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As part of the PR for its recent conference, the editor of ‘Fortean Times’ has declared ‘the science of ufology dead', as ANDY THOMAS recounts…

The announcement this week that Bob Rickard, editor of the supposed journal of strange phenomena ‘Fortean Times’, has declared interest in things like UFOs as being at an all-time low will come as no surprise to those who have noted that magazine’s decline into outright scepticism and debunking over the last decade or so. Their treatment of crop circles in recent years, as but one example, has been so negative as to rival the ‘Sceptical Enquirer’ for lack of openness, and now it seems ufology is their next target.

The comments, made during publicity for the Fortean ‘Unconvention’ in London on the weekend of 6th April, have received wide press coverage in the UK media, with several articles screaming headlines like ‘We ARE Alone’ off the back of it [see ‘Metro’ cutting].

Rickard’s premise seems to be that UFO sightings have declined into almost non-existence in recent years, and that interest in them and things like crop circles has likewise dwindled. (The circles are mentioned in many of the reports in the same breath as alien visitors, though, of course, there are numerous different theories as to the source of crop circles.)

Yet, a simple glance at the many websites, journals and conferences dedicated to UFOs and cerealogy shows quite categorically that interest is as high as it has been for a least a decade, putting aside the short-lived leap of bandwagon interest in the wake of the TV show ‘The X Files’ in the mid 1990s. Sightings are still reported widely and often.

Fortean Times’ declaration appears to be more an admittance of their OWN declining interest, rather than a reflection of the reality.

However, this hasn’t stopped the UK press making much of one man’s comments, and seeking back-up quotes from other people unlikely to put a different point of view. Astronomer Royal Sir Martin Rees, speaking in the ‘Daily Mail’, disdains interest in UFOs and crop circles as misguided and fanciful, and has prompted rebukes from the likes of US UFO researchers Richard Hoagland and Bruce Maccabee, and circle investigator Eltjo Haselhoff, who naturally have not received the same exposure. Similarly, Steven Greer’s ‘Disclosure’ project last year, which provided much formidable testimony to support the existence of UFOs as an officially covered-up phenomenon, was also largely ignored in the UK media.

Interestingly, a very similar announcement about the apparent ‘declining reports of UFOs’ was made in the UK press about a year ago, with much the same thread behind it. One example given to support the view of dying ufology made both then and now is the statement that “the world’s oldest UFO Society, the British Flying Saucer Bureau, has suspended its activities after 50 years owing to lack of evidence” (‘Metro’, April 8 2002). This same statement was made a year ago, and was publicly denied in April 2001 by Denis Plunkett, founder of the BFSB, stating that all that was suspended was simply its summer lecture programme, in acknowledgment that more people access UFO reports from websites now. The report also does NOT say that there are plenty of other UFO investigation groups which continue on quite successfully.

Anyone would think, with all this media debunking, that there was an agenda going on here…



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