Talk:Unidentified flying object/Archive 1

From Citizendium, the Citizens' Compendium
Jump to: navigation, search
This article is developing and not approved.
Main Article
Related Articles  [?]
Bibliography  [?]
External Links  [?]
Citable Version  [?]
Catalogs [?]

Added metadata and some notes

This is a reasonable start for a collaborative project, and, blessedly, does not read like a conspiracy theory. It may need to be contextualized with articles on extraterrestrial intelligence and, indeed, expansions on radar, technical and imagery intelligence/photogrammetry, and phenomena of witnessed observation.

As the text began, there seemed a strong implication that UFO necessarily equated to alien. I'm certainly not dismissing the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (SETI), but I think that a fair article also has to comment on the possibility of incorrect reports. The more dramatic the claim, the better the evidence need be.

The article may need to address the possibility that some sightings were highly classified experiments, and certainly other phenomena with an obscure but natural origin. I did provide some CIA references that indicate that at least some observations suggest something was present and could not be explained with the knowledge of the time. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:40, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Name of the article

As you can see, I've Moved it, and created a bunch of Redirects. Hayford Peirce 16:23, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Thanks for the Workgroups

I didn't have a clue as to what I should do there! Hayford Peirce 16:38, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

My thinking is that aviation and flight is generally engineering (and sensors), biology deals with the nonhuman aspect, and sociology with the issue of mass belief systems. Certainly, other workgroups could be involved, such as military from the specific investigations, psychology especially from the perspectives of cognition and sensory capabilities, etc.
While I'm not sure how much time I'll spend on it, I hope this can be an example of a controversial, borderline-fringe issue that can be objective from the start. It's not an issue on which I have strong personal opinions. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:59, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds of civility. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

Hello and welcome to Cirizendium

Mary, please note that I reformatted some of your notes more correctly. If you will study the edit page, you will see how my edits were done. When using an online source for a note, rather than simply enclosing the URL in brackets, thus [url], it is much better to include a title of some sort within the brackets, thus [url Title] with one space between the end of the url and title. In that way, the note simply displays the title as a link. That avoids the actual url being displayed as a link because urls are often very long and do not make the actual title of the online source clearly visible.

Also, Citizendium uses subpages:

  • Related Articles: This where we place links to related articles within Citizendium. In other words. the relate Articles subpage replaces Wikipedia's "See also" section.
  • Bibliography: This where we place links to books and journal articles that provide information related to the main article.
  • External links: This where we place hyperlinks to online website sources of related information.

With that in mind, what you denoted as "Notes" all pointed to a specific line or paragraph in the main article text, just as they should. However, what you denoted as "References" do not point to any specific line or paragraph in the main article and therefore would be much better placed in either the "Bibliography" or the "External Links" subpages. Since they are all hyperlinks to online website sources, I plan to move them to the "External Links" subpage. Milton Beychok 17:52, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Scope of article

Mary, no one person, at CZ, defines the scope of an article, although Editors may guide it. Please make comments like "(Removed stuff about SETI and aliens as this would make a great separate article. This article is about UFOs not aliens)" on this Talk Page, not in an edit note where it is not really preserved in an archival way.

As long as the Hayek classification contains the Close Encounters of the Third and Fourth Kinds, then aliens are very much germane to the article. As long as the Vallee classification contains "This type of experience could include Near Death Experiences, religious visions and out-of-body experiences (OBEs).", the paranormal is within the scope of the article.

If these classifications were limited to physical aspects of movement, then things such as visual and radar resolution would still be relevant.

I would like that material restored and discussed. Since I inserted it into the article, that's not a formal ruling as an Engineering Editor, but I think it's absolutely relevant. The article began with references all from the UFO community, and that isn't balanced. Note that the added material is not all from skeptics. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:08, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm puzzled why the material from the Air Force and CIA, specifically dealing with UFO investigation, was moved, while material from Hayek and Vallee was kept in place. Lundahl is often considered the world authority on photographic interpretation, and the CIA documents indicate that the U.S. government did have some policy of avoiding things that might upset the public. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:00, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Moving Text Around for Article

I moved the stuff down so the article will flow better. When I looked at the article the history and conspiracy stuff chopped it up.

I do believe the UFO article should stand alone as it is about UFOs. The shape, size, classifications, etc. Conspiracy theories, aliens whatever would make great sub topics and articles in their own right.

Also, I left the comments in the article summary section so users would know what action was taken. Mary Ash 19:50, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

I agree 100% with Howard on this, Mary. I don't see how you can have an article about UFOs without incorporating all of the baloney aspects of it -- that's what at least half the readers are going to be interested in. Remember, this is not a newspaper, or even a paper encyclopedia, with severe constraints on space. We can have articles as long as they need to be. I see that your deletions have now been restored. Now is the time to discuss them. Like many things in life, rules and guidelines at CZ are not black and white, alas. On the one hand, we say, Be bold. But by that we really mean, Be bold, but not TOO bold. In other words, start a new article, go into an existing article, even if it appears to have been primarily written by two Nobel Laureates, and make edits, add a paragraph, delete a sentence, that sort of stuff. Go to the Welcome to Citizendium page and correct some grammar, add a sentence or two. BUT don't reformat the entire page, removing half the text and changing the colors. That's being TOO bold. It doesn't mean that you can't *eventually* do it -- it just means that FIRST your proposed changes should be thoroughly discussed on the Talk page and some sort of consensus reached. What we absolutely do NOT want here at CZ are the "revert" wars at Wikipedia. In the three years I've been here only a couple have ever started -- and the Constabulary or Editor-in-Chief quickly stopped them. A couple of people left as a result, but if that's the sort of activity they want, they should stick with WP. So, as I said above, Be bold -- but not *too* bold! Hayford Peirce 20:04, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
And please use our system of indentations as you go down the page replying to comments -- thanks! Hayford Peirce 20:04, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I'll be happy to indent, if you tell me how... Mary Ash 20:09, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Ah, just use colons to indent your replies. One, two, three, four, or more, as the case may be.
Look here.
And here.
And here again -- using the EDIT mode on this page -- you'll see the colons coming down the page. Once in a while, if there are so many of them that the text is getting scrunched, someone will start all over again at the left margin but will write (unindent) to start off the text.

(unindent) Like this. Thanks -- it's all pretty easy! Hayford Peirce 20:20, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

As far as flow, I see it entirely relevant to have the history early in the article. It sets a context, which is one of our goals -- just as I put in seealso to extraterrestrial intelligence. As the article was, it jumped directly into Hynek and Vallee, which easily gives an impression these are widely accepted and there is no controversy about UFOs. Indeed, the "flying saucer" reference in the lede is something I found distracting, but I referenced and contextualized rather than removed.
I've never worked on WatchNOW so I can't comment. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:24, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Culturally, it's not inappropriate to link Vallee to the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:25, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Edit summary

If you want people to be aware of it, edit summaries are a bad place to leave anything that should be kept -- they are only visible in the last watchlist or recent changes. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:12, 22 July 2010 (UTC)


"According to the National UFO Reporting Center statistics" Could you elaborate on these statistics? Are these visual, photographic, or imaging radar assignments of shapes? Which are correlated with at least multiple independent observers in a plausible geometry? Howard C. Berkowitz 20:28, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

The statistics are from reports submitted to the National UFO Reporting Center. The center collects data from pilots, peace officers and fields calls from everyone including reporters. It is probably the largest UFO data collection center privately maintained by Peter Davenport. The statistics will vary based on the types of reports submitted by witnesses. As to linking Vallee with Close Encounters, I was planning to add that to the article. Someone beat me to it. That's part of writing together. I based the article on the subject of UFOs which are unidentified flying objects. Segueing into classifications of UFOs, followed by their history, would make sense. The article is about what UFOs look like followed by their history. At least that's how I envisioned it. This is a collaborative effort, but I am the original author who had the article diagrammed in my head. I was having great fun putting the article together, and looked forward to editing from others, once I had completed what I had written.
Finally, I submitted over 300 articles to wikiHow which is where I learned what little wiki syntax I know. I'd appreciate any help offered when it comes to wiki syntax when the article is done. I am sure you have editors here who do just that. I used to do that at wikiHow where I have 5,000 plus articles polished up and edited doing what they call New Article Boost.
Mary Ash 20:38, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
Hi, Mary. Just read the blue banner at the top of the Edit page of this Talk page to see how indents are used. It will only take a few moments of your time. Meanwhile, I fixed your indenting. Milton Beychok 20:47, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
Speaking as an individual who happens to be an Engineering Workgroup Editor, and not making a formal ruling, it bothers me that your draft seems to be using only sources that tend to assume that there are significant numbers of UFOs, and, in some cases, alien involvement. "Statistics" from a center really don't mean much without context and analysis. In aircraft accident investigation, for example, eyewitness reports, sometimes even from expert observers, are not just thrown out as evidentiary.
To take another area where seemingly expert observations have not necessarily proven definitive, see battle damage assessment. What I'm suggesting is that I would find a draft article much more in CZ style if it identifies, from the start, differences of opinion.
I'm sorry, but I really can't accept the idea of an authoritative article "about what UFOs look like," certainly with classifications that involve entities and humanoids, and about shapes without a discussion of the sensors and their angular resolution. I think the historical context, which I certainly didn't complete, is essential at the start. Howard C. Berkowitz 20:54, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

The article is about what UFOs reportedly look like

The article is about reported characteristics of what UFOs look like. A good source for UFO reports is the National UFO Reporting Center database. The database compiles reported witness sightings based on location, time, shape, etc. It is one of the few databases available as there are few places that accurately compile such information. The history of UFOs and related information are secondary and could stand alone as separate related articles.

Mary Ash 21:02, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Other engineering/astronomy editors?

Mary, no single person at CZ can insist on the scope of coverage of an article, although an Editor who has not added to the article comes close. In general, we prefer consensus.

I'm afraid I do not consider the above scope to be the base of a neutral CZ article. At the most basic, it sounds as if it makes the assumption that UFOs are real and witness reports are invariably accurate. That has a strong flavor of conspiracy theory.

Take a less controversial subject, battle damage assessment. Bomber pilots are experts, but long experience has proven their reporting must be confirmed.

This article seems to leap into the classification systems of UFO reporting organizations with a strong bias that there is a major UFO issue. What would strike me as a fair article would first go into the plausibility of widespread, verifiable existence of unknown objects, and, if it is focused on visual observation, some of the observer and cognitive issues there. It would certainly address the history and the increase in sighting reports. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:10, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I disagree: This is a straight up objective style or reporting

This article is a straight up, objective style of reporting. The article uses established facts from various credible and established sources. Later, if I ever get there, there will be information from skeptics. Unfortunately I've spent most of this day defending what little I wrote. I will have my husband, who is a scientist and amateur astronomer, review this article for scientific objectivity. Also, the article clearly states it is about UFOs. It is up to the reader to decide whether they exist or not. An objective article should allow the reader to make a decision based on a fact based article versus one that combines fact with opinion. It's best to use reputable sources, which I have, and then allow the reader to decide. Mary Ash 21:34, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Mary, CZ isn't a newspaper in which sometimes the editors or reporters feel it is necessary to report two sides of a question as if they are equally worthy. For instance, if we have an article about Flat-earthers, we will report what advocates of that view actually say and think, BUT we do not give them 50% of the article. We give them, in fact, about 5% or so, we put them in a historical context, etc., but we basically write an article in which the best scientific, expert opinion is the context. The same, I fear, must be the case in any sort of article about UFOs, crop circles, Moon-landing hoaxes, etc. There is much that can be written about these topics in an objective way, but it has to be made clear that some studies, opinions, references, etc. are more mainstream and more highly valued than others. In an article about Homeopathy, for instance, we would give greater weight to a 5-year study of its value by the Harvard Medical School than we would to a publication by a homeopathic center in Calcutta. All of the "information" that comes from your UFO-study center about the purported shapes of UFOs is going to have be strictly qualified. You can say that *they* say there are ovals, triangles, etc., but all of this is going to have to dealt with in a way that is close to outright skepticism. It is *they* who have to offer evidence that what they say is scientific evidence -- not just babble from True Believers. Hayford Peirce 22:26, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
So let me understand this. If I write an article about the Grand Trunk Railway, I'm not supposed to write about the development of the line, its history, or its significance (Well I should, but only devote about 5% of the article to it) but instead about how historians have discounted the importance of the line, how engineers have demonstrated that it was poorly built, and in fact not really all that significant in any way, if that is what the experts have said? I should write very little about the railroad itself and instead devote my attention to what other people have said about the railroad?
Regarding the Homeopathy example, does this mean we are to give more weight to opponents and detractors of our subjects than we should to established agencies who study our phenomenon? So the NTSB (which doesn't study UFOs) is more of an authority on what UFOs look like than the NUFORC (which does study [I assume from its title] UFOs). Is this the correct interpretation here? If so, our article on Phlogiston Theory should be massive while our article on Oxygenation should be full of holes.
And I'm confused on this point too. Why would a Harvard Medical School report be more authoritative than a Calcutta Homeopathic Center report? If we're to adopt a skeptical point of view, it would seem to me that we should discount the Harvard report because it is obviously prejudicial whereas the Calcutta report would be based on field experience. Russell D. Jones 13:40, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

(undent) This is all covered in our CZ:Neutrality Policy. Everyone please use that as your reference. D. Matt Innis 14:03, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

It is incorrect to say the NTSB, or the FAA, does not study unidentified objects in airspace that might have any bearing on safety of flight. They do not, however, study "flying saucers", which seems to be confused with the simple definition of a UFO: an object in the sky that is not identified. Russell, please make up your mind: either you want to call UFOs sociological phenomena, or, if they are not purely in the mind, then the experts are the engineers that deal with all identification and characterization.
NUFORC is reporting lights and shapes in the sky, with no interpretation or validation. To take an example where the NTSB, FBI, and CIA were involved, have you ever looked at the exhaustive analysis applied to the reports of possible missile tracks near TWA 800? As soon as the "ufology" groups start doing that level of analysis, they will gain engineering credibility.
The ufologists are not "established agencies" in any sense I know of being authoritative on the analysis of objects. I really don't want to get into a detailed critique, but "established" analysts of imagery -- and photographs are in these databases -- do use photogrammetric and other methods of technical validation. Many ufologist photographs have been established as hoaxes. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:44, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I just did a search of the NTSB site ( There are only two references to "UFO" on that site and both pertain to eyewitness documents. So I guess it is "incorrect to say the NTSB, ... does not study unidentified objects in airspace" as the NTSB has provided first-hand accounts and eyewitness reports (actually they are redacted documents from the FBI) of unidentified flying objects. Sorry for the error. Russell D. Jones 16:31, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
On reconsideration, I'm going to stand by my original statement. The NTSB clearly states its mission, part of which is "To promote transportation safety by ... conducting objective, precise accident investigations and safety studies; ... and advocating and promoting safety recommendation." I don't know of any accident involving a UFO that the NTSB has investigated, but I'm willing to be persuaded if someone can point me to an NTSB investigation of a UFO accident. It is probable that the NTSB has issued cockpit instructions about how to approach a flying saucer, as that is a clear air safety concern. But overall, the NTSB's mandate is transportation safety, not UFO investigation. And since the UFO documents at the NTSB site are really from the FBI, it would seem that the NTSB really isn't interested in UFOs. The FBI, on the other hand, is probably the better place to look if we want to find the government agency responsible for UFO investigation and regulation. Or the INS, which deals with aliens. Russell D. Jones 16:52, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
It's more fundamental than that, Russell. As a guess, I've read several hundred NTSB final reports. It is extremely frequent for them to discuss, in detail, anything that might have affected the incident aircraft, including unusual observations. I would guess, however, that they go out of their way to avoid the "UFO" term as being sensational. If I may, I suggest that "UFOs" and "things in the sky that are not understood" have very different connotations.
While I haven't written SETI, do look at extraterrestrial intelligence. There are strong arguments that radio contact is far more likely than "close encounters of the Nth Kind". How credible are taxonomies that deal with yetis, poltergeists, and near-death experiences in a mixing bowl? At least they don't mention my Aunt Shirley. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:42, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
The CIA and Air Force, however, did study UFOs. What about their analyses? Want to compare NPIC/University of Colorado to NUFORC? And yes -- there are problems in the Condon Report with some loose ends. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:42, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Really, Howard, is the Air Force a credible source for this article? Clearly they have a vested interest in dis-information about strange things in the air, especially if it's in their test areas of the Southwest U.S. I guess they'd be about as credible as the NUFORC. Russell D. Jones 16:57, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Any source that puts up methodology -- quite possibly CIA more than Air Force -- can be analyzed and credibility determined. Sources that just reprint anecdotal reports, without the most elementary attempt at correlation, can't even have credibility established.
Look at the treatment of unconfirmed eyewitness reports, of fast-developing events, under stressful circumstances, in ordinary criminal courts. People have enough trouble determining a red Ford from a green BMW. Personally, I don't know much about cars and wouldn't try, although if the BMW were a 666i, I'd worry that the Beast might be driving it.
There's an interesting point to be made with respect to government coverups. There is a surprising lack of UFO reports that have any similarity to the U-2, HAVE BLUE, TACIT RAINBOW, F-117, SR-71, or other things we know existed but were long "black" projects. Analogously, I remember going through the North Korean accusations of U.S. biological warfare in the Korean War...pages and pages of suspect things. Unfortunately, there was absolutely nothing that resembled the quite distinctive classified munitions that were the sole BW weapons in the inventory at the time. Interestingly, what was described did resemble some of the munitions developed by Japan's Unit 731 in WWII. Howard C. Berkowitz 17:06, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement not opinion in context of Hynek and Vallee

The following was removed with only an edit summary. Please explain deletions on the Talk Page because edit summaries are transient.
Some classifications of sightings specifically assume not only an object that could not be explained, but indications of a nonhuman intelligence, either extraterrestrial or terrestrial but paranormal.

Please do not keep deleting things with which you disagree without discussing them here.

This is not "opinion" in the sense of something not sourced, but directly derived from contextualizing the Hynek and Vallee categorizations:

  • Hynek "
  1. Close Encounter of the Third Kind: Seeing humanoid like creatures associated with the UFO. There is usually no interaction between the human witness and the humanoid. In some reports there have been interactions reported between the UFO witness and the humanoids.[1]
  2. Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Interaction between the UFO witness and abduction by humanoid entities."
  • Vallee's "
  1. AN3: entities. This could include ghosts, yetis (Abominable Snowman), elves, spirits and crytozoology.
  2. AN4: The witness reports interaction with the entities within the reality of the entities themselves. This type of experience could include Near Death Experiences, religious visions and out-of-body experiences (OBEs)"

It's generally not our practice to list groups favoring something, and its opponents as "skeptics". Indeed, in the Homeopathy article and discussion, the word "skeptic" was banned. Howard C. Berkowitz 22:40, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia not an acceptable source

I changed the sourcing, and detail, of the attribution that a character in the Spielberg movie was patterned after Vallee. Wikipedia is not an acceptable source for Citizendium articles, if for no other reason that it is unstable. While we do import WP articles, a practice being reevaluated, our rules require they be changed substantially and content added.

Howard C. Berkowitz 22:58, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

National UFO Reporting Center

I've been looking at the data base of NUFORC. As far as I can tell, they are narrative reports from people who have seen unexplained objects, in their own words. There does not appear to be any analysis of the described course tracks or visual characteristics, much less any attempt to correlate with other observations.

On the home page, the closest thing to correlation is "FLASH!! POSTED TUESDAY EVENING, JULY 06, 2010 - Events across the United States and Canada on the evening of Sunday, July 04, 2010.

"Over the last 48 hours, NUFORC has received almost 100 similar reports of very peculiar events, which have been witnessed across the U. S. and Canada on July 4th, and perhaps on July 3rd, as well. The sightings are a phenomenon for which we have no ready explanation. Many of the reports from both days have been submitted by seemingly serious-minded individuals, many of whom apparently witnessed the events with multiple other witnesses present.

"To date, we have received reports of the phenomenon from the following U. S. states and Canadian provinces: California; Connecticut; Washington, D.C.; Florida; Georgia; Illinois; Indiana; Kentucky; Massachusetts; Manitoba; Michigan; Minnesota; Missouri; North Dakota; Nebraska; New Jersey; New York; Ohio; Oklahoma; Pennsylvania; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; Vermont; and Washington State.

"The reports are similar, in that the witnesses have described seeing strange red, orange, or yellow “fireballs,” which have been seen either to hover in the night sky, or to streak overhead, sometimes individually, and on some occasions in clusters. In some instances, the objects were observed against a clear, cloudless sky, and in other cases, they were observed below solid or broken overcast. "

Is it too much to expect that, perhaps, minimal respectable analysis would plot the sightings against geographic position and time? Perhaps that the changes in color, movement, etc., might be associated with different parts of the flight path? Howard C. Berkowitz 23:06, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

So are you saying that there is no justification for including this article in the engineering workgroup? Russell D. Jones 11:37, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm confused, Russell. The point I just made was that searching out the significant reports in an aviation incident is an engineering discipline. The first step is normalizing the data, so there is a common time and geospatial database. It is Engineering that would pose the questions to validate the reports of bright lights in the sky on July 4, and ruling out the most likely causes on that night. NUFORC didn't follow reasonable engineering practice, which is something worth mentioning. Look at any investigation of reports in a presumptively causally related sequence, such as the breakup of a Shuttle over land. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:43, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
A claim that the National UFO Reporting Center is not following engineering practice sounds like a pretty solid claim that UFOs are not engineering phenomena. Compare: "The ASME does not follow conventional reporting of results as established by the American Psychological Association." I think we can be on safe ground arguing that the discipline of mechanical engineering is not the discipline of psychology. Russell D. Jones 12:39, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
How can you say that it is not engineering when it is Engineering that provides the standard of reporting of aviation phenomena, which you then use to say UFOs are not engineering phenomena? This seems contradictory.
Are you prepared, Russell, to say there is no physical basis, subject to engineering analysis, to any UFO report? I'm not. The Air Force Condon Report was not -- there were a small number of incidents that included correlated visual and radar observations that could not be explained. The CIA applied photogrammetric analysis, an engineering discipline.
I don't know why you keep bringing up mechanical engineering and ASME. The aforementioned SPSE, the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing, and other bodies deal with visual and optical observation and measurement. Radar, electronic systems engineering, and air traffic control are more in IEEE. As far as incident investigation, NTSB is a respected independent agency. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:57, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia is an acceptable source according to the CZ User Guide

Wikipedia is an acceptable source.

Mary Ash 23:09, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Please cite. There is no page CZ: User Guide. I know of multiple-editor situations where there were several rulings that WP was not a source -- this became especially a problem with Eduzendium. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:31, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Wikipedia denies that it is a valid source. Russell D. Jones 11:43, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

A Constable's Comment about Sandboxes

I don't think this question has arisen before (if so, it was back with all the articles about the Uighor prisoners or whatever) but let's think it over for a moment:

If I decide I want to originate and then write an article about Billie Jean King, for instance, and I don't want anyone else messing around with it until I've got it *just* right, then I've got two choices:

1.) I can start a new article in Mainspace or whatever we want to call it.

2.) Or I can start a new article called User:Hayford Peirce/Sandbox/Billie Jean King or however it's actually done and then write the entire article in there at my leisure, free from interference from anyone else. When it's finished, I can then either Move it to Mainspace or do a cut-and-paste or whatever.

I think all of that is pretty clear.

What I *don't* think I can do is to start an article Unidentified flying object, for instance, then have a number of other Authors work on it in a very substantial way, and THEN move the entire article to a sandbox, thereby putting it off-limits to all the other Authors.

In other words, I think that an article in a Sandbox has to be a NEW article that other people haven't worked on, not one such as Unidentified flying object.

What are your thoughts on this? As a Constable, I don't think that it would be permitted, but I freely admit that I could be wrong about it. Hayford Peirce 23:10, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Hayford, while it's not quite the same as an Author doing a MOVE from userspace, there have been cases where an Editor moved to userspace with the offer that the entire article could be moved back once the Editor believed it of mainspace quality. I'm not sure I remember cases where the quality was met and things moved back.
Again, those were usually things where there was not work by other authors. Howard C. Berkowitz 23:28, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

Tried Several Times to Post This Comment

Removed: To recognize a previously seen object, the visual system must overcome the variability in the object's appearance caused by factors such as illumination and pose. Developments in computer vision suggest that it may be possible to counter the in£uence of these factors, by learning to interpolate between stored views of the target object, taken under representative combinations of viewing conditions. Daily life situations, however, typically require categorization, rather than recognition, of objects. Due to the open-ended character of both natural and arti¢cial categories, categorization cannot rely on interpolation between stored examples. [6]

Unneeded as the NUFORC cites witness reports. Only the witness can evaluate what they saw and I am sure most can figure out the difference between a circle, triangle or light. Also, Davenport does weed out obvious hoaxes.

Mary Ash 23:16, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Mary, our procedure is that you discuss and then remove text. It is very much needed, as witnesses alone are rarely accepted as unimpeachable in court, much less in engineering. From engineering experience, I'm not at all sure that witnesses can accurately differentiate among circles, triangles and lights -- the cited material discussed that the human brain tries to match them to previous experience. There is abundant literature on object recognition, and its difficulties, in things that have nothing to do with UFOs.
Please restore the material you deleted. By "Davenport does weed out obvious hoaxes", what are their criteria? What independent organizations, having no stake in UFO matters, have reviewed their reliability? Are you saying they are more reliable than Art Lundahl, who was open even on photographic interpretation?Howard C. Berkowitz 23:24, 22 July 2010 (UTC)
This remark counters our original Be Bold policy. D. Matt Innis 12:21, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Are you suggesting that "being bold" allows large deletions without prior discussion? Hayford, I think, is being quite reasonable when he says "be bold, but not too bold." If I understand him correctly, I agree with the point that boldness should be constrained when dealing with especially controversial topics. Howard C. Berkowitz 13:14, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Large Deletions is covered under Reversion and deletion as unprofessional behaviors, but first I'd have to decide who deleted the more than 50 words without discussiion, which, would include a two sided conversation with a decision made. Would you like me to do that? D. Matt Innis 14:12, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Go right ahead, Matt. I also challenge your neutrality here and ask that the Chief Constable become involved. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:16, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Reverts and unexplained deletions--constables?

I replaced a Wikipedia sourcing with a reference to the Internet Movie Database, which disagreed with WP. The IMDB additional information was reverted, in favor of Wikipedia, at

At, I provided a citation about the difficulties of visual shape characterization, from a peer-reviewed journal. Again, it was deleted.

There is a Wikipedia citation for Carl Sagan under "skeptics". I properly wikilinked the Drake Equation.

Howard C. Berkowitz 23:19, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

This is an official Editorial ruling

Mary, when I reformatted some of your "Notes", you have reverted them to their original format. Your formatting is simply incorrect and I have tried to help you by reformatting them ... and I explained that above earlier in this Talk page. I am going to once more reformat them correctly and, in doing so, I am making an official editorial ruling that you are NOT to revert them again. I am also agreeing with Howard Berkowitz that Wikipedia articles are not reliable sources and you are NOT to revert that removal again. If you do so, I will ask a Constable to take the appropriate action. I regret having to make an official ruling but you are seemingly willfully reverting simple edits of reformatting your notes. Milton Beychok 23:36, 22 July 2010 (UTC)

I'm not sure what I did but I apologize. Finally, you have worn me out in one day. I thought Wikipedia was tough but you guys have them beat. The article is all yours.
I have tried to start working on the skeptical viewpoint but I give up. I'm tired and I have a headache.
And I'm outta here! Mary Ash 23:46, 22 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash
Please, Mary, just try again. But first take the time to read and study all of the CZ help articles and "how to" articles, some of which were spelled out by Hayford Pierce on your Talk page when he created your account. It also helps to study the main articles and Talk pages of some existing articles. In other words, take 3 or 4 days just to read and study our CZ system before you try again. Milton Beychok 00:25, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Seriously, I do think a CZ-style UFO article is a good idea, and that things seemed to start in that direction. We do have our own ideas and style about objectivity, and, while an article should indicate dissenting views from what is perceived mainstream expertise, articles that take an advocacy position of a minority opinion won't fly.
Suggestions and edits were intended to be constructive, but made by people more familiar with the style here. Large deletions and moves, without prior discussion, do not work. While the scope of an article can be agreed to, it can't be dictated, with the caveat that Editors may rule certain material inaccurate or biased. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:46, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

(undent) It looks like there was a lot of activity here today. Did we scare Mary away with all our rules and regulations? D. Matt Innis 01:02, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Perhaps we did scare her away. But she seemed unwilling to study or learn our system before she started the article. Milton Beychok 01:38, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Remember, people come here to have fun. I know everyone's intentions are good, but consider how you would have responded if that was how you were treated on your first day. Remember to use gentle guidance... and let them write. The rules are to Be Bold and just start writing. That is why they come, and that is why they stay. They will ask for help when they need it. Otherwise, we'll just have one editor per article and no authors. D. Matt Innis 02:05, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Actually, it was gentler than Jensen on my first day. I appealed and got Constable help for massive deletions. When he attacked on content, I hit back with more specificity.
Now, when I've started writing about something I don't know as well as I could, I listen carefully to people who know more -- although I'm not all that patient when I'm told "go Google" or the like, without any real specificity.
Sorry, we disagree. I'm not sure "having fun" was my motivation, but much more "doing it right" and "respecting expertise." There's a difference between the WP experience of having your own peer-reviewed research discounted or being told you misinterpreted something you originated (and was peer-reviewed), and the idea here that expertise is respected. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:05, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I'm sorry, I must have missed this. The original author of this article claimed twenty years experience in writing about UFOs and you claimed to have had a side conversation with a UFO expert about Soviet counter-force missiles. Could you show me the "respect for expertise"? I seemed to have missed it. Russell D. Jones 11:28, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes, you missed it.The expert involved, mentioned on user pages, is Phil Klass, who Mary called the leading skeptic on UFOs (well, he isn't any more, since he died in 2005).
Perhaps you don't see the relationship, but I happen to believe that over 40 years experience in radar, intelligence systems, and air defense related areas is very relevant to the identification of flying objects. For that matter, see electronic warfare about objects that don't want to be identified. I currently work on marine systems including radar. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:43, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Thank you for the correction Howard. And I do recognize your expertise in matters of military intelligence systems, including radar and air defense systems. Russell D. Jones 12:49, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Philip J. Klass, with whom I also corresponded, was the senior editor at Aviation Week & Space Technology for thirty-four years, an electrical engineer, and probably the world's greatest expert on UFOs. Certainly he was a skeptic about their existence, but not a dogmatic one -- he was only interested in the evidence. He richly deserves an article. (He should not be confused with Philip Klass, who wrote science fiction as William Tenn). Hayford Peirce 20:46, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

New changes to references

I'm trying to stay away from the article at the moment, but I saw many reference footnotes breaking. For example, a proper {{citation}} template for an article from the CIA journal, Studies in Intelligence, has been replaced by a free-text reference that describes it as "from the CIA's website." What was broken and needed to be changed? Howard C. Berkowitz 20:38, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Wrong Workgroups

This article was erroneously put in the Engineering and Biology workgroups. I'm sorry, do we have an alien that we've diagnosed so that we know for certain that aliens are biological? Most machines are not biological. But then, do we have an alien or a UFO that we've examined to know that it's technological, that is to say engineered? I think the assigning of this article into these workgroups was done on the basis of unscientific speculation. Where is the evidence that aliens are biological or that UFOs are an engineering accomplishment? Would some editor of the workgroups concerned please correct the metadata to reflect reality? Thanks. Russell D. Jones 01:52, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes, you're probably right about that Russell. It probably needs a re-think. This would be the kind of thing that an ME could help decide for us on the fly and then let the EC debate over the long haul while authors get back to work. D. Matt Innis 02:07, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
(Matt *tried* to wipe out my comment, but I had *saved* it, hehe.) Well, I *mostly* agree with you, Russell, that's why I didn't assign *any* groups when I first made the metadata. The problem with UFOs is that they could easily fit into a *dozen* groups. Are you OK with Sociology? What about Psychology? What about Astronomy? What about Military? Geez, this is tough! I don't think that there's anything, though, that says it *has* to be an Editor who assigns the groups -- usually it's just common sense and *anyone* can do it.... Hayford Peirce 02:10, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Russell, could you give us what you think would be more correct workgroups? I agree with you that biology may have been a stretch, but engineering is definitely apropos (in my opinion) for a flying object be it identified or unidentified. Sociology? I would prefer someone else to comment about whether sociology is appropriate. When Howard selected the workgroups (see above), he felt that sociology would be suited for the phenomenon of mass belief. Milton Beychok 02:13, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I explained my reasoning above. Engineering is the best fit, because we have put transportation, including air traffic control, accident investigation, the principles of radar and electro-optical tracking, etc., in it. The classification of an air target is an engineering problem that sometimes is military, although one could argue that the fusion of the physics of optical resolution and the perceptual psychology of visual recognition also are valid fields.
If the UFOs, as in the classification system, have "humanoids", I don't know what to apply other than biology. Abominable snowmen (see the classification) are presumably biological, although there are anthropological and religious dimensions. As far as ghosts and other "paranormal", I have no good idea where to put them.
Drake's Equation, which estimates extraterrestrial intelligence, has astrophysical and biological parameters. ...said Hoaward C. Berkowitz (talk) 19:39 July 22, 2010
As UFOs are by definition unidentified, it's hard to see how you could tell which workgroup(s) they belong in. Peter Jackson 08:58, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

All I ask Howard or Milton is that you offer evidence, not speculation, that UFOs belong in the groups identified. Where is your proof?

Regarding sociology, I think it could be easily documented that many people on this planet have claimed to have seen a UFO or to have be abducted. Thus there is a body of knowledge concerning what humans have reported. If this were my area of expertise, I could offer a bibliography. It's a social and cultural phenonemon. Russell D. Jones 10:56, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

The branch of study in characterizing events in the air, which may be constructed as well as natural phenomenon, is aviation and sensor engineering -- not the clearest discipline, but including such things as air traffic control and NTSB-style incident investigation. What other proof is needed that Engineering is the discipline that would be involved in assigning significance to "sociological" reports.
In the United States, "close encounters" between flying objects, identified or not, must be reported, on a no-fault basis, to the Federal Aviation Administration. Aviation engineers then analyze the incident to find possible needs for improving safety. If any object came close to a flight, one of the first questions would be if the collision avoidance system worked, TCAS and similar systems intended to be in both aircraft. Presumably, flying saucers do not carry them.
If you'll accept "spaceborne" as part of flying, understanding the BMEWS alert of 1960 was radar systems engineering. Are you saying that engineering is inapplicable based on an assumption that all reports are subjective and do not have physical correlates? I really don't understand your objection. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:47, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Ford Motor Company manufactures automobiles, for which we have the Model T and other autos which have been carefully documented by the Society of Automotive Engineers. Show me the UFO so that we can definitively categorize the technology, if it is a technology. Your argument is "It has been reported as a flying object, therefore it's a technology." I'm sorry, I'm just not following the leap. I'd like to see some ASME articles on this technology. Where is the engineering body of literature on this subject? All I am asking is that you do the research and show me the engineering body of knowledge. I'd like to be persuaded because I really don't know. I'm not an expert on UFOs. Russell D. Jones 11:58, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I really have no idea what the ASME has to say on the subject, as I've never been a member. I have, however, been a member of the Society for Photographic Science and Engineering, and photographic resolution is very much a concern of theirs. See photogrammetry for another aspect of imagery analysis, or Art Lundahl, or Dino Brugioni -- I have discussed the matter with the latter.
"UFO" has gotten a bad connotation of the exotic. When the AN/SPY-1 radar on a cruiser or destroyer gets a contact that it can't identify, that goes into the tracking data base and very well may start getting a missile targeted on it. Is a misidentification an "unidentified"? What about Iran Air 655? The investigation of that airliner shootdown intensely involved radar and combat systems engineering. Flying object identification is very much part of integrated air defense systems.
You said Your argument is "It has been reported as a flying object, therefore it's a technology." That is not my argument. My argument is "there is a report of a flying object. Analyzing the validity of the report is an engineering technology. That analysis may indicate there is, or is not, an actual object. An actual object need not be technological, although there may be improperly operated/interpreted technology such as BMEWS deciding the Moon was attacking.
There is a very blurry line between human factors engineering and perceptual psychology, but they both deal with visual recognition. Howard C. Berkowitz 12:11, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Try a new pass?

I'm tempted, from a sense of mental neatness before returning to things I need to do, to try to reorganize and edit the article, simply to try to get it on track. If I try to be minimally offensive, I would not add synthesis and interpolation. If I write as I believe I should, I will make some observations that I think are entirely defensible from the standpoint of writing with expert opinion.

I'm most reluctant to break this into "skeptical view" and "believers" or whatever terms are in mind. Mary, on someone's talk page, did mention the late Phil Klass, whom I knew slightly--I had had discussions with him on Soviet SS-9 ICBMs, if they were FOBS, and if they were intended for counterforce against Minuteman fields. More broadly, though, I did know him as someone who drove the government crazy with accurate links, not exactly the person one would pick to cover up a conspiracy -- unless the U.S. government is capable of far greater sublety than I'd ever imagine.

Now, would I personally like there to be intelligent, benevolent, and perhaps sexy aliens? Absolutely! Have I seen some odd things on sensors and archives? Yes. Do I think some of the UFO center claims are internally consistent? Not all, and I believe this could be pointed out in simple terms. Howard C. Berkowitz 02:39, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Rather than "skeptical view", I'd prefer to describe incidents (e.g., Roswell, Zanesville) with the analysis of the various participants. "Skeptical" often implies a predisposition to dismiss the incident -- sometimes reasonably, sometimes not. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:54, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

The second paragraph -- E.B. White, please call home

Text here was removed by the Constabulary on grounds of civility. (The author may replace this template with an edited version of the original remarks.)

E.B. White?? Wasn't he an author of children's books?? Milton Beychok 02:24, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
"If I could write
  Like E.B. White
  I'd tell Cornell
  To go to hell.

Howard C. Berkowitz 02:41, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Yes, wrote one of two famous kids' books, but also, and primarily, long, LONG-time writer for the New Yorker and master stylist there, known for his clear, limpid, lucid prose, plus, of course, co-author of Elements of Style by Strunk and White. Hayford Peirce 04:56, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Howard, about your re-organization of the article

Howard, I think that your re-organization has much improved this article. Thanks, Milton Beychok 03:15, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Greatly Disappointed

I came back to take a look at the article and to think about hanging in here after someone wrote and asked to help. I found the following page comments in the page history: bytes) (I think Escoffier might have written "flying sauces" but he would, of course, have been wrong also!) (undo)

OR on this talk page

Berkowitz|Howard C. Berkowitz]] 02:39, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

The second paragraph -- E.B. White, please call home

The Constabulary has removed a conversation here that either in whole or in part did not meet Citizendium's Professionalism policy. Feel free to remove this template and take up the conversation with a fresh start.

Some other thoughts

I may not be an engineer or scientist but I have spent over 20 years studying UFO phenomena. I may not be an expert but I sure do know an awful lot about the subject. How many here can claim they studied this subject for that long?

I am a retired reporter and I was trained to research, write and edit. I can accurate articles quickly, if needed. The fastest article I ever wrote was 8 inches in 8 minutes on deadline. It was about a local airplane crash and the editor needed it now! So I can write if given the opportunity.

Also, you might want to rewrite this section as vehicles are now living things therefore they can not interact in a behavioral fashion.

See: Behavioral aspects

  • Close Encounter of the First Kind: UFOs that are seen within 200 yards of the witness. There is no interaction between the witness and the UFO.
  • Close Encounter of the Second Kind: Electrical equipment such as a car ignition may operate strangely. Other electrical equipment may malfunction while the UFO is present. Other forms of interaction may include physical effects to plants, animals or human beings. There could be traces of burned grass for example in a Close Encounter of the Second Kind.
  • Close Encounter of the Third Kind: Seeing humanoid like creatures associated with the UFO. There is usually no interaction between the human witness and the humanoid. In some reports there have been interactions reported between the UFO witness and the humanoids.[12]
  • Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Interaction between the UFO witness and abduction by humanoid entities.[13]

...said Mary Ash (talk) 20:50 July 22, 2010

Well, I probably have studied airborne sensors and aviation incident investigation since the 1960s. It was probably about 1967 when I met Phil Klass, on a totally unrelated subject -- the Soviet SS-9 ICBM and possible intentions for using it variously as an electromagnetic pulse warhead carrier and as a multiple reentry vehicle against Minuteman ICBM fields. While in college in the 60s, I was a part-time science writer for the Washington Post. Some of my current articles are in Marine Electronics Journal and I both work on and write on navigational systems. You might want to look around here at radar, air defense, technical intelligence, and other articles I've written and see if I might be an expert who can write.
I assume you meant vehicles are not living things. Computer-controlled vehicles, however, do exhibit behavior, including learned behavior. The term "autonomous vehicle" is currently used for unmanned combat aerial vehicles in Afghanistan and elsewhere.
Further, when the classification says "humanoid like creatures" and "abduction by humanoid entities", I'd say that wording gives a fair justification to think of living organisms being involved. Do away with the categories that refer to humanoids, yetis, etc., and I might reconsider behavioralism. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:12, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

re History -- some earlier stuff could be put in

I remember 40 years or so ago reading a "fact" article in Astounding Science Fiction (or maybe Analog by then) by Campbell himself (maybe) about a rash of so-called "flying crosses" that people in the 1890s were seeing all over the world. He had some old-time illustrations to prove his point. I dunno if he wuz making this up or not. But, evidently, there *were* a lot of sightings of *something* in the 1890s, big balloons, who knows, just at the dawn of the aeronautical age. See this site, and there are others -- so it's quite possible, in my opinion, that this sort of mass delusion happens at the moments when a lot of psychological factors come together. Maybe you could work some of this *earlier* stuff into the History section. I mean, if *those* were UFOs, in the scientific sense of the term, what were they? Hayford Peirce 04:14, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Oh sure. Think about the level of world tension in 1947 as well, and the reality that both sides had had secret weapons.
Incidentally, I note that the National UFO Center is concerned about an unusual number of bright lights in the sky on the night of July 4. Do any terrestrial explanations come to mind? Howard C. Berkowitz 04:55, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Okay to archive this page now?

At the top of this edit page we are being warned that it is now 45 kilobytes and we should consider archiving some of it?

Would it be okay by everyone involved if I archived the page at this point so we can take a deep breath overnight and start afresh tomorrow? PLEASE! 05:06, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

I would be very open, if others want to work on it, perhaps to save the first section and then discuss a fresh start. A quality CZ article on the subject, I think, is possible, without wandering off into strangeness.
Howard, please be more specific about archiving this page. Exactly where do you think I should start the archiving? By "the first section", do you mean the first comment at the top of the Talk page? Milton Beychok 06:26, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Yes. What I'd hope to save is the discussion of the substance of the article, of discussion of what would go into a good CZ style article about UFOs. Hayford had a good comment about newspaper vs. New Yorker.
There's no need to keep the arguments about how CZ should do what it doesn't do. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:07, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Feedback is very welcome in the way I've approached such this as shape recognition and light sources on July 4. It's not my intention to say there could not be UFOs in this, but simply to point out that validation of sighting reports is very difficult.
One has to wonder, if these are "manned", if they are aware of us, or our detection capabilities. There's a short cartoon, floating around the net, of one of the Mars landers approaching the rim of a crater, just as its battery dies for good.
The point of view backs off to show, in the crater, the Martian equivalent of Las Vegas.
Are their Martian Air Force generals denying that any strange things have landed? Dammit, I'd like some of these to be true. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:31, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

New followup to Hayford

You make good points about the 1890s. Whenever there's a new trend in human experience, people tend to try to use it to explain the unknown. Balloons, when balloons were pretty new, are a good example -- I wonder if there were such reports around the Montogolfiers?

Other people try to fit new observations into a more familiar context. I remember well a time, as a teenager but who was in a Medical Explorer Scout unit, covering the first aid tent at a camporee. Someone came in with big purple skin blobs, and the first thing into my mind was the buboes of plague. The scary explanation, I thought, had to be taken seriously and I called for help. The doctor who showed up did a doubletake as well, until he figured out it was second-degree sunburn blisters that were acting as magnifiers for pimples; all the fluid seemed purple. Howard C. Berkowitz 11:14, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Constable Notice

Once I am sure that everyone has seen this notice, I will add it to the top of this talk page. As this is obviously a contoversial subject, I need everyone to pay attention to our rules of CZ:Professionalism and make sure to refrain from remarks that will be percieved as {{civil}} and {{inflammatory}}. And, please {{no complaints}} about others. Do understand that these rules apply to everyone equally, including editors and officials. I encourage authors to cooperate with the gentle guidance of Editors. Editors, I encourage you to be gentle. I will not be editing this article or involving myself in any of the disputes and will remain as neutral as humanly possible in performing this constable duty. D. Matt Innis 12:01, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

More about archiving

Unless I receive some direction from others as to exactly where to begin archiving this page, I will not proceed. Howard, I am sorry, but I don't wish to pick and choose which sections to archive ... I think that would be wrong. Starting at the top of this page, at what precise section should I begin archiving?

Also, I would like to hear about this from at least two more participants in addition to Howard. By archiving, I mean what most of us do on our user Talk pages. The archived comments would still be readily available. Milton Beychok 15:13, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Milt, I wasn't planning to archive. You asked about it. I gave my advice. You're free not to accept it. I see no urgent reason to archive. Howard C. Berkowitz 15:34, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
My advice is: Don't archive. Why? Just because a Bot tells us the article may be too long? Do we let our lives be ruled by inanimate objects? Hayford Peirce 16:13, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Ah, but is that an identified or unidentified inanimate object? Howard C. Berkowitz 16:16, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


Before seeing the lede, I had never seen the term IFO.

There are more specialized uses in air traffic control, where things should very, very ever be unidentified, and military practice. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:25, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Oh. I thought that YOU had put it in and I was deferring to your superior knowledge by leaving it there. I myself have never seen it, and I've been following UFOS since, oh, 1953, have a 20-year collection of Skeptical Inquirer on my shelf, have corresponded with Phil Klass, and have a couple of books on the subject. (Now that I think about it, I've even written an entire novel, "In the Flames of the Flickerman", in which a flying saucer [hijacked by mutineers and crash-landed in Tahiti] plays a prominent role). So if *you* have doubts about it, then I think it should go. Hayford Peirce 16:31, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Nahh...actually, it would be the identified things that would worry me, such as "VAMPIRE! VAMPIRE!' for a confirmed missile heading for me. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:57, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Examining the lede and definition

Before going too much further, there's a matter where consensus is needed. Right now, the lede has a simple definition: something that flies and isn't, at the time, identifiable. Conspiracies, coverups, abductions, etc., are simply not part of that. The starting point is how to identify, and to characterize those that seem credible observations but cannot be characterized.

There is, however, the secondary implication of flying saucer, the UFOlogy movement, Close Encounters of various kinds, alien abductions, government conspiracies, and possibly the truth about my Aunt Shirley. The article, and especially the talk page, is struggling with the implications of this part.

Now, is the article about identification (or inadequate identification), or is it more about the social conflict that seems to assume conspiracies and secrets? Perhaps there need to be two articles. Russell's questions about whether engineering is relevant baffle me if it's a matter of identification, but if the real thrust is secrecy, then perhaps the article is sociology, politics and perhaps military.

The Vallee and Hynek taxonomies go fairly far outside what is considered to be scientific and engineering.

If one accepts the idea that there may be a coverup of alien intelligence, then the extraterrestrial intelligence issues arise -- there is substantial open work about that, including the SETI project, but a general assumption that there have not been physical visitations and radio contact is far more likely.

Earlier, the original author seemed to assume that the article was founded in the positions of the UFO groups. As I mentioned with respect to the NTSB, there are engineering organizations that do investigate things in the sky (and space), but I suspect do everything they can to avoid the UFO term.

Are the "fireflies" reported by astronauts UFOs? Presumably, these are about as credible observers as one can find -- and these phenomena do not have a definitive explanation.

Is an exceptionally high-speed object inbound toward a military target considered a UFO? Depending on the facility, it may be fired upon. Is it enough to identify something as a hijacked airliner but not know who controls it or the intentions? The Israelis did shoot down an Egyptian airliner they were concerned was on a suicide mission, and it was a difficult decision. Iran Air 655 was a much less justified choice. PVO Strany didn't know what KAL 007 was doing. Are these UFOs? What are they?

Howard C. Berkowitz 18:51, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

These are all tough questions, and ones that should be answered. The problem, as I see it, is that right now we don't have enough people involved to discuss it and come to an intelligent consensus. We're in danger here of writing a Berkowitz/Beychok/Peirce/Jones/Thorpe encyclopedia. I think we can easily enough decide what *shouldn't* be in an article like this, and the general approach, but, like you, I have been wondering what to do about this one in particular. We have, I think, two solutions:
  • Divide the article into two separate ones: one dealing *purely* with UFOS as defined, and with a link in the first paragraph to a *second* article, Flying saucers. That, I think, would work.
  • Just leave the damn article as it is right now, in pretty good shape, with nothing ridiculous in it, and say to ourselves, "It's a developing article, we'll wait until 12 more Authors and 3 more Editors come along to finish it off." That too, I think, would work. Hayford Peirce 19:21, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
Dividing may be a way to conquer.
When I first tried to help Mary contextualize, I dashed off a short but, I think, fair article on extraterrestrial intelligence. Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence (a specific project) and flying saucers (preferably a better name for the latter, but we know what we mean).
One of the troubling things is that the Hynek and Vallee things bring in the "paranormal", which seems to me to be somehow different than extraterrestrial intelligences capable of space flight. Ghosts and poltergeists are one thing, yetis and my Aunt Shirley are another.
If I were to semi-freeze the article, I would take out the "skeptics" section, which really doesn't seem to go anywhere, as there's no clear statement of the "skeptic" position -- not that there is a clear statement of the ? pro-UFO? position. Howard C. Berkowitz 19:29, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
I think that Hayford's second solution of leaving the article as it now stands with whatever edits we or others may subsequently make. I fear that if we split it into two articles that it may possibly result in twice as much discussion and controversy that this article has already engendered. Milton Beychok 20:06, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Definition of Skeptic and non-Skeptic needed

It's rather hard to understand what skepticism is, and is not, when the fundamental definition of the article is lacking. About what are skeptics skeptical? Howard C. Berkowitz 21:38, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Statement by Mary Ash


This is a work in progress and what I valiantly tried to write yesterday. Yes, this is a collaborative effort but part of collaboration is allowing the original author to finish writing the article. Please allow me to write what I started. I will remove this message when I am finished and will gladly accept any editing needed. Thanks!

20:21, 23 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Mary, I will simply say that you have been told repeatedly that CZ does not have a "inuse" policy -- quite the opposite. If you want noninterference, write in a sandbox.
It's one thing to add material, and quite another to tear out others' work. I also don't understand why you are changing citations that were properly formatted. Howard C. Berkowitz 21:38, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Another Editorial ruling

I have deleted all of that revisions made by Mary Ash since 12:55 as shown on the History page. This is an official editorial decision and Mary must abide by it. Below is a copy of a message I posted on the Talk page of Matt Innis (our Chief Constable):

Mary Ash has returned and has evidently decided to be a trouble-maker:

(1) She has placed a notice at the top of the Main article as follows: This is a work in progress and what I valiantly tried to write yesterday. Yes, this is a collaborative effort but part of collaboration is allowing the original author to finish writing the article. Please allow me to write what I started. I will remove this message when I am finished and will gladly accept any editing needed. Thanks! (the bold font is hers ... not mine)

(2) She has refused to learn any thing from all of the advice she received in the last few days. Even trivial stuff like again indenting her Talk comments incorrectly despite having been told a number of times about doing it correctly.

(3) In the one and a half hours or so since she returned, she has deleted so much of the article that it has been reduced in length from about 36,598 bytes to 26,060 bytes which is a deletion of 30% of the article ... almost one-third of the article. (See article History between the times of 12:55 and 14:36)

(4) She has revised and completely messed up 8 of the references including 3 new ones she entered. She simply refuses to learn how to do simple formatting correctly.

(5) Her listing of the investigation methods listed in the so-called MUFON Handbook is ridiculously long! It contains over 50 items including such things as tweezers, shovels, and insect repellant. The physical appearance of the article is now laughable.

I am going to undo all of her edits since she returned and if she again reverts to her version, I formally request that you ban her immediately.

In my 2 years as an editor, I have never before issued an editorial ruling. Now, I had to do so yesterday and will do so again when I undo all of her revisions. This is becoming an untenable situation.

Milton Beychok 22:08, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Correction, Item 3 above should read: She first increased the size of the article by about 30% (from 26,000 to 36,600 bytes) by reverting it to her so-called WIP (work in progress?) and then cut it back down by about the same 30%. But now it was essentially a complete redo of what it was at 12:55.Milton Beychok 23:08, 23 July 2010 (UTC)


I thought CZ and other wikis were about collaboration. A part of collaboration is allowing an author to complete an article without interference. Also, a part of collaboration is working together. Today, I neatly incorporated the statements of others and was in the process of writing a clean, concise, documented article. As I wrote I more than welcome editing once the article was completed and I do. But part of the writing process is to allow authors, such as me, write. Perhaps I misunderstood and editors are the only ones allowed to write at CZ. Please clarify.

As to banning me for what? I tried to write an article and was not allowed to finish it yesterday because too many "helpers" tried to help? I appreciate help but please allow me to finish what I was trying to write. That is called courtesy and collaboration the last time checked.

Also, the statement was placed so I could write in peace. It's sad that I had to do that but I suspect it says a lot about CZ culture.

As to indenting I've done so after being notified and you will notice this message is indented.

Please direct me to the next person in charge of this process so I may file a formal complaint.


Mary Ash 22:30, 23 July 2010 (UTC)Mary Ash

Mary, I will not reply to any more of your comments because you refuse to read and heed any advice you are given. Your actions speak for themselves just as does the incorrect indenting of this posting of yours demonstrate that you refuse to learn how such a simple thing is done correctly.
As for directing you to the "next person in charge", if you would read (yes, read!) just above this section, you would find the name of our Chief Constable. Milton Beychok 22:47, 23 July 2010 (UTC)
A slight correction: User:D. Matt Innis is our Assistant Chief Constable. The Chief Constable is Ruth Ifcher, and she should be addressed at the Constabulary address of Hayford Peirce 22:59, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Mary K. Ash and paranormal phenomena

There is an article at in which the author, a "Mary K. Ash", apparently believes 100% in all of these rather dubious (to me, at least) paranormalists. Even at this late date, for instance, she apparently believes completely in the activities of the thoroughly discredited Uri Geller.... Hayford Peirce 22:55, 23 July 2010 (UTC)

Gentleness is a scarce resource after repeated reverts, unexplained deletions, incorrect revision of citations, and decidedly non-neutral writing on what we now learn, from Milt's talk page, is "ufology". Howard C. Berkowitz00:46, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Not Defending Ufology. I am defending the tolerance of accepted facts. Facts are facts. You can not ignore them. At one time people believed the Earth was flat, and some people still do, but most people now accept the fact the Earth is round. It was proven to be fact and we all accept it as fact. At one time Galileo proposed theories that the Catholic Church found the earth heretical. Later his facts proved to be correct and we accept it as fact. I presented a fair, objective article based on facts. The facts were supported with footnotes. I even provided a link for you to read. When last checked CUFOS articles meet a high standard of scientific research. Authors are typically doctorate level and the jury panel is probably of the same caliber. If you like, you can email or call them to confirm what I wrote since you are so eager to establish facts. I wonder if other authors have had to meet such a high standard of writing caliber here at Citizendium.

Also, I am not sure where you managed to drag up WP in this discussion. None of the stuff I have used even used WP (and I presume you mean Wikipedia) in this discussion.

As far as Wikipedia is concerned I have written one article for them.

Finally, I apologize for using shorthand for CZ. I guess I should have written Citizendium. OK Citizendium Guide. I thought CZ was the appropriate shorthand here. I apologize for my innocent error.

I've tried hard to be friendly, collaborative and cooperative. I am the new kid on the block and I know it. It sure would have been nice to have had a little help instead of out running road blocks and criticism.

Where I have written at wikiHow (yes the spelling is correct) the environment is far more encouraging of new authors. We go out of our way to send personalized welcome messages, offer assistance with writing, and respect someone who is actively writing an article. We also allow new authors to write and then we gently edit. I have gently edited over 5,000 articles based on my writing skills and understanding of wiki syntax. I came to Citizendium to stretch my wings a bit and exercise my mind. I love writing how-to articles, but I also love the challenge of researching; and writing articles offered at Citizendium.

Just some things to think about...and finally here's a link to wikiHow statistics and it is fact based[1] or [2] or[3] US statistics only.

Note: I started this message earlier but had to re-post as someone had edited the current Citizendium discussion page. Mary Ash 04:40, 24 July 2010 (UTC)MA

"Also, I am not sure where you managed to drag up WP in this discussion. None of the stuff I have used even used WP (and I presume you mean Wikipedia) in this discussion. " You cited it as a source for several statements. Do I need to get this from the history?
"I am defending the tolerance of accepted facts. Facts are facts. You can not ignore them." All facts need contextualization and validation. You said "When last checked CUFOS articles meet a high standard of scientific research. Authors are typically doctorate level and the jury panel is probably of the same caliber." Sorry, I have read several of the data bases, and I do not find them to be at a high level of engineering or science research, as, for example, the level of discussion in the 1997 symposium.
"If you like, you can email or call them to confirm what I wrote since you are so eager to establish facts." Frankly, I don't like the tone of that -- but I looked at assorted databases and essentially found nothing but anecdotal witness reports -- not even time or location correlation.
"I wonder if other authors have had to meet such a high standard of writing caliber here at Citizendium." I certainly hope so. You might want to review some of the history of Approved articles and how the details can be argued in tremendous detail, with much rewriting. It is fair to say that I've written a few articles here, and such things as measurement and signature intelligence,electronic warfare, and rating raw intelligence very much deal with the criteria for reliable observation. As I remember, the thing holding up approval for the Battle of Dien Bien Phu is a question about the equipment in specific artillery strongpoints.
I'm not asking anything of you I wouldn't expect others to ask of me. Howard C. Berkowitz 04:54, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Article moved from mainspace

I have of the lastest version of this article to Draft space and moved the last version written by User:Mary Ash to a separate space at Unidentified flying object/Mary Ash where she can work independently. This is a procedure that does have precedent, but has not been used often. It is my hope that time will heal all wounds and collaboration may continue. I will continue to monitor the talk pages of both articles. Please keep all conversationCZ:Professionalism. Thanks for your understanding and co-operation. D. Matt Innis 00:37, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

As far as I can remember, such a procedure was invoked by Editor ruling and carried out by Constables, not Constables acting unilaterally. Mary Ash has defied Editor rulings, a behavioral problem. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:46, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I think I can make an Editor ruling, or Milt can do so. It is unprecedented to move an article variant to a personal subarticle in namespace. You may move it to User: Mary Ash/Unidentified flying object, and do not link it. Please delete the UFO/Mary Ash. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:48, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

I've archived this talk page

I've archived the talk page in hopes that we can start fresh. D. Matt Innis 00:37, 24 July 2010 (UTC)


Matt, you've also archived discussions that had to do with community discussion about the scope of the article. I ask that the talk page be restored, and you reflect on whether you may be trampling on the rights of other Citizens to protect a defiant newcomer. Do not protect the article page; Engineering Editors have the matter in hand.

Please restore, to mainspace, the last version restored by Milton Beychok. Howard C. Berkowitz 00:46, 24 July 2010 (UTC)

Matt, I request you move the "Draft" article back to mainspace, and Unidentified flying object/Mary Ash to User Talk: Mary Ash/UFO. This restores our usual naming convention. At present, the /Mary Ash version does not meet the requirements of mainspace, and it is simply confusing to have two versions. Howard C. Berkowitz 05:37, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I won't move it myself once a Constable has done it, but please restore proper naming conventions. /Draft implies there is an Approved version, which there is not. On a practical basis, when I create wikilinks to internal sections of the main article, I'm having to include /draft. If the article is ever Approved, that leaves much room for ambiguous linking. Howard C. Berkowitz 16:10, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
I agree that it should be done. I don't think I can do it myself, since I've been involved in this article's editing and arguing. Hayford Peirce 16:46, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Howard, continue to link to the draft page. When the article is returned to mainspace, I'll check the 'update links that refer to this page' box. Thanks. D. Matt Innis 23:20, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
Since /Draft indicates the draft page to an approved page, using this subpage for any other purpose is not correct. And the "private" version could be moved to a talk page archive (with explanation and link on the talk page).
Doesn't "update links" only update redirects?
This is a quite a lot of discussion happening during only 2-3 days of absence. While, of course, collaboration is to be expected, I would say that it is quite common to give Citizens the opportunity to develop a page without interference (as long as it is obviously work in progress), except for minor corrections, but without major changes. Thus I wonder if the extensive rewrite of a stub immediately after it was created wasn't unusually premature (and, indeed, overwhelming for a new Citizen).
--Peter Schmitt 23:56, 24 July 2010 (UTC)
You might be right about the linking Peter. If you would like to discuss it more, let's use the forum or email to discuss procedure. This talk page should be for discussing contents of the article. Thanks for your understanding. D. Matt Innis 00:05, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

(undent) Matt, it is entirely relevant to discuss linking here, because the /Draft and /Mary Ash nonstandard usage is creating undesirable side effects. (undent) /Draft is indeed incorrect. Clicking "Page" from this talk page produces unexpected results as an effect of the Draft subpage use. Further note that by putting the alternative article into mainspace rather than on a user page as suggested by Editors, both versions are now being indexed by Google, etc.

No, Peter, while some believe there should be such a freedom to develop such articles, there is no rule to that effect. Hayford, in the Forums, has suggested a message urging sandbox use, and I suggest this discussion is more appropriate there. More specifically in this case, the talk page for the article, which I wish had not been archived, will show that initial attempts were made to provide Editor guidance to the new author, but the suggestions were not taken, either in content or in things as basic as format and citation.

Howard C. Berkowitz 00:08, 25 July 2010 (UTC)

If you'd like I will rename the /Draft to /Howard C. Berkowitz until this is resolved. I thought since you suggested using draft space for controversial articles in the charter that you wouldn't mind. I consider this a good opportunity to learn from this experience, but we should consider the pros and cons on the forums so that we avoid inflaming this page and causing Citizens to lose focus on the content of this article. D. Matt Innis 01:19, 25 July 2010 (UTC)
I would not like, but, if you want to rename, do it properly: User: Howard C. Berkowitz/UFO and I'll invite collaboration on it. It baffles me what you are trying to accomplish. Two Engineering Editors have been trying to manage a content and style situation, and I think we are getting there. In your zeal to protect a new user against what you consider unfriendliness, you are, in my opinion, going far, far beyond the appropriate role of a Constable.
I repeat: as a consequence of your using a reserved subpage name for other than its intended purpose, you have broken the normal return tab from this page. It is absolutely unprecedented to move an individual contribution to a mainspace subpage; the established procedure, especially when you've had one Editor asking for banning, would be to move the individual work to userspace.
At least 2-3 citizens are doing collaborative markup on the version here. Others are making useful talk page comments. I will make an Editor Ruling that the /Draft is of reasonable Developing quality and should be the Main article. I suspect Milt will agree with that. Howard C. Berkowitz 01:36, 25 July 2010 (UTC)