posted on Jan, 21 2008 @ 10:48 AM
Section 3 : Some comments on the above list
Clearly this method of compiling a list of the “top” cases is biased in favour of older cases. The older the case, the more books have been
published since that case. Thus, an incident in 1947 discussed in 20% of UFO books published since that date will rank higher than an incident in,
say, 1999 which has been discussed in 100% of the relevant sample of UFO books published since that date. Also, since my sample of UFO/SETI books is
limited to those in English, there is a strong bias in favour of books by authors from the USA and the United Kingdom (who, in turn, appear to have a
strong bias in favour of writing about cases from the USA and the United Kingdom).
More importantly, it should be noted that I am not suggesting that UFO books are in fact written solely with the objective of presenting the best
The objectives of authors of ufologists are not in fact limited to presenting the best case in support of an argument. Entertaining stories are
included in book after book, almost regardless of their evidential value. Furthermore, some authors appear to be lazy and others are ignorant of the
range of cases - thus, discussions of cases in the few books some of them have read (particularly Ruppelt, Keyhoe and Condon) get recycled endlessly
– sometimes almost verbatim.
The contents of the list of the most frequently discussed UFO cases
indicate to me that the authors of most UFO books are not primarily
concerned with highlighting the best cases and/or are unaware of the
The list above of the “Top 100” cases therefore has about as much connection to a list of the “Best 100” cases as the weekly “Top 10”
popular music charts have to a list of the “best music”. The weekly “Top 10” music charts are lists of the music with the most sales. This is
arguably not the same as the best music. Music charts frequently include items that would cause a music connoisseur to shudder (e.g. “The Birdie
Song” by The Tweets , Black Lace's “Agadoo”, the Macarena, and anything by certain heavy-metal bands (see Footnote 02 and Footnote 03).
Similarly, the fact that Adamski’s sighting is in the list of the Top 100 at all (let alone as the Number 3 case) may cause some shudders.
On the positive side, it makes sense for authors to illustrate their points by reference to cases that readers may be familiar with (i.e. the
"classics") so that basic details can be assumed rather than having to have everything spelt out in detail. It is notable that when various
ufologists have advanced lists of the “best” UFO cases, generally the only ones that are referred to in subsequent discussions are ones which are
included within the “Top 100” list above.
If a ufologist mentions during an online debate his list of the “best” cases and (as happens fairly frequently) includes one or more cases which
are not within the “Top 100” list above, the cases not within the “Top 100” are generally ignored in any subsequent discussion. When
ufologists do give a list of the “best” cases, they rarely provide references to material relating to these cases. If a case within such a list is
not well known, rather than ask for relevant references most readers appear to simply ignore that case. Any ufologist or group preparing a list of
the “best” cases may wish to keep this point in mind and include relevant references to any less well known cases.
It is notable that the above list has a considerable degree of overlap with some of the polls of ufologists discussed in Parts 5 to 9 of this article,
particularly those polls which involved the largest number of researchers. I would highlight in particular the oldest poll, i.e. Vallee’s poll
discussed in Part 5 – the results of which were published in 1966. Jacques Vallee himself commented that the sightings nominated in his survey were
“ranked practically in the order of the publicity they have received, regardless of their intrinsic value or their convincing character … Clearly,
the group take it for granted that the most publicized cases are the most convincing, when even a small amount of research would have brought to light
an entirely different type of reports” (see Footnote 04).
Skeptics have frequently complained that ufologists have failed to nominate the “best” cases (see Part 2) and in the absence of any response which
points them at the best available evidence have tended, not unreasonably, have tended to focus upon those cases which are not frequently discussed.
However, various authors have commented on the apparent confusion between the “best” cases and those which are merely the “best publicized”.
For example, Hilary Evans has written that he tends to agree with the comment of Belgian ufologist Jacques Scornaux that “The refutability of a case
is directly proportional to the publicity it receives” (see Footnote 05). In a comment similar to the remarks made by Hilary Evans and Jacques
Scornaux, Jacques Vallee has suggested that “The cases that receive a high level of media publicity are especially suspect” (see Footnote 06).
Jacques Vallee has suggested that Dr Menzel concentrated on the most publicized cases, rather than the best cases. He has commented that “… very
few of the cases [Dr Menzel] studies would be worthy of consideration in an objective system of analysis where weights are distributed according to
well-defined criteria, and not according to the amount of publicity the case has received in ‘enthusiast’ circles obviously unconcerned with
scientific analysis” (see Footnote 07). Similarly, Vallee has suggested that “[UFO] reports are analyzed one at a time, with an amount of energy
directly proportional to the publicity that they have received in specialist ‘enthusiast’ reviews or in the press, radio and television. A side
effect of this process is that the most interesting reports are completely unknown to the public and to civilian scientists who might, otherwise, have
a very different attitude towards the subject. The more widely discussed cases, such as Washington in 1952, are rather poor and, in our files, would
be considered second rate” (see Footnote 08).
Given the number of complaints that skeptics do not address the “best” cases but merely weak cases (even if well publicized), it is very
surprising that ufologists have not been more active in preparing lists of the “best” cases. In the few instances where ufologists have sat in a
room together to draw up an agreed list of the “best” cases, they have subsequently done a rather poor job of drawing attention to those lists
(see, for example, Part 10 and Part 11 of this article in relation to the National Enquirer’s Blue Ribbon Panel and the Rockefeller Briefing
In these circumstances, skeptics can hardly be blamed for having concentrated on the cases most frequently discussed in the UFO literature.
If your favourite case is not included within the “Top 100” list above, all I can say is:
(1) Blame the authors of the relevant books. They selected which cases to discuss the most, not me. The list of the “Top” 100 cases certainly
does not represent my personal “Best” 100 cases.
(2) Feel free to conduct a similar exercise yourself or draw up your own list on the basis of your own (preferably expressly stated) criteria.
Various possible qualitative and quantitative criteria are discussed in the final parts of this article (i.e. Part 15-29).
The next time you hear someone refer a skeptic or scientist to the UFO literature generally (or are tempted to do so yourself), pause for a moment and
remember the content of the above list of the Top 100 UFO Cases. These are the sightings they will come across most frequently.
Is that what you want? If not, you will need to be more helpful than merely suggesting they read “the literature”.
[edit on 21-1-2008 by IsaacKoi]