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New York Prof Plans to Teach Course on UFOs


‘Enormous amount to investigate’ on flying saucers and other space news

Clare Ogilvie
April 28, 2010

UFOs and other unexplained phenomena in space should be studied in university courses just like English and math.

That’s the position of an American anthropology professor who is putting together the curriculum for a credit course to cover the subject.

“My interest in UFOs stems from . . . my interest in anthropology and in different world views and how they affect people’s perceptions and behaviours,” said Prof. Philip Haseley of the Niagara County College, a state university in New York.

He argues that there is a large body of evidence around UFO sightings and other space news and that students and scientists should have the opportunity to study it, research it and document findings.

“There is an enormous amount of evidence to investigate,” said Haseley, who is also section director of the Western New York Mutual UFO Network.

“It needs to have exposure to a university setting to students and to faculty who see it being taught as a legitimate subject.

“To me, it is something that is a no-brainer. It ought to have been done a long time ago and the fact that it hasn’t been done strikes me as extraordinarily strange.”

There are classes at other universities in the U.S. already.

“It is something I would like to see a lot more of,” said Haseley.

University of B.C. astronomy and astrophysics Prof. Douglas Scott said UFOs are covered in lectures but the test for students is that extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence.

“There are lots of things people see in the sky, and people who study them in detail,” said Scott, adding that his department regularly gets calls from people reporting “weird things” in the sky.

“There is no evidence that there are aliens coming to visit us. But of course we should study these things — a good scientist should be open minded.

“Frankly, all astronomers would kill to find out that there are really aliens coming to Earth. It would be fantastic . . . There is no evidence that we have been visited by aliens even though most astronomers probably believe they are out there.”

Chris Rutkowski, research co-ordinator for Ufology Research based in Winnipeg, supports the study of UFOs as a legitimate university subject.

“I think what [Haseley] is saying is sound in the sense that it should be discussed more openly in an academic and scholarly setting,” said Rutkowski, author of The Canadian UFO Report: The Best cases Revealed.

“I think it is a matter of being brave enough to think about UFOs rationally in an academic setting.”



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