- All human beings experience various forms of stress every
day of their lives. Since ufologists are human beings, they cannot expect
to be stress free. In fact, they experience some unique forms of stress
very much like that experienced by explorers, research scientists, and
entrepreneurs. Ufologists are busy collecting data associated with anomalous
events, interfacing with research institutions and government agencies,
dealing with the most varied populations of humans possible, lacking sufficient
funding and support, and usually doing this as an unpaid second job. These
factors naturally subject ufologists to additional forms of stress that
they would not otherwise experience. Why do some individuals handle the
stress better than others? How can UFO organizations help their workers
deal with stress? Are there some common sense steps available to ufologists
for stress relief? This paper provides answers to these questions and more.
- What Causes Stress?
- Stress results from the interaction between a person
and his environment. It appears when there is a discrepancy between the
demands made upon a person and his perceived ability to respond to these
demands. Stress can result from both positive and negative events.
- Some General Thoughts About Dealing With Stress
- We live in an ever-changing world. That means change
is natural, but that same change is what produces the demands on people
that results in the stress in their lives. Since change is an evolutionary
process, dealing with it requires patience with oneâs self and others,
education and learning, and the passage of time.
- If a person can stand out as assured, oriented, educated,
in control, and conforming to high standards as a source of honor, strength
and maturity; then that person will be able to deal with stress in a healthy
and productive way.
- The individual can be as stressed or stress-free as they
decide to be. Start by diagnosing what is going on that is causing stress.
Then take responsibility for your own actions. Realize that it is not your
job to fix everything or do everything. Since stress in natural and can
be either positive or negative, your job is to manage stress to a comfortable
- Our society tends to drive people to seek instant gratification
in everything they do. There is also a tendency to expect others to do
what ever it takes to help you achieve this instant gratification. This
isnât likely to happen very often and so it becomes a source of frustration
- Happiness is key to stress reduction and you are as happy
as you decide to be. Be a beacon of light ö have a positive outlook.
Celebrate your accomplishments and try to catch other people doing things
right. Donât dwell on the negative outcomes. Do not despair. Your
capacity to respond will match any challenge that may confront you. Joy
gives us wings! In times of joy our strength is more vital, our intellect
keener, and our understanding less clouded. We seem better able to cope
with the world and to find our sphere of usefulness. But when sadness visits
us we become weak, our strength leaves us, our comprehension is dim and
our intelligence veiled.
- Some Sources of Stress for Ufologists
- While the methods addressed in this paper may be useful
for dealing with the normal sources of stress such as: job, family, illness,
death, divorce, marriage, retirement, finances, and other normal stress
producing events, I will only address some of the specific sources of stress
experienced by ufologists, as follows:
- 1. Too many UFO reports
- 2. Too few UFO reports
- 3. Lack of access to the latest tools for detection and
- of UFOs
- 4. Lack of the necessary funds to travel and conduct
- 5. Lack of time
- 6. Debunkers
- 7. Critics
- 8. Employers/employment
- 9. Experts and their egos
- 10. Communications
- 11. Government cover-up
- 12. Public appearances
- Dealing With Ufological-related Stress
- Ufologists must deal with some unique stress-generating
situations. Whether or not they are successful in dealing with these situations
will depend on their response to stress in general, plus some knowledge
and understanding about the cause of ufological-related stress. Because
we are all unique individuals, there is no Îone size fits allâ
approach to stress management. However, the following information may be
useful in forming your own approach to ufological-related stress.
- Too Many UFO Reports: While this may not seem like a
big problem to everyone, some people are frustrated by it. If you live
in an area where UFOs are frequently reported, you may feel over-worked
and under appreciated. A single UFO incident can take hundreds of hours
to properly investigate and document. It all begins with a report to the
media, police, or UFO organization. Then you must locate and contact the
witnesses, do a screening interview and then visit the site of the incident.
Site visits may lead to additional witnesses. Collecting and safeguarding
physical evidence is an important part of the job as well. Seeking possible
explanations can take as much time as the basic data collection phase of
the investigation and often involves revisiting the site and original witnesses.
Before the case is ready for peer review or closure, the job of documenting
every facet of the case can take a lot of time.
- If you are in a "hot" area, you may get additional
reports while you are still working on the first incident. Often, the tendency
is to jump on the new case and put the original one on hold because a fresh
case can be more exciting than the grunt-work phase of the original case.
After this happens two or three times, you may be getting very frustrated
at the workload you are seeing and the lack of gaining closure on any of
the incidents. As a result, many good cases never get past the investigatorâs
notebook or tape recorder.
- There is a simple solution to this problem. It is called
teamwork. Sharing the workload with other investigators can drastically
reduce the frustration-induced stress. In addition, it can result in a
faster, more complete investigation. There is a lot of common sense in
the old adage - "two heads are better than one." Too Few UFO
Reports: Some areas of the world seem to have very few UFO reports. Whether
this is because there is no agency available to collect the reports, or
it is against the sociological norm for the area, or UFOs are not seen,
is not relevant to the stress management issue.
- When a person becomes a UFO investigator, he/she expects
to conduct investigations. That is why they spent the time and energy to
become a certified investigator. Having nothing to investigate is as frustrating
as having too many reports to investigate.
- The stress caused by this situation may be relieved by
using the time to study past cases, get familiar with the history of ufology
in your area, to establish contacts with the police, weather, military
and business officials, and to develop a well-stocked field investigators
kit. Also, through networking you may establish contacts where you can
assist other investigators in UFO hot spots.
- Lack of Access to the Latest Tools for Detection and
Identification of UFOs: It is unusual for a volunteer UFO investigator
to begin his/her quest with a fully outfitted investigatorâs kit.
Usually, the kit is developed a piece at a time as the investigatorâs
budget permits and generally consists of a field meter, camera, video recorder,
Geiger counter and a few other items. Even then, the investigator may never
have the funds available to buy expensive pieces of analytical equipment
or have access to well-stocked research laboratories.
- Lacking the proper tools to do the job is a very frustrating
situation. This is especially true when the investigator encounters physical
evidence in a case and has no way to determine what that evidence means.
It is also frustrating to know that most military installations, national
laboratories, private laboratories and universities have tons of equipment
capable of providing the answers we are seeking and we have no way to get
them involved in the investigation.
- The stress reliever in this instance is a bit more difficult
to find. Initially, you must be satisfied you have done everything you
can do and be proud of that accomplishment. However, by following the industry
technique of "continuous improvement," you can build on your
successes by teaming with other investigators having access to additional
equipment; developing contacts in local businesses that can assist with
laboratory work; affiliating with local police agencies to tap their forensic
capabilities; and perhaps eventually establishing a working relationship
with government agencies to gain their technical support.
- Lack of the Necessary Funds to Travel and Conduct Extended
Investigations: UFO reports can occur anywhere. Many reports come from
remote areas of the state or country. This means the closest investigator
may be miles away from the scene of the incident. Since a thorough investigation
may take days or even weeks to complete, this means the investigator must
be financially able to establish a base near the scene of the incident
and remain their until the investigation is finished or make numerous trips
to the scene.
- Since few investigators are independently wealthy, taking
the dollars from the family budget for an extended stay or repeated trips
can be very stressful to the investigator and his/her family. It may even
mean that the annual family vacation must be aborted in favor of the investigation,
something that is never forgotten by the family members.
- Since money problems are very high on the list of stress
makers for most people, this can be a difficult situation to face. Again,
however, it is important for the investigator to do the best job he/she
can do, while minimizing the impact on the family. Celebrate the success
of the investigation even if it cannot be as extensive of you would like
it to be.
- This may be a situation where teamwork is almost mandatory
in order to accomplish the whole investigation. With several people on
the case, it can go much faster and require less time in the field. One
team member can handle the witness interrogations while another is collecting
and documenting physical evidence and another is working with local police
and county agencies. To reduce costs even more, the team may choose to
camp out in the field during the investigation.
- And last but not least, the Mutual UFO Network, the National
Institute for Discovery Science, or other groups may be able to help with
the field work by assisting with the cost of the investigation, supplying
additional field investigators, and helping with the laboratory analysis
of the physical evidence. Such teamwork can significantly reduce the investigatorâs
- Lack of Time: In our fast-paced society, we all feel
the pressure of too much to do and too little time to get it all done.
For the ufologist, this can be highly stressful because many ufologists
work at full-time jobs, have family and societal duties and still conduct
extensive UFO investigations.
- Initially, this can be a devastating problem for ufologists.
The drive to do a good investigation can become so intensive that work
and family duties can suffer. The answer to this problem is found in maintaining
a balance. It is the same as maintaining a balance between work and family
life. For the ufologist, however, the balance must include a third factor
- their UFO investigations.
- Debunkers: I have heard it said that the most frustrating
and least useful aspect of ufology is the machinations of the debunkers.
Debunkers are experts at the use of disinformation, misinformation, and
propaganda. They provide prosaic explanations for everything. If the first
story gets challenged, they simply generate another story and do not even
apologize for changing their position. No information or data supplied
by the ufologist is ever good enough for them. Truth, honesty, ethics and
things like that are foreign to their way of operating because it might
erode their position. They seldom do real investigations.
- Most of their explanations are canned and used over and
over so that they do not feel it necessary to do investigations. All this
is very frustrating to the ufologists that conduct extensive investigations,
record every little detail of a UFO incident, assemble statistics, maintain
vast databases, and probably most of all, respect the good and honest witnesses
who report their UFO incidents.
- Perhaps it would help ufologists to deal with the debunkers
if they understood why the debunkers act in such a manner. This is best
described in The Argument Culture, a book by Georgetown University professor
Deborah Tannen. These machinations are an example of what the cultural
linguist Walter Ong calls "agonism" or "programmed contentiousness."
Agonism does not refer to disagreement, conflict, or vigorous dispute.
It refers to ritualized opposition.
- Professor Tannen says: "The way we train our students,
conduct our classes and our research, and exchange ideas at meetings and
in print are all driven by our ideological assumption that intellectual
inquiry is a metaphorical battle. Following from that is a second assumption,
that the best way to demonstrate intellectual prowess is to criticize,
find fault, and attack." Further, she says: "Many aspects of
our academic lives can be described as agonistic. For example, in our scholarly
papers, most of us follow a conventional framework that requires us to
position our work in opposition to someone elseâs, which we prove
- The framework tempts ö almost requires ö us
to oversimplify or even misrepresent othersâ positions; cite the
weakest example to make a generally reasonable work appear less so; and
ignore facts that support otherâs views, citing only evidence that
supports our own positions." This approach "fosters a stance
of arrogance and narrow-mindedness." There is much more of value in
The Argument Culture, but in these few words, I believe Professor Tannen
has clearly exposed the operating technique used by most debunkers. With
this information in mind, it is fairly obvious that we are stuck with a
continuing tirade by the debunkers and it will continue until they all
die off. They are unable to change ö they are programmed to act as
- Fortunately, most ufologists have no desire to play the
debunkers game. Programmed contentiousness is viewed as dishonest, unfair
and unethical. It puts an end to exploring ideas, uncovering nuances, comparing
and contrasting different interpretations of a particular work, and gaining
a deeper and more accurate understanding of the material. It kills the
quest for open-minded inquiry.
- Even knowing all of this, ufologists still allow themselves
to be stressed by the actions of debunkers. A good investigator is likely
to be provoked by a debunkerâs announcement that a certain UFO was
actually Venus when everyone knows that Venus was not visible at the time.
A debunkerâs demand for "all of your investigative files so
I can identify the UFO," is another provoking ploy. They play on your
ego by saying "I have never seen any credible evidence of a UFO,"
hoping you will try to provide some evidence that will convince them. Will
it convince them? No! Their debunkerâs pre-subscribed dogma will
not allow it. If all else fails, they will claim it is your responsibility
as an investigator to respond to their demands. Donât fall for that
ploy. Only you and the organization you represent can define your responsibilities.
- A formula for avoiding stress caused by the actions of
the debunkers is to follow industryâs lead in looking for "value
added" in any interchange or effort. If there is nothing to be gained
from responding to them, then donât do it. Apply your energies where
they will make a difference. Donât play their game. It takes two
to make a game and if you do not respond to their provocation, then they
do not have a game. They lose and you are not stressed.
- Critics: Criticism is usually stressful and the world
is full of critics. In ufology, a lot of criticism stems from the "beliefs"
held by the critic. You may be criticized because you accept the extraterrestrial
hypothesis or you do not accept it; because of your stance on abductions;
the way you conduct an investigation; whether or not you attend meetings;
which organization you support; your views on the conspiracy theories;
and just about everything else you accept or do.
- It is more difficult if your critic is someone you respect
in the field, a co-worker, a family member, someone from your church, an
alumni pal, or a business acquaintance. Nevertheless, the game is the same.
The critic wants you to believe and act as they do whether or not it makes
any sense. Critics pride themselves at being good at pushing your buttons
to get you to respond.
- You may find that personal criticism is the most difficult
stress maker of all. It strikes at your personal being. It attacks your
ego. It affects your self-image in a number of ways. It makes you feel
like you did something wrong. It points out that you are not conforming
to pre-described norm and this hurts even if you donât agree with
that norm. It may make you mad. And worst of all, it may make you want
to give up ö to quit.
- If you are more experienced in dealing with people, you
will quickly recognize the criticâs style and be able to deal with
it. However, ufologists are generally caring and honest people. That is
why they try to help the victims of UFO events. If you are in this category,
you may find it difficult to refute the criticism until you have developed
the necessary skills to do it. At that point, the critic may explain that
they were just playing the part of the devilâs advocate. My response
to that claim is that "only the devil needs a devilâs advocate."
- Be an optimist. Critics are almost always pessimists.
If you doubt the wisdom in remaining optimistic, consider the study done
by researchers at the Mayo Clinic. They found that mind and body are linked
and that attitude has an impact on the final outcome, death. They found
that optimistic people live about 19 percent longer than pessimists.
- Employers/employment: In the dark ages of ufology, some
thirty to forty years ago, ufologists were afraid to tell their employers
about their interest in the subject for fear of retribution or loss of
employment. Fortunately, employers are more enlightened today. The equal
opportunity laws and privacy laws thwart their attempts to control employeesâ
private lives. Industry leaders are becoming more open to new experiences
and ideas because of the fast-paced changes in science and technology.
Many things that were once seen as impossible are now a reality or are
on the horizon, soon to become a reality. People have a right to a life
outside of work and most companies today encourage that to happen. Unfortunately,
this is not true for many government workers who must still conform to
the old rules of the game.
- Some ufologists cause a problem with their employers
because they expect to be able to spend their working hours steeped in
their UFO interests. They expect their employer to be as interested as
they are; but this is seldom the case. Employers are generally interested
in the success of their business and everything else is secondary. Admittedly,
some employers still want to own their employees and control their lives.
The good news is that the legal system will eventually get them for it
if they donât run themselves out of business due to their archaic
- A good way to control stress associated with your employment
is to lead a balanced life. Ufology does not need to be all consuming.
An employee can have a strong interest in UFOs, do investigations, participate
in the work of non-profit corporations and still be equally involved in
their job at the same time. The third part of the balance involves maintaining
a happy personal life as well. Balance is a good stress reliever.
- Experts and Their Egos: A lesser, yet still significant
source of stress for ufologists comes from the so-called experts. Many
experts are so wrapped-up in themselves and their findings that they belittle
the work of others in the field. Some are considered to be experts because
of their long-time involvement in the field.
- Others are instant experts because of their credentials.
Experts make broad declarations based on their findings and expect everyone
else to agree with the result. At times they will "take another look"
as some older case and come up with a sudden insight explaining it. When
they do this, they are assuming the style of the debunker.
- Most ufologists do not see themselves as experts. Instead
they are workers in the field, trying to add information to the database
and to discover the realities of the big UFO mystery. They recognize that
this is a work-in-progress and want to contribute to the eventual solution.
To these workers, the expert is often an icon to be admired and supported.
When this expert says and does things that belittles the work of others,
or expounds on their personal bias in cases, the worker is often dismayed
or stressed over it.
- While it may be natural to get mad or disgruntled by
the proclamations of the experts, there is an easy way to relieve the stress
of the situation. Just remember that the experts are people too. The may
have interesting credentials and a significant public image. However, they
are on the same journey as you. The do not have all the answers yet and
in fact, may not be any closer to the real answers than you. Otherwise
the UFO mystery would be solved and the experts would no longer be needed.
Work with them and learn from them, but donât turn them into idols.
- Communications: Much of the stress we feel comes from
lack of communications. Some people need to be constantly in contact with
others, interchanging ideas and getting feedback. Others donât need
as much contact. All, however, are stressed if they do not get the amount
of communications they need. Some join UFO organizations in order to improve
their access to information. They may not know what they want, what kind,
or how much communication they need; but if the organization doesnât
measure up to this nebulous definition of need, they quit. Some solve their
need for increased communications via the Internet. They may not care about
the quality or depth of the material they are getting on the Internet as
long as their communication need is satisfied. They may send a letter or
e-mail to someone and then expect an immediate reply. If they donât
get it, then they are mad and stressed over it.
- This is a difficult problem to solve. It is based on
expectations and often these are unexpressed expectations. It goes without
saying that there would be a lot less communication-related stress if every
individual and organization would improve the communications process. While
this may eventually happen, you do have control over half of the communication
process. Communicate as little or as much as is required to satisfy your
own comfort level; but donât set a stressful level of expectation
for the communication you expect in return. You do not and cannot control
how much or how little other people participate in the communications process.
It even helps to strive for quality, not quantity in these exchanges.
- Government Cover-up: A 1997 public opinion poll showed
that 82% of Americans believe the government is hiding evidence of intelligent
life in space and a 1996 poll showed that 49% of Americans believe the
government is concealing UFO information. My guess is that more than 95%
of ufologists believe the government is concealing UFO information. This
is a very frustrating situation. Most ufologists are hard working, church-going,
proud citizens. Many are veterans of the various armed forces and some
had UFO experiences while in the military.
- Additionally, ufologists are generally well versed in
advances in science and technology. They know about all of the technological
devices available to military agencies that have the ability to detect,
locate, track and identify UFOs. At the same time these ufologists are
unable to tap into any of this technology while investigating UFO cases
and so they must be content with eyewitness testimony, trace effects, photographs
and videotapes as their documentation of UFO events. When they try to remedy
this situation by contacting government agencies, they are usually given
the idiot treatment. Is there any wonder they are stressed about it.
- Yelling about "government cover-up" isnât
going to help much either. The cover-up has been going on for fifty years
and is pretty well entrenched. There are experts with big budgets controlling
this information. Verbal attacks on the government get lost in the noise
of the hundreds of other groups attacking the government. If you are going
to make headway on this problem, then concentrate first on improving the
quality of your investigations and the depth of your documentation. Donât
allow your results to languish in your file cabinet. Get the information
out to the public.
- Perhaps you can affiliate with non-profit groups that
can act as a body to establish a working relationship with some government
agencies that could eventually result in an open flow of UFO-related data
in real time while a UFO event is going on. Such a venture could help government
agencies reestablish a level of trust within the American public, something
that is badly needed. This is at least worth a try.
- Public Appearances: Public speaking can be stressful.
It exposes you to an unknown audience, unusual questions, and unknown outcomes.
Some people cannot do it without a carefully prepared text in front of
them. Others have the ability to speak in an impromptu fashion. All experience
some level of stress during the process. Unfortunately for any ufologist
with a fear of public appearances, it is still important to do it. It is
a part of the communication process that exposes more and more people to
the details of the UFO mystery.
- Most people can eventually overcome the fear of public
speaking and then they find it very rewarding. Something to keep in mind
when asked by the local radio or television station, newspaper, or service
club, is that you have the information they want and need. You are in control
of that information. The more often you appear, the easier it gets. If
you want to improve more quickly, then join a local Toastmasterâs
Club or take some courses at a local educational institution. The additional
bounty gained in making public appearances is that it improves your speaking
skills and self-assurance level for work, home and service organizations.
- Other: Sources of stress are everywhere and need to be
dealt with or they can be debilitating. I have noted a few of the sources
of stress experienced by ufologists, but the list could go on and on. The
main thing to remember is that you can be as stressed or as stress free
as you decide to be. Donât let others assign stress to you.
- The Organizationâs Role in Stress Management
- Belonging to a UFO organization can be a source of stress
or a source of stress relief, depending on your own attitude and expectations.
The organization is only as good as the people that belong to it. A UFO
organization can provide a lot of guidance and support to its members.
As an umbrella, it can provide rules, standardized processes, bylaws, databases,
connections, networking, communications, and rewards that cannot be gained
elsewhere. Unless you are a complete loner that doesnât care about
working with others for a common solution to the UFO problem, then affiliation
with a UFO organization can be helpful and rewarding.
- A UFO organization can also be a source of stress, especially
if you have a high level of expectation of what the organization should
do for you. Standardization of processes and reporting is important in
science and engineering, but some ufologists arenât interested in
that so it is stressful to them. The organization may also levy a demand
for respect among its members, ethical behavior, business-like performance,
and more, in the same way that any other corporation works. Some people
find such responsible behavior to be stressful and avoid it.
- Some simple barometers or indicators of an organizationâs
condition are energy level, attitude, and perseverance. There are other
measures, of course, but these will help you see what you need to do to
help the organization to be the best it can be.
- Energy level is a measure of the vitality of the organization.
What is the energy level? Are members for the most part positive, active
and motivated; or are they listless and apathetic? Do members arise to
do what is required of them? You can make a difference in every one of
these measures and find it to be a stress relieving experience.
- Attitude means a lot. Does the organization care about
its members? Is it a positive, living, expanding organization? Is it aloof
and exists only for itself? What kind of attitude do you expect of the
organization? Again, your participation and guidance can make the organization
a raving success.
- Perseverance determines the long-range success and ultimate
life span of the organization. Are the UFO investigations being conducted
and documented in a timely manner? How well are members persevering? Has
the membership been dropping or rising? How many people who became members
over the past five years are still active? You are key to perseverance
in the organization and working on this issue can be a rewarding and stress
relieving experience. The alternative is more stressful.
- The organization provides a way to meet a diversity of
needs and interests. The organization provides for unity in diversity of
actions, a condition in which different individuals concentrate on different
activities. Each person cannot do everything and all persons cannot do
the same thing. The diversity found in the organization relieves the pressure
on the individual to do everything, a stress-mitigating factor.
- Attitudes and Practices That Affect Stress
- Physical care and mental care are key factors leading
to a healthy and stress free life. Some simple rules that will help you
deal with stress and maintain a balanced life are as follows:
- * Let stressors only touch the surface of your life.
Remain calm and
- serene inside.
- * Do not neglect your health.
- * Safeguard you nerves and force yourself to take time
for rest and
- * Get sufficient rest ö sleep eight hours each night.
- * Have high ideals and translate them into action. This
leads to joy,
- satisfaction and enthusiasm.
- * Maintain a positive attitude.
- Stress is a natural condition. While some kinds of stress
are positive and others are negative, we cannot escape stress. That means
we need to deal with the stress in our lives and through our actions control
it. Since ufologists are exposed to some unique types of stress due to
the nature of the job, it is important to understand there are ways to
control and handle that stress. Working on the greatest mystery of our
age should be an enjoyable and challenging experience. By learning to handle
the stresses associated with the job, it will be a rewarding experience.
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