A SURVEY AMONG U.A.P. INVESTIGATORS AND SCHOLARS

As we explained already, there was a glitch that didn't allow us to publish at the time the answers sent by the Spanish scholar Manuel Borraz Aymerich.

That is why we publish them now, and we are going to incorporate them to our Summary and posterior Evaluation.

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Manuel Borraz Aymerich was born in Barcelona in 1961. He holds a BS in Telecommunication Engineering. He has been carrying out critical analysis of UFO reports since the early '80s, authoring and co-authoring several reports and essays dealing with astronomical IFOs (including misidentifications of Venus by pilots [ https://es.scribd.com/document/88396297/Venus-trafico-no-identificado ]), "portholed" fireballs [ https://es.scribd.com/document/67067923/Meteoros-con-ventanillas ], the Antarctic UFOs of 1965 [ http://www.academia.edu/31467521/AVISTAMIENTOS_OVNI_EN_LA_ANTARTIDA_EN_1965.pdf
 ], the Fort-de-France (Martinique) sighting of the same year [ http://www.webcitation.org/6mmRSNxTN ] and the Canary Islands mass sightings of the '70s, caused by slbm launches [ http://www.webcitation.org/6mmRSNxTd  ], among other subjects.

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1) Do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why? 

It is difficult, if not impossible, to derive a positive definition of something that is described in a negative form, as unidentified or unknown. On the other hand, the fact that the subject under scrutiny is so extensive and heterogeneous is an added difficulty. Therefore, I prefer to be pragmatic and inclusive and speak of "UFO reports", by which I mean:
The reports of observations and experiences in general that, for whatever reasons, have been or can be related (by the observers/experiencers, by the reporters, by investigators, by anyone...) to the sighting of Kenneth Arnold of June 24, 1947, and/or to previous or subsequent reports that have been or can be related to that sighting, directly or indirectly. I must stress "indirectly" because the relationship may not have to do with factual details but with the interpretation of the event, usually under the widespread extraterrestrial assumption. Thus, for example, a "bedroom invader" experience, where there is no "flying object" -not even an "object"- may end up related to Arnold's sighting itself and become part of the universe of "UFO reports".
This is not intended to be a new definition to add to those already proposed in the past. I am just pointing to the customary implicit meaning of the expression "UFO report". 

2) Have your idea about UFOs changed along the time? 

Absolutely. At an early age, I learned from my readings that aliens were visiting us but governments, military, scientists and debunkers insisted on denying the truth at all costs. Later I was seduced by the absurdity and the quasi-magical dimension of these extra-human apparitions, which perhaps were not what they seemed to be. Afterward, I turned away from paranormal speculations, trusting that the statistics and the scientific study of the matter would illuminate the mystery.  

But everything changed when I learned that examining and questioning many of the cases -taking them out of the showcase- was within everybody's reach:
on the one hand, the astronomical ephemeris allowed to explain a good number of reports and, on the other hand, many others made sense when they were placed in their proper context, on the occasion of mass sightings of high-altitude phenomena visible from large areas (fireballs, space debris reentries, rocket launches, balloons...). 

With time I reached the conclusion, which I still maintain, that most cases are not mysterious at all: some can be perfectly explained and others have a probable explanation or, at least, a possible one. The existence of a small percentage of cases to be explained is not an anomaly in itself (there will always be reports with erroneous data, for example, that do not allow a proper evaluation). More interesting is the fact that these unexplained cases do not seem to have specific features that differentiate them from the explained cases. There is no glimpse of an original phenomenon unknown to science. We can only keep labeling them as "UFO reports"... 

3) Should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs? 

Of course, because of what I said in the previous point.
When I see experienced UFO investigators who consider absurd and even impossible that a professional pilot could mistake the planet Venus for a mysterious airship or that a couple of police officers patrolling by car could have a "close encounter" with the Moon, I wonder if they have learned anything at all. Not only should they admit that such things happen, but they should also have a thorough understanding of why and how they happen. 

Furthermore, it can turn out that becoming an IFO expert is the only thing a UFO investigator can aspire to. Maybe you will never have the chance to study a set of truly unexplainable phenomena. Perhaps, after devoting all your time to explain case after case to get rid of the explainable reports, the hypothetical yet-to-be-discovered phenomena you were searching for will never see the light. 

4) If there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be? 

For a long time, when I had already ruled out the extraterrestrial hypothesis, I thought that UFO reports could still contribute to scientific knowledge after all. Perhaps they would allow documenting novel psychological processes and unknown geophysical phenomena. It does not seem to be the case for now. 

Speaking of possible psychological phenomena worth studying, we can guess that they would probably not be entirely new. For example, if there were some kind of process able to trigger visions, it would be likely to be found in other circumstances too (in a religious context, under extreme conditions, in certain pathological states, etc.). 

I am not too optimistic about possible new physical phenomena either, judging by certain meta-arguments. The fact that smartphones are nowadays widespread all across the globe raising dramatically the number of potential photographers has not been accompanied by any noticeable increase, neither in quantity nor in quality, of the photographic evidence of unknown phenomena. 

What has increased exponentially is the quantity of IFO pictures. It is also interesting to note that, although among UFO reports we find detections by radar, physical traces, photo and video recordings, events with several witnesses, etc., there is not a single case in which all or many of those types of evidence come together to bring the definitive proof of the anomaly. From statistical considerations, after more than seven decades, such a "perfect case" should already exist. But we are still waiting. 

However, my latest findings lead me to believe that the study of UFO reports can be very useful to approach other fringe research fields, such as the "earth lights" investigation. However, not precisely for providing new examples of geophysical lights, as I once expected, but rather for forcing us to question the known examples so far and the methodology used to study them. 

5) How do you consider this issue in general? What do you think about the whole subject? 

If there were reports of an unknown original phenomenon (or even several unknown phenomena) they would be among the unexplained UFO reports, which constitute only a small percentage of the overall collected UFO reports. 

Paradoxically, the numerical inferiority of the "true" UFOs -if they
exist- would make their impact on the whole picture irrelevant. Therefore, what most people have in mind when talking about UFOs is just a kind of modern folklore. This body of stories and evidence arises from a wide spectrum of situations, ranging from reliable reports of unusual phenomena (not necessarily mysterious) to hoaxes and plain fiction, including other intermediate scenarios like the aberrant perception of ordinary phenomena. 

Feedback plays an important role: to a certain extent, people talk about UFOs because UFOs are seen, and UFOs are seen because people talk about UFOs. The myth of extraterrestrial visits -which took center stage early on- has worked as both an inspiring force and a frame that brings meaning to the whole subject. It has also endowed it with a touch of charm and transcendence, making it last.

6) Is it possible to do something effective to bring the truth to the public and to change the mind of those who still proclaim or believe that extraterrestrial beings are living with us on Earth?

It is possible to inform with more or less success and effectiveness but it is impossible to convince everyone. The reason is that for many it is a matter of faith, of belief, rather than a scientific controversy (how many times have we heard the question "Do you believe in UFOs?"...) and UFO reports, by its very nature, will always have some gaps and unanswered questions. 

Whoever that is reluctant to admit that UFOs can be extraterrestrial ships, or simply starts from a neutral stance, will be receptive to the well-documented conclusion that there is no convincing evidence of this. On the contrary, someone that is convinced that the aliens are here (because he himself saw a UFO, because he distrusts the official negative position, because he read it in a book of his favorite author...) will not easily change his mind no matter how many examples of explained UFO reports are presented to him. After all, nobody will ever explain them all ... 

7) Do you think SETI and similar searches are valid activities? 

Of course. Interestingly, contrary to what might seem at first glance, they have little to do with ufology. UFO reports do not provide any information of
interest applicable to the SETI field. And a positive result in that field would not automatically prove that the aliens are visiting us and are the cause of UFO reports. 

8) What is your idea about multiple universes? 

Apart from knowing that they are commonplace in Science Fiction and the subject of theoretical speculations in some areas of Physics, I have no opinion on the matter.



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