Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Cold case investigations - a review

Hi all,

Long term readers of this blog will be aware that one of my current research projects is the review of older Australian UFO cases.

Often with the passage of time, new details emerge, or existing details receive clarification. Today's technology, with Google maps; Google street view; access to scanned copies of old newspapers and journal articles, and email contact with other researchers allows unprecedented opportunities to review data.

In recent times, I have reviewed the following Australian UFO cases:

1. Eton Ridge, Qld 24 May 1965. Click here.
2. Heyfield, Vic 24 Apr 1968. Click here.
3. Wittenoom, WA 2 Aug 1964. Click here.
4. Mt Gillen, NT Jan 1954.Click here.
5. SA/WA border Easter 1954. Click here.
6. Canberra, ACT 15 Jul 1965. Click here.
7. Minderoo Station 25 Oct 1910. Click here.
8. Zanthus, WA 22 Aug 1968. Click here

Outcomes:

I have managed to locate material in the RAAF's UFO files (Heyfield and Wittenoom); previously lost newspaper articles (Mt Gillen and Zanthus); track down a witness after 43 years (Zanthus); reviewed weather and astronomical data which no-one else had undertaken ( Minderoo Station); and locate magazine articles which few people knew existed (Plympton and Eton Ridge).

All of this research, provided in many instances, new insights into a case. There were anomalies in stories (SA/WA border, and Mt Gillen); inaccuracy in commonly cited dates (Minderoo Station); additional data (Wittenoon and Heyfield); which led, upon analysis, in many cases, to a differing interpretation to that found in the UFO literature.

Am I confident in my revised conclusions? Yes, because they are based on improved data points. That is, the secret. I do not go into a cold case analysis with any preconceived conclusions. My findings are based  on a re-analysis of the data I have gathered. I was as surprised as anyone, to find that the classic CE1 report from Wittenoom in 1964, was probably a bright meteor. The first hand witness report forms contained on RAAF UFO files, contained excellent data upon which to base this conclusion. The Easter 1954 classic photographic case from the SA/WA border,  fell to pieces once you reread the original magazine story.

Change of status?

Is providing a revised conclusion and removing a classic UFO case from that status, a useful exercise? I maintain it is. It gives me more confidence in the cases which pass a cold case review, and still remain unexplained. You will note, however, that the percentage of cases which remain unexplained after review is small.

My personal belief, is that the "core" UFO phenomenon, (i.e. the unexplained cases), is much rarer than most UFO researchers believe. While many researchers agree that the incoming raw reports to unexplained after analysis case ratio is about 100/5, I think that the ratio is more likely 100/1.

A concern:

One aspect of the cold case reviewing, which concerns me, is that other Australian researchers are not undertaking this type of research.

I agree that you do need to spend time tracking down material in such places as the National Library of Australia's on-line newspaper collection, and the digitised (or not) files of the National Archives of Australia; but these can be done from the comfort of your own home and at any time of the day. You do also need to locate old magazine articles. Some of these, such as a long run of MUFON Journals and all the NICAP "The UFO Investigator" are easily available on-line. Some magazines are in collections with such public agencies as the various State Libraries. Some have come to me by communicating with fellow Australian UFO researchers and their kindness in taking time to dig into their personal or group's UFO magazine collections and sharing with me. In finding possible contact details of witnesses to old cases you will need to look through copies of old electoral rolls which can be tedious.

Imagine if a dozen people were to take on cold case investigations. The hundreds of old Australian cases which cry out for a review, could be tackled in say less than a year. What would that yield us? It would leave us with a peer reviewed collection of good "unknowns." This collection would then form a basis for a better quality look at patterns in the data. 

Would any readers of this blog like to join in?

A disclaimer:

Naturally, as others do, I make mistakes in my interpretations, or provide an incorrect point of data. I welcome constructive criticism, or data correction from blog readers.

In summary:

I look forward, as my time permits, to continuing my cold case reviews on older Australian cases, and bringing you my findings.

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