Best UFO Cases” by Isaac Koi

PART 1: Best UFO Cases: Introduction

 

Ufologists regularly complain that skeptics fail to address the best UFO cases.

 

On the other hand, skeptics frequently complain that “believers” refuse to nominate the best cases.

 

This article considers some of those complaints.

 

Due its length, this article has been split into several parts:

 

PART 1: Best UFO Cases: Introduction

PART 2: Challenges to produce lists of top cases

PART 3: Existing lists by various individuals

PART 4: Consensus lists : Introduction

PART 5: Consensus lists : Jacques Vallee’s poll (1965)

PART 6: Consensus lists : Ronald Story’s poll (1979)

PART 7: Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s Vox Populi poll (2006)

PART 8: Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s expert poll (2005/6)

PART 9: Consensus lists : Fortean Times expert poll (2007)

PART 10: Consensus lists : National Enquirer Panel

PART 11: Consensus lists : The Rockefeller Briefing Document

PART 12: Consensus lists : Conclusion

PART 13: The Top 100 UFO cases

PART 14: Top 10 cases within various categories

PART 15: Qualitative criteria: Introduction

PART 16 : Qualitative criteria: Credible witnesses

PART 17: Qualitative criteria: Multiple witnesses

PART 18: Qualitative criteria: Miscellaneous other criteria

PART 19: Quantitative criteria : Introduction

PART 20: Quantitative criteria : Hynek – Strangeness and Probability

PART 21: Quantitative criteria : Vallee’s SVP ratings

PART 22: Quantitative criteria : BUFORA’s case priority

PART 23: Quantitative criteria : Ballester/MUFON index

PART 24: Quantitative criteria : Olsen’s Reliability Index

PART 25: Quantitative criteria : Figuet’s hardest cases

PART 26: Quantitative criteria : Moravec's rating system

PART 27: Quantitative criteria : Miscellaneous other criteria

PART 28: Quantitative criteria : An experiment

PART 29: Quantitative criteria : Conclusion

PART 30: Best UFO Cases : Overall Conclusion

 

 

This article demonstrates that it is possible to find numerous lists of “the best cases” by individual UFO groups or researchers. However, if no consensus in relation to the contents of those lists exists, why should any skeptic pay any attention to those lists?

 

There are also several lists which represent (or at least have been said to represent) a consensus of leading ufologists on this issue. I’ll consider several of those lists in this article (several of which are not very well known even to experienced ufologists), and highlight several issues in relation to each of them.

 

One feature that of virtually all the relevant lists is a lack of indication of WHY the relevant cases were nominated. I will therefore also be covering various suggestions as to qualitative and quantitative criteria for selecting the best cases.

 

As an alternative approach, I thought that it might be interesting to find out which UFO cases are most frequently discussed in books about ufos and SETI. About four years later, I have prepared a “Top 100” list of UFO cases. That list appears as Part 13 of this article, but I hope the other elements of the article are also found useful.

 

 

 

 

Best UFO Cases” by Isaac Koi

PART 10:        Consensus lists : National Enquirer Panel

 

Many UFO researchers have complained about ridicule of UFO witnesses, arguing that a fear of ridicule has resulted in many UFO witnesses failing to report their sightings.

 

What if, partially in an attempt to overcome that fear and obtain further reports, a company were prepared to offer a reward of $1,000,000 for proof that UFOs come from outer space and are not natural phenomena?

 

What if the same company were prepared to offer $10,000 for the best report submitted each year, even though not the proof required for the $1,000,000 reward?

 

Anyone involved with UFO research for a few years must have wondered how much more progress would be made but for the constant bickering between researchers and UFO groups.

 

What if the company that was prepared to offer a million dollars had also managed to persuade the heads of the three most influential UFO groups (say, NICAP, APRO and MUFON) to put aside long standing feuds to work together, and join forces in screening reports submitted for the $1,000,000 prize?

 

What if the same company were prepared to provide funds to investigate reports screened by those two groups and/or provide financial rewards for investigators for performing thorough investigations of interesting cases?

 

What if the same company managed to get several of the most respected scientists involved in UFO research, individuals such as Dr J Allen Hynek, to agree to look at the best reports selected as a result of that screening?  If those scientists were put in a room together and asked to agree on the top UFO cases, which cases would be nominated?  This would involve researchers reaching agreement on the relevant list of cases (i.e. producing a true “consensus” list), and thus can be contrasted to the approach of taking a poll of UFO researchers - as to which see :

PART 5:    Consensus lists : Jacques Vallee’s poll (1965)

PART 6:    Consensus lists : Ronald Story’s poll (1979)

PART 7:    Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s Vox Populi poll (2006)

PART 8:    Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s expert poll (2005/6)

PART 9:    Consensus lists : Fortean Times expert poll (2007)

 

For good measure, what if the same company also managed to persuade to persuade several highly respectable members of the legal establishment (such as a former Supreme Court Justice and former Attorney General, and a former New York Court of Appeals Judge) to review any cases considered by the panel of scientists to be a UFO that is not a natural phenomenon and came from outer space?

 

A pipe dream?

 

No. It has already happened.

 

It’s just a shame that the relevant company was “The National Enquirer”…

 

In short,“consensus lists” of the best cases are a highly desirable commodity.  It is therefore extremely disappointing (and perhaps surprising) to note that despite numerous challenges by skeptics to produce lists of the “best” cases:

  1. with the notable exception of Brad Sparks, few researchers have referred to any of these lists;
  1. several of the relatively few references to these lists by leading ufologists have been inaccurate and misleading;
  1. ways of obtaining more meaningful “consensus lists” do not appear to have been the subject of any real debate or consideration.

 

The remaining Parts of this series of articles attempts to stimulate more debate about attempts to obtain more meaningful “consensus lists” (if this is possible).

Best UFO Cases” by Isaac Koi

PART 11:        Consensus lists : The Rockefeller Briefing Document

 

Earlier parts of this article have indicated the diverse lists of cases that are nominated by individual ufologists as being the “best cases” (see PART 3:    Existing lists by various individuals) and various problems in relation to conducting polls of individual ufologists on this issue - see:

PART 5:    Consensus lists : Jacques Vallee’s poll (1965)

PART 6:    Consensus lists : Ronald Story’s poll (1979)

PART 7:    Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s Vox Populi poll (2006)

PART 8:    Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s expert poll (2005/6)

PART 9:    Consensus lists : Fortean Times expert poll (2007)

 

What if, instead of attempting to obtain a consensus of individual ufologists, the most respected existing UFO research groups got together and made a list of the top cases?

Of course, anyone that has read the preceding parts of this article would know that it would be too much to expect complete consensus among those involved in UFO research as to which existing UFO research groups are “the most respected”. However, I think it is fair to consider that most of the more serious (and more conservative) ufologists would include the following in any such list:

(1) Mutual UFO Network (“MUFON”).
See: http://www.mufon.com/

(2) Center for UFO Studies (“CUFOS”).
See: http://www.cufos.org/

(3) Fund for UFO Research (“FUFOR”).
See: http://www.fufor.com/

So, could MUFON, CUFOS and FUFOR reach agreement on the best available evidence for the existence of UFOs?

If so, what cases would they put forward?

It may surprise some readers that this exercise has, in fact, already been performed, with funding provided by Laurance Rockefeller. In 1995, MUFON, CUFOS and FUFOR all endorsed a document (“the Rockefeller Briefing Document)” as containing “the best available evidence for the existence of UFOs”.

The Rockefeller Briefing Document is referred to by numerous names including:

(1) “The Best Available Evidence Report” (“BAE”)
(2) “UFO Briefing Document”
(3) “Best Available Evidence: Unidentified Flying Object Briefing Document”
(4) “The Rockefeller UFO Report”
(5) “The Bootsie Report”
(6) “Briefing Document on Unidentified Flying Objects”
(7) “The UFORC Briefing Document”

A letter of endorsement dated 15 December 1995 was signed by Dr Mark Rodeghier (President of CUFOS), Richard Hall (Chairman of FUFOR) and Walter Andrus (President of MUFON) in relation to the Rockefeller Briefing Document. That letter (see Footnote 11.01) included the following:

“We believe that this Briefing Document on Unidentified Flying Objects presents the best available evidence for the existence of UFOs. Although just a brief sample of the scientific and military evidence available worldwide is given, it represents some of the most carefully documented incidents. … We, the undersigned, endorse the information contained in this Briefing Document as the best available evidence from open sources”.

Yet, the Rockefeller Briefing Document is rarely mentioned in most discussions of the “best cases”. Indeed, Don Berliner - one of the co-authors of the Rockefeller Briefing Document - stated in 2007 that it had had “very little impact” (see Footnote 11.02). (This is very similar to the situation in relation to the National Enquirer’s “Blue-Ribbon” Panel (see PART 10:        Consensus lists : National Enquirer Panel).)

 

Best UFO Cases” by Isaac Koi

PART 13:        The Top 100 UFO cases

 

Given the problems with the various lists covered in Parts 3 to 12, I thought that it might be interesting to find out which UFO cases are most frequently discussed in books about ufos and SETI.

 

If ufologists wrote books solely with the objective of presenting the best available evidence, then the most frequently discussed cases would be the ones that the most authors regarded as the best cases.

 

I therefore set out to prepare a list of the UFO incidents most frequently discussed in a reasonably large sample of UFO and SETI books.

 

Over four  years and 963 books later, I have prepared a “Top 100” list of UFO cases based on the frequency of discussion within these books.

 

Joomla SEF URLs by Artio