UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge
UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of
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,
outlandish theories, and zero government funding, as well as a disturbing
array of cults, charlatans, debunkers, and self-promoters, many
have logically stayed away. Meanwhile, the phenomenon continues
to grow and evolve in the public awareness.
In UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders
of Knowledge, historian David Jacobs and his coauthors offer a kind
of primer for scholars, skeptics, and others uneasy about investigating
this field. Although not all in agreement concerning the elusive,
complex, and compelling subject of UFO and abduction phenomena,
they have come together to highlight key events, issues, themes,
and theories. The authors cover the nature of UFO "evidence;"
reactions of the government and military from the Cold War to the
present; the methodological debates; and the use of research from
science, history, mythology, and psychology in the study of UFOs
UFOs and Abductions also brings together for the
first time in one book three best-selling authors-Jacobs, Budd Hopkins,
and Pulitzer Prize winner John Mack, widely known for their writings
on the highly controversial "alien abduction" phenomenon.
Motivated by the same simple curiosity that has
always fueled humanity's great discoveries, the authors of UFOs
and Abductions hope that their efforts will help to encourage a
fundamental shift in the academy's view of such research, ultimately
leading to a better understanding of the phenomena, ourselves, and
our place in the COSMOS.
About David Jacobs
A Los Angeles native who studied first at UCLA
and later at the University of Wisconsin, Jacobs now lives outside
Philadelphia and is a member of Temple University's history department.
A former director of Temple's American studies department, he specializes
in twentieth century American history and culture. At Temple, Jacobs
teaches the only university-level course in the U.S. on UFO and
abduction phenomena, a course that remains both popular and controversial.
Jacobs has been a UFO researcher for 34 years.
In 1973, he completed his doctoral dissertation at the University
of Wisconsin-Madison on the controversy over unidentified flying
objects in the United States. This was one of the first Ph.D. degrees
granted which involved UFO-related scholarship. His dissertation
was published as The UFO Controversy in America in 1975. His other
publications include Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions
(1992) and The Threat (1998).
In addition to his work on UFO and abduction phenomena,
Jacobs's continuing research interests also include a study of the
cultural perceptions of the American communist in the post-World
War II era. ********************
AN INTERVIEW WITH DAVID JACOBS (Excerpted from
Sean Casteel's interview with Jacobs in UFO Magazine, Volume 15,
Number 8, September 2000)
[Q] Do you get any flak from the administration
or your fellow faculty members at Temple University because of your
high-profile interest in UFOS? If so, how do you deal with it?
[A] There are only a few of us in academia who
maintain a relatively high-profile stance about our beliefs that
the UFO and abduction phenomena are extraterrestrial. This is not
well-taken by other academics. When I mention UFOs or abductions,
they instantly understand the full range of phenomena that could
account for either the sightings or the abduction narratives. They
know that false memory syndrome, conventional objects, sexual abuse,
popular culture, faulty hypnosis, birds, planes, and many other
phenomena could easily account for most of these wild reports and
What they do not understand is that UFO and abduction
researchers are acutely aware of all of these explanations and they
have looked into them on a more exhaustive level than the academicians
who "know" the answers. It is all very frustrating. They
think that I and other academics involved in studying the subject
are not strong minded, have lapses in judgment, or are simply ignorant.
Thus, anyone in my position must pay the price for being in academia;
many of the faculty at my institution feet that I am an embarrassment
to the university and would prefer not to have me on the faculty.
[A] I teach "UFOs and American Society"
through the American studies program at Temple University. I have
taught this course on and off since 1977. A few years ago the embarrassment
of this nationally publicized course-seen in The New York Times
and Spy Magazine and college guides and so on-became too much for
the American studies program and I was put on a schedule of teaching
it once every third semester.
[Q] What about educating the general public? Is
that the next step after educating academia itself? I think that
the general public might already be more educated about this subject
than academics. The acceptance of this phenomenon is almost certainly
greater among non-academics than academics. Perhaps they are not
so encapsulated in their own fields as academics are and therefore
non-academics are often more open-minded and engage with the data
in a more productive way than academics do.
On another level, however, I think there is a tremendous amount of misinformation about the UFO and abduction phenomena. I think that it is important for the major UFO organizations to step up and begin the process of education about UFOs free from the popular culture distractions that have muddied the waters about this subject for the past twenty years.
The PAG Network
©2001. All Rights Reserved.
Send CAUS Comments and Reports to: CAUS@CAUS.ORG