(Investigator 13, 1990 July)

Skeptic Allan Lang expects silliness and nuttiness to reach new and spectacular levels in the 1990s.

This is because many religions predict doomsday by 2000 and are thereby adding their weight to the avalanche of nonsense now coming from the New Agers.

Writing in The Southern Skeptic in March Mr Lang noted, "The trends also appear to be getting wilder."

In the case of UFOs the sightings of the 1940s were followed by "contactees" of the 1950s, "abductees" of the 1960s and "interferees" of the 1980s.

"Interferees" are alleged aliens from Space who supposedly perform surgery on humans they kidnap.

Lang bases his prediction for the 1990s on an analysis of trends and cycles". He says, "fringe literature occurs in a 20 year cycle" and, "interest in all types of nonsense...tends to peak at the same time".

The cycle that Lang perceives has risen and fallen twice since World War II as follows:

Society Receptive Years of
Interest Declines Sanity Restored
1945-1950 1951-1955 1956-1960 1961-1965
1965-1969 1970-1976 1977-1982 1983-1985
1986-1989 1990s    

Lang bases his cycles on an analysis of the number of authors writing books on particular nonsense topics in each year.

Most of the evidence can be summarized as follows:

Nonsense Topics Authors Books Published Number of Books in Peak Years
Ancient Astronauts
71 1969 – 4; 1970 – 10;
1974 – 11;1977 – 12
Lake Monsters
53 1930-1938 – 6;
1971-1980 – 28 
Noah’s Ark
17 1955-1956 – 2;
1972-1978 – 12 
27 1951-1957 – 6; 
1980-1984 – 11
Bermuda Triangle
  All in the 1970s
Lang did not use comprehensive listings of books but relied on a haphazard examination of bibliographies and bookshops.

Books on the Shroud did not quite follow the expected trend because of "the activities of the Shroud of Turin Research Project" explained Lang.

The "Face on Mars" craze of 1986 showed that society was entering the "receptive" phase again. Lang laments that in February of 1990 a local New Age shop had in stock: "17 different books on crystals."