For those of us who have seen a UFO, it may be easier to believe reports by people who claim to have witnessed UFO craft landings, sightings and even abductions. But that’s not true of all of us; and it certainly isn’t true of a large percentage of the public. Either way, I think it’s fair to say we all want more evidence. The exciting thing about the field of ufology is that good evidence is often uncovered long after an event has taken place.
We humans are not perfect. Even experts can make mistakes in their respective fields. So it’s a natural inclination to be skeptical of ideas that seem to contradict the norm. One of my past guests, Kevin D. Randle, discusses in his book, Encounter In The Desert, how the efforts to collect eyewitness statements, a cohesive timeline and evidence of a landing (including proof positive evidence) is not as straight forward as we would like to believe. Diligently following crucial steps of an investigative technique is what one would strive to do. But unlike a laboratory setting where following a scientific methodology can be managed under strict control - in most UFO related cases - collecting evidence is inherently precarious because of exposure to the elements and disturbances caused by human interaction, which really complicates things. This is why in-field ufologists must strive to approach investigation like a crime scene.
The Lonnie Zamora sighting in Socorro, NM took place in 1964. During this period of time in the 1960s, forensic techniques still had a long way to go. In 1967 the FBI had just started the National Crime Information Center where data was collected for a national computerized filing system. Before that - all paper. In 1970 we have the first published papers on court use of forensic anthropology. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s scientists had developed forensic DNA recovery, which we now know was not always reliable. This was due to difficulty distinguishing between samples that contained multiple sources of DNA was a problem. Even still, in 1964 avoidance of sample contamination was critical and we may assume the best efforts known were used to collect physical evidence.
These are just a few examples of new scientific disciplines and techniques that had yet to evolve in the early days of ufology. Spectrophotometry, however, was fully formed and considered 99.9% reliable by the ‘60s. Yet, in only more recent years are there reliable handheld spectrophotometers that can be taken on-sight to analyze material samples. In the case of the Socorro UFO incident, a tiny trace amount of samples were allegedly taken of metallic like particulates left behind on a rock where the foot of one of the craft’s landing legs had set down. These samples were supposedly sent away to a lab where along the way some portion of the samples were accidentally destroyed or lost, and subsequently the remaining material was never returned after testing by a scientist who worked for NASA. It sounds very clandestine; and the story is a little murky as there are conflicting reports of what actually happened. Now, however, we can take a spectrophotometer on-sight, document it on video and never have to worry about a shadowy governmental subversion sneeking away the “truth”. Whatever that may be. Additionally, more and more institutions are willing to test collected samples as the expense to do so decreases. An individual who is trained in sample collection can use a hand-held spectrophotometer to test for elements. It is still best to send additional samples to a laboratory for testing by an expert.
The techniques for material collection has advanced a bit. For instance we now truly understand the importance of DNA preservation. Documentation of a site is also critical. We know criminal investigation requires that photos should be taken from a close range, medium range and wide range from multiple angles. Fortunately, in the Socorro case we have photographs of the reported UFO landing gear impressions left in the ground.
Back then, you had the USAF Project Blue Book, NICAP and local law enforcement authorities all attempting to garner witness corroboration, evidence collection and the event timeline. With so many individuals interjecting themselves into an investigation, it’s hardly a wonder that stories don’t always match. Thank goodness we now know (and have the convenient tech) to be prepared with audio and video recording devices to be used in all aspects of an investigation. What we cannot control is who gets to a reported sight first.
Even now, by the time MUFON or another independent organization decides to investigate a case, it is possible the local authorities or a lone researcher may influence (positively or negatively) the outcome of an investigation if not handled properly. So this problem of a mosaic of outsiders coming in persists. No matter how well intended and solid each organization’s efforts are, there is nothing better than to be first on a case that is yet to be investigated and thus undisturbed. I don’t mean to say “undisturbed” as if that is some terrible act. It just means that the investigators who come later may have a more difficult time getting the most straightforward version of an event. It means that someone else may have come ahead and fudged up potentially high quality evidence of great importance. Of course, subsequent investigations can yield revelatory information.
Those among us who investigate historical reports, and have modeled themselves after the likes of Kathleen Marden, Kevin D. Randle and Stanton Friedman know that there is likely some bit of data (possibly key data) to be dredged up - even long after after a previously thorough investigation by an organization, local authorities or lay people. And that is always exciting! What else could be out there that may have been hidden all these years? What can new efforts unearth? Collectively, all of us who care to seek the truth about UFO visitations should hold our selves to a high standard. And I hope that we’ll all be open with each other to use that powerful hive-mind to finally crack the UFO enigma’s veneer.
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