Wattecamps, Jean-Marc (Belgium)

portrait2020Born in 1965, Jean-Marc has been interested in the question of UFOs since teenage. He has Masters degrees in Geology, Environmental Sciences and school teaching qualification for Geography. He is currently teacher of Geography, Earth Sciences and Environment in secondary and higher schools. He has long been an activist and manager of two Belgian NGOs for awareness, training and education on environmental issues.

Jean-Marc has basically a profile of field investigator. His first investigations were carried out in the early 1990s within the Sobeps during the Belgian Wave. Thanks his education, the surveys are precise and detailed.

In 2008, he joined Patrick Ferryn, Léon Brenig, Auguste Meessen and some other former members of SOBEPS and participates to the COBEPS. He joins the group that updates the investigations methods and is then in charge of the coordination of the network of investigators.

Open to all aspects of the phenomenon, trained in cognitive interviewing, Jean-Marc has worked to make the investigation and their management more efficient from all points of view. He is particularly interested in angle determinations and their evaluation by eyewitnesses. He also seeks to take advantage of the new resources provided by the Internet for the identification of sightings. In the framework of the COBEPS special study: the complete re-examination of the first day of the Belgian wave (29/11/1989), he is interested in the evaluation of distances using a fuzzy logic model, the automatic classification between IFO and UFO by Machine Learning and the spatial analysis of observations.

Aware of the biases induced by the investigators themselves, of the importance of relationship with witnesses or with other researchers, methodology oriented, Jean-Marc has a socio-constructivist vision of Science. His concrete approach is action research. The researcher/investigator acts in the field of ufology looking collaborations, interdisciplinarity and trying to maintain a great rigor brought by empirical natural sciences.

Several of his investigations and publications are available on the cobeps.org website or in the Academia and ResearchGate profiles.

E-mail: jm.wattecamps@cobeps.org

Ammon, Danny (Germany)

Danny AmmonDr.-Ing. Danny Ammon, medical computer scientist, passively interested in UFOs and other potentially anomalous phenomena since the time of the German reunification. Member of the Gesellschaft zur Erforschung des UFO-Phänomens (GEP e.V.) since 2003. Since 2004 member of the German Society for Anomalistics (Gesellschaft für Anomalistik, GfA).

Current Activities

  • second chairman of the GEP
  • editor of the GEP’s bimonthly Journal for UFO-Research (Journal für UFO-Forschung, jufof)
  • board member of the GfA
  • webmaster of the GfA homepage
  • several publications in jufof, Zeitschrift für Anomalistik, and other German journals and books
  • co-author of an encyclopedic article on UFO sightings in the german-language Handbook of Scientific Anomalistics
  • advocate of a critical, theoretically and methodologically sound, interdisciplinary study of the UFO phenomenon

Links

ITALY: UFO REPORTS INCREASING IN 2020

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The year 2020 saw a slight increase in UFO sighting reports sent directly by witnesses to the Italian Center for UFO Studies (CISU), as noted by CISU director Andrea Bovo,  who is coordinating the questionnaire forms collected from the organization website
During 2020, 158 reports were collected, i.e. 13% more than the average number in previous two years (139 in 2019,  137 cases in 2018). casi2019-2018
As usual, most sightings (75%) are of Nocturnal Lights, only 6% of Daylight Discs and very few cases refer to  Close Encounters, a constant trend in recent years.
Another regular feature is the large number of sightings accompanied by photo or video recordings, mostly using of mobile phones: 28% of incoming reports.

It has to be remembered that the greatest part of UFO sightings have an explanation in conventional terms following proper investigation: observations of astronomical bodies, meteoric re-entries, aircrafts or other objects (Chinese lanterns, drones, etc.) are not recognized by witnesses due to the sighting conditions or the lack of controls (consulting celestial maps or transits of the International Space Station and artificial satellites). Reports caused by “Chinese lanterns” decreased to 1% in 2020, but sightings caused by Starlink satellite trains were as many as 25%, expecially in March, April and May.

UFO Theses at the University: an Updated Database

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For many years the Italian Center for UFO Studies (Centro Italiano Studi Ufologici, CISU) and a few foreign scholars  have been systematically updating an international catalog (and collecting a copy, whenever possible) of all the university theses about UFOs and related subjects, within the Science.Cat, a project coordinated by Paolo Toselli since 1985 in order to collect a bibliography of scientific literature (articles, books and book chapters) of potential interest for the study of UFO phenomena.

The catalog, now in its fifth edition and updated to June 2019, includes 352 dissertations (from 1948 to 2018), almost all  within ​​social sciences, except for three ones in applied sciences (engineering and medicine), one in natural sciences (astrophysics) and four in architecture. 40% of the theses come from the USA, although there were none from this geographical area in the last three years.

Statistically, the most “prolific” year was 1998 (29 dissertations, 11 of which in the USA). Years 2001 (21 theses, 11 in the USA)  and 2005 (21 again, but only 4 from the USA) are close on the heels.

As of academic degree levels, there are 67 theses for obtaining the “bachelor’s degree”, 142 theses for the “master’s degree”, and 117 dissertations for the “Ph.D.”.

Only a few students continued to research the UFO phenomenon after graduation. Among those, we can quote David Jacobs, Thomas Bullard and Mark Rodeghier from the USA, Peter Rojcewicz and Shirley McIver from Great Britain, Roberto Banchs from Argentina, Ulrich Magin from Germany, Pierre Lagrange from France, Jean-Michel Abrassart from Belgium, Ignacio Cabria and Ricardo Campo Pérez from Spain, Roberto Pinotti from Italy, Robert Bartholomew from New Zealand, Jaakko Närvä from Finland. Some of them were actually involved in ufology before their graduation.

In the last 20 years, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has provided several free general and bibliographic consultations to Italian university students working on UFO-related dissertations. UPIAR publishing Cooperative has even published some of those Italian theses as a book or monograph.

toselli2-1The whole database prepared by Paolo Toselli is now available online to the general public, while it had only circulated on selected  international blogs and mailing lists in past years.

That work is constantly updated and anyone can cooperate with new entries. The CISU is also available to provide advice to students and researchers wishing to write a dissertation on the UFO subject.

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Top picture: yearly distribution of dissertations about UFOs.

In the lower photo: Paolo Toselli, CISU

100 Years Ago: Aimé Michel Was Born

michel-penseOn May 12, 1919, exactly one hundred years ago, Aimé Michel was born in the little village of Saint-Vincent-les-Fort (in the French Alps).

For thirty years he was one of the most influential ufology scholars. A graduate in philosophy, radio and television journalist and scientific popularizer, he was interested in “flying saucers” reports since the early years. In 1954 he published a book (“Lueurs sur les soucoupes volantes”, translated as “The Truth on Flying Saucers” in the USA) which caused a sensation because it was the first in France to cope with that subject in a rational and scientific way, just a few  months before that country was overwhelmed by the great autumn wave of UFO sightings and landings, which he himself had foreseen assuming a two-year cycle.

michel-fsslmThis flood of observations, unprecedented in Europe, built the core of his second book (“Mystérieux Objects Célestes”, 1958;  “Flying Saucers and the Straight Lline Mystery” in the USA) which was based on the discovery that UFO sightings seemed to take place along straight lines (“orthoteny”) changing along the days.

The possibility of applying a mathematical analysis to all the reports (with the consequence of stimulating the creation of the first computerized catalog), the attention centered on the landings and on what weren’t yet called “close encounters”, the formation around him of a large international network of correspondents (the “invisible college”) including scientists, technicians, intellectuals and military personnel privately but actively interested in the subject: all these were the important consequences of that book, which represented if not the birth at least the conception of the “scientific ufology”.

In the following years Michel focused on the implications and contradictions of the extraterrestrial hypothesis, of which he was always a supporter, through conceptual elaborations on the “problem of non-contact “, on the deceptive nature of the phenomenon (making us the equivalent of the mouse in the maze), finally coming to the conclusion of an intrinsic transcendence and unknowability of its causes and therefore to him leaving ufology in 1980.

meheust-michel-1981Beside UFOs (an acronym he did not like and which he preferred to replace with the French “MOC”), Michel was interested in and wrote on many other topics, from ethology to mysticism, from psychology to epistemology, and he was a driving force within the “fantastic realism”  around the Planète magazine.

An attempt to collect all his wide bibliography (and in particular his numerous articles) by a small group of enthusiasts is available on a specialized website dedicated to Aimé Michel (to whom the Italian Center for UFO Studies lent a hand by sending copy of its thick file of Michel’s UFO articles).

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Top picture: © Yves Bosson / Agence Martienne

In the lower photo: Aimé Michel in 1981 with writer and ufologist Bertrand Méheust.

Redemption for the “Book of the Damned”, 100 years later?

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In 1919, exactly 100 years ago, “The Book of the Damned” was published, in which the American writer Charles Fort started a line of studies and publications still alive and vital today.

Strange phenomena, unexplained events, anomalous experiences of all kinds (“damned” because not accepted by science) constituted the raw material for the tens of thousands of notes Fort culled from scientific journals as well as newspapers.

Such matters as ufology, ancient astronauts, cryptozoology have taken on a life of their own, while the broader “fortean phenomena” students continue to gather all kind of unusual and the mysterious news items (ice, frog and fish showers, spontaneous human combustion, out of place artifacts, findings of anachronistic objects…).

Others  have followed in his footsteps, continuing and expanding the collection work, with books, periodicals and associations. In this century anniversary, a new and original work comes out that has required years of study and verification of the sources. British EuroUfo member Martin Shough is the promoter and lead author, while our Belgian fellow Wim van Utrecht joined to lend a hand.

“Redemption of the Damned”  is an accurate “re-evaluation after one hundred years” of the work by Charles Fort, an often quoted, little read, even less understood author. For the first time the eyes and the skills of contemporary researchers have recovered the original sources of all the anomalous observations reported by Fort in the fields of astronomy, meteorology and atmospheric optics, subjecting them to a careful critical examination, correcting mistakes, contextualizing each case, analyzing everything in the light of current knowledge, methods and resources, in an attempt to find rational explanations, something that was possible in a large number of cases (with solutions that can sometimes shock the general public and even surprise specialists), while some well documented events remain unexplained.

The volume has 412 pages in large format (with 250 illustrations), is published in the USA by Anomalist Books with a foreword by Bob Rickard (founder in 1973 and long editor of “Fortean Times”). Needless to say, it cannot be missing from the personal library of every Fortean or student of unusual aerial phenomena.

International Survey of UFO Researchers

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Among the many UFO books published worldwide each year, few are those worthy reading, that will remain in the history of ufology. One just came out as the result of an unprecedented international collaboration, conceived and coordinated by Milton Hourcade.

hourcadeHourcade was the pioneer of Uruguayan ufology, a founder of the CIOVI (Center for Unidentified Flying Objects Investigation) in 1958, and has long been a technical-scientific journalist on printed press and on radio. Since 1989 he’s been living in the United States. In 2008, after CIOVI dissolution, he created the Unusual Aerial Phenomena Study Group (UAPSG). Winner of the Zurich International Prize (organized by Fundacion Anomalia) in 2006 for his book “OVNIs: La Agenda Secreta”, he is also the author of “OVNIs: Desafío a la Ciencia” (1978), “Elementos de Ovnilogía – Guía para Investigación” (1989), “In Search Of Real UFOs” (2011).

In the summer of 2018, Milton launched an unprecedented initiative, a survey among some international experts, who were asked to answer eight questions:

  • Do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why?
  • Have your idea about UFOs changed along the time?
  • Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?
  • If there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be?
  • How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject?
  • 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?
  • Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid activities?
  • What is your idea about multiple universes?

As many as 22  ufologists and scholars of various scientific disciplines (astrophysics, anthropology, physics, history, psychology) answered from 12 different countries: Jan Aldrich (USA), Roberto Enrique Banchs (Argentina), Vicente-Juan Ballester Olmos (Spain), Manuel Borraz Aymerich (Spain), Rodrigo Andrés Bravo Garrido (Chile), Ignacio Cabria (Spain), Jerome Clark (USA), George Eberhart (USA), Greg Eghigian (USA), Igor Kalytyuk (Ukraine), Martin Kottmeyer (USA), Rubén Lianza (Argentina), Claude Maugé (France), Hans-Werner Peiniger (Germany), Robert Powell (USA), Edoardo Russo (Italy), Salim Sigales Montes (Mexico), Clas Svahn (Sweden), Massimo Teodorani (Italy), Thomas Tulien (USA), Wim van Utrecht (Belgium), Leopoldo Zambrano Enríquez (Mexico), a considerable proportion of them also EuroUfo members.

After publishing their interventions on the UAPSG website, the project coordinator has now collected them in a book (Aliens, Ships and Hoaxes – The First International Survey of the Top UFO Researchers in the World”), along with an introduction , a summary and evaluation chapter of the survey, and some appendices.

The volume, available both in electronic format and in paper edition, represents a precious opportunity to get an overview from different viewpoints of the current situation and perspectives of science-oriented ufology, and is destined to become a classic in UFO literature. We can’t but highly recommend reading it.

 

2018 UFO reports in Europe rising again

Just as the  Italian Center for UFO Studies published its first data on the number of UFO sightings in 2018 from Italy (137), other European countries joined in.

In the last few years, national organizations within EuroUfo network have pooled their annual totals to get a general overview from the Old Continent.

The first coming forward was Jean-Marc Wattecamps for the COBEPS (Comité belge d’étude des phénomènes spatiaux) with data from Belgium French-speaking provinces (76 reports in 2018), soon echoed by Frederick Delaere (Belgisch UFO-meldpunt) to account for 179 sightings in the Flemish provinces, with a detailed report already available and downloadable, which bring the national total to 255 (a sharp increase over the previous year, which had instead seen a substantial decrease since 2016).

The number of reports collected by CENAP (Centrales Erforschungs-Netz außergewöhnlicher Himmels-Phänomene) from Germany is 326, as reported by Hansjürgen Kohler. A sharp rise as compared to 2017, but not yet returned to the level of previous years.

Björn Borg reported of 132 sightings collected in Finland by the Suomen Ufotutktijat (Finnish UFO Research Association), a middle ground between the 107 of the year 2017 and the 188 of 2015.

These are obviously provisional and partial data, and it is still early for a complete and detailed picture, which we will report as usual in the coming months. The summary for 2017 and previous years is available here.

CISU on Mars (15 years before InSight)

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Millions of TV viewers in front of the TV screens and on the Internet on November 26, 2018 to watch  InSight space probe landing on  planet Mars.

As usual, conspirators claimed that it was a NASA staging, that not only we never arrived on either Mars or the Moon, but even that the red planet is inhabited, with cities, seas and forests.

cisu-vt-su-marteOnly a few, however, knew that, without much clamor, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has already landed on Mars fifteen years ago, with an expedition started in 2003.

The initiative was by CISU Viterbo Section, which decided to join a NASA offer to include your name on a microchip meant to travel in space and land on that planet within the Rover module.

In June and July 2003, the Mars Exploration Rover mission launched two twin expeditions with Spirit and Opportunity rovers on board, both arrived onto the Martian ground in January 2004. From that moment on, CISU Viterbo Section has formally set foot on the planet from which, starting from 1893, millions of people all over the world have expected (and someone still expects) to see the Martians arrive on Earth.

In the meantime, the Italian Center for UFO Studies has been and remains the first (and only) Italian UFO organization to have landed on Mars  😉

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In the top photo: the Opportunity rover.
At the center: NASA certification that “CISU sez. Viterbo” was included among the names of people and associations joining the “Send Your Name to Mars” initiative.
Below:  Viterbo section of CISU (from left: Mauro Garberoli, Angelo Ferlicca, Andrea Bovo) at work.

UFOs above Parma: a new catalog

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On time for the 33rd National UFO Conference, held by CISU in Bologna on November 10th, the second edition of Cristian Vitali‘s “UFO su Parma” was published by UPIAR Publications.

The book, subtitled “Collection of UFO Reports in Parma province from 1947 to 2017″ is the updated and enlarged version of the 2015 result of Vitali’s three years work at collecting, filing and cataloguing all UFO case histories from his province.

vitali2015Compared to the first edition, this one brings from 445 to 502 sightings in and around Parma, with 34 new cases from the 2015-2017 periods and other 23 cases from previous years but not in the old catalog. Revisions and updates of 37 events were also added, in the typical “CISU style” for which the publication does not mark a project arrival but also the starting point for further investigations, in a continuing work in progress.

In addition to detailed description of each sighting, the volume contains statistical analysis and some in-depth investigations by the author, for a total of 220 pages. It can be ordered from Upiar Store website.

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In the below photo: Cristian Vitali presenting his provincial catalogue at CISU 30th National UFO Congress (Torino, 2015)