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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2007 > Oct > Oct 22

Re: True Percentage Of UFO Unknowns Is High

From: Chris Rutkowski <rutkows.nul>
Date: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 14:10:02 -0500 (CDT)
Archived: Mon, 22 Oct 2007 16:04:13 -0400
Subject: Re: True Percentage Of UFO Unknowns Is High


>>>>"Every year, it's whittled down to about 3% to 5% that don't
>>>>have an easy explanation," said Rutkowski.

>No less an outstanding scientist UFO investigator than James
>McDonald after extensive research in the BB files estimated the
>true percentage of Unknowns as 30% to 40% not 5%.
>Methinks Canadians have no excuse for not knowing this. If you
>disagree with McDonald then you should have published your
>disagreement with him decades ago. The UFO field continually
>loses sight of basics like this and again, thank you Don for
>calling this highly appropriate corrective to our attention.
>>>But if it makes researchers feel safe in using this bogus and
>>>unproven percentage of 3-5 percent when dealing with the press,
>>>so be it.

I don't disagree with McDonald on the percentage of unknowns in
Blue Book files. I do disagree with you on your view of the
Canadian UFO files.

>>We've spent the better part of 20 years going through Canadian
>>UFO report data and publishing it as the Canadian UFO Survey
>>every spring. We even make the raw data available for anyone to
>>look at and use themselves.
>Tell me then what you do to comply with the Hynek screening
>process as explained in his basic textbook of UFO science, The
>UFO Experience in 1972? No sighting report according to Hynek
>should get the "UFO" label until after a scientifically
>competent investigation has eliminated IFO's and other
>conventional explanations (for simplicity I call all
>conventional explanations including hoaxes "IFO's"). Do you do
>that first on _all_ your cases before you call them _all_

No. We lay this out carefully in the body of our annual study.
Please take a look at one.

What we do is collect all the UFO reports made to various
agencies and compile the data. These are almost all labelled
"UFO" by the witnesses themselves or the "investigators" (to use
the term rather loosely), long before we get them.

>The UFO skeptic position is that there is no real difference
>between UFO's and IFO's, that the "very few" so-called UFO's are
>really misperceptions of random IFO phenomena reported
>anecdotally and unscientifically, and that even UFO researchers
>cannot tell the difference between UFO's and IFO's without an
>elaborate and tendentious analysis that merely plays up minor
>differences based on preconceived ideas and subjective biases
>and then calls that proof of ET visitation.

We do statistical analyses of the data. Geoff even separates out
the unknowns and compares them with the full data set just to
see if these are any differences. We do not make any claims or
statements about alien visitation. Are you sure you've actually
looked at our Canadian UFO Survey?

>The skeptic position would be defeated if we used objective
>criteria to screen cases, stopped misrepresenting UFO case
>statistics, and stopped shamelessly promoting anecdotal cases as
>if there was no other kind of data. It's a choice and all we
>have to do is make the choice.

We're about as objective as ufology can be. That's why we seem
to be so skeptical. We use actual case reports, not anecdotes.
If we do use an anecdotal source, the case likely is listed as
"Insufficient Info."

>Justifiable? Scientific? Who actually slaps the "UFO" label on
>95% of the reports that come in when the witnesses have _not_
>ever used the word or term "UFO"? You have thus artificially
>inflated the "UFO" stats so the proportion of true Unknowns
>among this vast bloated collection of reports becomes tiny in
>comparison -- in fact later on in your posting you admit that
>this "drops the percentage of 'real' UFOs." Why play into the
>hands of debunkers like that?

As I noted, we don't slap labels on anything. We use data that
has been labeled "UFO" by our sources. Take a look at the online
websites for people to report sightings. They all say something
like: "Report your UFO here." Even the govt/military cases we
get are sent in on forms titled "UFO Report."

The semantics issue is not trvial, though. If the average
citizen sees something, the term "UFO" is usually thought of by
him or her, and if that person has the courage to report it at
all, it will likely be to a UFO website. In practice, I find
that few witnesses hesitate to call their observed object a UFO.
I think we have to be realistic and understand that most people
don't get the subtle difference between "UFO" and "weird object
that after investigation may be considered a UFO."

>Why do that to the honest witnesses who in the vast majority of
>reports are careful _not_ to label what they saw as "UFO" or
>"spacecraft" even though they don't realize how much hyped
>controversy rides on such labeling tricks? It is a credit to the
>vast majority of witnesses who exercise such care and a
>discredit to them to crassly ignore their caution just to
>inflate the "UFO" statistics so one can boasting of so many
>thousands of "UFO" reports in Canada by a trick of mislabeling.

Take the issue up with "investigators" then, not us. We're simply looking
at reported data.

>If the witness does not use the term "UFO" isn't it a form of
>misquotation to say or imply that they did? Or if the UFO
>investigator plants the "UFO" label on the witness in
>interviewing him or her by using leading questions so the
>witness starts using the "UFO" term when they had not done so
>previously in regard to their sighting?

Again, take a look at all the UFO online reporting websites. Thaye all
call the observed objects UFOs, even if they seem to be stars or planes.

>Surely you know that some honest witnesses of integrity are
>lambasted by debunkers and raked over the coals publicly when
>their alleged "UFO" sightings actually turn out to be alleged
>IFO's -- when the witness himself or herself never said it was a
>"UFO" in the first place! We are the ones who called it a "UFO"
>but it's the witness who suffers for it. Is that fair?

I don't know. Is it fair to lambbaste us for doing scientific
studies on reported data?

By the way, I agree with you on the lack of investigation in
ufology. In fact, I made this point at the Edmonton UFO
Conference last month. Investigative ufology is essentially
dead. Most ufology buffs seem content with posting and sharing
stories about UFO sightings without bothering to check facts or
even try and come up with possible explanations. And the earnest
and reputable UFO reporting people liek Peter Davenport admit
that they are too overwhelmed with cases to investigate
themselves. Some websites post reports from around the world and
maybe talk on the phone or email back and forth with witnesses
in other provinces, states or in other countries who sent them
the info on automated report forms, without passing along the
contact info to regional investigators so that thourough
investigation can actually occur.

In effect, UFO investigation is dead, and a lost art.

(To clarify: when I or my local colleagues get a sighting
report, we actually investigate, but this is barely a few
handfuls of cases each year within our geographical region. I
pass on distant cases to individuals whom I know are still
investigating in a particular region. But you know, there are
fewer and fewer good investigators every year, and they are
getting farther and farther apart.)

I disagree with your new "NFO" or "NIFO" label, however. We
already have "Insufficient Info" and "Possible/Probable
Explanation" in place. NFO seems to imply one or the other. It
also wouldn't change the stats on the Unknowns. All it seems to
be is a regrouping or relabeling of the "gray basket." I'd love
to see the Insufs or NFOs get more investigation so that they
can be either explained or deemed unexplained.

In summary, we cite 3 to 5 percent of all reported UFOs as
higher-quality unknowns because that's what they are. Insufs or
NIFOs still comprise the vast majority of cases, largely due to
the increasing lack of proper investigation of sighting reports.

Besides, 3 to 5 per cent of the more than 5,000 cases
accumulated in our data files since 1989 is still quite a few
good UFO reports. Those are the ones we should be focusing our
energies on, not on bickering over data analyses or semantics.

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