December 5, 2012 by kittynh
A few years ago I went to the Exeter UFO festival in New Hampshire. I enjoy attending UFO conferences and meetings whenever possible, because the UFO crowd tends to be happy outgoing types. Well, except for the conspiracy theory “the Men In Black are following me” types. Still, even nervous conspiracy theory types hiding from the CIA and the Illuminati, manage to put on a disguise and keep a low profile, but they know better than to miss a good UFO get together.
Another nice thing about UFO conferences, is you get to see first hand all the infighting that the UFO believers have. Reminds a skeptic like myself that any group has factions that fight. We’d like to think we’re too smart to fall into the petty bickering and turf wars that paranormal groups seem to struggle with. I think human nature trumps critical thinking skills and smarts when it comes to group dynamics, and we are doomed to follow the same patterns the “Aliens live inside the Earth” vs. “Aliens live far away and travel to us via wormholes” supporters have. There is a lot of the same language being thrown around that I hear in the “Atheists can’t be skeptics”, or “minorities are being left out” fights.
Truly, can someone that believes aliens live inside the Earth be accepted as a speaker when the mainstream UFO leaders feel aliens visit from far away? Also, how to attract more women and minorities into the UFO community and make them feel welcome is a big question. A big topic of conversation often is how to keep a heavily male membership, many that live in the basement at home, from falling on their face when asking a young woman ,attending a conference or meeting, out? The discussion I heard was “How do we keep from scaring them off? Yet still finally get a date.” All communities struggle with inclusion.
Another reason I enjoy a UFO festival, conference or meeting, is that there is a sense of sharing and respect I’m not sure you’d find as a skeptic attending a meeting of a homeopathic medical society. I know that anti-vax groups have kicked out skeptics that dared to attend their meetings. When the issue is life or death, or the bilking of millions a year by psychics from parents trying to speak to their dead children, most skeptics are seen as a threat to their bottom line. That bottom line is money.
Skeptics find they can not morally just sit back and listen when human lives are endangered. Nor should they. I hate to say it, but psychics that know they are “faking it” (and the big names don’t even fake it all that well) aren’t very ethical people. I’m not sure I want to talk to them so much as give them a swift, and painful, kick.
However, at a UFO conference, I enjoy hearing the stories of those that have “seen something”. I may get a few comments about being too “stupid” to believe the eye witness testimony of so many, but for the most part I find believers in aliens visiting our planet very interesting and polite people. I like most of them. Many of them over the years have agreed to disagree with me. They also work with me, referring someone that feels they have had an abduction experience. I sometimes will get an email or phone call that starts with ” I don’t know what to do with this person!” The fact that they trust me enough to refer people to me is a working relationship I am proud of.
I enjoy spending time with most of the UFO community, only a few don’t always enjoy spending time with me. The amateurs, or those with an intellectual interest ,not a financial interest, usually welcome skeptics. As long as the skeptic is clear,” I want to find the truth, and no one would be happier if it were proven aliens were visiting the Earth.” When a believer thinks a skeptic is trying to “cover up” there is friction. When a skeptic says “So tell me what your evidence is!”, well every believer enjoys talking about UFOs when given a chance. Talking and talking and talking. I like to listen, so it’s a win for both of us!
The only groups I’ve had great difficulties with are “therapists”, the kind that have just hung out a shingle and charge great sums of money to “treat” people that think they have been abducted by aliens. These “therapists” often do not have degrees, and are self taught hypnotists that unfortunately can implant memories into their “patients”. My skeptic UFO work is with matching people that feel they have had an alien abduction experience with therapists that can help them, or at least pointing them toward books and web sites that can help them find rational answers. At the very least, I always try to get a confused person to go to their family doctor. A simple medical exam can rule out any number of medical causes for their abduction experience. If you are taking medicine that has listed the side effect of “Lucid dreaming”, that might just be your problem! People I work with are rarely hoaxers or delusional, and working together we often find very quick answers to what seems a puzzling and often frightening experience.
“Therapists” and others that make money off of the confusion and fears of others have been known to react to my presence with anger, swearing and even once spitting when I attended at a UFO event. My business cards have been torn up. If I leave some cards out on a table they might end up in the trash, and people have been told to keep away from me. I’m a problem as I don’t charge for what I do! But, this is a very small minority, and most UFO believers are very welcoming during festivals and conferences.
The Exeter UFO event was a very lovely experience. Exeter hasn’t quite reached the levels of carnival like atmosphere that Roswell New Mexico has with their UFO events. Brightly costumed people, paper mache UFOs, and people flying in from around the world to have an “Alien Burger, it’s out of this world!” have not found Exeter quite yet.
Exeter is a good location for a UFO festival. In 1965 a series of UFOs were sighted in the area of Exeter and Kingston. East Kingston New Hampshire is also the secret UFO landing and viewing site of Betty Hill (of Betty and Barney Hill abduction fame).
During the festival I attened the town hall had a packed talk by the niece of Betty Hill. She has her own book out about her famous aunt. There were also all sorts of art projects for the kids, including story time in the park and a mini parade of costumes. Sadly the year I attended there was a lack of “costumes” so my husband and I, wearing hats I had knit, were convinced to help make up the numbers and march along. My husband is not fond of marching around in an alien hat he was not happy about wearing in the first place. Being a good sport, he did in the end give in.
MUFON had a good contingent, and the historical society had information about those sightings so long ago. The MUFON guys look like most MUFON guys, very white and middle aged. I alway feel with a little chamouflage and they could fit in with the Bigfoot hunting groups. They are, in New England, very nice middle age men. Betty’s niece at one time was a field investigator, so it’s not always middle aged white men that might show up if you report a UFO sighting in New England.
I like MUFON as while they are far less skeptic than I am, they give people a place to report a sighting, and many members will go out of their way to look for a logical explanations before filing a report under “A” for “Aliens”. However, MUFON leadership differs area by area.
Exeter did not have booths filled with people selling their latest books, tshirts, videos, photographs, and alien detecting gear. There were only a few books for sale, the town sold tshirts, and even the hard core believers (but not the “therapists”) were happy to take a few business cards from me.
In New England, we try to be polite! While we don’t have Roswell size crowds, New England has a rich UFO history and a wonderful little UFO festival well worth a visit.