UFOlogy: Science and the Flying Saucers
When you think of UFOs, the first things that usually come to mind are little green men, conspiracy theories, sci-fi buffs and uncomfortable probes. But to members of the Hong Kong UFO Club, the study of UFOs (UFOlogy) is a serious science. Pat Morais discovers that if the UFO Club has their way, someday soon you may be able to study for a degree in UFOlogy at your local university.

Hong Kong’s UFO Club meets once a month at UFO Station, a Tsim Sha Tsui cyber cafe filled with books, newsletters, and old news clippings of close encounters in order to explore otherworldly topics like “E.T. Civilization” and “Alien Kung Fu.” The club is made up of members such as scientists and university professors who study subjects including physics, history and even some paranormal activities and a number of broad studies in order to understand as much as they can about UFO phenomena.

The members of the Hong Kong UFO Club are not dreamy stargazers, but researchers who see their passion as a science. So much so that they’re lobbying for a university degree programme in UFOlogy. In an interview with CNN, Hong UFO Club members Albert So, a professor at Hong Kong University and Joseph Wong, a lab manager at Hong Kong’s City University said: “The graduates of this programme will grasp at least all major knowledge available in order to understand UFO phenomena, including various disciplines such as mathematics, physics, history, philosophy and also other technologies and any other skills related to UFOs.

After students finish this degree, hopefully they will be able to apply their knowledge to the real world; they may have their own understanding about this universe. Maybe they will be able to come up with a new universe model, a new way of life, or whatever. For them, it is very important whether or not there really is a UFO that can fly. Through the process of investigating questions like this, helps the group understand more about themselves and our planet. It is a common error to assume that the only question of interest provided by UFOlogy is whether UFOs represent alien intelligence. Putting aside the question of physical reality of UFOs, there have been studies of UFOs and UFO enthusiast subcultures from a folklore or anthropological perspective, and some feel the subject, at the very least, may provide new insights in the fields of psychology (both individual and social), sociology, and communications.

The UFO Club is not alone when studying UFOs as a science. Mainland China, which has had waves of mass UFO sightings since 2000, treats the topic of UFOs with an unexpected seriousness. The conservative state-run newspapers and television media often report UFO sightings. China has a bimonthly UFO magazine devoted to UFO research, The Journal of UFO Research, which was launched in February 1981, circulation 400,000 -. UFO buffs claim support from eminent scientists and liaisons with the secretive military, giving their work a scientific sheen of respectability.

China had its first massive UFO sighting on the night of July 24, 1981. It caused such pandemonium that the Astronomical Observatory of Zijingshan released a communique stating, “the population of 14 provinces in our country sighted this celestial phenomenon.”

UFOlogy, formerly a forbidden subject in this country of more than one billion people, has only recently emerged from the shadow of Chairman Mao when authorities in China lifted a ban on reporting UFO sightings in 1979. Modern research shows, however, that UFOs are not a new phenomenon in China. For thousands of years, Chinese have looked to the skies for portents of change on Earth, historical records cite strange celestial objects during the Tang, Yuan, and Ming dynasties. There is even an old Chinese fairy tale where the emperor meets a ‘flying boat’ which looks surprisingly similar to the conventional image of a modern day UFO.

When the modern UFO era began 50 years ago in 1947, flying saucers were reported in China. However, they were quickly forgotten when the country was engulfed in a civil war. All mention of UFOs was strictly forbidden during Mao’s long reign, when China was mostly closed to foreign influences.

Chinese UFOlogy re-emerged in the late 1970s during Deng Xioping’s program of economic reforms. In November 1978, The People’s Daily finally gave the official green light for UFO reporting. Other reporters began to cover UFO news, and by 1980, a group of students from Wuhan University in Hebei province formed the China UFO Research Organization (CURO) and obtained moderate support from the National Academy of Social Sciences. During the turn of the century (2000) China had its first eruption of UFO sightings; with over 500 reported sightings in 1999 alone and every year since then, the numbers have grown. Shen Shituan, honorary director of the China UFO Research Association (CURO - membership 50,000) believes that all UFO phenomena are worth researching. The Truth is that 95 to 99% of the sightings can be explained naturally, like airplanes or satellites, but a minority may be real UFOs and we should take them seriously

CURO’s president Shen Shituan, a (real) rocket scientist and president of Beijing Aerospace University believes that serious research into UFOs will help spur new forms of high-speed travel, unlimited sources of energy and faster-growing crops.

Others aren’t so sure, Geremie Barme, a Chinese culture watcher at Australia National University believes that China’s fascination with UFOs can be blamed on cultural beliefs, stating, While China was passing through its first millennium using the West’s Gregorian calendar, the traditional lunar calendar was ushering in the Year of the Dragon, regarded as time of tumultuous change.

People in China and Asia in general, are more open to believe in the supernatural. That sort of millennial fear and trepidation fits in so nicely with Chinese cosmology - and also the Hollywood millennium propaganda that everybody has been lapping up.

Another theory going around is that aliens may find China attractive for the same reason foreign investors and tourists do. Generally, well-developed areas like the United States have reported more sighting UFO activity than any other country. It is very possible that relatively rapid development attracts investigations by flying saucers, and China has been going through a phase of rapid development over the last few years.

In Beijing, a dedicated group of enthusiasts forming the core membership of the Beijing UFO Research Association are on constant alert, ready to move out and investigate observations of mysterious phenomena in the night sky. They take photos, record videos and interview witnesses, all in the interest of addressing the issue from a scientific point of view. As it has in most other areas of human endeavor, China is also an emerging force to be reckoned with in UFOlogy.

Though it has been disregarded in the past as the work of quacks, UFOlogy has started to gain respectability in the scientific communities of countries in the western world. A formal survey of the American Astronomical Society revealed that a majority of those who responded to the survey thought that UFOs deserved scientific study, and were willing to contribute their time and expertise to such studies.

The legitimacy of UFOlogical research will a hot topic on September 8- 10 when top experts from around the world gather in Dalian, China when the International Chinese UFO Association holds one of the first international meetings on UFOlogy and UFO research.

So whether you believe in UFOs or not, the world scientific community is starting to realize that there are answers behind the UFO mythology and the applications of those answers could soon change the way we live our life down here on Earth.

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