UFO research: Is there such a thing?
The Fourth Edition of The Craft of Research, Edited currently by Joseph Bizup and William T. Fitzgerald, updating Wayne C. Booth, Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams [The University of Chicago Press, 2016], the premier, academic work on what is research and how to do it, correctly, is my reading material of late.
I’ve always been curious as to why or how some UFO buffs assume the mantle of researcher when it is palpably obvious they are nothing of the sort.
(I, myself, am a miserable UFO “theorist” and I have no illusions that I am to be taken seriously by the UFO hoi polloi.)
So, let me see if I can discern for you, using the book cited above, why some ufologists are not “researchers” and why a few can be said to be so….
My pal Kevin Randle has assumed the mantle of UFO researcher for many years now and current UFO buffs can see, by reading his Blog postings [kevinrandle.blogspot.com] that he continues to dig out and ruminate on UFO sightings/events, past and present.
Kevin details his findings, findings not superficial or cursory, as one can find examples of in his latest Roswell book, pictured here:
Complimenting Kevin, surprisingly, is David Rudiak who provides surfeits of information about iconic UFO cases, such as Roswell and Socorro, and dozens of others.
No one, and I mean no one, gives UFO aficionados more details, some so esoteric but important, that they offer ufologists minutiae that completes UFO stories in ways that can only be classified as UFO data that means something.
(The book cited above about research tells readers that such data is the gist of real research, and Rudiak’s efforts exemplify that dictum.)
The problem with David’s research, if there is a problem, lies in his extraterrestrial bias. He sees the working of alien beings everywhere. He may be on to something but that’s not objective and objectivity is the hallmark of any research or researcher.
Bruce Maccabee is an exceptional technical researcher, one of ufology's finest.
And as an objective researcher, as I see it, he has delineated obscure details is such cases (photos mostly) as the Trent/McMinnville flying saucer pictures and the Phoenix lights to name only a few.
Then there is arch-skeptic Robert Sheaffer who nails errant or ridiculous claims by some UFO witnesses, even debunking debunkers like those of the Kenneth Arnold “pelican” theory (Jim Easton’s insightful theory that Arnold saw a flock of pelicans and not a bevy of flying saucers, which UFO historian, and not a researcher Jerome Clark castigated calling those who thought the pelican idea worthy of consideration "pelicanists," like my astute friend, Martin Kottmeyer).
Mr. Sheaffer is one tough skeptical cookie, and an excellent researcher on the averse side of ET oriented ufology.
Nick Redfern is a journalist and his research is highlighted by detailed reportage and searches for that which underlies stories about UFOs and other paranormal categories.
There is no finer a writer or gatherer of “facts” about the strange, and his vast output of books on paranormal topics (UFOs being my favorite) stand alone.
I’ve mentioned Martin Kottmeyer and note Leslie Kean who has researched the military aspect of UFO sightings.
This journalist is noteworthy, not only for her excellently detailed research, but also for her moderation and objectivity which is unparalleled in news media.
Brit David Clarke is an example of a Ph.D. (folklore) researcher who has extrapolated his knowledge of mythology and fairy tales to help explain UFO reports and stories.
He seems to be, for many, a skeptic but I see him as anything but. His observations are acute and often spot on, not derailing the authenticity of UFOs but rather clarifying them with insight that is unique and academic.
There are others, which I’ll touch on upcoming.
But let me note that some UFO mavens, who think they are researchers, are not. These are the folks who scour blogs and web-sites throwing in internet links to support or defile things they are reading.
This isn’t research, not by a long-shot. It’s just a supercilious attempt to seem UFO savvy.
I won’t name some of the miscreants, as that would only feed their egotistical folly, but you know who they are and can ignore their links and input as essentially worthless.
To know what research is or meant to be, get the book I've tagged above.