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One step beyond

Aliens From Space
The Real Story of Unidentified Flying Objects
Keyhoe
1973

Folks, I have been working on weeding in the zeros-100’s and I am still having trouble coming up with some solid criteria for those topics like UFOs, Bigfoot, crop circles and all sorts of other stuff that floats in the lower range of Dewey land.  Currency?  Scientific authority?  My expertise is limited to episodes of  the X files, Unsolved Mysteries, and lately Fringe.  Anyone have any nice ideas I can communicate in a collection objective? Everyone in public library land knows this stuff is usually good to go until it falls apart.  I keep thinking we can do better.

I Want To Believe!
Mary

PS Here is the back cover.  BTW, there is no mention of Roswell at all in this book.  Hmmm….

29 Responses to One step beyond

  • I’m looking forward to the comments on this one. The conflict between wanting to provide accurate and authoritative information and not wanting to inappropriately suppress alternative viewpoints comes up in a number of other areas as well, such as alternative medicine, and I’m not sure how to resolve it.

  • This is why airline pilots don’t report UFO sightings:
    http://seattletimes.nwsource.com/html/localnews/2011461015_area51vets28m.html

    Because UFO’s are Area 51 test pilots doing their best to confuse the rest of the world 😉

  • This doesn’t make this particular example any more relevant (it looks like it was written by the kind of person who calls into Coast to Coast AM), but back then photographic evidence of UFOs was more reliable, since it is much, much harder to fake a negative than a digital file. Of course, most of the time it just means that the people actually built a fake UFO and set up the shot instead of editing the picture in Photoshop, but there are still a few examples from this era that still can’t be completely discredited.

  • I misread the back as referring to the “Condom Report” which doesn’t seem to have much to do with UFOs; unless they are talking about all the “probing” that purportedly goes on …

  • Ah! 031.02 is probably the most popular in my school library, but the unexplained gets lots of looking at as well. I’m trying to beef it up with newer items as well. Any ideas?

  • From a bookstore perspective, Keyhoe has fallen out of favor. Actually, UFO’s in general have been a dead topic for the new age section. It’s kind of sad, Keyhoe was always a fun writer and walked the line between good stories and hard facts.

  • Heh. Not that I’m endorsing or opposing Keyhoe’s views. I get enough lectures at work from customers about their obsessions…

    • I used to love that about working in bookstores. Regulars have gone on at length, to me, about the various types of Barbie one may collect, geodesic dome houses, and all sort of other veins of human interest. True, you got your share of Ayn Rand advocates, but all in all that was a wonderful perk of the job.

  • As an elementary school librarian I try to keep these books up to date and interesting, but if there’s a challenge it often comes from the zeros-100’s. We previewed a set of books in this area and got the most amazingly mixed reviews from our parent readers. This is a very touchy subject, but the kids love UFO’s, big foot and the loch ness monster.

    • May I recommend Richard Ellis’s fun read on the great white shark and “Monsters of the Sea”? The latter’s not quite up-to-date for the latest giant squid news, but it is a *fantastic* read that kids might enjoy in that same way. Nonfiction.

    • Lerner’s series “Unexplained,” mostly by Judith Herbst, are ok…at least, they have more shelf appeal. And Smart Apple “Amazing Mysteries” look awful to the adult eye, but they are gone, gone, gone, among the middle schoolers.

  • I read that book back in the 1970s. It isn’t well-written, in my opinion. As for keeping stuff about cosmically bizarre topics, I judge them one-by-one. The dude who thought that aliens created every significant item of ancient art–chuck him. Nostradamus interpretations–keep a few. You might judge this stuff using the same criteria you would for mythology. Or the same criteria you use for any book.

    • Aaaand just what’s wrong with Erik “the Mayans were led by space aliens because one of their tombstones shows the interior of a space capsule” van Dannekan?

      Just kidding. His stuff is dated anyway, unless it would be a book about his museum in Switzerland.

      • Actually, Chariots of the Gods was re-published last year in a shiny, new edition. Danikan looks a bit like William Shatner now.

  • If it’s getting circulated, keep it. The older books on sightings can be hard to find.

  • Keyhoe was pretty important in this field and I might be tempted to keep the book based on that fact alone. I am not saying you should keep the book as a historical example of such thinking, but that his work is likely the basis for some of the newer work. Though honestly I’d be more inclined to keep his earlier book than this one.

    Still, I’d say this is a keeper unless moldy or in otherwise condition trouble.

  • Remember when Greg Brady played a UFO trick on Peter & Bobby?
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0531118/plotsummary

  • As someone who used to read a ton of books about UFOs, aliens, whatever (I loved the X-Files), I’d say that the best books to keep would be the ones where the authors keep an open mind but don’t necessarily come off as lunatics. It’s a fine line to walk, though. Books that are fully Mulder, maybe no – mixed with a bit of Scully is best. 🙂

  • “The conflict between wanting to provide accurate and authoritative information and not wanting to inappropriately suppress alternative viewpoints comes up in a number of other areas as well, such as alternative medicine, and I’m not sure how to resolve it.”

    My guideline is that if you have scientific fact pitted against anecdotes and information that has been proven wrong time and again then weed the latter. This stuff might make for an entertaining read, but it’s not doing anyone any favors by presenting discredited and sometimes dangerous “alternative” theories to the scientific mainstream as though they have the same weight and authority as the hard science texts.

  • I say just keep it all. At least that way you don’t have to spend good money refilling the paranormal section.

  • I would keep Keyhoe if only because his craziness is referenced in other works, including skeptical ones (I think I read this book because Joe Nickell mentioned it in a Skeptical Inquirer article, but I could be wrong. Keyhoe may have written all kinds of crazy books.) I think this is a call based on the size of your library and the extent to which you provide research materials, and how good your ILL service is.

  • This book is RIGHT up my alley, as I have been studying UFO’s and the paranormal for years
    and own many UFO books at home. Personally, I like to keep an open mind to the possibility that extraterrestrial life MIGHT indeed exist.

    • It’s not really about keeping an open mind if you ask me. Even the most skeptical keep an open mind. All anyone really wants is sufficient evidence for something. Theories are just guesses, hopes, and wishes if there is insufficient and proper material data around it.

      In the case of this book and this topic in general, I think it’s probably best to keep a handful of the latest and presently most “respected” books on the subject, even if they universally fall in the “theory” category like I describe in the last sentence in the paragraph above. After all, even the craziest theories can be entertaining, but as with most things, having the latest entertaining craziness is preferable to something (in this particular case) almost 40 years old.

  • There are some interesting weather phenomena out there. Weird clouds & stuff. No doubt Joan of Arc would have seen UFOs if she hadn’t been a Medieval Roman Catholic who went for the Virgin Mary & the Angel Gabriel instead.

    But the good news is, I’ve invented a WORKING TIME MACHINE. So far it only goes forwards (slowly), but it’s a start.

  • Do you think that’s a real UFO on the cover??

    • Yep. The “U” stands for “unidentified.” I guess unless we can identify someone’s Fabulous Frisbee by make and model year, we’ll have to go ahead and say UFO here.

  • I agree with Sarah and Katherine on this one. Kehoe is one that the others reference, particularly because of his connection to the military.

    When I was a kid, I ate this stuff up. Went through everything in the section, no matter how old. Frankly, I think the datedness of these titles can lend them an air of authenticity and add to their entertainment value. Charles Fort anyone? And let’s be clear: this section is about entertainment, not about keeping up with the latest “advances” in the field.

    My two cents: if it’s in reasonable condition and especially if it still circulates, keep it.

  • So, I’m a week late, but I just discovered your blog, and I remember this book fondly (031 something I believe). I was a page at my public library for 3-years and this book would get checked out all the time. And even when it was on the shelf it was circulating the floor, and would eventually find it’s way to the reshelf cart pretty much every night. The pages always got a good laugh at the book, but it circulated like crazy (for better or for worse I never decided).

    By the way, slightly off-topic, this site is so cool and brings back so many memories of working at the library. Especially since, as a page, I knew more about what books we had, and where they were than the librarians.

  • Mary,

    You won’t get… unbiased coverage of these sorts of subjects, but for solid documentation and a firm historical account of the context of paranormal books, you should run, not walk to your nearest skeptics group. I’m sure one of your science faculties has one. Personally I like Martin Gardner’s books on the subject, and in the UK Francis Ween and Ben Goldacre have been good. THe number one resource for you to start with is James Randi, especially the James Randi Educational Foundation which just leaps out of google, and will tell you as much as you need to know.