"Leading Expert on UFOs" Nick Pope: Ancient Astronaut Theory "Borderline Racist"
UFO Digest published an unusual article earlier this week in which British author Nick Pope, the former UK Ministry of Defence official who oversaw UFO issues and bills himself as a leading UFO expert, asked whether there is a racist or sexist component to ufology and ancient astronauts. I figured it would be good to talk about Pope’s discussion because I have been criticized for making similar claims. You will recall that I criticized Pope last year for selling his UFO opinions to the highest bidder, and for his comments asking whether science fiction was designed to prepare humanity for the arrival of alien beings.
In that criticism, I faulted Pope for offering half-formed opinions about issues that he supposedly should have had expert knowledge of, since as the head of the British government’s UFO office, he ought to have been privy to the aliens’ agenda. The pattern continues here.
Pope offers some half-hearted opinions he does not support with hard facts, despite the likelihood they are actually true. He talks about his impression that ufology is primarily the preserve of middle-aged and elderly white men and that there are too few women and minorities attending UFO conferences. I’m sure this is correct, but rather than hedging by saying that there are “plenty of high-profile women in ufology, and a number of UFO conferences do have a pretty good male/female mix,” it would have been better to put together some actual data about the number of female ufologists or attendees at conferences. You can’t address a problem if you don’t know what the extent of the problem truly is.
Pope makes an interesting point about alien abductions that, of course, he raises in order to address as a perception issue rather than a fundamental issue:
…there was a time a few years ago when the area of alien abduction research was largely dominated by three charismatic individuals: Budd Hopkins, David Jacobs and John Mack. A disproportionate number of the abductees were female. Nobody is suggesting that Hopkins, Jacobs and Mack were sexist, but inevitably, the situation perpetuated stereotypes of women as victims and men as the powerful and heroic rescuers. Even if this is an oversimplification, the power dynamic was clear.
Susan Clancy discussed the psychology of alien abduction in her 2005 book Abducted, and she noted the power dynamic between the hypnotherapist and the subjects who “recovered” memories. Pope doesn’t really want to explore the obvious conclusion that the researchers were instrumental in reinforcing, amplifying, and even creating “abduction” memories.
Pope instead turns to anti-Semitism and racism, and here he is as honest as we can expect a ufologist to be. He correctly notes, as Michael Barkun carefully documented in A Culture of Conspiracy (2006/2013), that there is a huge crossover between ufologists and anti-Jewish conspiracy theorists. He notes that one prominent UK ufologist also runs an anti-Semitic conspiracy website, and it gets worse from there: “In the UFO community, you’ll often hear people talk about media complicity in a UFO cover-up, and at a UFO conference in the UK I once heard this thought segue into ‘The Jews run Hollywood.’” He bemoans that ufologists are also “investigating” 9/11 conspiracies involving Mossad, as well as the nefarious impact of a cabal of Jewish bankers in suppressing the hidden history of the world. You’ll recognize these claims, of course, as Jim Marrs’s recent anti-Semitic ranting about the Rothschilds and the alien-Jewish world domination conspiracy from his Our Occulted History (2013).
But the most important paragraph in Pope’s posting is his direct challenge to the ancient astronaut theory—frankly somewhat shocking given the prominence of Ancient Aliens as the flagship of ufology’s media presence. In addressing ufology buffs who claim white people are descended from Nordic aliens (or are their special creation) while all other races are modified dirty apes (a position Erich von Däniken advocated in Signs of the Gods), he writes:
[A]t risk of offending a lot of people in the UFO community, I can’t help but wonder whether the whole ‘ancient aliens’ meme has had a part to play here. The idea that our ancient ancestors were incapable of technological achievements such as the pyramids, and that such works were actually undertaken (or at least made possible) by extraterrestrials is, arguably, a borderline racist theory itself.
And there you have it, folks: A leading ufologist thinks the ancient astronaut theory contributes to racist ideas. From now on, whenever I mention this conclusion and get nasty comments from those who oppose any mention of racism, I will direct complaints to Nick Pope, certified ufologist.
I’ll just finish by noting that Pope failed to disclose to his readers that he appeared on Ancient Aliens at least four times, despite apparently finding the show “borderline racist.” I wonder if they’ll have him back now.
7/5/2014 04:03:48 am
There seems to be some correlation between the heights of ancient alien popularity and periods in America of social/cultural change when minority groups were (are) gaining greater influence. The racist undertones of some of these ideas may be rooted in white male insecurity in a changing society.
7/5/2014 05:07:54 am
Call the anti-racist associations - get them on the back of UFO and ET believers. When anti-racists take these people seriously, then I will do so as well
7/5/2014 05:19:43 am
Enh...I'd have to see actual statistical data first. The trouble with the "white man don't want to give it up!" theory is that these conditions (anti-semitism, racism) have existed in prevalence for centuries - a period during which Europeans and European-descent populations have been "in charge" with virtually no threat to their perceived "reign". Rich people are racist. Poor people are racist. Trying to link it to UFOlogy is missing the forest for the tree.
Not the Comte de Saint Germain
7/5/2014 08:56:24 am
Fair point. Like so much else, the popularity of aliens in fiction and pseudohistory is often tied to wider cultural changes, but there are a lot of cultural changes in play. The original age of UFOs was the late 1940s and the 1950s, a time when American were simultaneously awed by the Power of Science and fearful of insidious commies. The ancient aliens theme only burst into the national consciousness in the 1960s and 1970s, when unconventional ideas of all sorts were flourishing. And UFO-mania and pseudoarchaeology had another heyday in the 1990s, which I didn't think was a time of particular national anxiety, compared with the Cold War '80s or the terrorism fears of the 2000s. I've joked before that I miss The X-Files, though I didn't actually watch it when it was on, because I miss the days when "paranoia" and "conspiracy" meant fantastical things like aliens. I'm sure some of the show's viewers did not view the show so flippantly.
2/9/2016 07:21:40 pm
What white males? White people technically don't even exist anymore.
4/27/2018 05:59:05 pm
what an absolute load of old bollocks....you nutters see racism and sexism as nothing more than the tool to silence anyone and everyone who disagrees
7/5/2014 05:06:17 am
Except that there are no ETs in existence.
7/5/2014 05:24:37 am
Well, UFOs are real...but just because you call it "The Beast of Khandahar" doesn't mean it's not just a secret stealth-technology unmanned drone you weren't supposed to be snapping pics of with your cellphone.
7/5/2014 04:49:58 pm
....Star Trek is way ahead of you, Gregor, with the Horta and the giant space jellyfish from the pilot of Next Generation.
7/6/2014 03:17:10 am
....amidst an unending procession of bipedal humanoid aliens with a slight change to their forehead or ears, who all use vocal cords & expelled air to speak, can eat the same (or similar) foods, all consume oxygen, have similar sex organs, and can interbreed. Truly a shining example.
7/6/2014 08:48:18 am
Yes, yes, I know, a predisposition of rubber-forehead aliens. At least the canon of Next Generation provided a reason why (a seed race, hated that episode, really). But they did HAVE the Horta and the space jellyfish, at least. It's hella better than, oh, Stargate. As for the "similar sex organs," even that was at least touched upon in Star Trek V, idiotic as that movie was.
7/6/2014 02:24:13 pm
No known ETs, The existence of ET life and ET intelligence seems about as likely as the prior visitation of the Earth by ancient aliens, is unlikely. (Barring some ancient panspermic which seems unlikely, but at this point is close to speculation about the last digit of Pi.)
7/6/2014 03:20:29 pm
There is no last digit of pi. But I'm probably just missing a joke here :)
7/7/2014 12:53:01 am
This has all happened before... this will all happen again... BATTLESTAR GALACTICA
7/5/2014 05:08:51 am
I think your final note is key: Pope has a history of adjusting his position to whichever side offers a paycheck. I've actually wondered from time to time if this was his "retirement plan" all along - some people fund Roth IRAs or 401ks...others contrive their brief stint as a low-level clerk in a back-room office as the Paragon of UFO "Research". Regardless, I have no doubt he'd pull a "David Hatcher Childress" and toe the line if they waved a few bills in his face.
7/5/2014 12:52:22 pm
"He talks about his impression that ufology is primarily the preserve of middle-aged and elderly white men and that there are too few women and minorities attending UFO conferences... You can’t address a problem if you don’t know what the extent of the problem truly is."
7/5/2014 01:50:20 pm
If I understand Jason correctly, he's being charitable. Assuming that there actually is a "UFO Phenomenon" that affects the whole of mankind, then "minorities" (a stupid, relativistic term) and females ought to be as included in the process as anyone else. More to the issue at hand, however, is that Nick Pope is paying lip service to the "right questions" without ever bothering to engage in genuine research or provide real data.
7/6/2014 02:28:28 pm
In this context I find the idea offensive and racist, too few women and minorities and too many middle aged white men at UFO conferences, makes it sound like middle aged white men are stupid, and that minorities and women are simply smarter.
7/5/2014 01:37:33 pm
I am at best what you might call an casual observer of ufology. A couple months ago I took a stab at the How Many Women? question just for fun. Glanced at a few annotated bibliographies (remember them?) of UFO books and articles, searched what academic literature databases I could get access to, did some web-searching, drew upon my own knowledge of online discussion and podcast communities. Clearly, in order to do the thing properly you would need to start out from a sound conceptual basis and with proper attention to methodology, but otherwise this kind of study isn't rocket science.
7/5/2014 01:55:38 pm
I must admit, I'm not sure what the point of the endeavor would be...aside from "proving" that females can be just as idiotic and misguided as their male counterparts. Leslie Keane is a popular female UFOlogist, and horribly biased in her approach (despite wrapping herself in the veneer of "honest journalism"). I would accuse Howe of being just as biased and dishonest...if I felt she had more than a handful of synapses firing.
7/5/2014 03:18:46 pm
Exactly. Consider the following (admittedly extreme) analogy. Women are "underrepresented" among prison inmates. That may well be at least in part a consequence of sexism, but that doesn't mean we need affirmative action in prison admissions, does it? :)
7/6/2014 01:43:29 am
I like to call Linda Moulton-Howe an "Investigative Believer", instead of feeding into her pretense of reporting. This is, after all, the woman who tried to numerologically prove the validity of the Nvidia crop circle against all sources that said it was man-made even before Nvidia owned up. If she's the bar for females in ufology, then it's no wonder there aren't more throwing their names into the hat. Easier to stick to the more traditional New Age babbling about crystal skulls (Carolyn Ford), shadow people (Heidi Hollis), and numerology (Glynis McCants).
7/6/2014 02:32:33 pm
More middle aged white male cranks: Seems to be a fact, either there's something inherent in the demographic that makes many of them feel they are much smarter than they are, possesed of special knowledge no one else understands, or for whatever reason they really like to gravitate towards crank science, and other demographics head off into some other area of lunacy.
7/6/2014 03:46:24 pm
@ Don: At the same time, most outspoken skeptics (the saner segment of this blog's regulars included, I bet) are also while males.
7/5/2014 02:21:30 pm
Pope is a former government official- don't misunderstand me, I'm not saying all government officials are alike- so I'm not surprised he chose to address the issue in the same manner as a politician:
7/5/2014 02:41:45 pm
Linda Moulton Howe is a well known personality in the UFO/Paranormal field. She appears on Coast to Coast AM once each month. She plays interviews she made with folks with paranormal/ufo stories. On these appearances she doesn't give much personal commentary. I have never heard her speak at a UFO conference so I don't know if she expounds personal theories at these events.
7/5/2014 02:55:56 pm
As a side note, around 1988, Australian cartoonist Craig Hilton wrote a set of strips entitled "Emerson and the Aliens", which pokes fun at the Alien Abduction phenomena, in the strip, the hypnotherapist is female and the victim is male.
7/5/2014 03:04:38 pm
In an interview on the 05-23-2019 podcast The Paracast Nick Pope said that he investigated UFOs for the UK govt for 3 years while working for the ministry of Defense for 21 years.
7/5/2014 03:21:35 pm
The Bigfoot, on the other hand, seems to gravitate toward men... Make what you will of it...
7/5/2014 04:08:02 pm
Reminds me of the episode of The Venture Bros. where Steve Austin (6 Million Dollar Man) and Bigfoot are lovers.
7/5/2014 04:08:06 pm
In the words of West Virginia's Bigfoot:
7/5/2014 04:39:28 pm
Even if the ufology community is racist and sexist, let's hope that at least the xenozoology circuit turns out to be LGBT-positive.
8/28/2014 09:54:10 pm
I've heard different... problem is that you're not taking into account the male preference for hunting, fishing, and other woodsy activities.
Ralph E Vaughan
7/6/2014 09:37:18 am
All cultures have attributed their "golden ages" to the civilizing intervention of strangers who looked like themselves, and that impulse has not changed. Previously, they were gods, but now to accommodate them into our own technological paradigm they have to be aliens, time travelers or interdimensional visitors. Were the tribes of Africa racist when they passed down stories of Black gods? Or Orientals when the recorded visitors with slanted eyes? Or the Sumerians when their visitors had oiled beards just like them? Whether or not gods dwelt amongst the Ancients or a flying saucer landed upon the banks of the Chebar River, the desire to look for travelers from a far-off land seems hard-wired into us, perhaps even more strongly than our ubiquitous racial and cultural xenophobia.
7/9/2014 01:44:24 am
I'm not sure one can extrapolate that the UFO or Ancient Alien movements are rooted in racism or fear of one supposed "race" losing its rule over others. Like most boys who grew up in the 70's, UFOs were of interest. We just landed on the moon, there were UFO crazes, movies, and a belief that the space program and technology would give us the world of the "future" in our lifetimes. UFOs or Ancient Aliens or the JFK conspiracy or any other attract hard core believers..and these folks tend to see connections all over the place when the truth doesn't meet their expectations.
7/9/2014 06:06:07 am
Knowing this White Supremacist nature and origin to the modern Atlantis-Mu-Lemuria mythology makes me want to write a fictionalization of it that depicts them as distinctly non White just to tick people off.
7/13/2014 06:12:26 am
Ancient Aliens denigrates human ability and achievement. The series does not explain how the aliens themselves obtained the technology. As for the Jews, many of those in Hollywood have worked on the various versions of Star Trek, the best science fiction that we have. My position is that there are probably 1000 to 100000 intelligent civilizations in our Galaxy, but few--if any--have found a way to get out their own solar system. So for me, Star Trek is very enjoyable, but certainly not realistic.
9/20/2014 10:08:44 am
Firstly let me identify myself as the "prominent UK ufologist [who] also runs an anti-Semitic conspiracy website". The blog is anti-Israel, not anti-Semitic. Pope is unable to challenge me on facts, so he tries to attack my character. You can judge for yourself - the blog is at http://tvoyic.blogspot.co.uk/ and if anyone sees any aspect of what is there which is anti-Semitic, feel free to comment at the blog and I will happily publish the comment and respond to it.
9/5/2018 11:47:05 pm
The ancient alien theory is indeed racist . The psychological aspects of the humanoid went through transformation of a variety of types and of the blood. Racism is different. It is how one acts.
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