I am often approached by individuals who have freshly entered the field of UFOlogy, who ask me, "What can I do, to make a contribution?"
My initial response is to suggest that they spend a few weeks simply browsing the Internet, using a variety of keywords I supply them with. In this way they will discover for themselves, the vastness of the volume of material which is currently online. They will of course, come across, the bizzare, and the incredible, but also websites which provide good, hard, factual data. Hopefully, this immersion will sort out those who are simply interested in being entertained. Their interest will not last.
For those who are left, I then suggest to them a list of interesting books worth tracking down and reading; and some websites to visit.This is intended to ground them in the long history of the subject, as well as introduce them to some of the key researchers of both the past, and the present.
It is at this point that I will recommend that they look to see if there is any particular subset of the UFO phenomenon, in which they are specifically interested, based on their skillset and their life experience, e.g.
* The effects of the phenomenon on humans
* Historical records of the 18th and 19th century
* Observations of UFOs over military bases
* IFOs versus UFOs.
If they do decide to tackle a specific subset of the phenomenon, then I will spend time with them discussing this area; and perhaps put them in touch with a researcher I know, who specializes in that area. At this point, I know that they are serious about studying and contributing to the subject.
I would then spend more time assisting them to study their subject area. I suggest that when they are ready, that they should consider researching further into that specific area, then write articles for an online magazine; start a speciality website devoted to that topic, or start a specialized blog.
I will make a comparison here, which is that of someone undertaking a PhD. They are expected to research a very specific and small part of current human knowledge, in their chosen field; write up a book length treatment of it; including making an original contribution to that topic, which adds to, and extends the body of knowledge.
It is in this way that they may contribute something new; perhaps a better analysis of a famous sighting; or an insight into something which has eluded the rest of us.
How long might it take, to get to this stage from their original fresh interest in the topic? I have seen some people do it in six months; while others took a year or even two.
For those of us who have been in this field for many years, in my opinion, it is imperative that we spend a little of our time cultivating newcomers in this way. Personally, I have taken the time to do so, with a small number of younger individuals, scattered all over the world. A word of warning; the ratio of those who ultimately become serious researchers, to those who fall by the wayside, is quite high. However, I feel that this ratio should not stop us. The field needs more high quality researchers and analysts.
Why not consider mentoring someone?
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