UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, and Religion

UFOs, Conspiracy Theories, and Religion August 17, 2020

As someone interested in the study of religion including its intersection with science fact and science fiction, this interview with the author of a new book on the “unexplained phenomena” many people believe in is fascinating. Here are two excerpts that intersect particularly directly with my interests as well as with current events:

I see conspiracy theories as arising out of that moment when the facts simply aren’t available to support your confirmation bias, so you have to make up facts or dispute the facts that are right in front of you. Where we’re at right now is a period of such constant upheaval that I think a lot of our prior beliefs are being challenged in a lot of ways. It is easier for a lot of us to respond to that challenge by simply denying the reality in front of us, rather than facing that challenge head-on, and that’s one thing that drives conspiracy theories in this kind of moment.

Here is the second:

I think the thing that draws people, including myself, is a belief and a desire for a world that still is filled with wonder. Even those of us who are pretty rational and scientifically minded, and supportive of hard sciences and the work that those scientists do, I think we are still, on some level, craving a sense that there’s something else bizarre out there left to be discovered.

That sums up for me in a nutshell why even the most secular of science fiction franchises incorporates gods and things that seem like magic. It claims that they have a scientific explanation but it does not in fact offer one. In doing so it expresses a hope that in a world of natural explanation and science there may still be room for magic. That tendency has long interested me, and it is truly interesting to see someone coming to much the same conclusion as I have while approaching the matter from a significantly different angle.

Of related interest see also:

David J. Halperin — Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO

Sarah Scoles — They Are Already Here: UFO Culture and Why We See Saucers

Atheist Revolution on humanoid aliens and what they supposedly reveal about our gods

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