Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D. (Folklorist)
1.3 – The Visitors (4.27.10)
1.4 – The Mission (5.4.10)
2.7 – Angels & Aliens (12.9.10)
2.9 – Alien Devastations (12.23.10)
6.15 – Faces of the Gods (7.11.14)
Thomas Eddie Bullard was born in North Carolina in 1949 and took an early interest in flying saucers after watching 1950s science-fiction movies. In 1957 he divided his interest between Sputnik and news about the Levelland sightings, and soon began to read everything about UFOs he could find, notably Donald Keyhoe’s books, Richard Hall’s The UFO Evidence, Fate magazine, and Ray Palmer’s Flying Saucers. In the 1960s he joined NICAP and APRO.
He attended the University of North Carolina as an undergraduate and Indiana University for graduate school, where he received his doctorate degree in Folklore in 1982, writing his dissertation on UFOs.
His doctoral research included searching numerous newspapers for accounts of the 1896-97 airships and other pre-1947 sightings. In 1982 he compiled a volume of these reports, entitled “The Airship File,” and published his first article in ufology in FSR, describing an airship wave in Russian Poland during 1892. He continued this UFO “prehistory” research by traveling to newspaper archives around the country, and has now begun to digitize his collection, in preparation to writing a book on the 1896-97 wave.
The Fund for UFO Research proposed a project to catalogue and carry out a study of UFO abduction reports around 1982 and he took on the job. Completed in 1987, the result was titled UFO Abductions-The Measure of a Mystery. It covered the 300 or so reports available in the literature by the mid-1980s, and comparative study revealed that reliable reports shared numerous details of sequence and content.
Bullard followed this study with articles published in the Journal of American Folklore, Journal of UFO Studies, IUR, the MUFON UFO Journal, and the 1999 MUFON UFO Symposium. Much of the argument points out that a surprising consistency characterizes abduction reports, whereas folk narratives, urban legends, and products of fantasy display fluid variations as narrators readily exploit the creative potential that fantastic subject matter has to offer.
He contributed several articles to the Abduction Study Conference held at MIT in 1992. One article treated a comparison of abduction investigators’ findings and he later expanded this study into The Sympathetic Ear, published by the Fund for UFO Research in 1995.
His continued interest in historical and cultural aspects of UFOs led to an article in UFOs and Abductions, edited by David M. Jacobs and published by the University Press of Kansas in 2000. Further work on these themes became a full book, The Myth and Mystery of UFOs, also published by the University Press of Kansas, in 2010. 
When United Airlines workers reported a UFO at O’Hare Airport in November 2006, it was met with the typical denials and hush-up that usually accompany such sightings. But when a related story broke the record for hits at the Chicago Tribune’s website, it was clear that such unexplained objects continued to occupy the minds of fascinated readers. Why, wonders Thomas Bullard, don’t such persistent sightings command more urgent attention from scientists, scholars, and mainstream journalists?
The answer, in part, lies in Bullard’s wide-ranging magisterial survey of the mysterious, frustrating, and ever-evolving phenomenon that refuses to go away and our collective efforts to understand it. In his trailblazing book, Bullard views those efforts through the lens of mythmaking, discovering what UFO accounts tell us about ourselves, our beliefs, and the possibility of visitors from beyond.
Bullard shows how ongoing grassroots interest in UFOs stems both from actual personal experiences and from a cultural mythology that defines such encounters as somehow “alien”—and how it views relentless official denial as a part of conspiracy to hide the truth. He also describes how UFOs have catalyzed the evolution of a new but highly fractured belief system that borrows heavily from the human past and mythic themes and which UFO witnesses and researchers use to make sense of such phenomena and our place in the cosmos.
Bullard’s book takes in the whole spectrum of speculations on alien visitations and abductions, magically advanced technologies, governmental conspiracies, varieties of religious salvation, apocalyptic fears, and other paranormal experiences. Along the way, Bullard investigates how UFOs have inspired books, movies, and television series; blurred the boundaries between science, science fiction, and religion; and crowded the Internet with websites and discussion groups. From the patches of this crazy quilt, he posits evidence that a genuine phenomenon seems to exist outside the myth.
Enormously erudite and endlessly engaging, Bullard’s study is a sky watcher’s guide to the studies, stories, and debates that this elusive subject has inspired. It shows that, despite all the competing interests and errors clouding the subject, there is substance beneath the clutter, a genuinely mysterious phenomenon that deserves attention as more than a myth.