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The Teaching Company — The Great Courses…

I wrote a post a while ago, I think it may have been one of my first posts, that mentioned The Teaching Company. They basically do lecture series on any number of topics. I’ve gotten a few including a general philosophy course, and a philosophy of science course. The one on philosophy of science was sort of tough to get very into as it had such a materialist bent. Maybe it was less so later, but I had a tough time listening to much that I stopped after the first few lectures. The point, however, is that people in the paranormal would do well to go through some of these courses so that they have a better handle on the arguments used by ‘debunkers’

Anyway, I noticed they have a new lecture called Skepticism 101: How to Think like a Scientist. The series of 18 lectures feature none other than Michael Shermer, PhD. There are five lectures with paranormal themes including, The Paranormal and the Supernatural, Science Vs. Pseudoscience, Comparing SETI and UFOlogy, Comparing Evolution and Creationism, and Life, Death & the Afterlife. I haven’t listened to the lectures, but I reckon its consistent with Dr. Shermer’s previous skeptical endeavors.

But this post isn’t really about the Teaching Company’s products, or even Michael Shermer, PhD’s skeptical bona fides. I wondered if the paranormal community could produce something along the same lines. Is there any one person or group who could pull it together to put out say 20 quality lectures on the ufo topic and do it in a way that wasn’t open to immediate ridicule?  For me, Richard Dolan is the only one that comes to mind. It would take the form of a history course using his UFOs and the National Security State series (1941-1973, and 1973-1991, and whatever the last one turns out to be).  I think everyone in the field has heard Mr. Dolan talk before, but normally its and hour, or maybe two in a podcast interview or conference presentation.  This format would allow him to go into much greater detail than he normally does in presentations and would probably reach a much different audience than that which normally listens to the Binnall of America podcast or goes to the X conferences.

Dolan may not be the only person who could put something like this together. I’m sure Stan Friedman, Jacques Vallee, and Grant Cameron could also put together some quality information and do it in a way that would be reasonable. Maybe there could be a series of 24 lectures, with 4 people producing six each, or some combination like that.

Anyway, I don’t know Richard Dolan or the people at The Teaching Company, so I’m not really in any position to effectively suggest this, but if any of my two or three regular readers stumbles on this post and has relevant network contacts, maybe forward it along.:)

Thanks for reading and I wish good fortune to everyone.

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Hidden Experience: Grant Cameron

Grant Cameron really nailed it in the latest audio conversation with Mike Clelland. If you’re new to the UFO thing, start with this interview and work back to where you were before you listened.

Imbrogno, Imbroglio?

First let me say that I generally like what I’ve heard from Philip J Imbrogno.

I enjoy hearing him interviewed on podcasts. He generally seems to have a fairly clear thought process and has certainly been involved in researching the paranormal for a long time.

But I was listening to a recent interview of Imbrogno by Mike Clelland. In it, Dr. Imbrogno said that he had devised a way (device, plans?) to detect openings and closings of portals?

Huh? Did he just say that? That seems like quite a feat to just let fall into a conversation and not talk about it again. I think I’ve heard him talk about it before on other shows (Paratopia or Red Ice maybe?) Anyway, the comment raised a red flag for me because it seemed like it was just too spectacular not to be the main part of the conversation. I’ve heard about djinn and ultraterrestrials elsewhere, but this guy has plans for a device that can detect windows to other universes or dimensions or timelines …or something. This is something I want to know more about. Do the folks at CERN know about this? Maybe it could save them some time.

Anyway, in the podcast, Mr. Clelland introduced Imbrogno as a Phd.  The whole device thing seemed like a stretch to me, and it was a stretch that I didn’t think that someone with a PhD in a hard science (theoretical chemistry) would just lob out there. Most of the PhDs that I’ve come across are pretty precise in their language, even when it comes to things in the paranormal.

So that’s one thing. The other thing that has me a bit confused is that he just got his PhD.  Fair enough I suppose. You get it when you get it. I don’t have one, so who am I to judge. But Imbrogno has been writing books on the paranormal for years. From what I’ve read over at Uncommondescent.com (Intelligent Design blog) having an interest in ID will really put the Kibosh on your career. Are UFOs, Djinn, and ultraterrestrials really that far away ID?  I have no idea how entrenched in materialism the doctoral committees at MIT are, but I would imagine that this sort of thing would make them think twice. Maybe they’re cool with VERY outside interests, as long as it doesn’t affect your calculations.

So then I was curious. What did Mr. Imbrogno do his thesis on? I was recently able to find Paul H Smith’s (remote viewer) dissertation on physicalism online at the University of Texas at Austin library website.  Maybe I can find Dr. Imbrogno’s also.

So I went to MIT’s library site, and searched for MIT Theses by author keyword Imbrogno. Nothing came up. I guess it’s not really that weird. It took UTA a while to post Smith’s paper, so maybe there’s a stack of theses in someone’s inbox just waiting to get added into the library system.

But then when I search through the listing of other theses published in 2010, and then enter the author’s name into MIT’s general search engine, most of the time there is some sort of reference to that person. I get nothing when I search for “Imbrogno”.

MIT’s registrar referred me to the degreeverify.com site to confirm if a student was enrolled at the school and degrees are received. degreeverify.com seems to require the birth date for the person you’re looking to verify, and I don’t know his birthday, so its tough to check. I also emailed a staff member at the chemistry department to see if they could shed any light, but haven’t heard anything back.

So who knows? I’m not really sure where to go from here. If you have any input, feel free to comment in the comment area. I’m probably making more of an issue than it needs to be, and I’ll be more than happy to apologise in a subsequent post if someone can clarify this for me.

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?

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.

To Gino S

So I saw a comment over at Blog De Void that I wanted to respond to. I ended up typing it in and then that Damn Herald Tribune refresh kicked in and erased it.

So I thought I would try to rewrite it here

Anyway, here’s the link to the original post.

http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/11515/ufos-digging-our-nukes-is-not-news/

I am responding to GinoS’s comment at 10:26 pm.

Gino, I’m glad you got Leslie Kean’s book. In the end I think one of the main contributions of that book will be to make an impact on journalists and former journalists like you. I’m glad you’re willing to admit that you’re fascinated by the subject.

I’m also happy that you’re skeptical. This field needs honest skepticism. It also needs civility, and you seem to have that too.

I’m also glad that you’ve developed a mental model for this phenomenon. That will come in useful.

Here’s what I hope.

I hope you’ve got endurance and patience.

I hope you’ve got endurance to stick with your investigation of this phenomenon. Its takes a long time just to figure out the history.

I hope you’ve got the patience to be able to sift through all the crap (no really, there’s a lot) that you will have to sift through until you find a nugget that you can plug into your mental model. Make sure you watch how everyone reacts to reports of a sighting, the academics, the governments, military, contactees, skeptics, the mainstream media, the blogosphere, and ufology.

Then I hope you’re able to adjust your model, or scrap it and start over.

Good Luck!

Stepping down from my box.

—-

So reading his post and thinking about my response has made me think more about my ride through this whole thing. I may work on a few posts about where I started from and where I am now in terms of my thinking on the whole issue. That will probably be the end of this blog, more or less, because I don’t really know how much more I’ve got to say that matters. I guess none of it really matters, but its helped me express what I’m thinking about it so I guess its been useful to me.

Wishlist #5 — Philosophy 101

I’ve been meaning to write this post for a little while. After seeing this interview with Chris Carter a while ago, linked through Anomalist.com, I thought it was finally time to hit the keyboard again.

If there’s one thing that we need is education. As a community (paranormal community) we don’t even seem to ask the right questions. For the most part, it doesn’t seem like there’s a decent foundation to work from. Normally someone has an experience, or hears about someone else’s experience,  and tries to combine it into their own view of the world. And from what I read on the Internet,  their view of the world is probably pretty uninformed and unexamined. What might be really helpful is a better foundation in philosophy.

I’ll admit, I’m no philosopher, but I’ve found the subject a lot more interesting since I left college, especially since becoming interested in anomalous topics. But it seems to me that people have been dealing with these subjects for thousands of years.  A lot of good minds have come to bear on the subject, not that you would know it from the discussion in the current ufological/paranormal community.

So what I would like to see, item #5 on my wishlist, is a an educational outlet devoted to the philosophy of the paranormal. I would love to hear philosophers talk about dualism as it relates to what we call the paranormal. What do Hindu philosophers have to formally say about UFOs? There’s a ton of material that can be tapped, and related directly to this crazy world in the ether that we all seem to be fascinated about, but so few have any idea about what’s already been said.

And the other thing is that this would be an area where skeptics (or whatever pejorative you’d like to use) could actually find some common ground with the believers (or whatever pejorative you’d like to use) because it doesn’t necessarily have to have anything to do with the current landscape, just some talking about what some dead guys said a long time ago.

I wrote an email to Paul H. Smith a few months ago asking him to think about doing a subscription podcast on the philosophy of the paranormal.  I’m happy to pay for a little education, and I hope you are too, because honestly, whatever you’re paying for cable tv is too much. The format of the Philosopher’s Zone podcast is pretty good, maybe Alan Saunders could take a stab at it. How about the folks at the Teaching Company? They do some nice educational audio work, maybe they could put something together?

Well, that’s my wishlist item #5. I hope you think the idea has some merit. And lets be honest, we’ve all heard the same people on the podcast circuit over and over and over, so a new approach might be useful.

Wishlist #3 — Funding Mechanism — Kickstarter.com

A while ago I did a post on a new item for my wishlist.

The post described an idea for a funding mechanism that would enable people working on paranormal projects to seek funding from outside sources. Ideally it would provide a way for people to make contributions that are tax deductible and provide a mechanism for funds to be returned if enough money for the project isn’t raised or if a portion of the money remains unspent at the end of the project.

Well, I was reading my most recent issue of Make Magazine and found a mention of a website that accomplishes some of these goals and its called Kickstarter

Basically it allows people or groups seeking funding to post a project proposal online and then collect funds from interested parties. In this case, if the desired amount is not raised, all the funds get returned to the donors.

According to the FAQ, non-profits can use their tax-deductible status.

The program uses Amazon.com’s payment system. They also mention in their faq that Paypal is working on a system that Kickstarter might consider using as well, to process contingent payments. I thought a company like Paypal would be ideal because they already have much of financial infrastructure to deal with relatively small payments. I guess Amazon is close enough.

I recently came across another instance where this sort of program would be very useful. Billy Cox did a posting on an event that is being organized by Robert Salas and Robert Hastings. The post talked about how they need money to get the people to D.C., to put them up in hotels, and to rent the space. Sounds good to me, as they seem to be more reasonable than some other presenters (your opinion may vary) so I sent in some money via paypal.  I couldn’t help wondering though, that having a more community oriented portal for solicitation would be helpful. Something where they could make a presentation, contributors could get updates, and then potentially have refunds if excess (haha) funds were raised. Kickstarter accomplishes most of these things.

I hope people looking for funding for projects will at least give Kickstarter a look.

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.

Wishlist items #2 and #3, Passive Radar and Funding Mechanism

You often hear people say that there’s no money in ufology. The only way to make money is by writing a book and selling it. Maybe Having a subscription based podcast is the new version of a book, or at least some sort of syndicated radio program. There’s certainly next to no funding coming from established research programs at universities. There may be something at the private level, but if there is, the output of that research seems to be staying with those funding it, or maybe its coming out in books.

Obviously,  If someone asking for money directly, I suspect you will view them with a very critical eye.

So I’m using this post to propose a process to allow for the raising of private funds for the purpose of UFO research, or really any kind of independent research, paranormal or otherwise. Some mechanisms of the process may not actually exist yet, but probably won’t be terribly difficult for someone with the right skills to create.

I will describe the process with a hypothetical example and describe how it would proceed and could involve the whole paranormal community. I will use the names of actual people, forums, companies, podcasts, and even projects, but only for illustrative purposes. Please don’t think that the use of their names implies that they are presently involved in anything like what I’m describing. Maybe they are, but not too my knowledge. I use them to illustrate because their current roles are easily understood by the community and would be useful.

So here goes…

WISHLISTS

It all starts with the wishlist. I talked about my concept of a wishlist here (http://yaufob.wordpress.com/2009/8/21/wishlist), but the idea is to let the world know what you want, because you don’t know who can make a contribution to make it happen.

So in this example, we’ll start with the wishlist of an organization like the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). To reiterate, I don’t know what’s on CUFOS’s wishlist, or if they even have one, but there are a few specific reasons to use CUFOS for our example. First they have been around for a while, so they are familiar with the subject matter and are headed by people with reasonable academic credentials. Second, CUFOS is a nonprofit (enter “ufo studies” in the search box) , so donations made to CUFOS are tax deductible, which would help maximize the level of funds that would be raised.

So in this example, CUFOS creates a wishlist and includes on it a passive radar system to be implemented on a statewide level. Again, I don’t know if CUFOS would want this, but lets say they want to develop something like this. Peter Davenport described passive radar at a mufon conference a few years ago, and put together a .pdf document which you can find at his website. Although CUFOS may not have any particular expertise in developing a passive radar system, they decide that a passive radar system might be useful to implement on a statewide level in a state with little military air-traffic, so they put it on their wishlist. By doing so, they are looking to act as a sponsor to someone who has the skills necessary to put together such a system.

The Technologist, The Proposal, and the Sponsor

Although CUFOS may not have any expertise with passive radar, they know there are people out there who have the technical chops to put something like that together. One person who has worked on such technology is Eric Blossom. So maybe Mr. Blossom hears about the CUFOS wishlist and decides to submit a proposal for a statewide passive radar system. The proposal details how much a system would cost to build, who would administer it, what the fixed and ongoing costs would be, how it works, and what its strengths and weaknesses are.

Once CUFOS receives the proposal they debate it internally, and decide if they would like to sponsor it. Sponsorship would involve appointing someone within CUFOS to administer the project. This would include arranging for media interviews and debate, making necessary changes to the proposal, setting benchmarks for funding process, checking benchmarks against progress, ensuring adequate record keeping, and distributing final results.

Media Debate

Because ufology doesn’t have a peer review process and because funding will be coming from outside sources, alternative media (podcasts and blogs) will play a central role in the hashing out of the merits of a particular research project.

In this case, either the CUFOS representative and/or Mr. Blossom would get together with members of the media along with other reasonable authorities to debate the pros and cons of a particular project. For example, Mr. Blossom might be a guest on Paratopia where he could describe the project and proposal to the Paratopia audience. To get a balanced idea of the project, hosts Jeremy Vaeni and Jeff Ritzmann would need to arrange for opposing viewpoints on the show as well. Maybe they would try to get someone else on the show who has dealt with passive radar and knows the pitfalls that must be dealt with. And/or someone who has experience with UFO/radar cases. The idea is to get a 360-degree view of the projects.(Actually Alex Tsakiris, host of the Skeptiko podcast does a really good job at working through some of the details of experiments dealing with Psi phenomenon, and readers would be well served to check out his podcast)

Of course it wouldn’t need to be just one podcast. There are probably many more blogs with an interest in the ufo subject than there are podcasts, and some non-ufo/paranormal outlets that would also have an interest, could also participate. So bloggers could and should get in on the action too. Taking a position on either side, and advocating to their hearts content.

Funding Mechanism

After the listening and reading audiences get a chance to hear discussion from various sources, both for and against they would be able to make up their own mind about whether or not they would like to contribute financially to the project. Those who are interested in helping financially, or just keeping up with the projects results, would go to a project website.  The website would be a central hub that would host the proposal so that interested parties can look at the details for themselves. It would also provide a way for people to make donations.

The proposal would provide the outline of the project, with benchmarks marking the functional sections and noting the successful completion of a section, as verified by the sponsor representative. Donations would be set up to be prorated, with a certain percentage of each donation being allocated for each section of the project. As an example, if someone donates $100 to the project, that $100 would be broken up into smaller amounts to be released as portions of the project are completed. If a project stalls half way through, after a defined inactivity period, donors would receive the portion of their donation back for the uncompleted project, assuming the sponsor was unable to find someone else to complete the project. Upon completion of the project, donors would receive a package detailing the project’s outcome.

I’m not sure exactly who the best organization would be to put together such a website. My first instinct is to think of Paypal as an organization that can handle making payments of varying sizes securely, and keep track of it all. They already have a micro-finance division called Microplace.com that connects those with money to micro-business owners that need loans. (Maybe contact Scott Thompson at President of PayPal, and let him know they should think about this.) Then there are sites like elance.com that deal with the matching of people who need services with people who can provide those services, even implementing some benchmarking payment programs. Maybe its someone else altogether.

So that is basically the idea. To summarize:

1. Figure out what you want to get done to advance ufology.

2. Find someone who can do it.

3. Get the idea out there and have people debate it from all angles.

4. Provide an efficient mechanism for making proratable payments.

5. Check the progress of the project and pre-determined intervals.

6. Upon completion, get the results out to the world, or at least the sponsors.

It would provide a structure to match up people who want to do alternative research with people who are interested in funding it, and it would do so in a way that everyone involved is informed about what is going on at the beginning, and if they aren’t, it is up to them to get better answers or opt out of participation.

Well, thats it for now. If you think its a good idea, please comment. If you think its bunk please comment as well, but try to be nice about it.

Thanks for reading.