UFO Festival and Cosmic Symposium, Yelm, Washington
From the Urban Dictionary:
"Woo-woo is a slang term used to describe those who believe in phenomena that lacks substantiated evidence to prove the claim of the phenomena. It can also refer to the explanations for the specific phenomena itself. It also describes the method a person uses to understand such phenomena, based on the subjective nature or their personal philosophy which can be neither proven nor disproven. In this sense, one could associate woo-woo with philosophy, religion, or any other branch of study concerning itself with knowledge that is open to interpretation or subjectivity."
When I was in High School, I loved "Chariots of the Gods," Erich Von Däniken's book speculating about "unsolved mysteries." Were there ancient astronauts? Was earth visited by aliens? Have we already had "the first contact?" I found it fun and fantastic speculation. There was nothing really harmful in the questions, and it was all in good spirit to speculate "who knows what really happened?"
Amazon still declares it "the groundbreaking classic that introduced the theory that ancient Earth established contact with aliens." I love science fiction, and this UFO stuff is one big bag of archaeology, mixed in some colorful astronomy and tossed with a dash of imagination and speculation.
Things have changed since 1968 when the book was first published.
The UFO Festival and Cosmic Symposium, Yelm, Washington, 2018
Could the event be a dramatic as the video?
I thought it would be in good fun to visit the local event. After all, one of the main attractions was the beer garden.
I grabbed a roll of aluminum foil and with my tongue-in-cheek, I made my tinfoil hat to shield my thoughts from any aliens, or government agents, who may attempt to read my mind.
The online information about the event wasn't clear. Who was talking about what? UFOlogy? Is that now a word? The latest in alien abductions? The website listed the speakers, but from the descriptions, I really couldn't understand the symposium topics other than one speaker with something about Area 51. What does the Vatican have to do with this? They were clearly adding to the mystery when they wrote the speaker's descriptions. I clearly wasn't in the UFO loop anymore.
What I did understand was the price, $25 to hear an individual speaker and $200 for a weekend pass.
A little pricey for my taste. But, I did get the part about free music, food vendors, and a beer garden. Plus, last year they were visited by an actual UFO. You never know what might happen in Yelm!
While enjoying my beer, I am approached by a friendly lady in an alien green t-shirt. She complimented me on my tinfoil hat.
"Do you know about the 'Q'? They are here. You should check it out" she says.
"Oh yes!" I say. "I love Q. We know all about him. The way he messes with Captian Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. He's great." And I'm picturing someone dressed like the Star Trek The Next Generation character played by John de Lancie. Maybe John de Lancie is here! I just drank an Alien Pale Ale with Yoda!
We continue the conversation about the UFO symposium and a few other things I didn't understand. I get more and more confused. Maybe my tinfoil hat is working the wrong way? Or maybe I need another beer.
Finally, she realizes "You two don't look like woo-woo's. Enjoy your beers and have a good day."
"What did she just say?"
We pull out our cell phones and start looking things up.
This is the scary part.
QAnon, the storm, the great awakening is "a growing number of vocal followers of a conspiracy theory, known as Qanon, that has taken hold among some Trump supporters. The theory centers around an anonymous source, Q, who is trying to tell the world about a secret battle being waged by Trump and special counsel Robert Mueller against a pedophile ring filled with celebrities and political elites who have been covertly running the United States government for decades."
QAnon supporters say Hilary Clinton is secretly tagged with an ankle bracelet, Obama and Clinton are tied to a sex ring, Pizzagate is real, and JFK didn't die he is working undercover for Trump. They believe in numerology and proclaim that any time Trump speaks and the number 17 appears, alone or in a combination of numbers, Trump is talking directly to the Q.
What does any of that have to do with UFO's? And why did she bring it up? Did UFO's turn into partisan politics?
I hope not.
But I think so.
Some things have changed since I was in high school. But some things haven't.
I like a good phenomenon, but I still want evidence. I like to ask questions, but I believe that some things are still objective. I want to view the universe with awe and wonder, but I want it to be verifiable based on repeatable observations. I like a good hypothesis, but it needs to be tested, reviewed, and independently evaluated.
Looking back at the test of time, the super cool Carl Sagan and others debunked most of Erich Von Däniken's theories, and Von Däniken was imprisoned for embezzlement, fraud, and forgery. Hilary Clinton promised to release everything about Area 51, but she lost.
I like UFO's, but I am not a woo-woo.
Now, I need another Alien Pale Ale, please!