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Ufology is the study of ufos from alien worlds.

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Ufology is the study of unidentified flying object (UFO) reports, sightings, alleged physical evidence, and other related phenomena.

Background and legitimacy to Ufology.

Roswell story: ufology has never been fully embraced by the scientists.

While many ufologists strive for legitimacy, and some are respected scientists in other fields, ufology has never been fully embraced by the scientific community, for a number of reasons. Despite involvement of some respected scientists, the field has seen very little attention from mainstream science.

One cannot obtain a "ufology" degree from any college or university, though there have been a few college or university courses on the subject, often from a folklore perspective. Many ufologists are amateurs (or alternatively, individuals in search of fame and fortune), and however well intentioned, are often unfamiliar with generally accepted research standards, thus often rendering their own research useless even to sympathetic mainstream experts. Many amateur ufologists have been criticised for accepting as true stories or tales without demanding supporting evidence or conducting even cursory research.

Ufologists embrace a wide spectrum of approaches, beliefs, and attitudes, from those regarded by some as quack (e.g. David Icke); to respected mainstream scientists like Peter A. Sturrock, J. Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee, James E. McDonald, or Auguste Meessen, some of whom argue that UFO reports are as worthy of study as any topic, and deserve case-by-case analysis using the scientific method. debunkers (such as Philip Klass or Dr. Donald Menzel) have offered their opinions on UFOs, and though their conclusions have been disputed, they too represent an influential perspective in UFO studies.

However, this classification (sometimes presented as "skeptics" vs. "believers") is something of a false dichotomy, as there are other opinions on the subject: prominent scientist Dr. Carl Sagan was quite skeptical of any extraordinary answer to the UFO question, but in 1969, he co-organised a symposium on the subject, thinking that science had unfairly neglected the UFO question.

Overall, Ufology might be seen as an interdisciplinary field, as people have examined UFO reports from a number of perspectives. In her critique of the Condon Report, Diana Palmer Hoyt notes that "The UFO problem seems to bear a closer resemblance to problems in meteorology than in physics. The phenomena are observed, occur episodically, are not reproducible, and in large part, are identified by statistical gathering of data for possible organization into patterns. They are not experiments that can be replicated at will at the Laboratory bench under controlled conditions." (see external links below)

Along these lines, Peter A. Sturrock suggests that UFO studies should be compartmentalized - as are most scientific endeavors - into at least "the following distinct activities:

  1. Field investigations leading to case documentation and the measurement or retrieval of physical evidence;.
  2. Laboratory analysis of physical evidence;.
  3. The systematic compilation of data (descriptive and physical) to look for patterns and so extract significant facts;.
  4. The analysis of compilations of data (descriptive and physical) to look for patterns and so extract significant facts;.
  5. The development of theories and the evaluation of those theories on the basis of facts.".
UFO sightings.
Study of UFO sightings including Black Triangles over Belgian.

Study of UFO sightings has yielded results applicable to other fields, such as in weather phenomena (see Hessdalen) and in human perception, such as the study lead by the SOBEPS for the Belgian flap in 1989-'90 or the studies of the GEPAN/SEPRA in France.

Some argue the general rejection of ufology by mainstream science is part of the problem: anyone can declare themselves a "UFO researcher", and completely bypass the sorts of scientific consensus building and peer review that otherwise shape and influence scientific paradigms. This has allowed many to stake out territory and disseminate claims, information and analysis of widely varying rigor and quality.

Some ufologists consider the general attitude of mainstream academics as arrogant and dismissive, or bound to a rigid world view that disallows any evidence contrary to previously held notions, despite the fact that the history of science is replete with discarded notions; see Superseded scientific theories for a long list of theories once embraced by scientists. Others charge that mainstream rejection of UFO evidence is a classic case of Pathological science; astronomer and ufologist J. Allen Hynek's famous comment regarding this subject is, "Ridicule is not part of the scientific method and people should not be taught that it is." Another comment by Hynek regarding the frequent dismissal of UFO reports by astronomers was, "Close questioning revealed they knew nothing of the actual sightings... and therefore cannot be taken seriously. This is characteristic of scientists in general when speaking about subjects which are not in their own immediate field of concern."

UFO categorization in Ufology.

Some researchers recommend that observations be classified according to the features of the phenomenon or object that are reported or recorded. Typical categories include:

  • Saucer, toy-top, or disk-shaped "craft" without visible or audible propulsion. (day and night).
  • Rapidly-moving lights or lights with apparent ability to rapidly change direction.
  • Large triangular "craft" or triangular light pattern.
  • Cigar-shaped "craft" with lighted windows (Meteor fireballs are sometimes reported this way).
  • Other: chevrons, equilateral triangles, spheres, domes, diamonds, shapeless black masses, eggs, and cylinders.

Ufology: Hynek system.

J. Allen Hynek developed another commonly used system of description, dividing sightings into six categories. It first separates sightings into distant- and close-encounter categories, arbitrarily setting 500 feet as the cutoff point. It then subdivides these close and distant categories based on appearance or special features. The three distant-encounter categories are:

  • Nocturnal Lights (NL): Anomalous lights seen in the night sky.
  • Daylight Discs (DD): Any anomalous object, generally but not necessarily "discoidal", seen in the distant daytime sky.
  • Radar/Visual cases (RV). Objects seen simultaneously by eye and on radar.

Subgroups of the distant category of sightings correlate with evidentiary value. RV cases are usually considered to have the highest value because of radar corroboration, whereas NL cases have the lowest because it is so easy to mistake lights seen at night for prosaic phenomena such as meteors, bright stars, or aircraft. RV reports are also fewest in number, while NL are most common.

Hynek also defined three "close encounter" (CE) subcategories:

  • CE1: Strange objects seen nearby but without physical interaction with the environment.
  • CE2: A CE1 case that leaves physical evidence (e.g. soil depressions, vegetation damage) or causes electromagnetic interference (see below).
  • CE3: CE1 or CE2 cases where "occupants" or entities are seen. (Hence the title of Steven Spielberg’s movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind.).

From UFO Casebook:

  • CE4+: aliens communicate with the observer, even abduct, experiment on the observers, others. UFO Casebook lists additional catagories, in which the UFO and/or alien is captured/destroyed by military forces and/or civilians.

Like the RV cases, CE cases are considered higher in evidentiary value because they include measurable physical effects, and because objects seen up close are less likely to be the result of misperception. Like the RV cases, these tend to be relatively rare.

Hynek’s CE classification system has since been expanded to include such things as alleged alien abductions and cattle mutilation phenomena.

Vallee System

Jacques Vallee has devised a UFO classification system which is preferred by many UFO investigators over Hynek’s system as it is considerably more descriptive than Hynek’s, especially in terms of the reported behavior of UFOs.

Type - I (a, b,c, d)- Observation of an unusual object, spherical discoidal, or of another geometry, on or situated close to the ground (tree height, or lower), which may be associated with traces - thermal, luminous, or mechanical effects.

  • a - On or near ground.
  • b - Near or over body of water.
  • c - Occupants appear to display interest in witnesses by gestures or luminous signals.
  • d - Object appears to be "scouting" a terrestrial vehicle.

Type - II (a, b,c) - Observation of an unusual object with vertical cylindrical formation in the sky, associated with a diffuse cloud. This phenomenon has been given various names such as "cloud-cigar" or "cloud-sphere."

  • a - Moving erratically through the sky.
  • b - Object is stationary and gives rise to secondary objects (sometimes referred to as "satellite objects").
  • c - Object is surrounded by secondary objects.

Type - III (a, b,c, d,e)- Observation of an unusual object of spherical, discoidal or elliptical shape, stationary in the sky.

  • a - Hovering between two periods of motion with "falling-leaf" descent, up and down, or pendulum motion.
  • b - Interruption of continuous flight to hover and then continue motion.
  • c - Alters appearance while hovering - e.g., change of luminosity, generation of secondary object, etc.
  • d - "Dogfights" or swarming among several objects.
  • e - Trajectory abruptly altered during continuous flight to fly slowly above a certain area, circle, or suddenly change course.

Type IV (a, b,c, d) - Observation of an unusual object in continuous flight.

  • a - Continuous flight.
  • b - Trajectory affected by nearby conventional aircraft.
  • c - Formation flight.
  • d - Wavy or zig-zag trajectory.

Type V (a, b,c)- Observation of an unusual object of indistinct appearance, i.e., appearing to be not fully material or solid in structure.

  • a - Extended apparent diameter, non-point source luminous objects ("fuzzy").
  • b - Starlike objects (point source), motionless for extended periods.
  • c - Starlike objects rapidly crossing the sky, possibly with peculiar trajectories.

Funding issues in Ufology.

Astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock suggests that a lack of funding is a major factor in the institutional disinterest in UFO’s: "If the Air Force were to make available, say, $50 million per year for ten years for UFO research, it is quite likely that the subject would look somewhat less disreputable ... however, an agency is unlikely to initiate such a program at any level until scientists are supportive of such an initiative. We see that there is a chicken-and-egg program. It would be more sensible, and more acceptable to the scientific community, if research began at a low level."

Hypotheses involving the objective existence of UFOs.

These hypotheses speculate that the phenomena derives wholly or in part from a phenomena, rather than the mind of the observer.

The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis.

The extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) theorizes that some UFO sightings are alien Spacecraft.

The Staging Hypothesis.

  • A sub-set of the ETH, the Staging Hypothesis, prevalent up until the 1980s, speculated that extraterrestrials have "stage-managed" encounters as a deliberate policy to "educate" humanity. This theory has fallen out of favor, as its proponents then moved on to even less literal-minded interpetations.

Ufology: The Hostility Hypothesis.

  • Wilhelm Reich and Jerome Eden have the hypothesis that UFOs - or at least some of them - or the beings travelling in the UFOs - are hostile. They claim that the waste product of the UFO engines is what they call "Deadly Orgone" (DOR) which ruins the atmosphere, dries it out, and is one, if not the most important cause of the development of deserts. They found this during their operations with the Cloudbuster.

Eden, just like several other researchers, attributes the Cattle mutilations, cases such as Snippy the horse, to aliens, and claims that these beings abduct persons, manipulate their feelings and thoughts, cause military aircraft to crash or disappear, but they do not make open contact to government or military. That they even try to "educate" mankind in the way that the human beings develop a spiritual attitude towards aliens and UFOs, hoping that the aliens arrive as the saviors for the big problems of mankind and earth, when, in fact, their agenda involves exploiting Earth's natural resources and destroying its water and atmosphere.

The advanced human aircraft hypothesis in Ufology.

This is a theory that all or some UFO sightings are advanced, secret or experimental aircraft of earthly origin.

  • During the 1980s, there were reports of "black triangle" UFOs. Some of these were the secret F-117 Nighthawk, which became known to the public in November 1988.
  • Nazi Germany is known to have experimented with circular jet planes using the Coanda effect. At least one of the scientists involved was taken to the USA after WWII. Experiments with these designs and their descendants down the years may explain many sightings of circular UFO's. See Military flying saucers.

There is a theory that the secret groups developing these aircraft in the USA, have been encouraging ufology to follow the "alien spacecraft" line of thought, to cover up for sightings.

The Interdimensional Hypothesis (a.k.a. "Cosmic Trickster", "Ultraterrestrial" Hypothesis).

  • That some UFO sightings are alien spacecraft who have come from a parallel dimension or similar.
  • The theory, related to the Psychosocial Hypothesis, that angelic, demonic and other supernatural manifestations down the centuries were caused by aliens trying to control human destiny, and that or some UFO sightings are part of this process. (This overlaps considerably with the Staging Hypotheis.).

Atmosphere Beast Hypothesis in Ufology.

The theory of Trevor James Constable (a.k.a. Trevor James) speculated that UFO sightings involve the sighting of exotic unknown life otherwise known as Sky Critters, creatures similar or identical to Rods, a theory also held by cryptozoologist Ivan T. Sanderson.

Constable also worked with the cloudbuster. However, some have claimed that he does not understand what the DOR ("Deadly Orgone") means. There is the possibility that the infrared photos of the critters in his book are artifacts.

Ufology: Aliens as supernatural beings. UFOs as perception or illusion. The natural explanation hypothesis.

This is a theory that most UFO sightings are misunderstood phenomena such as ball lightning or by a visual illusions. See Identified Flying Objects (IFOs).

Ufology: Psychosocial Hypothesis.

This is a theory that some UFO sightings are hallucinations or fantasies and are caused by the same mechanism as various occult, paranormal, supernatural. or religious experiences (compare alleged sightings of the Blessed Virgin Mary). See article, Psychosocial Hypothesis.

The route followed by these misperceptions can be influenced by the environment that the perceiver was brought up in as a child: fairy stories, or one or other religion, or science fiction, etc: for example, one perceiver may see fairies where another sees Greys.

Carl G. Jung, the Swiss analytical psychologist, published a book about UFOs in 1957 (Flying Saucers: A Modern Myth of Things Seen in the Skies). Jung explained UFOs -- mostly without addressing the question of their existence -- as objects of the collective unconscious and modern archetypes. (In a brief final chapter of his book, however, Jung, however, also expressed his opinion that some UFOs were real "nuts-and-bolts" craft, citing corroborating physical evidence.)

Groups Involved with Ufology.

  • United States Air Force Project Blue Book: Small, public Air Force UFO investigation, from 1952 until discontinued in 1969. Preceded by Project Sign (1947-1948) and Project Grudge (1948-1952).
  • Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) (1952-1988): Early, national U.S. civilian research organization with many PhD consulting scientists.
  • Australian UFO Research Network (AUFORN) A collection of UFO investigatory groups and individuals from around Australia.
  • National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP)(1956-1980, Early, national U.S. civilian research organization, very large and powerful at one time, with many scientists and military consultants.
  • Mutual UFO Network (MUFON): Large, international, U.S. based civilian research organization stressing field investigations and data collection.
  • Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS): Founded by Project Blue Book consultant, astronomer and ufologist J. Allen Hynek; stresses scientific investigations; large archives, including old NICAP files.
  • Fund for UFO Research: Funds scientific UFO research; many consulting PhD scientists; does photoanalysis.
  • Victorian UFO Research Society (VUFORS) Circa 1957: The oldest and largest publics group in Australia.
  • National Institute of Discovery Science (NIDS): Private, somewhat clandestine organization with insider government scientists and military people stressing scientific forensic analysis of UFO and paranormal phenomena.
  • Phenomena Research Australia (PRA): This group has grew out of the Aeronautical Research Laboratory - Melbourne, Victoria c1949.
  • Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, (CSICOP), a UFO and paranormal skeptics organization, which classifies ufology as a Pseudoscience and claims all UFO reports are ultimately explainable as mundane phenomena or hoaxes.
  • UFO-Norge, a Norwegian project dedicated to collect all material on observations and physical traces of UFO activity in Norway.
  • Centro Ufologico Nazionale (CUN), big Italian private centre directed by sociologist Dr. Roberto Pinotti, funded in Florence.
  • Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici (CISU), big Italian private centre directed by Dr. Edoardo Russo, originated by a branch of CUN, funded in Turin.
  • EXO-X ufo research group, by Brazil.
  • Erich von Däniken's controversial theories (along with Peter Kolosimo), where he combines what he considers historical proof of extraterrestrial visits with a theory on extraterrestrial help in the evolution of humanity.
  • UFO Casebook.
  • Malevolent Alien Abduction Research Organization.
  • Pkcropcircles-UFOs, Karachi, Pakistan.

Sources of information about Ufology:

  • Sergey Litsak, Explanatory UFO Dictionary with Equivalents in Russian, English and German. ETS Publishing House and Polyglossum, Inc; ISBN 5-86455-063-9. Dictionary contains 853 articles.
  • Roth, Christopher F., "Ufology as Anthropology: Race, Extraterrestrials, and the Occult." In E.T. Culture: Anthropology in Outerspaces, ed. by Debbora Battaglia. Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 2005.
  • Peter A. Sturrock; The UFO Enigma: A New Review of the Physical Evidence; Warner Books, 1999; ISBN 0-446-52565-0.
  • Jerome Eden; "The Desert Makers", Careywood, Idaho, PPCC, 1981, available from Flatlandbooks.
  • Jerome Eden; "Scavengers From Space", Careywood, Idaho, PPCC, 1989, at present time out of print.

Chapters from the Anthology below.

Other pages about ufos and aliens

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