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From the Publisher
The subject of this breakthrough book is controversial, but its message is simple: The study of UFOs merits the serious attention of the intellectual establishment. Advocating credibility for this much-maligned field of research, historian David Jacobs and his coauthors highlight some of the key events, issues, themes, and theories surrounding this elusive, complex, and compelling subject.
Whether interplanetary tourists, interlopers from a parallel universe, or mere misfirings in the brain, UFOs and "aliens" permeate popular culture. They've made the covers of Time, Life, and the New York Times Book Review; garnered CNN coverage; turned up on Larry King Live and other high-profile talk shows; attracted large audiences for films and television series; and swamped the internet with thousands of websites and discussion groups.
Despite this pervasive presence, few scholars have been willing to study the perplexing phenomena behind these cultural signifiers. Wary of a field that seems tainted by suspect methods and outlandish theories, many have logically stayed away.
The relative lack of academic participation, however, creates a vicious circle that prevents the development of standards that would attract greater academic participation and, thus, credibility and funding for the field. Meanwhile, the phenomenon, rather than fading from public awareness, continues to grow and evolve.
In response, this volume provides a kind of primer for scholars, skeptics, and others uneasy about investigating this field. Its authors examine the nature of UFO "evidence"; discuss the methodological debates; incorporate research from science, history, mythology, and psychology; and highlight the reactions of the government and military from the Cold War to the present. It also brings together for the first time in one book three bestselling authors -- Jacobs, Budd Hopkins, and Pulitzer Prize winner John Mack -- widely known for their writings on the highly controversial "alien abduction" phenomenon.
"A timely, fascinating, and very important book."—Fred Alan Wolfe, author of The Dreaming Universe and Taking the Quantum Leap
"A provocative volume on a controversial subject that should invite much debate from a wide range of scholars."—David H. Devorkin, Curator, Department of Space History, National Air and Space Museum, Smithsonian Institution
"I do not agree with everything said in this book, but I applaud its goal of encouraging serious study of the UFO phenomenon. While the scientific aspects of the problem remain controversial, the historical and cultural impact of the idea of UFOs is indisputable. Indeed, the UFO debate bears on the question of ultimate concern as we enter the new millennium: What is our place in the universe?"—Stephen J. Dick, astronomer, U.S. Naval Observatory, author of Life on Other Worlds
"A valuable source for members of academe who wish to take on the challenges posed by the UFO phenomenon."—Peter A. Sturrock, emeritus director of the Center for Space Science and Astrophysics, Stanford University, author of The UFO Enigma and Plasma Physics
"This impressive book should make academics think twice before simply dismissing or ignoring the subject and, indeed, should help legitimize this controversial field of inquiry."—Bernard Haisch, California Institute of Physics and Astrophysics, science editor for The Astrophysical Journal
"At last, a sensible and serious look at the UFO and abduction phenomena. A must-read primer for anyone who would confront head-on the claims made in this controversial field."—H. E. Puthoff, director, Institute for Advanced Studies at Austin, Texas, coauthor of Fundamentals of Quantum Electronics
Contributors: Stuart Appelle, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Associate Dean of the School of Letters and Sciences at the State University of New York, College at Brockport. He is a research psychologist who has published widely on sensation and perception. He has also published in the mainstream academic literature on ufology, including a chapter on the alien abduction experiences in The Varieties of Psychological Experience, published by the American Psychological Association. Since 1995 he has been editor of The Journal of UFO Studies.
Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D., is a folklore scholar. His work explores the relationship between UFO reports and traditional beliefs in publications such as UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery. He has written many articles on UFOs, abductions, and methodological issues. He is a staff member of the Indiana University library system.
Jerome Clark is a UFO researcher and writer. He is the author of books and articles about UFOs, including the multivolume UFO Encyclopedia, published between 1990 and 1998. He has edited International UFO Reporter, the quarterly magazine of J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, since 1985.
Don Donderi, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at McGill University, Montreal, and cofounder and Principal Consultant of Human Factors North, a Toronto-based ergonomics consulting firm. He is coauthor with Donald Hebb of Textbook of Psychology, 4th ed., and has published many experimental and theoretical papers in the areas of visual perception, memory, psychological measurement, and the UFO phenomenon.
Budd Hopkins is an artist and abduction researcher. He is Director of the Intruders Foundation and author of many pioneering articles and books on the abduction phenomenon, including Missing Time; Intruders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods; and Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge Abduction.
David M. Jacobs, Ph.D. is Associate Professor of History at Temple University. He is the author of numerous articles and books on UFOs and abductions, including The UFO Controversy in America; Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions; and The Threat.
John E. Mack, M.D. is Professor of Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School at Cambridge Hospital. He is founding director of Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER), which is devoted to studying the clinical, philosophical, political, and spiritual meaning of the UFO phenomenon. His books include the Pulitzer Prize-winning A Prince of Our Disorder; Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens; and Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters.
Michael Persinger, Ph.D., is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Laurentian University in Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. He has written several books and has published more than two hundred technical articles. He is the author of the Neuropsychological Bases of God Beliefs and TM and Cultmania. Dr. Persinger's clinical practice involves the accurate diagnosis and treatment of patients with acquired brain injuries associated with mild traumas.
Michael Swords, Ph.D., is Professor of Natural Science at Western Michigan University and the author of numerous articles on UFO history and the science of it as it applies to the phenomenon. He is former editor of The Journal of UFO Studies and a member of the board of directors of the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies.
Ron Westrum, Ph.D., is Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Technology at Eastern Michigan University. In addition to articles about the UFO phenomenon, he has written books on the sociology of technology and complex organizations, including Sidewinder: Creative Missile Design at China Lake.
From The Critics
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 more--a 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 UFOs--lawyers, 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 Cahners Business Information.
A high-profile believer that unidentified flying objects and abduction phenomena are extraterrestrial in origin, Jacobs (history, Temple U.) and collaborators from psychology, natural and social sciences, and the UFO movement offer a primer for scholars, skeptics, and others uneasy about investigating the field. They examine the nature of the evidence and the methodological debates; incorporate research from science, history, mythology, and psychology; and highlight the reactions of the government and military from the Cold War to the present. The contributors include Budd Hopkins and John Mack. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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.