Lue Elizondo Pens Angry Op-Ed Blasting Ufology and Blaming Cultish Ufologists for Waning Government UFO Interest
In an op-ed for Chris Sharp’s UFO website Liberation Times, erstwhile Pentagon UFO gadfly Lue Elizondo called for an end to ufology as currently practiced and its replacement with a science-based investigation of aerial anomalies. Elizondo, who has been a regular on the UFO podcast circuit and will headline the Awakening Expo 2023 (“Ufology Evolved,” reads its tagline), claims that ufology culture needs to die. “In the death of UFOlogy I want a NEW type of UFOlogy, a better UFOlogy, an invigorated rebirth, like a powerful phoenix rising from the ashes,” he wrote (capitalization as in original).
Most of the online chatter about Elizondo’s piece revolved around his proposal for ending traditional ufology and its human-centered approach to investigation and replacing it with what he mistakes for science: “In this new environment, topics such as Xenoscience, Exopolitics, Astrobiology, and Exotheology would not be ostracized as fringe science.” Absent from his vision of UFO studies is any interest in the observer of such objects, questions about the limits of human perception or psychological biases, or the sociological factors that govern how we interpret ambiguous data. Instead, where he recognizes perception biases, he sees them as working on ufologists, not witnesses: “Cognitive bias and human emotions such as ego and pride create barriers in UFOlogy.” It’s a recipe for stamping out dissent from an unquestioned—and unevidenced—assumption that UFOs are craft piloted by otherworldly beings.
But the real purpose of Elizondo’s message was buried between the lines. The seemingly unedited screed, riddled with sentence fragments and repetition, was at times incoherent but was also quite strangely focused on attacking Elizondo’s fellow ufologists, whom he accuses of unproductive infighting and egomaniacal drama that is scaring away government officials:
I would like to remind the reader that many senior government officials and their staff within our Intelligence Community and Defense apparatus watch social media. Even politicians tune in. […] Unfortunately, the reality show social media circus of today has challenged the government’s confidence in UFOlogy as a worthy area of study. Week after week, these same ‘disclosure advocates’ create their own new conspiracies further alienating anyone in our government willing to champion the cause. While to some, these podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitter feeds, and Instagram pages may be entertaining, for those making serious decisions about the future of how we will address this issue, some of these venues (not all) have created more confusion and division. Consequently, we now must take more care now than ever in how we engage the public, we need to be better at removing our own egos from these conversations, and we must be less interested in self-promotion and more focused on information.
And there you have the heart of the matter: Something going on in government—presumably pushback from either military leaders or legislators more discerning than Elizondo’s and Mellon’s handful of pliant allies—is threatening his goal. I imagine it is no coincidence that this screed, as well as Sean Cahill’s call for ufological “professional dignity,” Chris Mellon’s comments about contact with aliens and Garry Nolan’s rumors of imminent whistleblowers coming forward—are all coalescing now, when the new UFO office is about to be signed into law and the appropriations and budgeting process for that office will begin. The Fiscal 2023 Defense Appropriations Bill is scheduled to pass this month, governing spending beginning October 1, and it would not be an ideal time in the eyes of the old crew of UFO investigators previously in government for the people funding and running the office to get cold feet and, say, choose not to rehire the old AAWSAP crew because they look like lunatics and morons online. Eric Davis, late of AAWSAP, said in 2018 that he wanted to see the government recreate a stronger AAWSAP and bring back the old space ghost-hunting Skinwalker Ranch crew. Now, on the verge of success, ufologists seem to be worried that higher officials are losing a sense of urgency and are concerned about ufologists’ own self-inflicted credibility problems.
Elizondo used to claim he wasn’t “a UFO guy” and wasn’t familiar with ufology at all before taking over AATIP. An unbelievable claim then, today Elizondo now poses as a master of ufology and its history:
I want to rip away the decades-old desiccated and hardened conspiracies and cultish enclaves like tearing off an old scab. I want to heal the infected and oozing wound with a steady regiment of data-driven logic, humility, academic rigor, and transparency.
He doesn’t, of course. If he did, he would be answering critics with evidence instead of legal threats, and speaking to skeptics, not sycophants. What he wants is a tamer ufology to better sell the subject to the unnamed people standing behind a rather transparent effort to sell somebody a bill of goods.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Esquire, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
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