Monday, October 17, 2005

Moving Beyond Ufology's Comfort Zone

There is an ongoing discussion at UFO Updates this past week or so about a couple of famous old UFO cases, the Father Gill sighting and the Socorro case, with proponents and opponents of each case weighing in... again.

I say "again" because these cases, like a few others, are the ones that always seem to get dredged up whenever someone wants to talk about cases. However, nothing new is really being added in either of the discussions referenced above. Yes, there was a question raised about Lonnie Zamora's eyesight with regards to the Socorro case, which is of some relevance, but this is a relatively minor point. Other than that, the discussions are just a rehash of positions that the various participants have held for years. Frankly, it reminds me a bit of one of those family get togethers where a father and son, long estranged from each other, meet again. Instead of discussing what is new in their lives, however, or talking about something else, they immediately start in on the same old debate. Or, to put it in a science fiction context, the two versions of Lazarus from "Alternative Factor" episode of the original Star Trek series (left).

This isn't a discussion where one side is trying to persuade the other that they are right - both sides are firmly entrenched on these cases. It isn't a discussion that is justified in terms of offering someone unfamiliar with the cases the story - there are far more well-documented resources that they could peruse if they wanted to examine the cases as history.

Nope, it's just ufologists (whether skeptics or proponents) doing what they seem to do far too often - falling back on the old familiar cases, like a comfort blanket. It isn't an investigation - it's two groups of people talking past each other, to no real purpose, other than to re-affirm their own perception of the debate, and to toss off a few tired one-liners and ad hominems (really, does anyone need to hear John Rimmer called a "pelicanist" again? Or for Rimmer to accuse Jerry Clark of being non-responsive, and rigid in his thinking?). It isn't about finding answers - it's about scoring debating points. It reminds me of high school .

A pox on both their houses (and they are equally to blame). The shame is that there are LOTS of cases out there that go overlooked when ufologists fall back on discussing the "old faithfuls." Good cases, that have not been thoroughly investigated, and that very few people know anything about. Socorro and Gill are both interesting cases, but there is little left to say about them, other than what we already know - barring new information surfacing.

There ARE ufologists out there who know this to be the case, but sometimes even they get sucked into the re-cycled "Old Faithful" discussion.

As I discovered while researching the Best Evidence documentary, the "Old Faithfuls" are not always the best cases anyway (some are - more are not, for various reasons). The best cases, after all, should have multiple witnesses, and some form of independent corroboration (like radar). Those are the kinds of cases that true debunkers will rarely want to discuss, and are the ones that ufologists should focus upon.

Here's just one, with which some readers might be familiar, but with which more should be, that occurred in Canada in 1974. Many thanks to Halifax researcher Chris Styles for bringing it to my attention, and supplying me with a copy of the original RCMP report. Chris is one of the good guys - he spends more time "walking the walk" (i.e. interviewing people, digging through archives, and following up leads) than "talking the talk."

There are hundreds of cases like this out there, from all around the world, that have not received the attention, and investigation, that they deserve. It's time to move away from another tired re-hash of cases like Gill and Socorro, and towards a discussion of cases like this. Until this happens, ufology will continue to be easy to dismiss.

Paul Kimball

Royal Canadian Mounted Police - Gendarmarie Royale du Canada
Division - B
Sub-Division - St. John's
Detachment - Gander Airport Detail
Date: 11 Nov 74

RCMP File References - 74-B-400-53 (Div. File)
74-400-3 (Det. File)
Telex #GANAIR 109
Telex #GANAIR 110

Unidentified Flying Object (U.F.O.)
Report of - Gander International AirportGander, Nfld. 10 OCT 74

10 OCT 74

1. On the above date, at approximately 10:45 p.m. (Atlantic Time) a report of a possible sighting of an Unidentified Flying Object (U.F.O.) in the Central Newfoundland area was made to the Gander Airport Detail Office.

2. The sighting in question was made at approximately 10:10 p.m. (Atlantic Time) by one John BREEN, Gander, Nfld. BREEN, a three year veteran as an Air Traffic Controller now employed at the Gander Air Traffic Control Centre, was at the time of the sighting flying a Cessna aircraft, Canadian Registration C-GLCF. BREEN was flying at an altitude of approximately 5,000 feet and experiencing clear skies with occasional cloudy periods and was returning to Gander, Nfld., from Deer Lake, Nfld. When approximately 40 miles north-west of Gander, Nfld., BREEN, along with his only passenger, sighted the possible U.F.O. Janice GOULD, Gander, Nfld., BREEN's passenger and girlfriend, first sighted the Object just as they had passed over the town of Grand Falls, Nfld., a small town situated approximately 60 miles west of Gander, Nfld.

3. The object was described by BREEN as being a solitary greenish, aluminous light. When first noticed by BREEN, the light was directly below BREEN's aircraft at an altitude of approximately 3,000 feet. BREEN's first interpretation of this greenish light was that his starboard aviation light may have been reflecting on something below. He then turned off all his aviation lights for a moment; nevertheless, the greenish light continued directly below the aircraft. BREEN at this time, along with GOULD, attempted to determine whether or not the greenish light was part of a bigger unlighted mass; however, this met with negative results as nothing but the greenish light could be noted.

4. BREEN further stated, that at this time, the Cessna was travelling at a speed of approximately 134 M.P.H., and that the greenish light could, and did at times speed up and remain some distance ahead of the aircraft, still at approximately 3,000 feet. This greenish light would then slow down and allow BREEN to once again get directly above it. The light would then continue to slow down more, and as a result lag some distance behind and then go back to its original position below BREEN's aircraft. BREEN's observation period of this greenish light lasted approximately 25 minutes.

5. When approximately 5 to 6 miles north-west of Gander, Nfld., BREEN contacted the Air Traffic Control Centre and advised them of what was taking place. Controllers, at the Air Traffic Control Centre, then attempted to pick up this object on their radar screen. One Robert LAWRENCE, the supervising controller on duty at the time, advised that a target was picked up by their 6 mile radar; however, the object remained on the screen for only two sweeps of the radar needle. The target did not show up on the screen as an aircraft. The target did, however, indicate while on the screen that its course had now changed from a north-west course to a westerly course and that the reason it could no longer be picked up on radar was that it was now believed to be flying at tree-top level. Continued attempts to regain contact with the target on radar met with negative results. BREEN, upon arriving over the Gander area, circled his aircraft in an attempt to further identify the object; however, upon circling, all traces of the greenish light were gone.

6. Continual attempts to further identify the greenish light in question by both the Air Traffic Controllers and BREEN met with negative results. LAWRENCE, upon losing all contact with the target on radar, contacted the authorities connected with the Early Warning defensive system at Goose Bay, Nfld., and notified them of the incident.

7. Upon the landing of BREEN's aircraft at Gander International Airport, both BREEN and GOULD were immediately contacted. It was noted at this time that neither BREEN nor GOULD appeared to be under any sort of influence, from either alcohol or a drug. Their accounts of the incident are neither exaggerated nor are they dramatized and both BREEN and GOULD appear to be of a mature and responsible nature.

Cst. F.D. CHIASSON #26936
Gander Airport Detail

PK notes

- There was a 2nd sighting in the same are by a DC-8 jet-liner the following evening that was also included in the RCMP report. The characteristics of this subsequent sighting were very similar to Breen's, except for the fact that there was no radar confirmation. Both the Captain and co-pilot of the DC-8, however, stated that the object was not an aircraft, and ATC confirmed that there were no other aircraft in the area at that time.

- Only the addresses of Breen and Gould have been omitted (by me) from the report reproduced above.

- For more information on the RCMP, go to: http://www.rcmp.ca/index_e.htm

3 comments:

'Thought & Humor' said...

We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.


Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.


Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Howdy

'Thought & Humor'

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

Paul Kimball said...

Umm...

For once, I'm speechless.

Paul

Jack Rousseau said...

Paul - Well said. - JJR