New Directions for UFO Research. [1972]
Peter Rogerson

I am sure that Peter Rogerson would be the first person to admit that this article, first published in Merseyside UFO Bulletin volume 5, number 2, May 1972, now seems hopelessly naive. Even at the time its demands stretched the bounds of what might be possible. However, it is still an interesting article, and well worth re-reading with the benefir of an historical persepective.

 

It was written at what was probably the last time that the development of a ‘science of ufology’ was even be considered a possibility, and soon even the modest aim of gathering objective data on the majority of UFO reports became almost impossible, let alone re-investigate them, as Peter suggests in proposal one. Peter was not alone in suggesting ways in which ufologists could co-operate in data gathering and analysis, both nationally and internationally, and there were occasional ventures such as BUFORA’s attempts at a committee to standardise ufological terms. Of course, ufologists were, and are, an incurably un-organisable crowd, and jealous of the sources and information, and all attempts at inter-group and inter-personal co-operation have stumbled against someones ego!

 

This is not to say that all of the suggestions are impractical, or have never been attempted. There have been some good attempts at collating historical records, and the Swedish AFU archive is a model of its kind and a reproach to British ufology, which has allowed much of its historical record to be destroyed or dissipated. A great deal of what Peter proposed has in fact been achieved, but usually by individuals rather than organisations. Item 16, for instance, has been achieved in the UK by the efforts of researchers such as David Clarke and Joe McGonagle.

 

Much of the historical research into events such as the 1909 airship and ‘foo-fighters’ has been undertaken by individuals, and the scope of ufology has been widened into the social sciences. However, the idea that ‘ufology’ will ever become a respectable science in its own right was always a pipe-dream, even more so than the dream that the hoard of fractious individualists who constituted the UFO ‘community’ could work together to further that end!

 

So drift back to the hazy, dreamy days of the Summer of ’72, and read what we thought might happen — J.R.

During the 25 years in which the UFO phenomenon has been in the arena of public and scientific debate there seams to have been little concerted effort to determine precisely what UFO researchers should be doing. Too often ufologists seem to have been more interested in propounding dotty pseudo-sciences than in investigating the phenomenon objectively.

What, then, should be done? Here, are some suggestions for discussion:

1. There should be a major effort to document and re-investigate all Type I reports located in both published and unpublished sources, or known through private information. Every effort should be made to determine the precise date and geographical location of each report. Regular catalogues shoulcid be published. These should be brief specific lists in geographical, chronological and other orders, a catalogue of report abstracts in strict chronological order. Continuation catalogues should be published annually, with cumulations every five years.

2. ‘Contact’ reports, ‘MIB’ reports and reports involving psychological, physiological and ‘parapsychological’ phenomena should be investigated by trained personnel or laymen of proven reliability under the direction of specialists, and NOT by untrained or impressionable people.

3. There should be a major co-operative effort at a systematic search for pre-1947 ‘waves,’ involving , if possible, full scrutiny of national and local newspapers, and scientific and popular magazines, starting withflap periods, then other periods, The possibility of obtaining information from elderly persons could be considered. reports should be published in abstract form, with fuller accounts of selected reports, and notes on the social, religious, political and scientific background of the reports. Otherwise reports should be published without comment.

4. There should be a continuing effort to examine, and to place into context, the UFO Phenomenon as a source of mythological data, and as an aspect of folk-lore. The investigation of certain ‘constants’ in mythical, religious and folkloric traditions should be encouraged.

5. There should be an effort made to conduct sociological and psychological study of the modern UFO cults, such as that at Warminster.

6. There should be a sociological and historical study of the social and technological impact of the UFO phenomenon. As an example, research is being conducted into the possibility that the 1913 ‘airship’ wave may have had some effect on the course of the First World War.

7. The local groups, unless they are conducting valid research in which tho majority of the membership is involved, should dissolve themselves. Their active members should meet informally to discuss reports, plan investigation and conduct research.

8. The national organisations should cease to act as bodies with corporate opinions, planning, research etc., and become documentation centres, co-ordinating research, holding central catalogues and files, and library facilities. They should organise symposia and provide resources for publication of research work.

9. There should be a private international co-ordinating body to which both national bodies and individuals would be affiliated. This body would provide both international co-ordination of documentation and research, and a translation service, It is important that neither the national nor international bodies should hold corporate opinions or engage in corporate activities.

10. There is need for the creation of high quality bibliographical services in the field of ufology. These should include a bibliography of all UFO-style reports in the press, and non-ufological books and journals, a bibliography of UFO monographs published to date, an index of important articles in the ufological and lay press, and as complete a list as possible of ufological journals.

11. The creation of a machine-readable general catalogue of UFO reports incorporating all existing catalogues, on an international scale.

12. The publication of this catalogue, with the addition of a legible, standardised abstracts of the reports in the form of a continuous, duplicated publication partwork, to allow for further investigation of reports,

13. The publication of at least one international scientific journal devoted to ufology, aimed exclusively at the scientific community and serious research workers, without editorial comment. The journal should aim to serve as a platform for a11. serious workers, away from the attitudes of the cultists. The ultimate aim should be to publish this journal simultaneously in several major languages.

14. The publication of national journals of a similar nature, either modifications of existing journals (eg Phenomenes Spatiaux, FSR) or new ventures, and the encouragement of the publication of local ‘report’ journals.

15. Rapid and in-depth investigation of all cases involving alleged physical evidence, landing traces and photographs by appropriately qualified experts. In the case of photographs, publication should be delayed until there is good evidence of ‘high strangeness’, and attempts at duplication have failed.

16. Efforts should be made to recover material in official files, accepting any conditions laid down, especially recognising that such material may be made available only to reputable scientists.

17. It should be recognised that the only legitimate activity of UFO research is the scientific investigation of UFO reports and phenomena which may generate them. Such investigations should be impartial, unbiased and covering all aspects of the phenomenon. Investigations which set out to demonstrate that the reports are generated by mirages, alcoholic poisoning, space ships or ghosts do not fall into the definition of research.

18. Make every effort to channel the interest of newcomers to the subject along scientific lines, emphasising that ufology involves much more than standing on hilltops staring at the sky, and like much science involves hard work.

19. Take steps to counter the damage caused by the activities of certain sensationalists, particularly the gentlemen whose lunacies provide much sport to the popular press.

20. Recognise that the subject will only become respectable to the scientific community if research and speculation are conducted in a scientific manner; and that speculation is limited to scientifically valid notions. One _must accept that this speculation will be ultimately futile if the phenomena are not comprehensible in terms of 20th century science. the tendency of writers to throw scientific restraint away and invent ever more fantastic pseudo-scientific cosmoses can only be deplored.

 

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