Very Rough Guide

Peter J. Morris. Aliens Amongst Us - A Beginner's Guide. Hodder and Stoughton, 1999.

This is a handsome little book. I like the size and feel of it and the type fonts. There is no denying it is indeed a beginner's guide. The book basically clues the reader into the main themes and images of the UFO phenomenon, but with a minimum of discussion. The descriptions of cases tend to be perfunctory with no arrows to the doubts that exist around specific incidents. He describes the claims of Lear, Lazar, and Cooper in a context that suggests they are mythology, but he offers no direction to where the doubts have been laid down.

Morris himself states some doubts about the ETH and leans to accepting the idea that UFOs are basically related to the Earth in some manner. He accepts Constable's 'critters' as accounting for thousands of cases and there is talk about races within the Earth in a manner which suggests he does not think it as absurd as most people do. There is a New Age tilt shown in sections that suggest exercises for the reader involving meditation. As this is directed at beginners, I feel there is not enough warning that this might be a waste of time and indeed not a good idea. Haven't we seen enough self-deception in this field already to welcome more people to imagine up visits with aliens predicting yet another apocalypse?

There are occasional bits of nonsense sprinkled about. We are told for example that not just Icke, but Carl Sagan, argued a closer evolutional connection between humans and reptiles than humans and apes. Charitably, Morris has a very garbled understanding of Sagan's writings if he believes that. We are told Adamski only started offering photos after the space race was undercutting his stories of Venusians and moon bases. Actually, people savvy in astronomy doubted Adamski from Day One and photos were tendered well before Sputnik. MJ-12 is passingly mentioned as though it was an undoubtedly real group. Penfield is described as stimulating the brain with electromagnetic waves in his experiments, but, no, he used wires inserted into the brain that guided electric current to the site of stimulation. The Mars face is seemingly regarded as offering the "firmest evidence yet" of intelligent life elsewhere in the solar system, but that is rejected even by a number of pro-ETH ufologists.

The book closes with the sentiment that the author very much doubts aliens will walk down our streets in broad daylight as members of human society. The evidence will always be out of reach and just small enough to tempt us to walk the path toward new beliefs. Fair enough, but are those beliefs worth the trek? - Martin S. Kottmeyer, from Magonia Supplement 43, November 2002.

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