- Category: Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack
Section 1 : Introduction
Various UFO books contain recommendations of the equipment which a UFO investigator should own . Jacques Vallee has written (in his book “Confrontations”) that: “Along with the instrumentation in the back of his truck, anyone going into the field in an attempt to document a UFO report should be equipped with a good sense of humour, a fair dose of skepticism, and a solid background in humility”.
I’d suggest that some knowledge of previous attempts to investigate UFOs would also be extremely valuable.
During the last few years, I’ve often voiced concern about the amount of time and effort which is completely wasted within ufology. So many people seem to be content to start from scratch, ignoring the vast amount which has already been written about ufo reports. The rate of progress within ufology is slow (or possibly even non-existent). This will never change unless the amount of reinvention of the wheel within ufology is reduced.
So, what can be done?
Rather than simply moan about it, a few years ago I decided that it would be useful to draw together some references to books and other material. I’ve previously circulated a 1,800 page Chronology which attempted to draw together references relating to some of the more frequently discussed matters in the history of Ufology and SETI (see Section 2.3 below). However, that Chronology was aimed at researchers that wanted to find references to discussion of a particular incident or document, rather than providing recommendations for reading for those new to ufology. There are, of course, already a number of lists of recommending reading online, but few of these lists take into account the cost of the books recommended. However, for a relatively small amount of money, it is possible to buy a fairly informative set of UFO books that would take your level of understanding beyond that evident in most on-line discussions of this topic. I’ll post recommendations for a cheap “starter pack” (based on a budget of, say, $30 or $50) in another post. However, I’ll start with this post on material which can be obtained for free.
Given my view that there is a massive gap between the material about UFOs available off-line (in a mass of books and magazines) and the relatively limited material available on-line, some of you may not be surprised to hear that I think a library card is probably the single most valuable item that a UFO researcher can obtain for free. Other than that, it really is a matter of trying to find the more useful on-line resources.
Finding useful and interesting material about UFOs on the internet involves a considerable amount of sorting the wheat from the chaff. I’ve set out below some of the results of my own attempt to do this sorting during the last few years…
- Category: Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack
Section 2: A few preliminary points
There are three preliminary matters that I’d like to mention briefly. These are:
- Section 2.1 - The Google Toolbar.
- Section 2.2 - My 1,800 page UFO Chronology
- Section 2.3 - Tinwiki, on ATS.
- Section 2.4 - Searchillion UFO
I’d strongly encourage anyone that hasn’t done so to download, and try out the various features of, the Google Toolbar.
One of my favourite tools on of the Google Toolbar needs to be selected before it becomes visible on the toolbar. After installing the toolbar, you need to go to the “Settings” menu on the right-hand end of the the Google Toolbar, and select “Options”. Click on the “Buttons” menu, and tick “Search site”. While ATS and some other websites have search tools built in, this part of the Google Toolbar is an amazingly useful tool on many, many other websites.
It is very useful to note that with the Google Toolbar installed, you can type words in the text box on the toolbar and then click on that word on the right hand side of the toolbar. Clicking on that word will search for that word (or phrase) on the webpage that you are viewing. So, you can use the Google Toolbar to find webpages containing certain words AND then use it again to find where those words occur on each of those webpages.
Another tip. When you search using Google, you can usually click on the word “cached” next to each of the search results. Not only is calling up a webpage from the Google cache usually quicker than clicking on the link to the relevant webpage itself, but also when you access the “cached” version of the webpage then the words that you were searching for are automatically highlighted in various colours – making them very easy to spot when quickly scrolling down the relevant webpage.
Section 2.2 - My UFO Timeline
As I mentioned briefly in Section 1 of this Starter Pack, in 2006 I circulated a 1,800 page UFO Timeline which attempted to draw together references for some of the more frequently discussed matters in the history of Ufology and SETI. That Chronology may be useful if you want to find references to discussion of a particular famous incident or document.
Most of the references in my Chronology are to sections of the 963 UFO/SETI books that I read to compile the Timeline (so it is most useful to those that already own a few UFO books), but I also included a few links to material on the Internet.
Since 2006, I have sought to convert my Timeline from a single large Microsoft Word document into a website which provides tables of references for famous incidents, documents and personalities in a form which can be sorted by author, date and length of discussion. My website, www.isaackoi.com. now includes many such tables. Indeed, the main function of this website is to share those tables of references so that other researchers can (if they wish) look into an event or document quickly and in detail.
Section 2.3 - Tinwiki, on ATS
Every few months, someone suggests on one UFO discussion forum or another that it would be a good idea to have a wiki devoted to ufology and related issues. Well, AboveTopSecret.com ("ATS", a popular discussion forum) had such a wiki for quite a while. It was called "Tinwiki".
Tinwiki had the potential to become a useful (free) resource available to members of ATS and the wider ufological community.
Unfortunately, despite having more contributors than any other UFO wiki (but still a fairly small number - with, say, about a dozen active contributors at any one time), it became defunct in 2009 and few people even seemed to notice.
I think it was a bit of a shame that so few ATS members appeared to be aware of Tinwiki or contribute to it. I tried to promote greater involvement, stressing that Tinwiki would only fulfill its potential if more members of ATS (or non-members for that matter...) create new entries and/or edit the existing entries.
I’m not sure why more members of ATS (or, indeed, non-members) did’t contribute to Tinwiki.
There is still the possibility of Tinwiki being revived. If it isn't, we can all chalk it up as yet another missed opportunity for progress within ufology.
There is a rapid turnover of UFO material on the Internet. Many links to material on UFO websites quickly become out of date. Therefore, instead of giving many links to specific webpages I have instead included below a search box which can be used to search various leading UFO websites at the same time. You can then click on tabs at the top of the search results to list only results from forums, only results from websites I have labelled as "skeptical" etc. I have included tabs for a couple of specific websites that I find particularly useful, including the valuable archives of the UFO UpDates email discussion List. The relevant websites are all listed in the discussion of the "UFO Searchillion" search engine in Section 2.4 of the "Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack" and continues to evolve...
The relevant search box is one of the two main tools on this website which are intended to help reduce the amount of reinvention of the wheel within UFOlogy. The other main tool is the collection of tables of references to discussion of UFO incidents, personalities and other matters in various books. Those tables can be sorted by author, length and date. I hope these tools are useful.
I have not attempted to cover all UFO websites, or even all the interesting ones, within the scope of the UFO Searchillion search engine. This list is basically limited to the websites currently mentioned elsewhere in this Starter Pack. It continues to evolve and suggestions for improvements are welcome.
For ease of reference, those websites (with their respective labels, which are used to limit the results when you click on the tabs that appear above the initial results) are listed below:
Websites of Main UFO Groups
Websites of UFO Skeptics
- Tim Printy’s website : home.comcast.net/~tprinty/UFO
- Robert Sheaffer’s website : www.debunker.com
- Ian Ridpath's website : http://www.ianridpath.com/ufo/ufoindex.htm
- The website of Dr David Clarke, Andy Roberts, Joe McGonagle, and Gary Anthony : http://www.uk-ufo.org/condign/
Other websites included in UFO Searchillion
- About.com (UFO section) : ufos.about.com
- AboveTopSecret (discussion forums) : www.abovetopsecret.com
- Barry Greenwood’s website : www.greenwoodufoarchive.com
- AFU (Sweden) : www.afu.info
- CENAP (Germany) : cenap.alien.de
- Dimitris Hatzopoulos’ website : www.hyper.net
- FSR (UK) : www.fsr.org.uk
- Isaac Koi’s website: www.isaackoi.com
- NICAP (Francis Ridge’s website) : www.nicap.org
- Project 1947 (Jan Aldrich's website) : www.project1947.com
- SOBEPS (Belgium) : www.sobeps.org/mainpage.htm
- SUFOI (Denmark) : www.sufoi.dk/index-gb.php
- UFO Updates (probably the best established UFO email discussion List) : www.ufoupdateslist.com
- Ufos-aliens.co.uk : www.ufos-aliens.co.uk
- UFO Evidence : www.ufoevidence.org
- UFO Info: www.ufoinfo.com
- UFO-Sweden (Sweden) : www.ufo.se/english
- UFO-Norge (Norway) : www.ufo.no/?q=news.php&t=english
- Ufologie.net (run by French ufologist Patrick Gross) : www.ufologie.net
- Why Files : www.thewhyfiles.net
- Category: Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack
Section 4 : Government UFO documents online
I’ll give an outline below (in Section 4.2) of some sources of government UFO documents. However, the specific links change fairly frequently so I think it is probably more useful to start by referring to a couple of useful Google searches.
There are a few tricks that can be used when using Google. Instead of simply searching all websites for a particular term, it is possible to limit the try to limit the search to websites operated by Government agencies. Most websites operated by Government agencies in the USA include “.gov” or “.mil” in their url. A Google search can be limited to such websites by including “inurl:mil” or “inurl:gov” within a Google search, e.g. searching for “inurl:gov ufo” or “inurl:mil ufo”.
More keywords can be added if you are looking for documents referring to a particular individual or location etc.
However, a glance at the Google search results above will show that they include non-government websites that include “gov” or “mil” in their descriptions.
Slightly better is a Google search which seeks results which end with “.gov” or “.mil”. Such a search can be performed by limiting the search to results from websites with any address ending in “.mil” or “.gov”. This can be done by including “site:*.mil” or “site:*.gov” within the Google search, e.g.
searching for “site:*.gov ufo” or “site:*.mil ufo”.
The same method can be adapted to search for ufo documents generated by government agencies outside the USA. This webpage provides a helpful list of the Internet domain suffix for a long list of different countries. This helps if you want to do a search for ufo documents from an individual country. For example, for material from British military agencies (including the British Ministry of Defence) do a Google search for “site:*.mod.uk”.
If you are only interested in documents originating from Government agencies in the USA, a more efficient and effective method is to use the Google “Government Sites” search function at this webpage. I haven’t seen anyone discuss this Google search function, but it is quite useful. See, for example, the results for a search for “ufo” performed using the “Search Government Sites” button on that webpage for “ufo”.
Quite a few US Government agencies include sections on UFOs. These usually give a good indication of the response that will be received if a blanket request is made in the USA under the Freedom Of Information Act (“FOIA”) to that agency for documents relating to UFOs.
A long list of such links can be found in the existing thread on ATS here. The links in that thread were compiled quite a while ago and many no longer work.
I’ll briefly highlight below some of the relevant webpages:
- The Department of Defense’s webpage on UFOs includes a concise summary of the USA Government’s position in relation to UFOs and links to a selection of relevant Government documents. These include links to rather large PDF files of the full text of the US Air Force’s “Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert” report on Roswell (1995) and its subsequent “Case Closed” report on Roswell (1997).
- The FBI’s webpage on UFOs includes 16 PDF files, containing a total of about 1,600 pages of short (often almost illegible) memoranda and letters. These documents have been discussed on ATS in various threads, including in this one. My favourite sequence of documents within the FBI files relates to the memo dated 24 September 1947 from FBI Assistant Director D M Ladd to FBI Director J Edgar Hoover summarises, and attaches, a memo dated 23 September 1947 from Colonel R H Smith (Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence) revealing that the FBI had been asked to assist the Air Force in UFO investigations “to relieve the numbered Air Forces of the task of tracking down all the many instances which turned out to be ash can covers, toilet seats and whatnot”.
- The NSA’s webpage on UFOs includes a fairly limited number of UFO documents. Several of these are, however, quite interesting. They include the infamous “UFO Hypothesis and Survival Questions” document.
- The CIA’s webpage includes a search function which can be used to search for UFO document. The resulting list of files is somewhat difficult to navigate. “A Die-Hard Issue : CIA's Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90” by Gerald K Haines (a National Reconnaissance Office historian) is a useful, if somewhat controversial, guide to the CIA’s UFO documents. (For some balance, see also Bruce Maccabee’s comments on the most controversial part of the Gerald Haines’ article.)
The US Air Force’s UFO files are available at the US National Archives and most of their contents have not been made available online by the US Air Force. However, the under-appreciated efforts of those behind the Bluebook Archive website are making many Project Bluebook documents available online. Those documents include Project Blue Book reports, including the very interesting Special Report 14. Due to the sheer mass of material and cases covered by the Bluebook Archive website, it is useful to consider those documents in conjunction with the somewhat misleadingly named “Comprehensive Catalog of 1,500 Project BLUE BOOK UFO Unknowns” by Brad Sparks.
Many other websites purport to contain UFO documents generated by governmental agencies, but the contents are often not verified. Most such websites fail to distinguish between those documents which have questionable origins and those documents obtained as a result of Freedom Of Information Act requests. An honourable exception is the CUFON website, which includes a section on verified documents, with helpful brief comments.
I realize that there is a huge mass of documentation at the above links. It may be helpful if I highlight some of the particularly interesting documents and reports generated by, or funded by, various Governments.
My 1,800 page UFO Chronology (discussed in Section 2.2 above) includes references to discussion of each of these documents within various UFO books.
- 23 September 1947 : Memo from Lt-General Nathan F Twining (chief of Air Materiel Command) to Brig-General George Schulgen (Commanding General, Army Air Forces) reports on the current knowledge of UFOs and recommends that a permanent project be set up to study them. (Commonly referred to as “the Twining memo”). Complete text of memo available online here and here.
- 24 September 1947 : Memo from FBI Assistant Director D M Ladd to FBI Director J Edgar Hoover summarises, and attaches, a memo dated 23 September 1947 from Colonel R H Smith (Assistant Chief of Staff Intelligence) stating that the FBI had been asked to assist the Air Force in UFO investigations “to relieve the numbered Air Forces of the task of tracking down all the many instances which turned out to be ash can covers, toilet seats and whatnot”. Mr Ladd recommended that the FBI “protest vigorously” and that the FBI discontinue all activity in this field. Complete image of relevant memo available online at pages 20-21 (of 77) in Part 4 (of 16 parts) of the UFO material on the FBI’s FOIA website.
- 30 October 1947 : A memo from Brigadier General G F Schulgen entitled “Intelligence Requirements on Flying Saucer Type Aircraft” set forth the intelligence requirements in the field of Flying Saucer type aircraft. (Commonly referred to as “the Schulgen memo”). Text of memo available online here and here.
- 30 December 1947: A letter from Major General L C Craigie (Chief of Staff) to the Commanding General of the Air Materiel Command directed the setting up a project to collect, collate, evaluate and distribute information concerning UFOs. The letter gave this project the code name, Project Sign, and assigned a priority 2-A. Complete text available online here.
- 10 December 1948: “Analysis of Flying Object Incidents in the United States”, Study #203, by the USAF Directorate of Intelligence (“DI”) and the Office of Naval Intelligence. (Commonly referred to, controversially, as “the Ghost of the Estimate”. Also referred to as “Air Intelligence Report No. 100-203-79”). Text available online on various websites, including here and here.
- 24 December 1959: “UFOs – Serious Business” memo sent out by the US Air Force Inspector General. Text available online here.
- February 1949 : Final report of Project Sign (“The Findings of Project Sign”), officially cited as Technical Report-TR-2274-IA of the Technical Intelligence Division, Air Materiel Command, Wright-Patterson AFB, Ohio. (Commonly referred to as “the Project Sign Report”). Complete images of the Project Sign Report available online here.
- 27 April 1949: The US Air Force released a “Memorandum for the Press” entitled “Project Saucer”. Complete text available online here.
- August 1949: Project Grudge final report completed, containing analysis of 244 cases was released. Report concluded that Unidentified Flying Objects posed no direct threat to the national security of the United States. Report designated as Technical Report No. 102-AC 49/15 – 100 (commonly referred to as “the Project Grudge Report”), originally classified “Secret”. Complete images of the Project Grudge Report available online here.
- January 1953: The report of the CIA’s Robertson Panel (i.e. the “Scientific Advisory Panel on Unidentified Flying Objects” chaired by Robertson) available online here. More detail of the Panel’s deliberations and views is can be found in the memo dated 16 February 1953 from Fred C Durant to the Assistant Director for Scientific Intelligence, which contains “comments and suggestions of the Panel Members which they believed were inappropriate for inclusion in the formal report”. The text of Durant’s memo can be found here.
- March 1966: Report of a United States Air Force (“USAF”) Scientific Advisory Board (“SAB”) Ad Hoc Committee (the “Ad Hoc Committee to Review Project Blue Book”, commonly known as “the O’Brien Committee”). Report produced following a one day meeting on 3 February 1966 to review Project “Blue Book” under the chairmanship of Dr. Brian O'Brien. The complete text of the O’Brien Committee report is available online at here.
9 January 1969: The Condon Report (“Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects”, Edward U Condon (Director) and Daniel S Gillmor (Editor) (1969)) was released to the public. It is probably the most influential (and longest) publication by scientists presenting a skeptical view of UFO reports. For one of the best known articles criticizing the Condon Report, see John G Fuller’s article “Flying Saucer Fiasco”, Look, Volume 32 (14 May 1968) - which is also available online here
In Britain, there are two documents that I’d highlight:
- June 1951: The British Ministry of Defence’s “Working Party on Flying Saucers” produces its final report. The cover sheet for the report read as follows: “Ministry of Defence : Directorate of Scientific Intelligence and Joint Technical Intelligence Committee : UNIDENTIFIED FLYING OBJECTS : DSI/JTIC Report No. 7”. See this article by David Clark and Andy Roberts in their article entitled “Britain’s Secret ‘X-Files’ Revealed” and this article by Georgina Bruni and Nick Pope.
- More recently, The Condign Report. See the relevant Tinwiki page I created here and the more detailed comments in my post here.
- Category: Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack
Section 3 : Useful free books online
Some budding UFO researchers may be surprised by the number of useful free books that can be found online. I’ll give links to some relevant books below.
Several of the most influential and popular books are now available online.
I don’t simply mean you can order those books online or read extracts from those books - I mean you can read the full text. Free. Now.
Simply click on the titles of the books listed in chronological order below. Enjoy.
- Donald E Keyhoe’s classic book “The Flying Saucers are Real” (1950). This book was one of first UFO books published. Keyhoe’s books and articles helped form the various views held in relation to UFOs.
While the books listed above represent some of the most significant UFO books which are available online, there are a considerable number of less significant UFO books on the Internet. I’ll just mention a few of them below.
- Major Hector Quintanilla’s manuscript “UFOs: An Air Force Dilemma” (copyright 1974) is far less well-known than Ruppelt’s book, partly because Quintanilla’s manuscript remains unpublished. It may also be relevant that Quintanilla’s manuscript was rather more skeptical than Ruppelt’s book.
Les G Howarth’s book (2000) “If In Doubt, Blame The Aliens” is one of various more recent books which are available online to “browse before you buy”.
While not UFO books per se, there are various books which are fairly directly relevant to UFO researchers, including those below.
- The complete text of several books by Charles Fort can be found online, including: “The Book of the Damned”, “New Lands” and “Wild Talents” .
While not precisely books, there are various important book-length UFO documents available online. I’ll briefly mention three of them:
- Much of the content of Peter Sturrock’s book “The UFO Enigma” (1999) is available online here. That book related to a significant meeting of scientists to consider physical evidence relating to UFO reports.
- Category: Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack
Section 5 : Free Audio/Visual UFO material online
Audio/visual material available free online includes:
- Section 5.1 : Alien and UFO photos online
- Section 5.2 : Internet radio show / podcasts
- Section 5.3 : Documentaries and UFO videos online
There are masses of purportedly genuine photographs online of UFOs and aliens. I’ve discussed some of the issues relating to such photographs, and given links to relevant material, in my posts:
There is a thread on ATS about UFO documentaries. That thread discusses documentaries available online, as well as documentaries available on DVD or shown on television.
The copyright position in relation to many of the UFO documentaries online is rather, um, questionable. For this reason, links to specific documentaries quickly become out of date. While this sometimes gives rise to conspiracy theories, it is generally simply the result of copyright enforcement. So, I’ll avoid giving links to specific documentaries online. I’ll briefly note, however, that it is possible to limit a search for UFO videos on Google Video limited to those with a duration of over 20 minutes. In effect, this is one quick search that can be performed to find UFO documentaries available on Google Video.
There are numerous video clips purportedly showing UFOs. Masses of such clips can be found on the following websites:
- Youtube, by searching for ufo videos sorted by view count . This displays the most viewed UFO videos first.
Many of these clips are known hoaxes. There are quite a few (although generally superficial) articles on-line about creating, and spotting, UFO video hoaxes. Some of the better ones are Tim Printy’s general article about hoaxes here and Tom Callen’s article “Faking UFO Photos in the 21st Century”.
I think it may be useful to note that you can keep streamed media (e.g. Youtube clips) on your computer by using the free functions on the Keep Vid website. You can also usefreeware on this website to convert relevant video and audio files from one format to another.
I prefer to read about UFOs, rather than listen to them. I find it considerably more efficient. However, I think it is worth noting that in the last few years there has been a dramatic growth in the amount of free audio material about UFOs (which you can either listen to on a website, or download onto your MP3 player for you to listen to during your commute to work). If you have a high-speed internet link, in a matter of seconds you can download a podcast which will take an hour to listen to.
Because of my strong preference for reading about ufos rather than listening to others talk about them, I’m sure some of you can add to the short list I’ll give below of sources of free audio material about ufology:
- A good source of interesting discussions is The Paracast. Jeff Ritzmann makes frequent appearances. The hosts of The Paracast, i.e. Gene Steinberg and David Biedny have rather generously made the archives of their show available as free downloads. Click on this link and scroll down to the section entitled “Episode Downloads”.
- Binnall Of America includes a mass of interviews of famous ufologists. See the lists of interviews in “Season One” and “Season Two”. These include interviews of Stanton Friedman, Richard Dolan, Royce Myers of the UfoWatchDog.com website and many others. He has an interest in examining ufology as a global phenomenon (and, hence, interviewing some ufologists from outside Northern America) and encouraging more young people to participate. Also, his interviews tend to be considerably longer than most online podcast interviews (many of his interviews are over an hour long). Binnall has clearly made considerable efforts to interview ufologists from outside the USA, but the researchers from Europe that he has interviewed appear to have been fairly active on the international UFO lecture circuit rather than researchers that maintain a low-profile.
- I’m afraid that I have great difficulty listening to the X-zone radio because of the amount of advertising. Perhaps I’ve been spoilt by listening for too long to the BBC’s Radio 4 channel, which has no advertising at all. All the interruptions for fairly long advertising segments during the X-zone radio made it simply too painful to listen to more than a few shows.
- ATS has its own section for podcasts here. I must confess that, unlike most other sections of ATS, I’ve found it difficult to identify the items that are the most popular and/or most likely to be of interest to me. So, I’ve listened to very, very few items from that section. As far as I can tell, this section of ATS has never really taken off.
- Although not free, I can’t refer to podcasts without at least mentioning Strange Days Indeed (“SDI”). Run by Errol Bruce-Knapp, the chap behind the UFO Updates discussion List (see Section 6.1 below), SDI regularly features the biggest names within ufology and tends the discussions tend to be more topical than on other podcasts.
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