Ufology is clearly composed of two vastly different groups.
The first group is composed of those who are genuinely concerned with the serious scientific, historical and journalistic study of the UFO phenomenon. Within this group there are many - often heated - disagreements, about cases, or methods, or witnesses, but they are usually conducted in a spirit of collegiality. At the end of the day, it isn't personal.
For example, I panned Rich Dolan's book UFOs and the National Security State here at my blog as, in essence, lousy history (an assessment, incidentally, with which more than a few people in ufology agree). Some people misinterpreted that as a personal attack, but it was not. It was certainly pointed criticism, but it was fair, and backed up by facts. As a filmmaker, I've received my share of similar criticism, including a very bad review for my MJ-12 film, Do You Believe in Majic, in the National Post, one of Canada's two national English-language daily newspapers. That review was just as damning of my abilities as a documentary filmmaker - at least with respect to DYBIM - as I was of Dolan's abilities as an objective historian of the UFO phenomenon. And believe me - far more people read the National Post panning me than will ever read me panning Dolan's book.
So, what did I do?
Did I rage at the National Post writer, and call him all sorts of names, and insult him in public?
I took it on the chin, and moved on.
I also processed it, and learned from it - some of the criticisms were justified, in hindsight, and I will be a better filmmaker as a result of taking them to heart. Perhaps Dolan, who seems like a decent guy to me, will look at my review the same way.
To each their own. Either way, no hard feelings.
That's how it works when you're a filmmaker, or a writer, or an actor, or a columnist, or a politican... in short, anyone who is going to conduct their business in a public forum.
However, there is a second group in ufology, smaller than the first, but more vocal it seems, that is composed of people who are the antithesis of those described above. In short, and to be blunt, these are people who use ufology as a forum to work out their own personal demons. They have no sense of perspective, they have no sense of decorum, and they have no sense of common decency.
These people will attack anyone who disagrees with them, not with logic and reason, but with bitter personal invective that sometimes borders on slander / libel (depending upon the method of delivery). They are petty, vindictive, and mean-spirited.
The latest example of this behaviour has been offered up by the self-proclaimed "Queen of Ufology" Wendy Connors, in a post about Rich Reynolds of the RRR Group (www.rrrgroup.blogspot.com) that you can find on UFO Updates at www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2005/jun/m03-004.shtml.
The text of the "post" is as follows:
"Can it be true Rich Reynolds operates out of a store front post office box? Can it be true Rich Reynolds employees are bogus and just a bunch of whinny [sic] kids? Can it be true Rich Reynolds house ain't on a lake? Isn't Rich actually Ray? Is it true that Reynolds is known among legitimate media people as (unprintable) and gets his jollies on local cable television? Is it true that Reynolds is a biggie in the Ft. Wayne gay scene? Rich Reynolds has a stroke? What does this bode for Kimball? Curious Ufologists want to know!
Now, why Errol Bruce-Knapp, whom I have always considered as a member of the first group, described above, chose to print this vicious personal attack on Rich Reynolds is beyond me. Perhaps he will explain himself, and perhaps he will not. Either way, he has done enough good work in ufology, and has conducted himself as a professional, to get the benefit of the doubt that this was simply an error (albeit a big one) in judgment, or an oversight, on his part.
There is no doubt, however, that Connors has crossed a line, which is quite a feat considering that in ufology that "line" has been placed far beyond where it would exist in mainstream discourse.
What makes it even worse, if possible, is that it is directed at a guy who just had a stroke, which contravenes one of the most basic rules of fair play - "never kick someone when they're down."
I have become more outspoken in my views on people like Connors, and Alfred Lehmberg, and Jeff Rense, each of whom, in their own ways, and through their actions, personify the worst, not just in ufology, but in humanity.
I have tried to convince others in ufology to walk away from these people. Not only does ufology not need them - if it ever wants to make progress as a serious area of study, it cannot afford to tolerate them.
As for Rich Reynolds, I've never met him in person. Nevertheless, based on his writings at his blog and Updates, and conversations I've had with him on the phone, I've developed a healthy amount of respect for him. Even when I disagree with him (more often than some might think), I have always found him intelligent, fair, reasonable, open-minded, and courteous, an assessment with which many others in ufology agree.
But that's not really the point, is it? Even if Rich was everything that Connors claims he is (and hiding behind the cowardly dodge of "I was just asking questions" won't work for her this time), so what? It wouldn't change the fact that his writings on the UFO phenomenon are thought-provoking and, therefore, worthwhile (er, except perhaps the whole Pelican thing re: Kenneth Arnold, and maybe the D-Day map for Betty Hill, but everyone is allowed a few mistakes).
This is obviously not what matters to someone like Wendy Connors, who, in attacking Reynolds personally, has told us far more about herself than she ever could about him.
But it's what matters to me.