Speaking to Sputnik about his paper, the professor explained that the American public's interest in UFOs was very much a product of the Cold War atmosphere in which it was born.
As Eghigian dug through the archives, especially ufology's early years, from the late 40s through the 60s, "what I kept seeing was kind of a red thread throughout most narratives where all these symbols, concerns and anxieties, and also enthusiasms, associated with Cold War issues – nuclear war, fears of nuclear holocaust, anxieties about new technologies of surveillance in the skies – these kinds of things [kept appearing]."
"Once I saw that, I saw this sort of playing out consistently through the 60s, the 70s and 80s. And then finally, when I started to do some investigation into the extent to which the phenomenon had perhaps died down…it does seem to me that there was good reason to suppose that the end of the Cold War might help explain why the phenomenon has died down in the mass media and among the public at large."
"It seems to me that the history of ufology offers a kind of interesting insight –an example of something that preceded a lot of these things," and something which, unlike many of the science denial and conspiracy theories of today, was a grass roots movement, one which "wasn't really being led by the nose by any major commercial interests, outside maybe some media outlets."
The main factor encouraging ufology, according to Eghigian, was secrecy, "I think it was the sense that government did not tend to like to share information with enthusiasts; scientists for most of the history of ufology sort of had an attitude that 'we aren't going to entertain and talk about this kind of stuff'. And I think that secrecy, that opaqueness, that lack of transparency helped to feed speculation and lead a lot of these enthusiasts into really constantly having to turn to themselves."
Today, that sort of thing is "something that seems a distant kind of fear and anxiety." Even with tensions between the nuclear superpowers once again on the rise, Eghigian says that it is doubtful that ufology might come back into the mainstream. "I do not see this phenomenon, and whatever residue is left of, it feeding anything along those particular lines, no," the professor concluded.