Saturday, July 10, 2010

Can researchers spot an IFO?

Hi readers

It was a wet and windy night last night in Adelaide. Travelling from home to the local library this morning there were broken tree branches littering the roads. Still, it is winter.

I was browsing a number of blogs the other day and came across one where the blogger was lamenting that today's UFO researchers cannot properly investigate cases.

Looking at the websites of Australian UFO groups I quickly saw cases listed there as "UFOs", which clearly, had conventional explanations e.g. the recent observations of the Falcon 9 rocket launch. There were others that were clearly aircraft and even satellites.

I thought back to the recent seminar of the Australian UFO Research Association where researcher Keith Basterfield spoke of his belief that Australian UFO researchers today have an IFO clear up rate of about 10%, compared to the generally accepted 90-95% clear up rate showing cases due to mundane explanations.

I then thought back to some of my earliest days reading my first UFO books - mainly bought in second hand bookshops here in Adelaide. One book should be on every UFO re searcher's bookshelf -or in my case by my bed.

The book was written by one Allan Hendry, who was employed by the J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies in Chicago, USA, as an investigator for the Center for one year. The publisher was Doubleday, New York, 1979. ISBN 0-385-14348-6. You can still find the odd copy through secondhand bookshops, ebay or Amazon.

Hendry spent one year looking in to 1,307 US UFO cases- a typical sample of incoming raw UFO reports. What did Hendry's diligent research find?

88.6% of all the reports did have a conventional, non ETH cause.

Using the Hynek UFO classification system, Hendry categorised the reports, as Nocturnal Lights etc. Many of the NLs were due to stars, planets, advertising aircraft, meteors etc.

The daylight discs were mainly caused by advertising aircraft, stars and general aircraft.

He had some CE2s which turned out to be due to stars and aircraft.

There were even some CE3s reporting the observations of entities. One woman watched the planet Venus and thought she could see a lighted object with occupants inside. Another was an advertising plane perceived as a dome with little men inside.

Hendry's meticulous work revealed that a large percentage of raw cases were indeed attributable to mundane causes. Everyday citizens reported conventional objects as UFOs due to a variety of causes e.g. objects seen from unusual angles; glimpsed for short periods of time; noted when people were tired; and attributed actions such as stationary objects appearing to move; satellites appearing to deviate from a straight line etc.

It seems to me that today's UFO researchers could learn many lessons from reading how Hendry went about his task.

What do you think, are we collectively in need of some good investigatory skills? Have we become complacent in our research?

1 comment:

  1. One of the hazards we will always have to guard against is confirmation bias - are we so keen to find evidence in support of a cherished belief that we will misinterpret, or even ignore possibly conflicting data?

    Unless we make every effort to find alternative explanations for anomalous observations we cannot hope to be taken seriously.

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