by Michael E. Salla, Ph.D
"UFO ignorance is political rather than scientific" - that's the conclusion of two prominent university professors who had the results of their research on UFOs published in the August 2008 edition of Political Theory.
It was the first time a major political science journal had published an article dealing with the UFO phenomenon so it has predictably sparked controversy in the academic world.
The joint authors of "Sovereignty and the UFO," are Alexander Wendt, Professor of International Security at Ohio State University, and Professor Raymond Duvall, Chair of Political Science at the University of Minnesota.
Their article breaks new ground in
opening up for academic debate the way in which evidence of UFOs has
not been seriously analyzed in the modern era. Their main argument
is that this is due to a "metaphysical threat" that UFOs pose to the
sovereignty of modern states. This threat comes not from the reality
of UFOs as an inexplicable physical phenomenon that
ultimately have mundane explanations, but the implicit assumption
that UFOs are intelligently guided vehicles controlled by
extraterrestrial intelligences (the extraterrestrial hypothesis).
They explain in their paper:
Put simply, only humans compete for sovereignty over the population, resources and territory of the planet. In the absence of any conclusive scientific evidence of intelligent extraterrestrial life, political sovereignty remains an exclusively human affair.
This is why, according to Wendt and Duvall, modern states have not devoted sufficient scientific resources to the UFO problem.
This directly led to Wendt and Duvall concluding that states are deliberately promoting an "epistemology of ignorance."
One critic, Henry Farrell, responded to their paper arguing that "the evidence is inadequate to the claims made."
In their online response to Farrell's criticism, Wendt and Duvall agreed that they had supplied insufficient evidence in support of their theory but that the,
Farrell's criticism is the familiar skeptical position used not only to challenge the evidence supporting UFO research and the extraterrestrial hypothesis in the first place, but also claims that governments are systematically covering up, or in denial over, the evidence.
Wendt and Duvall are not positing a systematic government cover up of the evidence, but are proposing the theory that there exists a deep denial by the modern state over the significance of UFO evidence:
UFO researchers have long claimed that the governments have covered up evidence confirming the extraterrestrial hypothesis, or are in denial over the evidence. Terms such as "Cosmic Watergate" have been coined to describe the government UFO cover-up, and how this systematically has influenced public perceptions over the extraterrestrial hypothesis.
Other researchers have referred instead
to a government "foul-up" which is that governments basically have
mangled the scientific research of UFOs, and it's up to civilian
researchers to shepherd government authorities back onto the right
They point out that these,
Consequently, this leads to arguably Wendt's and Duvall's most significant observation about the fundamental nature of the UFO issue stated at the beginning of this article,
The greatest contribution of Wendt's and Duvall's article is that it correctly casts light on the political factors that contextualize evidence of UFOs and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. For decades, many have argued that the study of UFOs is a scientific problem that requires a strict application of the scientific method to get definitive answers.
The scientific approach has made little progress since political factors have not been properly accounted for in the way modern states are in denial about the evidence (the foul-up thesis), and/or cover-up hard evidence supporting the extraterrestrial hypothesis. The shift from a purely scientific approach to a more politically oriented understanding ought to be greatly welcomed.
It will provide greater awareness of how modern states participate in the study of UFOs and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Wendt's and Duvall's "Sovereignty and the UFO," moves academia one step closer to formal political studies of evidence concerning the extraterrestrial hypothesis, and its public policy implications.
That will ultimately lead, as
I argue elsewhere, to the
development of 'exopolitics' as the formal political
discipline for studying the public policy implications of