Aliens in America: Conspiracy Cultures from Outerspace to Cyberspace
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In a provocative analysis of public culture and popular concerns, Jodi Dean examines how serious UFO-logists and their pop-culture counterparts tap into fears, phobias, and conspiracy theories with a deep past and a vivid present in American society. Aliens, the author shows, provide cultural icons through which to access the new conditions of democratic politics at the millennium. Because of the technological complexity of our age, political choices and decisions have become virtually meaningless, practically impossible. How do we judge what is real, believable, trustworthy, or authoritative? When the truth is out there, but we can trust no one, Dean argues, paranoia is indeed the most sensible response. Aliens have invaded the United States. No longer confined to science fiction and tabloids, aliens appear in the New York Times, Washington Post, and Wall Street Journal, at candy counters (in chocolate-covered flying saucers and Martian melon-flavored lollipops), and on Internet web sites. Aliens are at the center of a faculty battle at Harvard. They have been used to market AT&T cellular phones, Milky Way candy bars, Kodak film, Diet Coke, Stove-Top Stuffing, skateboard accessories, and abduction insurance. A Gallup poll reports that 27 percent of Americans believe space aliens have visited Earth. A Time/CNN poll finds 80 percent of its respondents believe the U.S. government is covering up knowledge of the existence of aliens. What does the widespread American belief in extraterrestrials say about the public sphere? How common are our assumptions about what is real? Is there any such thing as "common" sense? Aliens, the author shows, provide cultural icons through which to access the new conditions of democratic politics at the millennium. Because of the technological complexity of our age, political choices and decisions have become virtually meaningless, practically impossible. How do we judge what is real, believable, trustworthy, or authoritative? When the truth is out there, but we can trust no one, Dean argues, paranoia is indeed the most sensible response.
"tectonic stress theory" of UFO sightings. Many articles have accompanying graphs, charts, tables, and statistical analyses. Participants in the fora respond to and criticize one another's findings and results. Skeptics appear regularly. Similarly, in Sdmet and tbt UFO!, Jenny Randles and Peter Warrington try to seduce "serious" scientists into UFO research by criticizing CQntactees and sloppy, unscientific approaches to UFOs. Lamenting the "Dark Ages" of urology, they blame irs practioners,
objective, balanced, or scientific." From Hopkins's perspective as an abduction researcher, the show W'3S "a polemic having nothing to do with scientific investigation." In an extensive discussion of Carl Sagan's role in the Nova report, Hopkins writes: JPYngh\ Typk-aUy, on a shuw fillcd with hu:;tilc authority figures having Iitde or no acquaintance with the data, astronomer Carl Sagan said that he believed all abduction accounts are delusions or hallucinations ... . \NIlat evidence docs Dr.
calls this phase of Mercury operations 'The Lock Step."'H Additionally, it is possible that von Braun's unmentioned, unmentionable, Nazi experiences actually enhanced his reput:ltion. Norman Mailer describes him as possessing "that variety of gbmour usually described as fascinating, which is to say, the evocation of his name is attractive and repellanr at once. " H Writing at decade's end of the power and force o f the Saturn V, the rocket that made Apollo and the moon landing possible, Mailer
Armstrong's moon walk, Timt fearured a cover story on the Internet. A brief anicle on the future of the space program describes NASA's loss of purpose and finds the agency "trapped in a downward spiral of mediocrity." )O NtWswtt/t's cover story on the possibility of a manned Mars landing announces t hat we have the necessary technology but questions whether we have the wilt "Real space Right is never 11 tntrochacUott Of) r hIed m na as easy 2S it looks in cyber.space." JJ Twenty-five years
who have been hypnotized by Budd Hopkins, John Carpenter, David Jacobs, and John Mack. It does tell us, though, that we no longer have the criteria for figuring out what the best explanation might be, what it might look like or entail. VVhat happens to our everyday approaches to truth when reality isn't, when we try to amass information our relation to which is fragmented and unclear, when answers are lacking, either in availability or capacity to satisfy? The answer, abduction. , • 5 I he