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Ufology: The human side                                                           

Written by Heather Dixon   

January 2011

My twenty years involved within the field of ufology has gradually led me to the conclusion that one of the most significant factors, and central to all investigation and research, is the ‘human factor’ and how this influences the way a sighting or high strangeness case can sometimes be reported.
As many serious researchers are aware, the belief systems of witnesses can often affect the way a witness interprets their sighting and this can be powerfully reinforced by their personal beliefs. Investigators and researchers have to tread through very murky waters at times, and vital to an accurate assessment of a witness’ UFO sighting are often the witnesses themselves, and the objective accuracy of their report.

In addition to these factors are the influence of the media, and popular UFO literature upon those perceptions and beliefs and also the symbolic models from cultural mythology and various UFO related movies and television programmes.
The researchers and investigators themselves also have a considerable part to play as they develop their own specific ideas and beliefs about the nature and reality of UFOs and they bring these convictions to the subject as researchers.

Because of the enmeshment of all of these influences, they can operate in a very persuasive way to manipulate the ‘facts’ and include unintended subjective beliefs into the equation, thereby directly affecting the way a witness perceives, and reports, their sighting or strange experience. This can sometimes result in an investigation into an unusual sighting to become confusing for the investigator as they try to deal with somewhat fragmented information and without the total factual clarity that is required for a solid and completely objective investigation.

It is the case on occasion that witnesses come to a UFO organisation when they have not actually observed any unidentified aerial phenomena, but have experienced perceived strange events that they link to the idea of UFOs in the form of a possible extra-terrestrial visitation. There can be many and varied explanations for these unusual experiences, which are linked to theories, such as hypnagogic hallucinations and sleep paralysis, powerful electromagnetic fields, which can create very subjective imagery for the witness , psychological issues and deeply held beliefs about UFOs and their source of origin.
The human condition, and the major factor of how the brain/mind understands and perceives events and incidents that appear to be unknown to us, is crucial in how we try to comprehend something that we do not have conventional or currently known imagery to describe to someone. In order to give some meaning and visual context in our description we use the models and imagery with which we are familiar in order to establish a validating framework for what we have seen or experienced. This is something that our brains and minds require of us...we need to make sense of it! However, this sometimes prevents any kind of comprehensive understanding for an investigator, particularly relating to witnesses who report a high strangeness experience.
This is not to say that there are no mysteries or that science can explain everything, but certainly science has explained many, many things, which is why we have the remarkable technology that exists today.

The real question to ask is maybe - ‘what exactly IS really mysterious or unknown’? And within those mysteries and anomalies how do we speculate from where they originate? Do they belong within the UFO phenomenon or maybe the paranormal phenomenon and all its related counterparts, OR are they part of what it means to be human, our fears and our need to believe in something that operates beyond our physical senses, whether it be God, a non-human intelligence, or the idea that there is an extra-terrestrial presence that is somehow trying to connect with us ? It is my opinion that things are not always as they seem and the binding and essential element in all of this is US, who we are, why we are and the never-ending philosophical debates on the reasons for our rather random existence upon this planet.

This is my quest, exploration and specific research in remaining within this subject for so many years and I have learned so much from so many of the people involved with this subject, the investigators, the researchers and, crucially, from many of the witnesses themselves. I thank you all for this.
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