Conference Call

Proceedings of the 2nd National Research and Investigation Conference, Birmingham, 5-7 November 1976. BUFORA, 1978.

Ted Bloecher. Close Encounters of the Third Kind. BUFORA, 1978.
I shall review each paper in the Proceedings in turn, bearing in mind that one of the aims of the Conference was "to act as a signal to the scientific community, the media and the general public that ufology is worthy of study".

I can only apologise for my own paper, written after the main conference, and under the stress of a family bereavement. Due to my careless handwriting it contains several minor and one set of major errors. Page four, paragraph three of my article should read, from line 2, "This suggests that UFO experiences should be related to such 'edge of reality' experiences as out of the body experiences, dreams and apparitions. Celia Green and Charles McCreery of the Institute of Psychophysical Research, Oxford University, have labelled such experiences collectively as metachoric experiences ..." The major error was in placing Green and McCreery at the 'Psychological Unit of Cambridge University'.

Paper two, 'The Alphabet of UFO Reports' by Jack Webber is a perfect example of obsession with trivia. It shows how to plot the direction of UFOs with home-made instruments and sounds as though it was meant far a Boy Scouts group rather than a scientific gathering .

Paper three, 'The Prediction of UPO Waves', by Bernard Delair at least provides data. What he appears to be able to demonstrate is that there are peaks predicted on a 10-year cycle, 1947, 57, 67 and as predicted, 1977 in records in large UFO catalogues such as UFOCAT. But his attempt to argue a 10 year cycle before 1947 are leas successful There is no evidence I can see of major UFO waves in 1937, 27, 17, etc. with the exception of 1897. Delair also argues more complicated cycles, arguments for which seem strained. If as he suggests UFO waves are somehow related to the sunspot cycle it suggests they are triggered. by poorly understood physical phenomena.

Ted Bloecher's paper, which is also published as a separate pamphlet, is an excellent piece of work and well illustrates the strange erratic quality of the UFO experience, and how it might be explored. He points out the 'staged' quality of many CEIIIs.

The fifth paper, by Tony Pace on the Vehicle Interference Effect describes a BUFORA catalogue of 400 such cases, highlighting the Carl Farlow case of November 1967. This paper is also of a high standard, although playing down the stranger qualities of the UFO experience to some extent.

Robert Digby's paper on photographic evidence clearly loses a lot by not having any of the photographs reproduced. Digby proposed five basic categories of evaluation of the incident, but fails to list the most important point: was the event 'public', in that several unrelated witnesses saw the incident and the photograph being taken, and that subsequent treatment of the photograph was also 'public'. I do not share Digby's euphoria with Ground Saucer Watch's computer enhancement techniques, which were highly praised by ufologists when they seemed to support their favourite photographs, but were rejected when it suggested other dearly-loved ones were fake!

The seventh paper, by Tia O'Brien, an attempt to prove the ETH, is one of the vary weakest; it is a credulous compilation of ancient astronaut and UFOs in the Bible cliches, displaying an ignorance of anthropology, archaeology etc. O'Brien is planning a book, which with luck will be buried under an avalanche of rejection slips.

Roy Dutton's paper is of such a technical nature that I cannot comment in detail. However I think it demonstrates the danger of building a hypothesis on inadequate data. He uses my 1947 section of INTCAT as a base at one point - but that published section was hopelessly inadequate, omitting all the data from Bloecher's study, which was added later.

Mark Stenhoff 's contribution is a comparison between UFO phenomena and ball lightning, which is worth pursuing, although I suspect it would be unwise to regard such a poorly understood physical phenomena as acting as much more than a psychological trigger.

The final paper by Tom Grant is another long rambling piece trying to prove the ETH. Again a book is threatened. Again roll on rejection slips! The volume is closed with a contribution from J Allan Hynek, basically another plug for CUFOS.

The general impression one gets of the papers presented in this volume is mixed. I cannot re­ commend it to any but hard-core ufologist. The separate Bloecher pamphlet is of much greater general interest. The presence of O'Brian and Grant's papers will discourage the scientific community from further study. – Peter Rogerson. MUFOB New Series 11, Summer 1978.

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