Another elephant in the room

IONS' founder, Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell, was recently in the news because he stated on a British radio show what he's been saying for years: That UFOs are real. For some reason, this time his comments caught the attention of the news media, including a New York Times blog.

The Times comment was notable because it reflected the mainstream (in this context meaning something like "serious and sober") media's stance on this topic: UFOs are fodder for news of the weird, which includes anything outside a very thin slice of acceptable topics.

There is plenty of evidence to support Mitchell's opinion that UFOs should be taken seriously. As with any complex topic, it takes some dedicated homework to find and digest the relevant literature. But once that is done, it is difficult to go away without the opinion that something interesting is going on. Whether "it" is ET I still find to be debatable, but that there is a genuine mystery afoot, is clear.

Unfortunately, as long as topics like UFOs and psi are associated with high giggle factors, no mainstream reporter is going to jeopardize his/her career by sounding too sympathetic when discussing these topics publicly. So the status quo is likely to persist.

But I often hear the private opinions of scientists and reporters, including those from august universities like Harvard and newspapers like the New York Times, so I know that there are far more people in prominent positions who privately are keenly interested in these topics. Far more than is suggested by how these topics are reported in public. But it takes courage to expose the elephant in the room, and few have been willing to exercise that courage, especially when the price to pay could be one's career.


Dave Smith said…
Regarding the UFO topic, I get the feeling that the giggle factor in the UK is a little less overt in the mainstream media than in the US. Papers such as the Daily Telegraph and the Mirror have covered some recent UFO incidents in a reasonably serious tone. And there's been the recent de-classification of UFO files from the MOD which was covered in some mainstream media outlets. But, of course, the UFO topic still gets ridiculed to a degree in the UK.
Dean Radin said…
Someone posted a comment to this thread which I thought was inappropriate so I'm not publishing it. However, it is relevant to the giggle factor, and in particular how controversy clouds one's judgment of crediblity.

The comment involved a critique of some of Edgar Mitchell's poetry, which the poster did not like. She felt that bad poetry (in her opinion) reduced the credibility of Mitchell's claims.

If we applied this same criterion to evaluate the ideas of other scientists, what are we to make of Einstein's preference for wild hair, crumpled sweaters and no socks? Or Feynman's penchant for relaxing in topless bars?*

Such personal quirks are powerful shapers of our sense of others, but they are also completely irrelevant when it comes to judging the credibility of their ideas.

* The New Yorker, July 28, 2008, page 44.
Jim Clark said…
Hi Dean.

Considering that several goverment and military files on UFO's have been published openly I don't see how anyone can seriously deny that the phenomena is real. The debate is simply over the explanation for it, with many people tending to move away form the simple idea of ET from another planet to the concept of UFO's as vehicles for travelling between dimensions, or as somehow manifestations of a greater consciousness, perhaps the collective psyche of humanity. It's quite petty to dismiss someone's work on the basis of a few personality quirks. Madame Helena Blavatsky was supposedly cranky and she smoked a lot, that doesn't take away from the fact that she did some brilliant work.

Have you checked out this site: I haven't checked out that much of it yet, but from what I've seen so far I think the writer is brilliant.

Unfortunately what the mainstream media take as series I find very silly (fashion, celebrity trends etc etc), and what I find serious most people find either boring or ridiculous. Ultimately, accusations of bias are inevitable when dealing with the continual denial of skeptics, or the wild claims of Religious fanatics.

I've been following your work for a while now, I have The Conscious Universe and Entangled Minds, plus an ultra extended version of What The Bleep. I'm wondering what your experience has been in specific debates with Atheists / Skeptics. Have you ever tried lengthy point by point debates before? Also, do you ever get conservative Christians accusing you of messing with Demons?

If you have the time, I'd love to hear from you personally. I have recently started a blog and I'm very interested in getting serious experts such as yourself together for debates. My personal email is:

I hope your well.
Take care

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