High Strangeness: The Complaint Department

Sunday, November 4, 2012

The Complaint Department

I regularly complain here about the way my UFO organization, MUFON, operates, and I usually make light of my complaints. But tonight I have some serious complaints that will be very difficult to make light of, because they're pretty serious. I still hope to make light of them, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to.

There's been a flurry of worrisome emails this weekend from my State Director, Vxxxx, about reporting standards for case investigations. The weirdness started a few weeks ago, when MUFON's new management sent out a new form us Certified UFO Field Investigators  to use when reporting on our UFO sighting investigations. The trouble with that is that the new reporting forms pretty much duplicate the old reporting forms, and the trouble with that is Management is making us add the new reporting forms to the old reporting forms. If you're thinking, "That's dumb. They're making you report the same information twice!" you would be absolutely correct. It is dumb.

But now it's worse.

Up until now, when I fill out an investigation report, the last thing I do is to mark the report "Complete," and then indicate the "Case Disposition." Basically I'm saying "The report is done and I think this person saw a (fill in the blank)." The catch is that the MUFON online Case Management System doesn't let you fill in the Case Disposition until you've marked the report Complete. So far, so good, but now my State Director is instructing us not to mark our reports Complete until she's had a chance to look them over. Which means she can decide what the case disposition is... Which means she gets to decide what the witness saw. Which means she gets to have all the fun. Why am I doing all the investigating if she gets to do all the solving?

As always, I blame the Captain.
But then it gets worse.

Then Vxxxx sent out an email talking about "Categorization," which is what we do when we decide on the disposition of the case. Here's what the email said:

"Sometimes the hardest part of the whole report process is trying to determine whether it's an unknown, man-made, natural object or insufficient information. According to the statistics that have been done nationally, only about 5-7% of our reports should be unknowns. I got a peek at some of the statistics for Wisconsin and we are way over that (I'll ask to see if they'll forward the study to me). Everyone else is struggling with this as well and they are working on definitions and examples for us so that we have better guidelines but I have no idea when they'll be coming out. All I'm saying is that you need to keep this in mind when you make your decision when checking the final categorization and provide your thinking on how you came to that conclusion. If it's a toss-up in your mind, it's better to lean away from an unknown. One of the things I look at is whether there are anomalous movements. To me, it's much more likely that it's an unknown if there are erratic movements as opposed to something that glides across the sky with no change in direction. Something to consider."

According to the national statistics, only five to seven percent of our reports should be identified as "Unknown." So now we're on a quota system. But we won't know what "Unknown" actually means until HQ sends us the new guidelines. But Vxxxx has no idea when the new guidelines will be coming out. But we have to start changing our reporting now.

I'm sure this will all make sense someday. No it won't.

I don't mind doing the work. I just want it to mean something.

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