10 principles for investigating UFO reports

James R

Just this guy, you know?
Staff member
Philip Klass is a noted skeptic of the idea that UFOs are extraterrestrial craft. In his books, UFOs Explained (1974) and UFOs: The Public Deceived (1997) he discusses 10 principles of investigating reports of UFOs.

More information and examples of the principles (which are based on Klass's extensive experience investigating UFOs) can be found on the following web page, from which I have extracted the 10 principles.


Here I merely reproduce the principles, which are well worth paying attention to when investigating any reported UFO.

1. Basically honest and intelligent persons who are suddenly exposed to a brief, unexpected event, especially one that involves an unfamiliar object, may be grossly inaccurate in trying to describe precisely what they have seen.

2. Despite the intrinsic limitations of human perception when exposed to brief, unexpected and unusual events, some details recalled by the observer may be reasonably accurate. The problem facing the UFO investigator is to try to distinguish between those details that are accurate and those that are grossly inaccurate. This may be impossible until the true identity of the UFO can be determined, so that in some cases this poses an insoluble problem.

3. If a person observing an unusual or unfamiliar object concludes that it is probably a spaceship from another world, he can readily adduce that the object is reacting to his presence or actions when in reality there is absolutely no cause-effect relationship.

4. News media that give great prominence to a UFO report when it is first received, subsequently devote little if any space or time to reporting a prosaic explanation for the case when all the facts are uncovered.

5. No human observer, including experienced flight crews, can accurately estimate either the distance/altitude or the size of an unfamiliar object in the sky, unless it is in very close proximity to a familiar object whose size or altitude is known.

6. Once news media coverage leads the public to believe that UFOs may be in the vicinity, there are numerous natural and man-made objects which, especially when seen at night, can take on unusual characteristics in the minds of hopeful viewers. Their UFO reports in turn add to the mass excitement which encourages still more observers to watch for UFOs. This situation feeds upon itself until such time as the news media lose interest in the subject, and then the "flap" quickly runs out of steam.

7. In attempting to determine whether a UFO report is a hoax, an investigator should rely on physical evidence, or the lack of it where evidence should exist, and should not depend on character endorsements of the principals involved.

8. The inability of even experienced investigators to fully and positively explain a UFO report for lack of sufficient information, even after a rigorous effort, does not really provide evidence to support the hypothesis that spaceships from other worlds are visiting the Earth.

9. Whenever a light is sighted in the night skies that is believed to be a UFO and this is reported to a radar operator, who is asked to search his scope for an unknown target, almost invariably an "unknown" target will be found. Conversely, if an unusual target is spotted on a radarscope at night that is suspected of being a UFO, an observer is dispatched or asked to search for a light in the night sky, almost invariably a visual sighting will be made.

10. Many UFO cases seem puzzling and unexplainable simply because case investigators have failed to devote a sufficiently rigorous effort to the investigation.​
"A blast from the past animated the blogosphere earlier this month when a buddy of famed “Fire in the Sky” UFO abductee Travis Walton accused a dead debunker of attempted bribery. Steve Pierce said he — Pierce — had been offered $10k to say Walton had hoaxed the whole thing back in 1975.

Debunker Phil Klass' relentless ad hominem attacks on UFO eyewitnesses begs the question: What was he so afraid of?

De Void has no insight into this moot and meaningless kerfuffle. But De Void knew Phil Klass, the target of the allegation. Or rather, De Void
talked to Klass on a number of occasions, because Klass was always the go-to guy journos contacted whenever they drew the short straw and had to write about UFOs. He seemed the logical choice. As senior editor for Aviation Week & Space Technology, Klass was Mr. Insider, the establishment’s sensible “reality check” authority you could always count on for “balance.” Klass never met a UFO he couldn’t explain, and he made it his life’s calling to reassure the Fourth Estate they were wasting their time, that they’d be better served chasing rocs and griffins.

Klass was a prolific writer who dismissed the Walton controversy as confabulation in his 1983 book UFOs: The Public Deceived. De Void was just beginning this forlorn and dreary journey back then. No reason for a newbie to doubt him. Except for, well, maybe this one case in Klass’ book concerning three people who suffered acute UFO radiation burns in Texas in 1980. Klass’ take on what became known as the Cash-Landrum incident stopped me cold. Because I’d actually done my homework on that one. And that’s when I got that first queasy feeling that the American press was routinely quoting a man who had a pathological disregard for truth.

I’d gone to Texas and interviewed the victims — Betty Cash, Vicki and Colby Landrum — as well as other witnesses who’d seen the military helicopters that were either escorting or pursuing the UFO. Cash and the Landrums authorized MUFON investigator John Schuessler to share their medical records with me, which he did. The story was complex and gruesome.

For years, Klass had badgered the victims, and Schuessler, for access to their hospital records. Aware of his proclivities, they refused to comply. “I said, look Phil, why don’t you come up with what you think happened, publish it, and after you do that, we’ll be happy to supply you with the records,” recalls Schuessler from his home in Colorado.

Klass condensed Cash-Landrum into a single page. Rather than posit an alternative scenario, he simply ascribed the whole thing to a hoax founded upon pre-existing medical conditions. Even the Army’s own Inspector General investigation specifically cited a lack of evidence for a hoax.

“Klass was a low-life and a bully who used his Aviation Week credentials to hold himself up as an expert,” says Schuessler, retired project manager for space shuttle flight operations at Johnson Space Center. “He just made up stories any way he saw fit.”

De Void had one face-to-face encounter with Klass in 1987, during a MUFON symposium at American University. Whitley Strieber’s first-person abduction epic, Communion, had just rolled and was making bestseller lists in the nonfiction category. Klass, who attended Strieber’s keynote speech, had written that Strieber was probably suffering from brain damage.

The next day, I met Klass at a deli for lunch. He repeated his assertion that Strieber was plagued with frontal lobe epilepsy. Then he lowered his voice, drawing yet another reporter into his sage confidence, and said he wanted to go off the record. “Whitley Strieber is a troubled man,” he said. He produced a sad smile, like some wise old avuncular Yoda. “Unfortunately, I wouldn’t be surprised if he tries to take his own life.” Goosebumps.

We know the rest of the story. Klass died in 2005. Whitley Strieber is alive, well and continues to write. But one thing we’ll never know is the full extent of the damage Phil Klass did to American journalism’s tepid inquiry into The Great Taboo. The first word that comes to mind: Irreparable."---http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/12797/klass-act-no-principles/
A record of Klass's relentless sleazy tactic of defaming honest ufo investigators (not debunkers) and getting them publically discredited by writing letters to their employers and families and friends and digging up dirt from their past..

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Skeptics consider the case to be a hoax, describing it as "sensationalizing on the part of the media" and "a put-up job to make money." UFO researcher Philip J. Klass considered it a hoax perpetrated for financial gain, and discovered many "discrepancies" in the stories of Walton and his co-workers. After investigating the case, Klass reported that the lie detector tests were "poorly administered", that Walton used "polygraph countermeasures" such as holding his breath, and uncovered an earlier failed polygraph test administered by an examiner who concluded the case involved "gross deception".[9][10][11][2][12]

Michael Shermer criticized Walton's claims, saying, "I think the polygraph is not a reliable determiner of truth. I think Travis Walton was not abducted by aliens. In both cases, the power of deception and self-deception is all we need to understand what really happened in 1975 and after."[7]

Cognitive psychologist Susan Clancy argues that alien abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV, and that Walton was likely influenced by the NBC TV movie The UFO Incident that aired two weeks before his own claimed abduction and dramatized the alien abduction claims of Betty and Barney Hill. Clancy noted the rise in alien abduction claims following the movie and cites Klass's conclusions that "after viewing this movie, any person with a little imagination could now become an instant celebrity", concluding that "one of those instant celebrities was Travis Walton.

In 2008, Walton appeared on the game show The Moment of Truth and was asked if he in fact was abducted by a UFO on November 5, 1975 to which he replied with "Yes". The lie detector test determined it to be a lie.
Or just impressionable, gullible acceptence on your part perhaps?
I mean you insinuated/claimed that metallic balloons were also not around in the sixties!
It's patently obvious, you are not going to let anyone/anything, or any collection of facts and possibilities, ever spoil your fanatical dreams and acceptance of something paranormal and beyond this world. :rolleyes:
And in the meantime, these supposed intelligent operated craft, [or is that time travellers? :rolleyes:] keep on defying great distances, [obviously wanting for nothing] continue to just flittering in, and flittering out, playing with us. :rolleyes:
In actual fact MR, it is obvious you are, over eager in your willingness to accept testimony of exotic events of whatever persuasion, without looking at all the information and possibilities for that event. This makes your claim as an Investigator of these events as hogwash: Same of course applies to river. Your "curiousity" is limited only to the information you want to believe and the evidence in your many fairy tale threads support that. You simply reject all contrary other information without good reason because it does not conform to what you want to believe happened.
Here I merely reproduce the principles, which are well worth paying attention to when investigating any reported UFO....
Are any of those 10 Principles you reproduced so much as relevant let alone 'robust' when confronted with that series of well scrutinized incidents? I remarked elsewhere - no guesses as to who was being honest and who wasn't when it came to The Official Airforce explanation vs Criticisms of.... As the saying goes, you can fool all of the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but...
Lifted from another post I made on this general topic:

"Took a while to find it, but a strong clue as to who or rather what you're possibly really up against: http://marvel.wikia.com/wiki/Tales_to_Astonish_Vol_1_1
Drop down to heading where it starts: Synopsis for "I Know the Secret of...."
See an obvious parallel? Pretty scary huh. This is no ordinary forum, staffed by ordinary 'people'. if that's even the right word to use."

Own up 'James R' - which alternate reality are you really from?
I saw this film by Robert Hastings at my Paranormal Pub meeting a few weeks ago. It proves thru the testimony of many totally credible military veterans and FOIA released govt documents that ufos were spotted regularly over nuclear weapons sites, plutonium mfg facilities, and test ranges from the 40's up thru the 80's. And many of these encounters corresponded to the electronic shutdown of those nuclear weapons on the site! This is something we didn't hear about from the military as this was all kept on the down low for obvious reasons. How was the military to explain ufos repeatedly fucking with our nuclear weapons!!? Here's a 10 minute compilation of this film's many amazing cases. And they say there was no govt coverup! ha!

CBS news release:

"On Jan. 21, the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) uploaded hundreds of declassified UFO documents that would make any conspiracy theorist busy for the next 10 years. On the same day, the CIA also published the article "How To Investigate a Flying Saucer," complete with 10 CIA-approved tips.

If you're a paranormal super fan or you're simply interested in what lies in the vastness of our universe, here are some CIA-approved tips on how to become a UFO investigator.

1. In any research, first you have to work on the premise that what you're examining is real. Next, you have to establish a group whose main goal is to manage all information relating to the subject.

2. Establish the goal of your investigation. The CIA's early UFO investigations treated the flying objects as possible threats to national security.

3. Reel in the experts from various disciplines. When the CIA investigated UFOs in the 1950s and 1960s, they consulted an expansive list of outside experts including pilots, federal aviation officials, astrophysicists and even Kodak to analyze photo evidence.

4. Get organized. Create a system that will handle all incoming cases to ensure you get all the necessary information you need. The Air Technical Intelligence Center (ATIC) of the U.S. Air Force developed standard questionnaires that were used in CIA UFO investigations.

5. Rule out common explanations. Creating a standard early on will easily get rid of misleading tips and allow you to focus on the unexplained cases.

6. Develop a procedure that will rule out military aircrafts and other known flying objects, such as drones, as UFOs. Identifying these objects commonly mistaken for UFOs early on can help you prevent misleading reports.

7. Investigate eyewitness documentation such as audio recordings, videos and photographs. Compared to the 1950s and 1960s, we have it easier now. With the prevalence of smartphones, you can easily document a bizarre phenomenon with a few easy clicks. When investigating photographs, be wary of altered images using Photoshop.

8. Investigate evidence using controlled experiments. When you come across an unexplained case, testing a hypothesis through controlled experiments can help you rule out false positives. Make sure you consult with experts to come up with a strong conclusion.

9. Collect and test evidence. If you're investigating an area where the alleged UFO was believed to have landed, gather physical evidence such as soil and proceed with a soil analysis.

10. Don't encourage false reports from sources. Everyone wants their 15 minutes of fame and if you keep receiving reports from various sources and most of them turn out to be false, you're not getting anywhere. Educating the public on how to identify the tips from the tricks will help you become an established UFO investigator in your own right.

- See more at: http://www.techtimes.com/articles/1...according-to-the-cia.htm#sthash.crLPuMBQ.dpuf
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For Moe, Larry and Curly......................

7 Things Most Often Mistaken for UFOs

It doesn't take much to convince people that they've seen an experimental missile or a UFO. A funny-looking cloud or an exceptionally bright planet will usually do the trick. Here, our top 7 things that drive space-related hoaxes.

7. Lightning
Mysterious UFO sightings may go hand-in-hand with a natural weather phenomenon known as sprites flashes high in the atmosphere triggered by thunderstorms. Sprites suddenly appear when lightning from thunderstorms excites the electric field above the storm, producing dancing flashes of bright light.

Sprites can take the form of fast-paced balls of electricity, although they can also form streaks or tendrils. "Winter sprites" are common in the northern hemisphere during winter months.

  • 6. Missile Tests
    In December 2009, a spectacular spiral light show appeared in the sky above northern Norway: A giant spiral, with a green-blue beam of light shooting from its center, lit up the sky in a raindrop-ripple effect pattern.

    It looked like a wormhole to another dimension, but it turned out that the lights were caused by a Russian missile that failed just after launch, according to Russia's defense ministry. The botched Bulava ballistic test missile spun out of control, thus creating the mysterious rotating spiral effect.
  • 5. Weird Cloud Formations
Last October, footage of a giant halo in an overcast sky over Moscow surfaced on YouTube. The video had everything needed to ignite UFO rumors. It's grainy. At one point, a dark pointy object appears to bolt out of the ring. There's even a panicked-sounding Russian radio broadcast in the background.

Cool-headed meteorologists were quick to put the story to bed: It was just an optical illusion, the cause of sunlight hitting a cloud disturbed by wind or plane traffic in just the right way. Most likely it was what is known as a hole-punch cloud. These occur in cirrus or cirrostratus clouds, which are often composed of ice crystals and super-cooled water droplets water that is below freezing temperature, but still in liquid form. The physical properties that hold these clouds together are delicate, and when disturbed by a jet plane, wind or even cloud seeding efforts the droplets can freeze instantly or evaporate, the latter of which will form the hole.

4. Balloons

  • Unlike Balloon Boy, not all balloon-driven hoaxes are intentional. In the afternoon of Oct. 13, hundreds of people in Manhattan's Chelsea neighborhood saw a cluster of silvery, shiny lights glittering from above. Naturally, initial descriptions of the supposed UFO varied wildly: Some folks reported seeing one large, slow-moving object full of lights, while others say they saw nearly a half-dozen entities.

    The strange, shimmering lights turned out to be caused by 12 helium balloons that escaped from an engagement party held for a teacher at the Milestone School in Mount Vernon,Westchester County, about 15 miles away.The balloons were inadvertently released at 1 p.m., and the first of the "UFO" sightings occurred around 1:30 p.m.
3. Venus
The planet Venus often gets mistaken for a UFO. To viewers on Earth, the second planet from the sun appears as a bright light that hangs in the sunset sky, seeming to slowly hover in the twilight as it outshines every star except for the sun. Because Venus orbits the sun inside our own orbit, from our perspective it constantly darts out on the either side of the sun, which people often mistake for a moving UFO.

2. Airplanes

Here's proof that anything funny-looking in the sky can cause an uproar. This past Monday, most of the U.S. woke up to reports that a mystery missile had launched off the coast of California. The sightings were spurred by video of a condensation trail, or contrail, streaking through clouds lit up by the rising sun. No one could conclusively say what it was at the timeofficials at the Department of Defense reported no scheduled missile launches, NORAD and USNORTHCOM detected no foreign activity and the FAA hadn't cleared any commercial space launches in the area. After a thorough investigation, many experts now believe that the streak was a wait for it a run-of-the-mill jet aircraft contrail that happened to hang around longer than usual. Contrails appear most vivid around sunrise or sunset, and it's not uncommon that one showing up in an unexpected location will generate whispers of a UFO or experimental military aircraft.

Lights in the sky, especially when viewed by pilots, can also cause a stir, but are almost always revealed to be running lights of other aircraft, or flares dropped by weather research craft.

1. Military Experiments
The late 1940s and early 1950s were a great time for spotting UFOs and aliens in New Mexico, primarily because that's where the Air Force was conducting some of its top-secret research. One such program was known as Project Mogul and involved floating microphone-carrying balloons to high altitudes in an attempt to pick up the sound waves generated by Soviet atomic bomb tests. The Air Force has since confirmed that a 1947 crash of one of those balloons created the debris that birthed the Roswell UFO Incident.

Another military experiment provided the bodies for that UFO. In the 1950s, Air Force scientists dropped several dozen anthropomorphic dummies from planes to test new high-altitude parachutes and determine whether the bodies would enter a dangerous spin as they fell. Results from these studies contributed to designs for the parachutes and pressurized suits that fighter jet pilots and early astronauts would wear. The Air Force was more than happy to allow Russian spies to think New Mexicans were a little kooky than to reveal the true military origin of the sightings.





Some people's lives must be terribly dull! They need that air of mystique in their dull lives and whether created by illusions, delusions, mirages, meteorological phenomena, too much X-Files, and the "It's all a conspiracy" crutch, will grasp anything and everything to support that belief.
And in the meantime, the world keeps on turning, and life, as dull as it seems to some of these people, keeps on keeping on, and science continues to reveal the answers to what mysteries that do exist, as dull as those answers may be.

It's a wonder some have the nerve to get out of bed each morning, with the amount of governmental conspiracies that are out there! :rolleyes::D:p;)
Or as the Infamous Ned Kelly is reported to have said, before they hung him, "such is life!" :D
Well I reported seeing some birds about 6 weeks ago that could be mistaken for a UFO but two days ago I saw another flock that blew me away.
They were flying away from me and they made a shape like like your standard saucer, and they were very shiny, the spacing between them looked like windows , there were other birds below that formed the bottom of the saucer.
They only stayed like this for about two seconds when the birds at the bottom broke formation and flew down and off to the left but the ones on top still created the outline like a craft.
But my experience tells me that one could be easily mistaken even to the point of seeing windows.
Also I could not notice their wings flapping because of the angle of the light (Sun).
If those birds on the bottom had not broken off I really think I would be a believer, it was a most strange experience.
Sounds like it didn't look enough like a flying saucer to convince you it was one.
Maybe it was one and upon realizing that my gaze was upon them the aliens morphed the craft in a most cunning fashion into a flock of birds so they would remain hidden.

I could imagine these birds could have continued in their original formation for many minutes and go behind trees leaving the observer convinced they were a craft.
Imagining the windows was interesting.
Hopefully I get to see a real one soon.
I am set up to rule out false positives.
Maybe it was one and upon realizing that my gaze was upon them the aliens morphed the craft in a most cunning fashion into a flock of birds so they would remain hidden.

I could imagine these birds could have continued in their original formation for many minutes and go behind trees leaving the observer convinced they were a craft.
Imagining the windows was interesting.
Hopefully I get to see a real one soon.
I am set up to rule out false positives.

Other observers but not you. Yeah..other people are just so much dumber than us, especially when they say they see ufos.
Other observers but not you. Yeah..other people are just so much dumber than us, especially when they say they see ufos.
Only when they ignore all the other possible explanations, that may explain what they see, instead of writing it all off as impossible, and still the rest of us mere mortals wait for this extraordinary evidence, that most of the rest of us would dearly love to be present, showing that Aliens which most believe to exist have visited us.
When one of these folk that have been kidnapped by Aliens, or inevitable will be kidnapped by Aliens,;) can come back with an "out of this world" artifact or object, or perhaps the Alien Doctor that performed the procedure, then I'll seriously rethink what at this time remains all unsupported, conspiracy laden nonsense.
Other observers but not you. Yeah..other people are just so much dumber than us, especially when they say they see ufos.
You need not be like that.
I share an experience and you make out it is something it is not.
I won't try to explain why I made my post as clearly you understand my motives better than I.
If you need to act like this I say you must have a low personal esteem which is your problem not mine but nevertheless I feel sorry for you.
I hope you feel better and may I take this opportunity to wish you a happy new year.
Magical Realist:

Interesting that your only response to the opening post is to post an ad hominem attack on Philip Klass.

Do you have any thoughts on the principles in that post?
Magical Realist:

Interesting that your only response to the opening post is to post an ad hominem attack on Philip Klass.

Do you have any thoughts on the principles in that post?

10 rules for proving what you've already concluded---in this case anything OTHER than a real ufo. That's all I see. But you don't really need rules to do that. Just an ability to twist facts and eyewitness accounts to conform to your own pet theory. Typical shady debunkery practiced in the name of scientific objectivity.