Here are some facts about UFO reports and investigations that you may not know or perhaps, you have not considered. I am sharing how they play out from my perspective – when you are planning an organizational strategy for Washington MUFON with limited resources. I am hoping through feedback with some hopefully good ideas, or better yet, if there is someone out there willing to become a MUFON Field Investigator and volunteer a little time, just maybe I can move Washington State MUFON forward from the impasse it faces right now.
In 2014 Washington MUFON received 210 UFO reports of all types. If you looked at the list of investigators and officers for MUFON in this state, you would see 12 names. Only 4 of those listed actually investigate cases, and one of those 4 is also the State Director for Idaho and Hawaii. The other 8 have retired, or moved out of state; one of them may be deceased. His phone is disconnected and I cannot reach him. That list of working investigators includes me.
So why am I drawing your attention to this situation? Washington MUFON is looking for a few good investigators. Because of the Hangar 1 Program and other advertising efforts by MUFON headquarters, I am receiving more inquiries than ever with the same question: Where is the chapter meeting in my area? Many of these inquiries are from Eastern Washington.
Each time I receive this question I have to disappoint someone by telling them that there are no regularly scheduled meetings in their area. Then I ask what is apparently a fatal question: I ask if they know of a venue in their area where a meeting could be held or a presentation could be given. This is what I need to know if we are to make any progress. Mostly I get no response; I am guessing there was an assumption that everything is already in place and attending a MUFON meeting would be no more difficult than finding the nearest Starbuck’s.
Back to the original focus, what most UFO enthusiasts do not know, and many do not want to hear, the data has to be sorted. Not all UFO reports are evidence of Extraterrestrial Contact. Out of every 10 reports, 6-7 reports are the result of a misidentification of man-made or natural objects. There will be 1-2 reports that are so lacking in information even after follow-up interviews, they must be placed into the Insufficient Information category. Finally, there are 1 or 2 reports where you have High Witness Credibility and a High Strangeness Event. This is the nugget you hope for after spending hours standing in the cold water and panning through lots of mud and gravel.
Everyone wants to find nuggets of UFO gold. Only very few are willing to do the work of completing the investigation even when it is not the next Roswell or the vanguard of the Alien Armada. But that work is still important. It is the process of finding the Signal in the Noise.
Being a Field Investigator also involves being the face of MUFON specifically, and the representative of Ufology generally to someone who may have never given the subject a second thought until they saw that glowing disk in the sky and suddenly their world view has come into question, and they are looking for answers and reassurance. They may only meet one UFO investigator ever. I guarantee you they will judge all of us by that one encounter. To do it right requires understanding, compassion, and professionalism.
We are also involved in public education. Many people have little or no knowledge of what is normally going on in the sky – I have had people tell me when they looked at the night sky for the first time that it is filled with UFOs because those “bright lights” are moving throughout the night (about 15 degrees per hour) and therefore, they must be UFOs.
This is important to Washington MUFON very simply because the UFO reports keep coming in regardless. As the State Director I either have to deal with them directly or I have to delegate the work to others. As I stated previously, there are very few others doing the work now. We are volunteers; this means we have other responsibilities and commitments aside from MUFON and Ufology. (I know that’s hard to believe.) Washington MUFON also has no budget. I ask for donations when we have meetings; I am lucky to pay for the room.
Each person only has so many available hours or resources to devote to the work of MUFON and Ufology. As summer approaches, the skies are clearer; the frequency of incoming reports will increase. Already the planet Venus and the International Space Station are dueling for the title of Most Misidentified Flying Object. Sirius is not far behind.
And then there are Chinese Lanterns; I am worried if ever I am driving and I see people at the side of the road launching Chinese Lanterns, it will be very hard for me not to deliberately try to run them over. While trying to plan ahead for Washington MUFON, I am facing the often quoted engineering maxim: It’s hard to remember your original intention was to drain the swamp when you are up to your butt in alligators.
I am writing this to stimulate thinking and perhaps find a volunteer or two. We are going to improve. A Section Director gave me hope today when she told me she was organizing a group of people who want to become Field Investigators. I will be there to help. I need to be reminded what is really important like everyone else.
So here is the question: What are you doing about your interest in UFOs? If it is just entertainment, then enjoy. Take the Blue Pill and you will be fine.
If you want to challenge yourself to learn how to understand, research, and investigate what’s really going on in the field of Ufology, then contact me. You may come to question all of the assumptions you have held about our world, our history, and the universe.
I can help you get off the sidelines. I will caution you: Ufology really is a lot like the movie The Matrix:
“You take the blue pill, the story ends. You wake up in your bed and believe whatever you want to believe. You take the red pill, you stay in wonderland, and I show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.” –Morpheus to Neo
James E. Clarkson
Washington State Director
Mutual UFO Network
April 20, 2015