The Fourth Edition of The Craft of Research, Edited
currently by Joseph Bizup and William T. Fitzgerald, updating Wayne C. Booth,
Gregory G. Colomb, and Joseph M. Williams [The University of Chicago Press,
2016], the premier, academic work on what is research and how to do it,
correctly, is my reading material of late.
I’ve always been curious as to why or how some UFO buffs
assume the mantle of researcher when it is palpably obvious they are nothing of
(I, myself, am a miserable UFO “theorist” and I have no
illusions that I am to be taken seriously by the UFO hoi polloi.)
So, let me see if I can discern for you, using the book
cited above, why some ufologists are not “researchers” and why a few can be
said to be so….
My pal Kevin Randle has assumed the mantle of UFO researcher
for many years now and current UFO buffs can see, by reading his Blog postings
] that he continues to dig out and ruminate on UFO
sightings/events, past and present.
Kevin details his findings, findings not superficial or
cursory, as one can find examples of in his latest Roswell book, pictured here:
Complimenting Kevin, surprisingly, is David Rudiak who
provides surfeits of information about iconic UFO cases, such as Roswell and
Socorro, and dozens of others.
No one, and I mean no one, gives UFO aficionados more
details, some so esoteric but important, that they offer ufologists minutiae
that completes UFO stories in ways that can only be classified as UFO data that
(The book cited above about research tells readers
that such data is the gist of real research, and Rudiak’s efforts exemplify
The problem with David’s research, if there is a problem,
lies in his extraterrestrial bias. He sees the working of alien beings
everywhere. He may be on to something but that’s not objective and objectivity
is the hallmark of any research or researcher.
Bruce Maccabee is an exceptional technical researcher, one of ufology's finest.
And as an objective researcher, as I see it, he has
delineated obscure details is such cases (photos mostly) as the
Trent/McMinnville flying saucer pictures and the Phoenix lights to name only a
Then there is arch-skeptic Robert Sheaffer who nails errant
or ridiculous claims by some UFO witnesses, even debunking debunkers like those
of the Kenneth Arnold “pelican” theory (Jim Easton’s insightful theory that
Arnold saw a flock of pelicans and not a bevy of flying saucers, which UFO
historian, and not a researcher Jerome Clark castigated calling those who
thought the pelican idea worthy of consideration "pelicanists," like my astute friend, Martin
Mr. Sheaffer is one tough skeptical cookie, and an excellent
researcher on the averse side of ET oriented ufology.
Nick Redfern is a journalist and his research is highlighted
by detailed reportage and searches for that which underlies stories about UFOs
and other paranormal categories.
There is no finer a writer or gatherer of “facts” about the
strange, and his vast output of books on paranormal topics (UFOs being my
favorite) stand alone.
I’ve mentioned Martin Kottmeyer and note Leslie Kean who has
researched the military aspect of UFO sightings.
This journalist is noteworthy, not only for her excellently
detailed research, but also for her moderation and objectivity which is
unparalleled in news media.
Brit David Clarke is an example of a Ph.D. (folklore) researcher who has extrapolated his knowledge of mythology and fairy tales to help explain UFO reports and stories.
He seems to be, for many, a skeptic but I see him as anything but. His observations are acute and often spot on, not derailing the authenticity of UFOs but rather clarifying them with insight that is unique and academic.
There are others, which I’ll touch on upcoming.
But let me note that some UFO mavens, who think they are
researchers, are not. These are the folks who scour blogs and web-sites
throwing in internet links to support or defile things they are reading.
This isn’t research, not by a long-shot. It’s just a
supercilious attempt to seem UFO savvy.
I won’t name some of the miscreants, as that would only feed
their egotistical folly, but you know who they are and can ignore their links
and input as essentially worthless.
To know what research is or meant to be, get the book I've tagged above.