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"Signaler" désigne le processus de la transmission d'une observation - de l'observateur à un journaliste, un enquêteur de l'Air Force, la police, etc., et de là au public. Le signalement, avons-nous trouvé, est un des facteurs les plus cruciaux du problème des ovnis. Ma propre conclusion a été que l'on ne doit former aucun jugement sur aucun cas à partir de la littérature populaire.

Supposez, par exemple, que le pilote de mon avion de ligne had not banked the plane wing, et que je n'ai pas appris l'explication de l'objet elliptique gris et nébuleux. J'aurai soumis mon signalement, pas d'une "soucoupe volante," mais d'un objet que je n'ai pu identifier. En supposant que l'histoire sorte, il est hautement probable qu'un raisons de sa valeur claire en terme de nouvelle (Un enquêteur du Projet Colorado voit un disque), il aurait été publié avant que quiconque ait établi que l'échappement du réacteur ait produit le phénomène. Une telle histoire, portée à l'attention du public par les journaux et les magazines, would stir plus de pression sur les responsables publics et contribuerait au sentiment illogique mais répandu que là où il y a tant de fumée il doit y avoir du feu. Une solution ultérieure ne recevrait pas une publicité aussi large.

Ruppelt s1[1956] discute d'un autre exemple qui eut lieu lors d'un fait authentique. Le fameux canular de l'Ile Maury, qui même aujourd'hui stirs l'intérêt, a reçu une large publicité. L'histoire était sensationnelle, en ce qu'elle impliquait des fragments supposés d'une soucoupe qui avait été vue exploser. 2 enquêteurs de l'Air Force sur le cas furent tués dans un crash d'avion accidentel. Le cas fut par la suite clairement identifié comme un canular. Ruppelt remarque :

La majorité of writers of saucer lore have played this sighting to the hilt, pointing out as their main premise ... that the story must be true because the government never openly exposed or prosecuted either of the two hoaxers... the government had thought seriously of prosecuting the men, (but) it was decided, after talking to the two men, that the hoax was a harmless joke that had mushroomed... By the time the facts were released they were yesterday's news. And nothing is deader than yesterday's news. (WKH emphasis).

Many writers in our culture, from fanatics and hypocrites to sincere reporters, are not, after all, committed to complete investigation and understanding of the subject, but to telling and selling a good story. Unfortunately there is a selection effect: if a "flying saucer" story is investigated too completely, and is found to be a misperception or a hoax, its interest and sales value are reduced.

Des exemples de déformation et slanting de journalistes, conscients ou inconscients, abondent : amateurs mal informés cités comme des autorités, répétition d'éléments entendus et sélection naïve de données sont des exemples de tels signalements douteux. La littérature ovni est pleine de la following sort of ill-advised criticism of non-believers : Edwards (1966) décrit un cas dans lequel un astronome de renommée mondiale et autorité sur la structure galactique, et 2 collègues, signalèrent avoir vu une lumière circulaire, lumineuse, de couleur orange passer au-dessus d'eaux trop lentement pour être un météore. Remarquant que le jour suivant l'Air Force, revérifiant leurs fichiers, trouva que le cas était expliqué par 2 jets Vampire et un jet trainer sur un vol d'entraînement de routine à 20 000 pieds, Edwards conclut alors avec la remarque, Si un astronome professionnel était vraiment incapable de différencier un objet circulaire de 3 avions à réaction à 20000 pieds, quelle fiabilité peut-on accorder à son travail concernant un objet à 40 millions miles de distance ? Aside from the facts that the "explanation" was not the astronomer's responsibility and that the latter figure misrepresents the scale of that astronomer's work by a factor of a billion, this concluding statement certainly shed no real light on the UFO problem, but rather creates a state of mind that may aid acceptance of the author's later remarks.

Jones (1968) illustre bien le problème de former un jugement fiable à partir de divers signalements d'individus sur un phénomène donné. Pendant la guerre, un britannique et un physicien américain eurent pour tâche d'établir à partir de rapports de marins le German pattern of mine-laying at sea. Un d'entre eux partit pour en voyage sur le terrain et découvrit que les distances et orientations rapportées n'étaient pas fiables ; only the question of whether the mine was to the port or starboard was reliably answered. With this discovery, he solved the problem while his counterpart became bogged in a mire of meaningless data. The point is that by actual field interviews one may get some idea of what happened, but under no circumstances, simply because a witness says (or is reported to have said) that he saw a cigar-shaped object, should one assume that a cigar-shaped object was really there

This well known rule applies in many other fields of investigation. Jones states: "I have made this discursion into some of my war experiences because it is relevant to the flying saucer story in that it illustrates the difficulty of establishing the truth from eyewitness reports, particularly when events have been witnessed under stress. I do not, of course, conclude that eyewitness reports must be discarded; on the contrary, excluding hoaxers and liars, most witnesses have genuinely seen something, although it may be difficult to decide from their descriptions what they really had seen."

There is still another problem: even if reliable reports are prepared, communication among investigators is so poor that the reports may not be read. Scientific journals have rejected careful analyses of UFO cases (apparently in fear of initiating fruitless controversy) in spite of earlier criticism (in the journals' own pages!) that the problem is not discussed in the scientific literature. Even at the most responsible levels, communication is poor. The House Committee on Science and Astronautics, in its 29 July 1968 hearings, received accounts of allegedly mysterious cases that already were among the best-explained of those studied by the Colorado UFO Project.

In order finally to demonstrate the very poor manner in which the UFO problem has been presented in the past, primarily in the popular literature, consider two imaginary accounts that could be written of the Zond IV re-entry, one by a sensationalizing, but perhaps sincere reporter, and one by a more sober investigator. Of course each reporter can back up his story with taped interviews and sketches.

A fantastic cigar-shaped object that entered the earth's atmosphere from space on 3 March 1968 is unidentified. Although some Air Force officials attempted to pass it off as a satellite re-entry, examination of the official Air Force papers indicates a reluctance to identify it with any known spacecraft. Although there was some preliminary uncertainty in Air Force circles as to the nature of the bolide of 3 March 1968, after several days study of the reports it became clear that the event was a satellite re-entry. This was confirmed some months later.
The absurdity of the satellite explanation is proved by the reports of the witnesses who got the best look at the object. Witness after witness described the object as cigar-shaped, with a row or rows of windows and a flaming exhaust. Several others mentioned saucershaped lights visible as the craft flew overhead. Many observers, who apparently did not get such a good look at the mysterious craft, merely described a strange formation of lights. While the re-entry was was confirmed by the bulk of the actual observations, it was badly misinterpreted by several excited witnesses, who wrote the longest reports and described the object as cigar-shaped. There was a tendency for some observers to interpret the string of disintetrating meteors as windows in a dark craft. Still others interpreted the yellowish tails of the objects as exhausts. Such misconceptions were widely scattered but in the minority.
There is little doubt that the craft came from space. The probability that it was under powered flight is raised not only by the exhaust but also by several observers who saw it change direction.

This event, witnessed by hundreds in many states, provides one of the best proofs yet that some kind of strange airships have invaded our atmosphere.

Entering the atmosphere, the satellite grew incandescent and began to disintegrate into dozens of pieces, each moving at its own speed because of drag. Autokinesis effects were not uncommon among the ground observers, as the objects appeared as slowly moving light sources in the dark sky.

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