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Ufology

Ufology is the study of the UFO phenomenon. The word "ufology" derives from the famous "UFOs". Ufology studies different phenomena in which witnesses are a factor required for the study. Ufologists strive for legitimacy of ufology as a science. Some ufologists are even respected scientists.

By Michele Bugliaro Goggia - last modified: September 9, 2006 0:40 AM

Ufology is the study of the UFO phenomenon. The word "ufology" derives from the famous "UFOs". In 1954, in a document titled "USAF Regulation 200-2", the USAF defined "UFO" the following way:

"Unidentified flying objects, as used in this Letter, relates to any airborne object which by performance, aerodynamic characteristics, or unusual features, does not conform to any presently known aircraft or missile type."

Ufology studies different phenomena in which witnesses are a factor required for the study. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial Visitation (SETV) seems to share similar aims with ufology. Being a scientific project, SETV team takes the distances from ufology:

"UFOology is the study of Human generated reports of anomalous observational phenomena ( AOP ) events of suspected extraterrestrial origin.

Humans do not make for good data acquisition systems, they are prone to perceptual errors during moments of stress. Memory of AOP events are often distorted, relative to the observer's academic and experiential knowledge-base. SETV, however is an instrument based search. Indeed, most OSR designed instrument platforms specifically eliminate Human error, by eliminating Human operators from the design, the platforms operate autonomously. Certain platforms do utilize Humans but only as part of the experiment."

If it were like the SETV team wanted, ufology would be a lot more similar to psychology. Which is not. On the contrary, the definition proposed by the SETV is really misleading. It is true that human witnesssing alone is not enough, and that is prone to errors. The same is valid for the SETV team, then. It's not for them being scientists that they never make errors: it's thanks to their instruments they can observe many astronomical phenomena.

I believe it's correct to state ufology, and not UFOlogy, is the explanation and reason of UFOs, and not the search for extraterrestrials, nor the study of human perception. Who studies ufology? Mostly, single researchers or private centres called ufologists.

Legitimacy

Ufologists strive for legitimacy of ufology as a science. Some ufologists are even respected scientists who employ their free time working on the UFO phenomenon. Unfortunately, ufology has never been embraced by the Scientific Community, nor has it ever been taught at University. In spite of excellent researches and works accomplished by serious ufologists, mainstream science still considers ufology as a pseudoscience. Even though graduation projects (let's recall Stefania Genovese and her "Mitopoiesi Ufologica") and articles published in peer reviewed journals exist. Why?

There is no degree in ufology. This means that anybody, even the most unexperienced, can be a ufologist, a UFO researcher or even a UFO expert. Unfortunately, it can be difficult to recognize serious researchers among the many pseudoufologists. Ufology attracts all sort of brothelers and weird individuals in search of money, fame and recognition. These individuals are totally unfamiliar with research standards. Additionally, the same amateurs accept every tale featuring aliens, without a proper investigation and without evidence (Jaime Maussan, Reinaldo Rios) and supporting the most stupid theories (Erich Von Däniken and his ancient astronauts, orbs and rods ). This can only lead to further damage to the already fragile reputation of ufology. Often, these very same pseudoreseachers gather media visibility and, eventually, economic gains. Shortly, they can be more visible than the more credible scientific ufologists.

One more issue is that some leading ufologists seem to be more worried about their image, name, position and fame than about the advancement of ufology. UFO groups are in competition among each other, when not openly against each other. No wonder mainstream science ignores ufology. Luckily, good research sometimes happens underground.

The overall impression one may have about ufology is confusing: ufologists dispute with each other, while tales about starchildren and galactic confederations claimed by Dr. Richard Boylan find followers. I remember teenagers behaving like important UFO researchers, supporting the "young and independent ufology"!

Scientific ways

If such a status quo discourages most scientists from publicly admit the study of the UFO phenomenon, a scientific approach is definetly possible. There is an important amount of casebooks reported worldwide. Through a rigid credibility-based criteria a selection of cases can be statistically studied. Statistics are able to evidence the patterns of the phenomenon.

Ufologists embrace a wide range of approaches: beyond quacks (David Icke), respected scientists are working hard (Peter A. Sturrock, Wendy Connors, Auguste Meessen). The most serious ufologists argue that UFO reports are as worthy of study as any topic, and deserve case-by-case analysis using the scientific method. Debunkers (such as Philip Klass or Dr. Donald Menzel) have offered their opinions on UFOs. In France, Sociologist Pierre Lagrange has offered his own approach. Even though their sceptical conclusions have been disputed a lot, they too represent an influential perspective in UFO studies.

Overall, ufology should be seen as an interdisciplinary field, as people have examined UFO reports from a number of perspectives. For instance, the methodology deployed by the GEPAN required different experts, including psychologists. Italian artist Roberto Malini has repeated many times that ufology could be, at best, a branch of philosophy.

Dr. Peter Sturrock suggests that UFO studies should be compartmentalized (as are most scientific endeavors) into at least the following distinct activities:

The study of UFO sightings has produced concrete results applicable to other fields, such as in weather phenomena (Hessdalen) and in human perception, such as the study lead by the SOBEPS for the Belgian flap in 1989-'90 or the studies of the GEPAN/SEPRA in France.

Funding

One additional issue with UFO research, advanced by scientists who ignore everything about ufology, could be that if UFOs were real, someone would ask for funds to start a scientific research. Like it or not, scientists ignore UFOs. If mainstream science does not accept ufology as a serious scientific field, it is because of disinformation. UFOs are regarded as ridicule. Therefore, no one would risk an academic career for the ridicule of being associated with ufologists. Therefore, no one asks for funds to be spent on UFO research. Regarding funds, Dr. Peter Sturrock has stated:

"If the Air Force were to make available, say, $50 million per year for ten years for UFO research, it is quite likely that the subject would look somewhat less disreputable ... however, an agency is unlikely to initiate such a program at any level until scientists are supportive of such an initiative. We see that there is a chicken-and-egg program. It would be more sensible, and more acceptable to the scientific community, if research began at a low level."

Some Respected uFO researchers

Jean-Jacques Velasco, Claude Poher, Alfredo Lissoni, Larry Hatch, Wendy Connors, Auguste Meessen, Stefania Genovese, Derrel Sims, Giulia D'Ambrosio, Edoardo Russo, Pierre Guérin.

Respected UFO groups

SOBEPS, BUFORA, CUSI, Gruppo Camelot, CUFOS, GEPAN/SEPRA.

external links

Science and the UFO phenomenon

The UFO Evidence: Burdens of Proof

List of UFO researchers at Wikipedia

Gruppo Camelot

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