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UFOs abduct astronomers’ good names

by Phil Plait, Oct 24 2008

A. J. Gevaerd, the editor of "Brazilian UFO Magazine" is what I would charitably call a crank. He once interviewed a guy in his magazine who claimed that Jesus is tied up in the UFO phenomenon — of course! — along with other things that would make my head all asplodey to write about.

A few months ago, he wanted to start a new research center to study UFOs, called the Carl Sagan Institute.

Now, I will give you a moment to make comical head-shaking noises and wipe your ears out with your fingers. Yes, he wanted to name his pseudoscientific center after Carl Sagan, one of the leading and most vocal critics of the UFO phenomenon.

Now, you might say to yourself, "Maybe Gevaerd will be critical and apply Sagan’s skepticism to the study of UFOs." Hope springs eternal! But then there is the inevitable fall, you realize, remembering that whole Jesus-returning-in-a-UFO thing above. Yeah. Oh, and in Gevaerd’s own words:

Many think that Sagan passed away without knowing the result of his search … But that is far from the truth. Sagan had a close relationship with north-american governmental agencies dedicated to the UFO phenomenon investigation, and even Joseph Allen Hynek, considered the father of Modern Ufology, guaranteed that Sagan had a profound knowledge about the alien presence on Earth.

OK, are we done arguing over this guy’s grip on reality? Yes. Yes, we are. Which is good, because this gets funnier.

Not surprisingly, Ann Druyan, Sagan’s widow, took a dim view of this eponymy. There are legal issues to be dealt with in using Sagan’s name … so what’s a UFOlogist to do?

Why, change the name, of course. It’s now called The Galileo Galilee Institute for Extraterrestrial Life Research. Besides the obvious travesty of using that name, and noting the weird use — I don’t rememberGalileo talking very much about being abducted and having his butt probed — I have to add that the Church back then took an even dimmer view of this; they burned Giordano Bruno at the stake in part for his heretical writing about even the potential of alien worlds and life.

Oh, those wacky UFOlogists. Burning at the stake isn’t needed any more. That burning smell is their credibility.

Tip o’ the tin foil beanie to Kentaro Mori.

24 Responses to “UFOs abduct astronomers’ good names”

  1. Craig says:

    The mind truly boggles.

  2. George Greene says:

    “Galileo Galilee”?? Is this a typo, or is there some sort of tie-in to Israel, ancient or modern?

  3. Mike says:

    Galileo Galilei – It is his full name though for some reason we just use his first name. In fact it is not that uncommon e.g. Raphael, Leonardo to name two more

  4. George Greene says:

    Yes, “Galileo Galilei” — I know. Read it again. Phil wrote “Galileo Galilee”. Notice the last letter. It changes it to be the name of a lake and region in Israel. Question is, was this Phil’s typo, or did the Institute get is wrong (possibly as a Freudian slip).

  5. Mike says:

    If you google Galileo Galilee in fact you come up with a lot of sites using that spelling so it may just be an alternate spelling. But yes, it would be amusing if they had got it wrong.

  6. Devil's Advocate says:

    Hmm, I wonder why they rejected this name. It seems a natural:

    The Phil Klass Center For Extraterrestrial Proctology

  7. Nomad says:

    Phil, when you die, I plan to start the Phil Plait Center of Alien Anal Probing… (thing is, if I remove the Alien from it, it would actually be legit :P)

  8. Mike Jones says:

    Aren’t you giving this nutter a credibilty boost by taking him seriously.

  9. Devil's Advocate says:

    “Phil Plait Center of Alien Anal Probing… (thing is, if I remove the Alien from it, it would actually be legit”

    Hmmm.. that would give us PP CAP. lol (pee pee? OK, OK, it’s been a slow day…)

  10. Almir Germano says:

    Oh my… I’m brazilian…
    Well, thanks Ms Druyan for protecting Prof. Sagan’s name.
    It remembers me of the introduction of “The Demon haunted world”, when he poignantly describes a taxi cab driver fooled by pseudoscience. Sagan took a compassionate look at the fellow, as a person foiled in the search of knowledge on the big important questions by cranks like this Gevaerd.
    Just for laughs: some of my son’s colleagues here at Maringa State University (he studies Physics) sent lots (and I mean lots…) of letters to Mr. Gevaerd’s “Institute” publications with phony, absurd UFO sightings (with adequate phony photographic material) and he kept falling for it (and publishing it!) until he discovered the prank.
    But he keeps on believing, this most irrational side effect of our brain evolution… i.e. He is a crank…

  11. Chris R says:

    My teenage nephew came to me recently with questions about some of the ufo claims he’d heard, and I was astonished to learn he was taking some of it seriously. Needless to say, we had a good long talk.

  12. Jason E. says:

    Oh yeah. Because when I think Jesus in a UFO, I think Galileo – a man that defended heliocentrism, thus drawing a near deadly amount of criticism from the church leaders of his time.

    Honestly, when I think Jesus in a UFO, Richard Hoagland shoots to the top of that nutcase idea list.

  13. John Persichilli says:

    Hi Phil and folks,
    Well being an Italian I know how painful it is to have ones Italian name butchered :-) But I am getting over it. Two hero’s Galileo and Sagan, I met Sagan and thinks there is some Galileo blood in me.
    UFOlogy WTF?

  14. Simon Watt says:

    Maybe the Queen rock anthem Bohemian Rhapsody should be renamed “The Lament of A. J. Gevaerd. If in doubt read the lyrics … almost prophetic.
    “Is this the real life, Is this just fantasy?
    Caught in a landslide. No escape from reality
    Open your eyes Look up to the skies and see (UFO’s)
    I’m just a poor boy I need no sympathy
    Because I’m easy come, easy go, Little high, little low
    Any way the wind blows Doesn’t really matter To me, to me

    I see a little silhouetto of a man
    Scaramouch, Scaramouch will you do the fandango
    Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Galileo, Figaro – magnifico
    I’m just a poor boy, nobody loves me… etc.”

  15. jeff says:

    you all so smaart.
    me want be like you one day.
    me cant wait for your teevee show.

  16. Allison says:

    I assumed that Gallilee was intentional – as in Jesus, the man from Galilee. While it doesn’t make A.J. more credible, one can appreciate his creativity.

  17. Darth Wader says:

    Bill Perron, I don’t go to paranormal blog and hassle the weirdos that chat there and get made when they are “mean to me”.
    When you go to a skeptic blog and spout off a bunch of non-sense, what do you think will happen?

    If you have some powers go get your local TV station to run a small piece where you demonstrate it, I believe this is a standard condition of Randi’s challenge.

    Besides if you really do have magic powers why do you spend your time whining in blogs? You could be a super hero. Go help humanity SuperPerron!

  18. Julian says:

    Paragraphs are your friend, Bill.

  19. [...] UFOs abduct astronomers’ good names [...]

  20. S E E Quine says:

    Is ‘asplodey’ in the dictionary yet? With more people like him, I think it will need to be! Right? Because there will always be more no matter how many eventually die.

    Really, it sounds like something Beckjord would do – by the way, I actually tricked him into thinking I’d seen bigfoot by making fun of him on one of my blogs….

    Is anyone sad that ‘Becky’ isn’t around to anymore? Well, he was a sad, sad man, and a psychotic control freak if Tara Hauki is to be believed on her account of being left for dead in the middle of nowhere after he beat her and withheld food from her on one of his ‘bigfoot hunts’. (And then he told the police that she’d beat him – just unreal!)
    ` He had a museum, too, once. I wonder if he called it the Joe Nickell Museum of Bigfootology?

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  22. Pelican64 says:

    Re: “Just for laughs: some of my son’s colleagues here at Maringa State University (he studies Physics) sent lots (and I mean lots…) of letters to Mr. Gevaerd’s “Institute” publications with phony, absurd UFO sightings (with adequate phony photographic material) and he kept falling for it (and publishing it!) until he discovered the prank.”

    Hoaxers are a strange animal like the idiot who claimed he killed the 4 police officers in Parkland, Washington on Sunday. They are nothing to be proud of or associated with.

    Talk about preaching to choir.

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