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Written by Keith Rowell
Last Updated: 22 May 2015

Over the years, I've read my share of debunking and extremely skeptical books about UFOs. In the early years, when I was trying to make sense of the field, I considered very seriously the "facts" and arguments of these irrational critics. They did succeed in leading me astray for a while, but perseverance in reading the literature luckily saved the day, and I eventually understood what I was reading to be the highly prejudiced material that it is.

Debunkers Spread Misinformation

Here I present my understanding of this fascinating part of the UFO subculture. The writings and ideas of these debunkers and extreme skeptics will not help you understand anything substantive about UFOs and related fields, but should be read and understood nonetheless because of their influence on the largely ignorant mainstream sources of public information. Debunkers and extreme skeptics help spread misinformation about UFOs to the public through influencing the major media and makers of TV documentaries and movies about UFOs. You need to know about that.

More About Understanding Debunkers

The literature about helping you to understand the debunker mentality and debunker activities and tactics is not large and tends to be hard to find. After all, who wants to read about how we are misinformed? Most people find that just getting informed on controversial topics is hard enough. But it turns out that you've got to know who your "informers" are in order to figure out that some who pose as genuine informers are not that at all. The public UFO debunkers and the U.S. military/intelligence establishments are the biggest misinformers in America.

The bigtime media also play a role in misinformation, but it is largely not intentional, I believe. UFOs are still just too weird to qualify as real so they don't make it into the average newpaper editor's or reporter's understanding of reality. If some establishment authority says it is not real to news media people, then it is not real.

Facts are sourced from establishment sources of information for the news media. Investigative reporting, which does develop facts (that might contradict the "facts" from establishment sources), is less common than it was in the past. The news media has been taken over by large corporations, like most everything else in America, and investigative reporting is too often not "cost effective"; it doesn't add anything to the bottomline. When everything is driven by the profit motive, many things, like the truth, may get left behind.

Here are some sources for understanding the debunking and misinformation enterprise:

Organizations

Debunkers and extreme skeptics have banded together and formed some very successful organizations from which to pursue their aim of getting both establishment people and the public to reject "claims" of the paranormal and other topics deemed by them too crazy to be believed. These organizations claim to do investigation into these "claims," but too often the investigation is entirely biased and one-sided in the sense that the investigation merely consists of a search for conventional explanations, however implausible they may be. If it is conventional, they reason, then it is by that fact alone to be preferred, following the Occam's Razor rule. (This rule says to prefer the simplest explanation. Debunkers and extreme skeptics assume "simplest" means anything consistent with the current scientific model of physics, chemistry, and biology as an explanation of (all of) reality.)

In actuality, the debunkers' organizations are primarily public relations and advocacy organizations and rarely formally investigate or research paranormal claims. Debunkers don't need to investigate or research the reality of claims since their minds are already made up. The deceased UFO debunker Phil Klass finally admitted in his later years that "debunker" actually described him to a T. Bless his heart.

If establishment organizations like the news media and government sometimes "slip up" and treat paranormal phenomena as if they just might be real, the debunkers' organizations go on red alert to ensure that the "correct" viewpoint is represented so that no one is "fooled" into thinking that paranormal phenomena might be real and, therefore, might be worthy of time, money, and expertise from establishment sources.

Some debunker organizations are the following:

Many other debunker and extreme skeptics organizations exist on the web. Try typing in "skeptics" or "debunkers" in a Google search or on wikipedia.org.

People

Quite a few intelligent and knowledgeable people find themselves (unknowingly) drawn to the debunker enterprise. However, the really active people do not tend to be prominent scientists or scholars. Despite this, CSI is always looking for the most prominent scientists and scholars it can find to lend the organization prestige by association. Check out their list of CSI "fellows." (The word "fellows" as used here means a member of a literary, scientific, or professional organization, none of which CSI is. CSI is merely an advocacy group for the ultra skeptical and debunking stance in scientific, medical, and sometimes other areas. CSI does not call for the scientific or scholarly investigation of paranormal phenomena by the academic establishment. It hopes to discourage this by attacking paranormal study advocates in the media.)

Most of the people active in the debunking enterprise are people employed on the periphery of science and scholarship. They tend to be science writers, stage magicians, technical editors, etc.; that is, people who adore science and the skeptical approach to life that they think science represents. There are also a few activist psychologists and philosophers affiliated with universities who provide the education establishment connection.

Mainstream science and scholarship tends to shy away from some of their more extreme statements and tactics. Even one of CSI's "fellows," Murray Gell-Mann, has criticised CSI formally in his writings. (See Gell-Mann's popular science book The Quark and the Jaguar.)

Debunkers and extreme skeptics tend to be well-educated and smart people. They generally know more about the world than you and me, and they like to let us know about it. They are elitist and definitely believe they are superior to the average person. They pride themselves on not being fooled by anyone. And, since they think they know the truth about what is real and what is not, they are eager to set you straight and make sure you believe in what is right and especially in the correct way of thinking.

Sometimes it is difficult to figure out what their criteria are for what is correct belief and what is not. Basically, it seems to be this: if the academic establishment doesn't currently believe it by consensus, then it is incorrect belief. But sometimes this doesn't work either. So, to figure out what to believe and not believe the CSI way, just sign up and become a believer by assiduously reading their publications. This seems to be a safe way to always believe what is right. To do this, just pick up any book published by Prometheus Press. Something like half of all extreme skeptic and debunker books today are published by this very active press. It is loosely connected with CSI. Take a look at this CSI list of recommended books and note how many of them are published by Prometheus Press. It would seem strange, indeed, if nearly half of all UFO books were published by one publishing house, wouldn't it?

Some prominent UFO debunkers of today and times past are the following:

Debunkers' Books

Here are a few debunkers' books you'll run into if you really start trying to figure out what is going on with UFOs and the paranormal. These books are fun to read and are occasionally actually informative, but not about the facts about UFOs and the paranormal. They are informative about debunking tactics and modes of thinking.

Kagan, Daniel and Ian Summers. Mute Evidence. New York: Bantam Books, 1983. 504pp. ISBN 0-522-23318-1. Curious book debunking the animal (mostly cattle) mutilations that went on in the late 60s, 1970s, and early 80s.

Klass, Philip J. UFO-Abductions: A Dangerous Game. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1988. 200pp. ISBN 0-87975-430-3. Klass’s attempt to dissuade people from doing honest, open investigation of a difficult subject.

Klass, Philip J. UFOs — Identified. New York: Random House, 1968. 290pp. LC 67-22622. Klass says that genuine UFOs may be explained by ball-lightning, but fails to convince the scientific establishment, ufologists, or the public.

Klass, Philip J. UFOs Explained. New York: Random House (Vintage Books), 1976. 438pp. ISBN 0-394-72106-3. More debunking without much investigation.

Klass, Philip J. UFOs: The Public Deceived. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Press, 1983. 310pp. ISBN 0-87975-201-4. Debunker Klass tries to protect the innocent public from being taken in by the errors of mainstream ufologists.

Korff, Kal K. Spaceships of the Pleiades: The Billy Meier Story. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Press, 1995. 439pp. ISBN 0-87975-959-3 2.

Korff, Kal K. The Roswell UFO Crash: What They Don’t Want You To Know. Amherst, NY: Prometheus Press, 1997. 264pp. ISBN 1-57392-127-0.

Menzel, Donal H. and Ernest H. Taves. The UFO Enigma: The Definitive Explanation of the UFO Phenomenon. Garden City, NY: Doubleday & Company, 1977. 297pp. ISBN 0-385-03596-9. A dedicated debunker's dying last gasp.

Menzel, Donald H. and Lyle G. Boyd. The World of Flying Saucers: A Scientific Examination of a Major Myth of the Space Age. New York: Doubleday, 1963. 302pp. One of the author’s three debunking books about UFOs. Most ufologists think Menzel, now deceased, was in the know about saucers existing from 1947.

Menzel, Donald H. Flying Saucers. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1953. 319pp. ISBN LC 52-12419. Menzel’s earliest debunking book. Note imprint of the great Harvard U. Who wouldn’t believe this distinguished astronomer’s thoughts on the subject in the gullible 1950s?

Persinger, Michael A. and Gyslaine F. Lafreniere. Space-Time Transients and Unusual Events.Chicago: Nelson-Hall, 1977. 267pp. ISBN 0-88229-462-8. UFOs are produced by magnetic fields from earthquake faults under strain, and UFO abduction is produced by strong magnetic fields disturbing your brain. He created these strong fields with a magnetic helmet fitted on subjects. These subjects reported vague feelings of unease along with the feeling of "presences." Trouble is, abductees are nowhere near strong magnetic fields when they experience UFO encounters.

Sheaffer, Robert. The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books, 1981. 242pp. ISBN 0-87975-146-0. Card carrying member of CSI dispenses with ALL the evidence even though he’s not traveled to the site of a single one of the cases he discusses, well, maybe a couple. It is amazing what armchair, professional UFO skeptics can concoct when they don't engage the evidence on the ground.

Tacker, Lawrence J. Flying Saucers and the U. S. Air Force. New York: Van Nostrand, 1960. 164pp. An official government debunker wades in with a "don't worry about it—it ain't real" book unsupported by the pertinent facts developed thoughout the 1950s by diligent UFO researchers.