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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Sep > Sep 30

Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

From: Isaac Koi <isaackoi.nul>
Date: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 22:27:41 +0100
Archived: Sun, 30 Sep 2007 17:50:31 -0400
Subject: Is Ufology 'Anti-Science'?

Quite a few questions are posed below. Obviously, I don't expect
many of you to have the time or inclination to give your views
in relation to most of these questions - but it would be helpful
to me if you could select a question you consider interesting
and give a brief comment.

As a bit of light relief, in my limited spare time I'm currently
working on a Science Masters degree. As a small part of that
Masters degree, I am currently finalising a mini-project that
involves researching the perception of science and scientists by
those involved in ufology.

The main part of that mini-project has taken the form of
organising a couple of small and relatively informal focus-
groups with a few leading skeptics and leading UFO researchers
in England, to discuss relevant issues.

I have also read a considerable volume of relevant literature
(including a PhD thesis by Shirley McIver about ufologists,
various relevant books and numerous online discussions). I'd
like to supplement the results of those focus group discussions
by getting your input. (I've also posted these questions on the
ATS forum and the Ufologyinuk List - my apologies for any

It would be very helpful to me if a few of you could give your
views on at least some of the questions below (ideally including
the "Basic details of Respondent"). Even an answer to a single
question that you consider interesting would be great.

Outline of issues
In November 2006, Tony Blair made a speech in which he indicated
a need to "take on and defeat the vestiges of anti-science"
(Blair, 2006). In 1985, a Royal Society report on the Public
Understanding of Science suggested that "Greater familiarity
with the nature and the findings of science will also help the
individual to resist pseudo-scientific information" (Bodmer,
1985, p 10).

In academic and popular literature, ufology is often cited
as an example of a:
(1) pseudo-science and/or
(2) anti-science.

The core issue I am interested in exploring is whether (as
implied by some researchers) better public understanding of
science would reduce the amount of "pseudoscience" and
"antiscience", taking ufology as an example of a field commonly
alleged to be "pseudoscience"/"antiscience".

Have you read any UFO books?
If so, how many?
(1) 1-10
(2) 10-100
(3) 100+

Do you consider the possibility that any UFO sightings are
caused by extraterrestrial craft:
(a) Beyond reasonable doubt?
(b) More probable than not?
(c) A real possibility?
(d) A merely fanciful possibility?
(e) Impossible?


Is ufology either a "pseudo-science" or "anti-science"? If you
think so, why? If not, why are such views expressed?

What does it mean to you to be "scientific"?

Is it a good thing to be "scientific"?

Do you think levels of antiscientific/pseudoscientific views are


Would the number of sightings of UFOs and/or belief in UFOs
decrease if there was increased knowledge of: (a) scientific
facts (e.g. relating to astronomy or meteorology) (b) scientific

Perhaps surprisingly, the skeptics involved in a focus group I
organized did _not_ think that this would make a significant
difference, commenting that it would make at most "a marginal
difference" since various other social and psychological factors
are more important. On the other hand, the UFO researchers in a
focus group thought that improved science education would
significantly reduce the number of reports reaching them.

Do you think skeptics are generally better educated in science
than UFO researchers? (Interestingly, the skeptical participants
in a focus group I organized did _not_ think this was the case.
However, one of the ufo researchers in a focus group thought
this _was_ the case, commenting that this is why skeptic's
"voice is weighter, and heavier and more listened to. It's
because they are more articulate, they are better educated, they
put themselves across better".)


Is the involvement of scientists necessary or desirable in the
study of UFO reports? If so, why? I note that researchers Dave
Clarke and Andy Roberts have written in their book "Flying
Saucerers" (2007) that "when physical scientists did venture
into the UFO subculture they were unwelcome guests and treated
with suspicion". On the other hand, ufo researchers in a focus
group I organized suggested that they would "love" more
scientists to be involved, but scientists "will not look at the
phenomenon. The ufo researchers involved suggested that
scientists "don't want to know. They don't want to know".

Does it matter how those involved in ufology are regarded by
mainstream scientists?

Has, or will, science explained all UFO reports? If not, why

Has there been adequate scientific study of UFO reports to date?
If not, why not?

In 1969, the Condon Report suggested that "nothing has come from
the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to
scientific knowledge". Do you think the study of UFOs has added
to scientific knowledge? If so, how?

The Condon Report also suggested that "further extensive study
of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that
science will be advanced thereby". Is there any real prospect
that science will be advanced by the study of UFO reports in the


One of the most common questions in opinion polls regarding UFOs
is whether a person "believes" that "UFOs are real". What do you
think about this question?

Would you expect polling data to indicate that belief in UFOs is
inversely related to levels of intelligence?

Would you expect polling data to indicate that belief in UFOs is
inversely related to levels of education?

Blair, T (2006) "Britain's path to the future - lit by the
brilliant light of science", 3 November 2006. Transcript of
speech online at:

Bodmer, W. F. (1985) The Public Understanding of Science,
Royal Society Report.

BUFORA (2007) [British UFO Research Association], webpage
entitled "About BUFORA" (referring to itself as a
"scientifically-oriented organization" and promoting
"scientific research") as at 23 August 2007:

Condon, E (1969) "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying
Objects", Bantam, USA.

Gross, P. and Levitt, N. "Higher Superstition", London, John
Hopkins Press.

Holton, G. (1992) "How to think about the 'anti-science'
phenomenon", Public Understanding of Science, 1, (1), pp
103-128, January.

McIver, S. (1984) "The UFO Movement: A Sociological Study of
Unidentified Flying Object Groups", PhD Thesis, University
of York.

Morgan, D L (1997) "Focus Groups as Qualitative Research",
Sage, London, Thousand Oakes and New Delhi.

MUFON (2007) [Mutual UFO Network], webpage entitled
"Frequently Asked Question" (stating that UFOs can and
should "be approached dispassionately and scientifically")
as at 23 August 2007: http://www.mufon.com/faq.htm#mufon

The Open University (1998) S802 Science and the Public,
Anti-Science, Milton Keynes, The Open University.

Pope, N. "Ufology and Science"

Park, R. (2000) "Voodoo Science : The Road from Foolishness
to Fraud", Oxford, Oxford University Press.

Schermer, M. (1997) "Why People Believe Weird Things", New
York, Freeman.

Trocco, F. (1998), "How to believe in weird things", Public
Understanding of Science, Volume 7, 2, April 1.

Wheen, F. (2004) "How Mumbo-Jumbo Conquered the World",
London, Harper Perennial.

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