UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry — arrives at one of the most portentous moments in human evolution. Primary author Dr. Michael Swords knows this. He has no expectations of success, among either popular audiences or in academic circles.
The history we don’t know
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The history we don’t know
|By Billy Cox|
At a forbidding 580 pages, UFOs and Government is essentially dead on arrival. And not necessarily because people don’t read anymore, but perhaps because they can’t stick with it. A recent Newsweek cover story broke the bad news.
Next year, for the first time, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders will list “Internet Addiction Disorder” as the new frontier in digital culture. Memory degradation, heightened anxiety, compulsive behaviors, eroding attention spans — the expanding litany of fallout from our addiction to the virtual world can now be quantified as it lights up pleasure receptors on brain maps, a scenario one researcher likens to “electronic cocaine.” Chinese studies are identifying a “shrinkage of 10 to 20 percent in the area of the brain responsible for processing of speech, memory, motor control, emotion, sensory and other information.”
From this woozy milieu, we pan for whatever particles of clarity the UFO phenomenon may present, amid CGI and the rumors and the chat rooms reinforcing paranoia and “skepticism” and the full range of dreck in between. Yet, all are rooted in a sequence of events that emerged more than 60 years ago, from the wreckage of World War II, when the United States and the world at large were caught flat-footed by a mystery that endures today.
Swords, who taught the history of science technology at Western Michigan University and is an emeritus professor of environmental studies, has drilled deep into the vein of primary sources and — along with eight co-authors and contributors — produced an authoritative look at the high-level disarray, inter-agency tensions, and the military’s improvisational attempts at information management even as honest scientists struggled to give them the truth.
The broad strokes are familiar: Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book, the game-changing 1952 wave, the subsequent CIA Robertson Panel, the Condon Committee travesty, etc. What separates this accounting from its predecessors are the details harvested from obscure archived material and FOIAs, all of them channeled into a cogent narrative arc that reads like an epic tragedy.
Even for co-author Robert Powell, the Mutual UFO Network’s science director whose radar reconstruction of the 2008 Stephenville UFO has been greeted by four years of Air Force silence, the book was a revelation. “It seemed like there was something on every page I’d never heard of before,” says Powell, the first reader on Swords’ manuscript.
But there are no interactive features here, no click-on links or little green men or Illuminati agents in the shadows to sex things up. Even the minefield of Roswell is given short shrift, but only because “government documents related to this case are conspicuously absent or of dubious authenticity,” Swords writes, “and this text is concerned only with a well documented historical narrative.”
What Swords does document, with formidable indexing, bibliography and appendix, are crimes not only against the scientific method, but against intellect as well. But in revisiting those flashpoints with entirely justified incredulity and indignation, Swords concentrates not so much on the baffling events as on the organizational reaction to them.
“I wanted to write something foundational, but I knew that was not going to occur by focusing exclusively on the phenomenon itself,” Swords says from Kalamazoo. “You have to use something about its impact on human beings, history in the traditional sense, how do human beings cope with whatever it is you’re writing about.”
UFOs and Government belongs on those history shelves. Few will read it. But De Void will linger here for the next few posts. Because as Harry Truman once said, “The only thing new in the world is the history you don’t know.” Outside a small circle of UFO scholar-geeks, this book offers a fresh glimpse into the largely forgotten world that put us in the vacuum that cripples us today.
Continue Reading . . .
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