The Guardian had this headline recently: UFO studies should be 'legitimate university subject', claims American professor. Well, first of all, Hellllo!! I have been teaching Aliens: Close Encounters of a Multidisciplinary Kind at Hampshire for the past couple of years (pdf syllabus here). We look at the history of UFO and alien abduction claims, look at psychology of human perception and the fickle nature of our memories, scientific search for life in the universe, and the social and cultural context of UFO-based religions. And I think all of these are still in the broad umbrella of "legitimate". But no love from the Guardian. Oh - wait. But this American Professor that the Guardian found is an anthropologist who seems to think that UFOs might be, or are, actual spaceships from other planets. Hmm...the evidence regarding that is a wee bit thin. On the contrary, evidence for the belief in UFOs is quite real, and that can be the source for a "legitimate" university subject. But to make it into the Guardian, I may have to crazify my course a bit more ;)
While we are on the subject, here is Jill Tartar's TED talk from last year. However, it was posted on CNN today alongside her article. If you are familiar with SETI, then you won't find anything specifically new in here. However, I liked her strong insistence on letting go of our species-specific ego and, what it would mean to us as humans, to look into an alien eye (of course, assuming that the evolution of our contactee aliens have also resulted in an organ for visual perception. Reasonable guess - but who knows). Much of this is in between 9 and 13 minutes of this 20min talk. Enjoy!