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A Skeptical View Of UFOs

From: Claude Mauge <claudemauge.nul>
Date: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 16:48:56 +0200 (CEST)
Archived: Thu, 20 Sep 2007 18:18:37 -0400
Subject: A Skeptical View Of UFOs


Hello,

As this is my first post to this List, it is perhaps useful that
I introduce briefly myself. I'm French, 61, single, and a
retired teacher in maths and physics in a vocational school
("lycee professionnel"), with a "matrise" in physics and a
"licence" in psychology. I have several centers of interest, the
main one being the UFO phenomenon with several articles
published in some UFO journals (or chapters in two collective
books).

My interest in UFOs began seriously in 1974. I was during
several years a moderate believer in UFOs and in the
extraterrestrial hypothesis, but I changed my mind because of
several facts and in 1982 I had become a UFO skeptic. A
"skeptic" or a "debunker"?

To use Frank Warren's phrase in his original post of September
12, I think it's possible to "offer a good argument" about the
possible/probable non-existence of UFOs. In any case, such an
argument is presented in another post, which is divided into two
parts because of its lenght.

Is it "good"? Is it "bad"? The verdict is yours...


---

This contribution is only a guide line, it claims in no way to
be a demonstration. Particularly, references are not always
given; most are in the text, but a few basic ones (noted CLA,
HEN or the like) are listed in part 8. And if I understand very
well that many people can not really appreciate several of my
statements, I intend to hurt nobody, particularly experiencers;
if some formulations can be somewhat crude, this is because the
text must be not too long and possibly because I can
occasionally have some difficulties to express nuances in
English.

1. Preliminary considerations.

1.1 What name can we use for the theory presented here?
Something like "non-existence hypothesis" is simple, but it does
not take into account for instance possible revolutionary secret
planes. Likewise, the phrase "socio-psychological hypothesis" or
the like is not satisfying because it seems to imply that all
UFO cases have a priori only psychological or sociological
causes. I use thus the expression "reductionnist composite
hypothesis" (RCH in short) even if a better one could possibly
exist. The word "hypothesis" is used as in "extraterrestrial
hypothesis", but "theory", "paradigm", or "worldview" could
probably be more accurate.

1.2 The three different stages connected to the word "UFO". I
feel it is absolutely essential to distinguish them [for a more
detailed review and definitions, see the presentation by this
author at the 1989 BUFORA Congress]:

1.2.1.a) Pre-UFO (UFO "in Condon sense") =3D any object or
phenomenon, objective or not, that the witness (or experiencer)
or any subsequent person labels "a UFO"; it can be for instance
a true E.T. flying saucer, an anomalous geophysical phenomenon,
a sincere misidentification, a fabrication by the witness or a
journalist.

b) Quasi-UFO (UFO "in Hynek sense") =3D the stimulus which is the
source of any observation of a pre-UFO which remains not
identifiable in "normal" terms by competent experts.

c) True-UFO =3D the stimulus which is the source of any
observation which is fundamentally unexplainable without a
scientific upheaval, for instance parapsychological phenomena or
extraterrestrial devices.

d) A false-UFO (IFO) is then a pre-UFO which is at some step
identified (or probably identified) in conventional terms (that
is mundane or accepted by science even if not well explained):
misinterpretations of known objects or phenomena,
psycho/physiological causes, hoaxes.

1.2.2 Far too often, ufologists confuse the concepts of quasi-
UFO and true-UFO, that is a case which is (today) unexplained is
perceived as fundamentally unexplainable (therefore an authentic
alien craft for many); this is a methodological error because of
the numerous cases which had been said "unexplainable" but which
were later explained (see 3.3). In fact, we can have no
*absolute certainty* that even the best investigated affairs
(only one example: the RB-47 sighting of 17.07.1957, as
presented by Brad Sparks in CLA) will not be explained in the
future in "mundane" terms.

The only exception could with "military ufologists" (if they
exist elsewhere than in the discourses of many people) working
in the Area 51 or the like on the Roswell crashed saucer or at
least on artifacts of indisputable alien provenance. At least
theoretically, such an indisputable evidence can be obtained: we
need "only" an object which is obviously manufactured and the
isotopic composition of which proves it is neither earthly nor
made in a meteorite; an unknown mode of functioning would be of
course a serious plus. Can someone on this List give a precise
example of such an artifact? (I cannot accept the Roswell saucer
because it is known only through alleged eyewitnesses' accounts,
not by artifacts available for a public scientific examination).

1.3 The epistemological nature and advantages of the RCH.

1.3.1. I do not intend to claim here that the RCH is necessarily
*the* key of the UFO problem, simply because it is not my
personal opinion. I am aware that the RCH could eventually be a
wrong track, and I accept of course that others may prefer other
hypotheses. But I claim to have the right to prefer it. And I
accept of course to be criticized (which is not to be primarily
debunked).

1.3.2 The RCH fits the Ockham's Razor principle, for two
reasons. First, it seems able to eventually explain the whole
ufological spectrum. And second, at least theoretically, it
would not have to require major modifications in our scientific
knowledges. But it is clear that only the future can validate or
invalidate such a position.

1.3.3 The RCH is legitimate (which does not mean true), because
its alleged demolitions are overrated or, at the best, very
partial. It was for instance "proved" that quasi-UFOs cannot be
human secret devices, natural phenomena, hallucinatory-like
experiences, and so on. That's true, if we say "all quasi-UFOs
cannot be natural phenomena", "all quasi-UFOs cannot be secret
devices", and the like. However, the RCH has another nature
because it takes simultaneously into account all these possible
causes.

1.3.4 In our present sad days on Earth, a more humanistic
motivation could also be a possible justification for the RCH.
When we face the UFO data and choose a global explanation for
them, we have two opposite very serious risks. 1) Either true-
UFOs do exist (and are then probably the manifestations of
hostile alien intelligences) but we adopt the RCH: such an
attitude can, not only delay the advancement of Science (this is
not a major problem: Science will go where it must go, even a
little lately), but also we weaken mankind's defence facing a
probable huge menace.

2) Or true-UFOs don't exist, but we adopt (for instance) the
ETH. Particularly, firmly convinced ufologists and psychologists
find as many abductions as they want, thus seriously disturbing
people who would need true counseling instead of fads. More
generally, we are expelling rationality from our world views and
daily lifes.

The weakness of the ufologists' demonstrations (see 3 and 4
below), the (generally) low reliability of the UFO milieu (see
5), the precedent of the great Classical European witchcraft
craze, the very present dangers on civilization, mankind and
Earth (over-population, pollution, global warming, drop of
fertility of men's sperm, egoism of the Western world and
particularly of the United States living on credit on the whole
planet, grave situation in the Middle East, etc.) as opposed to
the hypothetical alien menace, all these data convinced me
intimately to decide that the risk 1 above was lower than the
risk 2 by some orders of magnitude. Again, this is possibly
wrong, but it's my choice.

2. The different types of causes for the UFO reports.

Basically, the RCH states that all the pre-UFO cases are
potentially explainable in conventional terms and have one of
the following causes. It can be stressed that, whatever the
validity of the RCH as a global hypothesis, there are in the UFO
literature cases for which the true mundane nature of the
stimulus will remain forever unknown, for instance for clever
hoaxes the culprit of which could have disappeared before any
confession.

2.1 Hoaxes. They are probably not very numerous (let us say one
percent or less). Many have only a more or less local impact.
But several have had a strong impact among medias and even among
ufologists, including during the early (post-arnoldian) years of
the phenomenon: let us remember only the Adamski scoutcraft type
of flying saucer, which extended largely beyond the Adamskian
circles. Is it necessary to mention for instance, besides
Adamski, the Cergy-Pontoise abduction in France [see e.g. CLA],
Ed Walters's multiple adventures in Gulf Breeze, several
developments of the Roswell crash (faked MJ-12 documents,
Corso's book,...), or more recently the Serpo project?

2.2 Simple misidentifications. The account is objective, but the
witness (or later a journalist or an ufologist) labels "UFO"
something which is actually an IFO. The origin can be:

2.2.1 A mundane object or phenomenon which is not identified
when sighted. Most frequently misidentified objects are stars
and planets, including the Moon; planes and helicopters, either
a distant "normal" plane, an ad plane, or military manoeuvres;
atmospheric reentries of meteors, satellites or launching
rockets [see for instance HEN].

2.2.2 The same stimuli, but with peculiar sighting conditions
which can make the identification more difficult, such as when
sighted from a moving vehicle, through a mist, or by an ill-
being person.

2.2.3 A conventional object or phenomenon which is unknown to
the observer, the most often because it is a rather infrequent
stimulus. It can be a lenticular cloud, a tetrahedral sounding
balloon, a missile launching, or a space experiment such as an
artificial barium or sodium cloud.

2.3 Errors with more complex psychological processes, the word
"psychological" being taken in a rather broad sense, including
for instance physiological phenomena.

2.3.1 Simple optical illusions, such as a satellite which
appears to zigzag in the night sky because of the autokinetic
effect, apparent motion illusions (for instance a car chased by
the Moon), or the very mundane Moon illusion (for which no
definitive explanation exists despite of recent progress).

2.3.2 More complex illusions, where the witness's past
experiences, knowledges, and present state of mind interfere
(the word is to be taken nearly with its meaning in physics)
with the perceptual process. Paolo Toselli had long ago
distinguished two steps in such perceptual transpositions [see
TOS]. The first one is the "'projective transformation', in
which the witness 'projects' his conscious and/or unconscious
knowledge of the UFO phenomena onto the object being observed",
attributing to it properties it does not have. Such an
"unconscious knowledge of the UFO phenomena" can surely be
disputed for the early years of the post-arnoldian era in
Western countries, or for a longer period in non-Western
cultures. But in the United States, at least from 1952 on, how
many people had never read something on flying saucers in a
newspaper or in a magazine or heard of them on a radio program,
not to speak of TV programs (fiction or non-fiction) from the
1960s or 1970s? An example of such processes is the sighting by
dozens of witnesses in Northern United States on 16.08.1966: a
little light point in the sky grows rapidly as the full Moon and
changes its color, then the same phenomenon repeats ifself a few
minutes later; a motorist panics when he/she thinks the object
is attacking the car, and several pilots turns because they fear
a collision; it was two successive barium clouds launched in
space from Canada some 500 km away [J. Allen Hynek and Jacques
VallEe, The Edge of Reality, French translation: 191-5].
Another very interesting case is given by the numerous reports
generated in the U.S.A. by the re-rentry of Zond IV on
03.03.1968; many accounts are good illustrations of Toselli's
projective transformation, and a few ones are the concern of the
following category [see William Hartmann in GIL].

Toselli's second step is the "projective elaboration" with an
important increase in subjective elements, where the witness
assigns to the stimulus "in addition to the UFO 'patterns',
'abilities' of physical influence on the surrounding
environment". In this latter category, Toselli mentions for
example the car chase between HErissard and Amiens, France, on
03.10.1954 (during the major Fall 1954 wave): a scarlet sphere
heads towards a car, stops when the motorist stops, turns
spirally, changes its shape, and finally disappears in the sky
in a few seconds; it was eventually the Moon.

It is often stated in the UFO literature that multiple-witness
cases are a priori more reliable than single-witness cases. This
is not necessarily wrong, but it is far from being always true.
For social influences exist between two or more persons, which
can distort the perception by the individual witnesses. Some
examples are given by Allan Hendry (HEN: 191-2), there are much
others.

2.3.3 Experiences within an altered state of consciousness, that
is outside the normal awake state. These are for instance the
numerous "hallucinations" by tired motorists, or the hypnagogic
/ hypnopompic phenomena when falling asleep or awakening. The
latter probably explain many simple abduction cases (sleeping
experiencer, sensation of a light and/or of a presence, entity
sighting, unability to move, unability to wake up the spouse,
levitation sensation, ...).

2.3.4 Psychopathological experiences. They necessarily exist
because of mundane statistical grounds, even if they make only a
little part of the UFO incidents (presumably less than one
percent). According to Jerome Clark, the experiencer of the
borderline abduction / contact case on 28.08.1979 near
Winchester, VA, was diagnosed with a "hysterical neurosis,
conversion type", and "nothing about [...]'s claim or subsequent
behavior inspires confidence that the incident happened as
reported" [CLA: 906-8]. And in France, there are serious reasons
for thinking that the famous Dr. X affair could be explained in
an equivalent way [a little more precisions will be given in a
book about French abductions in preparation by this author].

2.3.5 Contrarily to what think or write several proponent
ufologists, to say that some persons have undergone a
psychological or a psychiatric experience is in no way
equivalent to belittle them. Everybody makes errors on every
day: reading, writing, calculating, perception, memory, logical,
judgment errors are very frequent and mundane phenomena; studies
have shown that, in our professional life, each of us (including
pilots) makes one to three mistakes per hour. A huge majority of
them have no consequences or minor ones, but some are not as
benign -- even if accidents have generally several causes, the
primary cause for a majority of plane accidents is an error by
the pilot.

Likewise, an important fraction of us has had (or will have) at
least once in his/her life a psychopathological experience but
this does absolutely not mean we are "mad". As for more severe
mental pathologies, they are (whatever their causes) illnesses
as somatical diseases, and they should not discredite in anyway
the patients.

After all, who is the more respectful for his/her patients: the
crank psychologist who reinforces their delusional beliefs, or
the one who says: "Sorry, Sir/Madam, I have objective reasons
for thinking you have this or that mental pathology; I cannot
promise to cure you definitely, but I shall try"?

2.4 Rare geophysical phenomena which are more or less
acknowledged by science. They can be for instance ball
lightning, earthquake lights, abnormal coronas or parhelic
manifestations, abnormal low sun refraction phenomena, and so
on. William Corliss's compilations offer many examples for such
scientific anomalies, many of which being merely curious but
several of which being a serious challenge to the current
theories. [See particularly: Dark Days, Ice Falls, Firestorms,
and Related Weather Anomalies; Remarkable Luminous Phenomena
in Nature;  Rare Halos, Mirages, Anomalous Rainbows, and
Related Electromagnetic Phenomena].

The case of the blue jets, red sprites, and short-lived elves is
particularly interesting, for it concerns high altitude luminous
phenomena which had been observed for long from planes but whose
existence was admitted only in the 1990s [Corliss, Remarkable
[...]; Von R. Eshleman in STU]. Moreover, they offer a proof
that we are far from knowing all what occurs on our old planet,
even for the mere existence of rather banal phenomena. Another
example (not directly connected to UFOs) for such phenomena is
rogue giant waves, known during a long time by sailors but not
by science. Before thus to call for the inadequacies of Science
to validate the presence of alien beings on Earth, is it not
more economical to try to fill *first* our knowledge of
*possible* "mundane" explanations?

2.5 Human secret devices, weapons, or operations. Is there for
instance a better cover than a "UFO sighting" for a space
experiment which is destined to remain secret because it has a
military object? The U.S. authorities were probably fond of the
fact that their submarine missile launchings off the Canaries
Islands on 22.06.1976, 05.03.1979, and so on [see the account
and the reference given in 3.3.8], were "explained" as UFOs: the
most efficient cover-up here is the fact of ufologists, not of
the military. And the former Soviet Union was very probably in
the same situation with the numerous space launchings of the
1960s (cf. Donald Keyhoe's giant UFOs). Or with the celestial
medusa of Petrozavodsk on 20.09.1976, explained by James Oberg
in his UFOs & Outer Space Mysteries as a spying satellite
launching from the secret Plesetsk base; I can understand that
proponents refuse to take Oberg's (or anyone else!) statements
into account when they are only "proclamations", but to proceed
in such a way when Oberg gives serious arguments is only a
demonstration of the close-mindedness of those who refuse these
arguments without studying them. As for Gerald K. Haines's
attribution of "over half of all [U.S.] UFO reports from the
late 1950s through the 1960s" to SR-71 and U-2 flights ["CIA's
Role in the Study of UFOs 1947 to 1990": 6], I agree that this
is largely exaggerated; but I am convinced too Haines is partly
right.

In France, it is not impossible that Maurice Masse, the witness
of the 01.07.1965 classical C.E.3 at Valensole, saw an
helicopter from the American 6th Fleet during an espionage
mission: it would have investigated near the village the new
powerful radar intended to detect the U.S. launchings from Cape
Canaveral by the disturbances the rockets produced at the
ionosphere border. With this hypothesis, the French authorities
could have prefered to let to speak about a UFO instead of
acknowledging such a flight over the national territory. In any
case, two weeks later, a spying U.S. plane was intercepted above
the Pierrelatte nuclear plant, and this incident was one of
Charles De Gaulle's reasons for leaving NATO the following year.
[A little more in the book by MaugE mentionned above].

Generally speaking, such affairs with a defence component are
possibly one of the explanations for the very ambiguous
behaviour of the political and military authorities (other
reasons are presented in 4.5).

3. The question of the solid cases.

3.1 The existence of many unexplained cases. It is for me
absolutely clear that there are numerous cases which are
apparently reliable, reasonably well investigated, and at least
apparently irreducible to conventional causes, particularly
among cases with lasting physical or physiological effects.
Although the number of these quasi-UFO cases is probably lower
than most values given by the proponents, it could amount a few
thousands: as far as I know, the late Willy Smith had some 1000
/ 1500 affairs in his UNICAT Project files, and this could be a
reasonable estimate, even if several of Smith's cases are not
truly sound sightings.

But because of the following reasons, it is not forbidden to
think that even these "solid" cases are explainable by the
different causes presented in 2 (which of course does not mean
they are necessarily explainable in such a way). Please see also
5.3.3 for a related point.

3.2 The value of the investigations. Because of the problem of
the reliability of the UFO milieu (see 5), one can have some
interrogations about the value of many investigations, including
by several of the most famous ufologists (all the more so since
no dictionary offers "famous" as a synonym for "reliable"). As a
consequence, it is possible that many "unexplainable" incidents
have in fact mundane causes, without we are necessarily able to
discover which one. Or which ones when several causes are
involved simultaneously, what makes of course things more
complicated; for instance when a strange stimulus is seen in a
disturbed weather by an observer being in a pecular
psychological state (not necessarily under drug influence, tired
can be enough).

3.3 The "unexplainable yet explained" classics. There are rather
numerous sightings, including among the classical affairs which
had contributed to build the picture of the UFO phenomenon among
the military, the medias, the public and the ufologists, which
were long considered as truly unexplainable, but which were
later explained in conventional terms including by proponents,
or at least for which serious doubts arose later. The status
change can be due to a new investigation, possibly by a
proponent emotionally less involved than his/her predecessors,
to the discovery of an important detail, to the more or less
providential intervention of the adequate specialist, or to the
evolution of mentalities. Many illustrations exist for such
downgradings, here are only a few (see 2.5 for other examples).

3.3.1 Godman AFB area, KY, 07.01.1948. See Clark's entry in CLA
or Kevin Randle's "An Analysis of the Thomas Mantell UFO Case"
[http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/ufoupdates/listers/mantell.
html].

3.3.2 Fargo, ND, 01.10.1948. In his Encyclopedia, Clark seems to
accept the balloon explanation by the U.S.A.F. and writes that
"after the Mantell incident the Gorman sighting may be the most
overrated UFO report in the early history of the phenomenon".

3.3.3 Draguignan area, France, 06.10.1952 (various witnesses,
including two pilots in flight). The case was presented by
influential ufologist AimE Michel in his first book; according
to him, this "object which flew over the Provence [...] is
perhaps the one which, from a scientific viewpoint, is the
closest to offer the definitive and indisputable proof for the
reality of flying saucers [Lueurs sur les soucoupes volantes,
Mame, 1954: 169; translated as The Truth About Flying Saucers,
1956]. Yet it was a bolide according to astronomer-ufologist
Pierre GuErin, who was absolutely not a debunker [ OVNI. Les
mEcanismes d'une dEsinformation, Albin Michel, 2000: 227-8,
332].

3.3.4 Ubatuba, Brazil, early 09.1957. For Michel Bourron, a
specialist in balistics and pyrotechnics, it was probably a
Brazilian military rocket [Lumieres dans la nuit No 174, Apr.
1978: 3-6]. In this instance, I consider this explanation as
plausible, not as proved; the possibility has however to be
taken into account.

3.3.5 Trancas, Argentina, 21.10.1963. This C.E.3 with several
interesting physical effects and debris seems rather forgotten
today despite the fact it could have been one of the most
extraordinary cases and that it was published in the Flying
Saucer Review. Roberto Banchs has good arguments for explaining
this affair as military manoeuvres [Los identificados.
Casuistica ovni con ocupantes en Argentina. VI. Los fenomenos de
Trancas, ca 1994].

3.3.6 Willamette Pass, OR, 21.10.1966. Photograph of a UFO,
which is duly analyzed by some physicists; one of them announces
that the particularities of the picture are due to an object
oscillating between our space-time and another one. It was
nevertheless only a road sign [see for instance CLA]. This case
proves that a hoaxer can have no apparent motivation and can
remain undiscovered during a quarter of century. It can thus be
far less evident to detect certain frauds (here, only the
opportunist takeover of a curious photo) than proponents claim.

3.3.7 Cuddington, UK, 11.01.1973. This sighting by Peter Day who
filmed a strange light on daytime had been a sound case for
several British ufologists, including Jenny Randles. It was
later explained as burning fuel dropped by a F-111 plane having
serious troubles [Jenny Randles, in Hilary Evans and Dennis
Stacy (eds), UFOs 1947-1997. From Arnold to the Abductees:
Fifty Years of Flying Saucers, John Brown, 1997: 251-2].

3.3.8 Canaries Islands, 22.06.1976. Many people, including from
a ship of the Spanish navy, see a huge ball of light projecting
a beam, which is photographed and detected by radar. It is even
a C.E.3 for a few witnesses. As other sightings in the Canaries,
this case is today fully explained by Spanish investigators as
the launching of a Poseidon missile by an American submarine
[Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos and Ricardo Campo PErez, in
International UFO Reporter, vol.29, No 4].

3.3.9 Belgium, 30-31.03.1990. Nocturnal lights seen by gendarmes
and radar detection by a Belgian F-16 plane. The English-
speaking UFO literature mentions generously the initial
ufological interpretation by several authors, particularly Prof.
Auguste Meessen for whom this case was very close to an absolute
proof of the presence on Earth of extraterrestrial true-UFOs.
However Meessen reversed his mind, and acknowledges that the
lights were caused by an exceptional atmospheric refraction of
stars and the detection possibly by a radar anomalous
propagation [A. Meessen, in SOBEPS's Vague d'OVNI sur la
Belgique. 2. Une enigme non resolue, 1994: 394-406]. Who
really noted this reversal among the English-speaking
ufologists?

3.3.10 It can thus be legitimate to wonder if these numerous
"unexplainable yet explained" cases are a challenge to the
existence of a hard core of truly reliable and unexplainable
events (this does not mean this hard core does not exist, only
that the question of its existence can be asked).

3.4 The indistinguishability between quasi-UFOs and IFOs. At
least at a first view, it seems that quasi-UFOs and IFOs are a
priori indistinguishable [see for instance HEN]. For the
witnesses of the two types of events seem to be the same
(normal) persons, as well as the accounts they give, either for
the general frame or for the reported details: sighting
circumstances, description of the UFO or the ufonaut(s),
behaviour of the object or the entities, effects, etc. For
instance, we have numerous photographs which can fairly be said
unidentified, but also many others which seem more or less close
to the former but are nevertheless well explained; this was true
with chemical images, and it is still more true with electronic
images. The same argument applies probably to whatever UFO
category, behaviour or effect: car chases, airplane air-misses,
radar detection, TV set perturbations, engine stopping, debris,
witness paralysis, and so on.

As for paralysis for instance, an interesting account had been
published by Mr. D. in the April 1981 issue of the noted French
UFO magazine Lumieres dans la nuit [No 204, p. 34]. D., a UFO
proponent, was outside his house and, when discovering a
hedgedog, made luminous signals with his torch to his wife who
was inside; but Mrs D. convinced immediately herself it was a
UFO, and after a few minutes D. found her as paralyzed at the
window. I am not claiming here that any paralysis by a UFO has
necessarily a pure psychological cause, but are ufologists able
to distinguish cases with an internal cause and cases with an
external cause?

However, it is clear that this indiscernibility, even if it
would be established, cannot prove alone that quasi-UFOs anf
IFOs have the same nature: it would be for instance possible
that aliens "disguise" themselves, their actions or their craft
in order to deceive us.

4. Other proofs for the existence of true-UFOs.

The existence of cases which are apparently unexplainable is a
fact, but it is not sufficient to prove the presence of true-
UFOs on Earth. The proponents put forward other proofs, either
direct or indirect, which can probably be filed in the following
categories. All of them are equally disputable at some degree.

4.1 The existence of material data. Material elements such as
UFO fragments, mutes, pictures and videos, sound recordings,
ground or vegetal traces, chemical or biochemical modifications,
and the like, are of course attested in rather numerous affairs.
And a few of them are really puzzling. However, all these cases
have their own ambiguities. For instance, it is often difficult
to know if the material data are truly connected to the observed
UFO (e.g.: was not the trace already here before the UFO
appeared?), and what is their real degree of non-explicability
with conventional causes. The whole argument can be generalized
to the many alleged physical or physiological effects attributed
to UFOs with no lasting evidence, such as engine or TV
perturbations, abnormal luminous beams (curved, broken, or the
like), or temporary physiological effects.

We can especially remember the Pocantico meeting at Tarrytown on
1997, where highly selected (proponent) ufologists had to
present their best cases and their best evidence to a panel of
scientists gathered by Peter Sturrock. The panel appreciated the
efforts of the ufologists and acknowledged that a UFO problem
does exist and that its study is legitimate. But it stated also
that "it appears that most current UFO investigations are
carried out at a level of rigor that is not consistent with
prevailing standards of scientific research" and that "the
review panel was not convinced that any of the evidence involved
currently unknown physical processes or pointed to the
involvement of an extraterrestrial intelligence" [STU: 121]. Did
somebody really care?

4.2 The mutual authentification of cases by the analogies they
offer. This argument is invalidated by the UFO-IFO
indistinguishability. For when various authors give examples for
it, they compare often reasonably reliable cases with far less
reliable sightings or even with already explained ones.
Moreover, if some of these analogies can be rather convincing,
most are not, and identical descriptions of UFOs or ufonauts are
rare (J. Allen Hynek had once labelled a "pandemonium" this huge
diversity of UFOs).

4.3 The statistical proof. The statistical consistency which
seems to appear from various analyses is equally shattered by
the UFO-IFO indiscernibility, but above all by the fact that UFO
catalogues are often saturated with cases having nothing to do
with possible true-UFOs. It was also demonstrated that some
statistical studies are seriously questionable or are totally
invalidated. At the best, a few had some value in the past, for
instance the Battelle study published as the Project Blue Book
Special Report No. 14, but its cases are absolutely not
representative of the UFO spectrum as it is known today: how
many C.E.3 or C.E.4 are among Battelle's data? Or they can have
had some historical value, such as Michel's orthoteny which
attracted some scientists to the UFO problem; but to use today
the BAVIC (Bayonne - Vichy) straight line shows a gross
ignorance of the basic facts (now acknowledged by probably all
noted French ufologists, either serious or not): the six alleged
cases on 24.09.1954 occurred actually on the 17, 20, 22, and
23... Other works are more disputable, for instance the
statistics by Claude Poher, which have had some notoriety even
in the English-speaking literature [see the critical review by
this author in PIN; summarized in Hilary Evans with John Spencer
(eds), UFOs. 1947-1987. The 40-Year Search for an Explanation,
Fortean Tomes, 1987: 162].

4.4 The existence of apparently quasi-exhaustive and coherent
explanatory models. This argument concerning both global
hypotheses for the UFO problem and more specific points could be
sound if we had not so many competing sets: except for people
who "know" already The truth, we are unable to select the right
one. Moreover, all of them use too many questionable data and
neglect important parameters or even whole aspects of the
phenomenon. For instance, if we accept the extraterrestrial
hypothesis, the two most important questions are probably the
motivation of the alien presence on Earth and the propulsion
process of their craft. Where is the consensus on both matters?
As for propulsion, we have possibly more than hundred proposed
means; and if we limit ourselves to models developped with some
details, we have for instance the proposals by Leonard G. Cramp,
Maurice de San, Paul Hill, Eric Julien, James McCampbell, Jean-
Pierre Petit (a magneto-hydro-dynamic model, based on... UMMO
documents), Jean Plantier, R. H. B. Winder, and others: who is
to be chosen? McCampbell has possibly offered the most
intelligent proposal, he constructed alas his speculations on a
very biased case catalogue.

4.5 The sociological proof by the behaviour of political and
military authorities.

4.5.1. According to many proponents, this behaviour (in one
word: the cover-up) has only one explanation: it proves that
true-UFOs do exist and that our governments are aware of it. But
it is equally (and more economically) explainable by reasons
having nothing to do with UFOs themselves. Let us begin by
puting aside false official documents or falsified true ones:
they are of course disinformation, but who are the culprits?
Official agencies, or more or less marginal proponents
interested by the UFO business? UFO sightings used as a cover
(see 2.5), bureaucratic procedures and habits, a refusal to
confess that one does not really understand what is occurring or
that one is unable to clearly explain why there are no such
things as true-UFOs, all these reasons could explain a large
part of the ambiguities of the officials.

4.5.2 The most important factor is however probably the Cold War
and the paranoia it generated during the 1950s-1960s, a paranoia
which seems largely forgotten today but which was very real at
the time. It was fueled both by dangers which had nothing to do
with imaginary fears (the probability of a nuclear war had been
high) and by delusional people (Senator McCarthy and others).
Such a context could well be the unique reason for the 1953
Robertson Panel despite the denials by present-day revisionnist
UFO proponents: the military forces had to face an actual Red
menace far more serious than a supposed extraterrestrial one,
and the C.I.A. had perhaps some grounds for trying to debunk the
latter. And this context accounts also for the various
investigations by the F.B.I. -- not really about UFOs per se,
but about people perceived as dubious such as contactees, prone
to promote an "ideal" society a little too close to the
communist one, or even more conventional ufologists, possibly
perceived as (conscious or not) Soviet agents propagating false
news in order to saturate communication channels and/or to
undermine the population faith in their country. After all, the
F.B.I. undertook many investigations about artists, scientists
or writers, and it would not be shameful to have been in their
company...

4.5.3 Conversely, it could be claimed that the ufologists, who
say again and again for long they have definitive proofs for the
presence of true-UFOs, were totally unable during the past 60
years to produce a global change in the opinions about UFOs of
the two mattering communities, that of scientists and that of
political and military authorities.

Clearly, as for the latter, one must rely on what could be only
an appearance. Such a position is in any case confirmed by what
we know about the official situation in several countries, such
as Spain [thanks to Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos], United
Kingdom [thanks to David Clarke and Andy Roberts],or France. In
the latter country, retired General Guy Dotte-Charvy who is
sympathetic to the UFO question has written in Lumieres dans
la nuit that "'not to give a damn' (and I weigh my words), such
is the 'Great Secret'!" among the French Army [Aug. 2000, No
357: 12-4; and also Jul. 2001, No 361: 39-41]: is it compatible
with a military awareness of an alien presence on Earth?

4.6 The sightings in our past. Several people have claimed that
accounts from our past are a proof that present-day true-UFOs
exist, because our ancestors had no planes or satellites in
their skies and had no means to invent such stories. But things
are not as clear -- except of course for the inexistence of
sophisticated aerial devices. Many descriptions are too vague
and are thus unexploitable. Others describe this or that natural
phenomena, and parhelias for instance are not uncommun; or when
Roger of Wendover mentions "appearances of lances in the
northwest quarter of the heavens" in England, one can suspect a
polar aurora. In any case, the stories are to be replaced in
their historical context (what is rarely done by ufologists),
which can totally change the meaning conveyed by our
technological and space age views, particularly for the many
texts having a religious function (apologias or warnings against
our sins). In such a spirit, several accounts of "relativistic
time dilatation" were more likely poetical inventions destined
to prove that the other world (either God's or fairies') was
totally different from ours, than scientific reports of true
space travels.

5. The ufological milieu.

5.1 A global absence of reliability.

5.1.1 Let us put aside from the onset the more dubious elements:
contactees telling us their cosmic adventures and/or preaching
the extraterrestrials' gospel(s), their cultist followers, more
or less delusional paranoids (for one of them, the Cold War was
only a trick by the Americans and the Soviets in order to
deceive the alien invaders...), or the few professionals living
from UFOs while selling us consciously their own inventions
(e.g. Gray Barker).

5.1.2 Probably everyone (including the arch-enemy Donald Menzel)
acknowledges that the basic ufologists are normal, intelligent,
honest people, and that they have performed an immensely huge
task. But is it enough? After all, Christian theologians too
were (and are) normal, intelligent, honest people, who have
performed an immensely huge task since many centuries, they had
too material evidences (relics, supernatural healings), and they
were as convinced of the existence and powers of God and Christ
as proponent ufologists are convinced of the existence and
performances of true-UFOs. There are of course today still many
Christians believing in God and Christ, which is perfectly
respectable, but it is clear that such a belief is not as self-
evident as it was during for instance the Middle Ages, and thus
that the global value of the work of the theologians can perhaps
be questioned. Is it absurd to wonder if the work of the
ufologists could one day have the same fate?

5.1.3 For the same basic ufologists often lack critical mind and
knowledges about the methods or results of the human or natural
sciences. For instance, eyewitness accounts are too often taken
at face value, because ufologists very generally don't seem to
read psychology or legal books. They are right when they say
that human perception is globally accurate, and that it is used
in legal matters such as for car accidents or crimes; but they
forget that in such situations there are also virtually always
sincere witnesses who report incorrect data. Are thus UFO
witnesses to be compared to accident "good" witnesses or to
"bad" ones? In any case, psychologists and physiologists know
today that neither perception nor memory are processes similar
to audio or video recording and storage; perception is an
interaction between the rough perceived physical stimulus and
the content of our mind through an information processing far
more complex than the "mere" decomposition of an image in pixels
(this data processing is responsible for many of the perceptual
illusions mentionned in 2.3.1 and 2.3.2).

5.1.4 Ufologists are fond of the hundreds of scientists who, for
one reason or another, took an interest in the UFO question and
became convinced of the existence of true-UFOs. Nothing is
basically wrong in that fondness, but the problem is that many
(not all) of these scientists often forget their professionnal
skills when they study UFOs and fall in the same traps as more
ordinary people -- a common bias is for instance the physical
scientist doing ufology without questionning himself/herself
about the value of the human testimony (because this problem is
very marginal in his/her profession). Moreover, several
scientists-ufologists are only true believers, and some of them
wait for the coming of the Space Brothers in order to save
mankind from its own perils (I know an example in French-
speaking Europe). This whole argument can easily be extrapoled
to most of the major ufologists, those whose writings have built
the ufological thinking practically from the origin.

And the situation is perhaps not very different with "official
ufologists", at least if the case of Jean-Jacques Velasco can be
extrapolated. For the head of GEPAN then SEPRA during some 20
years, who had been during his first years a cautious man,
became later far less careful; he has made serious scientific
errors (claiming for instance that the Moon illusion is caused
by atmospheric refraction, which is nonsensical), censored
informations which did not fit his views (for instance about the
"Christelle", "Joe-le-Taxi" or Trans-en-Provence cases,
including at the Pocantico meeting), or sometimes progressively
distorting his descriptions and/or interpretations for the same
affair (radar-visual case in the Paris area, 28.01.1994 [all
these sightings are mentionned in STU]). For those who are able
to read French, an Internet book by David Rossoni, Eric Maillot
and Eric DEguillaume can offer some interesting views about the
GEPAN/SEPRA and particularly Velasco's work [Les OVNI du CNES,
trente ans d'Etudes officielles (1977-2007),
http://www.observatoire-
zetetique.org/page/dossier.php?ecrit=3D2&ecritId=3D37].

5.1.5 Criticisms internal in the UFO milieu. The most lucid
ufologists are of course aware of the sad state of their
research domain and even of "serious ufology", and several have
complained recurrently about it, including very recently James
T. Molesworth on this List (although with a more limited scope).
Remember for instance what Ron Westrum (neither a debunker nor a
skeptic!) wrote in his text about "The promise of ufology"
[MUFON UFO Journal No 396, Apr. 2001: 8-10]. For him, the UFO
community is unable to connect itself to the scientific
community and to use fully the scientific knowledges, the UFO
literature is weak, and the UFO knowledge is very insecure
because the innumerable speculations are very rarely tested. And
Westrum added: "we need to do more work to shore up the walls of
our gothic cathedral. We have built high, but not carefully". My
own feeling is in fact that , except for some good stones, the
cathedral is built with friable materials on quicksands...

5.1.6 I acknowledge willingly there are in ufology some tens of
very serious people, for instance Jan Aldrich, Vicente-Juan
Ballester Olmos, Thomas Bullard, Jerome Clark, RenE FouErE
(yet a firm proponent of the E.T.H.), Barry Greenwood, Loren
Gross (with his historical series), Richard Hall, Allan Hendry,
Fernand Lagarde, Edward Ruppelt, Willy Smith, or Brad Sparks.
But I believe they are not weighing enough face to the huge
majority of the UFO literature in order to make the balance
tilting towards the good side.

5.2 The role of the extraterrestrial postulate.

5.2.1 The most crucial factor for the sad state of ufology is
possibly the fact that most ufologists are trapped within a
belief system they have themselves built with the cooperation of
the medias, the "extraterrestrial postulate". It explains that
visitors from elsewhere (that is extraterrestrial beings for
most people) are responsible, not only for the UFO sightings and
experiences, but also for many more or less connected data:
mutes, crop circles, chupacabras, mysterious disappearances in
the Bermuda Triangle or elsewhere, archaeological mysteries,
curious lights on the Moon, alleged structures seen on Martian
pictures, possibly parapsychological phenomena, and much more.
However, even when one accepts that E.T.s are visiting us (which
is not intrinsically absurd), why would they be responsible for
the slightest unidentified light in the sky and for anything we
can't understand?

(As a parenthese, may I add here that the extraterrestrial
hypothesis is for me the most rational one within the stock of
hypotheses dealing with anomalous entities: ancient civilization
=3D no serious evidence, angels and/or demons =3D religion, other
dimensions =3D occultism, intraterrestrials =3D physically
ridiculous, time travel =3D far too speculative).

5.2.2 The evolution of ufology since some 25 years is rather
revealing in this respect. During a first period extending from
the end of the 1940s to the 1980s, the proponents accepted (for
the most part) the E.T.H. but they had an approach fundamentally
rational. The '80s saw a turning point, when many ufologists,
firstly in the U.S.A. then elsewhere, integrated without too
much conscience problems far more disputable topics. Some
examples are the innumerable abductions (versus how many
complaints to the F.B.I.?) with their hybridization program
(probably biologically absurd), the too numerous saucer crashes,
the artificial structures found on Mars or the Moon, the
chemtrails for some people, the cover-up by the authorities at
the same time encouraging Hollywood to make the population
sensitive to the alien presence, or even the Big Plot with our
leaders allied to nasty extraterrestrials. Obviously, not all
proponents have supported such views. But the evolution of
several important American UFO journals seems to follow that
pattern, with possibly only one exception, that of CUFOS's
International UFO Reporter; the Internet and its free
information (often: "information") have clearly some
responsiblity in the decline of the content of the magazines, it
is probably however not the only cause.

5.3 Some fundamental contradictions. For the sake of
convenience, they are presented here although they may partly be
linked with the UFO phenomenon itself.

5.3.1 The Principle of Mediocrity. The paradigms and the whole
discussions of the Drake's Equation (roughly, the number of
intelligent species in the cosmos), of SETI (their possible
communications at a distance), and of the ETH. in ufology (their
actual presence on Earth) are basically founded on Sebastian von
Hoerner's "Principle of Mediocrity", that is that Earth is a
mundane planet in a mundane astronomical "environment". Only
that postulate allows a huge number of inhabitable and inhabited
"earths" in the galaxy and therefore the possible presence of
some extraterrestrial visitors on our globe. There are however
two fundamental reasons for having some doubts about the
validity of von Hoerner's principle.

First, the recent "Unique Earth" movement raises serious
questions about the astronomical bases of the principle. For
instance, it is *possible* that an inhabited planet needs a
moon, that is a very big satellite which stabilizes the planet's
rotation axis and thus its climate for allowing a very long
evolution from primitive life forms to intelligent and
technological ones. Or again, it is *possible* that such a very
long quiet duration can exist only on the borders of galaxies,
far from the numerous cosmic catastrophes in their central
regions. Second, how can we reconcile the mediocrity principle
with the apparent presence on Earth of dozens or hundreds of
alien species? If countless E.T.s are here to breed with us, or
to exploit Earth's resources, or to supervise the danger we are
for the whole universe, that means that mankind and/or Earth are
not mundane. And thus the whole argument for an intelligent life
widespread in the cosmos is invalidated.

5.3.2 An absence of consensus about the evidence. Probably
virtually all UFO cases and all ufological sub-fields have,
within the community of the UFO proponents and even arguably
among the circle of respectable and respected proponents, their
opponents. There are in this way proponents who are convinced
that crop circles have nothing to do with UFOs; or that
abductions are essentially psychological experiences; or that
there is no legitimate flying saucer crash (including at
Roswell); or that the American waves of 1896 and 1897 can be
basically explained by mundane causes; or that there is no
authentic UFO fragment; or that legitimate UFO sightings and
experiences began only in the 19th century [Jerome Clark, in
David M. Jacobs (ed), UFOs and Abductions. Challenging the
Borders of Knowledge: 122]; or that...

As for cases, it is easy to discover examples every time one
reads a set of a few books. All the more so since several
classical cases are much debated among proponents: only one
name, the Travis Walton abduction. The situation is particularly
interesting when (serious) ufologist X accepts as genuine case A
but not case B, while (serious) ufologist Y accepts B but not A.
This can be due to rivalries between UFO organizations (e.g.
once APRO vs NICAP, or in France GEPA vs Lumieres dans la
nuit), but it is not always so. For instance, the lights
photographed by Carl Hart in Lubbock are unexplained for Jerome
Clark while they are a natural phenomenon for Jenny Randles, who
conversely accepts the 1973 Falkville ufonaut which is rejected
by the former as "a practical joke that got out of hand".

5.3.3 The absence of a reliable "best case" set. This particular
case of 5.3.2 is in my opinion even more disturbing. For I am
not really convinced by the few existing intelligent attempts
such as Ronald D. Story's UFOs and the Limits of Science or
Paul Kimball's recent documentary [as far as I know not yet
presented in France]. As for the Unidentified Flying Objects
Briefing Document. The Best Available Evidence by Don Berliner
with Marie Galbraith and Antonio Huneeus, who can explain the
fact that it was warmly endorsed by Walter Andrus, Richard Hall
and Mark Rodeghier while their respective organizations are not
very fond for promoting it and are not using it repeatedly as a
reference work?

Brad Sparks has recently mentionned on this List his painstaking
efforts for extracting a best case collection from the Blue Book
files, and he is to be congratulated for this. However a big
question arises immediately: are really the ufologists unable to
select in their own huge files a set of some hundred(s) of best
cases? If the answer to that question is "yes", another one
follows as a direct consequence: does it not mean that the whole
literature about UFO cases is nearly useless for any serious
purpose?

There exists in fact a collection which could be reasonably
rather close from such a set, and that is Willy Smith's UNICAT
Project files. Smith, with whom I exchanged many letters during
several years, was a reasonable proponent who was not afraid to
confront with different opinions, and he had a rare advantage,
to be an American able to read both French and Spanish. I hope
sincerely that a few people are today discreetly working with
his files.

5.3.4 The strange paradox of the so-called Cometa Report. This
private document (definitively not an official, quasi-official,
or semi-official report!) is curiously better considered in the
U.S.A. than in France. It can be seen as a rather fair (but not
exceptional) review of several aspects of the UFO problem (but
not of the whole UFO problem), and it has several weak points
(for instance about Col. Corso's book). Its authors consider
that true-UFOs do exist and that the ETH is the best hypothesis.
But they also proceed exactly as if they discovered a truth the
French political and military authorities are not aware of. This
is obviously non-sense: if UFOs are extraterrestrial craft
flying (nearly openly) in our skies, governments, secret
services and armies, including France's ones, are necessarily
acquainted with the situation. Why thus the Cometa's authors
acted as if it was not the case?

5.4 A literature diverging more and more from the reality. A
consequence of the combination of the low reliability of ufology
and of the UFO-IFO indistinguishability is that virtually all
the UFO literature (with only a few exceptions) has nothing to
do with possible true-UFOs, pushing thus more and more away
ufologists from the truth, and therefore reinforcing the myth by
a positive retroaction, by building in us a picture of the UFO
phenomenon which is more and more erroneous. What a paradox
then: if true-UFOs exist (and if my analysis is right, of
course), ufologists have a major responsiblity in the lack of
their recognition by the authorities, the scientists, the
medias, and the public...

6. The anthropocentrist part of the phenomenon.

Whatever it can be, the UFO phenomenon possesses a human
component which is fundamental, even if it is largely
underestimated by most ufologists. This psycho/socio/cultural
(let us say: "anthropocentrist") part of the phenomenon is
demonstrated by several factors.

6.1 Convergences between the UFO phenomenon (taken as a whole)
and various productions by the human mind. They are many, here
are only a few examples. A comparison is obvious with several
"special" situations with misperceptions (by competent
witnesses) combined with an unusual social context, as with
former alleged sightings of Neith the satellite of Venus, Vulcan
the intramercurial planet, or Mars canals. Numerous UFO
experiences have descriptions close enough to those obtained
with various altered states of consciousness (2.3.3), as it is
clear from Keith Basterfield's UFOs: The Image Hypothesis,
Otto Billig's Flying Saucer. Magic in the Skies, Hilary
Evans's Alternate States of Consciousness, and other works.
There are also many parallels with obscure science fiction
stories of the first part of the 20th century: saucer-shaped
craft, light beams, abductions, and so on, were present in
novels or short stories as discovered by Bertrand MEheust
[Science-fiction et soucoupes volantes, 1978; new edition
2007] and others [several contributions by Martin Kottmeyer;
Kevin D. Randle, in MUFON 1996 International UFO Symposium
Proceedings: 17-25]. Or with several Marian apparitions which
seem to have no sound basis, such as in Belgium in 1933-1934
(where misidentifications and a psychological contagion are
virtually proved) or in Medjugorje from 1981.

6.2 The special case of abductions. The vogue of alien
abductions offers essentially the same features as the great
European witchcraft during the Renaissance and the Classical
period. Taken as a whole, the latter had been a creation by the
inquisitors. And the former is very possibly the creation of
already convinced ufologists and of psychotherapists, either
incompetent or more simply convinced that abductions exist and
who are not critical enough. When a therapist "knows" that alien
abductions, reincarnation, spirit possession, and/or widespread
human sacrifices by satanic cults do exist, he/she
systematically discovers among his/her patients "real-life"
experiences from the categories to which he/she adheres (only
one name: Edith Fiore). Such experiences are yet probably only
manifestations of the false memory syndrome, which is created by
more or less subtil influences at the confluences of both
experiencer's and therapist's own needs, as it is now proved in
some cases of alleged sexual abuses or satanic sacrifices. With
The Abduction Enigma, Kevin D. Randle and his co-authors have
offered a good barrier against the delusions of the
abductionnist movement [RAN]. They seem alas having been not
very much heard. (See also 1.3.4).

6.3 Cases with "percipient-dependent components". In many UFO
experiences, the story content has more to deal with human
beings, their past experiences, their concerns (either personal
to the witness/experiencer or general), or the functioning of
our brain, than with possible extraterrestrials. This is for
instance the matter with cases with what was once called in
France "psychological mimicry": a retired sacristan sees church
clocks in the sky; a railway security agent sees semaphore
signals; parents awaiting for their late daughter watch little
beings walking in circle within "the Moon"; or ufonauts dig a
hole in front of a prospector's house. Or again in the 17(or
19).11.1967 Calgary abduction, which could have been actually a
subconscious memory of an appendicitis operation [Basterfield,
op. cit.: 67-8]. In other cases, several details have a clear
symbolic or religious meaning, such as in the JosE Antonio da
Silva's abduction at Bebedouro in 1969, or in the very numerous
experiences of Betty Andreasson-Luca. We have too sightings
where the witness's original account was progressively changed
because of social influences, such as discussions with
relatives, investigations by zealous persons, or later reading
of the UFO literature. For instance at Urmston, U.K., on
01.12.1978, where Venus became in a few days "most like an
Adamski scout-ship" with "beams of solid light" thanks to the
influence of UFO investigators [Jenny Randles, UFO Study: 83-
4; MUFOB, Spring 1979: 15-8]. Several such "percipient-
dependent components", a phrase coined by Luis Sch=C3=B6nherr
[UPIAR, vol. 4, 1980: 113-165] can of course have some link
with objective UFOs, but in many cases they can well have more
economically a purely human cause.

6.4 Function of the UFO. Several authors such as Otto Billig,
Michel Carrouges, Hilary Evans, Carl Gustav Jung, Alain Schmitt
and others have tried to understand what could be the possible
function(s) of UFOs taken in a socio-psychological perspective
(often in the framework of a socio-psychological hypothesis of
some kind, sometimes while acknowledging the possible existence
of true-UFOs). Globally speaking, the UFO phenomenon could be a
manifestation of the collective distress of mankind confronted
with the growing divorce of our material and our spiritual parts
and with a future which we seem more and more unable to pilot.
The phenomenon would thus express our needs for help and for
marvels in terms which are more or less acceptable in our hyper-
rational and hyper-technologized world. As in the past, the much
awaited saviours would come from the Heavens, but now in
sophisticated spaceships and with a far superior technology
instead of (alternatively: combined with) a superior moral
virtue.

At a personal level, this would be rendered by experiences
having a rewarding value, sometimes despite of contrary
appearances (relatives or medias laughing at the witness,
ordeals during abductions), or even a cathartic value. In such
an analysis, the negative aspects of the experience could be the
price to pay for the initiation, and the reward would be to
belong to the elite of the chosen ones for the soon coming New
Age. More generally several authors, who have doubts about the
existence of paranormal phenomena, think today that such
manifestations could have a beneficial effect on the
experiencer: if true, there is no reason it does not apply too
to alleged UFO experiences.

7. Conclusion. The RCH is a basis for an "economical" hypothesis
which *could* explain the whole data of the UFO puzzle. It needs
perhaps only *one* a priori postulate, that is to acknowledge
that all the "facts" admitted by ufologists are not necessarily
as solid as they often claim. Some might say that such a
postulate is exorbitant, but it is probably not so outrageous,
because all sincere people know probably examples where it is
verified. The RCH merits thus to be seriously considered (and of
course criticized) before to study if necessary more exotic
hypotheses.

8. Some basic references [They are not all skeptical works].

CLA. Jerome Clark, The UFO Encyclopedia. 2nd Edition. The
Phenomenon from the Beginning, Omnigraphics, 2 volumes, 1998
[or The UFO Book, a somewhat abridged version].

GIL. Daniel S. Gillmor (ed), Final Report of the Scientific
Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, (Edward U. Condon,
Scientific Director), Bantam, 1969. With particularly for the
present context: Michael Wertheimer, "Perceptual problems";
William K. Hartmann, "Process of Perception, Conception, and
Reporting".

HEN. Allan Hendry, The UFO Handbook. A Guide to Investigating,
Evaluating and Reporting UFO Sightings, Doubleday, 1979. One of
the best UFO books ever, curiously rather forgotten today.

PIN. Thierry Pinvidic [ed], OVNI. Vers une anthropologie d'un
mythe contemporain, Heimdal, 1993. A good synthesis of the
French "hypothese socio-psychologique" school of thought (most
chapters are skeptical, not all).

RAN. Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes and William P. Cone, The
Abduction Enigma, Forge, 1999. (See also Thomas Bullard's
review in the volume 7 of the Journal of UFO Studies).

STO. Ronald D. Story (ed), The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial
Encounters, New American Library, 2001. Sometimes excellent,
sometimes ridiculous; skeptical entries are worth the reading,
particularly Martin Kottmeyer's essays.

STU. Peter A. Sturrock, The UFO Enigma. A New Review of the
Physical Evidence, Warner, 1999.

TOS. Paolo Toselli, "Examining the IFO Cases: the Human Factor",
in International UPIAR Colloquium on Human Sciences and UFO
Phenomena. Proceedings, UPIAR Monograph, 1983. All the
contributions are valuable.

And a good textbook in Psychology is of course necessary.

These few references and the ones given in the text are not the
only food for someone who is not afraid by such heretic views
(or occasionally by the hijacking by heretics of more orthodox
writings). This paper would thus not be complete without at
least a mention of the names of Martin Kottmeyer, John Rimmer
and Peter Rogerson of Magonia magazine fame:

http://magonia.mysite.wanadoo-members.co.uk/

or Tim Printy

http://members.aol.com/tprinty/UFO.html

the fact that I "forgot" them entirely or practically in this
text does absolutely not mean I pay no attention to their
contributions.


Claude Mauge



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