The Appeal of UFO Narratives: Investigative Journalist Paul Beban Visits Pretty Much Pop #14




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TV news reporter Paul Beban (ABC, Al Jazeera, Yahoo, and now featured on the Discovery Network’s Contact) joins your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to discuss the public fascination with UFOs, both at the peak of their popularity in the 50s and in the current resurgence. Do accounts of sightings necessarily make for good TV? Do you have to believe to be entertained? Is belief in UFOs related to religious belief? To beliefs in conspiracy theories and anti-government venom? To humor?

We get into the mechanics of Contact, the Area 51 hubbub,and also touch on the show Project Blue Book, films like Arrival (2016) and UFO (2018), the documentary Unacknowledged (2017), the short story “Roadside Picnic,” and more. To learn more about UFO lore in America, check out some of these podcasts.

Some of the resources we used for this episode included:

Plus, here are some stats from Gallup about UFO sightings and belief, you might want to pick up the book Nostalgia for the Absolute that Paul refers to, and here’s the 2014 talk by Robbie Graham that Brian referred to describing “hyper-reality” and the Hollywood UFO conspiracy. Here’s a list of UFO documentary series.

This episode includes bonus discussion that you can only hear by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts or start with the first episode.


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  • Perfecto Rossellimi says:

    If you really want to find out about aliens and their existence, just look into the Travis Walton story. I read his book back in 1979. Now, he did come across actual aliens as well as being abducted in there spaceship. The only different thing about this was that in the latter part of his story in the book, there were no mention of visits by the “other ALIEN Gestapo “Men in Black”I saw the Discovery show with Paul Beban and exactly what was shown regarding that fast moving so-called UFO…
    LaunchpadDM: USS Nimitz Tic Tac UFO Incident…this was NOT an actual ALIEN UFO but some of the testing that was being done by the “SHADOW 51 government…you need to be specific with the type of government that is working in some sort of collusion with aliens. I myself understand all of this ALIEN stuff. I fall in the STAR PEOPLE category, so I can sense these thing without all of that mumbo jumbo data, government project research etc. Sincerely: Lucifer♀

  • Andrew Amato says:

    Watched your episode on cattle mutilations. I thought the bald headed man you had on in the end is not telling you the truth. If the government detonated that many nuclear warheads underground, don’t you think seismometers would have been going off all over the United States, let alone the world.

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