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UFOIN - an abortive attempt to redefine
British Ufology: 1999-2004.
UFOIN logo (circa 1999)
As a consequence of the manner in which the so-called Sheffield Incident was handled by the BUFORA Council (a situation further compounded by other past grievances), a number of UFO researchers, including Jenny Randles, Andy Roberts, David Clarke and the writer among others, attempted to re-establish UFOIN (The UFO Investigators Network) in October 1999.
This was attempted in order for British Ufology to find a new direction, one in which investigators and researchers governed the agenda of the subject (as opposed to mostly unrepresentative bodies such as BUFORA) A further aim was to create an environment free dominated by the needless, expensive bureaucracy of large UFO groups mostly composed of inactive, casually-interested individuals. While it's continuality in relation to the UFOIN of the late 1970's was a tenuous one, the requirement for such a body was both urgent and valid, and many of its ideals and approaches were virtually identical. It also provided a vehicle to administer British Ufology with the lightest of hands - one in which all responsible investigators and researchers could potentially belong to, hopefully extending the scope of initiatives such as the Code Of Practice For UFO Investigators.
While a UFOIN website was established and remained active for several years, this initiative eventually faded into obscurity by 2004, with many plans but few actual physical achievements. No one reason can be cited for its failure - however, some of the founding members (such as the writer (Robert Moore) ) ended their involvement with Ufology, while other potential members fell victim to the perennial "comfort blanket syndrome" endemic within British Ufology and continued to advocate BUFORA. Others preferred to spend their precious time on R & I rather than promoting a new UFO body with all the expenditure and effort which that entailed. Interest in the subject also began to collapse at around this period, which surely must have been a further factor contributing to its failure. Generally, as is often the case with UFO study initiatives too much burden was shouldered by too few people.
This is, indeed, a pity, as UFOIN could have given British UFO R & I a much needed revitalisation and a new beginning. Instead, in 2007 we have a moribund BUFORA and a subject composed of small isolated local groups. The inactive members who BUFORA so once cherished (and who the author was once accused of driving away due to his active rationalist stance while editor of the BUFORA BULLETIN) are now more personally served by the Internet. The fact that UFO groups no longer control the flow of Ufological information as they once did has resulted in the marked decline of mass membership UFO societies over the past decade. This trend proved particularly devastating to BUFORA; who as a consequence reformed itself In 2005 into a solely R & I based society (albeit with it's council of directors still intact) by discarding it's inactive membership and terminating the BUFORA BULLETIN - In some ways echoing the approach of UFOIN.
It is also ironic to note that the people who did eventually "drive away" its inactive members was not the present author and the other so-called "usual suspects" involved in the UFOIN initiative (disparagingly termed "The Andy Robert's Group" by one BUFORA council member), but the BUFORA council itself! In any event one can only hope this new version of BUFORA will listen and think more than it's previous incarnation... During the late 1990's John Spencer (BUFORA) had the attitude of "this is BUFORA... take it or leave it... you may criticise us but can you establish anything similar? - no!" Sadly for British Ufology he has turned out to be correct, albeit for all the wrong reasons. One can only hope that, for the sake of the free expression of ideas free from Ufoist dogma, that an initiative similar to UFOIN can be made to succeed sometime again in the near future.
The writer reproduces some UFOIN related items below, which gives a fair impression of its planned scope;
The official "launch" email - sent to various parties and Internet forums in circa October 1999:
UFOIN - A new start for British ufology
Some of the UK's
most experienced investigators today launched a bold initiative.
They have banded together under a common name - UFOIN (UFO Investigators Network) in an attempt to professionalise ufology
UFOIN is a very different kind of UFO network. It is not a membership group. It is not seeking to replace existing groups. It will operate without bureaucracy, committees or rulers and free of all politics. Its most basic principle is a commitment to openness in all that it does. Its decisions will be taken by a vote of all team members. Its actions will be open to public scrutiny. Its publications and files will be accessible to all participants for research purposes. Anyone who works with UFOIN will feel part of a team, not apart from team leaders. Indeed every UFOIN participant has equal status.
UFOIN will be run by investigators for investigators and with 100% of its resources devoted to this task. Nothing will be spent pandering to enthusiasts, putting on lectures or printing magazines. UFOIN will exist purely to conduct objective, in depth investigations to well honed scientific principles . It will also conduct new research that will seek to answer basic questions about the UFO mystery.
Here are some of the decisions taken by the founders of UFOIN for immediate implementation.
1: UFOIN is to be a union of ufologists with proven desire to investigate objectively, research through scientific principles, promote solutions to cases whenever they are found but to recognise and speak up for unsolved data when discovered.
2: It will seek to work in harmony with each other and all other responsible aspects of ufology .There will be no members, membership fees, committees, rulers, hierarchy nor structure. The team will be a UK network of people with similar principles working towards a common goal.
3: A professionalised team of investigators will be based upon proven expertise. Entry will be open to anyone who believes that they can meet the rigorous standards. This requires the submission of a recent case investigation report to prove skill, competence, objectivity and a personal quest to find answers behind a sighting. It also requires acceptance of the ban on the use of hypnotic regression and signature to the code of practice.
4: UFOIN will be highly selective in its investigation work - focusing on in depth re-appraisals of important old cases and seeking new reports that offer potential to add to our knowledge. To this end the professional expertise of the team will be offered to science and education. UFOIN will emphasise the 90% track record in case solving as professed by serious ufology and will play down the use of emotive terms such as UFO and alien, focusing instead on anomalies, scientific puzzles and using phrases such as IFO and UAP. It will seek to work with both open minded scientists and sceptics and handle UFO data from a rational perspective, steering away from the extreme views and ideologies expressed by parts of the old style UFO community.
5: Participants will benefit from working as part of a professionalised, experienced investigation team whose only goal will be truth, however mundane that may prove to be. Access to a team of advisers, comprising scientists, MOD officials, etc, is already in development. And a research fund will be offered for use by the team. Grants from that fund for R & I work will be speedily decided without cumbersome committees. Regular meetings of the team will foster exchange of experience and UFO information.
6: UFOIN will not produce a magazine. Publication policy will involve a steady stream of special reports under the UFOIN banner. These will comprise research projects, retrospective case investigations and current case histories. They will be compiled and produced to a common format by the investigator / researcher directly involved in each project. All proceeds will enter the central R & I fund - in turn allowing future projects . UFOIN will aim for at least 3 - 4 reports per year. Assistance and contributions from scientists and experts outside the UFO field will be included to help make these progress reports more definitive. Diverse projects are already under development for early publication.
7: One priority report will involve scientists and sceptics assessing the strengths and weaknesses of UFO investigation to provide UFOIN with guidelines on how to develop its objectives to mutual advantage and furtherance of common goals.
8: Another new
venture will be an annual research report. Each January UFOIN members will
define the topic for that year's report. An initial briefing paper introducing
the topic will define the questions that most need answering within that field.
The briefing paper will be circulated widely to ufology and beyond to
professional agencies that might assist in fulfilling its objectives. A series
of research components will be allocated so that all major areas of exploration
are followed within the defined topic. The book length report (a definitive
study of these questions) will then be published including all research results
and contributions before the year-end. The following year a new research topic
will be pursued on a similar basis creating a momentum of ongoing work involving
the UFOIN team.
9: A high quality, user friendly web site is under professional design. This will include many features of value to investigators and researchers. Electronic copies of all UFOIN reports will be published on the site after sale of hard copy versions. All local UFO groups who publish their own small run magazines or independent journals are invited to participate in a new electronic magazine here. Each month a selection of highlighted material will be compiled (with full credit and subscription details offered as free promotion to local groups). The result will be both an Internet based 'best of British ufology' digest with the major articles, case investigations etc and a net based advertisement for high quality local UFO groups and their studies. The basic web framework is already in existence and will grow rapidly in the next few weeks. During that time regular updates will be posted showing the response of Ufologists all over the world to this announcement. As part of UFOIN your ideas, comments, suggestions and constructive criticisms will all be aired. UFOIN will listen to views of fellow ufologists.
10: The R & I fund that will facilitate investigations, research and publication will be the only money administered by UFOIN. All proceeds from whatever origin (e.g. publication sales, donations, and special ventures) will be devoted exclusively to this fund. No money will be used on administration, organising lectures, or other none R & I pursuits.
11: A number of
ventures are to be reviewed to find rapid ways to create and renew this fund.
This will allow it to continually fulfill its purpose without courting inactive
UFOlogists for membership fees:
A: Grant funding for an educational arm of UFOIN, that will offer free lectures to schools, libraries and serve as an information agency
B: Exploration of
public services from which 100% of all proceeds will go into the fund
C: Production of a series of objective UFO videos on the realities of UFO research to be created and marketed by UFOIN with 100% of proceeds into the R & I fund.
D: As a 'quick fix' to kick start the fund several members of the UFOIN team (including David Clarke, Andy Roberts and Jenny Randles) are to publish a commercial book that could raise substantial funding . The ethos of this fund, disenchantment with traditional ufology, the need to revolutionise serious investigation and research and aims of the UFOIN project will be used to help market the book.
The twelve people
below who have founded UFOIN are convinced that it is essential to progress
ufology beyond its current stasis. The above plans are being put into practice
now because an urgent need exists to coordinate UFO study in the UK towards a
more rational perspective.
As such a
new style of ufology for the 21st century has now arrived.
If you feel that you have got what it takes to join the fight to reverse the fortunes of serious UFO study and prove that ufology can be done objectively and scientifically, then what are you waiting for?
UFOIN needs you. And if you share the sentiments above then you need UFOIN.
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org (note - address now inactive, RM)
Snail mail: 1 Hallsteads Close, Dove Holes, Buxton, Derbyshire SK17 8BS (note - address now inactive, RM)
Web site: http://www.ufoin.org.uk/ (note - URL now inactive, RM)
Signed (in alphabetical order):
Andy Blunn (NARO), Dr David Clarke (IUN), Paul Devereux, Paul Fuller, Rory Lushman (The Labyrinth), Lynda Matthews (LUFOS),
Tim Matthews (Beyond), Robert Moore, Jenny Randles (BUFORA), Bob Rickard (Fortean Times), Andy Roberts (IUN), Mike Wootten
Tim Matthew's later left UFOIN to establish NUFORA; a major disagreement breaking out between him and several UFOIN members over a movie taken in Cheshire). "Beyond" was a short-lived newsstand publication dealing with UFO's and the paranormal.
"A New Start for British UFOlogy" (1999)
taken from the (now inactive) UFOIN website:
Here are some of
the decisions taken by the founders of UFOIN for immediate implementation.
More UFOIN related documents as and when the author finds them....
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