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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Aug > Aug 15

John Keel [was: The van Gogh Fallacy]

From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 13:35:50 -0500
Archived: Wed, 15 Aug 2007 08:35:05 -0400
Subject: John Keel [was: The van Gogh Fallacy]

>From: Gerald O'Connell <gac.nul>
>To: ufoupdates.nul
>Date: Tue, 14 Aug 2007 11:27:37 +0100
>Subject: The van Gogh Fallacy [was: Olson's Final Statement]

>>From: Jeff Olson <jlolson.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Sun, 12 Aug 2007 11:59:38 -0600
>>Subject: Olson's Final Statement On ETH Diehards

>A final word about James Horak's reference to John Keel in
>support of Jeff Olson's position. It is distressing when a
>figure such as Keel is called forth as an authority in the
>justification of irrationalism. Keel's great contribution was to
>enhance the sophistication of the Ufological enterprise by
>insisting that inconvenient or embarrassing data should not be
>ignored. Unfortunately, as a journalist, he couldn't resist
>over-emphasising some of this data in pursuit of a good story.

I have known Keel since the mid-1960s and once was quite close
to him.

In my observation, his influence on ufology and anomalistics has
been far from positive. Not because, I hasten to add, he drew
attention to outlandish claims and experiences - which (however
interpreted) are indeed a part of the picture - but because he
revived a medieval demonology which actively (though furiously
is more like it) eschewed more productive, rational approaches.
He also got basic facts wrong and on too many occasions lapsed
into slack-jawed credulity.

Least pleasantly, the man has a spectacularly sour temperament
which expresses itself in a spittle-spewing rhetorical style -
and, as I know from personal experience, vein-popping, hand-
waving, face-to-face vilification, not to mention circulation of
slanderous, wildly imaginative charges. In my own case it has
been that I criticize Keel's ideas only because I am severely
mentally ill and spend most of my days in psychiatric hospitals.

On the positive side of the ledger, however, I might note that
I've always liked The Mothman Prophecies, after Fort's own work
surely the most purely entertaining Fortean book ever. I thought
the film was excellent, too.

To anyone who's interested: For an account of my life with Keel
(it is not on line anywhere, unfortunately), check out my essay
Keel vs. Ufology, Fortean Times 156 (2002): 39-42. Though it
is hardly an admiring profile, it is, I hope, an interesting and
eye-opening one. My original title, which FT's editors didn't
use, was Keel Without Tears.

Jerry Clark

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