cover image American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, and Technology

American Cosmic: UFOs, Religion, and Technology

D.W. Pasulka. Oxford Univ, $24.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-19-069288-9

Pasulka, a professor of religious studies at the University of North Carolina Wilmington, approaches UFO believers with an open mind in her irresistible debut, diving into how technology and media are creating a new religious experience for them. Pasulka admits that ufology is a field replete with dead ends for an academic, given its code of silence and history of disinformation and public hoaxes. Instead of crafting a well-sourced argument, she offers a personal account of her encounters with believers and a frank discussion of her evolving understanding of the UFO phenomenon. Lively character sketches bring the story to life as Pasulka meets the brilliant and charismatic Tyler, who takes her on a blindfolded journey into the desert to visit a potential crash site, and James, a bold, adamant researcher who is the only scientist Pasulka met who was “ ‘out’ as a UFO experiencer.” As she goes deeper into the murky subculture, she wrestles not just with flying objects, but with the nature of perception, truth, and myth. Pasulka compares ufology to more traditional religions, such as Christianity, likening miracles to UFO sightings and faith in God to faith in abduction. Pasulka gives wonderful, entertaining insight into the curious study of UFOs. (Feb.)