High Strangeness: UFO, or Mammal?

Friday, April 20, 2012

UFO, or Mammal?

Imagine you've just seen a strange light or object in the sky, and you've filed a UFO sighting report with a reputable UFO research organization like MUFON, and that organization has dispatched a hotshot young Certified UFO Field Investigator to investigate your report. Now imagine that 30 seconds after you open your mouth the Certified UFO Field Investigator interrupts you, tells you that what you saw was the planet Venus, shuts off his recorder and leaves.

It could happen, and apparently does quite a bit. That's because MUFON trains its Certified UFO Field Investigators to be ever vigilant against mis-identifications of aerial phenomenon that could make them and the entire UFO world look silly or gullible.

I just got through an entire section of the MUFON Field Investigator's Examination dealing with this very topic, and while I'm thinking about it I want to share with you a comprehensive list of all the things I may someday accuse you of mis-identifying if I am ever called out to investigate your somewhat suspicious UFO report. It's a long list, but it could save us both a lot of grief someday if you read it and memorize it now. So please, do it, for you...

Things people like you commonly mistake for UFOs:
  • Stars (e.g., Sirius, Arcturus, Vega)
  • Planets (e.g., Venus, Jupiter, Mars)
  • Meteors
  • Fireballs
  • Bolides
  • Comets
  • The Moon
  • Aurora Borealis
  • Ball Lightning
  • Marsh Gas
  • Mirages
  • Sun Dogs/Moon Dogs
  • St. Elmo's Fire
  • Tornadoes
  • Birds (e.g., sea gulls, ducks, geese, nighthawks, swallows)
  • Insects (e.g., butterflies, balloon spiders, fireflies)
  • Mammals (e.g., bats, flying squirrels)
  • Conventional Aircraft (e.g., airplanes, helicopters)
  • Unconventional Aircraft (e.g., advertising aircraft, military refueling missions, experimental aircraft, blimps)
  • Flares
  • Fireworks
  • Balloons (e.g., hot air balloons, research balloons, weather balloons)
  • Kites
  • Missiles and Research Rockets
  • Reflections/Projections
  • Re-entering Satellites
Got it? Good. Now go back and read it again. I mean it. If I have to haul my ass out of bed at 3 am to investigate your UFO sighting and I discover that what you really saw was the sunlight glinting off a flying squirrel, I'll be pissed, and you and I together will set the field of UFO research back decades.

UFO or mammal? You'd better be damn sure you know the difference before I get to your house.

At this point in the proceedings, the MUFON Field Investigator's Manual issues this caution, which seems to have been written in 1951:

"At one time, the probability of more than just a few reports being caused by a hallucination was negligible. However, with the advent of an increasing number of people becoming involved with the use of drugs, this situation may change. The investigator, using much discretion, should seek to discover whether or not the witness ingested any illicit or prescribed drugs which could cause the reported phenomenon."

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