Sunday, May 6, 2012

This Disillusioned World

For the record, I am going to be very vague about the specifics of this entry's subject. Why? Because I offer up my opinions about an ongoing internet flame war, and I have no desire to interact with either side of it. If they connect the dots themselves, so be it. But I'm not going to turn up on anyone's vanity Google search on this topic.

Let me confess to you: I love UFO books. I don't care so much if they are good or not. Point of fact, many that I've read are no damn good at all. They don't stand up to even the tiniest bit of critical thinking. I am perfectly fine with this.

I long ago accepted that my interest in UFO books was more in the mysteries they kindled in my imagination rather than their facts. If you go into them with your eyes wide open, some can be pretty entertaining. I have no idea how "authentic" anything John Keel ever wrote is, but he could tell a compelling story. I honestly get chills when I read some of his books. Are they accurate? That's open to debate even in UFO circles. Are they entertaining? Boy, I sure think so.

But lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not a starry-eyed believer either. Oh, I am fascinated by the subject, but I've never had a convincing "encounter" and am becoming convinced that I never will. I think there's something "there," but that something might not be extraterrestrial or supernatural. That doesn't make it any less interesting.

So it was with considerable excitement that I often told people about what I termed the "best" UFO book I'd ever bought. It didn't look that way at first glance; it looked like just another book on a popular UFO subject, and was marketed as such. Ah, but when I bought it and read it, it pretty much deconstructed that famous case to such a degree that I couldn't help but be impressed. There was a healthy degree of skepticism, even if the author seemed to be straddling the fence on his belief in the subject or not.

This may surprise you, but in my whole time on the Internet (11+ years), I'd never bothered to look up info on the author of this book I felt was so good. Hey, it was never very important to me. However, I thought about him and his book after posting the video of "The Flying Saucer Mystery" a few days ago. I thought I should take the time and see what he had been up to over the years.

My very first hit was for a hate site devoted to the guy. Well, that was...interesting. But c'mon, he had demolished more than one famous paranormal incident. It made sense to me that he would have enemies. It did strike me as unusual that his own site wouldn't be at the top of the list, so I investigated further. Because surely, the gent had his own website.

Um, I still have a hard time comprehending what I learned as I dug deeper. I don't want to go into specifics, since that would tip off the parties involved, but this author has pretty obviously become delusional. I'm not sure if he's a pathological liar, a brilliant troll, or just someone who is mentally ill, but the things I saw were so far beyond the pale that I am deeply troubled by the whole affair. His enemies aren't much better, which leads to the sad spectacle of a conflict where everyone is a loser.

As a consequence of my curiosity, I've re-examined my thoughts on his book, and realized that some of what I wrote off as just quirks and oddities about it at the time were really early signs of this fellow's subsequent behavior. This bothers me a lot, because I feel like I've been hoodwinked by a flim flam man just as much as those people who swallowed George Adamski's claims decades ago. Yes, the book lays out an argument (which I have since discovered was mostly regurgitated from other sources) that I still find plausible. However, the author himself has lost all credibility in my eyes, and I cannot take his book seriously as a repudiation of this case anymore. Everything in the book may be accurate, but how can I trust it when I know he has proven that he will make things up? As it is, I have serious doubts about the facts that he claims to have uncovered himself.

I'm disillusioned about this matter. I'm also disappointed. Not with the author, but with myself. I'd like to think I'm a critical reader and don't fall for anyone's claims easily. Yet, I can't escape the fact that I bought into this guy's line of reasoning, and he's turned out to be as big a fraud as the "frauds" he sought to expose. It's the sort of thing that will turn your view of the world on its head. When the skeptics turn around and lie, what is the truth?

At least John Keel's books are fun.

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