An important new (2013) book has recently been published, which I recommend you read. It is titled "Science, Skeptics and UFOs: A Reluctant Scientist Explores the World of UFOs." Written by B. Timothy Pennington, it is published by Dog Ear Publishing of Indianapolis. ISBN 987-1-4575-2312-0.
Pennington, who retired in 2009, after many years working as a chemist, decided to review his family's history of UFO sightings. He also, following the scientific method, conducted his own literature search on the topic. The end result of his research was this excellent book.
The book's first chapter is titled "Mr Philip J Klass - Arch UFO Skeptic" and provides Pennington's views on both Klass, in particular, and skeptics in general. "When it comes to UFOs, the science establishment is not listening to the entire story." (p.4.)
"...the science establishment believes most people that report UFOs are either deranged or are hoaxers, and a relative few are sincere, normal and well balanced who are simply mistaken." (p.5.)
Pennington then reviews Project Sign; Project Grudge; Project Blue Book and the Robertson panel. "Since UFOs were quickly embraced by the public at large before the science establishment could hardly get involved, the science establishment reacted skeptically and negatively from the beginning." (p.12.)
Pennington then poses the question "The astute reader is probably wondering what about NASA ..., NORAD...and all other aerial data gathering groups..." (p.26.) He discussed his thoughts on these agencies.
The Pennington family observations:
These occurred in central Mississippi and are discussed in great detail in a number of chapters of the book. They started in the 1930's, with "...a shaft of light some 30 or 40 feet in diameter coming down from the sky and illuminating the entire width of the road." (p.40.)
Many observations were made by the family in the 1970's, for example:
June 1970. 9.15pm. Pennington's parents, Pennington and one other, watched multiple lights manoeuver in the sky.
November 1972. Two family members saw "Something huge blocking out the starry sky..." (p.155.)
18 March 1973. 7.35pm. Pennington and four others observed a large, bright, white light manoeuvring at apparently close range. He was able to calculate "...a decent estimate of the object's flight path, speed, direction and altitude." (p.65.) The results indicate a range of 250-350 feet when first seen; a speed range of 29-35mph, and a calculated size of 2-3 feet in diameter.
1974. Four people reported that an object approached, and then hovered over them, without a sound. It was at close range.
All in all, family members observed lights, and structured objects which they were unable to explain, on numerous occasions.
Pennington found details of other reports from central Mississipi, including a number listed in Project Blue Book. He closely examines these reports.
True to Pennington's scientific background, chapter 20 takes a look at earth-lights, ball lightning and upper atmospheric light phenomena.
"It seems to me that they have good evidence that earth-lights are real, are associated with areas of high seismic activity, and are responsible for some nocturnal light UFO reports." (p.137.)
"Could some or all of my family's sightings have been earth-lights? Some possibly could be..."(p.140.)
"In summary, it seems that geo-magnetic earth-lights fails for areas without a certain level of seismic activity and cannot be a general explanation for UFOs..." (p.155.)
The areas in Mississipi where UFOs have been reported, were examined by Pennington. He found what he termed a "UFO corridor." He then looked for correlations. At one point he asks "What else beside forested area, quaternary geological faults and population could be correlated with this UFO corridor?" (p.157.)
Project Blue Book:
Pennington uses his scientific background to conduct an analysis of "unknowns" listed by Blue Book. "Whatever the imperfections of the Project Blue Book dataset are, I believe that it contains some useful information for hypothesis testing." (p.164.)
"In my quest to determine if the forest cover idea had merit, I found that it did, as it correlated at a statistically significant level with the Project Blue Book unknowns during both time periods." (p.200.)
One of Pennington's family members related their own abduction experience, and Pennington goes on to examine and discuss the work of Susan A Clancy and her book on abductions. "Psychological professionals that do not believe alien abduction is even remotely possible usually could not recognise a potentially real case if it fell into their laps." (p.208.)
Science and UFOs:
Towards the end of his book, Pennington writes "I have been saddened as I came to understand the irrational response of the scientific establishment 's UFO paradigm. The paradigm has been belief driven. The belief is that there cannot be any unexplained phenomena, therefore they...do not even have to consider it." (p.246.)
Looking back at his own family's UFO observations, "Most of the central Mississipi's UFOs exhibited behaviour that excluded them from being earth-lights, and they were certainly not ball-lightning. If they were not ball-lightning, then what were they?"(p.249.)
What does Pennington thinks UFOs are? "My favourite idea out of those proposed is that UFOs come from society that developed right here on Earth and are millions of years older and more advanced than humans." (p.281.)
"All that I am certain of is that from my and my family's direct observations, some UFOs do appear to be real flying craft of unknown origins with capabilities beyond humanity's current level of technology. (p.258.)
"My hypothesis that UFO activity is usually greatest near heavily forested areas is born out by the data from the entire United States for UFO hotspots and the Project Blue Book correlations." (p.259.)
I found this an extremely thought provoking work, and worthy of several slow and detailed readings.
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