4 October 2010


The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) is the largest open-membership UFO organisation in the USA, and probably the world. According to the 'mission statement' printed in every issue of its monthly Journal "MUFON's mission is the analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon for the benefit of humanity".
Now to my mind the important words here are 'analytical' and 'scientific'. So let's take a look at some of the scientific analysis that appears in this publication. George Filer contributes a column to each issue of MUFON UFO Journal called 'Filer's Files'. This is a straightforward listing of 'raw' reports from a variety of sources, and comes with a health warning: "unless otherwise noted, these cases have not officially been investigated". Fair enough, we know where we stand.

Curiously, for a few months earlier this year these reports were appended with notes by MUFON's photographic expert Marc D'Antonio, giving his initial analysis of the report. Unfortunately for many people some of these analyses concluded with such comments as "misinterpretation of data", "lens flare", "more data required", "computer generated hoax", "hoax - sensationalist video" and "insect/birds".

The fact that he also concluded "very intriguing" for several cases did not seem to assuage the anger of some MUFON members, one of whom wrote:

"Hi, Larry [Rimbert, journal editor]. I like the job you have been doing on the journal, however why trash George Filer and his Filer's Files? What purpose did that have? [This is printed in bold in the original] George Filer in an icon in the UFO community and he puts a lot of effort into his Filer's files .. Every Filer file article that you added in the Journal was trashed by Marc D'Antonio

After a good deal more in this vein, with numerous "****'s" euphemised by the editor, the writer concludes: "Do you guys work for MUFON or some secret debunkers society [again, bold in original] who's [sic] only purpose is to make MUFON look a bunch of idiots

The editor seemed only to be concerned about the use of expletives in the letter, but D'Antonio is allowed a lengthy and measured rebuttal, defending his analyses. But guess what, the feature was dropped from subsequent issues. Whether this was an editorial decision, or D'Antonio decided not to continue, is not explained.

Maybe this little episode seems to shake one's trust in MUFON's mission to be 'analytical', so how about the 'scientific'

Well, talking of George Filer, we learn more about him in the current (September) issue of the Journal, where Janice Currie, the new editor, writes about how he became interested in UFOs.

After WWII Filer was stationed with the USAF in England, at the Air Refueling Squadron at Sculthorpe, in Lincolnshire. One day whilst flying over the North Sea they received a message from 'London control' that a UFO was hovering at 1000 ft. between Oxford and Stonehenge. Now by my estimate the distance between Oxford and Stonehenge is about 50 miles (80 km.) which seems a very vague location, and would a radar station actually give the location of a target by reference to Stonehenge?

According to Filer this was "the largest radar return [he] had ever encountered, and so sharp and solid that he was sure the object was metal". I'll leave it to others more familiar with radar than me to evaluate this sentence. Eventually the target became visible as a long series of dim lights "like the lights on a cruise ship". As Filer and his companions on other planes approached the object it rocketed skywards: "It must have been doing 4000 miles per hour - or maybe 40,000 miles per hour - it just disappeared..."

No date or time is given for this amazing report but, and it never seems to have been mentioned by anyone else in the decades since. It seems the only person Filer and his colleagues ever discussed this episode with was the Duke of Edinburgh, who was apparently visiting the base shortly after the incident and had asked to meet anyone who had intercepted a UFO, citing his uncle, Lord Mountbatten's UFO sightings. Actually Lord Mountbatten never claimed to have seen a UFO, but became interested in the topic after a worker on his estate had told him about his own UFO sightings.

We know that the Duke did have an interest in UFOs, but it seems to me unlikely that he would have been wandering around a USAF base asking aircrew about their sightings. Perhaps some UFO moles in the National Archives could see if there is any record of the Duke visiting Sculthorpe in ... well, when? Again, no date is given for this incident of massive ufological importance!

After leaving England, Filer was stationed at the Langley AFB where he learned from fellow officers that satellites had detected a mile-wide alien base on the far side of the moon, and lunar orbiters had found "detailed artificial structures, including huge tall thin towers, spherical buildings, and what looked like radar dishes". Somehow this has also has remained a secret until now!

Now comes an incident we do have a date for: January 18, 1978. This is the famous Fort Dix alien case which is a morass of rumour and anonymity. We are asked to believe that a UFO hovered over the Fort Dix base and apparently dropped overboard a "four foot, grayish-brown [creature] with a huge head, long arms and a slender body" in front of a panicked Military Policeman who fired five rounds from a .45 pistol into it, and also fired at the UFO which was hovering above. Apparently another eleven UFOs were in attendance as well.

The injured alien escaped by climbing over a fence, but collapsed and died on a runway. A 'recovery team' arrived in double-quick time and spirited the body off to - where else? - Wright-Patterson AFB, along with the witnesses and the unfortunate Military Policeman. All were of course sworn to secrecy and shipped off to other bases: "Anyone who knew about the case was transferred or retired", according to Filer, althought this has not stopped the MP from coming forward later with no ill effects apart from apparently finding it difficult to find work in the private sector - a problem which many have had over the years without being involved in any way with dead space aliens.

Filer was an intelligence officer at McGuire AFB, which ajoins Fort Dix, so was not a witness to the alleged events, but on arriving for duty became aware that there had been some sort of disturbance overnight. He claims that he was asked to brief staff at the post that "we captured an alien", but at the last minute the briefing was cancelled. It is quite possible, of course, that the briefing was cancelled because they realised that they had not in fact "captured an alien".

So much of this story is in the form of anonymous and pseudonymous accounts, and the vital 'shot alien' account comes from one source, the pseudonymous "Sgt. Jones', that it's hard to know what to make of it. There may well have been some sort of security alert at the base, which generated all sorts of crazy stories.

But crazy stories seem to be meat and drink to the supposedly 'scientific' and 'analytic' MUFON. Look at some of the articles in recent issues of their journal. In the June 2010 number thanks to Robert Wood, we are shown a series of 'secret documents' from an anonymous source, about the famous 'Battle of Los Angeles' in 1942 when anti-aircraft guns fired at unidentified targets over the city, just a few weeks after Pearl Harbor. This is generally regarded as a probably justified over-reaction to anomalous radar returns. But according to these 'documents' this incident involved extraterrestrial craft.

The first document presented is perfectly genuine and is simply a report of the incident, in the form that we know it, sent to President Roosevelt. But other documents report the 'capturing' of two craft, instructions on 'reverse engineering' projects and the setting up of a 'Non-Terrestrial Science and Technology Committee'.

One of the arguments used to support the genuiness of these documemts is that "The original envelope they arrived in clearly went through the mail". Obviously, no hoaxer could have been able to arrange that! We are also told that a file number which appears on the genuine document also appears on an 'Interplanetary Phenomenon Unit' memo, as if hoaxers wouldn't think of simply copying it onto their fraudulent document.

The style of language is reminiscent of Roosevelt and objective syntax evaluation [?] is expected to disclose a high probabilty that he is the author of the memos that bear his name..." We are not told who is doing the 'objective syntax evaluation', so presumably we just have to take their word for it

Other items in recent issue of MUFON Journal include one by Jacquelin Smith, who is apparently an instructor at the 'International Metaphysical University' where she teaches 'Communicationg with Extraterrestrials.' This is done by telepathy, and we are assured that "Telepathic communication is becoming much easier between humans and ETs."

Jaquelin is in touch with an entity called Quabar who often tells her "Lighten up ... Remember to laugh, be joyful, and play. It's what we are all about". Good advice, but do we really need ET to tell us?

Not that everything in this particular issue of the Journal (April 2010) is without value. A contribution by Kathleen Marden draws attention to the serious dangers of the indiscriminate use of hypnosis in investigation contact and abduction cases, and the problems of 'supressed memories'; and much of the magazine contents generally consist of straightforward reports and news items. There is elsewhere also a sensible article on the so-called 'orbs' photographic phenomena.

But these hover between such pieces as '2012 End Times Prophecy' (March 2010) by John Ventre, which includes Biblical prophecies from the Book of Revelation, claims that people will hear voices of angels, that super-intelligent 'Indigo' and 'Star' children have been born, Tibetan monks have used remote viewing for thousands of years, and extraterrestrials are watching and will intervene, we will become "more in tune with spirituality and the mind body soul reincarnation connection to God", but in the meantime we're all doomed.

Just in case you were wondering, Mr Ventre is the 'analytical' and 'scientific' MUFOB's State Director for West Virginia. It looked like the Journal editor might have had a foretaste of the reaction to this article when he commented in an introductory note, "If you feel inclined to write a letter, I will respond, but I must ask that you keep it clean, not use vulgarity or degrading remarks. I will not respond, nor read that type of email".

I don't know what we can learn from this, except that all open-membership UFO organisations eventually descend to the lowest common denominator. MUFON UFO Journal did go through a rational phase, a good few years ago now, when Dennis Stacy was editor but he committed the unforgivable sin of allowing some sceptical views into the magazine. His position was made untenable and he was elbowed out of his position.

So if we are looking for real "analytical and scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon" - whether for the benefit of mankind or not - we'll have to look elsewhere. Anybody got any ideas? -- John Rimmer


  1. I do not read the MUFON journal, but it sounds like a journal that tries to cater for all tastes, while still having a strong pro-ET thesis. This was the case with FSR many years ago (by the way, is FSR still publishing?). The editors have to try and appear to be impartial and include almost anything remotely relevant to ufology. In this way they can avoid accusations of bias and prejudice. Hence the widely varying scope of the contents.

    I have two reports of past MUFON symposiums, dated 1986 & 1987. The presentations appear quite reasonable, though one can of course pick holes in them in places. But what struck me about both of these publications was the list of "Advisory Board of Consultants" in each. I believe FSR had a similar "Advisory Board", though with far fewer names. The MUFON board contains some 60 such consultants, and every one without exception is either a PhD or an MD or has some similar doctorate or high qualification. The various scientific disciplines range from entomology (!) to veterinary medicine. One wonders what relevance these last two have to UFO study. I also wonder if the great majority of these consultants were ever asked to do any real consulting at all. I suspect not. I also suspect their names, and qualifications, were given mainly to impress readers, and conference attendees, what a wonderfully learned organisation MUFON was, and (maybe) still is.

    The same would have applied to FSR, and even to the long defunct NICAP, but on a much smaller scale.

  2. There was a photo in Flight Magazine in the mid 1950S of the Duke looking at the nosewheel of an F84 fighter jet at an air base he was visiting.Unfortunately I recall it being a European NATO base,possibly in Belgium.

    However the RAF did have a little known presence at Sculthorpe in that they used some American B45 planes in RAF livery for reconn.flights over the Iron Curtain during the cold war.


  3. cda asks if FSR is still publishing. Well, Im a subscriber of long-standing and there hasn't been an issue for over a year. There's no reponse to emails and letters and it seems to have disappeared into a black hole. (They owe a year's worth of issue for all the subscriptions they're holding!)