Reframing the Debate
As with any anthology, Robbie Graham’s UFOs: Reframing the
Debate is a bit of a mixed bag, with some entries being of greater interest than others. This collection begins with a kind of back-and-forth approach between experiencers/true believers and sceptics, before moving into entries by more cautious – and therefore more nuanced – theorists who look at the UFO phenomena from perspectives that are refreshingly different from the mainstream psychologically and sociologically-focused abduction phenomena and the more scientifically-based “nuts and bolts” approach. Among the essays that merit close attention are Curt Collins’s thoroughly readable and engaging minuteby-minute recounting of the ‘Roswell slides’ debacle, the always elegant theoretical approaches of Greg Bishop, who here argues that human consciousness and perception inevitably influence both the experience and any subsequent attempts at making sense of UFO encounters, Red Pill Junkie’s celebration of the ongoing impenetrability of the phenomenon, Lorin Cutts’s “mythological zone” that exists between unexplained phenomena and its experience, Micah Hanks on the ideological underpinnings of modern-day UFO scepticism, Joshua Cutchin’s provocative argument that we move beyond materialism in our attempts to come to grips with the phenomenon, and Robert Brandstetter’s concluding, decidedly philosophical essay which seeks to use the UFO as a mirror for human experience.
Regrettably, Graham’s inclusivity has the result of making this collection a bit unfocused and perhaps unintentionally watering down its impact. Given that there is no shortage of writings by devotees and cynics, of which at least one third of the essays here are curious examples, this volume would have perhaps benefited from less inclusiveness and a tighter editorial focus. Altogether, there wasn’t much debate to reframe for this reviewer; however, Graham’s volume remains a useful compendium for novice readers, providing them with both interesting repetitions of and welcome alternatives to the stale Roswell/abduction/ X-Files mythology that continues to dominate the UFO field. What’s left of it, anyway.