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Best cases - Ronald Story's poll of UFO groups (1979)

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posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 03:27 PM
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“Top 100 UFO Cases”
By Isaac Koi. Copyright 2006-2008.

PART 6: Consensus lists : Ronald Story’s poll

In his first book on UFOs, skeptic Philip J Klass wrote “I have yet to meet a UFOrian who is willing to stake his case on one, two, or even ten sightings” (see Footnote 6.01).

Having read approximately 1,000 UFO books and countless articles, I am aware of only one researcher that has met the implied challenge set by Klass. That researcher is Ronald Story.

Ronald Story has written an interesting book entitled “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981), which set out a list of ten “best” cases. Story expressly stated that “If anyone were to ‘debunk’ or explain in prosaic terms – to my satisfaction – all ten of these cases, I personally, would no longer regard the UFO phenomenon as worthy of serious study, except in the realm of the behavioral sciences” (see Footnote 6.02).

Thus, the list set out by Story is to be distinguished from the various other lists of cases set out in Part 3 of this article, which were not accompanied by any such clear statement resting the relevant researcher’s case on the cases listed and were in fact almost universally expressed in slightly vague terms, e.g. as being a list of “good cases” or “important cases”.

Ronald Story’s list of the ten “best” cases has another claim to fame. Brad Sparks has stated that “Us veterans who have been involved in UFO research since the 60's and earlier are quite knowledgeable of the fact that consensus lists of best UFO cases were published in the 60's and 80's based on surveys of UFO researchers worldwide” (see Footnote 6.03). He has alleged that these “consensus lists” are ones that “the skeptics all but ignore” (see Footnote 6.04) and that “skeptics have evaded” (see Footnote 6.05). The first of those lists, based on a survey by Jacques Vallee, was discussed in Part 5 of this article. The second list is that published by Ronald Story in “UFOs and the Limits of Science”.


[edit on 31-3-2008 by IsaacKoi]




posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 03:27 PM
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The actual list published by Ronald Story (see Footnote 6.06) is set out below:

However, contrary to the statements by Brad Sparks, the list published by Ronald Story was not a “consensus list”. Ronald Story himself made it perfectly clear in his book that the relevant cases were selected by him personally. He stated that the cases were selected by him personally since they “to me represent the strongest UFO evidence on record” (see Footnote 6.07).

It is true that Ronald Story planned to publish a consensus list based on a survey of ufologists. He carried out such a survey with this aim, but he was disappointed by the results of his poll. Ronald Story stated the following in his book:

“I recently (in October 1979) distributed a form letter to about 90 leading ‘Ufologists’ requesting their ‘votes’ for the one case (or more if no single case chould be chosen) which to them represented ‘the strongest UFO evidence on record’ ” (see Footnote 6.08).

The results were said to be “disappointing in some ways”, with Story stating:

    (a) “I was rather amazed that nearly three-fourths (or seventy per cent) of those contacted refused to take a stand with regard to any particular cases which to them might constitute the strongest evidence on record” (see Footnote 6.09),
    (b) “And I was equally amazed by the lack of any consensus by those that did accept the challenge” (see Footnote 6.10).


Story commented that “in the absence of a clear consensus on behalf of the ‘experts’, I was forced to make my own selection …”. He therefore offered a list “of ten ‘best’ cases’” which “to me represent the strongest UFO evidence on record” (see Footnote 6.11).

Fortunately, Story does give some indication of the actual results of his poll. He reported the following:
“One case was mentioned more often than any other: the sighting by Reverend William Booth Gill at the Boianai Mission Station, Papua, New Guinea on 26-27 June, 1959. In addition, the photographs taken at McMinnville, Oregon (11 May 1950), Trindade Island, Brazil (16 January 1958), and Wellington/Kaikoura, New Zealand (31 December 1978) received several endorsements, as did the alleged close encounter of Barney and Betty Hill” (see Footnote 6.12).

In addition to chapters devoted to each of the above 10 cases, Ronald Story’s book contains further chapters devoted to discussing various issues. A chapter entitled “UFO photographs” (see Footnote 6.13) identifies 4 photographic cases which Story states “I have chosen as the ‘best’, in terms of their combined strangeness and reliability”. Those cases are:


The two lists above can be compared with the following list of cases posted online by Brad Sparks at least twice (see Footnote 6.03 and Footnote 6.04), which he described as being a consensus list based on an October 1979 Survey of 90 leading UFO researchers by Ronald Story and J Richard Greenwell of the strongest UFO evidence on record

    1. McMinnville, Ore, May 11, 1950 (Trent case photos)
    2. Great Falls, Mont, Aug 15, 1950 (Mariana film)
    3. Newport News, VA, July 14, 1952 (Nash-Fortenberry case)
    4. Lakenheath AFB, Eng, Aug 13-14, 1956 (multiple radar-visual)
    5. Levelland, Texas, Nov 2-3, 1957 (Car stop cases)
    6. Trindade Island, Brazil, Jan 16, 1958 (IGY photos)
    7. Boianai, New Guinea, June 26-7, 1959 (Father Gill case)
    8. Whitefield, NH, Sept 20, 1961 (Betty & Barney Hill case)
    9. Exeter, NH, Sept 3, 1965 (Incident at Exeter)
    10. Ravenna, Ohio, Apr 17, 1966 (Spaur chase case)
    11. Mansfield, Ohio, Oct 18, 1973 (Coyne helicopter case)
    12. Tehran, Iran, Sept 19-20, 1976 (Iranian jet case)
    13. New Zealand, Dec 31, 1978 (New Zealand film multiple radar-visual)


[edit on 31-3-2008 by IsaacKoi]



posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 03:27 PM
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It appears, therefore, that Brad Sparks combined Ronald Story’s personal selections of the 10 best cases and the 4 best photographic cases and posted these as supposedly representing a consensus list based to the poll conducted by Ronald Story. That description is simply erroneous.

In relation to complaints by Brad Sparks that this list is one that “the skeptics all but ignore” (see Footnote 6.04) and that “skeptics have evaded” (see Footnote 6.05) it is noteworthy that one of the most detailed published considerations of Ronald Story’s list to date has been by a leading skeptic, Philip J Klass. Klass wrote a review of Story’s “UFOs and the Limits of Science” for The Skeptical Inquirer (Summer 1981 edition, see Footnote 6.14). He quoted Story’s comments about his amazement at the limited responses and lack of a consensus, and made the following remarks “This should strike anyone as curious, after more than one-third of a century, the many tens of thousands of UFO reports on record, and the hundreds of incidents that UFO proponents insist have been rigourously investigated and that they claim cannot possibly be explained in prosaid terms. Story does not speculate or offer any hypothesis to explain this curious anomaly. And it is equally curious that a case that some experienced UFOlogists characterize as strong evidence is dismissed as weak by other, equally experienced UFOlogists" (see Footnote 6.15).

In his review, Klass refers to several of the cases listed by Ronald Story, and also refers (at page 67 of the review) to:

    (1) the similar survey of UFOlogists performed by Jacques Vallee (as to which see Part 5 of this article); and
    (2) the National Enquirer blue-ribbon panel of experienced ufologists (as to which see Part 9 of this article, a panel virtually forgotten by virtually all researchers).

Hynek reviewed Ronald Story’s “UFOs and the Limits of Science” in an article in a publication called “Frontiers of Science” (1981, see Footnote 6.16). Hynek mentions that he was one of the 50 or so of 90 enquirees who didn’t respond (see Footnote 6.17). He also sets out Story’s list of the 10 “best” cases and comments that “Naturally, I do not agree with the entire list, mainly because I would have chosen only those which I had personally investigated” (see Footnote 6.18).

In relation to the content of Story’s list, Hynek commented that “One is struck immediately with the age of the cases; most of them have been ‘done to death’ in the literature … ‘UFO doldrums’ have set in. Thirty years of financially unsupported investigations have sapped the enthusiasm of some of the older investigators and their frustration has had a chilling effect on the recruitment of young blood. With present economic conditions, it has become increasingly hard to ask volunteer investigators to use their own gasoline, telephones, and yes, even postage, for in-depth investigations. Half-hearted investigations do not lead to inclusion on anyone’s list of ‘ten best’” (see Footnote 6.18).

A review of Ronald Story’s “UFOs and the limits of science” in the July-Agust 1981 edition of FSR mentions in passing that the book contains “his ten ‘best’ cases” but does not list any of those cases (see Footnote 6.19).

Isabel Davis wrote a review of Ronald Story’s “UFOs and the limits of science” for The MUFON UFO Journal (July 1981 edition, see Footnote 6.20). In relation to Story’s amazement at the lack of consensus among ufologists regarding the ten best cases which obliged him to select his own ten best, Isabel Davis commented “For my part, I am surprised at his amazement. Among them, UFOlogists have a roster of strong cases that probably run into the hundreds, and to expect agreement on a mere ten was naïve” (see Footnote 6.21). Davis set out the relevant 10 cases, and briefly comments that “all of the cases he presents are indeed strong, and have been well publicized” (see Footnote 6.21).

Very few UFO books have contained any reference to Ronald Story’s book “UFOs and the limits of science”, and the few books that have mentioned it have either not discussed the relevant list of the ten “best” cases in any detail whatsoever (see, for example, Footnote 6.22 and Footnote 6.23).

Thus, any criticism of sceptics for virtually ignored Ronald Story’s list can be directed with equal, if not greater force, at ufologists.


[edit on 31-3-2008 by IsaacKoi]



posted on Mar, 31 2008 @ 03:28 PM
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FOOTNOTES

[Footnote 6.01] Philip J Klass in his “UFOs – Identified” (1968) by at pages 285-286 (in Chapter 24) of the Random House hardback edition.

[Footnote 6.02] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at page 22 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at pages 24-25 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.03] For Brad Sparks’ comments, see:
www.virtuallystrange.net...

[Footnote 6.04] For Brad Sparks’ comments, see:
www.virtuallystrange.net...

[Footnote 6.05] For Brad Sparks’ comments, see:
www.virtuallystrange.net...

[Footnote 6.06] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at pages 21-22 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 24 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.07] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at page 21 (in Chapter 1) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 24 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.08] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at pages 20-21 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 23 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.09] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at page 21 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 24 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.10] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at page 21 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 23 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.11] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at pages 21-22 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at page 24 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.12] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at page 21 (in the Introduction) of the NEL Hardback edition, at pages 23-24 of the revised Quill softcover edition published under the title “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.13] Ronald Story in his “UFOs and the Limits of Science” (1981) at pages 105-115 (in Chapter 4 generally) of the NEL Hardback edition, at pages 115-133 of the revised softcover edition entitled “Sightings”.

[Footnote 6.14] Philip J Klass (1981, Summer) “UFOs and the Limits of Science”, The Skeptical Inquirer 5(4), pages 65-71

[Footnote 6.15] Philip J Klass (1981, Summer) “UFOs and the Limits of Science”, The Skeptical Inquirer 5(4), pages 65-71 at page 67

[Footnote 6.16] See Hynek’s article “The Ten Best UFO Cases” in “Frontiers of Science” (May-June 1981, pages 15, 43-44).

[Footnote 6.17] See Hynek’s article “The Ten Best UFO Cases” in “Frontiers of Science” (May-June 1981, pages 15, 43-44) at page 15.

[Footnote 6.18] See Hynek’s article “The Ten Best UFO Cases” in “Frontiers of Science” (May-June 1981, pages 15, 43-44) at page 43.

[Footnote 6.19] FSR book review, July-Agust 1981.

[Footnote 6.20] Isabel Davis in The MUFON UFO Journal, July 1981, pages 16-17

[Footnote 6.21] Isabel Davis in The MUFON UFO Journal, July 1981, pages 16-17 at page 16

[Footnote 6.22] Jenny Randles and Peter Warrington in their “Science and the UFOs” (1985) at page 167 (in Chapter 11) of the Blackwell hardback edition.

[Footnote 6.23] Hilary Evans in his “The Evidence for UFOs” (1983) at page 27 (in Chapter 1) of the Aquarian softcover edition.



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