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Ufology

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Ufology

Ufology is the study of reports, visual records, physical evidence, and other phenomena related to unidentified flying objects (UFO). UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, and scientists. However, ufology, as a field, is rejected by modern academia and is considered a pseudoscience.

Contents

  • Etymology 1
  • Historical background 2
  • Status as a field 3
    • As a pseudoscience 3.1
    • Methodological issues 3.2
    • UFO categorization 3.3
      • Hynek system 3.3.1
      • Vallée system 3.3.2
    • Academic ridicule 3.4
    • Ufology and UFO reports 3.5
    • Surveys of scientists and amateur astronomers concerning UFOs 3.6
  • Studies, panels, and conferences 4
    • Project Sign, Project Grudge (USA, 1947–1949) 4.1
    • Flying Saucer Working Party (UK, 1950–1951) 4.2
    • Project Magnet, Project Second Story (Canada, 1950–1954) 4.3
    • Project Blue Book (USA, 1951–1969) 4.4
      • Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 (USA, 1952–1954) 4.4.1
      • Robertson Panel (USA, 1953) 4.4.2
      • Condon Committee (USA, 1966–1968) 4.4.3
    • RAND Corporation paper (USA, 1968) 4.5
    • Project Identification (USA, 1973–1980) 4.6
    • Studies by GEPAN, SERPA & GEIPAN (France, 1977–present) 4.7
    • United Nations (1977–1979) 4.8
    • Project Hessdalen / Project EMBLA (Norway, 1983–present / Italy 1999–2004) 4.9
    • Project Condign (UK, 1996–2000) 4.10
    • Sturrock Panel Report (USA, 1997) 4.11
    • "Disclosure Project" Press Conference (USA, 2001) 4.12
    • Fife Symington Press Conference (USA, 2007) 4.13
  • UFO organizations 5
    • United States 5.1
    • United Kingdom 5.2
    • Ukraine 5.3
    • Australia 5.4
    • Skeptic organizations 5.5
    • World UFO Day 5.6
  • See also 6
  • References 7
  • Further reading 8
  • External links 9

Etymology

The term derives from UFO, which is pronounced as an acronym, and the suffix -logy, which comes from the Ancient Greek λογία (logiā). According to the Oxford English Dictionary, one of the first documented uses of the word ufology can be found in the Times Literary Supplement from January 23, 1959, in which it writes, "The articles, reports, and bureaucratic studies which have been written about this perplexing visitant constitute 'ufology'." This article was printed eight years after Edward J. Ruppelt of the United States Air Force (USAF) coined the word UFO in 1951.

Historical background

A Swedish Air Force officer searches for a "ghost rocket" in Lake Kölmjärv, Norrland, Sweden, in July 1946.

The modern UFO mythology has three traceable roots: the late 19th century "mystery airships" reported in the newspapers of western United States, "foo fighters" reported by Allied airmen during World War II, and the Kenneth Arnold "flying saucer" sighting near Mt. Rainier, Washington on June 24, 1947.[1] UFO reports between "The Great Airship Wave" and the Arnold sighting were limited in number compared to the post-war period: notable cases include reports of "ghost fliers" in Europe and North America during the 1930s and the numerous reports of "ghost rockets" in Scandinavia (mostly Sweden) from May to December 1946.[2] Media hype in the late 1940s and early 1950s following the Arnold sighting brought the concept of flying saucers to the public audience.[3]

As the public's preoccupation in UFOs grew, along with the number of reported sightings, the United States military began to take notice of the phenomenon. The UFO explosion of the early post-war era coincides with the escalation of the Cold War and the Korean War.[1] The U.S. military feared that secret aircraft of the Soviet Union, possibly developed from captured German technology, were behind the reported sightings.[4] If correct, the craft causing the sightings were thus of importance to national security[5] and of need of systematic investigation. By 1952, however, the official US government interest in UFOs began to fade as the USAF projects Sign and Grudge concluded, along with the CIA's Robertson Panel that UFO reports indicated no direct threat to national security.[6] The government's official research into UFOs ended with the publication of the Condon Committee report in 1969,[6] which concluded that the study of UFOs in the past 21 years had achieved little, if anything, and that further extensive study of UFO sightings was unwarranted.[6] It also recommended the termination of the USAF special unit Project Blue Book.[6]

As the U.S. government ceased officially studying UFO sightings, the same became true for most governments of the world. A notable exception is France, which still maintains the GEIPAN,[7] formerly known as GEPAN (1977–1988) and SEPRA (1988–2004), a unit under the French Space Agency CNES. During the Cold War, British,[8] Canadian,[9] Danish,[10] Italian,[11] and Swedish[12] governments have each collected reports of UFO sightings. Britain's Ministry of Defence ceased accepting any new reports as of 2010.[13]

Status as a field

Ufology has generally not been embraced by academia as a scientific field of study,[14][15] even though UFOs were, during the late 1940s and early 1950s, the subject of large-scale scientific studies. The lack of acceptance of ufology by academia as a field of study means that people can claim to be "UFO researchers", without the sorts of scientific consensus building and, in many cases peer review, that otherwise shape and influence scientific paradigms. Even among scientifically inclined UFO research efforts, data collecting is often done by amateur investigators.[14]

Famous mainstream scientists who have shown interest in the UFO phenomenon include Stanford physicist Peter A. Sturrock,[16] astronomer J. Allen Hynek,[17] computer scientist and astronomer Jacques F. Vallée,[18] and University of Arizona meteorologist James E. McDonald.[19]

As a pseudoscience

Ufology is characterized as a partial[20] or total[21][22] pseudoscience, which many ufologists reject.[23] Pseudoscience is a term that classifies studies that are claimed to exemplify the methods and principles of science, but that do not adhere to an appropriate scientific methodology, lack supporting evidence, plausibility, falsifiability or otherwise lack scientific status.[24][25]

Gregory Feist, an academic psychologist, proposes that ufology can be categorized as a pseudoscience because its adherents claim it to be a science while being rejected as being one by the scientific community, and because the field lacks a cumulative scientific progress; ufology has not, in his view, advanced since the 1950s.[26] Rachel Cooper, a philosopher of science and medicine, states that the fundamental problem in ufology is not the lack of scientific methodology, as many ufologists have striven to meet standards of scientific acceptability, but rather the fact that the assumptions on which the research is often based are considered highly speculative.[27]

Methodological issues

Scientific UFO research suffers from the fact that the phenomena under observation do not usually make predictable appearances at a time and place convenient for the researcher.[28] Ufologist Diana Palmer Hoyt argues,

The UFO problem seems to bear a closer resemblance to problems in [29]

On the other hand, skeptics have argued that UFOs are not a scientific problem at all, as there is no tangible physical evidence to study.[15][28] Barry Markovsky argues that, under scrutiny by qualified investigators, the vast majority of UFO sightings turn out to have mundane explanations.[30] Astronomer Carl Sagan stated on UFO sightings, "The reliable cases are uninteresting and the interesting cases are unreliable. Unfortunately there are no cases that are both reliable and interesting."[31]

Peter A. Sturrock states that UFO studies should be compartmentalized into at least "the following distinct activities":[32]

  1. Field investigations leading to case documentation and the measurement or retrieval of physical evidence;
  2. Laboratory analysis of physical evidence;
  3. The systematic compilation of data (descriptive and physical) to look for patterns and so extract significant facts;
  4. The analysis of compilations of data (descriptive and physical) to look for patterns and so extract significant facts;
  5. The development of theories and the evaluation of those theories on the basis of facts.

Denzler states that ufology as a field of study has branched into two different mindsets: the first group of investigators wants to convince the unbelievers and earn intellectual legitimacy through systematic study using the scientific method, and the second group sees the follow-up questions concerning the origin and "mission" of the UFOs as more important than a potential academic standing.[33]

UFO categorization

Josef Allen Hynek (left) and Jacques Vallée

Hynek system

Developed in the 1970s, J. Allen Hynek's original system of description divides sightings into six categories.[34] It first separates sightings into distant- and close-encounter categories, arbitrarily setting five-hundred feet as the cutoff point. It then subdivides these close and distant categories based on appearance or special features:

  • Nocturnal Lights (NL): Anomalous lights seen in the night sky.
  • Daylight Discs (DD): Any anomalous object, generally but not necessarily "discoidal", seen in the distant daytime sky.
  • Radar/Visual cases (RV): Objects seen simultaneously by eye and on radar.

Hynek also defined three close encounter (CE) subcategories:

  • CE1: Strange objects seen nearby but without physical interaction with the environment.
  • CE2: A CE1 case that leaves physical evidence, e.g. soil depressions, vegetation damage, radiations or causes electromagnetic interference.
  • CE3: CE1 or CE2 cases where occupants or entities are seen.

Later, Hynek introduced a fourth category, CE4, which is used to describe cases where the witness feels he was abducted by a UFO.[35] Some ufologists have adopted a fifth category, CE5, which involves conscious human-initiated contact with extraterrestrial intelligence.[35]

Vallée system

Jacques Vallée has devised a UFO classification system, where the UFO sightings of four different categories are divided into five subcategories:[36]

  • Close Encounter (CE): As per Hynek.
  • Maneuver (MA): Trajectory discontinuity in flight.
  • Fly-by (FB): No observed discontinuity in flight.
  • Anomaly (AN): Unusual lights or unexplained entities.

The five subcategories can apply to all previous categories of sightings:

  1. Sighting
  2. Physical effects: for example, radar sighting
  3. Life form or living entity
  4. Reality transformation: witnesses experienced a transformation of their sense of reality (often corresponding to the popular characterization of the incident as an abduction)
  5. Physiological impact: Such as death or serious injury

Thus, the Vallée categorization categorizes cases as MA-2, AN-1, CE-4, for example.

Academic ridicule

Stanton Friedman considers the general attitude of mainstream academics as arrogant and dismissive, or bound to a rigid worldview that disallows any evidence contrary to previously held notions.[37] Denzler states that the fear of ridicule and a loss of status has prevented scientists of pursuing a public interest in UFOs.[38] J. Allen Hynek's also commented, "Ridicule is not part of the scientific method and people should not be taught that it is."[39] Hynek said of the frequent dismissal of UFO reports by astronomers that the critics knew little about the sightings, and should thus not be taken seriously.[40] Peter A. Sturrock suggests that a lack of funding is a major factor in the institutional disinterest in UFOs.[41]

Ufology and UFO reports

In addition to UFO sightings, certain supposedly related phenomena are of interest to some in the field of ufology, including crop circles,[42] cattle mutilations,[43] and alien abductions and implants.[44] Some ufologists have also promoted UFO conspiracy theories, including the alleged Roswell UFO Incident of 1947,[45][46] the Majestic 12 documents,[47] and UFO disclosure advocation.[48][49]

Skeptic Robert Sheaffer has accused ufology of having a "credulity explosion".[50] He claims a trend of increasingly sensational ideas steadily gaining popularity within ufology.[50] Sheaffer remarked, "the kind of stories generating excitement and attention in any given year would have been rejected by mainstream ufologists a few years earlier for being too outlandish."[50]

Likewise, James McDonald has expressed the view that extreme groups undermined serious scientific investigation, stating that a "bizarre 'literature' of pseudo-scientific discussion" on "spaceships bringing messengers of terrestrial salvation and occult truth" had been "one of the prime factors in discouraging serious scientists from looking into the UFO matter to the extent that might have led them to recognize quickly enough that cultism and wishful thinking have nothing to do with the core of the UFO problem."[51] In the same statement, McDonald said that, "Again, one must here criticize a good deal of armchair-researching (done chiefly via the daily newspapers that enjoy feature-writing the antics of the more extreme of such subgroups). A disturbing number of prominent scientists have jumped all too easily to the conclusion that only the nuts see UFOs".[51]

Surveys of scientists and amateur astronomers concerning UFOs

In 1973, Peter A. Sturrock conducted a survey among members of the San Francisco chapter of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, where 1175 questionnaires were mailed and 423 were returned, and found no consensus concerning the nature and scientific importance of the UFO phenomenon, with views ranging equally from "impossible" to "certain" in reply to the question, "Do UFOs represent a scientifically significant phenomenon?" [52] In a later larger survey conducted among the members of the American Astronomical Society, where 2611 were questionnaires mailed and 1356 were returned, Sturrock found out that opinions were equally diverse, with 23% replying "certainly", 30% "probably", 27% "possibly", 17% "probably not", and 3% "certainly not", to the question of whether the UFO problem deserves scientific study.[53] Sturrock also asked in the same survey if the surveyee had witnessed any event which they could not have identified and which could have been related to the UFO phenomenon, with around 5% replying affirmatively.[53]

In 1980, a survey of 1800 members of various amateur astronomer associations by Gert Herb and J. Allen Hynek of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) found that 24% responded "yes" to the question, "Have you ever observed an object which resisted your most exhaustive efforts at identification?"[54]

Studies, panels, and conferences

Project Sign, Project Grudge (USA, 1947–1949)

Nathan F. Twining

The first official USAF investigations of UFOs were Project Sign (1947–1949) and its successor Project Grudge (1949). Several hundred sightings were examined, a majority of them having a mundane explanation.[55] Some sightings were classified as credible but inexplicable, and in these cases the possibility of an advanced unknown aircraft could not be ruled out.[56] The initial memos of the project took the UFO question seriously. After surveying 16 early reports, Lt. Col. George D. Garrett estimated that the sightings were not imaginary or exaggerations of natural phenomena.[57] Lt. General Nathan F. Twining expressed the same estimate in a letter to Brig. General Schulgen, and urged a concerted investigation by the Air Force and other government agencies.[58] Twinings memo led to the formation of Project Sign at the end of 1947. In the summer of 1948, Sign's first intelligence estimate (Estimate of the Situation) concluded that some UFO reports were extraterrestrial in origin. The rejection of the estimate by USAF Chief of Staff Gen. Hoyt Vandenberg led to the dissolution of Sign and the formation of Project Grudge.

Flying Saucer Working Party (UK, 1950–1951)

The United Kingdom's Ministry of Defence, alarmed by reports of seemingly advanced unidentified aircraft, followed the US military's example by conducting its own study on UFOs in 1950.[59] A research group was formed based on the recommendation of the chemist Henry Tizard, and was involved in similar work, such as "Project Sign".[59] After less than a year, the directorate, named the "Flying Saucer Working Party" (FSWP), concluded that most observations were either cases of mistaken identity, optical illusions, psychological delusions, or hoaxes, and recommended that no further investigation on the phenomena should be undertaken.[60] In 1952, the directorate informed Prime Minister Winston Churchill, after his inquiry about UFOs, that they had found no evidence of extraterrestrial spacecraft.[59] The FSWP files were classified for fifty years and were released to the British public in 2001.[59]

Project Magnet, Project Second Story (Canada, 1950–1954)

Project Magnet, led by senior radio engineer Wilbert B. Smith from the Department of Transport, had the goal of studying magnetic phenomena, specifically geomagnetism, as a potential propulsion method for vehicles.[61][62] Smith believed UFOs were using this method to achieve flight.[62] The final report of the project, however, contained no mention of geomagnetism.[63] It discussed twenty-five UFO sightings reported during 1952, and concluded with the notion that "extraterrestrial space vehicles" are probable.[63]

Along with the Smith group, a parallel committee dedicated solely to dealing with "flying saucer" reports was formed.[64] This committee, called Project Second Story, was sponsored by the Defence Research Board, with its main purpose being to collect, catalog, and correlate data from UFO sighting reports.[64] The committee appeared to have dissolved after five meetings, as the group deemed the collected material unsuitable for scientific analysis.[65]

Project Blue Book (USA, 1951–1969)

As a continuation of Project Sign and Project Grudge in 1951, the USAF launched Project Blue Book, led by Captain Edward J. Ruppelt. Under Ruppelt, the collection and investigation of UFO sightings became more systematic.[66] The project issued a series of status reports, which were declassified in September 1960 and made available in 1968.[67] Project Blue Book was terminated in December 1969, following the report of the Condon Committee. Until then, 12,618 incidents had been investigated, the grand majority of which explained by conventional means. 701 cases, around 6%, remained "unidentified".[68] Officially, the USAF concluded from the project that the phenomena investigated were of no concern to national security, and that there was no evidence the sightings categorized as "unidentified" were caused by extraterrestrial aircraft.[68]

Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14 (USA, 1952–1954)

The main entrance to Battelle Memorial Institute in Columbus, Ohio

Ruppelt contracted a team of scientists from the Battelle Memorial Institute to evaluate 3200 early sightings gathered by Project Blue Book. They conducted analysis, primarily statistical, on the subject for almost two years. The study concluded that the more complete the data was and the better the report, the more likely it was that the report was classified as "unidentified".[69][70] Those reports classified as "unidentified" numbered 21.5% of the total (33% of the highest quality reports) and required unanimous agreement among the four project scientists, whereas "identifieds" required agreement by only two of four analysts. A statistical analysis of six characteristics, such as speed and sighting duration, found statistically significant differences in at least four of the six categories between identifieds and unidentifieds. However, the report emphasized the subjectivity of the data, and stated that the conclusions drawn from the study were not based on facts, but on the subjective observations and estimations of the individual.[71] Furthermore, the report summary and conclusion stated that "unknowns" were not likely something beyond the era's technology, and almost certainly not "flying saucers".[66]

Robertson Panel (USA, 1953)

Before the final Battelle report was published, the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) had developed an interest in UFOs as a national security issue, and set up a committee to examine existing UFO data.[66] The panel, headed by mathematician and physicist Howard P. Robertson, met from January 14 to 17, 1953.[6] It concluded unanimously that the UFO sightings posed no direct threat to national security, but did find that a continued emphasis on UFO reporting might threaten government functions by causing the channels of communication to clog with irrelevant reports and by inducing mass hysteria.[6] Also, the panel worried that nations hostile to the US might use the UFO phenomena to disrupt air defenses.[6] To meet these problems, the panel stated that a policy of public education on the lack of evidence behind UFOs was needed, to be done through the mass media and schools, among others.[6] It also recommended monitoring private UFO groups for subversive activities.[6]

The recommendations of the Roberson Panel were partly implemented through a series of special military regulations.[72] The December 1953 Joint-Army-Navy-Air Force Publication 146 (JANAP 146) made publication of UFO sightings a crime under the Espionage Act.[72] The Air Force Regulation 200-2 (AFR 200-2) revision of 1954 made all UFO sightings reported to the USAF classified.[72] AFR 200-2 revision of February 1958 allowed the military to deliver to the FBI names of those who were "illegally or deceptively" bringing UFOs to public attention.[72]

Condon Committee (USA, 1966–1968)

Edward U. Condon

After the recommendations of the Robertson Panel, the USAF wanted to end its involvement in UFOs, and pass Project Blue Book to another agency.[73] In October 1966, the USAF contracted the University of Colorado, under the leadership of physicist Edward U. Condon, for $325,000 to conduct more scientific investigations of selected UFO sightings and to make recommendations about the project's future.[6][73] The committee looked at ninety-one UFO sightings, of which 30% was unidentifiable.[69] The report concluded that there was no "direct evidence" that UFOs were extraterrestrial spacecraft,[69] that UFO research from the past twenty-one years had not contributed anything to scientific knowledge, and that further study was not justified.[74] As a direct result of the Condon report, Project Blue Book was closed in December 1969.[69] Many ufologists, however, were not satisfied with the Condon report, and considered it a cover-up.[6]

RAND Corporation paper (USA, 1968)

The


  • Ufology News
  • Center for UFO Studies
  • Mutual UFO Network
  • Groupe d'Études et d'Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés
  • British UFO Research Association
  • Committee for Skeptical Inquiry UFO resources

External links

Ufology studies
Skeptical opinions
Pro-ufology
Academic books about ufology as a sociological and historical phenomenon

Further reading

  1. ^ a b
  2. ^
  3. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 9
  4. ^
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k
  7. ^ GEIPAN stands for Groupe d'Études et d'Informations sur les Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non-identifiés ("unidentified aerospace phenomenon research and information group")
  8. ^ UFO files from the UK National Archives
  9. ^ UFO files from the Library and Archives Canada
  10. ^
  11. ^ Italian Air Force UFO site (in Italian)
  12. ^
  13. ^
  14. ^ a b Denzler (2003), pp. 69
  15. ^ a b Why SETI Is Science and UFOlogy Is Not - A Space Science Perspective on Boundaries, Mark Moldwin, 2004
  16. ^
  17. ^ The J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies
  18. ^
  19. ^ McDonald, James. E. (1968). Statement on Unidentified Flying Objects submitted to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics at July 29, 1968, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, Rayburn Bldg., Washington, D.D.
  20. ^
  21. ^
  22. ^
  23. ^
  24. ^
  25. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 91
  26. ^ Feist (2006), pp. 219-220
  27. ^
  28. ^ a b Denzler (2003), pp. 35
  29. ^
  30. ^ Markovsky B., "UFOs", in The Skeptic's Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience, edited by Michael Shermer, 2002 Skeptics Society, p260
  31. ^
  32. ^ Sturrock (2000) pp. 163
  33. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 35-36
  34. ^
  35. ^ a b
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 72-73
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ Sturrock (2000) pp. 155: "If the Air Force were to make available, say, $50 million per year for ten years for UFO research, it is quite likely that the subject would look somewhat less disreputable ... however, an agency is unlikely to initiate such a program at any level until scientists are supportive of such an initiative. We see that there is a chicken-and-egg program. It would be more sensible, and more acceptable to the scientific community, if research began at a low level."
  42. ^
  43. ^
  44. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 239
  45. ^
  46. ^
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^
  50. ^ a b c Sheaffer, Robert. "A Skeptical Perspective on UFO Abductions". In: Pritchard, Andrea & Pritchard, David E. & Mack, John E. & Kasey, Pam & Yapp, Claudia. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference. Cambridge: North Cambridge Press. Pp. 382-388.
  51. ^ a b McDonald (1968)
  52. ^
  53. ^ a b
  54. ^
  55. ^
  56. ^
  57. ^
  58. ^
  59. ^ a b c d
  60. ^
  61. ^ Denzler (2003), pp. 98
  62. ^ a b
  63. ^ a b
  64. ^ a b
  65. ^ Cameron (1995), pp. 10-11
  66. ^ a b c Denzler (2003), pp. 13
  67. ^
  68. ^ a b
  69. ^ a b c d Denzler (2003), pp. 16
  70. ^
  71. ^
  72. ^ a b c d Denzler (2003), pp. 14
  73. ^ a b Denzler (2003), pp. 15
  74. ^
  75. ^ a b
  76. ^ a b Denzler (2003), pp. 72
  77. ^
  78. ^
  79. ^ a b c
  80. ^
  81. ^
  82. ^
  83. ^
  84. ^ Photograph of United Nations meeting on UFOs, July 14, 1978 ufoevidence.org (Retrieved May 4, 2010)
  85. ^ A/DEC/32/424 UNBISnet- United Nations Bibliographic Information System, Dag Hammarskjöld Library (Retrieved May 4, 2010)
  86. ^ A/DEC/33/426, UNBISnet (Retrieved May 4, 2010)
  87. ^
  88. ^
  89. ^
  90. ^
  91. ^
  92. ^
  93. ^
  94. ^
  95. ^
  96. ^
  97. ^
  98. ^
  99. ^ Salisbury (1998)
  100. ^
  101. ^ Sturrock et al (1998) pp. 180: "...but there was no convincing evidence pointing to unknown physical processes or to the involvement of extraterrestrial intelligence.", "...it would be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports since, whenever there are unexplained observations..."
  102. ^ Sturrock et al (1998) pp. 180: "...it would be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports since, whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying these observations."
  103. ^
  104. ^
  105. ^ Watson (2001)
  106. ^
  107. ^
  108. ^
  109. ^ a b c d e f g h i Markovsky (2002) pp. 270
  110. ^
  111. ^ a b
  112. ^
  113. ^ a b
  114. ^
  115. ^
  116. ^
  117. ^
  118. ^
  119. ^
  120. ^
  121. ^
  122. ^
  123. ^

References

See also

World UFO Day is a day for people to gather together and watch the skies for unidentified flying objects.[120][121] The goal of the July 2 celebration is to raise awareness of the Roswell findings, and to gain support in forcing governments to "tell the truth about earthly visits from outer space aliens".[122] This day is celebrated in the United States, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, China, Thailand, Belgium, Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Japan, Netherlands, South Africa, Taiwan, Turkey, Czech Republic, Australia, Spain, Korea, Brazil, Italy, France, Nigeria, Finland, Austria and Poland.[123]

World UFO Day

The Skeptical Inquirer magazine.[117] Founded as the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) in 1976 by professor of philosophy Paul Kurtz, the committee is known for its member scientists and skeptics, such as Carl Sagan, Isaac Asimov, Philip J. Klass, Ray Hyman, James Randi, and Martin Gardner.[118] The Skeptics Society, founded by science historian Michael Shermer in 1992, has also addressed the UFO issue in its magazine Skeptic.[119]

Skeptic organizations

The Australian Flying Saucer Bureau (AFSB) and the Australian Flying Saucer Research Society (AFSRS) were the earliest UFO groups established in Australia, with both being founded in the early 1950s.[113] The Australian Centre for UFO Studies (ACUFOS) was established in 1974 with links to the American CUFOS.[114] Other currently active Australian UFO groups include the Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS),[113] the Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN),[115] and UFO Research Queensland (UFORQ).[116]

Australia

The Ukrainian Ufologic Club (UFODOS) has released and placed on the Internet (ufobua.org.ua) a national archive of UFO evidences.[112] It was compiled based on people's evidences about strange flying objects over Ukraine. The "secret files" comprise about 500 eyewitnesses testimonies who saw UFO in Ukraine starting from the 17th century. According to UFODOS chief Yaroslav Sochka, the materials were collected from various sources, basically, Hydrometeorological Center of Ukraine Air Force and public ufological organizations.

Ukraine

[111] It traces its roots to the London UFO Research Association, founded in 1959, which merged with the British UFO Association (BUFOA) to form BUFORA in 1964.[111] The

United Kingdom

National UFO Reporting Center takes UFO reports, and has been in operation since 1974.[110]

[109] CUFOS has tried to limit its membership to established researchers, but has found little academic acceptance.[109] The two major UFO investigative groups active today are the

[109] against the CIA.Freedom of Information Act In 1957, brothers W. H. and J. A. Spaulding founded the Ground Saucer Watch, which later became famous when, in 1977, the group filed a suit under the [109] The first significant UFO interest group in the US was the [109] In the US, groups and affiliates interested in UFO investigation number in the hundreds, of which a few have achieved prominence based on their longevity, size, and researcher involvement with scientific credentials.

United States

UFO organizations

On November 12, 2007, a press conference, moderated by former Governor of Arizona Fife Symington, was held at the National Press Club in Washington D.C.[107] Nineteen former pilots and military and civilian officials spoke about their experiences with UFOs, demanding that the U.S. government engage in a new investigation of the phenomenon.[108]

Fife Symington Press Conference (USA, 2007)

On May 9, 2001, twenty government workers from military and civilian organizations spoke about their experiences regarding UFOs and UFO confidentiality at the National Press Club in Washington D.C..[103] The press conference was initiated by Steven M. Greer, founder of the Disclosure Project, which has the goal of disclosing alleged government UFO secrecy.[104] The purpose of the press conference was to build public pressure through the media to obtain a hearing before the United States Congress on the issue.[105] Although major American media outlets reported on the conference,[106] the interest quickly died down, and no hearing came forth.

"Disclosure Project" Press Conference (USA, 2001)

From Sept. 29 to Oct. 4, 1997 a workshop examining selected UFO incidents took place in Tarrytown, New York. The meeting was initiated by Peter A. Sturrock, who had reviewed the Condon report and found it dissatisfying.[98] The international review panel consisted of nine physical scientists, who responded to eight investigators of UFO reports, who were asked to present their strongest data.[99] The final report of the workshop was published under the title "Physical Evidence Related to UFO Reports" in the Journal of Scientific Exploration in 1998.[100] The study concluded that the studied cases presented no unequivocal evidence for the presence of unknown physical phenomena or for extraterrestrial intelligence,[101] but argued that a continued study of UFO cases might be scientifically valuable.[102]

Sturrock Panel Report (USA, 1997)

The report affirms that UFOs are an existing phenomenon,[94] but points out that they present no threat to national defense.[95] The report further states that there is no evidence that UFO sightings are caused by incursions of intelligent origin, or that any UFO consists of solid objects which might create a collision hazard.[96] Although the study admits of being unable to explain all analyzed UFO sightings with certainty, it recommends that section DI55 ceases monitoring UFO reports, as they do not provide information useful for Defence Intelligence.[97] The report concludes that a small percentage of sightings that can not be easily explained are caused by atmospheric plasma phenomenon similar to ball lightning; Magnetic and other energy fields produced by these "buoyant plasma formations" are responsible for the appearance of so-called "Black Triangles" as well as having hallucinogenic effects on the human mind, inducing experiences of Close Encounters.

The British Ministry of Defence (MoD) published in 2006 the "Scientific & Technical Memorandum 55/2/00a" of a four-volume, 460-page report entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK Air Defence Region, based on a study by DI55 (a section of the Directorate of Scientific and Technical Intelligence of the Defence Intelligence Staff) codenamed Project Condign.[93] It discusses the British UFO reports received between 1959 and 1997.

Project Condign (UK, 1996–2000)

Both studies confirmed the presence of the phenomenon and were able to record it with cameras and various technical equipment such as radar, laser, and infrared.[88][89] The origin and nature of the lights remains unclear.[90][91] Researchers from Project EMBLA speculated the possibility that atmospheric plasma had been the origin of the phenomenon.[92]

Since 1981, in an area near Hessdalen in Norway, unidentified flying objects have been commonly observed. This so-called Hessdalen phenomenon has twice been the subject of scientific field studies: Project Hessdalen (1983–1985, 1995–) secured technical assistance from the Norwegian Defense Research Establishment, the University of Oslo, and the University of Bergen, while Project EMBLA (1999–2004) was a team of Italian scientists led by Ph.D. Massimo Teodorani from the Istituto di Radioastronomia di Bologna.

Project Hessdalen / Project EMBLA (Norway, 1983–present / Italy 1999–2004)

Thanks to the lobbying of Eric Gairy, the Prime Minister of Grenada, the United Nations General Assembly addressed the UFO issue in the late 1970s.[83] On July 14, 1978, a panel, with Gordon Cooper, J. Allen Hynek, and Jacques Vallée among its members, held a hearing to inform the UN Secretary General Kurt Waldheim about the matter.[84] As a consequence of this meeting, the UN adopted decisions A/DEC/32/424 and A/DEC/33/426, which called for the "establishment of an agency or a department of the United Nations for undertaking, co-ordinating and disseminating the results of research into unidentified flying objects and related phenomena".[85][86][87]

United Nations (1977–1979)

GEIPAN found a mundane explanation for the vast majority of recorded cases, but in 2007, after 30 years of investigation, 1,600 cases, approximately 28% of total cases, remained unexplained "despite precise witness accounts and good-quality evidence recovered from the scene" and are categorized as "Type D".[79] In April 2010, GEIPAN statistics stated that 23% of all cases were of Type D.[80] However, Jean-Jacques Velasco, the head of SEPRA from 1983 to 2004, wrote a book in 2004 noting that 13.5% of the 5,800 cases studied by SEPRA were dismissed without any rational explanation, and stated that UFOs are extraterrestrial in origin.[81][82]

In 1977, the French Space Agency CNES Director General set up a unit to record UFO sighting reports.[79] The unit was initially known as Groupe d’Etudes des Phénomènes Aérospatiaux Non identifiés (GEPAN), changed in 1988 to Service d'expertise de rentrée atmosphérique Phenom (SERPA) and in 2005 to Groupe d'études et d'informations sur les phénomènes aérospatiaux non identifiés (GEIPAN).[79]

Studies by GEPAN, SERPA & GEIPAN (France, 1977–present)

In 1973, a wave of UFO sightings in southeast Missouri prompted Harley D. Rutledge, physics professor at the University of Missouri, to conduct an extensive field investigation of the phenomenon.[76] The findings were published in the book Project Identification: the first scientific field study of UFO phenomena.[77] Although taking a specific interest in describing unidentified aerial phenomena, as opposed to identifying them, the book references the presumed intelligence of the sighted objects.[78] Rutledge's study results were not published in any peer-reviewed journal or other scientific venue or format.[76]

Project Identification (USA, 1973–1980)

[75]

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