Alfred Lehmberg, on Strange Days... Indeed last night, suggested that there be an on-air (i.e. radio) debate about exopolitics, between a proponent of exopolitics, and an opponent. While I usually ignore Mr. Lehmberg, I find myself agreeing with him - sort of - on this one.
Of course, as with anything that comes from Mr. Lehmberg, appearances are deceiving. His agenda is not quite what it appears to be.
First, he wants Victor Viggiani to be the "neutral" moderator of any such debate. The problem here is that Mr. Viggiani is an exopolitics supporter (he is a member of the advisory board of Michael Salla's "Exopolitics Institute", and organized the exopolitics conference in Toronto last September). He is not neutral on the issue, by any stretch of the imagination.
Second, Mr. Lehmberg wants to be one of the on-air judges of who won the debate. Like Mr. Viggiani, he is hardly neutral on this issue (indeed, he suggested last night that my call to give exopolitics the "cold shoulder" was akin to book burning, missing my point entirely, and, I suspect, on purpose).
Most important, however, is that he wants the debate to be between Stephen Bassett and yours truly. Now, I agree that Mr. Bassett, as a defender of all things exopolitical, is a good choice (although Michael Salla or Alfred Webre, as the most vocal proponents, would be better). But me as the opponent? Why?
Simple - the reason Mr. Lehmberg wants me to be the face of opposition to exopolitics is because I'm easy to attack. It doesn't require him, or others of like mind, to think about the actual issues - they dislike me from the get-go (neo-klasskurtzian, rampant narcissist, rapacious net weasel, Christo-fascist book burner that I am, at least according to Mr. Lehmberg). I'm the perfect straw-man to set up for such a debate. It makes it easy for them to support the exopolitical side if I'm the opponent, just as it was easy to support the ETH when you trotted out Phil Klass as your opponent (as opposed, say, to a ufologist like Brad Sparks who does not accept that the ETH is the ETFact)
While I love debating, and have more than my fair share of experience (I would prefer a cross-examination format, FYI), there are better opponents out there, with greater stature, and decades of UFO research experience behind them. They would be a lot more difficult for the likes of Mr. Lehmberg to easily dismiss. They would confound his comfort zone - and that, in and of itself, would be fun to watch.
But, like I said, the principle of Mr. Lehmberg's idea is sound. So here's my counter-proposal:
1. Make it happen, but pick a truly neutral moderator. No offense to Mr. Viggiani, but he isn't that person. He has, as Kevin Randle has been known to say, a "dog in the hunt".
2. Make the debate about the "methodology" that exopolitics employs, the "ideas" that underpin it, and the increasingly belligerent tactics of its proponents when confronting anyone who disagrees with them, i.e. the use of the loaded "codeword" debunker to describe people like Stan, Brad, and Kevin, which was the "crossing of the Rubicon" to which I alluded, not Dr. Salla's views on Corso, or whomever (a point that seemed to be lost on some people).
3. Let the listeners themselves judge who "won" or "lost".
4. Get one of the following opponents of exopolitics (or the "debunkers", as they've recently been labelled by people - including, just yesterday, Paola Harris, all without a peep of protest from Mr. Lehmberg et al) to take the "con" side - Stan Friedman, Brad Sparks, Kevin Randle, Dick Hall.
That would really be a debate worth listening to - Stephen Bassett, or Michael Salla, versus Stan Friedman, or Kevin Randle. Or maybe Steven Greer versus Dick Hall. Or Alfred Webre versus Brad Sparks.
It would require people to make a choice - they would have to answer the question Billy Bragg once posed: "which side are you on, boys, which side are you on".
Given the choice between Messrs. Bassett, Greer, Salla, and Webre on the one hand (buttressed by the ghosts of the contactee movement), and Messrs. Hall, Sparks, Randle and Friedman on the other (buttressed by the ghosts of Hynek and MacDonald), I know which side I'm on (and yes, folks, sometimes it is about picking sides - there are times when there is no room for squishy relativism).
I think it would be the end of exopolitics, and would return ufology back to what I see as its proper course - serious research about a serious question (about which reasonable people can reasonably disagree).
And that would be a good thing.