UFOs? ‘There’s plenty of evidence’Philip Haseley has never had any encounters with UFOs or extraterrestrials, but he knows dozens of people who say they have.
By Emma D. Sapong
The Buffalo News
By Emma D. Sapong
The Buffalo News
“It happens to millions of people [around the world],” he said. “It’s about time we looked into this as a worthy area of study. It’s important that the whole subject be brought out in the open and investigated.”
Haseley is doing his part. He is as serious about unidentified flying objects as anyone in the region. The Niagara County Community College anthropology professor has brought several speakers on the subject to the college in recent years and is head of the Western New York Mutual UFO Network, a group interested in UFO research.
Like the national organization, the Western New York group researches reported UFO sightings.
Generally, about 30 to 50 claims of UFOs are reported monthly across the state, Haseley said, including two or three in this region.
The investigation is done in a scientific manner, he says. Some members receive training, including in field investigation, astronomy and meteorology. They also are taught to use radar and other types of instruments and technology.
“To say we are UFO believers basically implies we are taking this on faith, and that’s not the case,” he said. “There’s plenty of evidence.”
The Western New York group has about 25 members, including about 15 who meet regularly to discuss books and local cases, and to socialize. They are a diverse group, ranging in age from late teens to the 70s. They are typical citizens, including students, teachers, engineers and businesspeople.
“We have a slew of people from different ages and educational backgrounds,” he said. “And the only thing that brings them together is an interest in UFOs and the desire to find out what they are all about.”
Some in the group say they have had some kind of encounter. One member, along with his son, saw a huge triangular shape in the sky on a recent morning in their backyard in the Town of Tonawanda. Another member claims to have been regularly abducted since age 5, taken aboard a craft, subjected to medical examinations and given tours.
Haseley and other UFO network members are well aware that there are skeptics.
“We have to deal with skeptics like any
other UFO organization, and we are perfectly willing to be critiqued,” he said. “We know people who think this is a nonsense subject. And we’ll refer you to voluminous literature and facts about UFOs.”
What does one mainstream scientist think?
Neil deGrasse Tyson — an astrophysicist, director of the Hayden Planetarium at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City and host of “NOVA scienceNOW” on PBS—spoke late last month as part of the University at Buffalo’s Distinguished Speakers Series.
After spending several minutes talking about how vast the universe is — it contains billions and billions of galaxies, and is expanding — Tyson pointed out that the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence Institute has sent radio waves into space for more than a decade and, to this point at least, has failed to receive feedback suggesting that humans have similar company beyond Planet Earth.
For those who doubt extraterrestrial life, however, he said humans have barely scratched the surface when it comes to exploring the possibility of intelligent life in space.
Tyson used an example cited in his television show: What scientists have done so far to test for other life forms is the equivalent of scooping a few hundred glasses of water from all the oceans in the world — and concluding that those waters have no fish.
As some continue to search, others believe that there already is ample evidence suggesting that we are not alone in the universe.
Haseley has brought some of them to NCCC.
Peter Robbins, an eminent UFO researcher and author, held a packed school lecture hall in rapt attention March 25 as he detailed the famous UFO sightings in a Bentwaters, England, forest near a U. S. Air Force base.
There were three successive nights in late December 1980 when the Military Police heard disturbances in the forest and, upon investigation, encountered a luminous, mysterious triangular flying craft, he said.
“It’s one of the most important cases in the annals of UFO research,” said Robbins, author of the “Left at East Gate,” an international best seller about the Bentwaters case, considered “England’s Roswell.”
Interviews, physical and scientific evidence and radar confirmed the occurrences, Robbins said, but the government never substantiated them.
A major part of the government’s denial is rooted in the study of UFOs being viewed as pseudoscience, Robbins said.
Despite that perception, his evening presentation drew a crowd of more than 200 people, many of whom had done their own research, mixed in with others who said they, too, had either seen or were just curious about UFOs.
Haseley sees Robbins and similar speakers as providing an opportunity to raise important questions.
“He’s an international expert, and that’s a case students have heard about, and it has the chance of long-term investigation,” the NCCC professor said. “There’s something more to this UFO phenomenon than lunatic fringe kind of talk.”