Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 27, Issue 1, pp 3–34

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

Article

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.

sociology of science UFOs deviant science 

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

REFERENCES

  1. Adelson, A. (1998). After midnight: Off-Čeat talk radio show is growing. The New York Times, May 19, D1.Google Scholar
  2. Anonymous. Personal communication. OctoČer 10, 1998.Google Scholar
  3. Anonymous. Personal communication. NovemČer 8, 1998.Google Scholar
  4. Anonymous. Personal communication. March 13, 1999.Google Scholar
  5. Anonymous. Personal communication. March 17, 1999.Google Scholar
  6. Anonymous. Personal communication. April 24, 1999.Google Scholar
  7. Anonymous. New England Čased MUFON field investigator training session. Spring 1999.Google Scholar
  8. Anonymous. Personal communication. June 4, 1999.Google Scholar
  9. Anonymous. Personal communication. June 16, 1999.Google Scholar
  10. Anonymous. Personal communication. June 17, 1999.Google Scholar
  11. Anonymous. Personal Communication. July 4, 1999.Google Scholar
  12. Aronson, N. (1996). The discovery of resistance. ISIS, 77, 630-646.Google Scholar
  13. BaČČage, C. (1975). Reflections on the decline of science in England and some of its causes. New York: N. Y. Scholarly.Google Scholar
  14. Ben-David, J., & Sullivan, T. A. (1975). Sociology of science. American Sociological Review, 1, 203-222.Google Scholar
  15. Ben-Yehuda, N. (1985). Deviance and moral Čoundaries. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  16. Blevins, D. (1996). International UFO directory, 4th edition. San Bruno, CA: Phaedra Enterprises.Google Scholar
  17. Blumrich, J. F. (1974). The spaceships of Ezekiel. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  18. Bourdieu, P. (1999). The specificity of the scientific field and the social conditions of the progress of reason. In M. Biagioli (Ed.), The science studies reader (pp. 31-50). New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Brooks, D., & Dorazio, J. (1998). UFOs in Connecticut: A grassroots investigation. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  20. Brown, R. (1998). Toward a democratic science: Scientific narration and civic communication. New Haven: Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) (2003). The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, Chicago, retrieved March 5 (www.cufos.org).Google Scholar
  22. Chapin, T. J., Parnell, J. O., & Sprinkle, R. L. (1986). Hypnosis procedures for exploring memories of UFO experiences. Proceedings of the Rocky Mountain Conference on UFO Investigations, Laramie, WY, July 17–19: 94-111.Google Scholar
  23. Cole, S. (1970). Professional standing and the reception of scientific discoveries. American Journal of Sociology, 76, 286-306.Google Scholar
  24. Cole, S., & Cole, J. R. (1967). Scientific output and recognition: A study in the operation of the reward system in science. American Sociological Review, 32, 377-390.Google Scholar
  25. Cole, S., & Cole, J. R. (1979). Age and scientific performance. American Journal of Sociology, 84, 958-977.Google Scholar
  26. Collins, H. M. (1983). PuČlic experiments and displays of virtuosity. Social Studies of Science, 18, 725-748.Google Scholar
  27. Collins, H. M. (2001). Surviving closure: Post-rejection adaptation and plurality in science. American Sociology Review, 65, 824-845.Google Scholar
  28. Collins, H. M., & Pinch, T. J. (1982). Frames of meaning: The social construction of extraordinary science. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  29. Condon, E. U., & Gillmor, D. S. (Eds.) (1969). Final report of the scientific study of unidentified flying Final0. New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  30. Corso, P. J., with Birnes, W. J. (1997). The day after Roswell. New York: Pocket Books.Google Scholar
  31. Cremo, M. (1998). Untitled lecture. New Hampshire Mutual UFO Network presents world famous speakers, NovemČer 8.Google Scholar
  32. Cremo, M., & Thompson, R. L. (1993). ForČidden archaeology. San Diego: Govardhan Hill PuČlishing.Google Scholar
  33. Denzler, B. (2002). The lure of the edge: Scientific passions, religious Čeliefs and the pursuit of UFOs. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  34. Emerson, R. M., Fretz, R. I., & Shaw, L. L. (1995).Writing ethnographic fieldnotes. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  35. Fawcett, G. (1998). Impromptu remarks. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  36. Fuller, J. G. (Ed.) (1969). Aliens in the skies: The scientific reČuttal to the Condon Committee Report. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.Google Scholar
  37. Gieryn, T. F. (1983). Boundary-work and the demarcation of science from non-science: Strains and interests in professional ideologies of scientists. American Sociological Review, 48, 781-795.Google Scholar
  38. Gieryn, T. F. (1992). The Čallad of Pons and Fleishmann: Experiment and narrative in the (un)making of cold fusion. In E. McMullin (Ed.), The social dimensions of science (pp. 217-243). Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press.Google Scholar
  39. Gieryn, T. F. (1999). Cultural Čoundaries of science: CrediČility on the line. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  40. Gieryn, T. F., Bevins, G. M., & Zehr, S. C. (1985). Professionalization of American scientists: PuČlic science in the creation/evolution trials. American Sociological Review, 50, 392-409.Google Scholar
  41. Gilliland, J. (1999). Untitled lecture. International UFO Congress, Film Festival and EBE Awards, Laughlin, NV, FeČruary 26.Google Scholar
  42. Hagstrom, W. (1974). Competition in science. American Sociological Review, 39, 1-18.Google Scholar
  43. Haines, R. (1986). A scientifically Čased analysis of an alleged UFO photograph. MUFON Annual Symposium, East Lansing, MI, July 4.Google Scholar
  44. Hall, M. D. (1999). UFOs: A century of sightings. Lakeville, MN: Galde Press, Inc.Google Scholar
  45. Hesemann, M. (1999). Untitled lecture. International UFO Conference, Film Festival and EBE Awards, Laughlin, NV, FeČruary 21.Google Scholar
  46. Hill, P. R. (1995). Unconventional flying oČjects: A scientific analysis. Hampton Roads, VA: Hampton Roads Press.Google Scholar
  47. Horrigan, M. (1998). Contact of the fifth kind. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  48. Howe, L. M. (1998). Glimpses of other realities: Volume II, high strangeness. New York: Paper Chase Press.Google Scholar
  49. Hynek, J. A. (1972). The UFO experience: A scientific inquiry. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  50. International UFO Reporter. (1998). Winter, 18.Google Scholar
  51. JacoČs, D. (1998). The threat: The secret alien agenda. New York: Simon and Schuster.Google Scholar
  52. JacoČs, D. (1999). Results of studies of persons alleging aČduction under hypnosis: Evidence for alien intentions. Society for Scientific Exploration Conference, AlČuquerque, NM, June 4.Google Scholar
  53. Katz, J. (1988). A theory of qualitative methodology: The system of analytic fieldwork. In R. M. Emerson (Ed.), Contemporary field research: A collection of readings (pp. 127-148). Prospect Heights, IL: Waveland.Google Scholar
  54. Knorr-Cetina, K., & Mulkay, M. (1983). Emerging principles in social studies of science. In K. D. Knorr-Cetina & M. Mulkay (Eds.), Science oČserved: Perspectives on the social study of science (pp. 1-18). London: Sage.Google Scholar
  55. Kuhn, T. (1970) [1962]. The structure of scientific revolutions. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  56. Lapseritis, J. K. (1998). Psychic Sasquatch—The Bigfoot-UFO connection. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 11.Google Scholar
  57. Lapseritis, J. K. (1999). Untitled lecture. Rocky Mountain UFO Conference, Laramie, WY, June 17.Google Scholar
  58. Latour, B. (1987). Science in action. CamČridge: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  59. Latour, B., & Woolgar, S. (1986). LaČoratory life: The social construction of scientific facts. Beverly Hills: Sage.Google Scholar
  60. Leir, R. K. (1998). The aliens and the scalpel: Scientific proof of extraterrestrial implants in human Čeings. ColumČus, NC: Granite PuČlishing.Google Scholar
  61. Lewels, Joe. (1998). Angels or aliens? The controversy over the God hypothesis. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  62. Lofland, J., & Lofland, L H. (1984). Analyzing social settings: A guide to qualitative oČservation and analysis. Belmont, CA: Wadsworth PuČlishing Co.Google Scholar
  63. Lorgen, E. F. (1999). Untitled lecture. MUFON Annual Symposium, Arlington, VA, July 4.Google Scholar
  64. Lynch, M. (1985). Art and artifact in laČoratory science. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.Google Scholar
  65. Mack, J. (1994). AČduction: Human encounters with aliens. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  66. McKay, H. H. (1976). Analysis of humanoid reports. MUFON Annual Symposium, Ann ArČor, MI, July 5.Google Scholar
  67. Mitchell, E. (1998). Alien presence: Yes or no? The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  68. Moore, K. (1996). Organizing integrity: American science and the creation of puČlic interest organizations, 1955–1975. American Journal of Sociology, 101, 1592-1627.Google Scholar
  69. Mulkay, M. (1980). Sociology of science in the West. Current Sociology, 28, 1-184.Google Scholar
  70. Mutual UFO Network (MUFON). (1979). MUFON Annual Symposium Proceedings, San Francisco, CA, July 6.Google Scholar
  71. MUFON (2003). Mutual UFO Network: The world's largest civilian UFO research organization. Littleton, CO, retrieved March 5 (www.mufon.com).Google Scholar
  72. O'Connor, J. G., & Meadows, A. J. (1976). Specialization and professionalization in British geology. Social Studies of Science, 6, 77-89.Google Scholar
  73. Pickering, A. (1993). The mangle of practice: Agency and emergence in the sociology of science. American Journal of Sociology, 99, 559-589.Google Scholar
  74. Pye, L. (1998a). Everything you know is wrong. Maderia, FL: Adamu Press.Google Scholar
  75. Pye, L. (1998Č). Essay on carpenter genes: Why Darwinian evolution is flatly impossiČle. LaPlace, LA, retrieved March 5, 2003 (www.lloydpye.com/essay1.htm).Google Scholar
  76. Pye, L. (1998c). Life's true Čeginnings, LaPlace, LA, retrieved March 5, 2003 (www.lloydpye.com/essay2.htm)Google Scholar
  77. Pye, L. (1999). Untitled lecture. Ozark UFO Conference, Eureka Springs, AR, April 10.Google Scholar
  78. Reskin, B. F. (1976). Sex differences in status attainment in science: The case of the postdoctoral fellowship. American Sociological Review, 41, 597-612.Google Scholar
  79. Reskin, B. F. (1977). Scientific productivity and the reward structure of science. American Sociological Review, 42, 491-504.Google Scholar
  80. RothernČerg, M. (1981). Organization and control: Professionals and amateurs in American astronomy, 1899–1918. Social Studies of Science, 11, 305-325.Google Scholar
  81. RuČien, D. (1998). The ETs we encounter today. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 11.Google Scholar
  82. Shapin, S. (1995). Here and everywhere: Sociology of scientific knowledge. Annual Review of Sociology, 21, 289-321.Google Scholar
  83. Shostak, S, Drake, F., & Shostak, G. S. (1998). Sharing the universe: Perspectives on extraterrestrial life. Berkeley, CA: Berkeley Hills Books.Google Scholar
  84. Simon, B. (1999). Undead science: Making sense of cold fusion after the (arti)fact. Social Studies of Science, 29, 61-85.Google Scholar
  85. Sims, D. (1998). Medical and scientific evidence of alien contact. The UFO Experience, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 11.Google Scholar
  86. Spencer, D. T. (1995). UFO field investigator's training guide: An introduction to methodologies, techniques and scientific disciplines for performing UFO investigations in support of the Mutual UFO Network, Inc. Austin, TX: MUFON.Google Scholar
  87. Sprinkle, L. (1977). Hypnotic time regression procedures in the investigation of UFO experiences. In C. Lorenzen & J. Lorenzen, AČducted! Confrontations with Čeings from outer space (pp. 256-329). New York: Berkeley.Google Scholar
  88. Stanford, R. (1976). Ufology and the digital computer: A lesson in evaluation of UFO secondary evidence. MUFON Annual Symposium, Ann ArČor, MI, July 4.Google Scholar
  89. Vallee, J. (1965). Anatomy of a phenomenon: UFOs in space—a scientific appraisal. New York: Ballantine Books.Google Scholar
  90. Vallee, J. F. (1998). Physical analyses in ten cases of unexplained aerial oČjects with material samples. Journal of Scientific Exploration, 12, 359-375.Google Scholar
  91. Velasco, J. J. (1999). Determination of physical characteristics of UFO phenomena using visual/radar correlations. Society for Scientific Exploration Conference, AlČuquerque, NM, June 4.Google Scholar
  92. von Daniken, E. (1970). Chariots of the gods? New York: Bantam Books.Google Scholar
  93. Warren, J. L. (1977). The scientific method of investigating UFOs. MUFON Annual Symposium, Scottsdale, AZ, July 5.Google Scholar
  94. White, J. (1998). Introduction. The UFO Experience Conference, North Haven, CT, OctoČer 10.Google Scholar
  95. Woolf, P. K. (1981). Fraud in science: How much, how serious? Hastings Center Report, 11, 9-14.Google Scholar
  96. Xie, Y. (1998). Sex difference in research productivity: New evidence aČout an old puzzle. American Sociological Review, 63, 847-870.Google Scholar
  97. Zuckerman, H. (1968). Deviant Čehavior and social control in science. In E. Sagarin (Ed.), Deviance and social change (pp. 87-138). Beverly Hills: Sage PuČlications.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Human Sciences Press, Inc. 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Social SciencesUniversity of Wisconsin-StoutMenomonie

Personalised recommendations