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The Sciences

UFOlogists besmirch Sagan, then Galileo


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A. J. Gevaerd, the editor of "Brazilian UFO Magazine" is what I would charitably call a crank. He once interviewed a guy in his magazine who claimed that Jesus is tied up in the UFO phenomenon -- of course! -- along with other things that would make my head all asplodey to write about. A few months ago, he wanted to start a new research center to study UFOs, called the Carl Sagan Institute. Now, I will give you a moment to make comical head-shaking noises and wipe your ears out with your fingers. Yes, he wanted to name his pseudoscientific center after Carl Sagan, one of the leading and most vocal critics of the UFO phenomenon. Now, you might say to yourself, "Maybe Gevaerd will be critical and apply Sagan's skepticism to the study of UFOs." Hope springs eternal! But then there is the inevitable fall, you realize, remembering that whole Jesus-returning-in-a-UFO thing above. Yeah. Oh, and in Gevaerd's own words:

Many think that Sagan passed away without knowing the result of his search ... But that is far from the truth. Sagan had a close relationship with north-american governmental agencies dedicated to the UFO phenomenon investigation, and even Joseph Allen Hynek, considered the father of Modern Ufology, guaranteed that Sagan had a profound knowledge about the alien presence on Earth.

OK, are we done arguing over this guy's grip on reality? Yes. Yes, we are. Which is good, because this gets funnier. Not surprisingly, Ann Druyan, Sagan's widow, took a dim view of this eponymy. There are legal issues to be dealt with in using Sagan's name... so what's a UFOlogist to do? Why, change the name, of course. It's now called The Galileo Galilee Institute for Extraterrestrial Life Research. Besides the obvious travesty of using that name, and noting the weird use -- I don't remember Galileo talking very much about being abducted and having his butt probed -- I have to add that the Church back then took an even dimmer view of this; they burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in part for his heretical writing about even the potential of alien worlds and life. Oh, those wacky UFOlogists. Burning at the stake isn't needed any more. That burning smell is their credibility. Tip o' the tin foil beanie to Kentaro Mori.

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