Philip J. Klass's UFOlogical Principles

These principles are from two of Philip J. Klass's books on Unidentified Flying Objects, UFO's Explained and UFO's: The Public Deceived.

UFOlogical Principle 1: Basically honest and intelligent persons who are suddenly exposed to a brief, unexpected event, especially one that involves an unfamiliar object, may be grossly inaccurate in trying to describe precisely what they have seen.

UFOlogical Principle 2: Despite the intrinsic limitations of human perception ception when exposed to brief, unexpected and unusual events, some details recalled by the observer may be reasonably accurate. The problem facing the UFO investigator is to try to distinguish between those details that are accurate and those that are grossly inaccurate. This may be impossible until the true identity of the UFO can be determined; in some cases this poses an insoluble problem.

UFOlogical Principle 3: If a person observing an unusual or unfamiliar object concludes that it is probably a spaceship from another world, he can readily adduce that the object is reacting to his presence or actions, when in reality there is absolutely no cause-effect relationship.

UFOlogical Principle 4: News media that give great prominence to a UFO report when it is first received subsequently devote little, if any, space or time to reporting a prosaic explanation for the case after the facts are uncovered.

UFOlogical Principle 5: No human observer, including experienced flight crews, can accurately estimate either the distance/altitude or the size of an unfamiliar object in the sky, unless it is in very close proximity to a familiar object whose size or altitude is known.

UFOlogical Principle 6: Once news coverage leads the public to believe that UFOs may be in the vicinity, there are numerous natural and man-made made objects which, especially when seen at night, can take on unusual characteristics in the minds of hopeful viewers. Their UFO reports in turn add to the mass excitement, which encourages still more observers to watch for UFOs. This situation feeds upon itself until such time as the media lose interest in the subject, and then the "flap" quickly runs out of steam.

UFOlogical Principle 7: In attempting to determine whether a UFO report is a hoax, an investigator should rely on physical evidence, or the lack of it where evidence should exist, and should not depend on character endorsements of the principals involved.

UFOlogical Principle 8: The inability of even experienced investigators to fully and positively explain a UFO report for lack of sufficient information, even after a rigorous effort, does not really provide evidence to support the hypothesis that spaceships from other worlds are visiting the earth.

UFOlogical Principle 9: When a light is sighted in the night skies that is believed to be a UFO and this is reported to a radar operator, who is asked to search his scope for an unknown target, almost invariably an "unknown" target will be found. Conversely, if an unusual target is spotted on a radarscope scope at night that is suspected of being a UFO, and an observer is dispatched patched or asked to search for a light in the night sky, almost invariably a visual sighting will be made.

UFOlogical Principle 10: Many UFO cases seem puzzling and unexplainable simply because case investigators have failed to devote a sufficiently rigorous effort to the investigation.

Principle 3 accounts for the numerous cases of people chasing celestial objects or being chased by them, people including military pilots and police officers. They are VERY far by Earthly standards, so they have the same brightness and angular direction as one moves, to extremely high measurement accuracy. Since our visual perception interprets them as being at a large but finite distance, these objects seem to move with their observers.

Principle 5 is because of a simple fact of visual perception, something that is also true of cameras. One does not get distances or linear sizes directly, but directions, like angular sizes. One has to infer distances and linear sizes by various means.

This is a fundamental problem of astronomy, since direct distance measurements only became feasible after World War II, and only for inside the Solar System. This is evident from the behavior of distance estimates for the farthest objects with measurable distances. They first vary a sizable amount, and they then gradually settle on some value that then does not change very much.

Principle 6 does not mean that people are necessarily eager to see UFO's, only that they notice a lot of things that they do not normally notice. UFO flaps may also be fed by pranksters giving people odd aerial objects to see, like fire balloons / sky lanterns.


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