UFO Conjecture(s)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (and Ufology)

This Pulitzer Prize winning book [Vintage Books, NY, 1962-1963] by Richard Hofstadter tells readers that there has been a crusade against intellectuals and why.

(Although author Hofstadter takes to task former Senator Joseph McCarthy, and idol of mine because Senator McCarthy was right about communists and fellow-travelers inside the U.S. government during the Cold War – see William Buckley Jr. and Brent Bozell’s 1954 book, McCarthy and His Enemies -- I still find Mr. Hofstadter’s views to be brilliant and insightful, about anti-intellectualism in America, which can be applied to anti-intellectualism in Ufology).

Hofstadter  writes this:

“America was settled by men and women who repudiated European civilization for its oppressiveness or decadence … and who found the most striking thing on the American strand not in the rude social forms that were taking shape here but in the world of nature and savages. The escape from civilization … was perpetuated in repeated escapes from East to West, from the settled world to the frontier.” [Page 49]

One can see this attitude, today in the heavy settling out West by ufologists adorned in western gear (string ties, boots, and denim).

Alexis de Tocqueville, perhaps the greatest explicator of American society [Democracy in America, 1835], is cited by Hostadter:

“Tocqueville saw that the life of constant action and decision which was entailed by the democratic and businesslike character of American life put a premium upon rough and ready habits of mind …” [Page 50]

And the prominent British writer D.H. Lawrence said, “in one of his harsh, luminous hyperboles that the essential American soul is ‘hard, isolate, stoic, and a killer.’” [Page 49]

This is the temper of most UFO writers and their devotees, I’m sorry to say.

Hofstadter blames religious evangelism for much anti-intellectualism in America, but if ufologists are religious-oriented, that hasn’t protruded in their writings or commentary, as far as I see it.

Ufologists and fellow-travelers (buffs) seem to be agnostic when it comes to placing UFOs in a religious milieu. Abductees who’ve created a religious patina to their experience have, generally, been eschewed by UFO “researchers.”

The crudity of observational comments at this blog and even more so at other blogs evidence how shallow the ufological mind is.

Placing anything with gravitas online here (or elsewhere) brings forth a silence that is palpable.

Any insertion of something devoid of crash and burn or dynamic, hyped reportage goes uncommented.

UFO mavens want bread and circus accounts.

The vapid arguing at Kevin Randle’s blog tells me (and others) that UFO hobbyists want to argue rather than seek an explanation of what a sighting means or what UFOs as a phenomenon are.

Hofstadter writes that the cult of anti-intellectualism “was not a variation … of a universal problem of modern societies, but a case of utterly unique pathology.” [Page 412]

That persons interested in UFOs seem prone to pathologies can be readily seen in their commentaries, with UFO writers and investigators showing marked symptoms of addled minds. (Need I name them?)

Intellectuals conformed, ideologically, to survive the onslaught of anti-intellectualism [Hofstadter, Chapter XV, Pages 393-432].

But intellectuals in ufology acquiesce to the mob, and descend to writing in ways (me included) that the great UFO unwashed can understand.

Bruce Deusing doesn’t acquiesce. He challenges readers of his blog and says “to hell with your stupidity, I’m not going to water down my views for you.”

But he’s a UFO loner.

Ufology and the UFO topic have suffered grievously by intellectuals abandoning their cachet of intelligence.

The UFO hoi-polloi took hold of the topic and phenomenon in the era that Hofstadter addresses, the 1950s and 1960s, when intellectualism was shunned and attacked.

We, in the UFO community, have never recovered from that.

The topic is festooned with hokeyisms and folk-tales, not real investigation or research.

Hyperbole, myth, and outright lies (or errors) prevail.

The problem is endemic to American society, and societies elsewhere as well.

So, there you have it: one of the reasons that UFOs, as an important ingredient in human society, are moribund, on life support.

RR