Every issue of CNI News faces me with the challenge of presenting a balanced view of what is occurring in the world of UFO research as well as the separate but increasingly similar world of space exploration. Balance is an elusive goal, and it may be that there is always some degree of "political" consideration in what gets reported.
The politics of close encounter reporting has certainly gotten a workout in recent weeks. One need only compare the press treatment of the "life on Europa" story with the "UFOs over Arizona" story to see what I mean.
On Wednesday, April 9, every news outlet in America trumpeted an announcement from the scientists studying recent data returned from the Galileo spacecraft orbiting Jupiter. Galileo had made a very close pass (within 363 miles) by the enigmatic Jovian moon Europa on February 20. Its photographic data clearly indicated an ice-covered surface, and fractures and other features of that surface further indicated the virtual certainty of liquid water beneath the ice.
This is remarkable news, to be sure. But the real story came next -- because these photos (which look a lot like high-altitude shots of earth's Arctic icepack) instantly became the basis of truly extravagant claims.
According to a Reuters news release, John Delaney of the University of Washington declared, "I am sure there's life there." Delaney was among the team of experts who spoke at a news briefing detailing results from the Galileo probe.
Delaney was not alone in such statements. One after another, scientists affiliated with the project declared their confidence in the life prediction. Richard Terrile of JPL, a planetary scientist, said he believed there was organic matter in sediment at the bottom of Europa's ocean and pointed out: "On Earth, these same ingredients in a million years gave presence to life."
On the strength of such confidence, there was much heady talk in the following days about sending robotic probes to Europa to core through the ice in search of life. Such a mission could not be launched for at least a decade, and would likely cost hundreds of millions of dollars, but the excitement was so thick you could cut it with a knife.
Now contrast this with the response accorded video footage of remarkable lights over Phoenix, Arizona. The footage, shot on March 13 by several different people, has aired on several news magazine shows such as "Strange Universe" and "Extra." It shows a striking array of lights standing motionless in the sky. Four lights are evenly spaced in a perfectly straight line, and two other lights are positioned at some distance "behind" the line, as if tracing two "back corners" of a large tetrahedron. These lights, according to witnesses, precisely held their position for a very long time (estimates ranged from several minutes to far longer) before blinking out.
Though early reports advanced the idea that these lights were aerial flares, no military source would confirm that theory, and the steady hovering of the lights ruled out flares in any case. In point of fact, no one has advanced any sensible explanation for the lights. Yet, rather than approaching them as a legitimate mystery worthy of serious inspection, scientists brushed them off as nothing at all. One "astronomer" who appeared on the TV show "Extra" dismissed them as "probably construction." Yet the entire skyline of Phoenix was visible below this light array, giving a clear indication of its giant scope. Construction of what, pray tell? The space station?
What is clear in the comparison of these two stories is this: "Life out there" is an idea whose time has come -- as long as that life is in the probable form of exotic microbes in a Martian rock, or beneath the ice of distant Europa. Aggressive confidence in such life is now politically correct, and aggressive measures to find it will attract massive amounts of scientific funding. Meanwhile, evidence of something you can literally reach out and touch from your back porch, evidence witnessed by tens of thousands, is still inadmissible because it bears the stamp "UFO."
Well, we've made some progress. It's very good that so many scientists now agree there's life "out there." Here at CNI News, we're entirely convinced they're right. BUT, we've still got a long way to go, because those same scientists refuse to consider other evidence that's just a little too close for comfort.
And so, for the moment, it remains to the UFO researchers, practitioners of a dissident "pseudo-science," to evaluate the inadmissible evidence of close encounters here on earth.
With that in mind, one of my least favorite obligations is the reporting of a once-promising UFO case that turns out bad.
It must be admitted, if we're ever to truly legitimize the notion of "alien" encounters, that most UFO claims do eventually fall apart under careful scrutiny. The majority do so simply because they are products of understandable observer error. But some of the more elaborate cases, once they are finally solved, are seen to be twisted products of greed, lies or disinformation. In this issue of CNI News, we report on two such cases.
On the other hand, some UFO cases get stronger the longer they're examined. Cases of this kind, though relatively less numerous, form the bedrock of ufological evidence. One such case may be developing now in Ohio. In our last issue, a series of spectacular aerial events seen near Cincinnati in late March were described by Ohio-based researchers as probably due to "military flares." CNI News urged these researchers to look harder at the evidence. They did -- not just because we asked them to, I'm sure, but because they are honestly interested in the truth. And they uncovered important new witnesses, and important discrepancies in the "military flare" theory. You'll find a detailed update in this issue.
All things considered, I think the ever-shifting face of close encounter research is shifting gradually in favor of those who are confident, not only of life "out there," but of "visitors" here.
Still, it is all too easy to submit to unwarranted enthusiasm and belief, or, on the other hand, debilitating frustration and cynicism. In the face of momentous but often misleading evidence, we must have the discipline and dignity to dismiss the cases that don't hold up, but also the courage and tenacity to stand by the cases that remain. One day, sooner or later, we will find the truth.
Original file name: CNI - Encounters.editorial
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