UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Where is the UFO book we should all have and read?

Each culture, each discipline has a book or two that represent a clarification of that culture or discipline; that is, the book or books are essential to the intellectual evolution of our species, humankind.

For example, in Literature there are Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey, Dante’s [Divine] Comedy, Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales, Tolstoy’s War and Peace, James Joyce’s Ulysses, among countless others you can name.

In politics, geo-economics, sociology are Machiavelli’s The Prince, Tocqueville’s Democracy in America, Marx’s Das Capital, to name a niggardly few.

In psychology is Freud’s The Interpretation of Dreams, or any number of Jung’s oeuvre.

In science, besides the magnum opuses of the early Greeks, or Copernicus’ De Revolutionibus Orbium Coelestium, there is, in the modern era, Hawking’s A Brief History of Time, and many others.

You get my point (I hope).

But in Ufology or just among the many UFO writers who’ve published books, who has written the magnum opus of UFOs?

Not Berlitz, or Jacques Vallee, or Jerry Clark, or Brad Steiger, or Kevin Randle, or Stanton Friedman, or anyone else.

The UFO topic, while rife among a few fringe fanatics who visit here and other UFO venues, has not received a book or tome that sums up the phenomenon or even comes close to clarifying what UFOs are, sociologically, scientifically, or even fantastically.

There is no UFO book that one has to have or has to read.

The subject matter is devoid of an important, essential read or book.

What does this tell us about our lives, those of us enamored of UFOs?

And what does it tell us about UFOs as a relevant part of human life?



  • While I would agree there is no absolutely definitive UFO book, I would say Vallee's "Messengers of Deception" and Keel's "Operation Trojan Horse" (in my view, anyway) get very close to the true nature of the phenomenon - which is clearly deceptive and stage-managed. By what though, that's the big question.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • This is a subjective assessment. You can point to any fringe science subject and declare that there is no one authoritative book on the subject. Instead there are numerous less authoritative books, each with a slight, or severe, bias.

    There are plenty of UFO books (far too many, I would say) but none that can be called THE ONE to read.
    Alternatively some would say that there are many you should read, so as to get the broadest possible view on UFOs.

    I would hesitate to name any one book as the best of the bunch. Have you any special one and, if so, which and why?

    The pioneers were Palmer, Keyhoe and Adamski. Where are they now, in people's minds?

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • CDA:

    You know me...I read almost anything that is in print (crappy stuff as well as exceptional things).

    But while I enjoy and have many UFO books -- even liking Gerald Heard's book on the bee-aliens and Aubeck/Vallee's Wonders in the Sky -- I find none to be essential or worthy of belonging in the pantheon of great books on many other topics, some picayune but worthwhile nevertheless.

    I enjoyed Adamski's "fiction" very much and you might remember I wrote that Scully's book was my first oral report in high school.

    Yet, none -- none! -- have the cachet of important or significant.

    UFO's have not produced an author worthy of a Pulitzer or any other book prize.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • I agree with Nick's choices with one addition; "Authors of The Impossible: The Paranormal and The Sacred" by Jeffry Kripal.

    It has the most extensive accounting of the evolution and context of Vallee's theories.

    His writings are placed in the broader spectrum within the list of authors on anomalous experience, beginning with Charles Fort.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • Thank you fellows for your suggestions, but you've missed my point, as usual.

    The books you guys like are interesting but not works that clarify the topic from the standpoint of humanity, as a whole.

    (I have a book on butterflies that is more worthy than any UFO book.)

    Bruce provides an osbcure book that the cultured cognoscenti haven't read or know about.

    And my dear friend, Nick, an author of inestimable worth, notes books that are interesting but nowhere near making UFOs what some who visit here think are the summa bonum for humanity, when it's determined they are ET craft.

    Sorry blokes....see my examples again, and pull pack your pathetic offerings.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • I would respectfully disagree regarding "Authors of The Impossible" because that is essence of it's analysis of various theories in the context you cited. If you have read it and disagree,then so be it. However I consider it to be a must read to gain a knowledge of what UFO's place is in a larger context. The issue with most UFO books is that they exists in a self referential context, whereas this book allows a well rounded perspective.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • A perspective Bruce that you like or agree with.

    But for humanity? Not so much.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • I would hardly call the University of Chicago "uncultured." I can tell you have not read the book but offer an uninformed opinion anyway..As far as cognoscenti, I have no idea who you are referring to. Obscure books versus the popular books on the subject..oh, please..this is an arbiter? I leave you to your editorial condescension. LOL.

    By Blogger Bruce Duensing, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • Bruce, the book, unread by me, isn't in the American or cultured psyche. It is obviously a non- event...that's my point.

    It doesn't or hasn't registered


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • Nick suggests that UFO's are "clearly deceptive and stage-managed"

    That is certainly a point that could be argued. Sheaffer called it a jealous phenomena because of the way it seems to protect itself from scientific discovery.

    Maybe Nick is right but a lion's share of the deception and stage management comes from those who wish to promote the thing or who just religiously believe in it.

    As an actual phenomena (which it quite likely isn't) there is almost nothing one can say about UFO's that is concrete.


    By Blogger Lance, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • Rich, I get your point...there is no literary masterpiece that will stand up to time concerning UFOs.

    Why would there be? The subject matter is rife with sub-domains ranging from the ridiculousness to quasi scientific review that boarders on conjecture and speculation.

    Theologians wrote whole treatises on the nature of God with the attempts to get a handle on the universe and man's place. Where are the great thought provoking writings concerning UFOs?

    Who is ufology's Thomas Aquinas?

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • Thank you Tim...

    You get my point exactly.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • "Where are the great thought provoking writings concerning UFOs?' What?!! Why should there be any? Where are the great thought provoking writings concerning, say, solar flares or meteorities? And the only "literary masterpiece that will stand up to time" on an unexplained mystery like UFOs is, frankly, a careful time-line chronology of events such as Dolan's "UFOs and the National Security State." Here we get the mystery events and the U.S. government's (mostly) covert interest in that phenomenon. This is the only book that I recommend for someone who is totally new to the subject. Theological treatises (on UFOs)will have to wait until physical science gets us more information.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • I think Watch the Skies by Peebles does a very impressive job.


    By Blogger Lance, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • To Nick's selection (which I also agree on), I would add George Hansen's stuff - specifically The Trickster and the Paranormal.

    btw if anyone needs a source for Djinn stuff, I got a PDF of Robert Lebling's Legends of the Fire Spirits. Very interesting reading so far. :)

    By Blogger Clayton Robertson, at Thursday, September 11, 2014  

  • What this tells us is that "UFOology" or the study of the UFO phenomena is at the pre-paradigmatic stage (in the sense that Thomas Kuhn used the term in his famous work, "The Structure of Scientific Revolutions").

    A new phenomenon, the frequent and continuous reporting of anomalous aerial phenomena started in the mid 1940s. People scrambled to figure out what it meant. Maybe it signifies an objectively real, new, unconventional set of objects moving through what we like to think of as "our" airspace? Maybe it represents nothing more than the well-known human tendencies to misinterpret, lie, and fantasize? Neither simple explanation seems satisfying.

    I happen to think the UFO question is a difficult problem--right up there with relativity or quantum mechanics--requiring the best minds of the planet for its solution. We have not yet had the Newton or Einstein of the UFO problem come forward to present the solution which, when it finally emerges will seem intuitively obvious.

    By Blogger Larry, at Friday, September 12, 2014  

  • Rich, no UFO book whatsoever has penetrated into the American or Western psyche (and not the academic or 'cultured' psyche neither of course). The books of Keel and Vallee, Hynek and the ET believers (cautious or otherwise) such as Jerome Clark or Kevin Randle haven't registered and never would register with the hoi polloi. Ufology has only registered as a B grade science fictional mishmash. Western 'culture' doesn't even recognize their names for the most part, in fact the Western academy has no idea who they are. All the worse for our culture.

    Certainly no one book has ever yet encompassed ufology as a whole, I mean every aspect of it, physical, sociological, psychological, historical, religious, cultural, the scientific and not so scientific theories, the evolution or devolution of UFO research groups and investigators - world-wide.

    Saying there is no one book re ufology that sums up all that is necessary, is like saying there is no one book on plant life that sums up everything that we have come to know - plant physiology, environmentalism, ecology and conservation, forestry, plant genetics, taxonomy, plant evolution, bioelectrodynamics, agriculture, agronomy and its history, organic farming, agrichemical farming and its controversies, horticulture and gardening, drugs (including hallucinogenics) derived from plants, their uses and abuses and related controversies, plants/trees and flowers as symbols in myth and religion. Yes we know way more about plants than UFOs! but that would be missing the point. Actually there is so much we don't know about plants, but I don't want to get off the point too much. If you are going to know a lot about plants and their various aspects, in our world and life, there is no one book and there never can be. It's not conceivable.

    Odd that so many people think Messengers of Deception is Vallee's most important book, I think it valuable but I would rank Passport to Magonia (with its errors) and his latest with Aubeck as more important and well-rounded, even Confrontations, Revelations and The Invisible College, and his Forbidden Science Vol 1 (I have not read Volume 2 here), I would rank as at least as valuable as MoD.

    Now don't all get your panties twisted, but I really do think the Condon Report valuable! Not its conclusions so much (if at all), nor the all too revealing political circus that surrounded it, but the body of the book/report was actually valuable, and remains so. It's important of course to know the whole history there, the squabbling, the Low memo etc, that readers are informed.

    I would not rank one work of Keel's as a stand-alone book to be read that encompassed ufology as a whole, nor I think would Keel. You have to read all his books. Hynek's The UFO Experience and UFO Report remain invaluable. I would add the writings of John Spencer and Jenny Randles, but no one book of theirs. Hilary Evans's Visions, Apparitions, Alien Visitors: A Comparative Study... I would rank as a companion piece to Kripal's (yet it doesn't pretend to be remotely comprehensive, but that's just the point, no one book can be).

    A massive encyclopedia with a number of contributors, with different specialist knowledge would be needed to do justice to the circus of ufology, it could never be one book by one author. I mean maybe in theory that's possible, for some brilliant polymath with all the time in the world and knowing he/she is not going to get any reward - financial or academic - for such a slog, but I just don't see it as ever being likely. Not in our lifetimes at any rate. If ever.

    By Blogger Lawrence, at Friday, September 12, 2014  

  • This is a fascinating discussion, and I thank you, triple-R, for asking the question...

    Accepting for the moment your thesis that there exists no UFO literary masterpiece, I would still suggest that John Fuller's "The Interrupted Journey" is an essential book about the phenomenon. I think it can be argued that no other book does a better job of considering the UFO phenomenon and its relationship with & effect on the human experience.

    Most UFO books veer into one of two unfortunate directions:

    First there are the "serious" matter-of-fact books written by journalists and historians, which are often quite good but disavow the more lurid, spectacular aspects of the phenomenon out of concern that that these elements would render the book and its author somehow "not serious."

    Then there are the books written by the "true believers," which embrace the lurid, spectacular elements of the phenomenon. These books are often much more lively and entertaining than the serious books, but just because someone is a "true believer" and can drown the reader in "facts" and "evidence," that doesn't mean he or she can write. This category of books is polluted by some of the most God-awful writing imaginable.

    In "The Interrupted Journey," John Fuller wrote a book that, in my opinion, succeeded in combining the best of both categories while simultaneously avoiding the fatal weaknesses of both. I don't know that it's ever been done so well before or since.

    A masterpiece? Possibly. Essential? Absolutely.

    By Blogger Mark OC, at Friday, September 12, 2014  

  • I would add "The Yahwah Encounters" by Ann Madden Jones as essential reading. This is a serious well researched look at what could have been an early communication device with UFOs. A different interpretation of Scripture, worth a read.

    By Blogger Old guy Red, at Friday, September 12, 2014  

  • @Lawrence

    I found Forbidden Science II ever more interesting then the first volume. If anything else, its a very interesting look at the shenanigans that went on at SRI.

    I could provide a link to a PDF copy if you require. :)

    By Blogger Clayton Robertson, at Friday, September 12, 2014  

  • @Mark

    > John Fuller's "The Interrupted Journey" is an essential book about the phenomenon. I think it can be argued that no other book does a better job of considering the UFO phenomenon and its relationship with & effect on the human experience.

    It is a gripping read and indeed essential to understanding how ufology got to its present state. But it is not a work to be trusted. Fuller obscured information that threatened to undermine the Hills' story (Betty was considering hypnotic recall in 1961, not years later, and not reluctantly; testimony on when the couple left Colebrook was hypnotically conjured, not consciously recalled; the pregnancy test scene is followed -- over 100 pages later! -- by the statement Betty could not have children owing to an earlier operation). Interrupted Journey contains sci-fi/UFO movie elements (animal reactions, mechanical interference/damage, radiation fears, etc) that do not appear anywhere in the 1961 Hill documents but do feature in Fuller's previous work, Incident at Exeter. Though Incident at Exeter has verbatim quotes from several dozen witnesses, nearly all obtained with a tape recorder, Interrupted Journey lets the Hills tell us what witnesses saw or friends advised, second-hand (tenants, family members, coworkers). Fuller has the Hills tell us about physical evidence that is never examined by anyone, let alone by Fuller (spots on the car, stopped watches, Barney's ruined shoes). I could go on and on!

    > This category of books is polluted by some of the most God-awful writing imaginable.

    The first line of Interrupted Journey is God-awful middlebrow hack work:

    "September in the White Mountains is the cruelest month."

    T.S. Eliot should have issued a cease and desist order.

    By Blogger Terry the Censor, at Tuesday, September 16, 2014  

  • Hi, everyone!

    This is a very interesting topic indeed!

    Having read dozens -and I would dare say hundreds- of UFO books for almost 30 years, I would single out Jacques Vallée's "Passport to Magonia" as the most important and influential in ufology.

    It was the first, or one of the firsts, that openly challenged the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis and offered a new approach to the subject.

    I have to say that John Keel published almost simultaneously "Operation Trojan Horse", which backs a similar hypothesis and which I also consider one of the most significant books I've ever read on the matter.

    Now, regarding "must have and must read" UFO books, I think that Vallée's trilogy "Dimensions", "Confrontations" and "Revelations" are essential.

    He published them in the late eighties and early nineties as a trilogy, but he sums up stuff that he published in previous books ("Dimensions" is like a re-write or republishing of "Passport to Magonia").

    Tim Hebert asked "Who is ufology's Thomas Aquinas?". In my opinion, it's Vallée.

    By Blogger Patricio Abusleme, at Thursday, September 18, 2014  

  • My copy of James Moseley's Shockingly Close to the Truth arrived. Its proven to be pretty interesting reading material so far, so I'd vouch for its inclusion in the 'canon'. :)

    By Blogger Clayton Robertson, at Thursday, September 18, 2014  

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