Looking for UFOs

Dennis Stacy and Patrick Huyghe. The Field Guide to UFOs: a Classification of Various Unidentified Aerial Phenomena Based upon Eyewitness Accounts. Illustrated by Harry Trumbore. Quill (HarperCollins), 2000.

The latest in this field guide series presents accounts, with drawings of selected UFO reports, both well and little known, to illustrate the various shapes of UFO. Even within the broad band of each general category, there are wide divergences, and I am not sure that trying to classify such a vague collection as UFO reports into shapes achieves much. After all the majority if not all of even these selected reports are going to tum out to be IF Os of one kind or another. 

Stacy and Huyghe admit this in the introductory and concluding text, but in the actual case reports they just put one line sceptics solutions, and for some of the cases which they suggest no one has put forward a sceptical solution, they indeed have (for example sceptics solutions for Socorro have included a hot air balloon, prototype lunar lander, plasma, and a hoax by Zamorra and the local mayor; for the Linke case (which should be dated 1950 - it occurred well before the actual report) these would include secret Russian aircraft, hoax by Linke, hoax by journalists, for is there any evidence that such a person as Oscar Linke actually existed; for the cloud cigars, well, clouds, possibly pre-tornado cloud formations, or possibly the moon seen through obscuring haze.

S and H make some interesting points, one is the decline of the traditional UFO investigation report that was once the pillar of your average UFO mag. People actually went out and investigated UFO reports. Now the mags are filled with pages of uninvestigated stories, often about abductions, and pages of nonsense about Roswell. That is T assume the situation in the States. In the UK people seem to investigate UFO reports, but have reverted to not publishing the results of the investigation in detail.

In the end, they conclude that a tiny proportion of UFO reports may well be generated by an 'alien' but not necessarily extra­terrestrial technology, though they point out the real problems with this (why should spaceships or something more exotic behave like ultra high performance aircraft, complete with aircraft type lights). Sceptics will point out that some very impressive UFO reports have turned out to be IFOs, and that we should be especially cautious about explanations involving non-human intelligences. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 72, October 2000.

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