Without assessing any of the truth claims of Ufology’s practitioners, Pasulka argues that technology and media have had such an influence over the masses when it comes to the experience and interpretation of phenomena that they are slowly replacing traditional religious practice ... a superb investigation into the birth and rise of a new religion.
Much of American Cosmic deals in fascinating detail with that formation [of religious zeal toward UFOs] ... The main problem with such a diplomatic double approach [between interesting the author’s fellow students of religious history as well as the many various members of that new religion] is that only one half of it is based in reality, and that fact is often blurry in American Cosmic ... There is not one shred of actual scientific evidence for any of [the] presumptions [of UFO believers]. Pasulka is being friendly and diplomatic in her field research, yes, but she’s being friendly and diplomatic about people who are deeply, ingrainedly delusional.
One can imagine a book about the so-called Invisible College that meaningfully examines the role of Silicon Valley in producing and sustaining batshit belief systems, but it is precisely this examination that American Cosmic lacks. And yet, however unintentionally, Pasulka’s book does clarify some of the depressing ironies of living in a world shaped by Big Tech ... We languish in the digital panopticon while the people who built it plot deliverance from their own mortality by uploading their consciousnesses into the Cloud, doomsday prepping their New Zealand bunkers, or communing with extraterrestrials. All the rest of us can do, perhaps, is wait to be abducted, and pray that whatever takes us believes we’re worth saving.