Monday, January 15, 2007

“People All Over The World Are Seeing Things They Cannot Explain”

UFO society moves to Bellvue

The Coloradoan

     An international organization that conducts research on UFO’s has landed in Bellvue.

The 37-year-old Mutual UFO Network, or MUFON, recently moved its headquarters from Littleton into the home office of James Carrion, the organization’s international director.

Carrion said the nonprofit or-ganization is dedicated to the scientific study of UFO’s “for the benefit of humanity.”

“People all over the world are seeing things they cannot ex-plain,” he said. “We want to get a better understanding of what’s going on and what it means.”

The organization has about 400 trained field investigators who use forensic science when looking into reports of strange sightings the same way law enforcement officers investigate crime scenes, Carrion said.

Investigators are trained to go into cases with open minds and not let personal beliefs taint the research, he said. The evidence dictates the outcome of any in-vestigation.

“The data is the data and that is all that matters,” he said.

About 85 percent of sightings investigated by the organization can be explained as caused by weather phenomenon or man-made objects. But the other 15 percent fall into the category of “high strangeness” that cannot be readily explained, he said.

A November incident at O’Hare International Airport in Chicago, during which a large spinning object appeared to hover over an airport gate before darting swiftly into the clouds, is an example of events the organization investigates.

Government officials were quick to dismiss the incident as nothing even though the object was observed by ground crews, Carrion said.

Carrion took the organization’s reins from John Schuessler, a retired NASA employee who became fascinated with UFO’s and what they might mean for society after talking to astronauts who saw things in space they could not explain.

The organization has about 2,500 paid members, including many scientists, and puts out a monthly journal. Members come from all walks of life.

Carrion, who owns a computer training company, said his personal interest in UFO’s extends to his childhood, when he would clip stories about unusual events and sightings from newspapers. He also lived in Puerto Rico at a time when it was considered a “hot spot” for UFO activity.

Overcoming “the giggle factor” — the tendency of some to laugh off any UFO report — is the toughest challenge the organization faces, he said.

Carrion described himself as a “skeptical believer” in UFO’s who, like most people, first seeks a rational explanation for strange events.

But too many people around the world have seen too many strange things to simply dismiss the possibility that UFO’s exist, he said.

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