Friday, September 29, 2017

How to research the UFO phenomenon and stay sane

People have asked me how I have kept my interest alive across a 50 year time span of research?  I thought about this again recently and came up with a few ideas which I’d like to share with you.

Have some guiding principles

One of my main guiding principles has been, to simply 'follow the facts.' If a UAP case turns out to have a mundane explanation, then I say so! I believe that UAP investigators should weed out as many identified cases as possible, leaving only good quality “unknowns” to work with.

I have found this consistency of approach to be invaluable. It can however, lead to differences  of opinion with other UFO researchers who have a non-negotiable belief system.

One example of this, occurred after I appeared on an ABC television program, which discussed various medical issues. I suggested on the show that some UAP abductions have their roots in terms of 'sleep paralysis.' A well known Victorian UFO researcher took me to task for daring to suggest an alternative explanation to the 'Grays.' I had, after all, only based my opinion on personal research, while his views arose from armchair research. 

Another example, based on exhaustive research, was my suggestion that the 1988 Mundrabilla car encounter had an alternative non-extraterrestrial explanation. Some American researchers took a dim view of this suggestion, even though they had conducted no first hand investigations.

Tackle diverse research projects

The range of research projects which I have conducted over the years has included:

  • The possible application of the fantasy-prone personality, and hypnagogic imagery to UFO abductions. I had thought that support for the FPP hypothesis had declined, but an examination of seven studies conducted since the early nineties revealed three positive and four negative findings
  • I asked the question 'could reports of 'angel hair” falls be simply spiders’ web?' and found evidence to suggest that almost all reports are just that
  • I conducted the only comprehensive literature review ever undertaken on the subject of alien implants. This revealed that very little peer review research had been conducted
  • I took a long, hard look at the possible application of sleep paralysis to abductions, which made me conclude that most UAP researchers underestimate its relevance
  • A 12 month joint project with Melbourne based researcher Paul Dean, to collect and examine 12 months worth of Australian sightings.
All of these projects developed my knowledge in many areas; made me question various approaches and ended up with me publishing articles across the UAP literature for others to discuss and debate.

Read widely

I read a lot of different books and magazines, and browse the internet frequently. My reading covers diverse topics such as astronomy, biology, physics, the paranormal, mathematics and biographies to name just a few. I find this keeps my mind active. When reading I always try and link the information I come across to UAP research.

For example, I once read a book about the search for weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. A portion of a single page mentioned UAP research within the intelligence area of the Australian Department of Defence. This ultimately lead to the release of a formerly secret intelligence file on UAP. This file may now be viewed on  the National Archives of Australia website.

Don’t separate research into UFOs from research into the paranormal

In my opinion you shouldn’t just study UAP. UAP appear to be part of a much broader area of investigation which we label as the 'paranormal.' In my opinion, much is to be learnt by researching these two topics as one. For example, the after-effects of some UAP close encounters include a range of effects labelled paranormal, such as poltergeist activity.

Also, scientific studies on the topic of out-of-body experiences are relevant to abductions. Science has now been able to create OBEs on demand, by stimulating the human brain. It also has, in the laboratory, successfully demonstrated that one’s sense of self can be transferred to a point outside the body. For various research articles see my blog which I maintained on these topics between 2009 and 2014.

Take frequent breaks from research

I’ve taken a number of breaks from researching UAP. I think the longest was for four years. Breaks, particularly long ones, enabled me to escape the day to day routine of UAP investigations. This gave me time to reflect. It was during such breaks that I developed insights into how the fantasy-prone personality, and hypnagogic imagery may relate to UAP.

Like Kylie Minogue, Madonna and Lady Gaga, reinvent yourself from time to time

At various stages over 50 years of my interest, I have been:

  • One of the Co-ordinators for the Australian Centre for UFO Studies
  • Research Director for UFO Research SA Inc.

  • Founder of the Australian Centre for UFO Abduction Studies
  • Continental Director for the US Based Mutual UFO Network
  • Facilitator for Disclosure Australia.
Each of these roles brought me into contact with a range of different individuals, and taught me new skills.

Publish your research

I find no value in coming up with some valuable insights and then not telling anyone about them
I would urge you all to run your own website; make documentaries; publish your own blog, or write for UAP magazines.

Publishing opens up your work to peer review, which ensures debate and discussion. Speaking of publishing your work, if you’d like to see what I have published over the years,  then Google 'Keith Basterfield UFO.'

Don’t be afraid to respectfully disagree with other researchers, whoever they might be

David Jacobs is a US abduction researcher with some controversial viewpoints, some of which I have strongly disagreed with. I have debated some of his ideas in print. Likewise, back in the 1980’s and 90’s I found much to disagree with Whitley Strieber and documented my observations in print, e.g. The International UFO Reporter. 

Some time ago, my thoughts on former astronaut EdMitchell’s revelations about ETs, even made the pages of the Tehran, Iran daily newspaper!

I have outlined my views, in various places, on the inadequate research we have collectively undertaken on the UAP abduction phenomenon. Interestingly, some people in the US and UK have/are following up lines of research suggested, in part by me.

Long term blog readers, will also be aware that I proposed an alternate conventional hypothesis for the 6 April 1966 Westall, Victoria, Australia sighting. I pointed out that there is almost no hard data available. There is no analysis of reported ground traces. There is no evidence of radar detection of the object. There are no documents about the sighting to be found in any Australian government file. The witnesses' observations are not well documented from the era, e.g. there are no entries from a 1966 diary. Much of the shared information only came to light since around 2006. Researchers have failed to acknowledge that human memory is prone to errors. No government employees have come forward to say they were involved in a cover up of the incident. Even the legendary US researcher, James E McDonald, following a personal investigation of Westall, failed to promote it as an excellent example of UAP. 


You cannot retain a long term interest in any topic, without thinking that the subject of your study has some merit.

I would however, make a couple of general observations:

  • I think that examples of the 'true' or 'core' UAP are much rarer than most researchers think. At one stage in South Australia I led a group of investigators, who for three years examined several hundred local UFO reports, and found that 95% of them could be explained in mundane terms. Today if you look at large numbers of incoming reports, as listed on Australian groups’ websites only some 10% are said to be IFOs. I believe that if sufficient, open minded resources were given today to investigations, that the clear up rate would still be about 95%
  • I am still not convinced that the phenomenon has a simple explanation, such the extra-terrestrial hypothesis.

In conclusion, after 50 years of research, I still believe that the phenomenon contains genuine mystery, worthy of continued scientific study.

Update as at 31 December 2017.

As I practice what I preach, despite all the recent news re a formerly secret Pentagon study, I am taking an indefinite break from UFO research. I expect to return at some future date, refreshed and full of new ideas. Till then, bye. 

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

'Reframing the debate.'


I have been slowly reading a book titled 'UFOs: Reframing the Debate,' edited by Robbie Graham (White Crow Books, Hove, UK; ISBN 978-1-98677-023-3.)

Image courtesy of Amazon Books
The book is composed of 14 chapters, written by individual UAP researchers, and experiencers. The editor, inter alia, writes 'Each of the contributors in this volume is sharply aware of the futility of concluding. Instead, they offer strategies for understanding - understanding the phenomena, and understanding its social and cultural effects.' (p. xx.)

Issues highlighted by the contributors include

* The decreasing use of the scientific method

'This dismissal of science is encountered frequently among UFO zealots, who insist that their esoteric knowledge supersedes scientific methodology...'  (p.7.)

'Modern ufology appears to have rejected science in favour of a more mystical and religious view.' (p.1.)

'...such subjective discourse has almost completely supplanted any rigorous attempts to study the subject with anything resembling scientific methodology." (p.1.)

* The non inclusion of data from high strangeness reports

'The close encounter witness is at first blindsided by something for which he or she has no previous framework, and which the mind tries furiously to stuff into a mental "filing box" during and soon after the event.' (p.193.)

'While plenty of cases superficially support the N&B/ETH view, its materialist foundations are shaken when confronted with the High Strangeness characteristics of a majority of UFO close encounters." (p.51.)  [N&B = nuts and bolts. KB.]

'One of the greater problems I see within modern UFO circles is the outright dismissal of high strangeness reports by investigators who subscribe to the Extraterrestrial (ETH) as the default explanation for cases that challenge conventional science.' (p.167.)

'...we need to be aware that these more complex accounts are not easy to categorise or share.' (p.29.)

* The circulation of incorrect information

'I contend that a great deal of information circulated around the UFO community - the vast majority- is simply incorrect or, at the least, unsubstantiated, while detrimentally accepted and promoted as common knowledge.' (p.47.)

* The debate about the value of personal stories

'[Speaking of UFO believers] 'Their experiences cannot be investigated as "ordinary" UFO reports...In effect, their experiences are not viable as data that can be considered in any scientific evaluation of the UFO phenomenon.' (p.15.)

'One such dynamic is that personal stories, interesting and entertaining as they may be, are often of little value to the professional research process.' (p.40.)

Suggested ways forward include

* Researchers need to educate themselves about the processes of human memory

'It would also be helpful if investigators encouraged one another to further educate themselves on such topics as memory, witness testimony and emotional trauma. ' (p.44.)

'Perhaps by looking within and at the human mind, our senses, and how we remember things, we can better calibrate our main instrument for measuring UFO encounters.' (p.207.)

'The value of personal stories is further questioned by the strides made in memory research. Qualified experts have demonstrated that memories are filled with errors.' (p.41.)

* Disband large UFO groups and work in smaller units

'Could the Roswell Slides Research Group serve as a model for future research and investigation of UFO cases?" (p.107.)

'To this end, perhaps large UFO groups should be disbanded, in favour of smaller, autonomous groups with a narrow research focus.' (p.192.)

* Gather data with no preconceptions

'Investigators should start with no preconceptions about what they are seeking. The gaol should be only to gather information from witnesses.' (p185.)

* Follow the data wherever it leads

'Reframing the debate includes taking advantage of such opportunities, following the trail of evidence to what logical conclusions it provides,  and acknowledging when physical evidence is either entirely absent or if investigators questionably failed to pursue it.' (p.45.)

'The study of UFOs and alien abductions has zero obligations to a N&B/ETH model. What it does  owe an obligation to is, to quote Alex Tsakiris, "follow the data wherever it leads."' (p.62.)

* Use better source material

'Work could further be legitimized by relying more heavily upon sources recognized as credible within the professional research community. These include such resources as authenticated documents, newspaper clippings, journals and similar media that offer valuable use as reference materials.' (p.44.)

* Look at high strangeness reports

'Currently, the testimonies of UFO witnesses that describe corresponding high-strange and paranormal events are often either ignored or met with ridicule from ufologists who would rather not deal with the more bizarre aspects of UFO reports, and by the professional skeptic organisations who are openly hostile to anything other then the Null hypothesis, i.e. it's all just swamp gas and Venus.' (p.169.)

* Ditch the use of hypnosis

'The time for experimenting with hypnotic regression is a memory enhancing tool of alien abduction is long gone..." (p.44.)

* Continue to use the scientific method

'Thus, the argument remains that scientific UFO research... is of utmost importance to the study of UFOs..." (p.65.)

'...I hope to instill in the mind of the readers that proper adherence to scientific methodology, and a reasonable, open-minded skepticism, will be of great benefit to the study of UFOs.' (p.74.)

*Recognise that mainstream media is entertainment

'In the click bait age, the mainstream media uses UFOs and their followings as entertainment like never before.' (p.82.)

My comments

On a personal level. I have for many years spoken of the need to secure original source material, and to follow the data wherever the end results lead. Many years ago, I foresaw the need to move from large, formal organisations to either work alone, or in a small team, and made this move. Today, I work by networking, across the globe.

Regarding high strangeness reports. I have indeed come across, documented, and published, (e.g. in the MUFON Journal; International UFO Reporter) such accounts. I have  worked with numerous individuals over time, to examine their highly personal experiences. This is long before the establishment of this blog in 2009, and why some blog readers might easily gain the impression that I have never studied these type of accounts. As a number of chapter authors indicate, exploring high strangeness reports takes time, and can be exhausting, both for experiencers and investigators.

My own opinion, for what it is worth, is that I agree with the chapter authors who urge us to study high strangeness reports, and document what they tell us. However, I also urge both investigators and experiencers to become familiar with current research on such topics as memory processes; the fantasy-prone personality; sleep paralysis; hypnagogic imagery, fugue states, and other similar psychological and physiological processes. For, just as 95% of incoming raw sightings turn out to have mundane explanations after intelligent investigation and analysis, I personally find that some high strangeness reports do indeed have explanations which lie in psychological processes. I believe that at the moment, this fact is insufficiently acknowledged, by both researchers and experiencers.

All in all, this book is an extremely welcome addition to the UAP literature. I would recommend it highly to anyone who has a serious interest in our mutual topic.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

UFO books by Australian authors

I was asked recently for a listing of UFO books by Australian authors. So, here it is. If any blog readers know of others, I would appreciate an email to in order that I may amend this list. Images are courtesy of Amazon Books, unless otherwise credited.

1965. "Flying Saucers Over Australia." James Holledge.

1967. "Flying Saucers Where Do They Come From?" Richard Tambling.

1969. "UFOs over the Southern Hemisphere." Michael Hervey.

1976. "UFOs: The American Scene." Michael Hervey.

1978. "UFOs: A Scientific Enigma." David Seargent.

1981. "UFOs: The Image Hypothesis." Keith Basterfield.

1983. "UFOs: The Case for Scientific Myopia." Stan Seers.

1996. "Encounter." Kelly Cahill.

1996. "The Oz Files." Bill Chalker.

1996. "The Cosmic Conspiracy." Stan Deyo.

1996. "The Gosford Files." Bryan Dickeson and Moira McGhee.
1997. "UFOs: A Report on Australian Encounters." Keith Basterfield.

2002. "Awakening." Mary Rodwell.

2004. "Australian UFOs:Through the Window of Time." Heather Gilroy and Rex Gilroy.

2005. "Hair of the Alien." Bill Chalker.

2007 "Blue Mountains Triangle - Secret Underground Australian/American Bases and the ET Connection. Heather Gilroy and Rex Gilroy.

2007. "UFO Down-Under." Barry Taylor.

2011. "UFO History Keys." Bill Chalker.

2011. "The UFO Diaries." Martin Plowman.

2011. "Tasmania: A UFO History." Keith Roberts.


2012. "Roswell Revealed." Sunrise Information Services.

2012 "My Awakening Part 1." Peter Slattery.

2012. "My Awakening Part 2." Peter Slattery.

2012. "The History of Man." Peter Slattery.

2013 "The Energy beings - ET Abductions from Beyond Time." Heather Gilroy and Rex Gilroy.

2013. "Can UFOs Advance Science?" Sunrise Information Services.

2013. "Operation Starseed." Peter Slattery.

2014. "The Book of Shi-Ji." Peter Slattery.

2014. "The ET Contact Experience." Peter Slattery.

2014. "Breaking Free." Peter Slattery.

2016. "Alien Cobweb-the ET 'Mudhead' Mystery and the "Gympie Triangle." Heather Gilroy and Rex Gilroy.

2016. "Contact Down Under." Moira McGhee.
2016. "The New Human." Mary Rodwell.

2016. "Humalien." Jane Pooley.

2016. "Connect to your spirit/ET guide." Peter Slattery.

2017. "UFOs Down Under." Barry Watts.

2017. "The Alien Gene." Moira McGhee.
2017. "The Book of Shi-Ji 2." Peter Slattery.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

'Nest-building flying saucers found in land down under.'


At about 9:00 am. local time, on 19 January, 1966, banana grower, George Pedley, aged 28, was driving a tractor about one half mile from a farm house owned by Albert Pennisi. Pedley's attention was drawn by a 'hissing' sound, clearly heard over the noise from the tractor's engine. He looked about for the source of the noise, and saw an unusual object some 25 yards away. He described it as  about 30 feet in the air, rising vertically. Its shape was that of 'two saucers face to face.' It was light grey in color, being dull, non-reflective. Its size was estimated as 25 feet long by eight to nine feet deep. No structured features were visible. The loud 'hissing' noise seemed to diminish as the object rose. It rose to a height of 60 feet, then departed, climbing at about an angle of forty-five degrees, extremely fast, to the South-west. For the duration of his observation, which was only 5-6 seconds, it appeared to be always rotating.

After the object's departure, Pedley found a clearly defined, near circular area of water in the lagoon. He left the area, and returned at around noon that day. At this time, the cleared area of water had been replaced by a floating mass of reeds, at the point where the object had first been seen. This mass was about 32 feet long by 25 feet wide. The grass on the surface of the water, was flattened in a clockwise direction. (Sources: (1) RAAF file series J63, control symbol 5/40/Air Part 1. pp 167-178; 184-185. (2) RAAF file series A703, control symbol 580/1/1 part 5. pp 56-62; 164-169; 175-176; 182-183. (3) 'The Tully Report, saucer nests 1966 and 1969.' UFO Research Queensland, pp 1-31.)

Australian media attention

The local paper, the 'Tully Times,' carried an account.

This was quickly followed by articles in newspapers in the capital cities of Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne.

CUFOS visit

Recently, researcher and historian Barry Greenwood, of Boston in the USA, visited the archives of the J Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies, in Chicago. One of the aims of Barry's visit, was to keep an eye out for any Australian material. He found quite a few Australian items, and kindly forwarded me a copy of them.

International media attention

One of the things which I had previously not been aware of, was the global media attention which this event received. With today's Internet access, it is understandable when an item 'goes viral.' In 1966, due to widespread media coverage, the Euramo incident also 'went viral.'

Barry located a number of international newspaper articles, including the following. No doubt this is only a representative sample.

23 January 1966. 'Flying saucers building giant nests in Australia?' 'The Florida Times-Union.'

24 January 1966. 'Nest-building flying saucers found in land down under.' 'Bangkok World.'

24 January 1966. 'Flying-disk stories fly in Australia.' 'New York Post.'

24 January 1966. 'Saucer 'nests' but no eggs.' 'Daily Worker' (London.)

25 January 1966. 'Australian Air Force probing saucer reports.' 'Bangkok World.'

25 January 1966. 'Flying saucer nest?' 'Evening Press (Dublin.)

25 January 1966. 'A swish in the swamp - from space!' Lancashire Evening Post.

25 January 1966. 'Police will take samples at flying saucer 'nest.'' 'South Wales Echo & Evening Express.'

25 January 1966. 'Flying saucer test.' 'The Daily Mail' (London.0

26 January 1966. 'The saucers fly again.' 'Sheffield Morning Telegraph.'

27 January 1966. 'Saucers in sugar.' 'London Evening Standard.'

1 February 1966. 'Flying saucer nests reported in Australia.' "New York Times.'


A question arises in my mind, as to why this particular Australian incident should have caused so much international attention? You will notice the frequent use of the word 'nest' in the newspaper headlines. Was it the use of this evocative word 'nest' which intrigued newspaper editors?  Does any blog reader know when the word 'nest' was first associated with certain UAP physical trace cases?

Some comments about the Euramo incident
While gathering together a range of material on the incident for a review of the data, I noted a few initial things.

1. The duration of the visual sighting of the unusual 'object' was much shorter than many people assume from reading the accounts on the Internet. The investigation report published by the Queensland Flying Saucer Research Bureau (now UFO (Research) Queensland, Inc.) gives the duration as only 4-5 seconds. This is a terribly short time for an individual, encountering an unexpected event, to take it all in.

2. There was an article written, at the time, by an anonymous consultant of the Victorian Flying Saucer Research Society.

Inter alia, they wrote:

'...of the various pieces of evidence presented above, as many are in support of, as are in conflict with, the hypothesis that the phenomenon was caused by the actions of a whirlwind. It is therefore not justifiable to state that it could not be feasibly explained by such action.'

Here we have a consultant who has been connected with studies in atmospheric sciences, suggesting a 50/50% chance of the explanation being a meteorological event.

3. Local newspaper accounts, and indeed local UAP researchers, noted that similar physical traces had been found in Far North Queensland, prior to the Euramo incident, and attributed to natural causes. A search of the UAP literature since 1966, also reveals a large number of other 'nests' had been reported in the area.

In short, a rotating, grey. non-structured object, simply disappeared in mid-air after a few seconds of observation, on a calm, sunny morning - conditions suitable for the formation of  a rotating atmospheric vortex. The swirled reeds suggested that a rotating force had been applied - again suggestive of a vortex.

So, I pose the question as to whether or not the Euramo 'object' was a classic 'flying saucer' or something more mundane?

Sydney based researcher Bill Chalker, who has extensively researched the Euramo incident argues for the classic 'flying saucer' interpretation. I am not so sure.

Saturday, September 9, 2017

The former Department of Supply, Dr Michael J Duggin, and ANZAAS


I have previously written a number of times about the former Australian Department of Supply and files which it held on UAP; and the 1971 ANZAAS UAP symposium.

We know from examining previous government files, that there was discussion within the Department of Defence, in May to July 1971, about the RAAF handing over investigation of UAP to the Department of Supply, or at least the Department of Supply taking a look at a limited number of cases per year from a scientific perspective. (For example NAA files series A703 control symbol 554/1/1/30 Part 2, p.164.) What we have never found out is, what area within the Department of Supply had expressed this interest? Does a December 1971 internal Department of Supply memo give us a clue? 

Sydney researcher Bill Chalker, included images of an internal Department of Supply memo, on his blog, which was of great interest to me. 

In view of this interest, I have transcribed the text of the memo below. I will then provide some comments about the contents, and the broader context.

The memo 

This is an internal memorandum to Mr T F C Lawrence, Deputy Secretary, Research and Engineering, Department of Supply, from  C N Gerrard, Radar and Electronic Tracking Group, dated 2 December 1971. The subject was 'Regarding recent symposium on UFOs.'

'In reply to your enquiry of 25 November 1971, it is true that I attended the recent symposium on UFOs in Adelaide and I shall endeavour to give you an idea of the attitudes of scientists who attended. In doing so I must stress that the views expressed here are my own, and in no way reflect the views of W.R.E.

2. Enclosed is some documentation prepared in advance of the symposium , in which you will note the reasons why ANZAAS put it on, as well as the views of some of the speakers. I am sorry that one page is blank in the Department of Air paper. A tape recording of the whole proceedings was made and copies will be available within a few days (cost about $10 but not yet decided) from ANZAAS. About 350 people attended at a cost of $2 each which shows a strong popular interest in the subject; Dr Horton estimates that 30-50 of these were professional scientists.

3. The general feeling of those present was that there is a residue of sighting reports which indicate that some strange phenomenon exists; and that this warrants scientific investigation. In the last paper of the day Dr Herbison-Evans, an astronomer but very practical, made an eloquent plea for some full-time scientific effort to be devoted to a search for UFOs and in discussion it was suggested that any person or organisation with a specific UFO research proposal might apply to the University Grants commission for funds. Dr Duggin then formally moved that ANZAAS be asked to referee any such research proposal before referring it on to the commission. At this stage time was running out, and after very inadequate debate the motion was passed almost unanimously and the symposium was  closed. I felt that the meeting  would have liked to spend  more time discussing this important aspect  of scientific observation  of UFO phenomena before deciding on future action. However, the motion did offer some continuity of contact between UFOs and ANZAAS and clutching at straws, almost everyone voted for it - including me. I telephoned Dr Horton yesterday, and so far ANZAAS have elected a local committee o consider the feasibility of refereeing research proposals, but no proposals have yet been forthcoming.

4. So much for general comments on the symposium, now to the views of the scientists. Dr Duggin, a geophysicist in CSIRO in Sydney is probably the leading advocate of serious UFO studies in Australia; he has worked in America and knows personally DR J Allen Hynek, and members of the Aerial Phenomena Research Organisation (APRO.) Dr Hynek was associate director of the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory and in charge of the Baker-Nunn satellite tracking program when I was at Island Lagoon, and he is now Professor of Astronomy at NorthWestern University, Evanston, Illinois. He was involved in one of the official American investigations into UFOs, and I believe is now pressing for some sort of review of the Condon report. The Adelaide symposium received American press coverage as a result of Dr Duggin's contact with APRO whose representative then telephoned Dr Horton and obtained permission to "put on the press wires" a report of the symposium. A letter in the Australian, 19 November 1971, p12 headed "Bizarre" indicating that the symposium was reported in  America.

5. In endeavouring to answer your question about the views of the scientists, I must point out that we had insufficient discussion for me to learn what was the true views of the majority, and that I am expressing what I believe to be the majority view, based upon those who spoke publicly or to me privately. Certainly they believe  that it is possible and reasonable that we could receive visitors from another world either now or some other time past or present. Our scientific knowledge of the solar system and more distant systems is so meagre that we cannot estimate a meaningful probability of extraterrestrial visitors, and therefore we must rely on objective observations. The scientists accept that there is a residue of unexplained sightings and that something should be done to try and explain them.  At this point we seem to bog down on the three aspects, viz - why should we investigate; what should we investigate, and how should we investigate? It is significant that no-one has yet seriously put up a research programme - although Dr Herbison-Evans did make some practical suggestions for using cameras and magnetic counters. Dr Horton says that three of the staff of the Physics department would like to see some UFO research done, but have not yet been able to formulate a programme.

6. My own view is as given above as one of the majority of scientists, but I do not advise a deliberate search  for UFOs. It would be like trying to make objective measurement of fireballs or ESP; case are so rare that the job would be frustrating and very expensive, if not abortive. It is interesting to note that we do not have a pressure group urging action on these topics for the sake of the advancement of science, and it is pretty clear that it is only the excitement of the possible discovery of an extra terrestrial civilisation that is the reason for interest in UFOs, since people now recognise such a possibility, any slight evidence such as is offered by UFOs is seized upon as important. Nobody appears to be concerned about UFOs as a threat, and very few are truly concerned to solve the reported sightings for the sake of pure science, so the answers to my previous questions as to what and why we shall investigate seem to be that we want to know whether there is intelligent life elsewhere in the universe, simply because we are very interested and we hope there is. How we do this is not clear, but I think the official Australian investigation should not be as biased as the department of Air effort appears to be, and I would like to see that effort assisted by more scientists to make careful analyses and correlations of existing reports, looking for similarities which might suggest intelligent control, or purpose, or method of propulsion or communication. It is probable that more detailed questions in future cases also would be profitable, especially if done by a keen scientist. If such a review of existing data could be made, that would indicate the desirability or otherwise of further work. Otherwise I believe we must await the results of American or Russian interplanetary missions to other planets in search of life, or for the "visitors" to exhibit themselves to us either deliberately, or by accidentally crashing one of their "saucers."

7. I seem to have been rather long-winded but I hope the message is clear that we keep an open mind on UFOs and would like to see some scientific effort devoted to the investigations of UFO sightings, because it may throw some light on the exciting possibility of extra-terrestrial intelligence.

8. I would be glad if you would return the enclosed document some time, but copies are available from ANZAAS for $2.50. I shall continue to seek opinions and developments in the UFO field, and shall forward anything of significance which comes to hand.' 

In summary, here we have a December 1971 internal Department of Supply memorandum making some very intelligent comments about the need for scientific study of UFOs.

My comments

1. There are three known former Department of Supply files, dealing with our subject matter. They are:

a. National Archives of Australia (NAA) file series D174, control symbol SA 5281 titled 'Unusual occurrences flying saucers at Woomera.' 1952-1955, originating with the Long Range Weapons Establishment.

b. NAA file series D250, control symbol 56/483 titled 'Reports on unidentified aircraft, strange occurrences etc.' 1957-1968, originating with the Weapons Research Establishment (WRE.)

c. NAA file series control symbol SA5644/2/1 titled "Sighting of unidentified flying objects.' 1966-1974, originating with the WRE. 

A copy of the December 1971 memo above, was not found on any of these three files. 

2. A check of the National Archives of Australia's RecordSearch using the keywords 'Radar and electronic tracking group' revealed files, in the file series D891 (WRE Salisbury) with control symbols between N74/1855 and N74/1862. None were open, and each seemed to be a photograph only. I found nothing using the keywords 'Research and engineering.' However, there are literally thousands of not yet examined files about the Department of Supply, Woomera, missile testing etc etc. 

3. C N(orm) Gerrard was in the Department of Supply's Radar and Electronic Tracking Group, and states his intention to 'continue to seek opinions and developments in the UFO field, and shall forward anything of significance which comes to hand.' His memo was sent to Mr T F C Lawrence, Deputy Secretary, Research and Engineering, Department of Supply.

Perhaps this area was the one which had expressed an interest to the Department of Defence? Have any blog readers thoughts on this?

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Video of the century!

State of excitement

From time to time, people ask me why I don't get excited about the latest UAP video, photograph or sighting?


In terms of sightings, long term blog readers will recall that Melbourne researcher, Paul Dean, and I collected Australian sightings over a period of a year, and analysed the best of them. The truth was that very many of them had mundane explanations, often buried in the way the material was breathlessly presented, e.g. 'video of the century!' Very few of these sightings still looked interesting after a critical review of the information.

Despite this, I continue to review a range of sources, keeping an eye out for interesting material, looking for the small residue which reflect the 'core' UAP, i.e. sightings which do not have a ready explanation after an intelligent review. My most recent look, in August 2017, at such raw sightings was from a resident of Torquay, Victoria. This individual had a number of sightings, including an oval object, one quarter the size of the full moon in broad daylight; and one where four objects were travelling in formation, again in broad daylight. However, the bottom line was that none were viewed at close range, which would have precluded the possibility of an known object being the stimulus.

Part of my investigation report


The same applies to videos. Sydney researcher, Anthony Clarke of UFO Research (NSW) Inc., and I have just spent time looking into a video taken  in Sydney at around 7am on 8 August 2017. The surveillance video shows what at first glance looks like a very unusual object travelling across a fixed outdoor view, for about a minute.

However, after Anthony Clarke visited the location; interviewed the person who discovered the image on the video; took a look at the position of the camera and its housing; he found that a very different picture emerged.

Location of the video - images courtesy of Anthony Clarke

One of the cameras

Close up of camera
 The most likely explanation is that an insect crawled across the exterior of the camera cover, and its de-focused image is what was at first glance taken to be a UAP. Indeed, Anthony noted spiders web near the camera.

To read Anthony's investigation report, click here.

Still images

Still images are frequently submitted to a range of social media sources, and main stream media outlets. A person uploads a photograph, rarely providing any real data that would assist in its analysis; and then frequently fails to respond to inquiries for more information.

The white dot at the centre of the picture is a plastic bag

The coloured patch to the left of the Sun is a 'sun dog'

The Moon, planet Jupiter, and below is a lens reflection
 All, in all, almost all such images are suspect as misidentifications or hoaxes. In recent times, I have identified 'sun dogs;' internal lens reflections, and out of focus birds and insects, in images sent directly to me.

Where are the good cases?

What has happened to the classic, close encounter, involving someone travelling in a motor vehicle in a remote locality, along the lines of the 30 October 1967, Boyup Brook, Western Australia event? Are they still occurring? If any blog readers know of such Australian incident, I'd like to hear from you via email to

Friday, September 1, 2017

Dr Michael J Duggin's 1971 symposium paper

Further to my earlier blog posts about Dr Michael J Duggin's contribution to Australian UAP research, I have now located a summary of a 1971 talk he gave.


On 30 October 1971, the South Australian Division of the Australian and New Zealand Association for the Advancement of Science, held a one day symposium in Adelaide, South Australia, titled 'The Unidentified Flying Object Problem.' 

Courtesy of Peter Horne, of Adelaide, I now have a copy of the 'Condensed Papers' from the Symposium.

Dr Duggin presented a paper titled 'The Analysis of UFO Reports.' The 'Condensed Papers'
only contain a summary of the talk, which I present below.

The Analysis of UFO Reports

'There is an exceedingly large body of reports of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) from all over the world. Preliminary investigations show that about 67% of these are due to natural phenomena and so they are classed as Identified Flying Objects (IFOs.) The remainder, even discounting doubtful cases, forms an impressive collection of data. People making reports are usually sincere, often technically qualified and generally shy of the publicity which their sighting causes.

The vast number of unexplained reports, which show a surprising degree of internal consistency, argues for serious study of the UFO problem at this time.

Three typical reports are discussed, one concerns a sighting, one a series of strange ground markings, which appear similar to markings observed elsewhere in the world, and the last deals with a case of misidentification (i.e. an IFO.)

One problem confronting any would be researcher is the logistics of investigation, cataloguing and analysis of screened reports. Another problem lies in the fact that probably the number of UFO sightings far exceeds the number of UFO reports, as people are reluctant to report this sort of phenomenon, for fear of ridicule. Yet another problem is the ridicule which any interested scientist must face from his professional colleagues.

Since official study appears to have terminated with the closing of Project Blue Book, the publications of the findings of the Condon Committee, and the lack of action following the hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, US House of Representatives 1968, July 29, the responsibility for further study lies with individual scientists. Such study is only possible if interested scientists organise themselves into an informed world-wide panel on the basis of their specialities. This will work efficiently if existing societies studying UFOs will open their files and work with participating scientists.' 

Some comments on the paper:

1. I don't know where Duggin obtained his figure of 67% IFOs from. Most researchers would say that around 90-95% of all incoming raw reports can be explained in mundane terms.

2. We know from Jacques Vallee's diary ('Forbidden Science, Volume Two,' page 100, 

Image courtesy Amazon Books
that only twelve days before the ANZAAS Symposium, that Duggin was in the USA and visited Vallee on that day. Vallee states that he showed Duggin his (Vallee's) catalogue of landing type reports. Vallee also wrote that Duggin '...has just completed a tour of  the US during which he met the leaders of both NICAP and APRO.' This may well explain his comment regarding scientists and UFO societies.

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