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

International Survey of UFO Researchers

hourcade-book

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.

 

Italian MoD’s Answer to the Parliamentary Question: (only) one Tornado above Corio…

by Gian Paolo Grassino

commissione-difesa

On August 2, during the question time at the Italian  Chamber of Deputies Defense Commission,  the answer arrived to the parliamentary question presented to the Minister of Defense  by Francesca Bonomo and Davide Gariglio on June 18th and later re-submitted (by Alberto Pagani and Francesca Bonomo) on August 1st, in the most cogent form of “immediate response question”.

raffaelevolpiUndersecretary of Defense Raffaele Volpi read the following text:

“Air Force General Staff, after due investigations, excluded the presence of airplanes at the time and in the indicated area; however, they areported that on June 6th, around 23 o’clock, a Tornado aircraft passed in Corio area, on a regularly planned night training mission  approaching Turin-Caselle airport. The glow and the roar perceived by the population might be due to the normal approach manoeuver to the runway performed by the aircraft and, more particularly, to the “re-starting” which, in order to allow climbing in total safety, means the use of engine maximum power, including the afterburner.

It should be noted that these maneuvers were carried out in full compliance with current laws and restrictions, as well as all training and exercise activities are fully regulated by specific directives of the Armed Forces, aimed at minimizing the inconvenience to the inhabitants . The use of airspace is planned by the Italian Air Force daily and any planning is also communicated to the competent civil aviation authorities who must know the extent of the military air traffic and the details of the flight plan, both for organizational and safety reasons .

As for the preventive information by military authorities  to the population on the occasion of carrying out training activities with aircrafts, it is already the practice of Armed Force to give public notice of each relevant exercise, as well as of any event with the contemporary participation of more than one aircraft. In the case in question, it was a training mission of a single aircraft that used the normal flight trajectories, thus not falling in the cases described above. On the legal aspects of safety and compliance withregulations, maximum attention is paid to ensure that the essential training requirement minimizes the impact on residents in areas affected by flight drills. Precisely for this reason, as well as to avoid interference with civil traffic, strict procedural, temporal, geographical and altitute limits are foreseen for all training activities “.

We won’t now discuss this new answer and its compatibility with what reported by eye witnesses about flight path (from the valley toward the mountain), altitute (very low), not just sound effects, and we’d rather concentrate our attention on the different, partly contradictory releases and explanations so far provided by the Italian Air Force.

It would seem that the author of the response presented yesterday by the Government to the parliamentary question roughly aligned himself  to the very first version provided to newspapers  by A.F. spokesmen as early as June 7th: only one Tornado (at the time told to have passed  “at very high altitude”, now instead “approaching Caselle airport”). A version later  denied by what the Air Force itself reportedly answered on July 20th to the General Attorney, Giuseppe Ferrando, that is there were actually two aircraft at low altitude above Corio on that night, which had a technical trouble (now no longer mentioned in the “normal approach maneuver”) causing the anomalous roar, as we have already reported.

No mention, however, for the third light, the one that had preceded the arrival of the fighters, which seemed to be his pursuit, according to several witnesses. At least on this point, the various statements of the military are consistent: absolute silence. Waiting for the next installment of this soap opera…

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In the above picture: Chamber of Deputies Defense Commission meeting on August 1st, 2018.
In the smaller photos: Undersecretary of Defense, Raffaele Volpi (above) and two Tornados in flight (below).

Italian Air Force Now Admits: Military Planes Flew above Corio

by  Gian Paolo Grassino

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45 days later, the Italian Air Force released  a new and different version about the lights and loud air noises that  alerted the inhabitants of Corio and other towns in Malone Valley (province of Turin) on June 6 evening, as we have already reported.

Ufficio PIAt first, spokesmen of the Air Force Public Information Office in Rome told newspapers there were no military planes in flight, except “a Tornado training at a very high altitude, even higher than usual. None of our aircraft has flown over the area of ​​Corio at low altitude and we rule out that it might be an experimental aircraft” (as reported by Claudio Neve in Cronaca Qui daily newspaper). Or even: “The only plane training in the Turin area, at about 5 thousand meters of altitude, was a Tornado, as  verified on the radar. So it certainly has not passed just over the roofs of the houses” (Gianni Giacomino in La Stampa).

Thus, easy and unwarranted ironies followed on the dozens of people who had instead witnessed they had heard a loud and growing rumble shaking house windows and walls, and dozens outdoors or having had time to run outside  who had seen what most called two military planes.

Then two parliamentary questions were announced and presented by the honorable Francesca Bonomo to the Chamber of Deputies and by Mauro Marino to the Senate, and an inquiry was started by Public Attorney in Ivrea, Giuseppe Ferrando, announcing on June 12 that he had opened a file, charging the Carabinieri [Italian Gendarmerie] of the Venaria station to ask Air Force top echelons what had happened “with the only purpose of clarifying, if necessary, the whole affair”.

tornado-notteAs of now, no answer has yet come from the Ministry of Defense to the Parliamentary questions, but on July 21 the Public Attorney in Ivrea said that the Air Force had responded to him admitting that yes, on that night there were two aircraft military above Corio, for sake of precision two Tornados engaged in an exercise. Even the roar was real and was caused by an unspecified “technical trouble” causing “an abnormal noise”.

No reference, however, to the strong white light, first in slow motion, then stopping above the ridge, finally disappeared at the arrival of the fighters. But that was enough for newspapers and websites to title UFO Mystery Explained, No UFOs, those were Tornados or even Air Force Denies UFO Presence, when the military said nothing about the first white light (the real UFO of this story) and, if the Air Force denied something, they denied their own previous statements.

While the Attorney is going on with his investigations and members of Italian Parliament are waiting for the Government to say something, it is just the case  to point out that, once again, eyewitness were shown to be serious  and reliable. It was not a “hoax” but a sincere and precise description of what was actually there in the sky: two noisy military aircrafts at low altitude.

Starting from this first and important fact, we are now waiting to have access to the details the Air Force wrote down in order to try and understand if it was really an exercise, a training flight or some other air operation, as yet unclear. And we keep wondering what the other light was. As we have said since the first moment, that does not mean to endorse fantasy or SF-like hypotheses, but just to look for an explanation of what happened, with an open and rational mind.

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In the photos from top to down:
– a witness showing the exact spot where the light had stopped above the woods in  Corio, before disappearing when the planes arrived (investigation by Edoardo Russo, CISU);
– the Italian Air Force Public Information Office in Rome (source: U.P.I.A.M.);
– a night flying Tornado (source: N.S.M.).

A UFO landed on the Dolomites?

lavaredo-by-night
In recent years, the percentage of close encounters on the total number of Italian UFO sightings has dropped significantly, even below 5%, i.e. more or less to 10 case histories per year. The rare cases of “UFO landing” reported by witnesses are therefore of particular interest.

The latest one took place on  July 7th, when an American tourist allegedly had an experience quite out of the ordinary on the Dolomite mountain path connecting two cabins near Auronzo di Cadore (in the province of Belluno).

The report was sent to the MUFON (Mutual UFO Network) Case Management System and we report its contents by summarizing what written by the witness, a professional photographer who was taking an evening excursion in the  Tre Cime di Lavaredo natural park, in order to take pictures of the sunset and later of the Milky Way.

sentiero-lavaredoOn the evening of Friday, July 6, the man had left his car in the parking of Rifugio Auronzo and had walked along the path climbing to Forcella Lavaredo for an hour’s walk to Rifugio Locatelli, on the opposite side of Mount Paterno.

Around midnight he decided to get back along the path in total darkness, lit only by his torchlight.

rifugio_auronzo_forcella-longeresShortly before one o’clock A.M., after having passed Cappella degli Alpini (when he was now in sight of Rifugio Auronzo parking area) he turned back and was astonished to see “a large bright orb-like structure, consisting of many many bright lights, sitting stationary and silently” on the cliff edge about 170 meters away, where he had passed a few minutes before. He could not see a real structure but only the multicolored lights, which covered an area as large as a two-story cabin.

lavaredo-cut-drawingAfter a brief look at what did not look like anything known to him, literally terrified at the idea of having ​​been noticed because of his torchlight, the witness decided to run to his car. In doing so he turned back a few times, but renounced to take his camera out of the backpack to photograph the thing.

In hindsight, the man tried to make some hypotheses: a large tree with Christmas lights on, fifty+ drones hovering at that point, another cabin not listed on the map suddenly turning all lights on. None of these, however, persuaded or reassured him, and that’s why he thought it might be a UFO.

The next day he sent his report to the American UFO organization, which opened an investigation file on the case, assigning it to  MUFON Italian branch.

In the pictures from above to below:
the three Cime di Lavarone at night (source: TripAdvisor);
– the path from Rifugio Auronzo to Forcella Longeres (photo by Marco P. from Tripadvisor);
Rifugio Auronzo and its parking area, seen from the above path (source: it.wikipedia.org);
– witness’ drawing illustrating his sighting (source: MUFON)]

CNEGU 40 years

cnegu-logoby Bruno Mancusi

On May last weekend, the Comité Nord-Est des Groupes Ufologiques (CNEGU) celebrated its fortieth anniversary at its 120th quarterly meeting held in Chaux-la-Lotière (near Besançon).

CNEGU was indeed create in October 1978 in Nancy, as a federation of UFO associations from north-eastern France and Luxembourg. The founding groups were GPUN (Groupe Privé Ufologique Nancéien), CVLDLN (Cercle Vosgien Lumières dans la Nuit), Groupe 5255 (52 = Haute-Marne, 55 = Meuse), CLEU (Commission Luxembourgeoise d’Etudes Ufologiques). Other associations active in that northeastern quadrant of the “Hexagone” joined the committee in later years.

Over the years all those groups have disbanded and no longer in activity, but the Comité Nord-Est des Groupes Ufologiques is still well and alive (without a real formal structure) as a committee formed by individual ufologists who survived the dissolution of each one’s groups.

revmde11.

Among the main achievements of CNEGU, beside many field investigations, archival research, catalogs and several monographic publications, a special mention goes to the annual magazine Les Mystères de l’Est (published between 1996 and 2012) and the  VECA (Voyage d’Etude des Cercles Anglais) initiative to investigate crop circles in the UK.

 

Members of the Committee took part in almost all the most important initiatives of French ufology in these 40 years, from the European coordination (CECRU, EuroUfo) to the establishment of SCEAU (the Association for the Safeguarding and Conservation of UFO Studies and Archives), from the first intervention team on behalf of GEIPAN to the participation in the CAIPAN colloquium, keeping on a serious and real activity, preserving a wealth of skills and experience matured in four decades, based on the commitment and work of dozens of people. cnegu-partecipanti

In the top picture: the 3rd meeting of CNEGU, held in Luxembourg in May 1979.

In the bottom picture: the main activists celebrating CNEGU forty years (from left: Raoul Robé, Michel Piccin, Gilles Durand, Thierry Rocher, Gilles Munsch, Jean-Claude Leroy, Eric Maillot).

Another UFO Thesis in France

by Bruno Mancusi
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A new French thesis on UFOs: the dissertation entitled “Le soucoupisme français: 1945-2012” (French Saucerism: 1945-2012), by Thomas Margout, who obtained a doctorate in history at the University of Western Brittany in Brest (France), on December 8th, 2017.

Just a year after that of Manuel Wiroth, this is the second university thesis on the history of the UFO movement in France.

Margout is not unknown in the UFO environment, since for the writing of his thesis he had asked the help of our colleagues from the SCEAU (Sauvegarde et Conservation des Etudes et Archives Ufologiques) and had also attended GEIPAN scientific conference on UFO CAIPAN in July 2014, with a poster illustrating his work.

So it was a surprise to read an interview he gave to daily newspaper “Le Télégramme de Brest” on 11 December 2017, in which he stated, among other things: “The overwhelming majority of ufologists are perfectly serious people, who saw a phenomenon that they cannot explain”, thus confusing ufologists and witnesses.

From the text now available it has been possible to understand that the confusion between ufologists, witnesses, contactists and sect followers was not a mistake but a choice of his. In fact, Margout himself explains: “In most cases, these investigators were also witnesses, they are here in the role of gathering and collecting testimonies similar to theirs”. So an ufologist would simply be a witness who questions other witnesses, although the author is not giving any statistics that prove his statement.

Thomas Margout’s thesis is divided into two volumes, available for free from here: vol. 1 and vol. 2. The first contains the thesis itself and the second contains data and statistics largely obtained from the UFO journal “Lumières dans la nuit”. The first volume is divided into four “generations”:
1. the birth (1945-1977)
2. the new ufology (1977-1993)
3. the X-Files generation (1993-2000)
4. independence (2000-2012).

Some choices of data and interpretations by the author are indeed questionable, and that is worthy a more detailed review.

[Pictured above: Thomas Margout during his speech at CAIPAN 2014]

Italy 2017: Less UFO Reports from Witnesses

by Giorgio Abraini

In line with the trend of the last few years, the number of UFO reports in Italy seems to fall further down, based on a first analysis of data collected for the year 2017 from the CISU (Italian Center for UFO Studies), which has been monitoring UFO sightings in Italy since 1985 (over 25,000 reports since 1945).

If it’s true that the 113 sighting questionnaire forms received directly from witnesses through CISU website in 2017 are slightly more numerous than the previous year, if considering also the third-party sources (websites, newspapers, other UFO organizations) it seems probable that the final result will be a further, marked decline in sightings, confirming the same trend already seen in previous years.

One year ago, in the early days of 2017, you could already count around 500 sightings for 2016, later increased up to the total of about 600 reports known as of today. According to the real-time catalog CisuCat coordinated by Pasquale Russo on the website UfoWeb, we can now count as little as 250 for 2017.

Of course this total is destined to rise as 2017 sightings continue to emerge during the current year. However, based on the data available so far it is possible to estimate a total not exceeding 450-500 sightings, i.e. a significant drop compared to the 600 reports known today for 2016.

Baure, Jean-François (France)

Born in 1970, he’s a generalist engineer with a specialisation in electronics & signal processing (after Maths Sup and Maths Spe).
He worked nearly 10 years for the D.G.A. (French weapon procurement agency). After a Master 2R in applied mathematics, he’s now a teacher in mathematics.

In the meantime, he has been scientific coordinator of UFOCOM web site for a few years, trying to gather scientific expertise from different fields (astrophysics, biochemistry, aerospace, digital processing of images/video, …) to be in position to study any material made available to the UFOCOM. His main interest was the Belgian UFO flap that began in the late 80s early 90s. He studied some of the F16 radar lock on data provided by A. Meessen.

He published a recent work with Martin Shough, David Clarke, Paul Fuller and others about a strange aerial luminous phenomenon observed by pilot(s) above the Channel Islands.

He has always been strongly attracted to the idea that life is blooming throughout the universe, and he’s inclined to wonder whether advanced life forms could be visiting/studying/monitoring the homo sapiens evolution and his long march towards the stars. Consequently, he’s interested in all the ways to bring the available UFO related field data to science, even if it is very challenging to work on this collected data, sometimes very sparse, and if in the end, it remains hazardous to discriminate between phenomena originating from earth and phenomena extraterrestrial in nature. He has the longlasting feeling that one must cross many science fields (combining “hard sciences” and social or human psychology, cognitive sciences,…) to properly approach the UFO phenomena.

He’s admirative of the science camps of the Hessdalen project, and of any attempt to make experimental science (gathering ad hoc sensors) on a set of rare phenomena. He’s also curious to see whether the Internet promises (collective intelligence, team working, data-mining, …) combined to all the new mobile technology (imaging, geolocalizing,….) will help the study the UFO phenomena.

E-mail: jeffbaure@gmail.com