UFO Conjectures

Tuesday, January 03, 2012

Research, No Research, and UFO Research

Copyright 2012, InterAmerica, Inc.

UFO Research is oxymoronic, to be generous.

Research, scientific research, or any kind of research operates with, first of all, an overview of the matter or things to be scrutinized – a gestalten observation.

Then, if there are patterns or elements that stand out, the researcher culls the standouts for special attention, a thorough scrutiny perhaps.

I’ve noticed a the tendency, the habit, of most UFO “researchers” to get sidetracked, without a gestalten view of a UFO event, by a side issue or minor aspect of a UFO sighting or event that may or may not be important.

For instance, when I brought up, here, recently, the Aztec/Scully account of an alleged flying saucer crash near Aztec, New Mexico in 1948, the comment section got smuckered by a sidebar involving Silas Newton, a player in the Aztec saga, but a man who has little or nothing to do with the essential story: a crash of a flying saucer near Aztec, from which bodies and the saucer were taken for study by the United States military.


Newton is said to have concocted the story which Variety reporter Frank Scully took, in toto, and wrote one of the seminal books about flying saucers – Behind the Flying Saucers [1950] – at the outset of the saucer craze.


But to zero in on Newton as the premise for Scully’s story strays from the research modus; an intense Newton scrutiny takes researchers away from the reported saucer crash to a vetting of a man who was only a part of the Scully book and story.

Surely, a quirky element that shows up in a researchers studied domain needs to be taken aside and seriously deconstructed to see if that quirky element is an essential part of the thing under scrutiny.

But to laminate a quirky element or detail with such encrustations as seen in the Newton commentaries is to miss the forest for the tree.

And then there is Roswell and the Mogul balloon scenario…

Like the Newton “footnote” some UFO aficionados continue to dissect the Mogul explanation by the United States Air Force for the Roswell crash of 1947.


UFO writer, Kevin Randle regularly opens his blog to a discussion of Mogul and Roswell, which is, for some researchers, what did not happen near Roswell: Mogul is an AF red-herring they contend.

The Mogul balloon hypothesis is a side-bar, but some “researchers” can’t let it go.

The vicissitudes of Roswell place Mogul in a subservient position as far as the event, in totality, is concerned. Mogul balloons don’t provide substance for all the witness accounts and subsequent mythos that has derived from the Roswell incident.

But Mogul is grist, ample grist, for protracted commentary and discussion by Roswell skeptics and Roswell ET die-hards.

Speculating on the Mogul operation takes researchers far from the total Roswell picture, just as concentrating on Silas Newton takes researchers far from the tale of the Aztec crash.

Then there is the 1957 RB-47 event, which is touted by Paul Kimball and others as the “Best” UFO incident, for study and confirmation of the UFO reality, ever.


But researchers, like Tim Printy, Brad Sparks, and Kimball, have circled their research wagons around the reported radar returns that the RB-47 Air Force crew experienced.

The radar returns are a subtle element in the whole RB-47 account; cold war exigencies, crew psychology (as a totality and individually), mechanical quirks of the aircraft (if any), et cetera, have to be considered before researchers grapple with only one random aspect of the total event: the radar mischief.

UFO “researchers” approaching their subject, then fixating on one subtle, minute irrelevant detail within that event is typical of the UFO mavens modus operandi.

UFO researchers don’t seem to have the wherewithal to take on UFOs in a scientific way.

Go to UFO UpDates for myriad examples where UFO fanatics get hooked on a particular detail of a sighting and pummel that detail until it is so bloodied and broken that it is of no value to anyone, least of all to a real researcher, who might be able to connect it to meaningful patterns in other UFO accounts.

The side-bar researcher makes banal something that might be important. They do this by trivializing details, which they use to show-off or feign expertise, where there is none.

Newton, Mogul, the RB-47 radar, are all without scientific cachet, in the context of the whole that their UFO reference represents.

But scrounging around for meaning in such minutiae is what most UFO researchers do.

And that’s why the UFO mystery remains intact; amateurs and research-pretenders have spoiled the UFO pottage.

(And lest anyone think we are excusing our own side-tracks – the Socorro symbol, for instance -- we’re not. We are as guilty as anyone of getting caught up in a footnote. But, at least, we know that we’re culpable, and do not fool ourselves, or anyone else, that we’re real researchers. We’re as flawed as those we’re excoriating here.)