UFO hunting not for the faint of heart, light of pocket

UFO hunting not for the faint of heart, light of pocket
October 7, 2009
By Adam Lukach

If you’ve ever had an insatiable curiosity for UFOs , there may be a career choice for you yet.

While The History Channel recently canceled “UFO Hunters,” the profession itself still exists. However, it is not an easy one.

“The idea of a professional UFO hunter is an odd one, since ‘ufology’ is an amateur pursuit without academic or professional credentials,” said Thomas E. Bullard, who has a Ph.D. from IU in folklore and continues to study abduction phenomena.

“The field does have many followers, and at its best, operates as a true meritocracy, since those people who have skill, ambition and ability rise to the top as recognized authorities.”

But since there are few official credentials granted to people within the profession, it is particularly susceptible to fraud, Bullard said. Often there are people who claim to have made discoveries with little or no investigation and who are later exposed.

Unfortunately, this adds to the profession’s perceived illegitimacy, Bullard said.
“The disproportion of bad investigations to good, or talk and speculation without any investigation at all, handicaps ufology as a meaningful inquiry into a potentially interesting phenomenon,” Bullard said.

The closest a person can get to formal education in the study of UFOs is to enter the field investigator training program sponsored by the Mutual UFO Network, known as MUFON. Participants are trained by a certified field investigator in the ways of interviewing and case investigation. At the conclusion of the training, a test is administered, and if passed, that participant then becomes a certified investigator as well.

The idea behind training is to create a nationwide network of field investigators, so when a potential alien phenomenon does occur, there can be someone nearby to conduct appropriate research to help determine whether or not it is truly alien.
The system is a good idea, but it rarely works as effectively as one may think, Bullard said.

Being a volunteer group, many people can’t simply step aside from their lives to conduct an extraterrestrial investigation, so the majority of cases are hurriedly examined or are not investigated, Bullard said.

There are other efforts to raise awareness and help protect alien investigations. Aliensandchildren.org is a Public Service Announcement Web site founded by Michael Menkin, who formerly wrote tech briefs for NASA.

His Web site helps inform people about the possible danger aliens pose to children and also features a link to his other site that teaches people how to make telepathically protective helmets.

There is little money to be made, however, from this kind of career path.
“Most investigations are done, if they are done, on the time and money of the person motivated to investigate,” Bullard said. “With a few exceptions, then, making money from UFO chasing comes down to selling something – books, stories to TV documentaries and the like.”

Difficult though it may be, UFO hunting and investigating still maintains a strong following and level of interest. Thanks to inherent human curiosity, it is certain that investigation into the uncertain will be around for a long time to come.
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