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Cheater!?

Recently had a hit on this blog from someone using the following search term:

“mufon field investigator test answers”

Jiminy Christmas, its an open book test. If you want to want to be a field investigator, at least go through the meager training program that they’ve set up. What benefit is it to cheat?

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Ufology: Clusterf*ck

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.

Bigelow

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.

  1. Tracks your location.
  2. Takes photos.
  3. Records the direction of the camera.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Goodbye Ufology, Hello Truth…..uh….ok

So I’m going to comment on James Carrion’s kiss-off post to ufology, which can be found here.

There was a lot in his post, and there was a lot that I wholeheartedly agreed with, so I figured I would take excerpts from the post and give my take.

“There was a time many years ago when I was considering leaving Ufology because I couldn’t make sense of it all….

…I latched on to the only organization that I felt had some reservoir of common sense and reason in its modus operandi – MUFON.”

I’m right there with you Mr. Carrion.

“I proposed to the MUFON Board to digitize the paper files under what I called the “Pandora Project” and they gave me their blessing and financial backing.”

That’s a good idea. Those files need to be online, if only for backup/security purposes. Lead on!

What I discovered was that the phenomenon is based in deception – of the human kind –and that there is no way ANYONE will understand the real truth unless they are willing to first accept that. No, I am not talking about some grandiose cover-up of alien visitation, but instead the documented manipulation of people and information for purposes that I can only speculate on. How do I unequivocally know this to be true? Well let me lay it out for you in laymen’s terms.

Well, you’re probably right here. Although is this really new? Anyone watching the phenomenon  and looking into its history, over any period of time sees that there is manipulation of people from every angle.

Whoa! Wait a minute, what about those who don’t take things on faith and actually collect data and conduct investigation? Good question. I decided to examine the data collection and investigative practices in Ufology, and after poring over thousands of historical case files from MUFON, NICAP and APRO investigators in the MUFON archives, what I found, was inconsistent investigation with a total lack of evidentiary standards. I also found a paper trail of disinformation and misinformation that has kept Ufology in check through infighting and red herrings, rabbit holes and elaborate deception operations.

So you decided to examine the data collection and investigative practices in Ufology and found inconsistent investigation techniques with a total lack of evidentiary standards. You know what, me too. I was a MUFON field investigator briefly. I paid my dues, bought the training manual for like $90, took the open book test, and voilà, I’m a field investigator. My local director sent me information for a recent case, I had to get to work. Unfortunately, it quickly became obvious that there really wasn’t much to work with. The person making the report had sent photos of his dinner while on vacation in Manhattan. There really just wasn’t much to work with, which was extremely frustrating. In my day job (stock analyst), I’ve got access to reasonable information: audited financial information, government data on commodity inventories, supply/demand trends. #ven then I feel like I’m playing defense in shoes three sizes too big against Michael Jordan. There’s nothing like that in ufology. So eventually I just got frustrated and left, like Mr. Carrion.

There is a difference between my frustration and that of Mr. Carrion. The difference is that I’m at the bottom rung, with no real mechanism to change anything. I decided that it would be better to help improve the data that investigators could access to make better reports. So far, my main contribution has been ATCMP.  It got a pretty tepid response, but its out there if you want it. (It takes an old computer and turns it into a 18-hour a day recording device to archive radio broadcasts)

On the other hand, Mr. Carrion was the International Director of MUFON. He was THE person who could have the largest impact. He could have implemented a better standardised training program and data collection techniques. It is sorely needed.

“The other thing I found documented in the MUFON archives was the sad history of those UFO investigators who thought they could successfully play the “cover up game” by cultivating their inside sources only to be discredited, manipulated or ego driven to delusion.”

OK, back to agreement. Ufology must stop playing the cover up game. If you want to use information from a ‘confidential’ source, you cannot publicise that information until you can verify it. If you want to publicise the information, your source must be willing to come forward and be verified. You cannot have it both ways.

“But it was after conducting six personal investigations that I began to question whether or not ANY of the data sitting in any UFO archive can be relied on.”

Well, that’s a good question. Can any of it be relied up? Individually, no. As a whole, well, kinda, maybe, sortof. How good is the data? It could certainly be much better. How can we improve the data and data collection techniques going forward? Not to be too snarky, but I guess its a good thing that the Director of the worlds largest ufo organization thought that it might be a good idea to do a few actual investigations. But seriously, I don’t hold a lack of investigative history against him too much. I think a critical look from outside ufology would be very beneficial.

So he chooses, Kinross Dive Company, Portage County, California Droanin’, Stan Romanek, and Skinwalker Ranch. From my point of view any attention paid to Stan Romanek by anyone other than his family is too much attention.  Ditto the California Droans. Kinross Dive Co. never really seemed to amount to anything anyway. I just don’t know anything about Portage and little about Skinwalker besides what’s in the book.  But hoaxing has a long history along with ufology. Is it attention seeking individuals? The government? Lonely folks seeking validation? All of the above seems likely. This actually seems like an area where Mr. Carrion could have added considerable value within MUFON. Maybe he will still be able to from outside of the organisation and outside of ufology.

“I decided to dig deeper and rather than focus on the sideshows that would pop up and distract ufologists by leading us down yet another rabbit hole, I did original research into the early days of the phenomenon. What I found was amazing and is documented in my paper at http://scilib.ucsd.edu/sio/hist/Carrion_New%20Avenues.pdf. Realizing that to uncover more information and to prove my theory would require laser like focus and time that I did not have to spare, I made the decision to leave the MUFON International Director position and informed the MUFON Board.”

Ok. I hope he figures something out with where he’s going. I didn’t really get the point of the above-referenced paper. Yes, it seems like the U.S. government has used disinformation for legitimate reasons. Maybe they still are. I still don’t think disinformation and an actual anomalous phenomenon are mutually exclusive. Improving the quality of investigations would have helped the whole field. Maybe poor quality investigations is endemic to the field, and is the reason its never gotten anywhere.

I guess I’m just disappointed that someone who actually recognised some of the problems with ufology chose to abandon it. I hope he will make progress in his own way, independent of the circus. Good luck Mr. Carrion.