UFO Conjecture(s)

Monday, March 10, 2014

Anomalist and me -- on UFO Research

Our friends at Anomalist think I don’t consider Michael Swords and Nick Redfern as UFO rsearchers.

I don’t.

Michael Swords is a UFO theorist, which I can barely emulate, having none of his erudite insights and compendia of UFO knowledge.

Porfessor Swords gathers information, lately from the internet, and muses on what he finds.

Nick Redfern, my best UFO friend and the only person whom I respect totally when it comes to UFO knowledge and lore, is not a researcher, as I and the Oxford Dictionary define research.

Nick is a journalist, one who finds leads and follows up on them, reporting out to his readers what he discovers.

A researcher has to be archeological; that is, a researcher has to drill down into the nether regions of the UFO phenomenon and present his or her findings to the UFO public.

Chris Aubeck, co-author with Jacques Vallee of Wonders in the Sky, does this, with the help of a ‘team” he’s formed who access archived material, which Mr. Aubeck presents to his followers. (Mr. Aubeck just presents the findings; he doesn’t interpret them, as Jacques Vallee has done.)

Richard Hall tended to research. Wendy Connors also, in her heyday.

Jerry Clark may be likened to Nick Redfern, without the tenacity or imaginative acumen that Mr. Redfern has to discern what may be related to UFOs and what isn’t.

Our former colleague, Leon Davidson, was a researcher of Project Blue Book and the CIA, his insights discounted by some but relevant as I’ve noted in several pieces here, at this blog.

Lucius Farish, which I’ve noted in the previous posting, used research methodology, especially when it came to the Airship wave of the 1890s, but Lucius was an archivist primarily, like Wendy Connors was and Isaac Koi is today.

Researchers, as defined academically, are hard to find in “ufology” if they exist at all.

Research requires a dedication and discipline that no one in the UFO field practices, nowadays or formerly, in a real sense.

Research has been niggardly or superficial.

UFO people like to think of themselves as researchers, even when their research consists of reading a few books or going to UFO sites and/or conferences.

Study paleontology or archaeology or the processes of the minds as neurologists do and you’ll see what research really is.

Ufology is bereft of the epithet, research.



  • Would you class Stanton Friedman as a researcher? Even if you do not like his conclusions (as I don't) would you still regard him as a true researcher?

    Jerry Clark is more of a UFO historian than researcher. So are other writers.

    A researcher may well concentrate on only one or two special cases. This still qualifies him, or her, as a genuine researcher, even if their conclusions are demonstrably wrong.

    Regarding, e.g. the Bermuda Triangle or the Philadelphia Experiment, would you regard Charles Berlitz as a researcher? He did (so I believe) some research. Perhaps not much but some nonetheless.

    By Blogger cda, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • Point well made, RR.

    By OpenID raisinbottom, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • CDA:

    A researcher, as defined academically and in periodicals that review books on or about research, is one who has a set of scientific protocals they work with; they have a discipline that requires certain methodolgies that have evolved for the enterprise they are engaged in.

    They have years of experience and education.

    Stan Friedman isn't close to being a researcher.

    Berlitz was a joke.

    Jerry Clark is not really an historian but a gatherer of UFO lore.

    You seem inclined to put these fellows in an arena to which they do not belong.

    That is the problem with "ufology." Those immersed in it, have come to believe that because a few souls have blustered their way to the top of UFO debate or conversation, that makes them a researcher.

    I just watched, a few moments ago, a repeat of UFO Hunters, and the announcer along with Bill Birnes constanttly referred to some sloppy blokes who have had an interest in UFOs for a period of time as "researchers." One guy just a man who went to locales where UFOs were seen or said to be seen.

    Is that research?

    Does the term mean nothing to you?

    You know what a researcher is: Darwin, Oliver Sacks, Freud, Jung, Macaulay, Vasari, et al.

    To put the names you cite among that pantheon is insulting to them and to anyone with an intellectual head on their shoulders.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • Perhaps we can classify some of us as those who analyze data and attempt to formulate some type of hypothesis or other analytic framework. I believe this to fall in your category as "theorist."

    Even in my humble works, I have a problem with calling it research, but I have no problem calling it analysis, as I only have what data can be had based on the case.

    I do attempt to formulate a hypothesis to come up with rational conclusion.

    The more I think about it, researcher I am not...

    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • Rich,

    You might also add that it is pretty much devoid of science and scientific method... alas.

    By Blogger Joel Crook, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • In my view, Dr. James McDonald was a legitimate UFO researcher. His research involved massive fact-finding and analysis of several hundred UFO incidents by an academically trained and educated atmospheric physicist. (If one had to pick one academic discipline for UFO research, that would be my pick). His search for understanding the phenomenon is extremely well told in Ann Druffel's wonderful "FIRESTORM"(2003). Ann would be the first to admit that she herself is not a "researcher." But she is a serious historian (and story teller) as this fine book atests.

    By Blogger Dominick, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • Yes, Joel...

    And that opens another aspect of the ufological problem(s).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • I agree Dominick, about Dr. McDonald.

    We don't see his kind anymore, unfortunately.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Monday, March 10, 2014  

  • I'm not sure how I class myself: I investigate, try and make some sense of it all, and put it out for people to see!

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Tuesday, March 11, 2014  

  • Good point, Dominick. I'd add that Ann Druffel, not only an historian in ufology, but was an early alien abduction researcher. The Tujunga Canyon Contacts was first published in 1980. She and the late D Scott Rogo personally investigated the multiple person case and made the initial connections that most close encounter experiencers have a lifelong history of such activity as well as the occult aspect in these encounters.

    Druffel also separated what could be different orders of beings (example-Jinns imitating our modern idea of ETs)and their interactions with us in How to Defend Yourself Against Alien Abduction -based on her work with abductees.

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger brownie, at Tuesday, March 11, 2014  

  • Susan, good that you bring up Scott Rogo, I thoroughly enjoyed his writings and thoughts on the "dualistic" concept of mind and brain. Scott left us all too soon.


    By Blogger Tim Hebert, at Tuesday, March 11, 2014  

  • Tim - Oh yes! Rogo wasn't afraid to think outside the box. An original thinker was lost when he died.

    ~ Susan

    By Blogger brownie, at Tuesday, March 11, 2014  

  • Will the inhouse 'researcher' AJB act as honorably as this real researcher when the truth of the "Roswell slides" becomes apparent?:


    By Blogger Chuck Finley, at Tuesday, March 11, 2014  

  • Well, I have been asked why I'm not standing up and commenting more forthrightly on RR's stance that I'm not a UFO researcher.

    Well, the answer is simple: there is little argument for me to make, since RR knows very well that I DON'T consider myself a traditional UFO researcher!

    I view a UFO researcher as someone who goes out and visits/travels to UFO sites, takes photos of UFO-landing areas, takes part in sky-watches etc. Or someone who liaises with local newspapers, every time there is a sighting here in the area they live in. I have never, ever done that, as much as it sometimes surprises people.

    My background is in journalism. Most of my income (at least 70 per cent) comes from regular journalism.

    I view what I do as UFO journalism, as most of it is investigating historical stories and files, not actively (or even ever!) researching the phenomenon in the field - which is how I view the traditional role of a UFO researcher.

    A UFO researcher (in my view - and that's the important factor, in MY view) investigates the phenomenon itself, very often in the field, as I said above, and analyzes witness photos, soil-samples, or does a night-time stakeout in a "UFO flap" zone, etc.

    Taking the "UFO journalism" approach, however, I investigate historical claims, accounts, FOIA documents etc and try and form an opinion.

    That is all VERY different to what I see as a "UFO researcher," namely someone who travels to people's homes when a strange light was seen over their house, or when someone claimed to have been abducted.

    To me, that is a UFO researcher. But, most important of all, that does not define what I do.

    As anyone knows who knows me well, I do state my case, stand up, and am always prepared to go out on a limb with controversial data and forthrightly back it up.

    But, in this case, I clearly AM NOT someone who researchers the phenomenon. As a writer, I research claims/files on the subject of UFOs and write about them. That is poles apart from being how I perceive a UFO researcher, as someone sitting on a witness' couch filling out a Q&A on their sighting etc.

    I am an observer of (and a writer on) the UFO phenomenon, not an in the field researcher of the phenomenon. There is a major distinction there.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Wednesday, March 12, 2014  

  • Nick:

    You are confusing 'researcher' with 'investigator', I believe.

    I would regard you as a researcher, i.e. someone who does research. This can be in a library, or by interviewing past witnesses or swatting up on all the latest publications. There is more to it than this, but I cannot give an exact definition.

    What you describe above is the activities of an investigator, i.e. someone who investigates actual UFO events as they occur.

    Maybe we are spending too much time on the small details of these definitions, but research most definitely is not the same as investigation. Not with ufology anyway.

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, March 12, 2014  

  • CDA:

    Well, that all comes down to interpretation, which is probably the one thing that confuses people on what defines a UFO researcher (or, as per your comment, an investigator).

    For me at least (and granted, this is my opinion), there's not much distinction between a researcher and an investigator.

    But, there is a BIG distinction (in my opinion) between someone whose primary time is spent investigating/researching the phenomenon vs. someone whose primary time is spent writing about it.

    Yes, I do research at government archives. But, I don't consider that to be researching the phenomenon itself. I consider that when I'm at the archives I'm researching the government stance on/approach to the phenomenon.

    Some might say the distinction is small, but I say it isn't - at all. And some might say I'm splitting-hairs. But, also, I'm not.

    I have written a lot about what the government (or agencies or think-tanks) have concluded etc, but I have never sat on someone's settee and had them fill in a questionnaire on their UFO sighting, I have never taken soil-samples at a UFO landing site, I have never photographed the window of a bedroom where someone said a Gray entered their bedroom, etc., etc.

    Granted, I did - years ago - attend one sky-watch thru the night. I froze my nuts off, was thirsty and hungry, bored shitless and vowed never to do it again.

    By Blogger Nick Redfern, at Wednesday, March 12, 2014  

  • Christopher [CDA} is just being obtuse.

    He knows damn well what research is and what makes up a researcher.

    There are none in "ufology" today, none!

    I've been in journalism my whole life.

    A major newspaper did a three page spread on my MediaWatch efforts not long ago.

    I have Facebook page devoted to journalism and news media.

    I know what a journalist is, and Nick Redfern is a journalist, a damn good one too.

    Again, CDA, look up research as a discipline, on the internet, if your library has closed there in Britain.

    You'll be able to see what the term means and how no one in the UFO field is a researcher; not Kevin Randle, not Jerry clark, not even Michael Swords.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, March 12, 2014  

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