I must admit I was rather disappointed in this catalogue and study of alleged human interaction with UFOs and their occupants. Even though I knew that Haines tended to support the ETH, I had hoped for more scientific rigour than is shown here. The text is peppered with comments which just assume the ETH or one of its more exotic variants, and though Haines does sporadically appear to show some degree of critical faculty, this is indeed sporadic.
The range of material presented here ranges from cases which just cry out IFO, such as the car chase incidents in which UFOs are reported pacing vehicles, stopping and starting with them, the notorious rainbow effect, which indicates a very distant light source, which always seems more or less the same distance away, astronomical IFOs in 90% + cases, through cases where psychological explanations are most probable, e.g. light sources alleged responding to human thought or flashing back at torch signals (Hendry notes several astronomical IFOs in which witnesses reported this effect, so did my Magonia colleagues in Warminster). Other cases, if taken at face value, would be equally difficult to explain by the ETH. In some cases mindreading boggarts or telekinesis would seem to be implied, needless to say such extraordinary claims would require extraordinary evidence.
This is not forthcoming, many of the cases recounted here come from a variety of tertiary sources, and it has to be said that there some fairly startling lacuna in Haines grasp of or access to the literature. Thus the well known Premanon case is abstracted from a review, contains wrong details, and the incorrect note that "nothing more is known about this case". Actually, as French ufologists found, the story was made up by one of the child witnesses for a school essay, inspired by press reports of other stories. There are other examples of well known cases being abstracted from tertiary sources. What we should call the 'Harney Effect' is also in evidence: the more alleged witnesses the less the detail.
What is really undermining of Haines' s credibility is his at least provisional endorsement of Dr Steven Greer's Centre for the Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence, which is controversial, to say the least, even among ETH proponents. Its members go out looking for UFOs and beaming co-ordinated thoughts at them. This is not a new idea, it was first suggested by Al Bender back in 1953, and various contactee groups ever since. Greer and his associated adventures among the British crop circles are amusing if not persuasive reading. Needless to say there are also the mandatory quotes from hypnotic regression abduction stories.
When one adds to this, the several occasions in which Haines goes into the new age/evangelist speak, and the sense that he is plugging some occultist and/or religious semi-hidden agenda, far from inspiring open minded members of the scientific community to examine the evidence he presents, this work is much more likely to act as a deterrent. -- Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 68, September 1999.
Richard F Haines. Observing UFOs, An Investigative Handbook. Nelson-Hall, Chicago, 1979.
Richard Haines, an expert on perception, has written one of the first detailed textbooks on this aspect of UFO research. The text is based to some extent on various articles the author has published in a number of specialist UFO publications, and covers most areas of the perception of anomalous arial phenomena.
For the layman like myself, it is the first five chapters, which cover techniques for obtaining and evaluation eye-witness testimony, which are of the most interest. The second chapter attempts a definition of 'UFO' which reads:
"Manifestations of the UFO phenomenon are found among reports of the perception or indirect awareness of an object, light source, or presence of something in the sky, upon the land, or beneath the surface of a body of water, the appearance, trajectory, and general dynamic, luminescent or reflective qualities of which do not suggest an explanation that conforms with current conventional or logical explanations, and which remains unidentified after all evidence surrounding the sighting has been studied by technically capable persons, including the field investigator involved in the case, who have applied both common-sense identification as well as intuition to their analyses."
While this is superior to the BUFORA 'definition', it is still quite unsatisfactory. Definitions should avoid presuppositions, and one can note the implied existence of a single, unique UFO phenomenon. I'm also unhappy about the use of words such as "sighting", or "conventional or logical explanation". Despite continual misuse, 'logical' and 'rational' are not synonymous with currently accepted scientific, metaphysical and social world views. The difficulty with terms such as 'UFO' is that they are not precise definitions, but 'social lables' applied to a fluctuating band of experiences.
Haines rightly emphasises the human factor in UFO experiences, warning investigators not to let their interest in the technical and technological side of things obscure other interesting information, such as may be brought out by a study of the changes in witness's emotions.
The later chapters are more technical and are perhaps less generally applicable to the UK. There is also a glossary and an extensive bibliography. As much of the material in this book is specialist discussion, far outside this reviewer's competence, other reviews by those persons with more competence in this field would be welcomed. - Peter Rogerson, from Magonia 5, 1980.