Remember how MUFON’s John Ventre got caught up in a racism scandal after he made disparaging comments about the “F-ing Blacks” on Facebook back in May and alleged that “everything” in the world was created by white Europeans and Americans? The UFO community reacted in horror for about a week, and now the racist ufologist is back representing ufology in the media and hawking a new conspiracy theory. Ventre is the host of the String Theory of the Unexplained radio show on the Live Paranormal radio network, and an undated video of him describing a conspiracy to murder ufologists is making the rounds after Britain’s Metro tabloid mined it for a quick clickbait article. It appears to have been filmed sometime before his racism scandal, given that he uses his MUFON title, and he has since been removed from that position; however, Metro said that the video was released this week. The YouTube posting date does not necessarily correlate to the date when the video was shot, or when the radio show aired.
Ventre claims that 137 ufologists have died in the past 10 years, and this implies the existence of a conspiracy to murder them for getting too close to the truth. “Is someone killing our UFO investigators?” he asked. This is a rather silly allegation. Ufologists are, generally speaking, old white men in the demographic of 55-to-death, the demographics most likely to suffer, well, fatalities. Mortality rates for U.S. residents roughly double after age 45 and double again by 55. Add to that the sad fact that many people who are unbalanced are attracted to unusual fields like ufology, which therefore almost certainly has a higher suicide rate than the general public. I don’t think that 14 deaths per year in the aging ufology field is all that unusual, but since I don’t know the total number of ufologists—and I doubt Ventre does either—it’s hard to contextualize this against a normal distribution of deaths. But, to put it in context of some kind, according to the CDC, the U.S. has about 820 deaths per 100,000 residents per year. So, 14 ufologists dying per year would be normal if there were as few as 1,700 ufologists. If we take the death rate for senior citizens, we need even fewer ufologists since the old die more regularly. Math undoes the conspiracy, and it would have been nice if Metro had bothered to run some numbers. It would be nicer if racist ufologists didn’t have a platform to spread mindless conspiracies to begin with.
Meanwhile, Michael Shermer has a new article in Scientific American arguing that a belief in space aliens is nothing more than angelology or polytheism in scientific clothes. If this argument sounds familiar, well it is. Some version of it has been around since the middle twentieth century, and we can go back further to find transitional forms like Lovecraft’s alien gods, Blavatsky’s godlike masters from other planets before that, Swedenborg’s spirits from other planets before that, and medieval Catholic claims that angels lived in the “spheres” of the other planets before that.
Shermer’s article is mostly just a recap of an academic article on the connection between religiosity and belief in aliens. Basically, religious people believe in angels but not aliens, while atheists tend to use belief in aliens as a substitute for angels. Shermer frames this in terms of Star Trek, as science nerds are wont to do, before suggesting that the true skeptic and atheist would deny aliens as easily as God. “Given that there is no more evidence for aliens than there is for God, believers in either one must take a leap of faith or else suspend judgment until evidence emerges to the contrary,” he wrote.
There are a few problems here. First, while Shermer is right that there is no direct evidence for aliens, there is certainly more evidence for aliens than gods. Building blocks for life have been found in space, and the preconditions for extraterrestrial life. This is at least circumstantial evidence that alien life is possible, or even probable; whereas, it would be difficult to quantify how we might evaluate the existence of a supernatural god. I think that the issue of belief must be code for the question of whether one believes that aliens visit the Earth and take an active role in human affairs. After all, to conclude that extraterrestrial life is possible is hardly outside the purview of science.
But more to the point, Shermer suggests that he is beyond the petty cares of mortal men by refusing to find meaning in imaginary gods and monsters, and yet he framed his article in terms of Star Trek and has promoted science fiction to the role of religion, offering moral lessons and semi-divine mythic figures. Of course, Shermer doesn’t believe that Star Trek is real, but it serves the role of moral exemplar and prism through which to find meaning. Just as religious people turn to holy books and myths, and alien believers seek meaning in presumed motives of the space visitors, sci-fi nerds use their favorite stories to frame their understanding of the world around them.
10/6/2017 10:55:33 am
Does Shermer criticize for the sake of criticizing? He doesn't seem to put a lot of thought into what he's arguing.
10/6/2017 10:11:34 pm
We are so right about Shermer and MUFON ending their obligatory justification for unifying UFO grape presses. I know you agree with enteric aspirin bias orders.
10/6/2017 12:46:27 pm
10/6/2017 02:01:56 pm
I think what he was getting at is that it's not right for a venue like the Metro to spread this guy's conspiracy theories around. No one questions his right to speak his mind, but private venues have the right to ignore him, and if his ideas promote ignorance and irrational fear, that would be the best choice.
10/6/2017 04:28:54 pm
Exactly. Ventre is free to say what he wants, but the mainstream media need not spread it around, and nobody is entitled to endorsements, sponsorships, etc. I'd like to think that there should be some basic standards that would disqualify someone from participating in public conversation. Just as one doesn't trumpet the latest conspiracy theories from Neo-Nazis, one ought not to trumpet those from racist ufologists.
10/6/2017 01:03:21 pm
Because of the significance of the number 137 I conjecture that the killings of UFOlogists has ended.
10/6/2017 01:21:18 pm
Permit me to suggest a revision to your new name change that is more suitable to your contributions.
10/6/2017 06:57:47 pm
Got it handled, thanks anyway!
10/6/2017 10:37:10 pm
Racist phytosterols can obsess about rhubarb's alien recession. Don't you think that abscess makes the venue?
10/6/2017 02:06:24 pm
I have it on good anonymous authority that Stanton Friedman was murdered at least seven times in the past five years. George Tsoukalos has been murdered eleven times this decade. Von Daniken has been killed more than a twenty times in the past forty years.
10/6/2017 02:19:01 pm
Instead of repeatedly killing these same people over and over again, wouldn't it be more humane to simply remove their tongues ?,,,,,,,,,Oh, and their fingertips as well.
10/11/2017 08:57:28 am
One would have to do this way too many times.
10/6/2017 09:50:06 pm
There certainly are many rebellious ufologists who sanctify the skeptical animus with frequent alacrity. Why not embrace the anticlimactic and fearful dotards? Who knows if they rotate or not?
10/7/2017 05:21:43 am
Religious people have been saying that their myths aren't true but are a source of allegorical value since at least the ancient Greeks and probably a lot longer.
10/7/2017 12:27:26 pm
Spoken like someone who hasn't seen cyan. Teal would have helped your point more.
10/7/2017 09:34:12 am
Death of John E. Mack comes to mind just when he was about to bring the topic of aliens into the real mainstream. Also events described in the introduction to Sirius Mystery by John Temple.
10/7/2017 09:47:11 am
John macks moving company played UFO entrails longer than a short loaf of sand and pepper dressing. So why are you so certain about cellular rotation?
10/7/2017 09:50:58 am
Only me too is right. Such thoght peveracating ideas. Butter than the blug righter.
10/11/2017 09:03:51 am
Nose army. Jigsaw.
10/8/2017 11:07:25 am
Old white men are the focus of this death conspiracy. The big story seemed to me who is only marginally interested in this topic was Max Spiers. There were also several suicides and some cancer deaths, including a few women. So, it's not correct to suggest just old white guys are dying. But the argument at its core is still bogus. These deaths are not too unusual.
10/10/2017 07:29:44 am
I don't know what mister Shermer's field of expertise is, but if he says there is just as much proof for the existence of alien (extra-terrestrial) life as for the existence of a god I believe it's not in 'Basic Logic'.
10/10/2017 11:45:36 am
For the Lord thy God is a Hidden God. Orthogonally he walks in the Garden in the cool of the evening.
10/12/2017 10:23:22 am
That's very convenient, albeit slightly beside the point.
10/10/2017 10:46:45 am
When the Planet Xers started claiming astronomers were being murdered to prevent them from disclosing the existence of Nibiru I looked into the death statistics and here is what I found:
Americanegro Do You Sell Parakeets? I Need Ten Parakeets
10/10/2017 11:41:40 am
And then you were distracted by a shiny object and failed to tie it in to death rates among astronomers?
10/12/2017 10:25:38 am
Or, perhaps, he met with a sharp, shiny object, before being able to disclose THE TRUTH!(TM)
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