Students' Guide to UFOs

Students' Guide to UFOs

By Richard H. Hall

If you are a Grammar School or High School student interested in UFOs, here are some suggestions and ideas for you: (1) Don't believe half of what you read about the subject on the internet; (2) find out who the real "experts" are by doing your homework; and (3) learn how to contribute to the search for the truth by studying logic and science and by consulting or working with knowledgeable people. There are many fascinating mysteries of nature and unexplained phenomena (sometimes called Fortean phenomena after Charles Fort who wrote books about them). Many UFO groups and web sites act as if these separate mysteries are all somehow related. To me, this is a logical error of the worst kind. On many UFO web sites and in all too many UFO documentaries on TV, you will hear about (in alphabetical order) animal mutilations, Area 51, the Bermuda Triangle, Bigfoot, and crop circles. But what have they got to do with UFOs? Each of them is interesting as a scientific puzzle; however, there is absolutely no reason to link them all together. When you do, in fact you reveal that you are not thinking very clearly and need to sharpen up your understanding of logic and science. The subject of UFOs is an excellent one for promoting science education through study of a controversial topic and the biases and irrational beliefs that surround it (including the biases and prejudices of scientists and the news media). Now to answer some questions that I am frequently asked (FAQs):

 What do I need to study in order to find employment in UFO investigation and research?

I am sorry to say that there are now very few paying jobs in so-called "ufology," so employment opportunities are practically nonexistent. That could change in the long term. Since the study of UFO sightings cuts across many scientific disciplines, it probably would be best to obtain a general education in logic, mathematics, and scientific method with some emphasis on physics or meteorology, and (always) in language and communications skills. In the behavioral and social sciences, some of the relevant studies would be psychology, sociology, and social psychology. Computer sciences also have broad applications to UFO studies. Astronomy, as it is usually practiced (observational), does not have much relevance to UFOs since they are observed within the Earth's atmosphere. Astrobiology, astrophysics, and exobiology could be appropriate career fields. Certainly English and journalism would always be relevant when it comes to human communications. Knowledge of aeronautics and aerospace principles and activities likewise are important. In other words, a general liberal arts education with some emphasis on science and technology.

How can I get involved in UFO investigation and research?

The best way is to volunteer some time for one of the major UFO groups (Mutual UFO Network, Center for UFO Studies, Project 1947, Sign Historical Group). By volunteering, you may also be able to find a mentor who can guide you through the pitfalls of misinformation and help you to get established in serious and constructive work. If you can afford it, join one of the membership organizations. (MUFON has state chapters and a training program for field investigators.)

What projects could I undertake at school?

Talk to your English or History teacher about writing a term paper on some aspect of UFOs. Talk to your science teacher about the possibility of doing a science project related to UFOs. If your school has an honors program, see about doing an original research project on UFOs. If you are studying library sciences and are looking for projects, check out such sources as the Guide to Periodical Literature, the indexes of important newspapers such as the New York Times, and Dissertation Abstracts International. My book, The UFO Evidence, Volume II (Scarecrow Press, 2000), contains an extensive bibliography in addition to 30 years of evidence and related history.

How can I learn more about UFO sightings and investigations outside of school?

For starters, look at my links page. Some refer to web sites maintained by scientists, where you can learn about the scientific controversy and well-informed opinions. The Project 1947 and NICAP sites contain good historical UFO information, catalogues of UFO sightings by type, UFO-related official documents, and many other things. To see what the major UFO organizations are doing, check out the web sites of the Fund for UFO Research, Center for UFO Studies, and Mutual UFO Network. Since financial support is lacking, all of them need your participation, contributions, or membership. All three have excellent publications available. CUFOS has a worthwhile segment of links internationally. The NICAP web site (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena; see link on my UFO page) is particularly rich in historical UFO information, catalogues of UFO sightings by type, and online publication of several major UFO publications.

What does it all mean? Are we being visited by alien beings?

If I knew the answer to that and could prove it, I would be a wealthy man! UFOs are an intriguing mystery, but no one has all the answers. What it is important to understand is that (in the words of a past Air Force Director of Intelligence) "credible people are reporting relatively incredible things." The U.S. Air Force came to the conclusion very early that UFOs probably were extraterrestrial in origin, but could not prove it and were criticized by prominent members of the scientific community for suggesting it. The facts, reasoning, logic, and biases or prejudices involved in deciding what UFOs are and what to do about them constitute a fascinating historical mystery, with roots back to the early 20th Century at least.


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