Reveal Your Presence

Reveal Your Presence

by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

castleThe scientific journal Nature published a review of a book that examines the strange history and literature of the flying saucer phenomena (1).  I have not read the book and am not asking you to buy it, just have a careful look at the appraisal posted on the Nature Books and Arts blog, A View From the Bridge.

Titled ‘The Rise and Fall of the UFO,’ it would not be surprising if readers came away with an impression the book explores a dead topic.  Clearly, judged by mainstream press coverage, the UFO heyday passed many decades ago.  However, UFOs are still with us and people who witness them persist in seeking explanations for them.  A quick search of will reveal that new works on UFOs are published regularly.

In my limited personal experience, UFOs and paranormal events are rarely discussed by my colleagues.  For many academics any professional interest in UFO phenomena probably died with the publication of the Condon Report.  With such limited formal scientific study and discussion of the topic it is not surprising many scientists today would view UFOs as a long dead craze of the past prompted by swamp gas and stoked through mass hysteria.

Unfortunately, the inhabitants of the ivory tower may not realize their perspectives are restricted.  You have a rare opportunity to help them avoid confirmation bias; anyone may post a comment to this blog.  Read the review, see how it strikes you and issue an opinion if you deem it appropriate.  A substantial public response to the review theme may demonstrate to the Nature readership the UFO topic is still alive today.  And perhaps the editors will recognize that interest warrants more coverage.

Let them know you are out there.




Dog Won’t Hunt: Awaiting a MUFON Renaissance

Dog Won’t Hunt:
Awaiting a MUFON Renaissance

by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

dogs-and-catsThe Mutual UFO Network, MUFON (1), has launched a public relations campaign to update its brand and recruit more members (2).  Inching toward the 50th anniversary of its founding, this organization is facing significant challenges.

The MUFON core mission is the scientific investigation of UFO reports and reporting of the findings.  However, the passage of time, replacement of personnel and technological advancements may cause even the most vibrant organizations to lose momentum and focus.  Recognizing the situation, research organizations may undertake periodic reviews to ensure program goals are being achieved and remain relevant.  To obtain the most unbiased evaluations possible, review groups typically include scientific community peers drawn from other institutions.  Hopefully, the MUFON leaders utilized a similar approach when they assessed the condition of their organization.

It seems the MUFON directors have decided a key selling point of the organization is its scientific approach toward the UFO mystery.  A good decision given that competing with Ancient Aliens for a TV audience looks hopeless.  How well is the MUFON doing with its brand of science?

I have to wonder how any external scientific reviewers reconciled the information posted on the MUFON website with some statements of Executive Director Jan Harzan (2) “… we are a team of trained and certified investigators, researchers and enthusiasts who share a healthy curiosity and skepticism of the UFO phenomenon.”  A well-crafted public relations campaign may arouse interest, but any prospective recruits viewing the current MUFON website will see a picture radically at odds with Director Harzan’s words.  A competent and comprehensive evaluation would have alerted the MUFON leadership to the obvious contradictions.  Perhaps work to harmonize web page content with the newly crafted brand is in progress.

The dilemma for the MUFON is that even the most artful narrative shaping cannot conceal deep deficiencies in fundamental approaches to research and ethics.  Researchers featured prominently at MUFON symposia and honored with lifetime achievement awards spout unsubstantiated, patently pseudo-scientific nonsense (3).  Compounding the problem are high-ranking leaders in the organization and/or affiliates unleashing embarrassing, wholly uncorroborated claims such as having served as a “breeder” for aliens (4).  Worse, one MUFON region director sells an unproven, alien technology-inspired, medical device to prevent influenza (5).  Perhaps the necessity to offer members an opportunity to purchase “support seats” at the 2016 Symposium (1) reflects a free market in which consumers have become more discerning than the mystified meeting organizers.

It is unclear what sort of evaluation process sparked the MUFON leaders to rebrand.  However, it will not take long to recognize whether their new narrative is a renaissance or a superficial cover story to stave off collapse.  Yes, they can spray paint it gold, drench it with perfume and send it to the finest obedience school, but unless the systemic problems are solved that dog will never hunt.


(2)   L. Fullerton.  2016.  The ‘Real X-Files’- MUFON – Motivated by Increasing Interest in UFOs, Company Orders Rebrand.  The, 12 September 2016.
(3)   J. Brewer.  2015.  MUFON, Sham Inquiry and the Woods-Jacobs Scandal.  The UFO Trail, 11 August 2015.
(4)   T. Kokjohn.  2014.  Try a New Hypothesis, Sherlock. JayVay, 18 February 2014.  (
(5)   National UFO Center, Filer’s Files #36-2009.



You Can Do Better: Break a Ufology Futile Cycle

You Can Do Better: 
Break a Ufology Futile Cycle

by Guest Blogger,

Tyler Kokjohn, Ph.D.

Futile cycleThe host of a radio program covering paranormal topics recently published a newsletter discussing a wide mix of interesting ideas.  One theme will seem familiar because it has been a core complaint for years; mainstream press coverage does not do justice to paranormal topics such as UFOs.  It is about entertainment, trivialization, deliberate misrepresentations, hidden agenda and etc.

The behavior of the mainstream media can be infuriating and outraged stories of journalistic misdeeds play well.  However, this action-reaction process has become so habitual that we may be overlooking something; these complaints are now classic tales of victimization being told over and over again through the years.

After decades of mistreatment by the news media, what facts do we have about its impact?  It certainly seems logical that derisive coverage must hurt ufology by discouraging others to come forward with their experiences.  However, media exposure confirms others have seen or experienced the inexplicable.  Perhaps press coverage creates a social validation that induces people to seek out UFO organizations or encourages them to talk openly about their experiences.  Maybe media exposure actually facilitates interest and unintentionally drives UFO phenomena dynamics.

Unfortunately, ufology has short-circuited the critical thinking processes essential for informed debate because the arguments begin and end at the complaint stage.  Investigators and opinion leaders fail to recognize the research opportunity in front of them and the potential importance of the findings.  However, they have only had about 7 decades to do something productive.

Do your own study and investigate the hypothesis that mainstream media coverage influences UFO experiencers.  Is the impact positive or negative?  Does it influence the dynamics of the event itself?  Ask yourself and acquaintances with an interest in the topic how news stories developed or suppressed their interest in UFOs.  Discover for yourself how mainstream news media coverage influences UFO phenomena dynamics.

Imagine the implications.  Say your information suggests news media coverage discourages others from revealing their experiences.  Visualize being interviewed by the media pundits and turning the tables with a question or two of your own.  How do you justify broadcasting reports that suppress an interesting news story?  How does that serve the public interest?  Perhaps your inquiries will suggest that media attention generally increases follow-on reports.  Then you have learned something important about process dynamics.  The key point is that by taking matters into your own hands you gain a firmer, data-based understanding of the impacts news media reporting exert on UFO phenomena and the public perception of them.

It is often quipped that knowledge is power.  It is also damn good leverage in a debate.  What percentage of the general public believes UFOs might represent more than misidentified aerial phenomena?  What percentage of scientists feel intelligent life is or has been present in our galaxy?  Now do this math – if they are a contemptible joke why do news media report on UFOs at all?  People find UFOs interesting and journalists who belittle experiencers and interfere with serious investigations of events are skating on thin ice.  Get the data to sink them.

Break this futile cycle of victimization.  Empower yourself to improve our understanding of the phenomena and epi-phenomena of UFOs and the paranormal.  You can do a better job than the so-called leaders of ufology.