Much interesting feedback on Friday's UFO column, as you can imagine.
The UFO enthusiasts seemed abrupt, as if tired of defending themselves. They basically said, "Investigate the topic," as if that will be sufficient to engender belief. None of them addressed my basic question: "Sure, you're seeing strange stuff—but what makes you leap from smudge (or light, or spinning cigar, or whatever) to interplanetary visitors? Why dismiss the dozen more ordinary explanations?"
Some added plausible explanations of their own:
One reader did point out a 20-year-old error on my part. I wrote about the person who set off the modern era mania, private pilot Kenneth Arnold claiming to spot nine mysterious objects in Washington State in June, 1947, and originally said that he had penned an article for FATE the year before. But that impossible, one reader pointed out; FATE didn't debut until the spring of 1948, with Arnold's article in it.
I took that from "U is for UFO," my study of the subject that appeared in my 1996 rumination on the irksome The Alphabet of Modern Annoyances. So either I got the magazine name wrong, or made some other kind error; it's been so long I can't figure out what the trouble was.
Not that it undercuts my case. If one mistake were enough to indict a point of view, we wouldn't have to tolerate the endless bleat of credulity that reigns supreme on this topic.
I'd have let the matter drop, but there was one email I want to share, almost beautiful in its simplicity, from reader Charles Yates. It struck me because it conveys a thought I've never seen expressed before.
Here it is, in its entirety: