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Folklore Of The Space Age

From: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 07:32:59 -0400
Fwd Date: Sat, 05 May 2007 07:32:59 -0400
Subject: Folklore Of The Space Age



Source: James Oberg's Website

http://www.jamesoberg.com/folk.html

November 1, 1998


Folklore Of The Space Age

James Oberg

The great age of exploration in the 1500s witnessed the creation
of its own folklore: sea serpents, unicorns and unipeds, the
Fountain of Youth and the Seven Cities of Cibola. Not
surprisingly, the young Space Age has also witnessed a similar
body of myth and legend, based on rumors, travellers' tales,
misinterpretations, wild imaginations, and self-serving
fabrications.

This lecture elucidates the most popular of these stories and to
trace them to their sources, not merely to refute them but to
understand the processes which created them and helped them
spread. Their popular appeal is analyzed. Related, authentic
mysteries are discussed, along with guidelines for telling the
difference. The tone is humorous and sympathetic, not negative.

In a culture of conspiracies, why not imagine a conspiracy to
either "fake" the moon flights, or to conceal a vast array of
moon bases -- and new books, articles, WWW pages, and lectures
have appeared on this theme. Meanwhile, many UFO stories around
the world are based on honest public misperception of space and
rocket activity. The most interesting case occurred in the
Soviet Ukraine in the late 1960's, when secret space weapons
tests caused fireballs to appear frequently in the evening sky.
The public reported these as "crescent-UFOs" and that's the way
they are recorded in the UFO literature. An official team from
Moscow's Academy of Sciences even published a formal study
verifying that the phenomenon was unexplainable in earthly
terms. But it was all a coverup of an illegal weapon which the
USSR had signed a treaty promising not to deploy. Similar UFO
cases from Russia, China, France, Argentina, and the US can be
traced back to unusual space activities.

It is widely believed that "astronauts have seen UFOs, too", in
space and on the Moon, and dozens of stories are in circulation.
The grandest involve Apollo-11 and allegations of secret
photographs and transcripts. It is amusing and instructive to
trace these legends as they migrate from country to country,
book to book, growing and 'improving' along the way.

Other tales include: the "face on Mars"; the "bridge on the
Moon", the vanished Linne crater, and similar lunar illusions;
the "Somebody Else is on the Moon" syndrome; the "Tunguska
Blast" of 1908 and the idea it was an alien nuclear-powered
spaceship; "the Great Galactic Ghoul", which came back to life
to grab Fobos-1 and NASA's "Mars Observer"; strange television
signals from space; the "missing day in time", in which a NASA
computer allegedly verified the Book of Joshua; ex-post-facto
rewriting of Velikovskian planetary predictions; and many more
myths and legends of the Space Age.

Such worldwide mythology of space has helped to humanize this
new alien frontier, which is culturally beneficial. But it also
raises questions about the level of information on which the
media and public is basing technical and political judgments.
Other fallacies of space flight are mentioned, and new
approaches to public information policies are suggested. Perhaps
because NASA has made spaceflight boring, it's not surprising
people seek excitement in alternate perceptions of the newest
human frontier, outer space.


[Thanks to 'The Norm' for the lead]



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