Saturday, May 29, 2010

"Clift Says Cherry Violated Several of MUFON’s Conduct Codes . . ."

A Rip in The Fabric of MUFON

An invisible rip in the fabric

By Billy Cox
De Void
5-27-10

Billy Cox     De Void tends to ignore personality-spattered UFO food fights because a) they’re boring, like real life and b) nobody outside the small circles of what the MSM describes as “believers” gives a damn anyway. But lately, the longest-running private UFO research group in the country is having a PR problem that’s getting a little too loud to ignore — and its new leader is using the C word.

“I’m not trying to be conspiracy minded,” says Clifford Clift, the international director for the Mutual UFO Network. “But there always seems to be somebody out there, when we start going in the right direction, who starts putting us through detours.”

OK, wait. MUFON’s been around since 1969, no mean feat considering how it relies on an all-volunteer staff to conduct its thankless mission of sifting through UFO reports, most of which turn out to be rubbish. Yet, despite its limitations, the 501(c)3 manages to do pretty good work, and its “UFO Stalker” sightings map continues to update its cool interactive database in real time.

So maybe a better story here should be how infrequently management-level ego eruptions actually spill into the public domain, given the inherent lack of recognition or material perks in this wretched field. And especially given the number of paranoid, delusional and grandiose wack jobs who routinely inject themselves into diligent UFO investigations.

But that’s exactly what happened at a MUFON meeting on May 2, when Ken Cherry, the Texas MUFON director, went sideways and tore into everyone from witnesses to the national leadership. Evidently, two years of frustration emanating from the 1/8/08 Stephenville incident — the most well-documented UFO event of the modern era — blew like a BP wellhead.

No one escaped Cherry’s spray, which showered “outsiders” who had the audacity to enter his fiefdom without personal invitations. Cherry said one investigator was so stupid he “didn’t know how to use a computer”; another “one of these so-called experts” came with “multiple degrees and a smart ass.” He accused then-international director James Carrion of doing “a lot to discredit MUFON” with a pattern of “incompetence” suggesting “evidence of a conspiracy.”

After charging MUFON with conducting “an unwarranted and unauthorized investigation behind our backs” and for “discrediting witnesses,” the dude went on to repeat the offense himself. Singling out one eyewitness by name for his “psychological problems,” Cherry chided other “nutcase” greedheads for peddling bogus UFO footage in 2008 to the media. Then he pitched his own DVDs and videos, recorded from an earlier lecture in San Jose, for only $10.

If only he’d stopped there. But then, the guy blasted MUFON’s exhaustively detailed radar analysis of the Stephenville phenomenon — a study in which Cherry had no role — for having “so many holes and errors in it as to cast doubt upon the analysts and MUFON.”

Now, if you’re really curious about what passes for holes and errors in Ken Cherry’s book, you can find the rant on YouTube. And that’s what also yanks Clift’s bobber, the fact that someone not only recorded this Lone Star malcontent, but hung the sheets out on the line. “There’s someone who’s putting this information out there, but we don’t know who he is,” says Clift. “The perception they’re trying to create is that we are not competent, which we are.”

That’s probably still true. Clift says Cherry violated several of MUFON’s conduct codes, such as naming and ridiculing witnesses (“We say some are not credible,” asserts Clift, “and that’s all that needs to be said”), and that new chain-of-command rules have been enacted since the Stephenville incident. He also hints that MUFON’s board of directors is on the verge of taking additional corrective measures. “If I were to disparage MUFON, I would expect to be gone,” he adds.

For those who monitor MUFON storylines, the Ken Cherry flameout follows the contentious departure earlier this year of Clift’s predecessor, James Carrion, who’d run the group since 2006. No reason to rehash all that here. It’s involved.

Here’s the bottom line: When it comes to investigating UFOs — publicly, at least — MUFON is the only game in town. And Clifford Clift is amazed at the media response to this rip in the fabric. “You’re the only one to contact me about it,” he says. For once, that’s probably good news.

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