David Simpson. Conclusions From Controlled UFO Hoaxes. The Institute for Cultural Research Monograph Series no 26. 2005.This is an expanded version of David Simpson’s article in MUFOB New Series 2, published in March 1976, in which he details the experimental UFO hoaxes he conducted at Warminster from 1968 to 1970. These culminated in the infamous Warminster UFO photograph which was splashed across the front page of Flying Saucer Review and which led the French physicist Pierre Guerin to make an utter fool of himself with wild pseudoscientific speculation.
David Simpson recounts how he and his group SIUFOP became ever more sceptical after realising how easy it was for the senses to be confused in darkness and poor viewing conditions, and how quickly imagination could take hold. They also noted how many ufologists actually added to cases, making the more or less mundane appear very mysterious indeed.
This hoax eschewed complicated devices such as flying saucer shaped hot air balloons and concentrated on the production of a simple light, along with a photograph of something entirely different. They introduced contradictions which should have made detecting the hoax easy, but as mentioned above ufologists preferred pseudoscientific speculation to critical analysis. Even when SIUFOP members pointed out some of these contradictions, ufologists didn’t want to here. Needless to say when the story came out, ufologists were not best pleased and resorted to all sorts of conspiracy theories to avoid the awkward truth that they had been hopelessly naive and uncritical.
Of course there are those who will argue that today’s more sophisticated ufologists could never be similarly fooled. Don’t you believe it! There is clearly a need for another series of experimental UFO hoaxes, particularly involving pulsating bright lights to really assess how much perception and memory can be baffled, and how critically ufologists can assess cases these days. Peter Rogerson.