Re­fram­ing the De­bate

Fortean Times - - Reviews / Books - Ed: Rob­bie Gra­ham Eric Hoff­man

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.

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