Like loyal Drumpf supporters, modern day anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers refuse to see the truth, no matter how demonstrably clear the evidence. A contentious relationship highlighted by a distrust in science and the people that work tirelessly to figure it all out.
Now, a scholastic historian claims there is a link between modern day deniers and the surge of UFO hysteria of the recent past.
Greg Eghigian, a historian from Penn State University, claims the conviction of those making the case for UFO’s during the Cold War draws a strong parallel with those in current denialism and conspiracy theory movements, such as anti-vaxxers and climate change deniers.
“One of the things that marks the long history of this [UFO] movement is the question of mistrust, and I see this as part and parcel of some of the skepticism we see out there today,” said Eghigian. “Although there are some differences, the UFO debate was kind of the granddaddy of them all and could be a model for looking at some of these other controversies.”
In the new study published in Public Understanding of Science, Eghigian examines how a sense of mutual distrust between the scientific establishment and amateur UFO investigators (or ‘ufologists’) perpetuated and defined the conflict between the two groups.
Eghigian further explains he does not believe ufologists to be wholly ignorant or biased:
“My experience with the UFO phenomena and the history of ufology is that these amateur investigators have not at all been ignorant of science,” said Eghigian. “This goes with other theories that it’s less that people distrust science than that they distrust scientists and scientific institutions – that is the disconnect that needs to be explained.”
“Ufologists didn’t try to take over scientific fields or institutions,” said Eghigian. “What they did was to create parallel institutions and mimic what academics did, create organisations, hold conferences and do research and investigations.”
Eghigian surmises that the UFO community’s over-reliance on their own research only fueled academic mistrust of their results, compounding the fractured relationship further. Like trying to stop a waterfall with a parallel waterfall; at the end of the day all we’re left with is a bunch of noise and chaos.
I myself have had one single, very compelling unexplainable experience regarding a strangeness in the sky. It happened when I was a teenager and still living in Las Vegas and it was an experience that has led me to keep an open mind about the unknown. Therefore, it is a little alarming to see a historian point out this link between ufologists and modern day denialists.
Maybe I’m just the exception to the rule because part of me believes in each one of these theories posted above.
My mind was awash with the memories of what happened in Vegas nearly a decade ago, all the while I was having my newborn son vaccinated in what has been the supposed hottest year on record.