By Don LedgerSomething I find troubling these days is the dearth of reactors to investigations of the UFO phenomenon. There are many reactors but few actual investigators of fresh cases here, cases where you get a report of an incident then investigate within the limits of you professional ability and experience. A few of these cases can-to a limited extent-be investigated on a near to second hand basis during a review of the case but with actual interaction or e-review of the witnesses, but the case suffers for it obviously due to the time element.
Various mailing lists and forums have many reactors. Some of them are good friends of mine or at least long standing acquaintances. There are others who have spent years in the field and have earned their stripes and now find themselves defending cases against those who weren't there and have little insight into such cases having read and formed an opinion without actually getting [or having gotten] their hands dirty in a case reading only cold documents.
Emotion is left out of the equation. More on this below.
Sometimes you are second on the scene to a case where the witness waits months or years before reporting it to you, but again the case suffers due the time element and the trail going cold even though it might be a good sighting.
As an example: An Air Canada 747 pilot contacted me in August, 5 years ago and related to me his experience in 1988 while flying south of Seoul, Korea of having a large cylindrical object flying at their 10 o'clock, same altitude about a half mile distant. He, the First Officer and the Flight Engineer saw the thing. He called me from overseas one afternoon to tell me about it. He said that he thought about this incident everyday since then and was glad that he finally had someone he could tell about it.
My value then was a shoulder to cry on and a way for the witness to vet himself and not be laughed at, ridiculed or be told he was crazy. For myself it was another pilot report that could be added to an overflowing database.
Witnesses contacting me years after the event has happened to me dozens of times over the last 20 years. Of these I give value to only to the witness who stumbled across my name and laid out his or her experience to me on a personal basis-not seeking publicity. Or if it was on one of the lists the witness again contacted me directly about a case being discussed and revealed details to me but again did not want to be publicly associated with the case.
I see little hands on investigation of cases displayed by many of those who offer opinions on this list. I doubt if 98 percent have ever investigated a case as the second on the scene but rather are a reader of the report. This is a third level [or layer] away from the actual case. This can be healthy mind you as it tends to re-investigate a case but still without the direct input of the witnesses or if they do investigate the original witness[es] they risk being derided by the 4th level for assigning value to old memories.
Old memories are only valueless when they are of the mundane and the ordinary. I'm not going to get into my reasons for saying this because it is a subject all on its own. But I say so from personal experience.
Blog sites abound that offer little other than opinion [no proof or the lack thereof] which have little value associated with them. Some receive legitimacy that they don't deserve because of their standing in said community but they are in the final analyses, just one person's opinion/impression after having read a report. "I read it on so and so's Blog site." So what? This is akin to saying 'I read it in the paper so it must be true'.
If typewritten reports were considered the final answer to a case then we could cut the cost the legal system. The police could stay in the office and investigate witnesses or suspects via email. We could do away with the witness stand in the court room and have the witnesses interviewed by email. Why is it, do you suppose, that the police go knocking on doors when they are looking for answers? Why is it that they take people downtown and interview them in small rooms? Why do lawyers confront witnesses in front of a room full of people instead of just reading their testimony into the record? Why do they do this if witness testimony is valueless?
I'll tell you why, because each of the above wants to look the witness in the eyes, wants to note body language. In court the lawyers want the jury-and the judge-to see the emotional [there's that word again] reactions of the witness and make a judgement. You can't do that reading a report and then come to a reasoned conclusion of a case. If you could then there would be no need of public court. Legal minds would sit around a table and shift through documents and make a decision of quilt or innocence on the strength of the written evidence without emotion entering into it. That too, of course, would hang to some degree on the writing skills of those writing the reports. But Crimes of Passion would be hard to sort out around a table. Visit court and watch cases where there is a high emotional quotient-rape cases and murder cases, child molestation cases, sexual abuse and wife beatings, etc. Emotion is rampant.
When I presented Shag Harbour in Atlantic City in February, I had the opportunity to listen to a presentation about the book Captured by Stanton T. Friedman and Kathleen Marden. Kathy was presenting. She played tapes of Betty and Barney Hill while they were "under". I had met Betty on several occasions, talked with her. It was hard to believe the raw emotion pouring out of this woman through the sound system in the room with the gentle little creature that I had spoken with. Reading of the events that intruded on her and Barney's life was interesting. Listening to it was disturbing and effective.
_That's_ the value of live testimony over cold documents. I've had witnesses break down during an interview, weep or get extremely distraught.* Taking that out of any CE-2 plus case is to the detriment of the case.
Revisiting old cases and just arguing the merits contained in the documents without the witnesses's emotional impact lessens the value of the document in my estimation.
There are some incidents that have been looked at on this list that have added value to the data to that case. The Heflin case went beyond the documents and revisited shadows, the value of the photos, the lay of the land, Heflin's career and even the possibility of the "object" being a model train wheel. This was a case where more modern methods were employed to examine the photograph [Polaroid] and determine its authenticity. It did not have the luxury of first hand investigation but it had value and was not just one's knee jerk reaction to a document as is often the case and I'm as guilty as the next person in that regard.
If as many people on this list and other lists spent the time in the field investigating new cases as they do researching old documents we might get somewhere. But getting out there takes time and money where sitting in front of a computer is much easier.
I like the older cases as well because the further back you go there tends to be an innocence not seen today, even with those we believe have hindered the process. But I have seen nothing to indicate the slowing down of reports. Local reports still come to me but more go to the high profile sites such as NUFORC and Brian Vike. The latter are difficult to investigate because the witnesses names are withheld.