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Part 2 UFO Reports the Scientific Review Panel

Friday, May 27, 2011

Part 2 UFO Reports the Scientific Review Panel

On September 30 - October 3, 1997, a workshop was convened at the Pocantico Conference Center in Tarrytown, New York, in which this scientific review panel met with the investigators. The panel and workshop director also met in San Francisco on November 28 - 30, 1997. The participants addressed the problem of understanding the cause or causes of UFO reports, which have continued worldwide for at least 50 years. The investigators were asked to present their strongest data to the review panel. The thrust of these presentations was that at least some of the phenomena are not easily explainable.

The panel focused on incidents involving some of physical evidence, with clear recognition of the dangers of relying wholly on the testimony of witnesses and of the importance of physical measurements for distinguishing among hypotheses.
It may be valuable to carefully evaluate UFO reports to extract information about unusual phenomena currently unknown to science. However, to be credible to the scientific community, such evaluations must take place with a spirit of objectivity and a willingness to evaluate rival hypotheses.
The history of earth science includes several examples of the final acceptance of phenomena originally dismissed as folk tales: two centuries ago, meteorites (then regarded as stones falling from the sky) were in this category.

The reality of ephemeral phenomena such as ball lightning and sprites was questioned until quite recently.
It was clear that at least a few reported incidents might have involved rare but significant phenomena such as electrical activity high above thunder-storms sprites) or rare cases of radar ducting. On the other hand, the review panel was not convinced that any of the evidence involved currently unknown physical processes or pointed to the involvement of an extraterrestrial intelligence.
A few cases may have their origins in secret military activities.
It appears that most current UFO investigations are carried out at a level of rigor that is not consistent with prevailing standards of scientific research.
However, the panel acknowledged the initiative and dedication of those investigators who made presentations at this workshop, both for their efforts to apply the tools of science to a complex problem long neglected by the academic community, and for their diligence in archiving and analyzing relevant observational data.
The panel concluded that further analysis of the evidence presented at the workshop is unlikely to elucidate the cause or causes of the reports.
However, the panel considers that new data, scientifically acquired and analyzed (especially of well documented, recurrent events), could yield useful
In this case, physical scientists would have an opportunity to contribute to the resolution of the UFO problem.

The panel made the following observations:
The UFO problem is not a simple one, and it is unlikely that there is any simple universal answer.
Whenever there are unexplained observations, there is the possibility that scientists will learn something new by studying those observations.
Studies should concentrate on cases which include as much independent physical evidence as possible and strong witness testimony.

Some of formal regular contact between the UFO community and physical scientists could be productive.
It is desirable that there be institutional support for research in this area, The project of CNES (Centre National Spa the National Center for Space Research) in France has since 1977 provided a valuable model for a modest but effective organization for collecting and analyzing UFO observations and related data.
Reflecting on evidence presented at the workshop that some witnesses of UFO events have suffered radiation-type injuries; the panel draws the attention of the medical community to a possible health risk associated with UFO events.

The panel also reviewed some of the conclusions advanced in 1968 by Dr.Edward U. director of the Colorado Project. He asserted that "nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge," and that "further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."
While agreeing with the first conclusion and its extension to the present, the panel considers that there always exists the possibility that investigation of an unexplained phenomenon may lead to an advance in scientific knowledge.
The panel considers that the chances of such an advance are greater now than they were in 1967 because of the advances in scientific knowledge and technical capabilities, and in view of the model for data acquisition.


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