MUFON, the Mutual UFO Network, is widely known as one of the largest civilian UFO investigation groups and the go-to place to report UFO sightings in the U.S. and across the globe. Their stated mission is to "investigate UFO sightings and collect the data in the MUFON database for use by researchers worldwide" and to "Promote research on UFO's to discover the true nature of the phenomenon..." Despite that declaration, there are a significant number of MUFON case files still not available to researchers, and no one in the higher ranks of MUFON seems to be able to give researchers an answer as to why.
In a conversation about the CAIPAN GEIPAN UFO UAP Workshop in the UFO Updates group this past July, UFO researcher and archivist Isaac Koi relayed his experiences inquiring with various MUFON representatives about the state of MUFON research files, specifically MUFON's Pandora Project, a project to digitally scan all of MUFON's physical files. Issac's inquiries regarding Pandora Project scans were in an effort to not repeat digitizing efforts already completed by MUFON.
In his inquiries to MUFON, Koi was told a myriad of things including: Former International Director James Carrion took all the scanned files when he left, all the MUFON files were already uploaded to the Black Vault website, the files were on the MUFON website, the scanned files were too unorganized to be made available, and the scanned files aren't worth making available because you can find the same information in a Google search.
MUFON state director David McDonald told Koi that he believed that all the files were scanned under former director James Carrion, the overseer of the Pandora Project, and uploaded to the research website The Black Vault. According to MUFON State Director Rich Hoffman, his cases from the 60's and 70's are not available, and Koi has noted in his work that many of the case files from reports featured in the MUFON Journal are not included in the materials uploaded to the Black Vault and other web resources.
James Carrion joined the conversation and set the record straight, saying that all 30,000 MUFON files had been scanned during the Pandora project and the files available on The Black Vault are only a selection of the MUFON's case files. Carrion went on to say that all board members were provided with a DVD of all the scanned files, and a copy was given to each state director at the 2009 MUFON Symposium.
This revelation seems to be at odds with the prevailing explanation offered up by the higher ranks at MUFON. MUFON representatives have repeatedly attributed the lack of clarity about the Pandora Project scans to the movement of the physical files from different storage locations across the United States, as well a lack of resources to process the data they have collected. But if all the files have already been scanned, and the board members received DVD's of nationwide files, and state directors received a DVD of their state's files, why is it that no one at MUFON can provide answers?
Koi is not the only researcher who has run into road blocks trying to access MUFON data. Many independent researchers have had little or no success in obtaining case files from MUFON vital to their research. Mississippi UFO Researcher Curt Collins, who has been taking a fresh look at the 1980 Cash-Landrum incident over the past few years, has had no luck in obtaining the original case files from MUFON despite emails to MUFON and John Schuessler, NASA aerospace engineer, founding member of MUFON and primary investigator of the Cash-Landrum case.
In a stark contrast to MUFON's lack of accessibility and analysis, the Canadian research group Ufology Research of Manitoba, has recently made its findings available in a 25 year study of their Canadian UFO surveys entitled UFO's Over Canada: 25 Years of UFO Reports. The paper, written by Geoff Dittman, astronomer Chris Rutkowski, and Ashley Kircher, is an in-depth analysis of the UFO data their UFO Canadian Survey has collected from researchers across Canada over the last 25 years.
I asked Rutkowski about the climate of data sharing among UFO researchers in Canada, and he said while there have been some proprietary researchers in the past, things have substantially improved, and researchers are much more willing to submit their data to be part of the Canadian UFO Survey.
A month has passed since the conversation about the MUFON files and despite Carrion's clarifications there has been no legitimate attention or response from MUFON to the concerns raised by Koi, myself, and countless other independent researchers, and there has been no indication the files are going to be made available to researchers.
MUFON's actions and priorities are clearly at odds with their mission statement, and what they purport they are doing with UFO reports. This group ignorance about the Pandora Project files, and their methods of handling the data they collect is far from scientific. MUFON seems content to be oblivious to researchers' questions and concerns in plain view, and continue to ignore their mission statement while perpetrating the facade that they are making their UFO data available to researchers worldwide.
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Image credit: Hangar 1: The UFO Files, History 2, 2014