Friday, June 03, 2005

The Good & the Bad in Ufology

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?

Nope.

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.

Or not.

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!
Wendy Connors"

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.

Paul Kimball

12 comments:

RRRGroup said...

Thank you, Paul.

I am surprised as you by Ms. Connors attack on me.

If all that she said were true -- that I'm a biggie in the Fort Wayne gay community (I don't think there is one here), or I live in regular house and not a lake house
I actually have two lake houses, one where my ex-wife and son stay), and all the rest, what does that have to do with UFOs?

Does being gay mean you can't think about UFOs? Does living in a non-lake house mean you can't comment on UFOs?

And my credentials in the media community here are above reproach, as anyone who takes the time to check or read newspaper accounts about me can attest.

But she also demeans the young college guys who work as the RRRGroup, and these young men deserve no opprobrium at all, and each have their own credentials.

I'm baffled as to how Ms. Connors came to her complete misrepresentation of me?

There was one former columnist who has written libelous things about me because our MediaWatch often panned her writings. And some of her scurrilous remarks can be found via Google.

But she is being litigated even as I type, and has recanted her remarks, saying she was just jesting.

Anyway, thanks for your friendship and the corrective here at your blog.

A friend in need, is a friend indeed, and I consider you a true friend, even if you dis my Betty Hill map speculation or Arnold bird explanation.

Rich Reynolds

Paul Kimball said...

Rich:

My folks taught me a lot of good things over the years, including my Dad's sole advice on dating, which was, as I recall, to never take a woman to an Italian restaurant on a first date. Why? Because no man can make a good first impression dribbling spaghetti down his shirt!

The most important thing they taught me, however, was to always STICK UP for a pal when someone else is STICKING IT TO HIM.

But Connors' bilge goes beyond just you personally. It's also a symptom of what's wrong with the world these days (not just ufology, folks) - the breakdown of civil discourse.

It's sad and pathetic, and only through a full and public apology will she be able to redeeem herself. I know you think I'm a hopelessly naive Canuck, but, like the Jedi, I believe that everyone can find their way to the light side again - even Connors.

That shouldn't stop you from referring the matter to your lawyer, however. Suing people like her for libel and slander may be the only way to knock some sense into them or, failing that, shut them up. Either way, it works for me.

Paul

Paul Kimball said...

P.S. The D-Day thing was pretty goofy!

:-)

PK

Terry Groff said...

Rich

While I was taken aback by Wendy's comments you must remember that this was not an unprovoked attack.

It was in your RRRGroup blog that you and Chris laid out your 'opinions' of various people, including me. You called Wendy a "Feminist Harpy" and it wasn't in the form of a question either.

You were wrong about me (I am not a computer geek. I'm a musician and composer) so I can only assume that you were also wrong about some of the other people you mentioned.

Most of the commentees ignored you until now. You shouldn't be surprised that someone would come back on you.

If you keep making disparaging remarks about people many are sure to respond in kind.

RRRGroup said...

RRRGroup said...
The remark was mine, not Rich's and he chastised me for writing it but let it stand rather than excise it as he hates to insert his views over others.

As for you, Terry, being a geek in the computer world is a compliment. I'm sorry you took it the wrong way.

But if Wendy Connors was going to attack anyone, it should have been me, not Rich, although I expect she chose the bigger target, a guy who doesn't deserve such nonsense, as the media community here will tell you, even his critics.

Christopher Jay

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Mr. Kimball -- Ms. Connors may be hasty, Mr. Rense may be undiscerning, and I may be a bane of ufology... but you, Sir, you are a small, small man... convenient, arrogant, a corner shooter... and largely what you would accuse, I suspect.

Additionally, whining is already repellant from a child, from a grown man it's revolting. Don't dish it out, Sir, if you can't take it.

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Terry Groff said...

Chris,

Just remember "geek", to many people, is not a complimentary term. There are those who call themselves geeks but it's usually in jest.

The use of the word has become widespread but there are those of us who still remember the original usage. "Geek" actually means someone who bites the heads off of live chickens.

As for the RRRGroup blog post, both of your names were on it. That means both were responsible.

Paul Kimball said...

I don't leave Lehmberg's comments here anymore (you can read him trashing me at plenty of other places on the Net; apparently he has nothing better to do), but I'll let this one stand, as it points out that (a) he just doesn't get it / read it (hard to tell whether he reads things before reflexively firing off a rejoinder), and (b) he lacks any sense of irony with the comment "don't dish it out if you can't take it." Follow the thread at http://www.ufo-planet.net/forum/showthread.php?t=491&page=6&pp=10 to its conclusion for an example of Lehmberg's double-talk.

Paul

RRRGroup said...

Terry:

There is a new, popular program on WB called "Beauty and the Geek" which is about guys who are Mensa material partnering with attractiv women.

The old meaning of "geek' was co-opted a while back, but you seem particularly upset by our application of the word to you, so I'm going in and remove the thing.

But calling Ms. Connors a harpy was wrong perhaps, but does that allow accusations (several) that ar totally untrue?

Again, Rich and I feel badly that you are upset with our use of the word geek. It was in the new sense of the word, not the 1930s sense.

CJ

RRRGroup said...

Lehmberg:

You know Connors was wrong in what she posted. To attack Paul for taking her to task for her boorish and libelous remarks is way off base, even for you.

Rich says you have character. Show it by saying Connors' remarks, even if they were one iota true, have no place in the UFO discussion and certainly should not have been posted.

Be gutsy, man. Don't weasel now when you have a chance to take an ethical, moral, decent stance.

And in my book, Paul Kimball has balls. That's more that I can say for you, despite the fact that Rich Reynolds thinks you're an okay guy.

CJ for the total RRRGroup

Paul Kimball said...

Terry:

So - is Ozzie Osbourne a "geek?"

Oh wait - that was a bat.

Paul

Terry Groff said...

Even in the 70s I thought Ozzie was "batty" :-). I was never a fan but I did go see Black Sabbath once only because my date was one of the most beautiful women I'd ever seen. (I wonder where Mary is now)