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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2004 > Mar > Mar 6

Re: 1966-67 UFO Sighting Wave Study - Pope

From: Nick Pope <nick.nul>
Date: Sat, 6 Mar 2004 13:46:50 -0000
Fwd Date: Sat, 06 Mar 2004 10:15:53 -0500
Subject: Re: 1966-67 UFO Sighting Wave Study - Pope

>From: Isaac Koi <isaackoi2.nul>
>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Sat, 6 Mar 2004 01:55:48 -0000
>Subject: Re: 1966-67 UFO Sighting Wave Study

>>From: Nick Pope <nick.nul>
>>To: <ufoupdates.nul>
>>Date: Fri, 5 Mar 2004 18:45:16 -0000
>>Subject: Re: 1966-67 UFO Sighting Wave Study


>>... all figures are the official MOD ones, and can be
>>referenced as such.

>Greetings Dick, Nick, List

>In relation to references for the figures supplied by Nick, it
>may be helpful to note the following extracts from Hansard (the
>official record of questions in the UK's Parliament). These
>extracts may also be of interest as they give an outline of the
>explanations advanced by the Ministry of Defence for the
>relevant sightings.


>For ease of reference, the text of the 2 particularly relevant
>parliamentary questions is set out below. (The text of these
>parliamentary questions, and others that may be of interest
>(because they relate to 1966-1967 and/or numbers of sightings
>for other years), are included in the preliminary draft of a
>Hansard Working Document available online at:



>In the remaining cases insufficient information was provided for
>the likely cause to be ascertained. I do not think there is any
>aspect of this subject which merits a statement at present."


Thanks for posting this. When I was working on the MOD's UFO
project I looked through the old files and would certainly agree
with the admission that you quote above, where one of my
predecessors stated that the categorisation of sightings had
been carried out on the basis of a "somewhat haphazard

When carrying out investigations, my predecessors and I knew
that we were often making subjective judgements about
categorisation. We attributed explanations on the basis of what
we considered the most likely cause, but many investigations
were inconclusive and we were often unable to be sure what had
been seen.

What everybody wanted to know was how many sightings were
unexplained. But at the heart of that question was the
fundamental difficulty over when to use the word "unexplained"
and when to use the phrase "insufficient data". The sceptical
faction in the MOD never wanted to categorise any sightings as
"unexplained". Their view was that had additional information
been available, it would have enabled desk officers to explain
any and every UFO sighting in conventional terms.

The producers of the recent BBC2 Timewatch documentary on UFOs
asked me about this and requested that I send them copies of
official documents where this issue had been addressed. The
material below is adapted from my initial email response to
Timewatch associate producer Lisa Charles.

In strictness, both the Flying Saucer Working Party's final
report and the Air Ministry's 9 August 1952 response to Winston
Churchill's question about flying saucers stated that all UFO
sightings had conventional explanations.

On 15 July 1964 a Hansard extract records an MOD statement that
90% of sightings had a "perfectly rational explanation" while
10% of cases involved information "insufficient to support an
adequate inquiry".

On 24 June 1965 the MOD responded to a request for information
from the USAF and told them that 90% of cases investigated could
be explained. The remaining 10% were categorised as
"insufficient data".

The USAF's Project Blue Book figures for 1947 - 1965 (inclusive)
showed that 646 cases out of 10,047 (i.e. approx 6.4%) were
categorised as "unidentified". Blue Book had a separate category
for "insufficient data", which averaged out in the years 1953 -
 1964 (inclusive) at approximately 18.3%.

Based on my own official research and investigations, and my
analysis of previous MOD files, I would agree that 5% of
sightings could legitimately be categorised as "unexplained".

Best wishes,

Nick Pope

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