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Soviet Ufology

by Vladimir V. Rubtsov

Actual photography of UFO in Russia
Actual photography of UFO in Russia.
What is the state of world ufology nowadays? Having been engaged in ufological investigations for some 40 years, and firmly believing that these investigations are of very high importance for science as well as for the future of humanity, I feel I have some right to offer an opinion. Ufology today is a heterogeneous mixture of serious research with entertainment, pop-religion, and hysteria. There exists a distinguished circle of serious UFO students in various countries, but the general public judges ufology by its worst elements.

Some 40 years ago Jacques Vallée described the UFO phenomenon as a “challenge to science.” Science as a social institution has pusillanimously refused to meet this challenge and shirked its main responsibility to society - namely, serving it as a searchlight, not as a blindfold. Fortunately, some individual scientists have been more responsible, thanks to which UFO phenomena are still being investigated.

What place was occupied by the now-departed Soviet branch of ufology, and what place is occupied by its shade?

Until the middle 1980s only a feeble streamlet of Soviet UFO data reached Western ufological organizations. It contained both reliable and not-so-reliable reports, the usual mixture of obvious IFOs and quasi-UFOs with true UFOs. This was fully explainable and did not cause much discontent on the part of Western ufologists. Everyone understood that these data were obtained with difficulty in a totalitarian state, being another - and valuable - confirmation that flying saucers under socialism do not differ significantly from their democratic counterparts. And thank goodness for that.

Russian Missile Launches Prepare for UFOs
Russian Missile Launches Prepare for UFOs
Beginning with 1986, however, this streamlet turned into a real flood. It became possible for Soviet citizens in general, and for Soviet ufologists in particular, to go abroad and participate in ufological meetings, which resulted in considerable expansion of the data exchange. Even the secret UFO reports gathered by the Ministry of Defense became available to the public in the atmosphere of economic and social liberation.

There is a danger, however, that all the difficult experience of Soviet ufology will be reduced to effusive citations from post-Soviet newspapers about alleged Roswell-like incidents and other wild rumors. Pop-ufology is already exploiting this tasty morsel, making serious research more difficult and worsening the general atmosphere of superficial and incompetent denial of UFOs by “educated” (or rather miseducated) public opinion in the West.

The situation in the USSR was always very different in this respect. Soviet ufology originated and existed as a pure field of research and cognitive interest. Yes, the state suppressed independent investigations in this field, but at least we lacked any sort of pop-ufology.

An ostrich cannot keep its head in the sand forever; sooner or later the poor thing will have to pull it out and look around. Similarly, one day in the future, science will discover that UFO phenomena deserve serious study. Then the data accumulated by Soviet ufologists will be properly used.

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Related Links:
The Soviet UFO Files
Truth in the X-Files
UFOs: Ours or Theirs?

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