Wow! That’s really all I can say at this point. Wow! Aside from the general freakshow that is normally ufology there’s now this.
I’m referring to the latest series of posts over at James Carrion’s blog Follow the Magic Thread. It began with the post entitled Strange Bedfellows, continued with How to Take Down a UFO Organization 101, and finished (so far) with MUFON Overboard — Save Our Ship.
I really didn’t quite get it when Carrion left MUFON. I wrote about my thoughts here. But no big deal, people can do what they want. But after reading Carrion’s recent posts, and a possible draft of the contract signed between MUFON and Bigelow as shown on the UFO Updates List, I think I would have been running out of their as fast as I could as well. Jiminy Christmas.
If half of the things that Carrion says are true and I were still a member of MUFON, I’d leave immediately. It seems like some of the terms in the contract could easily put MUFON in breach of their stated goal of the “Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit of Humanity.” I would imagine that would put their status as a non-profit in jeopardy. Contracting with (selling your soul to) a private enterprise doesn’t seem to benefit humanity in general, especially when that enterprise gets all your data. At this point (and any other point, really) I’m just an observer, looking down at the circus from a nearby hillside, but this seems like it could be the end of MUFON, at least in its current form.
OK, now on to Bigelow. If the contract (from UFO Updates) put forward by Bigelow, and signed by MUFON is in fact what was actually signed, I don’t know who is a bigger fool, Bigelow or MUFON. Why in the hell would you pay $56,000 a month to have access to MUFON’s files and special access to in-process investigations. What the hell has MUFON ever actually done??? They go into a ufo investigation, like a bunch of crime-scene-investigators trying to do forensic analysis. The thing is, we can measure the distance a certain caliber bullet travels through wall in a lab, and then apply that to shooting investigations in the field. Unfortunately, MUFON doesn’t have a lab to perform bench tests on UFOs. So what results did he really think he was going to get? Will they be any better than what MUFON and the other organizations have gotten over the last 60 years? As I’ve talked about before and Nick Redfern bemoaned on Binnall’s year-end wrapup, at this point we’re just filling up filing cabinets. Listen to Stan Friedman for Pete’s sake, “Progress is made by doing things differently” (actually more of a paraphrase, but you get it.)
On the other hand, if Bigelow was trying to damage the organization then, “Well played Mr. Bigelow, well played.”
Try, Try, Triangulation (Wishlist Item #4)
Ok, so if I had an extra $56k burning a hole in my pocket, here’s what I’d do. And this is going on my wishlist. Heck, for $56k, I’ll learn how to do it, and then do it. You could probably just subcontract it out to someone in India for 10 grand, but there’s a ton of unemployed programmers here that would probably be happy to work on it.
Everyone knows that one of the difficulties in UFO sightings, is judging size and distance. The best way to be able to get that information is to have multiple witnesses, observing the same object and accurately reporting what they see.
So what do we need? What can step in and help with this? Technology of course. Which technology? Smartphones and Apps!!
So you have everyone in MUFON with a smartphone get this new app. The App does a few things.
- Tracks your location.
- Takes photos.
- Records the direction of the camera.
- Sends an instant message to all the other app users within a 5-mile radius to get them to go outside and look up in the sky and take pictures if they see anything interesting. They’ll probably bring a few non-MUFON friends.
- Sends the photos back to a central server automatically with a timestamp and the other pertinent information including gps location and direction.
The benefit of this approach is that it takes advantage of MUFON’s primary strengths, and that is its size and name recogniztion. MUFON has actually had a lot of members, especially if you include non field investigators. Most of the time they really only get to look at reports on MUFON’s database or read the MUFON Journal. This would allow them to actually make a contribution without having to do virtually anything except take a few timely photos. Its basically an ad-hoc seismology network, except that instead of taking readings of vibrations its taking photos.
Well, I guess that’s my rant for the day. It comes more from a feeling of disappointment than anger. I’m disappointed that this will probably do real damage to the main organization where normal people could try to act on their interest in the UFO phenomenon and maybe make a contribution. Although in the end, maybe this needs to happen to make room for someone else from outside to do something new. Greg Bishop also talks about this in the above-linked episode of Binnall of America Audio; he basically says real progress will only come from outside the field itself. I wish he were wrong, but I suspect he’s right.