High Strangeness: Estimate of the Situation

Friday, October 31, 2014

Estimate of the Situation

Things have been a bit slowish in the Certified UFO Field Investigator trade, and since I'm paid on a "per alien" basis, this is causing some worry. The only case I have pending right now looks as though it's going nowhere, as my emails have been blocked and the witness hasn't returned my calls...

To add insult to injury, the last couple cases I've investigated were pretty disappointing: one involved a guy who woke up with a strange mark on his arm that alarmed him because he had seen a UFO a month earlier, and another guy reported that he was chased by a UFO while driving home at night. The strange marking on the first guy's arm had long since disappeared by the time I interviewed him (and the light in the sky he'd sighted a month earlier turned out to be Arcturus), and the guy whose car was paced at "100-110 miles per hour" by a UFO until the UFO passed behind a hill and never reappeared never thought to pull over and take a peek behind the nearby hill.

Not much to get excited about in either case... although there was a flurry of excitement over the guy with the mark on his arm, because in his report he was attempting to write "being as" instead of "because of" and he accidentally typed "beings." You can imagine what a stir that caused at MUFON HQ. They had the damned STAR Team racing to the airfield before I was able to calm everyone down.
Beware of UFO reports involving "beings," as it could be a misspelling.

Anyway, looking over my recent cases inspired me to take stock. Sure, the last couple cases have been duds, but I've had some doozies, too. I wasn't sure of the tally, but it turns out I've investigated a whopping 31 cases over the past 12 months! I've come across Close Encounters of the Third Kind, cattle mutilations, and even an 1890's airship, all right here in Wisconsin! That's not too shabby at all.

I've written before about the "Ballaster-Guasp" evaluation (BGE) tool that strangely uses the amount of time I've spoken with a witness as a measure of the witness' credibility, so that if a witness stutters or has fits of narcolepsy during the interview or endlessly repeats himself his testimony is given added weight. Despite its obvious shortcomings, we at MUFON are married to the BGE and so all 31 of my cases have BGE "certainty ratings"...

Of the 31 cases, 13 rated a big, fat 0 in the BGE. Most of those were because the witness did not respond to my attempts to contact them, but two came about because the same person reported the same exact incident twice, only with the date and location changed, and one came about simply because someone reported hearsay about a cattle mutilation story he once heard back in the 1970s, but couldn't remember who made the claim or where the events took place. I reported all but one of the BGE '0's as "Insufficient Data," and the one remaining was an apparent hoax so I wrote in my report that it was a "Hoax." Why do I say it was an apparent hoax? Because the witness wrote things like "I was the only one to see it take off like that and I screamed bloody murder I felt dizzy light headed all of reality just slipped away." In any case, he never returned my calls or emails, so I don't feel bad about not learning more about how his reality just slipped away...

Those 13 goose eggs really take their toll, as the average BGE rating for all 31 cases was a mere 6.247%, which is not a very healthy cumulative credibility score at all. Still, there were some standouts, like the guy who was launching his boat when he saw an invisible UFO cutting through the clouds and being closely followed by a U.S. Navy AWACS plane, and my favorite, the couple who got lost while driving late at night, saw a UFO land alongside the highway, then decided it was just a house, but who couldn't find any trace of a house when they retraced their route the next day. That was undoubtedly my best, creepiest, most unsettling case of the past 12 months... And I can honestly say that when I interviewed the witness I did not doubt his sincerity for one second.

I reported that case as "Unknown: Unidentified Aerial Vehicle," which means, according to MUFON's rules, that I had "90%+ confidence that the object sighted by the witness cannot be explained by a terrestrial object or an astronomical object." In all, I reported six of my cases as "Unknown: UAV," which means that a whopping 19.35% of my 31 cases were extremely creepy, and pretty much inexplicable. Those six cases averaged 14.66% certainty on the BGE, with the highest, the previously-mentioned house that wasn't there the next day, scoring a whopping 33%!

As for the rest of the cases, I reported four in my favorite nonsense category: "Unknown: Other." This applies to "...an unknown object that doesn't appear to be any type of aerial vehicle. Examples would be orbs, odd-moving lights near the ground, strange floating objects, a strange opening in the sky, etc." The "Others" on my list were as follows:
  • "...a red tinged circular object that appeared to be moving and interacting with a white circular star-like object that did not move";
  • "...an immensely bright light hovering in the sky in front of us";
  • "...orange flashing lights in the sky. At times blue and red beams seemed to shoot through the trees"; and, last but not least,
  • "...yellow light"
The really weird cases are those I listed as "Insufficient Data" or "Information Only" that still scored significantly more than "0" on the BGE. With certainty ratings of 2.72%, 4.24%, 4.97%, 2.04%, 1.48%, 1.63% and 10.11%, these cases couldn't quite be ignored and yet the witness' reports were so completely off-the-wall that I couldn't rightly throw my full support behind them. Like the case where the witness was sure the UFO was singling him out for attention, he guaranteed me that the Men in Black would visit me after our interview (they didn't), and he continued to drive his kids to school in his truck after a Geiger Counter supposedly showed that the truck was irradiated by the UFO... Good parenting there.

I guess this just goes to show how subjective the whole process is. I have to make a slightly-educated guess as to the nature of an object based on testimony that is sometimes very convincing but often very sketchy, sparse, illogical and unreliable... If I had to guess how often I get it right, I would probably give myself a pretty modest score, maybe 25-30%. Maybe.

Then there's this: MUFON points out that "70% or more of our cases will probably fall into" the category of "IFO," or Identified Flying Object. "A sighting should be categorized as an IFO if the investigator believes that the most likely explanation is a man-made object or a natural phenomenon," MUFON says. "The investigator does not need to be 100% certain that an object is identified. For example, several orange objects moving in the same direction that flicker and disappear one by one after a few minutes are most likely Chinese Lanterns and should be categorized as an IFO unless they exhibit unusual movements or last for longer than 10 minutes."

Bad news: I have not used this category 70% of the time. I have not used it 60% of the time. I have not used it 50%, 42% or 27% of the time. In fact, I have not used it once in the past 12 months...



Rococo Beamship said...

I had never heard of the BGE until you brought it up a while back. The more I learn about it, the more it seems like it is, on balance, worse than useless. The Hill abduction case would be considered a single-witness throw away, for example. Counterproductive, if you ask me.

As for the category you are supposed to default to at least two thirds of the time, IFO or whatever, I think that probably says more about the biases of most of the investigators than anything else. Sure, Venus is a really popular space ship, but I think there is a tendency to find the first thing that can be squished into an explanation with the messy bits ignored so as not to be late to lunch, especially if it's just lights in the sky or something the investigator doesn't believe is possible. But that's just my opinion.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

It does make some sense to ID most of what's reported as IFO's -- i.e., something man-made or naturally-occurring. My trouble is, the descriptions I get from most people are insufficient to ID them as such, and so I label them "insufficient data." In my experience, 70% of objects should be ID'd as Insufficient Data and not IFO.

Rococo Beamship said...

Yes, that does make a lot of sense. My comment sounds pretty critical of the investigators upon re-reading it. Didn't mean it that way, just trying to comment on human nature and doing a bad job. Thanks for clearing that up.