having anything new to add, or by UFO conventions touting the same old ideas and speaker lineups year after year, or -- dare I say it? -- by the charlatans and hucksters who know they can make motherships full of money by misleading the UFO faithful.

Many, I'm sure, will disagree with me, but when I look around at, say, the speakers list for the just-ended 2018 International UFO Congress, it's hard for me to feel that the field of UFOlogy is progressing or maturing in any way. UFOlogy just seems to be a closed loop, and it bums me out. I've tried to add to the conversation with my book The Close Encounters Man, and I think I've made a moderate dent, but, boy, there's a long way to go.
Is UFOlogy stuck in the past, or in the future?

That used to make me feel pretty discouraged, but, I have to say, my attitude has been changing over the last couple days. That's because over the last couple days I've been focusing my attention on some new voices in UFOlogy that have made me feel pretty positive about the future.

First, I got into a fun conversation online with Ryan Sprague, host of the dynamic Somewhere in the Skies podcast. I had been intrigued by Ryan's interview with MUFON's new Director of Research, Chris Cogswell (who seems to have some great energy of his own), and we got to talking. Ryan brought up an idea he's had that at first glance seemed maybe a little bit crazy, but the more he talked about it and the more I sensed his energy and enthusiasm, the more I liked it!

Later that same day, I spent an hour or so on skype with history Professor Greg Eghigian, who is at work on his own epic book about the history of UFOs and comes to the field with unbridled curiosity and a Hynek-like determination to follow the facts wherever they may lead. Greg, too, is working on an interesting new project, and his energy is infectious.

Then last night (aka, this morning) I had the rare pleasure of listening to a bunch of really smart, funny guys discuss my book on the Our Strange Skies podcast, and I started feeling more optimistic than ever. These guys -- Robert "Panic" Kristoffersen, Sam Frederickson, Brian Hastie and Angelo Fiorentino -- are pure fun to listen to. They know a LOT about UFOs, but more than knowing, they do a lot of THINKING about UFOs in a lot of interesting and refreshing ways. Their approach to UFO culture, UFO folklore, and UFO research was so sharp, and witty, and insightful, and original that I swear I felt a disturbance in the field of UFOlogy. The good kind of disturbance, like a fault line has just opened up and all the bad old UFOlogy stuff is going to fall in and nobody's going to try to save it. I liked that feeling a lot.

What made it even more interesting was that they mixed their modern UFO sensibilities with a deep appreciation for the work of Dr. J. Allen Hynek, and that goes way way back into ancient UFO history. And yet Dr. Hynek's legacy is very much alive with these guys, to the point that at least one of them kept referring to Hynek as "my UFO Dad."

I like that. I'd like to think that Dr. Hynek is UFO Dad to all of us. And if he's UFO Dad, then he's raised some UFO Kids that he can be awfully proud of.

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