, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 3-34

The Flexibility of Scientific Rhetoric: A Case Study of UFO Researchers

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Abstract

The case of ufology demonstrates that cultural packaging—a sort of once-removed indication of scientific authority—can be key in creating knowledge accepted as scientific. This adds a new dimension to the argument that scientific legitimacy is constructed, not just from scientific methodologies and institutional location, but also of language, culture, rhetoric, and symbols. Fringe researchers can make their cases for legitimacy using a variety of strategies—few of which involve actual research. Outside of the scientific community, scientific-sounding explanations and proclamations of expert statuses hold sway. Ambiguities about what constitutes science can be capitalized upon by groups like the UFO research community that assembles shards of legitimacy using science as a cultural template.