Richard M. Dolan
Dolan is one of the few UFO folks out there to take on a serious historical/political examination of the UFO situation. Dolan's book UFOs and the National Security State (Two of three volumes have been published so far.) is considered required reading for anyone with a serious interest in the UFO subject.-RMIII
The following is a mild critique of Dolan which was posted on The Paracast Forums in May, 2009. Though it is somewhat critical at times, there is no doubt that Dolan deserves a place in the Hall of Fame. Anyone who claims to be knowledgeable about UFOS must read his work.
One way to look at Dolan’s work so far is in relativistic terms against the
body of UFO literature. Because it is not a recognized academic field, none of
it is of PhD quality in terms of the research involved. There is no one to check
it or guide it. There is no recognized peer review process. Anyone can jump in
and many have. Academics, by and large, stay away. One could argue that this is
because it would be a career-wrecking move, but there may be more to it than
that. Also, there are exceptions: Vallee is one. There are several other
‘researchers’ who claim to have PhDs. I suggest you look carefully at where
these degrees are from and what academic discipline they represent. Some of them
are from unaccredited correspondence schools.
Dolan’s education is legitimate. He has an MA in History from the University of Rochester. His BA is from Alfred University, a small private University in New York (Student population: 2300). He has a ‘certificate’ in Political Theory from Oxford University and was a Rhodes Scholar Finalist. (http://rocwiki.org/Richard_Dolan) He says he’s made his living since then as a ‘self-employed business writer.’ (http://keyholepublishing.com/about.htm). In this sense his academic qualifications are similar to Stanton Friedman, who has a Master’s degree in physics from the University of Chicago. Friedman brags about this with impunity. It has to be said that Dolan does not have a scientific education. His is strictly liberal arts.
Dolan is much more low-key. He is obviously capable of earning a PhD; he just hasn’t done it and has spurned academia. That’s part of his persona, an iconoclastic scholar who has rejected the stilted halls of the Ivy League in order to concentrate on serious research. He says he ‘narrowly missed’ a Rhodes Scholarship because he managed to ‘alienate the selection committee.’ In other words, he was academically qualified; the reason for his rejection was politics. People like us really like that! Here’s someone who has said ‘No” to the establishment and is searching for ‘The Truth’ in opposition to it. This really feeds into the world view of most people interested in the field.
Compared with most of the UFO books written by journalists who have a fleeting interest, delusional contactees, or fiction authors who suddenly see aliens, Dolan’s work looks top notch. He actually uses footnotes and includes a bibliography. To a fact-starved public eager to get a handle on SOMEthing, he has become a star, an instant expert, and a font of information. Dolan has details! As a result there is almost no serious criticism of his work. But look at what has happened. Dolan has risen to the top (quite easily, I believe) of a field that is in itself highly suspect, full of ill-trained authors and self-appointed ‘researchers’ with little academic training in critical reasoning. Often the reason for stardom in Ufology is the fact that someone has a story to tell. That’s all. Dolan is a big fish in a small pond.
Dolan is fairly new to the UFO field (at least from my perspective.) He became interested in about 1994. His acclaim in the field is due to one work: UFO’s and the National Security State, soon to be in two volumes, the second eagerly awaited. He has become a frequent speaker at UFO conventions and has written a few additional articles. These are all based on this single work.
So what is the thesis? Basically this: It’s all a conspiracy. The entire governmental security apparatus, from the founding of the CIA to compartmentalized information is a result of the government trying to keep a lid on the UFO issue. It’s not that we’ve never heard that, it’s just that Dolan has taken this issue to a new level of detail. He’s even more detailed than Timothy Good. Dolan is strictly a nuts & bolts guy and does not consider alternative hypotheses in the field. Sociological and psychological issues are beside the point to him.
So what is the problem? The problem is that Dolan appears to take all evidence at face value. He will quote Morris K. Jessup on an equal basis with Jacques Vallee. He will talk of Gray Barker on the same level as J. Allen Hynek. He puts Philip Corso at the same level as Jerome Clark. In other words, he does not seem to discriminate between sources. He considers them all valid. Rather than sifting through vast amounts of disinformation for the Truth, it’s more like he’s amassing a mound of evidence without regard to its veracity or corroboration. He doesn’t even allude to the possibility that there might be some problems with some of this evidence. The clowns are thrown in with the professors.
Dolan also comes to some dubious conclusions. It’s quite clear he believes James Forrestal was killed for his knowledge that he might spill the beans. And what about Ruppelt’s early death? No one dies of a heart attack at age 37. Hmmm. And James McDonald. Did he commit suicide, really, or was he murdered because he was getting too close to the secrets? This stuff is not corroborated at all. His standards of proof are way too low. This would not be allowed in academia. You wouldn’t be able to get away with this and be considered seriously.
The third problem is that Dolan is now a star. There is no doubt that his various speaking engagements are contributing to his reputation and, by extension, to the monetary rewards of being in the spotlight. His next volume might not make him a millionaire, but it will not be insignificant. For those of you who always jump at monetary involvement, you absolutely must consider this for Dolan as well as Greer.
The fourth problem is that Dolan appears to hang out with discredited people in the field. He shares the stage with people like Greer and Bassett. His theories dovetail nicely with the Exopolitics movement, a cargo cult if there ever was one. If you are known by the company you keep, this is bad news for Dolan. You may say, as he does, that to get the word out he must take advantage of opportunities to do so, but for many, this leaves a sour taste.
Dolan writes well and deserves much of the attention he has received. It's a cut above most Ufological literature. The bottom line is that Dolan’s work appeals to a certain segment of our culture. We all love a conspiracy, and when the government is at fault, we nod our heads sagely in agreement that we knew it all along. Dolan feeds into this world view with detailed facts that suffer from credulity. His focus is very narrow and his work is not nearly as academic and scholarly as it looks. Detail does not substitute for scrutiny and discrimination. -Schuyler
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