Ufos Reality Or Fantasy Essay

For other uses, see Unidentified flying object (disambiguation).

"UFO" redirects here. For other uses, see UFO (disambiguation).

"ufo" redirects here. For the genus of gall-wasps, see Ufo (genus).

An unidentified flying object or UFO, is defined as a perceived object in the sky, not identifiable by standard criteria. Most UFOs are later identified as conventional objects or phenomena. The term is widely used for claimed observations of extraterrestrial craft.

Terminology

The term "UFO" (or "UFOB") was coined in 1953 by the United States Air Force (USAF) to serve as a catch-all for all such reports. In its initial definition, the USAF stated that a "UFOB" was "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." Accordingly, the term was initially restricted to that fraction of cases which remained unidentified after investigation, as the USAF was interested in potential national security reasons and/or "technical aspects" (see Air Force Regulation 200-2).

During the late 1940s and through the 1950s, UFOs were often referred to popularly as "flying saucers" or "flying discs". The term UFO became more widespread during the 1950s, at first in technical literature, but later in popular use. UFOs garnered considerable interest during the Cold War, an era associated with a heightened concern for national security, and, more recently, in the 2010s, for unexplained reasons.[1][2] Nevertheless, various studies have concluded that the phenomenon does not represent a threat to national security, nor does it contain anything worthy of scientific pursuit (e.g., 1951 Flying Saucer Working Party, 1953 CIARobertson Panel, USAF Project Blue Book, Condon Committee).

The Oxford English Dictionary defines a UFO as "An unidentified flying object; a 'flying saucer'." The first published book to use the word was authored by Donald E. Keyhoe.[3]

The acronym "UFO" was coined by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, who headed Project Blue Book, then the USAF's official investigation of UFOs. He wrote, "Obviously the term 'flying saucer' is misleading when applied to objects of every conceivable shape and performance. For this reason the military prefers the more general, if less colorful, name: unidentified flying objects. UFO (pronounced Yoo-foe) for short."[4] Other phrases that were used officially and that predate the UFO acronym include "flying flapjack", "flying disc", "unexplained flying discs", and "unidentifiable object".[5][6][7]

The phrase "flying saucer" had gained widespread attention after the summer of 1947. On June 24, a civilian pilot named Kenneth Arnold reported seeing nine objects flying in formation near Mount Rainier. Arnold timed the sighting and estimated the speed of discs to be over 1,200 mph (1,931 km/h). At the time, he claimed he described the objects flying in a saucer-like fashion, leading to newspaper accounts of "flying saucers" and "flying discs".[8][9]

In popular usage, the term UFO came to be used to refer to claims of alien spacecraft.[3] and because of the public and media ridicule associated with the topic, some ufologists and investigators prefer to use terms such as "unidentified aerial phenomenon" (UAP) or "anomalous phenomena", as in the title of the National Aviation Reporting Center on Anomalous Phenomena (NARCAP).[10] "Anomalous aerial vehicle" (AAV) or "unidentified aerial system" (UAS) are also sometimes used in a military aviation context to describe unidentified targets.[11]

Studies

Studies have established that the majority of UFO observations are misidentified conventional objects or natural phenomena—most commonly aircraft, balloons, noctilucent clouds, nacreous clouds, or astronomical objects such as meteors or bright planets with a small percentage even being hoaxes.[note 1] Between 5% and 20% of reported sightings are not explained, and therefore can be classified as unidentified in the strictest sense. While proponents of the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) suggest that these unexplained reports are of alien spacecraft, the null hypothesis cannot be excluded that these reports are simply other more prosaic phenomena that cannot be identified due to lack of complete information or due to the necessary subjectivity of the reports.

While UFOs have been the subject of extensive investigation by various governments and although a few scientists have supported the extraterrestrial hypothesis, almost no scientific papers about UFOs have been published in peer-reviewed journals.[12] There was, in the past, some debate in the scientific community about whether any scientific investigation into UFO sightings is warranted with the general conclusion being that the phenomenon was not worthy of serious investigation except as a cultural artifact.[13][14][15][16][17][18][19]

The void left by the lack of institutional scientific study has given rise to independent researchers and groups, including the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in the mid-20th century and, more recently, the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON)[20] and the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS).[21] The term "Ufology" is used to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects.[22]

UFOs have become a prevalent theme in modern culture,[23] and the social phenomena have been the subject of academic research in sociology and psychology.[12]

Early history

Unexplained aerial observations have been reported throughout history. Some were undoubtedly astronomical in nature: comets, bright meteors, one or more of the five planets that can be seen with the naked eye, planetary conjunctions, or atmospheric optical phenomena such as parhelia and lenticular clouds. An example is Halley's Comet, which was recorded first by Chinese astronomers in 240 BC and possibly as early as 467 BC. Such sightings throughout history often were treated as supernatural portents, angels, or other religious omens. Some current-day UFO researchers have noticed similarities between some religious symbols in medieval paintings and UFO reports[24] though the canonical and symbolic character of such images is documented by art historians placing more conventional religious interpretations on such images.[25]

  • On April 14, 1561, residents of Nuremberg described the appearance of a large black triangular object. According to witnesses, there were also hundreds of spheres, cylinders and other odd-shaped objects that moved erratically overhead.[26]
  • On January 25, 1878, the Denison Daily News printed an article in which John Martin, a local farmer, had reported seeing a large, dark, circular object resembling a balloon flying "at wonderful speed." Martin, according to the newspaper account, said it appeared to be about the size of a saucer, the first known use of the word "saucer" in association with a UFO.[27]
  • In April 1897, thousands of people reported seeing "airships" in various parts of the United States. Many signed affidavits. Scores of people even reported talking to the pilots. Thomas Edison was asked his opinion, and said, "You can take it from me that it is a pure fake."[28][29]
  • On February 28, 1904, there was a sighting by three crew members on the USS Supply 300 miles (483 km) west of San Francisco, reported by Lieutenant Frank Schofield, later to become Commander-in-Chief of the Pacific Battle Fleet. Schofield wrote of three bright red egg-shaped and circular objects flying in echelon formation that approached beneath the cloud layer, then changed course and "soared" above the clouds, departing directly away from the earth after two to three minutes. The largest had an apparent size of about six Suns, he said.[30][31]
  • The three earliest known pilot UFO sightings, of 1,305 similar sightings catalogued by NARCAP, took place in 1916 and 1926. On January 31, 1916, a UK pilot near Rochford reported a row of lights, resembling lighted windows on a railway carriage, that rose and disappeared. In January 1926 a pilot reported six "flying manhole covers" between Wichita, Kansas, and Colorado Springs, Colorado. In late September 1926 an airmail pilot over Nevada said he had been forced to land by a huge, wingless, cylindrical object.[32]
  • On August 5, 1926, while traveling in the Humboldt Mountains of Tibet's Kokonor region, Russian explorer Nicholas Roerich reported, members of his expedition saw "something big and shiny reflecting the sun, like a huge oval moving at great speed. Crossing our camp the thing changed in its direction from south to southwest. And we saw how it disappeared in the intense blue sky. We even had time to take our field glasses and saw quite distinctly an oval form with shiny surface, one side of which was brilliant from the sun."[33] Another description by Roerich was of a "shiny body flying from north to south. Field glasses are at hand. It is a huge body. One side glows in the sun. It is oval in shape. Then it somehow turns in another direction and disappears in the southwest."[34]
  • In the Pacific and European theatres during World War II, "foo fighters" (metallic spheres, balls of light and other shapes that followed aircraft) were reported and on occasion photographed by Allied and Axis pilots. Some proposed Allied explanations at the time included St. Elmo's fire, the planet Venus, hallucinations from oxygen deprivation, or German secret weapons.[35][36]
  • In 1946, more than 2,000 reports were collected, primarily by the Swedish military, of unidentified aerial objects over the Scandinavian nations, along with isolated reports from France, Portugal, Italy and Greece. The objects were referred to as "Russian hail" and later as "ghost rockets" because it was thought that the mysterious objects were possibly Russian tests of captured German V1 or V2rockets. Although most were thought to be such natural phenomena as meteors, more than 200 were tracked on radar by the Swedish military and deemed to be "real physical objects." In a 1948 top secret document, Swedish authorities advised the USAF Europe that some of their investigators believed these craft to be extraterrestrial in origin.[37]

Investigations

UFOs have been subject to investigations over the years that varied widely in scope and scientific rigor. Governments or independent academics in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Japan, Peru, France, Belgium, Sweden, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Mexico, Spain, and the Soviet Union are known to have investigated UFO reports at various times.

Among the best known government studies are the ghost rockets investigation by the Swedish military (1946–1947), Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the USAF from 1947 until 1969, the secret U.S. Army/Air Force Project Twinkle investigation into green fireballs (1948–1951), the secret USAF Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14[38] by the Battelle Memorial Institute, and the Brazilian Air Force's 1977 Operação Prato (Operation Saucer). France has had an ongoing investigation (GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN) within its space agency Centre national d'études spatiales (CNES) since 1977; the government of Uruguay has had a similar investigation since 1989.

Project Sign

Main article: Project Sign

Project Sign in 1948 produced a highly classified finding (see Estimate of the Situation) that the best UFO reports probably had an extraterrestrial explanation. A top secret Swedish military opinion given to the USAF in 1948 stated that some of their analysts believed that the 1946 ghost rockets and later flying saucers had extraterrestrial origins. (For document, see Ghost rockets.) In 1954 German rocket scientist Hermann Oberth revealed that an internal West German government investigation, which he headed, had arrived at an extraterrestrial conclusion, but this study was never made public.

Project Grudge

Main article: Project Grudge

Project Sign was dismantled and became Project Grudge at the end of 1948. Angered by the low quality of investigations by Grudge, the Air Force Director of Intelligence reorganized it as Project Blue Book in late 1951, placing Ruppelt in charge. Blue Book closed down in 1970, using the Condon Committee's negative conclusion as a rationale, thus ending official Air Force UFO investigations. However, a 1969 USAF document, known as the Bolender memo, along with later government documents, revealed that non-public U.S. government UFO investigations continued after 1970. The Bolender memo first stated that "reports of unidentified flying objects that could affect national security ... are not part of the Blue Book system," indicating that more serious UFO incidents already were handled outside the public Blue Book investigation. The memo then added, "reports of UFOs which could affect national security would continue to be handled through the standard Air Force procedures designed for this purpose."[note 2] In addition, in the late 1960s a chapter on UFOs in the Space Sciences course at the U.S. Air Force Academy gave serious consideration to possible extraterrestrial origins. When word of the curriculum became public, the Air Force in 1970 issued a statement to the effect that the book was outdated and that cadets instead were being informed of the Condon Report's negative conclusion.[39]

USAF Regulation 200-2

Air Force Regulation 200-2,[40] issued in 1953 and 1954, defined an Unidentified Flying Object ("UFOB") as "any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type, or which cannot be positively identified as a familiar object." The regulation also said UFOBs were to be investigated as a "possible threat to the security of the United States" and "to determine technical aspects involved." The regulation went on to say that "it is permissible to inform news media representatives on UFOB's when the object is positively identified as a familiar object," but added: "For those objects which are not explainable, only the fact that ATIC [Air Technical Intelligence Center] will analyze the data is worthy of release, due to many unknowns involved."[40]

Project Blue Book

Main article: Project Blue Book

J. Allen Hynek, a trained astronomer who served as a scientific advisor for Project Blue Book, was initially skeptical of UFO reports, but eventually came to the conclusion that many of them could not be satisfactorily explained and was highly critical of what he described as "the cavalier disregard by Project Blue Book of the principles of scientific investigation."[41] Leaving government work, he founded the privately funded CUFOS, to whose work he devoted the rest of his life. Other private groups studying the phenomenon include the MUFON, a grass roots organization whose investigator's handbooks go into great detail on the documentation of alleged UFO sightings.

Like Hynek, Jacques Vallée, a scientist and prominent UFO researcher, has pointed to what he believes is the scientific deficiency of most UFO research, including government studies. He complains of the mythology and cultism often associated with the phenomenon, but alleges that several hundred professional scientists—a group both he and Hynek have termed "the invisible college"—continue to study UFOs in private.[23]

Scientific studies

The study of UFOs has received little support in mainstream scientific literature. Official studies ended in the U.S. in December 1969, following the statement by the government scientist Edward Condon that further study of UFOs could not be justified on grounds of scientific advancement.[15][42] The Condon Report and its conclusions were endorsed by the National Academy of Scientists, of which Condon was a member. On the other hand, a scientific review by the UFO subcommittee of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) disagreed with Condon's conclusion, noting that at least 30 percent of the cases studied remained unexplained and that scientific benefit might be gained by continued study.

Critics argue that all UFO evidence is anecdotal[43] and can be explained as prosaic natural phenomena. Defenders of UFO research counter that knowledge of observational data, other than what is reported in the popular media, is limited in the scientific community and that further study is needed.[23][44]

No official government investigation has ever publicly concluded that UFOs are indisputably real, physical objects, extraterrestrial in origin, or of concern to national defense. These same negative conclusions also have been found in studies that were highly classified for many years, such as the UK's Flying Saucer Working Party, Project Condign, the U.S. CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel, the U.S. military investigation into the green fireballs from 1948 to 1951, and the Battelle Memorial Institute study for the USAF from 1952 to 1955 (Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14).

Some public government reports have acknowledged the possibility of physical reality of UFOs, but have stopped short of proposing extraterrestrial origins, though not dismissing the possibility entirely. Examples are the Belgian military investigation into large triangles over their airspace in 1989–1991 and the 2009 Uruguayan Air Force study conclusion (see below).

Some private studies have been neutral in their conclusions, but argued that the inexplicable core cases call for continued scientific study. Examples are the Sturrock panel study of 1998 and the 1970 AIAA review of the Condon Report.

United States

U.S. investigations into UFOs include:

  • The Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit (IPU), established by the U.S. Army sometime in the 1940s, and about which little is known. In 1987, British UFO researcher Timothy Good received from the Army's director of counter-intelligence a letter confirming the existence of the IPU. The letter stated that "the aforementioned Army unit was disestablished during the late 1950s and never reactivated. All records pertaining to this unit were surrendered to the U.S. Air Force Office of Special Investigations in conjunction with operation BLUEBOOK." The IPU records have never been released.[45]
  • Project Blue Book, previously Project Sign and Project Grudge, conducted by the USAF from 1947 until 1969
  • The secret U.S. Army/Air Force Project Twinkle investigation into green fireballs (1948–1951)
  • Ghost rockets investigations by the Swedish, UK, U.S., and Greek militaries (1946–1947)
  • The secret CIA Office of Scientific Investigation (OS/I) study (1952–53)
  • The secret CIA Robertson Panel (1953)
  • The secret USAF Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 by the Battelle Memorial Institute (1951–1954)
  • The Brookings Report (1960), commissioned by NASA
  • The public Condon Committee (1966–1968)
  • The private, internal RAND Corporation study (1968)[46]
  • The private Sturrock panel (1998)
  • The secret Advanced Aviation Threat Identification Program which was funded from 2007 to 2012.[47]

Thousands of documents released under FOIA also indicate that many U.S. intelligence agencies collected (and still collect) information on UFOs. These agencies include the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), FBI,[7] CIA, National Security Agency (NSA), as well as military intelligence agencies of the Army and U.S. Navy, in addition to the Air Force.[note 3]

The investigation of UFOs has also attracted many civilians, who in the U.S formed research groups such as NICAP (active 1956–1980), Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) (active 1952–1988), MUFON (active 1969–), and CUFOS (active 1973–).

In November 2011, the White House released an official response to two petitions asking the U.S. government to acknowledge formally that aliens have visited this planet and to disclose any intentional withholding of government interactions with extraterrestrial beings. According to the response, "The U.S. government has no evidence that any life exists outside our planet, or that an extraterrestrial presence has contacted or engaged any member of the human race."[48][49] Also, according to the response, there is "no credible information to suggest that any evidence is being hidden from the public's eye."[48][49] The response further noted that efforts, like SETI and NASA's Kepler space telescope and Mars Science Laboratory, continue looking for signs of life. The response noted "odds are pretty high" that there may be life on other planets but "the odds of us making contact with any of them—especially any intelligent ones—are extremely small, given the distances involved."[48][49]

Post-1947 sightings

Following the large U.S. surge in sightings in June and early July 1947, on July 9, 1947, United States Army Air Forces (USAAF) intelligence, in cooperation with the FBI,[7] began a formal investigation into selected sightings with characteristics that could not be immediately rationalized, such as Kenneth Arnold's. The USAAF used "all of its top scientists" to determine whether "such a phenomenon could, in fact, occur." The research was "being conducted with the thought that the flying objects might be a celestial phenomenon," or that "they might be a foreign body mechanically devised and controlled."[50] Three weeks later in a preliminary defense estimate, the air force investigation decided that, "This 'flying saucer' situation is not all imaginary or seeing too much in some natural phenomenon. Something is really flying around."[51]

A further review by the intelligence and technical divisions of the Air Materiel Command at Wright Field reached the same conclusion. It reported that "the phenomenon is something real and not visionary or fictitious," that there were objects in the shape of a disc, metallic in appearance, and as big as man-made aircraft. They were characterized by "extreme rates of climb [and] maneuverability," general lack of noise, absence of trail, occasional formation flying, and "evasive" behavior "when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar," suggesting a controlled craft. It was therefore recommended in late September 1947 that an official Air Force investigation be set up to investigate the phenomenon. It was also recommended that other government agencies should assist in the investigation.[note 4]

Project Sign

This led to the creation of the Air Force's Project Sign at the end of 1947, one of the earliest government studies to come to a secret extraterrestrial conclusion. In August 1948, Sign investigators wrote a top-secret intelligence estimate to that effect, but the Air Force Chief of StaffHoyt Vandenberg ordered it destroyed. The existence of this suppressed report was revealed by several insiders who had read it, such as astronomer and USAF consultant J. Allen Hynek and Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, the first head of the USAF's Project Blue Book.[52]

Another highly classified U.S. study was conducted by the CIA's Office of Scientific Investigation (OS/I) in the latter half of 1952 in response to orders from the National Security Council (NSC). This study concluded UFOs were real physical objects of potential threat to national security. One OS/I memo to the CIA Director (DCI) in December read:

the reports of incidents convince us that there is something going on that must have immediate attention ... Sightings of unexplained objects at great altitudes and traveling at high speeds in the vicinity of major U.S. defense installations are of such a nature that they are not attributable to natural phenomena or any known types of aerial vehicles.

The matter was considered so urgent that OS/I drafted a memorandum from the DCI to the NSC proposing that the NSC establish an investigation of UFOs as a priority project throughout the intelligence and the defense research and development community. It also urged the DCI to establish an external research project of top-level scientists, now known as the Robertson Panel to analyze the problem of UFOs. The OS/I investigation was called off after the Robertson Panel's negative conclusions in January 1953.[53]

Condon Committee

Main article: Condon Committee

A public research effort conducted by the Condon Committee for the USAF, which arrived at a negative conclusion in 1968, marked the end of the U.S. government's official investigation of UFOs, though various government intelligence agencies continue unofficially to investigate or monitor the situation.[note 5]

Controversy has surrounded the Condon Report, both before and after it was released. It has been observed that the report was "harshly criticized by numerous scientists, particularly at the powerful AIAA ... [which] recommended moderate, but continuous scientific work on UFOs."[15] In an address to the AAAS, James E. McDonald stated that he believed science had failed to mount adequate studies of the problem and criticized the Condon Report and earlier studies by the USAF as scientifically deficient. He also questioned the basis for Condon's conclusions[54] and argued that the reports of UFOs have been "laughed out of scientific court."[14] J. Allen Hynek, an astronomer who worked as a USAF consultant from 1948, sharply criticized the Condon Committee Report and later wrote two nontechnical books that set forth the case for continuing to investigate UFO reports.

Ruppelt recounted his experiences with Project Blue Book, a USAF investigation that preceded Condon's.[55]

Notable cases

  • The Roswell UFO incident (1947) involved New Mexico residents, local law enforcement officers, and the U.S. military, the latter of whom allegedly collected physical evidence from the UFO crash site.
  • The Mantell UFO incident January 7, 1948
  • The Betty and Barney Hill abduction (1961) was the first reported abduction incident.
  • In the Kecksburg UFO incident, Pennsylvania (1965), residents reported seeing a bell shaped object crash in the area. Police officers, and possibly military personnel, were sent to investigate.
  • The Travis Walton abduction case (1975): The movie Fire in the Sky (1993) was based on this event, but greatly embellished the original account.
  • The "Phoenix Lights" March 13, 1997
  • 2006 O'Hare International Airport UFO sighting

Canada

In Canada, the Department of National Defence has dealt with reports, sightings and investigations of UFOs across Canada. In addition to conducting investigations into crop circles in Duhamel, Alberta, it still considers "unsolved" the Falcon Lake incident in Manitoba and the Shag Harbour UFO incident in Nova Scotia.[56]

Early Canadian studies included Project Magnet (1950–1954) and Project Second Storey (1952–1954), supported by the Defence Research Board.

France

On March 2007, the French space agency CNES published an archive of UFO sightings and other phenomena online.[57]

French studies include GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN (1977–), within CNES (French space agency), the longest ongoing government-sponsored investigation. About 22% of 6000 cases studied remain unexplained.[58] The official opinion of GEPAN/SEPRA/GEIPAN has been neutral, stating on their FAQ page that their mission is fact-finding for the scientific community, not rendering an opinion. They add they can neither prove nor disprove the Exterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH), but their Steering Committee's clear position is that they cannot discard the possibility that some fraction of the very strange 22% of unexplained cases might be due to distant and advanced civilizations.[59] Possibly their bias may be indicated by their use of the terms "PAN" (French) or "UAP" (English equivalent) for "Unidentified Aerospace Phenomenon" (whereas "UAP" as normally used by English organizations stands for "Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon", a more neutral term). In addition, the three heads of the studies have gone on record in stating that UFOs were real physical flying machines beyond our knowledge or that the best explanation for the most inexplicable cases was an extraterrestrial one.[60][61][62]

In 2008, Michel Scheller, president of the Association Aéronautique et Astronautique de France (3AF), created the Sigma Commission. Its purpose was to investigate UFO phenomenon worldwide.[63] A progress report published in May 2010 stated that the central hypothesis proposed by the COMETA report is perfectly credible.[64] In December 2012, the final report of the Sigma Commission was submitted to Scheller. Following the submission of the final report, the Sigma2 Commission is to be formed with a mandate to continue the scientific investigation of UFO phenomenon.[65][66]

The most notable cases of UFO sightings in France include the Valensole UFO incident in 1965, and the Trans-en-Provence Case in 1981.

Italy

According to some Italian ufologists, the first documented case of a UFO sighting in Italy dates back to April 11, 1933, to Varese. Documents of the time show that an alleged UFO crashed or landed near Vergiate. Following this, Benito Mussolini created a secret group to look at it, called Cabinet RS/33.[67][68]

Alleged UFO sightings gradually increased since the war, peaking in 1978 and 2005. The total number of sightings since 1947 are 18,500, of which 90% are identifiable.[69]

In 2000, Italian ufologist Roberto Pinotti published material regarding the so-called "Fascist UFO Files", which dealt with a flying saucer that had crashed near Milan in 1933 (some 14 years before the Roswell, New Mexico, crash), and of the subsequent investigation by a never mentioned before Cabinet RS/33, that allegedly was authorized by Benito Mussolini, and headed by the Nobel scientist Guglielmo Marconi. A spaceship was allegedly stored in the hangars of the SIAI Marchetti in Vergiate near Milan.[70]

Julius Obsequens was a Roman writer who is believed to have lived in the middle of the fourth century AD. The only work associated with his name is the Liber de prodigiis (Book of Prodigies), completely extracted from an epitome, or abridgment, written by Livy; De prodigiis was constructed as an account of the wonders and portents that occurred in Rome between 249 BC-12 BC. An aspect of Obsequens' work that has inspired much interest in some circles is that references are made to things moving through the sky. These have been interpreted as reports of UFOs, but may just as well describe meteors, and, since Obsequens, probably, writes in the 4th century, that is, some 400 years after the events he describes, they hardly qualify as eye-witness accounts.[71][72]

Notable cases

  • A UFO sighting in Florence, October 28, 1954, followed by a fall of angel hair.[73]
  • In 1973, an Alitalia airplane left Rome for Naples sighted a mysterious round object. Two Italian Air Force planes from Ciampino confirmed the sighting.[74] In the same year there was another sighting at Caselle airport near Turin.[75]
  • In 1978, two young hikers, while walking on Monte Musinè near Turin, saw a bright light; one of them temporarily disappeared and, after a while, was found in a state of shock and with a noticeable scald on one leg. After regaining consciousness, he reported having seen an elongated vehicle and that some strangely shaped beings descended from it. Both the young hikers suffered from conjunctivitis for some time.[76]
  • A close encounter reported in September 1978 in Torrita di Siena in the Province of Siena. A young motorist saw in front of him a bright object, two beings of small stature who wore suits and helmets, the two approached the car, and after watching it carefully went back and rose again to the UFO. A boy who lived with his family in a country house not far from there said he had seen at the same time "a kind of small reddish sun".[77]
  • Yet in 1978, there has been also the story of Pier Fortunato Zanfretta, the best known and most controversial case of an Italian alleged alien abduction. Zanfretta said to have been kidnapped on the night of 6 December and 7 December while he was performing his job at Marzano, in the municipality of Torriglia in the Province of Genoa;[78] 52 testimonies of the case from other people were collected.[78]

United Kingdom

The UK's Flying Saucer Working Party published its final report in June 1951, which remained secret for over 50 years. The Working Party concluded that all UFO sightings could be explained as misidentifications of ordinary objects or phenomena, optical illusions, psychological misperceptions/aberrations, or hoaxes. The report stated: "We accordingly recommend very strongly that no further investigation of reported mysterious aerial phenomena be undertaken, unless and until some material evidence becomes available."[79]

Eight file collections on UFO sightings, dating from 1978 to 1987, were first released on May 14, 2008, to The National Archives by the Ministry of Defence (MoD).[80] Although kept secret from the public for many years, most of the files have low levels of classification and none are classified Top Secret. 200 files are set to be made public by 2012. The files are correspondence from the public sent to the British government and officials, such as the MoD and Margaret Thatcher. The MoD released the files under the Freedom of Information Act due to requests from researchers.[81] These files include, but are not limited to, UFOs over Liverpool and the Waterloo Bridge in London.[82]

On October 20, 2008, more UFO files were released. One case released detailed that in 1991 an Alitalia passenger aircraft was approaching London Heathrow Airport when the pilots saw what they described as a "cruise missile" fly extremely close to the cockpit. The pilots believed that a collision was imminent. UFO expert David Clarke says that this is one of the most convincing cases for a UFO he has come across.[83]

A secret study of UFOs was undertaken for the Ministry of Defence between 1996 and 2000 and was code-named Project Condign. The resulting report, titled "Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Defence Region", was publicly released in 2006, but the identity and credentials of whomever constituted Project Condign remains classified. The report confirmed earlier findings that the main causes of UFO sightings are misidentification of man-made and natural objects. The report noted: "No artefacts of unknown or unexplained origin have been reported or handed to the UK authorities, despite thousands of Unidentified Aerial Phenomena reports. There are no SIGINT, ELINT or radiation measurements and little useful video or still IMINT." It concluded: "There is no evidence that any UAP, seen in the UKADR [UK Air Defence Region], are incursions by air-objects of any intelligent (extraterrestrial or foreign) origin, or that they represent any hostile intent." A little-discussed conclusion of the report was that novel meteorological plasma phenomenon akin to ball lightning are responsible for "the majority, if not all" of otherwise inexplicable sightings, especially reports of black triangle UFOs.[84]

On December 1, 2009, the Ministry of Defence quietly closed down its UFO investigations unit. The unit's hotline and email address were suspended by the MoD on that date. The MoD said there was no value in continuing to receive and investigate sightings in a release, stating

in over fifty years, no UFO report has revealed any evidence of a potential threat to the United Kingdom. The MoD has no specific capability for identifying the nature of such sightings. There is no Defence benefit in such investigation and it would be an inappropriate use of defence resources. Furthermore, responding to reported UFO sightings diverts MoD resources from tasks that are relevant to Defence."

The Guardian reported that the MoD claimed the closure would save the Ministry around £50,000 a year. The MoD said that it would continue to release UFO files to the public through The National Archives.[85]

Notable cases

According to records released on August 5, 2010, British wartime prime minister Winston Churchill banned the reporting for 50 years of an alleged UFO incident because of fears it could create mass panic. Reports given to Churchill asserted that the incident involved a Royal Air Force (RAF) reconnaissance aircraft returning from a mission in France or Germany toward the end of World War II. It was over or near the English coastline when it was allegedly intercepted by a strange metallic object that matched the aircraft's course and speed for a time before accelerating away and disappearing. The aircraft's crew were reported to have photographed the object, which they said had "hovered noiselessly" near the aircraft, before moving off.[86] According to the documents, details of the coverup emerged when a man wrote to the government in 1999 seeking to find out more about the incident and described how his grandfather, who had served with the RAF in the war, was present when Churchill and U.S. General Dwight D. Eisenhower discussed how to deal with the UFO encounter.[87][88] The files come from more than 5,000 pages of UFO reports, letters and drawings from members of the public, as well as questions raised in Parliament. They are available to download from The National Archives website.[80]

In the April 1957 West Freugh incident in Scotland, named after the principal military base involved, two unidentified objects flying high over the UK were tracked by radar operators. The objects were reported to operate at speeds and perform maneuvers beyond the capability of any known craft. Also significant is their alleged size, which – based on the radar returns – was closer to that of a ship than an aircraft.

In the Rendlesham Forest incident of December 1980, U.S. military personnel witnessed UFOs near the air base at Woodbridge, Suffolk, over a period of three nights. On one night the deputy base commander, Colonel Charles I. Halt, and other personnel followed one or more UFOs that were moving in and above the forest for several hours. Col. Halt made an audio recording while this was happening and subsequently wrote an official memorandum summarizing the incident. After retirement from the military, he said that he had deliberately downplayed the event (officially termed 'Unexplained Lights') to avoid damaging his career. Other base personnel are said to have observed one of the UFOs, which had landed in the forest, and even gone up to and touched it.

Uruguay

The Uruguayan Air Force has conducted UFO investigations since 1989 and reportedly analyzed 2,100 cases of which they regard approximately 2% as lacking explanation.[89]

Astronomer reports

The USAF's Project Blue Book files indicate that approximately 1%[90] of all unknown reports came from amateur and professional astronomers or other users of telescopes (such as missile trackers or surveyors). In 1952, astronomer J. Allen Hynek, then a consultant to Blue Book, conducted a small survey of 45 fellow professional astronomers. Five reported UFO sightings (about 11%). In the 1970s, astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock conducted two large surveys of the AIAA and American Astronomical Society (AAS). About 5% of the members polled indicated that they had had UFO sightings.

Astronomer Clyde Tombaugh, who admitted to six UFO sightings, including three green fireballs, supported the Extraterrestrial hypothesis for UFOs and stated he thought scientists who dismissed it without study were being "unscientific." Another astronomer was Lincoln LaPaz, who had headed the Air Force's investigation into the green fireballs and other UFO phenomena in New Mexico. LaPaz reported two personal sightings, one of a green fireball, the other of an anomalous disc-like object. (Both Tombaugh and LaPaz were part of Hynek's 1952 survey.) Hynek himself took two photos through the window of a commercial airliner of a disc-like object that seemed to pace his aircraft.[91]

In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Helb and Hynek for CUFOS found that 24% responded "yes" to the question "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"[92]

Claims of increase in reports

MUFON reports that UFO sightings to their offices have increased by 67% in the previous three years as of 2011. According to MUFON international director Clifford Clift in 2011, "Over the past year, we've been averaging 500 sighting reports a month, compared to about 300 three years ago [67 percent],".[93][94]

According to the annual survey of reports conducted by Canadian-based UFO research group Ufology Research, reported UFO sightings doubled in Canada between 2011 and 2012.[95][96]

In 2013 the Peruvian government's Departamento de Investigación de Fenómenos Aéreos Anómalos (Anomalous Aerial Phenomena Research Department), or "DIFAA", was officially reactivated due to an increase in reported sightings. According to Colonel Julio Vucetich, head of the air force's aerospace interests division who himself claims to have seen an "anomalous aerial object", "On a personal basis, it's evident to me that we are not alone in this world or universe."[97][98]

In contrast, according to the UK-based Association for the Scientific Study of Anomalous Phenomena (ASSAP), reports of sightings in Britain to their office have declined by 96% since 1988.[99]

Identification of UFOs

Main article: Identification studies of UFOs

Studies show that after careful investigation, the majority of UFOs can be identified as ordinary objects or phenomena. The most commonly found identified sources of UFO reports are:

  • Astronomical objects (bright stars, planets, meteors, re-entering man-made spacecraft, artificial satellites, and the Moon)
  • Aircraft (aerial advertising and other aircraft, missilelaunches)
  • Balloons (toy balloons, weather balloons, large research balloons)
  • Other atmospheric objects and phenomena (birds, unusual clouds, kites, flares)
  • Light phenomena mirages, Fata Morgana, ball lightning, moon dogs, searchlights and other ground lights, etc.
  • Hoaxes

A 1952–1955 study by the Battelle Memorial Institute for the USAF included these categories as well as a "psychological" one.

An individual 1979 study by CUFOS researcher Allan Hendry found, as did other investigations, that only a small percentage of cases he investigated were hoaxes (<1 %) and that most sightings were actually honest misidentifications of prosaic phenomena. Hendry attributed most of these to inexperience or misperception.[101]

Claims by military, government, and aviation personnel

Since 2001 there have been calls for greater openness on the part of the government by various persons. In May 2001, a press conference was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., by an organization called the Disclosure Project, featuring twenty persons including retired Air Force and FAA personnel, intelligence officers and an air traffic controller.[102][103][104][105][106][107][108] They all gave a brief account of what they knew or had witnessed, and stated that they would be willing to testify to what they had said under oath to a Congressional committee. According to a 2002 report in the Oregon Daily Emerald, Disclosure Project founder Steven M. Greer has gathered 120 hours of testimony from various government officials on the topic of UFOs, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and a Brigadier General.[109]

In 2007, former Arizona governor Fife Symington came forward and belatedly claimed that he had seen "a massive, delta-shaped craft silently navigate over Squaw Peak, a mountain range in Phoenix, Arizona" in 1997.[110]

On September 27, 2010, a group of six former USAF officers and one former enlisted Air Force man held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., on the theme "U.S. Nuclear Weapons Have Been Compromised by Unidentified Aerial Objects."[111] They told how they had witnessed UFOs hovering near missile sites and even disarming the missiles.

From April 29 to May 3, 2013, the Paradigm Research Group held the "Citizen Hearing on Disclosure" at the National Press Club. The group paid former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel and former Representatives Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, Roscoe Bartlett, Merrill Cook, Darlene Hooley, and Lynn Woolsey $20,000 each to hear testimony from a panel of researchers which included witnesses from military, agency, and political backgrounds.[112][113]

Apollo 14 astronaut Dr Edgar Mitchell claimed that he knew of senior government employees who had been involved in "close encounters" and because of this he has no doubt that aliens have visited Earth.[114]

Main article: Extraterrestrial hypothesis

While technically a UFO refers to any unidentified flying object, in modern popular culture the term UFO has generally become synonymous with alien spacecraft;[115] however, the term ETV (ExtraTerrestrial Vehicle) is sometimes used to separate this explanation of UFOs from totally earthbound explanations.[116]

Associated claims

Besides anecdotal visual sightings, reports sometimes include claims of other kinds of evidence, including cases studied by the military and various government agencies of different countries (such as Project Blue Book, the Condon Committee, the French GEPAN/SEPRA, and Uruguay's current Air Force study).

A comprehensive scientific review of cases where physical evidence was available was carried out by the 1998 Sturrock panel, with specific examples of many of the categories listed below.[117][118][119]

  • Radar contact and tracking, sometimes from multiple sites. These have included military personnel and control tower operators, simultaneous visual sightings, and aircraft intercepts. One such example were the mass sightings of large, silent, low-flying black triangles in 1989 and 1990 over Belgium, tracked by NATO radar and jet interceptors, and investigated by Belgium's military (included photographic evidence).[120] Another famous case from 1986 was the Japan Air Lines flight 1628 incident over Alaska investigated by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA).
  • Photographic evidence, including still photos, movie film, and video.
  • Claims of physical trace of landing UFOs, including ground impressions, burned or desiccated soil, burned and broken foliage, magnetic anomalies[specify], increased radiation levels, and metallic traces. (See, e. g. Height 611 UFO incident or the 1964 Lonnie Zamora's Socorro, New Mexico encounter of the USAF Project Blue Book cases.) A well-known example from December 1980 was the USAF Rendlesham Forest incident in England. Another occurred in January 1981 in Trans-en-Provence and was investigated by GEPAN, then France's official government UFO-investigation agency. Project Blue Book head Edward J. Ruppelt described a classic 1952 CE2 case involving a patch of charred grass roots.
  • Physiological effects on people and animals including temporary paralysis, skin burns and rashes, corneal burns, and symptoms superficially resembling radiation poisoning, such as the Cash-Landrum incident in 1980.
  • Animal/cattle mutilation cases, that some feel are also part of the UFO phenomenon.
  • Biological effects on plants such as increased or decreased growth, germination effects on seeds, and blown-out stem nodes (usually associated with physical trace cases or crop circles)
  • Electromagnetic interference (EM) effects. A famous 1976 military case over Tehran, recorded in CIA and DIA classified documents, was associated with communication losses in multiple aircraft and weapons system failure in an F-4 Phantom II jet interceptor as it was about to fire a missile on one of the UFOs.[121]
  • Apparent remote radiation detection, some noted in FBI and CIA documents occurring over government nuclear installations at Los Alamos National Laboratory and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in 1950, also reported by Project Blue Book director Edward J. Ruppelt in his book.
  • Claimed artifacts of UFOs themselves, such as 1957, Ubatuba, Brazil, magnesium fragments analyzed by the Brazilian government and in the Condon Report and by others. The 1964 Lonnie Zamora incident also left metal traces, analyzed by NASA.[122][123] A more recent example involves a tear drop-shaped object recovered by Bob White and was featured in a television episode of UFO Hunters.[124]
  • Angel hair and angel grass, possibly explained in some cases as nests from ballooning spiders or chaff.[citation needed]

Ufology

Main article: Ufology

Ufology is a neologism describing the collective efforts of those who study UFO reports and associated evidence.

Researchers

Main article: List of ufologists

Sightings

Main article: List of reported UFO sightings

Organizations

Main article: List of UFO organizations

Categorization

Some ufologists recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:

  • Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped "craft" without visible or audible propulsion.
  • Large triangular "craft" or triangular light pattern, usually reported at night.
  • Cigar-shaped "craft" with lighted windows (meteor fireballs are sometimes reported this way, but are very different phenomena).
  • Other: chevrons, (equilateral) triangles, crescent, boomerangs, spheres (usually reported to be shining, glowing at night), domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs, pyramids and cylinders, classic "lights."

Popular UFO classification systems include the Hynek system, created by J. Allen Hynek, and the Vallée system, created by Jacques Vallée.[citation needed]

Hynek's system involves dividing the sighted object by appearance, subdivided further into the type of "close encounter" (a term from which the film director Steven Spielberg derived the title of his 1977 UFO movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind).

Jacques Vallée's system classifies UFOs into five broad types, each with from three to five subtypes that vary according to type.

Scientific skepticism

Artist's conception of a flying saucer exiting from water.
Fata Morgana, a type of mirage in which objects located below the astronomical horizon appear to be hovering in the sky just above the horizon, may be responsible for some UFO sightings. (Here, the shape floating above the horizon is the reflected image of a boat.) Fata Morgana can also distort the appearance of distant objects, sometimes making them unrecognizable[100]
Lenticular clouds have in some cases been reported as UFOs due to their peculiar shape
Photograph of "an unusual atmospheric occurrence observed over Sri Lanka", forwarded to the UK Ministry of Defence by RAF Fylingdales, 2004



Whenever I hear the question "do you believe in UFOs?" in coversation I become immensely frustrated. To most of those who have devoted even a reasonable portion of time to acquiring an understanding of the phenomenon, the term "belief" simply doesn't, and should never, apply. To use this expression shoves the UFO over into the category of religion or even fantasy, and nothing could be more inaccurate or counter-productive. UFOlogy is a scientific pursuit like any other. It takes absolutely no leap of faith, no mustering of imagination or whimsy for any rational mind to realize what is already a proven reality: Unidentified Flying Objects of an inexplicable class and character exist and are as real and verified as comets or the rings of Saturn (and may have been around just as long).

The simple fact of the matter is, UFOs (and whatever may be piloting them) are a substantive, verified and massively documented phenomena ... but much of our culture and language perpetuate and cling to the erroneous notion that we're dealing with some kind of specter or myth of hysteria or mass-societal halucenation.

I'll go one step further. One might 'believe' in fire-breathing dragons or fairies ... yet, there is no evidence whatsoever that either of these exist. However, one need only look at the facts now in evidence to see that actual 'flying saucers' (not merely "unidentified flying objects") do, indeed, exist.

Those who know UFOs are 'real' need to make a serious effort to cease using and condoning that negative terminology of doubt inspired by our disinformation-driven culture. "Are you aware of UFOs?" (ie, "have you been educated on the existence of flying saucers?") should have replaced "Do you believe in UFOs?" in both text and conversation long ago. We no longer are soliciting people to 'believe'. Instead, we are (or should be) asking the uninformed to become educated to the facts. The issue of visitors to this planet, wherever (or whenever) they originate, is as vital an issue as any world geopolitical, religious, or economic affair or policy. In fact, it is probably far more important.


Flying Laboratories

It is simply a matter of education. The evidence we have for the existence of unidentified flying machines of advanced technology, even if we toss out all photographic evidence and all abduction accounts or close encounter experience testimonies from the most reliable, credible civilian experiencers, is... massive. Even if we dismiss the most credible testimony and eyewitness accounts, the evidence is simply enormous.

What remains is a nearly a century of 'expert' interaction with flying saucers (and other shaped craft of equally inexplicable propulsion technology) under extremely scientific, verifiable, and examinable circumstances. I am speaking of the countless military and commercial pilot interactions with these remarkable, unknown machines, in situations where often entirely empirical testing of data has been recorded. One could not ask for a much better 'test lab' for the UFO phenomenon than in the cockpit of a military fighter or commercial airliner.

In both situations there are one, or more, specialists in the field of atmospherics and aerodynamics in a 'flying laboratory,' well-equipped with scientifically-approved and understood instrumentation which can record and note verifiable time frames, locations, altitudes, longitudes, latitudes of the UFO phenomena. Additionally, and obviously, there is also (in countless cases) verification by radar -- which consitututes a second 'laboratory' of qualified, educated and capable specialists interpreting data.

Apart from pilots in their 'flying laboratories' and their ground-based radar counterparts, there is now also the testimony of astronauts who are increasingly detailing UFO evidence and information outside of the stratosphere.

From these three sources alone, there exists undeniable proof of the 'flying saucer' which would hold up in any court of law.

UFOs have entered practically every 'sensitive' international airspace, been tracked on uncountable civilian and military radars, been pursued by the finest and most advanced flying machines on the planet, eye-witnessed by our best trained pilots, even fired upon (or so attempted) by pilots dating all the way back to reports from WWI aviators over England.

Our visitors have been tracked at speeds exceeding all known propulsion or contemporary technology and fully-defying the laws of *our* physics. Flying Saucers have on scores of occasions brought military units, including our nuclear forces, to full alert and then engaged those forces in what appear to be tests of our technological capacity. Flying Saucers of gargantuan size have been seen at close range by both civilian and military professionals and verified by radar...both ground and airborne. Some would even say our visitors have taunted and played with our military...the reports of incursions into our SAC bases being particularly extraordinary.

Millions of dollars are spent every year by air force units around the world from every advanced nation to intercept these aerial interlopers. Countries do not spend that kind of money chasing Venus, 'heat inversions' or entertaining myths. To suggest so is simply preposterous.

The information and data, mountains of it, from these civilian and military aviation and defense specialists regarding the UFO match or exceed the information we have from "less than expert" civilian eyewitnesses of UFOs, and only serves to validate and support public accounts of UFOs and/or interactions with them. We accept without reservation the existence of atomic and subatomic particles which only a privileged handful of experts in that field of study have ever 'seen' with the most advanced special instrumentation.

Granted, there is far more 'scientific' data and knowledge of atomic and subatomic particles than exists for flying saucers -- but data is data, and evidence is evidence -- and we have no trouble in trusting and being dependent upon the experiences and veracity of the physicists and scientists involved. We accept the reality of these all but invisible atomic and sub-atomic structures with no hesitation. And yet with the flying saucer, we are not dealing with 'invisibles' at all.

At best, one must define the flying saucer as transitory, difficult and evasive -- but nonetheless, a real part of our physicial universe. Unlike the atomic particle which is governed by laws already understood, or well on the way to being understood within the sheer mechanics of the universe itself and its conditions and measures, the UFO has behind it an intelligence of its own. We can no more easily reach out and snatch a flying saucer for examination than we can ball lightning... yet, both exist. (There is strong indication our military has had examples of UFO technology ...and its flight crews...for more than a half century, but that is another subject altogether).

Our public sector scientific evaluation of the flying saucer is therefore more akin to hunting a rare and highly-advanced species of animal formerly classified as 'cryptozooligical' but now definitely reclassified as 'authentic' due to the sheer weight of verifiable and coherent data from experts. Like the Tasmanian Tiger, we now know they "are"... but to capture one for more advanced study proves to be essentially impossible.


Ours Or 'Theirs'?

It does appear that the U.S. military has developed craft with similar appearance and capabilities as some 'flying saucers' (as reported by many reasonable and credible individuals). However, history shows us that the flying saucer has been coming and going on planet earth for generations, and centuries, which rules out the idea that all flying saucers are manmade craft of a clandestine technology.

Considering these realities, our language regarding UFOs should cease, immediately, to reflect the elements of myth, legend or fantasy, and fully embrace its definitive reality, helping to bring in a new cultural era regarding the UFO. We must each arm ourselves with these most primary facts when dealing with those uneducated, prepared to give a rational defense of the subject.

There is absolutely no reason to ever feel awkward about the issue simply because others are poorly-educated about the facts. And educating them at every opportunity is paramount. The reality of UFOs is such that its implications require every human being to become as aware of it as their individual mental and emotional limits will allow. Our place in the universe is likely to be defined by this very subject, be it a truth we are ready to receive or a lie we are miserably destined to suffer.

Either way, we don't "believe" in UFOs. No faith is required. It is not a religion or occult pseudo science. It is a reality. What we do with that reality is now squarely on the table.

--------------------------------

A Rebuttal


Jim Foreman of The Skeptic Report. wrote to alert me to his rebuttal...

X-Sender: (on file)
Date: Mon, 29 May 2000 03:23:03 -0700
To: webmaster@sightings.com
From: "James H. Foreman"

It's been almost a year, but I'm still here, fighting the good fight.

The Daily Skeptic died a horrible, slow death, but it's been resurrected as The Skeptic Report. You might be happy to know that I just completed a story about your recent article that appeared on Sightings.com. Your article is well written, but it's wrong in a lot of places. Check out our rebuttle:

http://jebzingo.tripod.com/skepticreport/

Enjoy!

Jim Foreman
Editor, The Skeptic Report

His rebuttal is published as follows...

M A Y 2 9 , 2 0 0 0
From the UFOs Suck File
SORRY, IT'S STILL A BELIEF
http://jebzingo.tripod.com/skepticreport/

James Neff, the webmaster of rense.com, is a gentleman with whom we've clashed before. He's always been courteous and friendly in our dealings with him (except for that time he got really pissed off at us*), and he is one of the more intelligent, articulate paranormalites out there in the Internet's electronic soup. He also does some nifty artwork.

The reason we bring him up is for this nice little article he wrote for Jeff Rense's website (you can read it here) entitled "You Don't Have to 'Believe' Anymore." This article basically extolls the virtues of UFO worship, though he devotes the article to damning that anyone could "believe" in UFOs at all. According to him, the existence of UFOs is a proven fact, not open to belief at all. Here, Mr. Neff is just plain wrong.

OK, we'll grant that UFOs (in this, we mean Unidentified Flying Objects) do exist. There are strange things in the sky that people see and then report to their local branch of MUFON. Maybe these objects are vehicles, or are at least unnatural phenomena built by intelligent species. Some of them. Maybe. Does this mean that those few that are actually physical, manufactured objects made by humans? Probably. Does this mean that they're created by aliens? Absolutely not.

But rather than condemn Mr. Neff without any corroboration, let's let his own words convict him:

"It takes absolutely no leap of faith, no mustering of imagination or whimsy for any rational mind to realize what is already a proven reality: UFOs exist and are as real and the Pacific Ocean or the Rocky Mountains..."

OK, maybe you're on to something there. Like we said, we'll admit that people are seeing stuff.

"...(and may have been here just as long)."

What? Where's the corroboration for that? Does my rational mind accept that? Hell, no! Sneaking in undocumented "whimsy" into a somewhat corroborated statement of fact is just not very nice.

"The issue of visitors to this planet, wherever (or whenever) they originate, is as vital an issue as any world geopolitical, religious, or economic affair or policy. In fact, it is probably far more important."

Ah, yes, an undocumented, unreliably recorded and outright unproved event is definitely more important than, say, nuclear war or something. Realize this, Mr. Neff, UFOs aren't alien creations until you (or someone else) proves it. It ain't been proven yet. Case closed.

"What remains is a nearly a century of 'expert' interaction with flying saucers (and other shaped craft) under extremely scientific, verifiable, and examinable circumstances. I am speaking of the countless military and commercial pilot interactions with these remarkable, unknown machines, in situations where often entirely empirical testing of data has been recorded. One could not ask for a much better 'test lab' for the UFO phenomenon than in the cockpit of a military fighter or commercial airliner.

In both situations there are one, or more, specialists in the field of atmospherics and aerodynamics in a 'flying laboratory,' well-equipped with scientifically-approved and understood instrumentation which can record and note verifiable time frames, locations, altitudes, longitudes, latitudes of the UFO phenomena. Additionally, and obviously, there is also (in countless cases) verification by radar -- which consitututes a second 'laboratory' of qualified, educated and capable specialists interpreting data.

Apart from pilots in their 'flying laboratories' and their ground-based radar counterparts, there is now also the testimony of astronauts who are increasingly detailing UFO evidence and information outside of the stratosphere.

From these three sources alone, there exists undeniable proof of the 'flying saucer.' "

No, that's not true at all. Other than grainy photographs, radar ghosts and eyewitness testimony (which is always highly questionable...ask any lawyer) I am not aware of anything empirical or scientific. Simply noting that something is there, flying around, or might be flying around, in no way proves (or even logically suggests) that it is an alien spacecraft.

"Millions of dollars are spent every year by air force units around the world from every advanced nation to intercept these aerial interlopers. Countries do not spend that kind of money chasing Venus, 'heat inversions' or entertaining myths. To suggest so is simply preposterous."

Prove it. Can't? I didn't think so. It's not like a paranormalite to cite national governments as reliable about anything. I guess they do when it serves their purposes.

"We accept without reservation the existence of atomic and subatomic particles which only a privileged handful of experts in that field of study have ever 'seen' with the most advanced special instrumentation."

Uh huh. This doesn't explain why UFO supporters assume that because these flying things are unidentified, that they also have little gray men flying them around. That's "simply preposterous."
"Granted, there is far more 'scientific' data and knowledge of atomic and subatomic particles than exists for flying saucers -- but data is data, and evidence is evidence -- and we have no trouble in trusting and being dependent upon the experiences and veracity of the physicists and scientists involved."

I love it when paranormalites put the word scientific in quotations. Like it's just some buzz word that scientists attach to things to make them seem valid.

"Like the Tasmanian Tiger, we now know they "are"... but to capture one for more advanced study proves to be essentially impossible."

Uh, the Tasmanian Tiger "isn't," anymore, since it's extinct, and we know for a fact that it was wiped out by Europeans, since we still have their pelts. I met a guy who said he had an alien pelt once, but it looked more like a bolt of suede leather left out in the rain.
"However, history shows us that the flying saucer has been coming and going on planet earth for generations, and centuries, which rules out the idea that all flying saucers are manmade craft of a clandestine technology."

Pure speculation. There's no evidence for any of that at all. There are also some pretty cool accounts of vampires, but close examination by scientists familiar with body decay and pathology have shown that vampires probably weren't supernatural. Thus, historical accounts can't be trusted without modern analysis.

What really saddens us about the flavor of this whole article is the tendency for the people responsible for the dissemination of UFO information to wholly embrace the scanty evidence for Unidentified Flying Objects and then similarly assume, without any corroboration, that the objects are alien in origin. That's inexcusable, unscientific, and just plain unfair.


Reply

I love a skeptic, and consider myself one. A big one. It takes alot to convince me of anything. I'm not even sure you are real, Jim :)

You write:

"This article basically extolls the virtues of UFO worship, though he devotes the article to damning that anyone could "believe" in UFOs at all.

God forbid ANYONE "worships" UFOs as you claim I have encouraged! My entire point is that the UFO is undeserving of such mentality... because of the weight of evidence.

Now, allow me to defend myself only on two points, the rest of which I'll leave to the readers to evaluate using that wonderful gray matter between their ears. My admonition: BE SKEPTICAL. That's the entire point. EDUCATE yourself on the facts. Once the facts are in evidence, you will come to the same conclusion. Either that, or, turn in denial and ignore the truth.

(1) I make it very clear that we have in no way defined the ORIGINS of the UFO; this has NOT been verified or proven -- admittedly it is entirely speculative that they are "alien" craft from other planets or 'outer space'. But what I DO say is that since these craft have been recorded historically dating far beyond our own industrial revolution, much less the invention of manned flight, we can surmise that these are not all "ours" (ie, man made craft). You immediately debunk this idea. Well, history is on my side here. Anyone can crack a Bible and read about Ezekiel's UFO experience... anyone can read the Upanishads of the Hindu's and read about 'air cars' powered by an energy source called 'sidis'... and if one really wants to educate oneself on the true history of UFOs, you can read quite a lot in this excellent NIGHTWATCH article entitled "UFOs Through The Ages...A Timeline." Because human beings have been describing this same phenomena for so many centuries persuades me that the phenomena is at the very least not a production of modern technology. It remains to determine what they are, where they come from, etc. So we are in agreement -- your first statement is:

"OK, we'll grant that UFOs (in this, we mean Unidentified Flying Objects) do exist. There are strange things in the sky that people see and then report to their local branch of MUFON. Maybe these objects are vehicles, or are at least unnatural phenomena built by intelligent species."

(2) My second point is to rise to your challenge of proof that the military/air forces around the world spend millions of dollars dealing with the UFO phenomena. These events are on record. Stanton Friedman and many other researchers have amassed such data, and this is nothing new or earthshaking (to the UFO educated). Iraqi & Israeli Air Force, as well as the French government, have been entirely open about their UFO encounters. Several of our own astronauts have openly told about their encounters with UFOs when in the Air Force. Major Donald E. Kehoe spent the latter part of his life documenting such cases provoked by personal experience. Filer's Files frequently and archivally have records of such events. These aren't buried someplace! They've been known to anyone wanting to learn about it for years. Do you have any idea how much it costs to send your best fighters after a radar detected interloper traveling at 3000 mph over sensitive airspace (only to close in on it and discover it's not a missile, but a silver disc with brilliant lights playing cat and mouse)? Any person in the air force will confirm this fact: it costs millions, even if it only happens a few times a year. This website is overflowing with these cases and accounts, as are many others. The documentation is openly available. The witnesses, expert. The accounts, verified.

I will not defend the idea that UFOs are proven to be alien spacecraft. I don't know what they are. I simply know they 'ARE' and that historically the evidence for their existence reveals that, whatever their origin, it is entirely unrelated to our own technological status here on earth. Hence, it is not a "belief" system. It is a rational assembly of facts with a reasonable conclusion. Flying Saucers (and other shapes and forms of this same aerial phenomena) EXIST. They being of extraterrestrial origin is, indeed, a speculation; as is, a metaphysical conclusion; as is a phenomenon of nature. My personal speculation, based on the evidence, is that these are craft with intelligent occupants and/or guided by intelligent means which is not human; there is ample evidence of intelligent control behind these devices.

As I said, what we do with this reality is squarely on the table. I appreciate your skeptical proddings. Keeps me on my toes :)

PS: The Tasmanian Tiger is "believed" to be extinct. But so was the damned Coelacanth, captured in 1938.

*This "pissed off" issue was a FORUM abuse related issue. I could not link to their example because of the kind of frames The Skeptic Report was using, but anyone interested in such soap opera and longdead issues can find it at the original posting of Jim's rebuttal to my piece.


Comment
Glenn (Name/email on file)
5-20-00

The calibur of evidence is the evidence, not its source. UFO documentation is riff with source, which is all but meaningless. Nancy Reagan will tell you there is something to astrology, the Flat-Earth society was founded by a Phd, and astronaut Edgar Mitchell believed in mental telepathy (and later, a lot of other arcane things). If source is proof of anything, then just about every thing imaginable must be true!

Joe Blow says NASA is covering up. Joe Blow knows because he use to work for NASA. More source baloney. UFO buffs have to realize that Joe Blow can say anything he wants. But until Mr. Blow drags out the evidence, it is meaningless.

**** I was recently sent a video clip which supposedly showed a UFO crashing in the desert. They sent it to the wrong fellow as, despite the doctoring done to the video, I recognized it. I had watched that video of an unmanned F-100 crashing after being launched from a ramp possibly several dozen times. The UFO scene is so hoplessly mired in hoaxes that it's a wonder there are any skeptics left who bother to debunk the videos and pictures. The field is being left to the hoaxers who are busy trying to hoax other hoaxers.

I'd like to believe in visiting aliens, but not the ones being presented in all these tales of the day. Thankfully, I don't have to. I've looked at most of the so-called evidence, and I'm afraid all the UFO community has is its tales. Stories of aliens do not aliens make.


Reply:

You sure must have read 'another' article than the one I wrote. I said nothing of photos and nothing of 'tales.' I stated explicitly that even if we toss OUT ALL photographic and even credible civilian eye witness 'accounts and reports,' there remains a monumental amount of recorded, documented data and evidence from experts in aerodynamics with cooaberative radar to validate that these craft exist and do exceed all 'publicly known' modern technological achievements. The interaction of air force units the world over demonstrate the UFO is real. You don't scramble to intercept popular imagination or hoaxes. You don't have seasoned pilots return to the ground stunned by what they've encountered, and their experiences validated by scientific instrumentation if it's all just the planet Venus or swamp gas. The evidence is sufficient to stand up in any court of law.



Comment

From: "John Doe"
Subject: Rebuttal to a Rebuttal
CC: webmaster@sightings.com

" Sorry, It's Still A Belief " (..and other groundless drivel)

Mr. Foreman,

You're a pretty cynical individual, I respect that and applaud it in it's many forms. However, I hate to be the one to inform you of this---you, Mr. Foreman, are the one who is dead wrong on the subject of UFO's. You, Mr. Foreman, are the one who has not done the research, devoted the time, nor spoken with the individuals whom this entire field of LEGITIMATE research has affected. I'm so sick and tired of people blatantly damning a subject of which they have NO UNDERSTANDING. None. I'm sure you and Philip Klass would get along wonderfully...you should ask him where his financial backing and funding for his "loosely" (at best) based organization comes from. After he dodges the question several times he'll tell you "the US Government." It's no secret, it's a known fact. He's a skeptic such as yourself. Of course, his alterior motives are less than constructive. I respect people who are not afraid to ask questions and probe subjects until they are positive there is no shell left unturned I do not respect individuals who jump on a bandwagon, which is all you're doing here, so that they can sleep easy at night knowing that there is "no such thing as aliens", you can rest easy because you think you've seen all there is to see, heard all there is to hear, and read all there is to read. You are so far from the truth, so far from reality, I think you're going to need a map to get back.

I used to be a skeptic such as you, so did my father, an engineer. Of course he changed his tune quickly while he witnessed a formation of UFO's light up the sky above Washington D.C. in 1952, along with thousands and thousands of other witnesses. Funny how your entire outlook on the world you live in (or should I say bubble) can be instantly changed when it actually happens to you. It's like telling people "ya know, rolling your car 4 times at 65mph isn't that bad, it's surviveable, I don't know what all the hooplah is..." Then the day comes that it actually happens to you, do you think you're still going to retain that viewpoint? I don't think so.

I have said this in the past, and I'm going to say it again because self-styled researchers and egotistical skeptics just don't seem to listen the first time around---do the research *before* you start making claims. It's so easy and comfortable for you to sit back and say, "yeah, well this doesn't exist, and that never happened, and this was just swamp gas, blah, blah..." C'mon, you talk about being logical when in fact all you're really accomplishing is a wonderful demonstration of the antithesis of practical logic. (I think that was a required course in my second year of college) Ruling EVERYTHING out gets you nowhere, you'll be backpedaling the rest of your life with that philosophy.

I have had two sightings of my own within the past 6 years, both of which were witnessed with other people. One, my brother, the other a good friend of mine who happens to be a police officer, now in Florida. The latter sighting occurred from the window of a 767 at 33,000 feet over New Mexico in 1995. I can tell you what it wasn't, but I can't tell you with 100% certainty what is was either. It had to be unmanned, or it had to have full control of the laws of inertia, because any human being (or animal) would have been splattered against the back wall of the craft with the g's it pulled. So, do you see me sitting here saying; "yeah, these little aliens were waving at me out the window before they shot off at high Mach instantaneously..." No. It could have been a chimp flying the damn thing for all I know, but it would be one dead chimp if it were! That's called "keeping an open mind" and staying open to ALL possibilities, not just the most obvious.

Bottomline is, this was an excercise in hearing myself speak because (and forgive any offense), people like you will never admit that you are aware of unidentified craft entering and exiting the atmosphere of this planet on a daily basis. If a craft landed on your front lawn, you STILL probably wouldn't believe your own eyes. I have pity for you, personally. I hope you can get over that same skeptical "phase" that I was in and maybe see what's really going on around you. I hope you do, really. If you want to know more about what it is you're trying to talk about, do the research, because so far all you've done is make unfounded claims of your own, with no proof of your own otherwise. The US Government tried to explain away UFO's as well...it was called Project Blue Book, (this is Ufology 101). If you'd like to take a crack at explaining away the THOUSANDS of cases THEY couldn't explain, then I'm sure we'd all be interested to see what you come up with, in fact, so would the US Air Force. The proof is here, if you've managed to get a look at ANY of the NASA footage from STS flights of the past 6 years, there is literally hours worth of footage of unexplained objects entering and exiting the upper atmosphere of Earth. This was straight footage downloaded by numerous individuals around the world off of NASA select TV, raw footage from space, in realtime. I don't think you can get any more 'real' than that.

The evidence is out there, you just haven't taken your blinders off long enough to give it a second (or first) look. If you'd viewed the data, done the research and THEN made the statements you have--it would at least be credible, but all you're doing is playing Devil's advocate with an empty revolver. Where's your ammo? Where is your support? It surely can't be from your wonderful Geocities website (c'mon, in this day and age you can pay $20 a month for a REAL hosting service, don't bring a knife to a gunfight). I can't believe you have the gall to put down the sightings.com website and call it "amaturish" when your own site is utterly ridiculous. The key is to drive traffic TO your site, not AWAY. In your case, I'm glad there is very little interest. Aside from namecalling, what valid content do you have on your site? I can't seem to find any.

You talk about fighting a war....what war? We already know what's going on, we've all seen the facts and relevant evidence, you're just lobbing water balloons over the wall at us! There is no war, only you trying to clear your mind by making the world safe from us "paranormalites", by debunking everything first, then maybe looking at the facts later if it suits your own agenda. You're the one sticking quotes around a cutesy little word you made up hoping it sounds "scientific", not us. You don't see UFO researchers running around trying to debunk skeptics, you don't see us making up immature names to tag skeptics with. If you're going to play with the big boys, at least play by the rules and don't be an ass about it. There is plenty of mutual respect to go around for everyone, your e-mail to Mr. Neff was not indicative of that.

Good luck, and happy hunting -- for more excuses.

Best Regards,
A Concerned (Veteran) Researcher & Artist

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