Monday, February 04, 2008

Gonzo UFO investigation & research - the UFO HUNTER shows

I had the opportunity to view the two new UFO HUNTERS shows aired in the same time slots on the Sci-Fi and History channels last Wednesday January 30 2008 in the United States.

Both scored well as entertainment but in terms of presenting solid and reliable UFO data, well, it was a mixed performance.

The NY-SPI (New York - Strange Phenomena Investigations) team featured in the Sci-Fi programme came across as approximating the investigation efforts of some of the better UFO groups, somewhat in the same way as the TV show franchise CSI approximates real crime scene investigations. The NY-SPI indicate they have a relationship with Budd Hopkins Intruders Foundation. That background and the team approach played out in the two investigations showed in the first programme give the casual viewer an insight into some of the investigation dynamics that occur in real investigations. As it is packaged and mediated by entertainment pressures and factors, some questionable aspects surface for the more demanding and informed viewers. These seemed most evident to me in the so-called Carteret case. One had to be paying attention and using a pause button on replay to catch that here we were dealing with a case from 2001, being reinvestigated/presented in 2007-2008. The show presented as "hidden official" data material from a report "uncovered" by one of the NY-SPI team members, which in fact was from a report by NIDS, the National Institute for Discovery Science, a privately funded civilian group, not a government organisation. The show could have, indeed should have, reported on the true nature and source of the data being presented here. Connected with the case was the NY-SPI investigation of the alien abduction experience of John Predovan, who has already written a book on his experience - "Curved Memories - The Chronicles of the Lights over New Jersey" published back in June 2006.

The other UFO Hunters show, from the History channel, had all the accroutrements of a History Channel production, and seemed particularly well served by CGI recreations. The historical focus came with the UFO Magazine team investigation of the notorious Maury Island affair, which was branded by USAF Project Bluebook head Captain Ruppelt as the "dirtiest hoax in UFO history." You don't get this aspect in the History Channel rendering, instead these aspects if touched upon at all, are glossed over, and instead one gets what seems an over zealous force-fit search for physical evidence 60 years after the controversial events, both with regard to the "UFO" event and the tragic crash of the USAF plane which killed the two USAF officers who had been investigating the case. The "force-fit" comes with trying to suggest that the presence of a small box of alleged "flying saucer slag" debri may have caused the plane crash.

As an advocate of physical evidence investigations for many years I had mixed feelings about seeing such themes being played around with in these shows. I certainly agree with the approach, but the application and interpretation, are the critical issues here.

One hopes that future programmes will more transparently and accurately present the real investigation efforts, difficulties, and results in solid cases. An entertaining start to a new genre, inherited from obvious "reality shows" and TV "documentary milieus." Perhaps, but lets hope the phenomena of "UFO Hunters" shows develops to better serve the accurate representation of UFO investigations, rather than serving the altar of entertainment. Looks like an entertaining ride, but one that I hope serves the legitimising of UFO research. I suspect the shows will better serve to an extent the popularisation of "UFO investigations." Given that such attention often channels money and resources into "investigations", albeit tied to restrictive entertainment agendas, rather than research and investigation agendas, maybe some benefit might emerge. Optimistic perhaps?


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