It is a wonderful experience to get the opinion of a very selective group of people at an international level and get them together giving answers to just 8 questions referred to the Unusual Aerial Phenomena.
We give a big thanks to all those colleagues who are answering our survey and we are very pleased to present to you their ideas. We hope that what they say would be useful to you in your own work with the U.A.P. and that their criteria would help to shape your own one.We continue today the publication of the answers of these colleagues, and we are doing so in the order they were received.
Thomas Tulien is a resident of Minneapolis, Minnesota, whose interest in the subject began as a documentary filmmaker. In 1999 he organized a Workshop for UFO historians in Chicago and initiated the Sign Oral History Project. He is the author of “Minot AFB, North Dakota, 24 October 1968” radar-visual case, which incorporates quantifiable data in the form of radarscope photographs taken onboard the B-52 of a pacing UFO, and over flight of a stationary UFO.
1) Do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why?
Since my orientation concerns historical aspects of the phenomenon I am most comfortable using unidentified flying object (UFO). This use is specific to identifying an object with extraordinary performance characteristics, which is a focus of my interests. Unfortunately, in the cultural context the term has been corrupted to imply ”an ET spacecraft,” so it is reasonable in a scientific context that U.A.P. be adopted.
2) Have your ideas about UFOs changed along the time?
Of course! It is a personal curiosity with this subject that rather than describing the experience as a learning curve my experience seems appropriately described as having gone around the block (in circles) over many years before accumulating enough knowledge and understanding of the nature of the phenomenon to step aside.
3) Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?
By default anyone with a serious interest in the subject becomes fairly expert in identifying IFOs. This is the point where any investigation essentially begins. In doing historical case research, one develops an accumulative ability to identify aspects of available data that suggest a naturally occurring phenomenon. The general approach is therefore reductive considering cases after the fact. For example, regarding the 1968 Minot AFB case, Martin Shough eliminates at least 18 possible causes for the B-52 UFO radar contact, in an attempt to determine what the UFO echoes are not. The quantitative data provides additional possibilities. Based on Martin’s analyses, Claude Poher constructs various hypotheses examining the performance characteristics of the UFO attempting to determine what it is.
4) If there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be?
Well, naturally occurring plasma formations in the atmosphere, though there is no convincing scientific evidence supporting this explanation and no support for the thesis among atmospheric physicists. The Condign Report (2006) suggests ”buoyant plasma” resulting from meteor reentry as a cause of the more puzzling reports. It is not so much an irony that in 1968 Project Blue Book explained the cause of the Minot case as plasma, which was one of its default explanations adopted in the later years. On the other hand, Poher is able to describe the loss of B-52 radio transmission as a result of a plasma field enveloping the UFO, implicating a strong ionizing effect as a by-product of the UFO energy source.
5) How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject?
Looking at the issue from a historical perspective, the U.S. government has been very successful in controlling the narrative over the past seventy years. In effect, it has spent considerable effort creating a collective ignorance regarding the issue. Wendt and Duvall perhaps best describe why governments systematically ignore the UFO phenomenon despite the overwhelming evidence in “Sovereignty and the UFO.” My guess is that understanding the origin and nature of the UFO phenomenon is more complicated, incorporating a mythology based on reason extending back to the post-Copernican concept of the plurality of worlds. And even the possibility, heretical, as it may seem, that some component of the phenomenon is a result of a terrestrial development program hidden while in plain sight.
6) Is it possible to do something effective to bring the truth to the public and to change the mind of those who still proclaim or believe that extraterrestrial beings are living with us on Earth?
What has always been lacking and remains so after seven decades is an objective, systematic scientific study of the UFO phenomenon. However, any serious attempt would require a considerable technological infrastructure and lots of money. In the current status quo, UFOs can only be “known” without actually trying to find out what they are. So, given the history it is politically unlikely to happen since it would be self-subverting. [Taleb claims that although people tend to place a higher value on things they know; it is the things we don’t know, and therefore can’t see coming, that tend to shape our world dramatically.] The recent confirmation by the Department of Defense (NYT, Dec. 17, 2017) of the classified “Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program”involved in monitoring UFO activity underscores the issue. Particularly given the paucity of response from the scientific community and the media. It appears to send a reassuring message that the status quo has not changed, UFOs are still not a national security concern, and they are continuing to monitor the situation—which has been the consistent position since the early fifties when it was embodied in Project Blue Book’s public relations effort. What is remarkable is how little has changed over seventy years!
7) Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid activities?
Certainly, in particular the current Exoplanet explorations, which are far more fruitful than the original SETI project’s tragically, limited scope.
8) What is your idea about multiple universes?
I honestly don’t know. I will however quote Carlo Rovelli: “I like physics because it opens the window through which we can see further. It gives me the sense of fresh air entering the house.”