The start of any new year – and indeed decade – sees predictions from every mystic and betting chain in the land, so I thought I’d offer my own “2020 vision” (ahem) of where ufology might be 10 years from now.
WILL THERE EVEN BE A UFOLOGY?
Some pessimists are posing this question because the whole UFO field has changed so much and so rapidly since the start of the millennium. In the 1990s, we had a thriving buzz of local groups – from the vast machinery behind the nationwide BUFORA to local spotters’ clubs formed by High School sixth-formers and named after Fox Mulder’s cat. That has now all but vanished. So will there be a UFO community by the start of the 2020s?
I think so. UFOs attract attention because they are easy to seek out and investigate. While most of us don’t know anyone who has spontaneously combusted, many people have either witnessed, or met someone who has witnessed, a mysterious object in the sky. This guarantees a new generation of youngsters weaned on science fiction for whom the quest to live the alien dream on their local hillock remains an attraction.
But ufology has massively changed in character. The Internet now provides instant access to things that UFO groups once charged for. While lectures at the local library presented by some self-styled expert are almost gone, UFO research seethes online with discussion forums talking in Chinese Whispers about the latest happenings. We can only hope that dedicated ufologists will eschew the Ewing-style squabbles between warring groups, as most work now occurs within amicable teams in instant Net communication.
By 2020, the fruits of such co-operative labours may well be the production of mega databases, accessible to all, and countless well-designed sites providing reliable, trustworthy information. As ever, these will vie for attention with those proclaiming that alien bodies lie concealed under Big Ben, because human nature decrees that daftness and drama about UFOs will always command more attention than common sense. We cannot change that fact, but we can learn better to live with it.