Remarques et recommandations

Craig, R.

Instances in which there was less than full cooperation with our study by elements of the military services were extremely rare. Our field teams invariably were cordially received and given full cooperation by members of the services. When air bases were visited, the base commander himself often took personal interest in the investigation, and made certain that all needed access and facilities were placed at our disposal.

Field teams observed marked difference in the handling of UFO reports at individual air bases. At some bases, the UFO officer diligently checked each report received. On the other hand, at one base, which we visited to learn what a local Air Force investigation had revealed regarding a series of UFO sightings in the area, we found that none had been conducted, nor was one likely to be. Sighting reports received at the base by telephone, including one we knew to have been reported by the wife of a retired Naval officer, resulted in partial completion of a standard sighting form by the airman who received the call. This fragmentary information was then filed. The UFO officer argued that such reports contained too little information for identification of what was seen. He insisted that the information was insufficient to warrant his sending them to Project Blue Book. There was no apparent attempt to get more information. In this instance, what the woman had seen was later identified by interested civilians as a flare drop from an Air Force plane.

While Air Force cooperation with our field teams was excellent and commendable, the teams frequently encountered situations in which air base public relations at the local level left much to be desired.

Official secrecy and classification of information were seldom encountered by project investigators. In the few instances when secrecy was known to be involved, the classified reports were reviewed and found to contain no significant information regarding UFOs.

Reviewing the results of our field investigations, one must note the consistent erosion of information contained in the initial report. Instead of an accumulation of evidence to support a claim of the sighting of an unusual flying vehicle, erosion of claimed supporting evidence to the vanishing point was a common investigative experience. As shown by examples in the above discussion, this was true of both current and older cases. As an investigation progressed, the extraordinary aspects of the sighting became less and less dominant, and what was left tended to be an observation of a quite ordinary phenomenon.

Current sightings which we investigated and left unresolved were often of the same general character as those resolved. The inconclusiveness of these investigations is felt to be a result of lack of information with which to work, rather than of a strangeness which survived careful scrutiny of adequate information. In each current report in which the evidence and narrative that were presented were adequate to define what was observed, and in which the defined phenomenon was not ordinary - that is, each observation that could be explained only in terms of the presence of a flying vehicle apparently representing an alien culture - there were invariably discrepancies, flaws, or contradictions in the narrative and evidence which cast strong doubt upon the physical reality of the event reported.

Sur les cas actuels impliquant des observations radar, 1 reste particulièrement intriguant après analyse de l'information, la propagation anormale et d'autres explications courantes ne pouvant apparemment pas expliquer l'observation (voir section 3, chapitre 5 et cas 21).

Bien que les cas actuels enquêtés n'aient pas dégagé de preuves résiduelles impressionnantes, même dans le contenu narratif, pour soutenir l'hypothèse qu'un véhicule extraterrestre était physiquement présent, les narrations des événements passés, telles que celles de l'incident de 1966 à Beverly, dans le Massachussets, (cas 6), ne correspondraient à aucune autre explication si le témoignage des témoins est accepté comme tel. Le poids que l'on doit placer sur une telle information anecdotique pourrait être déterminé à travers des tests psychologiques des témoins ; cependant, les conseils qui nous ont été fournis pas les psychologues de l'Université du Centre Médical du Colorado ont indiqué que de tels tests serait d'une significativité contestable s'ils étaient faits 1 an ou 2 après l'événement. Comme nous n'avions pas de tels cas impressionnants parmi les observations les plus récentes, l'opportunité de tests psychologiques significatifs de témoins dans de tels cas ne s'est pas présentée. En fonction du poids accordé à de vielles informations anecdotiques cela permet de soutenir n'importe quelle conclusion que l'individu souhaite tirer sur la nature des ovnis.

If UFO sighting reports are to be checked and studied, this should be done as soon as possible after the event, before witnesses' stories become crystallized by retelling and discussion. Such field investigation, undertaken on any scale for any purpose, should be done by trained investigators. The Coarsegold incident described above exemplifies the futility of an investigation which does not take into account subjective and perceptual considerations, as well as knowledge of events occurring in and above the atmosphere. The experience of seeing the planet Venus as a UFO that trips a magnetic UFO-detector, chases police cars at 70 mph, flies away from aircraft, changes size and shape drastically, lands about ten mi. from a farmhouse, and descends to 500 ft. above a car and lights up the inside of the vehicle; of seeing a plastic dry cleaners' bag, of sufficient size to cover a single garment, as a UFO 75 ft. long and 20 ft. wide when only 30 ft. away; of seeing rows of windows in planets and in burning pieces of satellite debris which have re-entered the atmosphere, of seeing the star Sirius as an UFO which spews out glowing streams of red and green matter; seeing aircraft lights as flying saucers because the observer could not believe there are that many airplanes flying around her town; or other experiences of this general type are ones with which an effective investigator must be familiar.

It is obvious that not all UFO reports are worthy of investigation. What kinds of reports should be investigated? Persons who have lengthy experience working with UFO reports give varying answers to this question. NICAP discards unsubstantiated tales of rides in flying saucers, on the basis that their investigators have found no evidence to support these claims but have found considerable evidence of fraud (NICAP 19). Air Force practice is to neglect reports of mere lights in the sky, particularly around air bases or civil landing fields, for experience has shown the UFOs in such reports to be lights of aircraft or other common lighted or reflecting objects. Both Dr. J. Allen Hynek, scientific consultant to the Air Force on UFOs, and Dr. Peter M. Millman (1968), who is presently in charge of the handling of UFO reports in Canada and has had an active interest in UFO reports for nearly 20 years, have said they do not favor any field investigation of single-observer sightings because of the difficulty in deriving useful scientific information from such reports.

Such policies and recommendations have grown out of much experience and practical considerations. Their authors are very much aware of the fact that a rare event certainly might be witnessed by a single observer. It also is obvious that if an extraterrestrial intelligence were assumed to be present, there is no logical reason to assume that it would not or did not make contact with a human being. Yet those who have worked with UFO reports for decades with a conscious attempt to be objective have encountered so many nonproductive reports Of certain types that they have concluded that those classes of reports are not worth the effort of field investigation.

Our own field experience leads this writer to question the value of field investigations of any UFO reports other than those which

  1. offer a strong likelihood that information of value regarding meteors, satellites, optics, atmospheric properties, electrical phenomenal or other physical or biological phenomena would be generated by the investigation;
  2. present clear indication of a possible threat to a nation or community whether in the form of international or intra-national hostilities, physical or biological contamination of environment, panic, or other emotional upheaval; or
  3. are of interest as sources of information regarding the individual and collective needs and desires of human beings.

If there were an observation of a vehicle which was actually from an alien culture, the report of this observation certainly would deserve the fullest investigation. Our experience indicates that, unless the sighting were of a truly spectacular and verifiable nature, such a report would be buried in hundreds or thousands of similar reports triggered by ordinary earthly phenomena. While a large fraction of these reports could be discarded after establishment of the earthly cause, the report of interest would remain buried in others which contained too little evidence for identification, and the report itself probably would not be distinguishable from them. For this reason, this writer would not recommend field investigations of routine UFO reports if the intent of that investigation is to determine whether or not an alien vehicle was physically present. A verifiable report of a spectacular event, such as an actual landing of an alien vehicle, conceivably could thus be missed by neglect; however, this is unlikely, since such a report would probably be so unusual in character as to attract immediate attention.