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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 27

Re: Looking Back At 50 Years Of Ufology

From: Mark Cashman <mcashman@ix.netcom.com>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 13:18:22 -0500
Fwd Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 21:17:06 -0500
Subject: Re: Looking Back At 50 Years Of Ufology

>Date: Tue, 26 Jan 1999 18:10:01 +0000
>From: Anthony Chippendale <ufo-net@clara.net>
>To: discuss-ufo@onelist.com
>Subject: Looking Back At 50 Years Of Ufology

>As we prepare to enter the new Millenium it is time that we all
>stood back and looked at what we have accomplished during the
>last 50 or so years of UFO research - nothing. We have
>investigated sightings, abductions, mutilations and crop
>circles. We have gathered numbers and statistics and analysis'
>of UFO sightings, but we have not actually achieved anything.

Anthony -

It depends on what you mean by "achievement". In this context,
my definition of achievement has several components:

1) Collection, preservation and dissemination of historical data
by and among researchers.

2) Dissemination of said information among the general public
and the scientific community.

3) Improvements in the gathering of new case information and the
analyses applied to that information.

4) Dissemination of that information to researchers, the general
public, and the scientific community.

5) Development, dissemination and use of classification systems
for UFO reports which emphasize patterns available in historical
and modern data.

6) Development of methods for rapid peer review of new cases,
analyses, and ideas.

7) Development of publication and funding resources for serious
research - within the UFO research community.

8) Clarification of the status of classic and non-so-classic
incidents through reinvestigation and archival research,
including the
discovery / rediscovery of hoaxes.

Let's examine the results.

1) Efforts such as Project 1947's archival research and
cataloging efforts, FUFOR sponsored historical research and
publications, the work of Loren Gross, the efforts to find and
consolidate important collections of UFO publications and
papers, have all contributed to this goal.

2) Jerry Clark's new 'UFO Encyclopedia' & 'UFO Book', Peter
Hassall's 'NZ Files', Brookesmith's collections, republication
of the 'UFO Evidence', and von Ludwiger's 'Best UFO Cases:
Europe' all are recent steps to the attainment of this goal. The
publication of catalogs and reports on the web has increased
greatly, widening the audience for serious UFO data.

3) A limited degree of new focus on gathering quantitative
information from UFO sightings has begun to emerge. Ted
Phillips' renewed activity in physical trace investigation and
analysis, efforts by Vallee to estimate the physical parameters
(especially energy output) of UFOs, and the efforts of
individual investigators to gather more solid distance, size,
and speed information, have all shown promise. This area,
however, continues to lag behind others, due to the nature of
field investigation and the ability of FIs to devote sufficient
effort to single cases.

4) This area continues to lag far behind, though there are some
hopeful signs. The emergence and evolution of Internet
communities (such as this List) where experts and laypersons
mix, and where current and historical case information can be
repeatedly and thoroughly debated are a hopeful sign.

Nevertheless, emphasis on sensational and unverified aspects of
the phenomenon, such as abduction claims, implants,
films/videos/documents of anonymous or unknown provenance, and
paranormal cases, remains the primary focus of the conventional
media with regard to UFOs. This is also reflected in the pages
of many of the more popular UFO related media. To some extent,
this situation has seen a sharp worsening since the late
1960s/early 1970s, when scientists seemed to show a willingness
to look more openly at UFO data.

5) Relatively little effort has been exerted is this area. Most
classification systems have been simple and superficial, and few
are more than single level. The original Vallee classifcation
system has been brought more in line with the Hynek system has
added categories for anomalies, and has tried to regularize its
dimensions, largely (IMO) to the detriment of its
expressiveness. Such systems have been a personal area of focus
for me, and I have developed three classification systems with a
behavioral slant. This remains one of the weakest areas of
UFOlogical science.

6) Again, the Internet is wreaking change in this area. New
cases and theories are dissected and dealt with in a matter of
days, weeks, or months, where years were formerly needed. At the
same time, final dissemination of these results still lags
behind, except in mail list archives.

7) The situation in terms of publication remains slightly
improved, but there are still not enough resources available.
FUFOR has emerged as am important funder of programs, but
direction of research money remains sporadic, and the amount
remains small.

8) Researchers continue their efforts in this area, however many
databases either lack definitive status for their cases, or the
definitive status remains undisseminated, or, worse, databases
are removing cases found to be hoaxes. However, authors continue
the tradition of discussing problematic or refuted cases in
their books.

Others may define achievement in other ways. For instance, I
suspect there are many who define achievement as reduction in
conflict and increasing unanimity of opinion. Personally, I
believe that it is far to early for that to occur. We have spent
about 50 years collecting and disseminating cases of uneven
quality and data depth. This has been important, and the efforts
to catalog that data are an important first step to the
development of the more robust and expressive classification
systems which are needed to frame overarching hypotheses. Free
form efforts at theorization are both essential and yet have the
potential to do harm within and without ufology. Little except
the continued development of peer review mechanisms can be used
to improve the quality and applicability of new hypotheses.

>We ufologists spend most of our time arguing about cases and
>incidents. We argue on the Internet, on TV, and in the numerous
>UFO/Paranormal periodicals that are published across the globe.
>Unfortunately, we have not gained anything.

I would disagree with this, for the reasons stated above. If
anything, we need higher levels of debate, and we need more
credible researchers involved in these debates. If the nonsense
is to be ejected from this field, it will only be accomplished
by free, unfettered, and focused debate. From that, hopefully,
will emerge a foundation of stronger hypotheses which are
supportable from the existing data.

We also need to keep in mind the nature of our subject of study.
UFOs remain elusive and unwilling to perform in cue. Therefore
we must, like ornithologists, deal with the self-willed nature
of the phenomenon, and the fragmentary and distorted data which

>It is time for us to step back and look at the data that we
>have, I do not mean analyse it, I mean look at it, look for
>clues and patterns that might tell us something about the
>activities of the aliens.

Good data gathering, analysis, classification, and the
formulation of testable hypotheses are the only routes that will
eventually attain this goal. Unfocused "looking" is not going to

Mark Cashman, creator of The Temporal Doorway at
- Original digital art, writing, and UFO research -

UFO cases, analysis, classification systems, and more...

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