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French ufology and the year 2008:

What follows is my answers to three ufological questions asked by the Réseau France Surveillance at the beginning of 2008.

You ca read the answers - in French - to these same the questions by other French ufologists on the web the forum Réseau France Surveillance at:

1. What are your goals for year 2008?

At the beginning of 2007, I undertook to document the totality of the close encounters of the third kind reports scattered in the ufological literature, and to evaluate their causes, ordinary or not, as much as possible. In a little more than a year I managed to document as well as possible to me more than 400 files, I will double this number in 2008. It is certainly this work that will occupy most of my time.

Of course I also intend to continue my catalogue on the reports of the 1954 French flap, and also reach the stage of the evaluation and the overall study since I now think I have "captured" the largest part of the flap.

I will begin a new work on the witnesses reports recently made public by the CNES [French Center for Space Studies], by putting these reports together with the their already publicly known versions whenever possible, and by re-evaluating the classification given by the SEPRA whenever necessary. I will not be the first to undertake this, so I think I will start with reports from the East of France [because it is my area].

This of course in parallel with the publication of the sighting reports that people are nice enough to share with me, the news section updates, and the continuation of the publications in the other sections of my website.

In addition to this visible part, I also pursue field investigations, often extremely long, and continue the drafting of the resulting investigation reports; in the last years I tied up may contacts with ufologists on several continents and continue these exchanges of documents and ideas; I also want increase the membership of the free discussion list I share with ufologist Jean-Luc Lemaire, as it now functions on solid foundations.

2. What are your wishes for ufology research in France for 2008?

My first would be that there is some research!

when I look back at year 2007, I see lots of UFO lectures where theories are put forth, a lot of popular UFO books, magazine articles etc. But concerning the sightings reports per se, which are not rare, what I mostly see is immediate and often silly interpretations, and almost never any real investigation reports are available. It seems to me that the 2007 ufology fashion was more with founding "portals" on the web for new "organizations" claiming goals of great ambition, certainly commendable, but absolutely no content or visible work is shown there.

I saw or heard that many the "oldtimers", field investigators who were very active in the Seventies, became discouraged by the lack of general interest in the Eighties and the emphasis on the sensational in the magazines, by the dispersion of too many ufologists on topics that they do not master and mix-up without critical sense, such as - real examples, I do not make it up - "The US modifies the climate with radio waves! Nazis have surely flying saucer secret bases in the North Pole! We did not walk on the Moon! The Shoemaker-Levi comet was a test of an antimatter bombs by the US! A descendant of a minister of Napoleon confirms UFOs of the Belgian flap were secret US antigravitation craft! It is true, NASA confirms that there are cities on the Moon, it is in the Pravda! Ufologist James McDonald was assassinated! Tsunami caused by the aliens! This crop circle is an alien message announcing the end of the world for 2006! Skeptics are accomplices of the UFO occupants! This website is offline, that's the Government preventing the Truth to be told!"

French-speaking websites and magazines are almost entirely filled with such twaddles. They took a heavy responsibility with regard to the discredit of ufology, they should not be astonished when a humorist scoffs at that on the radio.

I'm not even listing all the real examples coming "renowned" ufologists such as: "This UFO which resembles a balloon is created by a supernatural intelligence which creates UFOs looking like balloons to make us believe that we have alien visitors! If an alien craft crashed in Roswell, investigation is useless because the Earth's centrifugal force of gravitation will pop up the debris out of the ground sooner or later! This pink spot on this photograph is a metallic sphere coming from a parallel universe! At last bulletproof evidence, an Australian website shows 25 UFO videos! These aliens were wearing military outfits and asked a peasant for their way! Fairies were also using telepathy! These are not oil well flames since oil wells do not fly! The Roswell alien video is a forgery, it must be a disinformation operation, at the same time it must be a true alien since sheep brain is too small! This UFO is not a balloon because it flew at the speed of a small motorcycle! Nothing proves that this thing on this photograph is a fly, it is only a possibility, therefore it is a true UFO, but not necessary an alien one! This UFO was confirmed by the radar since radar detected something elsewhere! There are inhabitants on the Moon, the ancient Greeks knew about that!"

And I must note that the basic activity that field investigation should be is practically at the dead point, while too many ufologists are only caring for sensationalisation of reports that weren't even investigated, even when commonplace explanations are screaming obvious, balloons, plane trails, insects on photographs, flash reflection on dust specs etc. I saw our skeptics colleagues on a European scale declaring that they do not investigate anymore since "we know for long" that all UFOs "are explained", read: all explained as mistakes and hoaxes. I saw official investigators spending their days on mushroom rounds in grasses or a sighting of Venus while much more disconcerting testimonies everywhere in France are brought in vain because there isn't enough field investigators eager and able to decently investigate and share the results for free.

In 2008, I would wish that less ufologists launch out just another "Intercontinental Center for Ufology" website and other "Worlwide Group of True Studies By Super-Scientists Experts" that remain empty shells with self-indulgent headlines but nothing of the legitimacy which would originate from serious work, and I wish that more ufologists go on the field and come back to share carefully investigated case, without mistaking cars headlights for alien spaceship or ultradimensional etheric phenomena, and those who cannot spend the time - which is not a crime - instead of copying and pasting the work of the others without added value and often without any credit, or promoting any commonplace stuff as "UFO" even when the commonplace explanation right under the nose, would explore the enormous mass of documentation that remains unpublished, Press newsclipping, ufology bulletins, that remain to be indexed, scanned, and shared for free. There is so much to do, in this field, and there is urgency. Of course it appears more gratifying to publish "synthesis" articles or general rants on the UFO matters, but ufologists should realize that innumerable "small things" that are invaluable materials are getting lost as years go by, that there is duty of preservation, they must learn to work for the posterity, for others, not just to rehash once again this or that thesis already rehashed presented by others before them since decades.

When I consider for example the cases of close encounters of the third type I currently document, covering decades, I must note that the deficiencies do not go back to yesterday, but that did nothing but worsen with time. In almost all these cases, basic data such as distances of observation, angular sizes, age of the witnesses, remained unknown. In almost all the cases, it is quite easy to find second o third hand sources, short summaries with inaccuracies or insufficiencies, whereas the first hand sources sleep somehwere in a carboard box or untraceable bulletin of a long gone UFO group. You should know that on 400 such files, I almost did not see any even one of them in which the basic matter of the state of the sight of the witnesses had a documentated trace; this is enoght to turn even the most potentially interesting case into a subious and thus immediately negligible case for any scientifically-minded person.

Lastly, and it is probably a vain wish, I wish for more decency in the discussions between ufologists. Hear me correctly. I am not saying that there must be a unique line of thinking, I am not denying that people are entitled to dream or believe, I am not asking that all ufologist siuddenly become perfect and mistaken on nothing. I am neither promoting an idea of pseudo-"neutrality" in which oe should stay, refraining any opinions. Not, at all.

What I mean to say is that it is very important that the fashion of personal attack stops right now. Debates, discussions, controversies are good. But they must be about arguments, not about persons. I have just read on a ufology website that a proponent of the sociopsychological thesis is a "sectarian ideologist of order". This is the sort of stuff that I do not want to read anymore. Neither from one "side" nor from the other. Let the confrontation be on facts an ideas, not on attacks of intents. This only ridicules ufology. In 2007, a ufologist wrote publicly that he wished to smack my face at a next ufology meeting. Another told me that I was agent of sabotage of the ufology whose goal is "to harm the prestige of our association" - that I resigned of - and that "the skeptics" are "accomplices of the intelligences which control the UFOs". Another, for lack of arguments, resorted to scatological vocabulary because I dared to criticize - by facts and arguments - his demonstration that UFOs are not extraterrestrials but creating of a supernatural intelligence living inside the Earth. Another said I was a "vicious one that only idiots follow" because I did not accept the Truth that "the Cussac UFO" must be a helicopter. Another skeptic attacked a UFO publication by claiming that "the authors are covered of medals like Soviet generals". Another drivels on web forums about my professional career and writes about my family as a proof that some spot on a photograph is not a bird but a true UFO. Another ufologist attacked a skeptic ufologist by claiming he wanted to make money with his book, a criticism he never voiced for authors of his own "side", while the book in question was actually freely published for free download on the web. And so on.

This is no good. It just prevents courteous and constructive dialogue. "Skeptics" are neither saints nor devils, "believers" are not "vicious" either, they are not all sect members and cultists, nobody is always wrong or always right on everything. It is of huge importance that in UFO controversies, the attacks of the persons stop right know, that only ideas are discussed, firmly if necessary but politely, via argumentation, not by judgments calls and personal attacks.

I insist: mo more personal attacks in 2008!

So, I do have a few wishes for 2008. But I am still rather pessimistic as for their realization, I do not expect to be listened to at all on such things. Thus, I will try to do what I can about that myself, just wishing for things to improve is not exactly my cup of tea.

3. What is your opinion following the remarks made within the Japanese government about UFOs?

To me, this is a very symptomatic clue of the poor state ufology is in.

Actually, all that I see in it is that an opposition politician in Japan asked whether its government studied or not UFO sightings reports he hears about quite often, and his government gave him the standard answer most government give on the matter: as we do not have hard proof that extraterrestrials visit us, we do not study these things. This is of course a scientifically silly answer, it is merely the "politically correct" answer that any government would give.

But when a politician utters "UFO", news services go wild. They will not relay ufologists opinions, because they are most of the time utterly eccentric, because a ufologist is "nothing", whereas a politician is "someone", and because at least it provides stuff for their "silly season" headlines.

News services, this time again showed that they can neither understand ufological matters nor to put in the correct perspective. Some of them headlined that the Japanese government is getting ready for space invaders, others headlined that Japan confirmed that the aliens don't exist, others still ensured that Japan officially confirms that we do have extraterrestrial visitors. This then appeared in one or the other version in innumerable newspapers, magazines, TV news, radio news, during weeks. This is all perfectly inept and reflects neither what was said, nor the importance it really had.

However, neither news services nor the Japanese politicians are responsible for the situation. The responsibility belongs to ufologists, who are the first to pick up such nonsense uncritically, whereas they should help media folk to understand that there are better things to say than just distorted personal opinions from politicians, "I believe", "I don't believe", or to transform the any brush-off statement such as "our government is not aware of evidence that extraterrestrials are visiting" into "the Japanese get ready to an extraterrestrial invasion".

The ufologists, many ufologists, must first learn to check what the news services tell, which is sometimes the opposite of what was really said. They must explain to people who still listen to them that the question of the UFO sightings reports is not settled on the personal beliefs or the personal disbelief of some member of the Parliament in Japan, Peru or France, and that governments are not qualified ufologists who could say something meaningful in a controversy they mostly do not give a damn. Ufologists must forget the idea that one fine day, the governments of the world would declare "it is true, these UFO sightings after all prove that we do have extraterrestrial visitors, we thus declare it is the Truth, it is now official" and then ufologists "win". Actually, almost all governments copy their standard response on the one that followed the end of US Air Force's Project Blue Book in the end of the 60's, i.e.: "Enough with UFOs, this is not our job".

Ufologists must to understand that they have to do the work, that this work does not consist in sensationalisation of news services headlines, but starts with listening what witnesses have to say and research the causes of their testimonys, that it continues with the investigation report which must correctly extract the possible data from the anecdotic story whenever possible, that it continues with the free publishing of the investigation reports, and then only, an approach of the media with something serious to offer.

This is what the old and large ufology groups in the United States had tried formerly, APRO, NICAP, GEPA in France, LDLN investigators groups in France. It was not always brilliantly done, but without these efforts, there would be no ufology left nowadays, neither in France nor elsewhere, and few people interested in it.

This is what ufologists today hardly try anymore, and this is why mass media confine the UFO question to anecdotic nonsense in their "Weird" sections headlines with sometimes scoffing sometimes sensationalists comment, generally ill-informed and sometimes completely false.

The case was symptomatic of what caused sorrow of sociologist Bertrand Méheust, this "webufology", the endless speculation on bits of "news" found on the Internet and appearing sensational because of some "official" tone to it, causing ad nauseam discussions on the "UFO forums" on the topic "when will the governments tell the truth about UFOs?" These old song serves nothing, the same question is repeated, indefinitely.

"When will the government tell the truth about UFOs?" It's been years that I hear this, over and over.

During this time, people see... "things", they do not know who to tell about it, and the result is that an astronomy magazine wondered recently "why did UFOs disappear?"

Isn't this rather work by ufologists on the sighting reports that disappeared, or at least public availability of such a work that is missing? Why can I find hundreds of "UFO websites" on Internet, by UFO groups or associations or independent persons, but almost no investigation report into the recent sighting reports? I think that this is a foundation of ufology, an essential part, and everyone, I include myself, must now wet their shirts and do the job.

It thus seems to me that only if more ufologists start to really and seriously to work that 2008 would see a change in good direction.

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This page was last updated on February 25, 2008.