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Why the UFO Community Must Step Up Its Game

Arguably, two of the greatest problems inherent to the field of Ufology today are that approaches to studying UFOs are 1) not keeping up with available technology and 2) are perhaps, at times, being influenced negatively by technology more so than in ages past. I’ll expound further on precisely what I mean by this in a moment, but first I must pose the very necessary question: will the serious study of UFOs continue to live up to the challenges of our rate of technological growth, or will the study of more advanced intelligence than our own become hindered by these advancements?

Bearing this issue in mind, I must say that seldom after reading many UFO blogs do I want to jump up and say, “Finally, somebody seems to get it!” But today, I admit to feeling a bit refreshed, in that there is someone who has seemingly called the present field of Ufology on the carpet, in addition to acknowledging that technology is not being properly employed in this failing effort toward the furtherance of UFO studies. This alone may not shake UFO research to its core, nor will it beckon saucers toward the ground from their lofty sky-born pinnacles of imagination where they continue to reside today; but changes in attitudes, I think, might still aid us in naming the problems inherent to this field, and ultimately, helping us move forward feeling (and acting) a bit wiser.

“I have some serious concerns,” were the words that appeared over at The Big Study, a blog dealing with ufological matters penned by one calling himself “The Professor”:

There are ways to adjust to this of course, but they all require civilian researchers to step up their games significantly, and create very strong and investigatively efficient linkages to the sites which are brainlessly accumulating the unprocessed data. If that doesn’t happen, UFO research [with one exception] is over. The one exception will be historical research — old cases/ old FOIAs newly released etc. The same thing would be true for hauntings, poltergeists, bigfoot, faerie, Fortean Falls, black dogs, etc etc etc. In every one of these types of spectacular event anomalies, the mere typing into a collecting site which is a dead end will ultimately result in the complete reduction of the anomaly to shallow entertainment in everyone’s mind, and the anomalies will sink to the status of imaginary computer games. The UFO research community MUST STEP UP IT’S GAME!!!

Well said… and while for some it may come across as seeming a bit dramatic, the above statement inspires a number of questions about the current state of UFO research… questions which, routinely, I also find myself being attacked for even proposing for serious discussion (though I do so anyway… also in routine fashion).

A poorly made fake ufo made from a bin. You can even see the strings!

A poorly made fake ufo made from a bin. You can even see the strings!

Few would argue that the realistic capacity of computer generated imagery (just as we see already in “imaginary computer games”) has progressed to a point where, at times, it can be very difficult to tell “real” from “fake.” This has certainly been influential in terms of the study of UFOs, since rather than dangling hub caps from fishing line out in a Swedish field someplace, hucksters nowadays are more apt to render their illusions utilizing CGI technologies. With the levels of realism already what they are today, it can be difficult, to say the least, when one hopes to utilize any kind of photographic or video evidence in an effort to bolster the view that UFOs exist. This isn’t to say, as I’ve already touched on, that UFOs couldn’t have been hoaxed three four decades ago using film, but simply that efforts toward creating realistic-looking fakes have become far more accessible, and less easy to determine from “the real thing.”

Amazing computer generated UFO footage

Amazing computer generated UFO footage

Which begins to lead to more troubling questions, such as what, precisely, IS “the real thing,” anyway? Is there such a thing anymore? While most would say that, without any question, of course there are real UFOs that people witness from time to time, the serious UFO researcher also knows that the mere testimony of any individual claiming to see an unidentified aircraft is nearly worthless. Stories about UFO sightings are to be found just about anywhere these days, but they cannot, by themselves, do much in terms of furthering our effort to “prove” whether UFOs do exist.

Hence our present conundrum: the majority of the basis for UFO studies today involves collected eyewitness reports that, by themselves, do little in terms of “proving” anything. While some would still argue that the preponderance of similar reports must stand for something (and I think that they do, in fact, bear some merit), the collected body of UFO reports, compiled by various agencies since the early 1950s, still do little on their own in terms steering us toward a reasonable explanation for the UFO phenomenon. We’re just about as “in the dark” as we’ve ever been, and we’re still attached to the same preconceptions we’ve held as “facts” for decades now.

Obviously, there are things that can be done in terms of furthering our knowledge, rather than simply continuing to mindlessly “study” UFOs. However, as the Professor points out here, these things really aren’t being done. For some time, I’ve spoken about the necessity for “very strong and investigatively efficient linkages to the sites which are brainlessly accumulating the unprocessed data,” since to my way of thinking, compiling and rehashing UFO reports doesn’t do enough on its own.

The UFO SingularityHence my amazement when, after the release of my book The UFO Singularity, I found that many people considered the book to be “a rehashing of old cases” because I took time to examine the implications of statements and observations made by researchers like Jacques Vallee, Whitley Strieber, and several others over the years. The two names I’ve mentioned here, if anything, are fine (perhaps among the best) examples of individuals who have offered insights in the past, and not just “mindless” reporting on the UFO subject… the need for processing the data we have, and not just adding more and more useless information to our existing databases and entry systems, has become quite dire.

And yet, when we talk about “the next big UFO book,” nobody wants anything that really seeks to understand the phenomenon. Instead, people seem to want what amount to being “campfire stories” that will intrigue them a bit, and of course, which can also be passed off as “new material,” whether or not such stories really do anything to further our understanding of the UFO enigma at its core.

So will technology really continue to improve our ability to study UFOs, or will it only present more problems? Or, should we consider whether the “problems” we’re facing are actually more the result of shortcomings in the research community, and a lack of knowledge (or interest) in using technologies that will actually help us move forward?

If I had to guess, I would remain optimistic, and while I think we’ll eventually “get there,” we may be experiencing a bit of a ufological “lull” right now nonetheless…

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  • http://twitter.com/FalseParadigm FalseParadigm

    Even though my knowledge of the UFO field is limited, I believe I wouldn’t be making such a drastic claim to suggest that the UFO field lacks a methodological core, or even sufficient discussion about how exactly one goes about studying the phenomena. Accepted methodological boundaries are central to any discipline, and though I understand some might be offended at the thought of creating these boundaries, I would suggest that these boundaries are a must if the field is to have any form of credibility. It is from this position one can move forward, because those methodological boundaries will narrow what can be studied. The field must be specific in its goals, and what it exactly it hopes to investigate and ultimately understand. I remember reading that Jacques Vallee established a classification system of different UFO experiences. This was a step in the right direction. It established a clear frame of reference and some boundaries about the area of study.

    But as Micah points out, the current trend is ‘campfire stories’; great to listen to on a cold winter night but ultimately fail to engage with the phenomena in a rigorous manner.

  • http://dailygrail.com/ Red Pill Junkie

    The problem is that different people are drawn to these phenomena for different reasons, and hence opinions vary on what should be the main focus of the field.

    Some people are interested in the hardware aspect, the way the big organizations used to in the 50s & 60s, so they focused on close encounters of the 2nd kind –burn marks on the ground, trace evidence & what-have-you– to see if they could learn something about the physics that govern the propulsion of these (supposed) craft. But that kind of research requires lab facilities & resources.

    Other people on the other hand, are drawn to the transformational effect the phenomenon has on the witnesses. How it affects their worldview, physiological, psychological (and even psychic) condition over time. This I think is something the field has neglected, and could be easily explored with modern meta-data techniques when combined with modern social networks. If we have over 50 years of reports gathering dust on cabinet files, can we use them to track down witnesses, to see if they still stand by their original report & also analyze how their experience affected their lives as the years progressed.

    The other day I read how some organization had drawn a table based on the most common porn searches according to different geographical regions. As fascinating as that might be –MILFs are going strong in the USA!– maybe UFO organizations could take a hint, and hire a couple of computer analysts to do some data crunching :P

  • EnderWiggin

    I agree completely. I used the hardware as an example but if we were smart about how we use the data there is a whole multitude of legitimate research fields just waiting to be tested. :)

  • Mrs. Eccentric

    Hello RPJ! Exactly and very well put. Nowadays ‘hard science’ is considered to be the king of knowledge, due to many amazing advances made by such in the last 150 years or so, plus our dominant cultures focus on many things and moneymoneymoney. Thus many of the prominent ufo researchers call for a focus on ‘more science’ in the study of ufos. But, as you point out, that takes a lot of resources which are difficult for the average person to obtain. Additionally, the ideal conditions for scientific study involve reproducibility and control of all variables……the ufo experience is notorious for spitting in the eye of these requirements, and modern day physics, with it’s various atom-splitters, shows how astronomically expensive such study is.

    However, there exist many other respectable fields of intellectual study which require much less in the way of money and physical resources. History, sociology, and cultural anthropology all have venerable traditions with intellectual constructs enabling researchers to look at incomplete, unreliable anecdotal reports in a productive manner. Even better, these studies address the questions of meaning which many people find most compelling about these phenomena.

    As EnderWiggin points out, we have a huge amount of material which has yet to be analyzed at the most basic level. “…, why not spend more resource on a large cooperative venture to actually
    come up with an answer to something via scientific methodology.” Or even to build a large database amenable to questioning by many different disciplines? ?Your point addresses another problem i see, which is various actors obtaining large numbers of reports and then disappearing them. (Bigelow and Project Core are two recent examples…..as i understand it, ‘responsible researchers’ will be able to look at the Project Core data if approved by Ritzmann et al. But not the hoi polloi. Why the submission form could not have included a permission for publication and /or some provision for anonomyzing (sp?) reports, i do not know. I did suggest this to the Project Core designers but received no response.)

    The easier we make it for interested amateurs to mull over large amounts of data, the more likely we’ll find those ‘new questions’ we so desperately need. steph

  • Mauricio Ximenez

    Amazing OVNI video, take a look at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RzAX8A6CCMM

  • Alison A. Kruse

    Sorry, but UFO research cannot progress until those WHO PROFIT off of reporting UFO sightings online, etc., SHARE THE PROFITS to buy the proper scientific equipment necessary to STUDY UFOs that are regularly appearing in many areas worldwide frequently enough to do so. HORIBA has the spectrometer equipment used by NASA so is quality, but at costs of $20,000+ along with Geiger counters, remote sensing EMF detectors with remote filming traps triggered by EMF spikes that all cost too much for non-profit in-field researchers such as myself (who has spent over $22,000 already) to spring for it and is expected to share it all online for free so that websites can PROFIT by showcasing the resulting captures — it’s not gonna happen any time soon. Take Open Minds, for example. They’ve made enough to buy a $120,000 Mercedes-powered RV & expensive Apple computers/studio, Humvee-type vehicle by simply covering others’ hard work documenting UFOs. TIME TO GIVE BACK AND HELP THE FIELD RESEARCHER FOLKS. THIS is primary reason many of us in-field researchers have STOPPED POSTING evidence obtained lately. Support our efforts by donating the proper scientific equipment (like Hessdalen) and personal risks to obtain it, and we’ll start sharing again and actually be able to provide more than just visual evidence… We’ll have details/clues to their technology.

  • J.Griffin

    “Proof” is for math.

    Nothing can ever be “proven” to those in egocentric bondage.

    Those in denial about ANYTHING will smugly sit back and argue with anyone-
    in their minds,
    it just reinforces their position.

    My senile Father is quite a example of this.

    A geologist by trade,
    he has been hard-headed all his life…

    He will now argue anything with anyone,
    regardless of facts or testimony.

    I do not consider this progress.

    Those who want to live in a world that bows and relents to their preferences
    are living a fantasy.

    In the 1800′s,
    many doctors did not believe in germs.

    Even when they were shown germs in microscopes,
    many refused to believe that they could possibly be dangerous….
    after all,they were so SMALL!

    I am simply saying that we overestimate our perceptions&achievement and that is leading us into the “stagnant quo” of the blindness of hubris,
    which the Greeks largely considered to be the greatest and most dangerous
    moral failure that humans are capable of.

    Ufos and paranormal research are the least of our concerns-
    the abuse of science has brought our society to the brink of destruction/collapse
    and people just want more.

    I work with advanced science and
    I have no problem with science or religion-
    it is the similar abuses that plague both realms
    by the same type of greedy,ruthless people:
    THAT concerns me.

    What will the scientists say if the ufo-nauts point the finger at them and say
    “We are here to clean up YOUR mess and prevent you from destroying yourselves!”

    This could cause as much loss of faith in science
    as people seem so prone to assume will happen to religions….

    Research:
    “Scientism”

    Even the Skeptics’ Dictionary points out that scientism self-invalidates
    as a belief system.

    I would have to say that most “scientists” can’t even tell you what “scientism” is!

    The word scientist comes directly from scientism-
    it only stems INDIRECTLY from science.

    The two are NOT the same-
    Scientism is,ironically,unscientific.

    Study this objectively and draw your own conclusions.

    I am busy with my own research and I post for relaxation….
    Arguing with trolls is not relaxing.

    I usually don’t respond to replies,
    be they pro or con.

    Have whatever kind of day you want to!