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Part 3 UFO Reports fifty years of untold secrets

Friday, May 27, 2011

Part 3 UFO Reports fifty years of untold secrets

Over the last fifty years, people throughout the world have become familiar with UFO reports. These reports have been attributed to a wide range of causes including hoaxes, hallucinations, planets, stars, meteors, cloud formations, ball lightning, secret aircraft, and extraterrestrial spacecraft. Despite the abundance of such reports, and despite great public interest, the scientific community has shown remarkably little interest in this topic.
This may be due in part to the fact that there are no public funds to support research into this issue, in part to the assumption that there are no data worth examining, in part to the belief that the Colorado study that led to the CONDON Report ) has effectively settled the question, and possibly in part to the perception that the topic is in some sense "not respectable."

The relative importance of these four causes is unclear, but it seems likely that each has had some impact in dampening the interest of the scientific community in this subject.
The general perception in the scientific community is that, if UFO reports pose a scientific problem at all, it has more to do with psychology and the science of perception than with physical science. Indeed, most reports simply comprise narrative accounts of what someone saw or thought he saw in the sky. Sometimes the reports involve more than one witness, and sometimes an event is witnessed from two or more different locations.
However, the fact is that physical scientists cannot get involved in the UFO problem unless there is physical evidence. The purpose of this workshop was to assess whether or not there is any such evidence. If the answer is no, then there is no way that physical scientists can contribute to the resolution of this problem. If, on the other hand, the answer is yes, then it should be possible for physical scientists to contribute to the resolution of this problem.
It should perhaps be stressed that it would be unreasonable to ask a panel of nine scientists, meeting for only a few days, to do much more than make a preliminary assessment of some limited category of evidence related to this complex and controversial topic. It would certainly be highly unreasonable to expect such a panel to solve, in only a few days, a problem that has remained unsolved for fifty years. Science advances by the development of an informed consensus on well defined questions but scientists can arrive at an informed consensus only if (1) sufficient research has been carried out, and the results of that research have been presented to and evaluated by the scientific community. For the UFO problem, these first two essential steps have yet to be taken.
A workshop to review claims of physical evidence related to UFO reports was held at the Pocantico Conference Center at Tarrytown, New York, from September 29 through October 4, 1997. The organization responsible for this workshop was the Society for Scientific Exploration.
The Society was responding to an inquiry from Mr. Laurance S. Rockefeller, Chairman of the LSR Fund. Plans for the workshop were in the hands of Dr. Peter A. Sturrock, Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University, who served as Director of the workshop. In developing plans, Sturrock was assisted by a steering committee comprising Dr. Thomas E. Holzer of the High Altitude Observatory of the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder; Dr. Robert Jahn, Professor of Aerospace Engineering at Princeton University; Dr. David E. Pritchard, Professor of Physics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; Dr. Harold E. Puthoff, Director of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Austin; Dr. Yervant Terzian, Professor of Astronomy and Chairman of the Astronomy Department at University; and Dr. Charles R. Tolbert, Professor of Astronomy at the University of Virginia. Mr. Henry Diamond of Washington, DC, provided administrative advice and support. Puthoff and Pritchard served as moderators of the scientific sessions.

Seven experienced UFO investigators were asked to review specific categories of evidence. Dr. Richard F. Haines of Los Altos, California, undertook to review photographic evidence and also reviewed aircraft equipment anomalies; Dr. Illobrand von Ludwiger of Feldkirchen-Westerham, Germany, discussed radar evidence; Dr. Mark Rodeghier of the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago discussed automobile engine anomalies; Mr. John F. Schuessler of Houston discussed injuries to witnesses; Dr. Erling Strand from Ostfeld, Norway, presented evidence involving video records and spectroscopic data; Dr. Physical Evidence Related to UFO Reports Michael D. Swords, Professor in the General Studies Science Department at Eastern Michigan University discussed inertial anomalies; Dr. Jacques F. Vallee of San Francisco presented energy estimates and also discussed material evidence; and M. Jean-Jacques Velasco of CNES, Toulouse, France, presented evidence concerning radar events, ground traces, and injuries to vegetation.
Evidence presented at the workshop was studied by a Scientific Review Panel comprising Dr. Von R. Eshleman, Emeritus Professor of Electrical Engineering at Stanford University; Holzer; Dr. R. (Randy) Jokipii, Regents' Professor of Planetary Sciences and Astronomy at the University of Arizona in Tucson; Dr. Francois Louange, Managing Director of Fleximage, Paris, France; Dr. H. J. (Jay) Melosh, Professor of Planetary Science at the University of Arizona in Tucson; Dr. James J.
Head of the Institute of Meteoritics and Professor of Earth and Planetary Sciences at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque; Dr. Guenther Reitz of the German Aerospace Center, Institute for Aerospace Medicine, in Cologne, Germany; Tolbert; and Dr. Bernard Veyret of the Bioelectromagnetics Laboratory at the University of
Bordeaux, France. Eshleman and Holzer served as co-chairs of this panel.
The review panel and director met in executive session in San Francisco from
November 28 to 30, 1997.


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