Roberto Farabone named CISU Honorary President

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On 20 October 2020 the CISU board of directors appointed Roberto Farabone as honorary president of the Italian Center for UFO Studies.
Born in Bologna in 1944, with a degree in physics, he  moved to Milan, where he spent his entire career as a computer scientist in a multinational company, writing several technical books and manuals.
Interested in UFOs since the mid-1960s, he joined the CUN, then assumed a leading role in the CNIFAA (Independent National Committee for the Study of Anomalous Aerial Phenomena) and in 1976 became editor of UPIAR (UFO Phenomena International Annual Review), the first example of a refereed journal about UFOs.
In 1979 he was among the promoters of a request signed by over 30 scientists and academics, to ask the Italian Ministry of Defense a full  access to UFO data collected by the Italian military. The same year he was appointed coordinator of the scientific committee of Centro Ufologico Nazionale and later served on the editorial board of CUN internal magazine “Quaderni UFO”.
1987-06-20_to_farabonecabassimeluzziIn 1982 he was coordinator of the International Upiar Colloquium on Human Sciences and UFO Phenomena, held in Salzburg, also editing the congress proceedings. When the Cooperative Initiatives and Studies UPIAR was created, he was named board president and later a council member until 2005. A founding member of CISU, he held the position of president from 1988 to 1996.
In his long UFO activity he has carried out investigations, lectured, participated in conferences and written dozens of articles published, among other things, in “Notiziario Ufo”, “Ufologia”; “Ufo Forum”.
After retiring from active ufology, he donated his archives and UFO library to the Italian Center for UFO Studies.
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In the above photo: Roberto Farabone at the 4th National UFO Congress (Bologna, 13/10/1990)

In the photo below: Farabone with Renzo Cabassi and Alessandro Meluzzi at CISU International Congress (Turin, 20/06/1987)

PreUfoCat update and a new book

pietro-torre-preufocat-appendice-2021-copertinaCISU research projects have always been conceived as a continuous work of collection, cataloguing and analysis. Such is PreUfoCat, i.e. the catalog of observations of aerial phenomena over Italy in past centuries) and its editor  Pietro Torre is constantly updating it.

In 2018 the third edition of “Strange Lights in Italian History” was published: a detailed collection of 3400 unusual aerial phenomena from Ancient Rome to 1899: more than 1000 pages with complete descriptions, bibliographic sources and evaluations.

Now he released a 40-pages booklet updating the catalogue with his hew findings in the last three years, adding new case histories and correcting  or integrating some already published. It is available in both digital and paper format, as a to supplement to the latest full edition (also available in both formats on the website www.upiar.com).

Another recent book on the same subject was published by regional writer and historian Eraldo Baldini: “What they were seeing in the sky” [subtitled “Comets,’prodigies’, flying objects in the chronicles and testimonies from Antiquity at the end of the 17th century (with particular regard to the Romagna and Emilian areas”], is a collection of celestial phenomena accompanied by a rich and detailed bibliography (174 pages,“Il Ponte Vecchio” Publishing Company, Cesena).

baldini-quel-che-vedevano-in-cieloVery interesting is the author’s approach in the book introduction: “It would perhaps be superficial to always and in any case liquidate the stories of some events such as fantasies, inventions and “editorial” operations: sometimes  reports of events considered as “prodigious” may in fact contain, in addition to inevitable hyperboles, misunderstandings, political and religious purposes and commercial intentions, also elements of “truth” and , albeit flavored by the wonder of pre-scientific thought, they may represent chronicles and testimonies born from something concrete”.
Baldini also underlines how a sort of barrier seems to exist between sometimes hyper-rationalist attitudes and, on the other hand, the more exotic and imaginative interpretations we are unfortunately used to. His conclusion is therefore that “A reasoned and critical mediation has always appeared difficult, even if it is impossible to think that the supporters of the most extreme UFO theories do not have reservations and doubts about the interpretation of many passages of the old texts, and at the same time that the more prepared and “orthodox” historians do not in turn prove, in some cases, doubts, and do not ask themselves questions in front of certain descriptions. (…) It would be in our opinion necessary and constructive re-read today those accounts of ancient “prodigies”, especially the heavenly ones, with a critical but open mind, without having married ideas and matured preconceived closures, with the always precious ability to ask questions”.
Those are highly acceptable considerations, which seem reflected the same assumptions in our own  way of dealing with this topic and in Pietro Torre’s whole work.

Delaere, Frederick (Belgium)

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Born in West-Flanders in 1981, DELAERE got interested in the UFO phenomenon at the age of 14 after having read the book “De UFO-Saga” by Julien WEVERBERGH.

 

 

From 1997 to 2003 he headed UFO-West, an organization that concentrated mainly on sightings from West-Flanders.

In 2007, together with Wim VAN UTRECHT, DELAERE founded the Belgisch UFO-meldpunt (www.ufomeldpunt.be). Its purpose was to investigate sighting reports from the Dutch-speaking part of Belgium. DELAERE is in charge of the coordination of the reporting center, maintains its website, and is the point of contact for the media. The center tries to investigate reports in a critical way with the intention of explaining as many cases as possible. Investigative reports are compiled about the interesting cases, analysing the sighting in detail. Every year the Belgisch UFO-meldpunt publishes its annual report which has an overview of all the submitted observations and their explanations.

Besides numerous lectures about the UFO phenomenon, DELAERE wrote several articles on the subject, PDFs of which can be downloaded on the website of the Belgisch UFO-meldpunt.

In 2014 he wrote “UFO’s in België en Nederland”, a book published by Lannoo. DELAERE and VAN UTRECHT are currently preparing an informative book about UFOs for youngsters.

Website: www.ufomeldpunt.be
E-mail: info@ufomeldpunt.be

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.