From Publishers Weekly
Is the truth out there? If so, where should we look? In this accessible academic collection, longtime UFO researcher Jacobs (The Threat), a professor of history at Temple University, assembles nine writers and scholars from several disciplines to report on the state of the UFO field. Most of the contributors seek either to bolster reports of alien landings or to establish ufology as a serious scholarly topic. Psychologist Stuart Apelle, who edits the Journal of UFO Studies, sums up previous academic studies of UFOs, then calls for moreAa call echoed by (among others) prolific UFO writer Budd Hopkins (Missing Time). McGill University psychologist Don Donderi argues that the scientific method is ill equipped to digest UFOsAlawyers, using legal standards of evidence, would handle them better, he believes, and "military intelligence analysts... have probably already drawn the proper conclusions." Michael Swords (a former Journal editor) shows how 1950s and '60s Pentagon brass deliberately fostered public skepticism. Folklorist Thomas Bullard's superb, lengthy essay concentrates not on whether there are aliens, but on what humans believe about them: contemporary "extraterrestrials," premodern European faeries and Seneca (Indian) visionary experiences are more alike than we might think. Ontario neuroscientist Michael Persinger suggests one possible reason why: certain electrical misfires in the brain, his lab's research suggests, can create strong impressions of "humanoid" visitors. Persinger's careful essay will fascinate not just the UFO-curious, but anyone with an interest in brain, mind, memory and belief. Despite its measured tone and many footnotes, the rest of the volume, however, seems largely aimed at readers who want to believe. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The anxieties of an academic outgroup form the subtext of this collection of 11 essays by UFO and abduction researchers from both inside and outside he academy.Editor Jacobs (The Treat
, 1998, etc.) and his colleagues want the scientific and intellectual establishment to take reports of unidentified flying objects and tales of earthlings kidnapped by extraterrestrials seriously, but the evidence on display here is far from compelling. The contributors include three psychologists, a psychiatrist, a sociologist, a folklorist, a natural scientist, and two full-time UFOlogists. Their papers examine the reception of UFOlogy in the academy and the excursions of established academics into UFOlogy; evidentiary paradigms in science, law, and military intelligence; the development of the responses to the saucer sightings of the early Cold War years; the place of UFOs in modern mythology and popular culture; the abduction phenomenon; and directions for future research. Jacobs believes that thousands of people have been abducted by space aliens as part of a sinister breeding experiment, and provides a history of the abduction controversy. Other contributors believe in the benign intentions of the abductors, and defend them the against sinister charges. Over the years, many people have reported seeing strange objects in the sky. Some of these reports are puzzling, and their significance is certainly worthy of discussion. But surely the abduction phenomenon, like the recent rash of cases of Satanic ritual abuse, belongs more to the study of the origin and diffusion of mass delusions than it does to the physics of space travel or the possible biologies of alien races. For all its earnestness and its academic trappings, this study will persuade few who are not already believers. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.