by Charles Lear
UFOlogy is a subject of study that exists in the middle of a struggle between science and pseudoscience. For those who are just looking for some entertainment in the form of reasonably plausible science fiction dressed up as reality, there is a plethora of material out there to while away your days of unemployment. This is pseudoscience and its adherents include the cast of “Ancient Aliens”, and many of the speakers who are out there on the UFO lecture circuit. Again, this is entertainment but what sort of damage it does to peoples’ minds and the culture at large is something to consider. How do you tell the difference between the quacks and the sincere and careful researchers?
To begin with you need to understand what science actually is and to do that it helps to actually immerse yourself in a particular discipline. Say you have an interest in dinosaurs. When coming across a news article regarding dinosaurs, which often follow a published discovery, look for a link to the paper the article is based on. Often you’ll be able to access the full paper and learning how to read these is invaluable to understanding the scientific method and also to being able to sense when someone’s trying to push an idea with shaky evidence. A thing to look out for is excessive use of esoteric language in an attempt to beat the reader into submission to the writer’s genius.