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Article  How wealthy UFO fans helped fuel fringe beliefs

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EXCERPT: . . . This legacy of plutocrat-backed fringe science comes as political partisanship, corporate propaganda, and conspiracy mongering continues to sow distrust in science. One lawmaker, Representative Tim Burchett of Tennessee, recently said, "The devil's been in our way," claiming a "cover-up" of UFO reports by military and intelligence agencies.

Such talk was once solely the domain of Internet fever swamps and late-night conspiracy-themed radio shows. Now it's part of the political mainstream. This doesn’t happen without Bigelow (and other wealthy eccentrics) greasing the way with their fat wallets. For example, Laurance Rockefeller was undoubtedly the most prominent UFO benefactor in the 1990s. The wealthy heir financed numerous UFO panels, conferences and book-length reports that kept flying saucers in the public discourse.

From a scientific standpoint, all this money seems wasted on a zany quest that is akin to the search for Bigfoot or Atlantis. The same might be said of Harvard astrophysicist Avi Loeb's recent hunt for evidence of extraterrestrial life off the coast of Papua New Guinea, which cost $150,000 and was funded by cryptocurrency mogul Charles Hoskinson. Loeb's polarizing claims of finding traces of alien technology and of having a more open-minded and dispassionate approach to fringe science have garnered a truly staggering amount of media coverage, but his peers in the scientific community are rolling their eyes... (MORE missing details)

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