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Your Paracast Newsletter — October 28, 2018

Gene Steinberg

Forum Super Hero
Staff member
October 28, 2018

Get Up to Date on UFOs with Researcher Chris Rutkowski on The Paracast

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This Week's Episode: Gene and Randall present Canadian Fortean researcher Chris Rutkowski. Since the mid-1970s, he’s written about his investigations and research on UFOs, for which he is best known. He has been involved in writing and media projects for more than 30 years, including TV specials ("The Monster of Lake Manitoba," 1996), planetarium shows ("Moonlight Serenade," 1983, and "Amateur Nights," 1989) and newspaper columns ("Strange Tales," in the Northern Times, Thompson, Manitoba, 1984 to 1985). Chris has also written nine books on UFOs and related issues, a collection of short stories and has contributed to many other volumes, both fiction and non-fiction. This episode will offer news of his latest work, plus a dose of pop culture as Chris and Gene talk briefly about super heroes in the movies and on TV.

J. Randall Murphy's Ufology Society International: Ufology Society International (USI) - Explore the UFO Phenomenon

Chris Rutkowski's Blog: Ufology Research

After The Paracast -- Available exclusively for Paracast+ subscribers on October 28: Gene and Randall are joined by Fortean researcher Chris Rutkowski as they continue an episode that began on the October 28, 2018 episode of The Paracast. Drifting away from UFOs, the discussion returns to Rutkowski’s work with the Winnipeg Paranormal Group, where he went on ghost hunts and searches for Sasquatch and other weird events. There’s an extended discussion on the possibilities of remote viewing, and also a look at efforts to set up UFO detection systems.

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Forget the Answers: What Are the Questions?
By Gene Steinberg

This isn’t about me, but about finding the best ways to collect data from experiencers of paranormal events. Some of it stems from my frequent criticisms of “traditional” UFO research groups such as MUFON.

So MUFON has forums or questionnaires used by its field investigators in interviewing eyewitnesses to a UFO-related event. But the main focus is on the event and not the witness. Indeed, only basic questions are asked about such individuals, including name, address, whether or not the person filing the report is under 18, and wishes to remain anonymous.

To MUFON, UFOs are physical aircraft, and the questions are evidently designed to collect information under that assumption. The eyewitness might just be observing a fender bender on a neighborhood street.

I have asked MUFON officials, including executive director Jan Harzan, why no effort is being made to learn about an individual’s background and perhaps history in confronting not just UFOs over the years, but other paranormal events. His response? Well, if the witness supplies such information, it will be recorded.

To be fair, I’m focusing on the questionnaire posted on the group’s site. It’s quite possible field investigators will collect a much wider range of information to evaluate when communicating with witnesses.

For possible abductions, MUFON posts an introductory questionnaire that contains 30 “yes” and “no” questions that clearly telegraph the expectation that it’s about being taken aboard a spacecraft piloted by aliens. Forget about the subtleties or any alternative solution.

I would have hoped the group would have been more circumspect in collecting preliminary information about such experiences. So whatever might have happened, MUFON clearly expects it’s largely about aliens experimenting with humans in some fashion. How could it be otherwise?

Now I do not pretend to be an expert at polling or general data gathering for field investigators in any field. But I would hope that the questions be abstracted more, so as not to push people into providing the answers MUFON expects.

So it’s less about what happened and more about whether an experiencer saw a spaceship, and, with an abduction, was kidnapped by aliens from another planet.

The process of crafting such questionnaires ought to be taken away from the spaceship advocates at MUFON and placed into the hands of people with the training and experience to at least understand the scope of paranormal events. Why not focus more on what happened, whatever it was, rather than lead the subject towards an expected conclusion?

When it comes to the witnesses, wouldn’t a basic family history help investigators to understand whether something in the background of a witness might make them more prone, or sensitive, to encountering the strange and unknown?

Could there, for example, be some sort of genetic predilection to becoming an experiencer? Would asking about family history help make that determination? How about employing one of those widely-advertised DNA tests, in which an individual’s ancestry is analyzed?

It would surly help to involve someone with the skills to understand how best to interpret such tests beyond the basic pop culture implications.

But it shouldn’t stop there. Is someone’s aunt a frequent witness of a dead relative strolling around her old house? What about that possible Bigfoot her son saw while vacationing with friends in a nearby forest?

You get the picture.

As it stands, there hasn’t been much progress in any paranormal field. We still don’t know if ghosts are spirits of the dead, or possibly a hallucination caused by some form of electromagnetic radiation, or some altogether different cause. Or maybe people are just making things up, although I doubt that considering the credibility of at least of the witnesses.

And is there a reason why possible UFO abductions appear to be similar to near-death experiences? Is there any reason to assume that an experiencer dies briefly when the encounter occurs, or is at at all possible that they are thrust into an alternate state of consciousness? Is it all an illusion, or some interaction with an external force?

If UFO abductions don’t have anything to do with UFOs, how does one explain the fact that such experiences are often preceded by the presence a strange object in the sky? Is that part of the illusion or perhaps the influence of a collective unconscious working in sync with cultural memes? Or is it due to an interaction with some sort of external force that we know nothing about because we are looking in the wrong place?

Just what is really going on anyway?

Now none of this should upset people who believe UFOs are of alien origin, and that abductions are part of their plans for us, whatever they are.

But it hardly seems that we are going to get any real answers to what’s happening to so many people until we learn how to ask the right questions. Deciding what the answers are going to be in advance will not help, but it certainly explains those questionnaires from MUFON and other groups that are designed with ET in mind.

Regardless of the questions, the design at MUFON’s site is old fashioned, a clumsy throwback to what you might have found in the 1990s. Whether it’s 30 questions designed to elicit a response to indicate whether someone may have been abducted, or putting the direct equivalent of a printed questionnaire online, it hardly conveys the impression of being optimized to take advantage of current technology.

I would not pretend to have all the answers, but I do occasionally take online surveys about a product or service. Or maybe submit an application for a loan or auto insurance. In such cases, you respond to small chunks of questions and, based on your responses, you are guided to further chunks of questions until you have provided the amount of information that’s sought.

Perhaps a similar approach might work for questionnaires about UFO sightings or abductions. Depending on one’s response, other questions appear to elicit information to gather relevant data. At each step of the way, one can click or tap Back to double-check previous responses before choosing Next and, when finished, Submit.

So MUFON or any UFO research group ought to consider a more interactive approach with enough pathways to consider possible exceptions to the expected responses.

The questions themselves? As I said, you can’t find the answers if you don’t ask the right questions. But figuring out what those questions ought to be may be the hardest job of all.

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