Biographies : Dr David Clarke
The Secret Files»
UFOs in History»
My approach to the subject of UFOs and UFOlogy is from the viewpoint of a journalist and a historian. Although I take a sceptical stance, I remain open-minded about the possibility that some “UFOs” might have an exotic origin, most probably as UAPs – Unidentified Atmospheric Phenomena. My stance is similar to that of Carl Jung who in his book Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Dkies (1958) said: “..something is seen, but one doesn’t know what.” The problem I see it is not with UFOs, but with the practice of UFOlogy. There is no agreed body of knowledge to work from, because all the 'evidence' rests upon witness testimony. The 'best' reports have been so poorly investigated that they are largely worthless. UFOlogy is so disorganised and belief-driven, that it is never likely to be taken seriously by mainstream science, which is a pity because there are aspects that could be studied by usefully studied by both social and physical scientists. On the one hand some of the most intriguing UFO cases seem to involve novel 'new' phenomena such as ball lightning, earthquake lights and plasmas, the study of which could prove useful to meteorologists and atmospheric physicists. On the other hand, social scientists and historians can study the UFO movement itself and how the subject has evolved from the human perspective, asking why people continue to believe, so emotionally, in the extra-terrestrial or supernatural origin for UFOs despite a complete lack of evidence. Probably the most relevant academic discipline of all to UFOlogy is contemporary legend and folklore. To my way of thinking, the cultural factors which influence people to 'believe' and to 'see' UFOs, and how those stories are then passed on by word of mouth, the media and the internet, leading to more belief, is the most fascinating aspect of the subject. UFOs, in my view, tell us more about ourselves than they do about 'alien visitors.'
I have written seven books on different aspect of supernatural
belief and tradition – including volumes on UFOs, ghosts and angels.
I teach journalism at Sheffield Hallam University and folklore at Sheffield
University. My Ph.D in Folklore was taken at Sheffield’s Centre
for English Cultural Tradition. My permanent employment is as a Lecturer
in Journalism and Public Relations in the Department of Media Studies,
Sheffield Hallam University.
My books include:
The Angel of Mons: London: John Wiley, 2004
In addition I have contributed articles and chapters to these books:
UFOs 1947-87 (Fortean Times); Phenomenon (edited
by John Spencer & Hilary Evans)
Journal articles and edited collections include:
History of involvement in UFOlogy
I became interested in UFOlogy after seeing Spielberg's
movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind in 1978 when I was 12 years old.
I joined BUFORA in 1980 and was accredited as an investigator in 1985.
I hold a Honorary Research Fellowship in the National Centre for English Cultural Tradition and Language, University of Sheffield, where I teach CEC3001 Traditions of Supernatural Belief and CEC201 Urban Legends, undergraduate modules in the School of English.
My specialist areas of research interest are: