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Are UFOs & Ufology In Decline? If So—Why?

Why is Ufology on the decline?

  • Pre-Millenial tension has subsided

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • Preoccupied with terrestrial problems (war, terrorism, the economy)

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No-one watches the X-Files anymore

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • No cases of significance in the last few years

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • Too many recent hoaxes

    Votes: 4 21.1%
  • Realisation it will never be proven with photos and video alone

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • The visitors are lying low for some reason

    Votes: 0 0.0%
  • They’ve finally realized it’s all bollocks

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • UFOs are probably secret military stuff, and the military ain't talkin'

    Votes: 2 10.5%
  • The internet has killed discussion groups off, by and large

    Votes: 1 5.3%
  • All/some of the above

    Votes: 9 47.4%

  • Total voters


Membership of saucer watchers and Ufology groups has been on a significant decline - but what are we to blame this on?

You may vote on more than one of the above selections, or suggest your own reason.
Ok, I suggested another reason - and added it to the poll! :D

In fact the decline in interest is probably a combination of several of the possible reasons.

There's also boredom - descriptions of strange lights, wherever they appear in the world, are usually much the same, and don't take our understanding much further. Yawn!

We're all hoping for an undeniable, widely witnessed, nuts and bolts saucer - but we may never get it because UFOs (if not man-made) may be something much weirder: transdimensional, or something else beyond our current understanding.
I think there are cultural reasons, of which the X-files is a symptom rather than a cause.

Ufology's just not as much fun as it used to be, is it? Martin Kottmeyer's recent(ish) articles in Magonia show there was a much wider range of alien inhabitant in the early part of the current, "flying saucer" UFO era (i.e. 1947 onwards), now they're all greys, which I suspect is because of the saturation of this sort of thing in mass culture. Everything from "Close Encounters of the Third Kind" to "Communion" to "The X-Files" has told people what aliens are "supposed" to look like.

(blimey, quite a lot of quotation marks in that paragraph, I shall try and restrain myself)

If we take the Barney and Betty Hill case as the starting point for the current abductee model of UFO contact, we've been heading down this road for a while. The more gynaecological excesses of the Jacobs and Hopkins school have given things a fresh twist and along with the conspiratorial leaning of MJ12 and its relatives created quite a potent myth.

But it's a bit tired now, isn't it? Like the X-Files, it feels rather dated and unfashionable.

What we need is something as different to abducteeism as abducteeism was to contacteeism. A UFOlogical tabula rasa for us to project the not-necessarily pleasant contents of our post-millennial psyches onto. I'm sure it'll turn up soon (it could well be happening now without us noticing), but for now, UFOlogy's not dead, it's just sleeping.
I think it's unfashionable. It's been done to death. It's cheesy, like those inflatable green aliens and posters combining greys, cannabis and Quentin Tarantino films. Y'see, the only problem with being in fashion is you're bound to go out of fashion. Now, the general public don't see it as even a curiosity, but last year's fad.

If people forget all this "Grey" stupidity, and Roswell, and the X-Files, and study UFOs, not someone's fantasies or dream-state "witness" of UFO's "occupants", then it might gain a little more credibility.

Aliens have become synonymous with the UFO phenomenon. There's photographic, video and reliable eye-witness proof of phenomenon in the skies and it's discredited entirely by people jumping to conclusions.
I agree with what JamesM says above about the subject. But at the same time I think it's useful to point out that UFOs and Greys aren't necessarily all part of the same phenomena - UFOs are still being reported: the problem is that they have now been too enmeshed with the whole idea of aliens and abductions that they've been pushed even further out onto the fringe. Funnily enough, UFOs in the media have become very sci-fi and hi-tech looking - we don't see them portrayed any more as simple and sleek as they've been reported over the years (when they're not just described as lights). Even reports from South America, which (up until fairly recently) were a pretty rich seam of UFO-related weirdness reminiscent of the 1950s and '60s has settled down into the ol' Grey stuff.
All of the above!

Lack of media interest has to be a big factor. Back in the 70s and 80s I remember we'd often see reports on the national news - not anymore. Even the tabloid papers rarely mention UFOs these days. A couple of big, high profile cases with film footage on the evening news could change all that. So if I were a UFO group wanting to rekindle interest I'd get to work with my video camera and a wheel hub.......:D
Just shagged out after some vigorous squawking..

Like most things, interest in UFOs goes in cycles, since I came in, around about Von Danekin, there were reams of ancient astronaut stuff (with reprints of the older stuff), there was a bit of a peak in the late 70s with CE3K and ET (and some other truly dreadful films) and then there was another X-files and Communion inspired burst in the mid to late nineties.

It never entirely goes dead, it's just that it falls back to a baseline level of people who are always interested in weird shit.

UFO changes in nature too, in the three cycles I've through from ancient astronauts, via benevolent semi-mysticism, to anally obsessed conspiracists.

Interest in the paranormal seems to be in a bit of a lull generally at the moment, with the possible exception of psychic phone lines and tarot reading.

At the moment people are more obsessed with what they think of as real treats SARS, The War Against Terrorism (what an acronym) etc...

When interests in these fade, and someone gets a new angle on UFOs, the mass interest will return
Another option added: as mentioned in the FT recently the internet is a huge source of info, good, bad and ridiculous, but which is nonetheless at one's fingertips 24/7 as opposed to available every second Thursday of the month in a room above a pub to discuss the light in the sky Arthur saw last week. Sad but true.

On a wider note, agree with all the above that the the public as a whole got bored with it. The mid-nineties were saturated with the whole Grey image, compounded by Santilli and the X Files, until the bubble burst. Unfortunately now the two seperate phenomena, UFOs and Greys, have in the public arena become inextricably linked: UFO=Grey=bored with it now. UFOs are a fine and venerable Fort subject, from Airship flaps to Foo Fighters to Roswell to the present: Greys are as much a psychological /sociological phenomenon as anything else, more akin IMHO to Night Hags and Fairie Changelings than Saucers. That's my two pennorth.
All of the above are valid reasons why people are turning away from UFOlogy. I doubt that there will be no one reason that people will give.

Could we have "All/some of the above" given as an option. I know that DD has thoughtfully allowed us multiple votes, but I think that we should be able to register the fact that we have votes for more than one option. (done - Stu)

...like I've said elsewhere on this board.

There's a certain element of "geekiness" associated with UFOlogy which in my view must take much of the blame for the decline in interest.

Whenever there is a case aired on prime-time TV, following the mocking tones of the newscaster is usually an interview with an "expert" who either:

(a) Appears with a picture of aforementioned grey in the background whilst spouting off about why "they" are visiting us,


(b) Displays such poor sartorial elegance that all credibility is immediately lost at a glance.

What we need is some sexy spokespeople providing serious and analytical debate. Only then will the subject gain the exposure it is worth.

Although perhaps the above people are planted by "The Powers That Be" in order to discredit the subject altogether? :eek!!!!:
Re: Plus...

Filthy le Dog said:
What we need is some sexy spokespeople providing serious and analytical debate.

Do these people exist?

...there must be!!

Surely not everybody who's into UFOs is either pro-ETH/ex-"Abductee" or dresses like Jenny Randles (no offence Jenny) on a bad hair day.

There must be some sensible, normal looking people out there who are willing to profess their fascination with the subject and open up some serious debate.

I suspect if you don't fit the stereotype of what a UFO investigator looks like and don't have some suitably loopy ideas, the media won't be interested.

And the risk of being too smartly dressed is that you'll look like a Mormon Missionary.
In fact...

...Ms Randles is a prime example of what I'm getting at.

She's intelligent (used to be a science teacher you know), articulate and really knows her stuff and I have a lot of admiration for her work, plus she maintains a very healthy sense of scepticism for the Jacobs/Hopkins bandwagon and doesn't neccessarily agree with the "nuts & bolts" theories...


...let's face it. She could do with a visit from Trinny and Susannah and a good session at a hair salon.

The new, stylish Jennifer Randles (she should dispense with the Jenny - it's too "homely") could be at the forefront of UFOlogy's assault on the British media and the quest to be taken seriously.

A midweek night series on Channel 4 or BBC2 (not satellite/cable or BBC1 or ITV - they're too light) for an hour, fronted by our new look Ms Jennifer Randles, maybe portraying the history of UFOs or some of the more well-researched cases in detail - and not just the unsolved ones, eh? Let's show the people we have an open mind - could bring the subject to the fore again and maybe concentrate the mainstream view toward the factual rather than the fantastic.
I reckon the 'aliens' have learnt all that they can about probing the inside of a man's anus and the effects mutilating a cow and have taken their technology to other planets.
I don't think there is a general decline in interest in UFOs. DD refers to
the declining fortunes of local and regional groups but they have been
overtaken by the internet.

I think the phenomena have a certain monotony which ensures a steady
supply of remaindered books on the subject. Writing in the 1950s, Jung
was already addressing a sense of fatigue and frustration with the
extra-terrestrial hypothesis.

I have just finished Jaques Vallee's 1988 book Dimensions, which puts
alien contact in the context of fairy lore and "otherness", opting for
a multiverse conclusion. His main objection to UFOs as spacecraft is that
there are simply too many of them to be here for any surveying or
scientific purposes. He also uses a mathematical model to show that the
number seen should be multiplied by factors of fifteen and ten to allow
for hours of darkness and population distribution so he comes up with
the figure of some three million unobserved landings in a twenty year

The few florid cases, such as Rendelsham Forest and Roswell soon lose their
excitement and become rather dull paper-trails or rely on questionable statements
by alleged witnesses so that only the most determined anoraks will
read the competing monographs from cover to cover.

Meanwhile, I suppose I will always go and take a look at any new pictures
of "structured craft" but the odd light in the sky doesn't exactly persuade me
that the Truth is out there! :confused:
Re: Plus...

Filthy le Dog said:
What we need is some sexy spokespeople providing serious and analytical debate. Only then will the subject gain the exposure it is worth.
I couldn't find the smiley for tongue in cheek..

You volunteering Stu?
Well, I'm available Mon to Thurs, have references and my own suit....
But is your hair sensible Stu?

And is that suit all the same colour? :p
Hair uniformly 1cm long, with distinguished grey flecks (;)), suit uniformly black.

And shiny shoes, too, if I polish them :).

Have I got the job, then?

And can somone get us back on thread?....
Okay then...:rolleyes:

Part of the reason why membership of UFO groups is in decline, could be due to the more senior members scoffing at newcomers.

Newcomer:Rendlesham is interesting because...

Old Timer: *rolls eyes* Lighthouse!

NC:The Hills?

OT:Old hat!



NC:I'd better go and stop wasting your time then.*picks up jacket and leaves*

OT:Now then Arthur, this light you saw...

I've seen this happen on the board to a lesser extent.

Someone enters a long established thread and either asks a question that most would say was naive or very basic and gets a response along the lines of:

"You don't know that! What are you doing here?"

Or they start a thread and get told:

"We talked about that to death last year," and neglect to supply a link to the relevant thread.
I personally firmly believe the decline in the interest of UFO-related phenomena to be a deep-seated fear among genuine investigators that the "Icke syndrome" complex will be visited upon their subsequent careers and livelihoods, and hence their sense of familial togetherness.

A successful dissing from those quarters most concerned in the investigation usually results in a Mexican Wave/domino effect which thereby collapses the discernible universe of that particular stream of thought, thereby effectively demolishing those ideas very carefully built up for centuries.
Let me just find my soap box...ah here it is. Right...

Originally posted by Butterfly
A successful dissing from those quarters most concerned in the investigation usually results in a Mexican Wave/domino effect which thereby collapses the discernible universe of that particular stream of thought, thereby effectively demolishing those ideas very carefully built up for centuries.

Eh?! :sceptic:

I agree with the "Icke" syndrome theory.
Declare a belief in the subject and gain the instant "Loony" tag, although the likes of David Icke embody for me the extreme of UFOlogy.
This is my point exactly. We need a "middle-of-the-road" representative to come to the fore and push for serious debate and research and present a side that won't be associated with "the geeks".

For me the subject can be split into three discernible chunks. The extreme pro-ETH and abduction lobby at one end, the "nothing proven, it's a load of rubbish" sceptics at the other. It is these camps that have turned the subject into the end-of-the-news, slightly laughable issue it has become, which for me is the reason there is a decline in interest. Nobody takes it seriously anymore.
The third chunk is the middle ground.
What I'm saying is that this middle ground never gets a say. If it did I think perhaps interest could be rekindled. As soon as the general public hear somebody saying "Look, to be honest, we don't know what it is, but isn't it weird?" rather than "These are aliens" or "Aliens! My arse! It's temporal lobe epilepsy" then I honestly believe more people would take sit up and take notice of an intruiging and fascinating subject rather than just pinning the field down to a bunch of geeks who state categorically that the world is run by an alien elite.
My turn on the soap box.....

I'll probably start a riot here with my rant but hey, it's forum so here goes.....

My belief in the decline of UFOlogy is that it is mainly due to science and sometimes the lack of it.

In earlier years, contactee cases involved supposed aliens from Venus or Mars. But as science has proven that no life can exist on these planets, the reports change to worlds out side our Solar system.

Stories change as does our understanding of our Universe.

Going back earlier, people belived that they were abducted by fairies, angels and demons. Reports of sexual acts with succubi and incubbi were comman among Priests and Nuns trying to find a reason for there erotic dreams caused by celibacy.

Over the years visitations changed to fairies and now aliens are the ones responsible for the vivid dreams people have.

As science slowly pushes people away from religion, it can have the same effect on UFOlogy.

The Barney and Betty Hill case, was proven to be a contamination of media and bad hypnosis as are a number of cases.

Also, the lack of science also plays a part. Dr. Roger Leir is a leading Implant expert, yet all his research is shrouded in mystery. The locations of analysis are also hidden and names are blacked out on reports. Samples are never provided for anaylsis to other research institutes and so therefore raises suspicion.

If implants do exist and have been tested, why aren't they provided for others to examine? Surely this is a major break through in UFOlogy and the information should be out there for all to see.

The constant shadows behind new evidence is what turns most people away but for some (like me) it still keeps an interest.

People need proof. They need to see evidence that has been examined thouroughly and without question else it will always appear as a hoax to the comman man.

its about as interesting as bingo
all the same type of stuff repoduced in a random order
nowt new
same old lights,cover-ups,stories of military men sworn to .........
in the end we always react to the phenonmen never it to us.
excluded middle

I don't know if that particular mag is still in publication but their name makes a nice title.

Regarding the implant - abduction - hypnosis industry side, many want to hear their UFO news from that quarter because they can't make that small leap to the middle ground. Excuse my metaphor, it's early here. Wild eyed mass sighting stories keep the 11PM news viewers tuned in, whereas " And next, a psychosocial look at those alien abduction claims " lacks the same sleazy punch.
My own views on this subject and attendant phenomena have become a bit more critical since taking up the subject again after reading Dimensions, The Mothman Prophecies and sorry folks Communion about ten years ago. The problem with the middle path is that it's not sexy enough. We seem to prefer scoffers and true believers, not necessarily in that order.
Another factor is well generational. Useful figures like Vallee have had their fill of this quest while the more dodgy types like WS and the acolytes who post on his message board seem to prosper. Oh well. Every time it looks like curtains for ufology some weird new development occurs. ( I shudder to think of what it may be.)
Could part of it be that UFOs have moved steadily into weirder and weirder directions, so that now they ARE more akin to ghosts, fairies, demons, etc... and are thus even MORE marginalized? Never to go away -- we still have the occasional stories re ghosts and the like -- but never to really regain their earlier even marginally respectable status? (and I lean HEAVILY on that "marginal"...*S*)

I probably am not up to the challenge of expressing this well... :cross eye ... but there was a time.. certainly well into the 70s... that UFOs were seen as primarily "technological"... from my limited knowledge, many of the reports from the 50s and 60s suggested metallic CRAFT, nuts and bolts, tangible, 'real', technologically advanced "ships" from somewhere, with occupants who might be green or red or blue but who were..well.. "real" .. not metaphysical, but "spacemen" or travellers of some kind. I am not underselling the weirdness of some earlier UFO reports... *S*.. but the majority I recall coming across in UFO books, etc, of my youth suggested "real" (if fantastic!) craft of some kind, with "real" (if fantastic) occupants.

As time has passed... as the general public has gained some small measure of understanding of how vast space is, of the amazing distances involved, and as technology has made it more and more difficult for the layman to accept an undetected "spaceship" zipping about (yes, even with stealth! *S*), it seems to me that both UFOs and their occupants have become more and more "metaphysical", more and more akin to spirits and ghosts, and less and less like the nuts-and-bolts "invaders" of the 50s and 60s. Time-warping, reality-altering "beings" travelling in ships of light,etc. And, as they have done so, they have moved more and more into the margins (while certainly still occupying a fairly prominent cultural place -- the aforementioned impossible to avoid Greys, etc).

In some ways, I am reminded a bit of the way science fiction has changed over the years. I read a lot of 50s/60s science fiction in my youth (our local library had an extensive, if aged collection of B-grade science fiction) and such books were FULL of folks "hopping" into their rocket ships and venturing to other worlds, etc, encountering all kinds of alien races -- very much akin to the sci-fi/fantasy worlds of Star Wars, as opposed to the colder, "more real" world of, say, 2001... Well, you really don't see a LOT of that kind of science fiction anymore, for good or ill, in part because there has been SO much discussion of the vast distances, the vastness of space, etc. Fantasy has moved into this niche, by and large... Star Trek and Star Wars aside, the universe has become an infinitely larger, lonlier, sparsely populated place.

I also wonder... somewhat different approach.. if we aren't just plain "thinking smaller" these days. Again, hard to capture in words, but I recall that even amid the turmoil of the 60s, etc, there was a kind of bigger-picture core optimism about the future that I don't feel now... sadly. I recall the excitement about the space race, the almost "certainty" that by now we would have folks LIVING on Mars, etc. May seem like romantic, stupid drivel today, but... there was a sense of a bigger, wider, future that I don't think we have now. Maybe UFOs don't fit so well in our smaller, darker, more cynical, more "insignificant" worldview. I am not ASSUMING that UFOs are spacecraft, but... I think that WAS the general perception and I think it may simply be harder to sell the notion that anyone would cross enormous gulfs to come HERE.... *S* Again, wish I was more eloquent, could explain it better, but...

Interesting thread. Thanks for putting up with my rambling, free-form, half-baked musings...*S*

Shadow said:
... but there was a time.. certainly well into the 70s... that UFOs were seen as primarily "technological"... from my limited knowledge, many of the reports from the 50s and 60s suggested metallic CRAFT, nuts and bolts, tangible, 'real', technologically advanced "ships" from somewhere, with occupants who might be green or red or blue but who were..well.. "real"
I guess that part of the "problem" may have spread from the old "nuts and bolts" ETH, when there has been a distressing lack of said "nuts and bolts" being recovered. (Outside of mysterious, shadowy, government organisations, that is. ;) )