Ufology is a neologism derived from UFO (a term apparently coined by Edward J. Ruppelt), and is derived from appending the acronym UFO with the suffix -logy (from the Ancient Greek (logi?)). Early uses of ufology include an article in Fantastic Universe (1957) and a 1958 presentation for the UFO "research organization" The Planetary Center.
Publicity of UFOs increased after World War II, coinciding with the escalation of the Cold War and strategic concerns related to the development and detection (e.g., the Ground Observer Corps) of advanced Soviet aircraft. Official, government-sponsored activities in the United States related to ufology ended in the late 1960s following the Condon Committee report and the termination of Project Blue Book. Government-sponsored, UFO-related activities in other countries, including the United Kingdom, Canada, Denmark, Italy, and Sweden also ended. An exception to this trend is France, which maintains the GEIPAN program, formerly known as GEPAN (1977-1988) and SEPRA (1988-2004), operated by the French Space Agency CNES.
Although some ufologists (e.g., Peter A. Sturrock) have proposed explicit methodological activities for investigation of UFOs, scientific UFO research is challenged by the facts that the phenomena are spatially and temporally unpredictable, are not reproducible, and lack tangible physicality. That most UFO sightings have mundane explanations limits interpretive power of "interesting," extraordinary UFO-related events, with the astronomer Carl Sagan writing: "The reliable cases are uninteresting and the interesting cases are unreliable. Unfortunately there are no cases that are both reliable and interesting."
Skeptic Robert Sheaffer has accused ufology of having a "credulity explosion," writing that, "the kind of stories generating excitement and attention in any given year would have been rejected by mainstream ufologists a few years earlier for being too outlandish." The physicist James E. McDonald also identified "cultism" and "extreme...subgroups" as negatively impacting ufology.
During the Cold War, ufology was synthesized with the ideas of a Trotskyist movement in South America known as Posadism. Posadism's main theorist, Juan Posadas, believed the human race must "appeal to the beings on other planets...to intervene and collaborate with Earth's inhabitants in suppressing poverty;" i.e., Posadas wished to collaborate with extraterrestrials in order to create a Socialist system on Earth. The adoption of this belief among Posadists, who had previously been a significant political force in South America, has been noted as a contributing factor in their decline.
A large number of private organizations dedicated to the study, discussion, and publicity of ufology and other UFO-related topics exist throughout the world, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Switzerland. Along with such "pro-UFO" groups are skeptic organizations that emphasize the pseudoscientific nature of ufology.
During the annual World UFO Day (July 2), ufologists and associated organizations raise public awareness of ufology, in an effort to "tell the truth about earthly visits from outer space aliens." The day's events include group gatherings to search for and observe UFOs.
^National Science Foundation (2002). "ch. 7". Science and Engineering Indicators. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation. ISBN978-0-7567-2369-9. Archived from the original on 16 June 2016. Retrieved 2018. Belief in pseudoscience is relatively widespread... A sizable minority of the public believes in UFOs and that aliens have landed on Earth.
^Cooper, Rachel (2009). "Chapter 1: Is psychiatric research scientific?". In Broome, Matthew; Bortolotti, Lisa (eds.). Psychiatry as Cognitive Neuroscience: Philosophical Perspectives. Oxford University Press. p. 19. ISBN978-0-19-923803-3.
^Salla, Michael (2004). Exopolitics: Political Implications of Extraterrestrial Presence. Dandelion Books. ISBN1-893302-56-3.
^Greer, Steven M. (2001). Disclosure : Military and Government Witnesses Reveal the Greatest Secrets in Modern History. Crossing Point. ISBN0-9673238-1-9.
^ abSheaffer, Robert. "A Skeptical Perspective on UFO Abductions". In: Pritchard, Andrea & Pritchard, David E. & Mack, John E. & Kasey, Pam & Yapp, Claudia. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Cambridge: North Cambridge Press. pp. 382-88.