In a field in which a huge amount of arrant nonsense is written, it is a relief to review that rare thing a sensible book on UFOs. Rutkowski and Dittman review the Canadian UFO scene without either trying to bludgeon the reader into believing in extraterrestrials, or taking an aggressively sceptical approach. Whether the cases presented here really are the best that Canada can offer must be moot point, and the reader is likely to share with the authors the suspicion that even these best cases do not advance us very much more beyond the point of saying that if they are reported accurately something very odd seems to have been going on.
Looking through this material does not incline me to believe that the same ‘something very odd’ is responsible for all these reports. Many are little more than ambiguous lights in the sky, though there are reports of occupants and abductions here as well (nearly all the latter quite compatible with aware sleep paralysis). There is at least one potentially interesting multi witness case, the investigation of which has clearly impressed the authors. Yet even here we are faced with anonymous witnesses, a single investigator who is clearly spinning in favour of the ETH and contradictory descriptions, including one of an object “three quarters of a mile across”!
Close encounter cases such as those of Stefan Michalak at Falcon Lake tend to rely on single witnesses. Even this case which deeply puzzles Rutkowski has its ambiguities and problems, and ultimately boils down to subjective impressions of other people’s honesty. Even such as cautious ufologist as Rutkowski still tends to divide the world between, on the one hand people with long criminal records or self evident psychiatric problems, and on the other ‘obviously’ sober, sensible and honest people, and to see motivation for hoaxes in simplistic terms of money and fame. If this case was a hoax of some sort then its motivations are likely to be much more private, domestic and complex than this.
Dittman has constructed a survey of all traceable UFO cases over the last few years which strongly suggests that UFO reports, in Canada at least, are not going away. He makes the important point that it is necessary document and list the “solved” IFO cases as well, to get a true picture. He also makes some telling points about the poor quality and transience of many UFO groups and investigators, who butterfly collect a few dozen cases or so, never share them with anyone, then, get bored give up and move on to something else, or who engage in endless infighting. This is, of course, not confined to Canada or to ufology. In many of these fields the investigators are much more part of the problem than part of the solution.
The frustrating thing is that there can be little doubt that many people have all sorts of experiences which they find deeply puzzling, some of which may well tell us very interesting things about both the human mind and the world in which we live, but that the atmosphere of ridicule surrounding them deters both people reporting them, and qualified people taking an objective interest in them. The resulting vacuum is filled with the coteries of self publicists, hobbyists, cranks and credulati whose antics and public statements greatly fuel the aura of the ridiculous. These greatly outnumber people like the authors of this book who take the much more sensible position; that people report some damned strange things, we haven't a clue what’s going on, and that’s why we are studying these reports. | PR |