Despite a misleading title (the book is not about what UFOs are up to these days but about the state of our knowledge concerning UFOS and related phenomena), this is a fine piece of reporting. Do UFOs exist, are extraterrestrial visitations real? On such questions, Wright (author of three books in the Star Trek series; co-author of Destination Mars, not reviewed) is something more than an agnostic but less than a true believer. "Something is happening in our skies," she writes, and she faithfully records the myriad attempts to find out what that something is. She offers detailed reports on individuals and organizations involved in investigating UFOs. Her method is not to dismiss out of hand such activity, but to carefully debunk wild and unsubstantiated claims while reserving judgment on other, more plausible efforts. Central to all she writes is the role of the US government in the study of UFOs. Here she finds a history of secrecy,, duplicity, and evasion that has simply added to the paranoia and suspension of reason (think Heaven's Gate) surrounding the topic. Government policy has been highly inconsistent. On the one hand, for instance, it has denied the existence of UFOs; on the other hand,, it refuses to release documents on government investigations of UFOs on the grounds of national security. If UFOs don't exist, the author wonders, how can they be a threat to national security? The government denies investigating UFOs at all, yet Freedom of Information Act documents show it has done so for years. It's this broader theme of the harm government secrecy does to an open society that makes this more than just another UFO book. The author finds UFO phenomena worthy of study, but study in an open, systematic way. To some, this recommendation is itself the height of folly, yet in the end she simply suggests we "use our eyes to see the world around us" and "record it carefully." Not bad advice at all.
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