via the Outline:
A new book by D.W. Pasulka — professor and chair of the department of philosophy and religion at the University of North Carolina Wilmington — American Cosmic: UFOs Religion, and Technology, focuses not on grassroots investigative societies or marginal cults, but on UFO believers in the halls of power.
Her narrative begins on a drive through the hills with pioneering computer scientist, venture capitalist, and ufologist Jacques Vallee. “Silicon Valley is full of secrets,” he tells her. It ends in the Vatican Secret Archives (alas, not because the Ultimate Clue lies steganographically hidden in a Templar codex).
If media experiences of the UFO account were limited to a few blockbusters, it’s hard to see how it could have the effects Pasulka claims. But the advent of micro-media platforms like YouTube and the rise of faux-documentarian investigations in the style of the History channel have compounded the Hollywood effect by orders of magnitude. Any scammer with a camera or hustler with an eye for the weird can simulate strange lights and speeding objects, or cut together unsourced footage glossed with their own theories. And they do, in spades, to the endless dismay of serious investigators.
All religions depend in some way on technology: The relationship between the Protestant reformation and the Gutenberg printing press is a historical cliché. American Cosmic argues that for an alien religion to succeed, the screen is not merely an incidental component. It is both the organizing structure that defines the content of the religion, and the point of contact between believers and their object of worship: It is the synagogue, the madrasa, the tabernacle, the church.
There is, however, another way that the UFO religion may be a religion of technology. More than one person has pointed out that alien accounts have some odd similarities with older fairy folklore: the strange lights, the miniature people, the domestic disturbances, the appearances and disappearances.