At the most recent MUFON Symposium, I talked several people about creating multiple chains of evidence for our UFO cases. I based this on the study done in France in 1803 that proved rocks could fall from the sky... rocks we now call meteorites. The French Academy of Sciences had rejected the idea until a French researcher, Jean-Baptiste Biot, put together a study, with multiple chains of evidence, that proved in at least one instance, rocks had fallen from the sky. (As we say in ufology, it only takes one).
Which leads to another point. I had been discussing UFOs with a skeptic (Hey! I talk to them... most are reasonable people) and I mentioned, as one series of good sightings, the Levelland events of November 2, 1957. There were many reports of the close approach of the UFO interacting with the environment, meaning that it stalled car engines, dimmed headlights, and filled radios with static.
My skeptical friend said something like, "Oh yeah. The Condon Committee investigated that but even with the most powerful magnets available could not duplicate the alleged effects."
To him that meant the case had no merit because the electromagnetic effects (EM) claimed by the witnesses could not be replicated in the laboratory. But as I thought about this, I realized it could be taken another way. If the witness statements were accurate, then the UFO was displaying a technological capability that was beyond our science and could therefore be seen as proof that some UFOs were superior technological craft and were of alien manufacture.
In other words, we had a second chain of evidence, the first being the eyewitness testimony. See, in the French case, the eyewitnesses, who described the rocks falling from the sky and the resulting sound effects and smoke trail were counted as reliable. No one then thought to reject the eyewitnesses simply because they had only seen the rocks in the sky. Their testimony was collected, regardless of social station. None was rejected because he was merely an uneducated farmer, or because she was only a farm wife, or they were only children or because they might have talked to one another about the fall. All testimonies were carefully recorded so that a complete record could be made.
In Levelland, and contrary to what the Project Blue Book files allege, there were witnesses in at least thirteen separate locations who reported the EM effects without the time necessary for the news media or the local grapevines to pass that nugget. Although you could argue that one or two of the witnesses who surfaced the next day might have heard or read something about the sighting prior to making a statement, the majority of them told their tales without knowing there were other witnesses in other areas who had seen, heard, and experienced the same things they had.
Now, today, it is impossible for us to make any sort of meaningful measurements to corroborate, or disprove, this bit of observation. That so many made it, in such a restricted time frame, it seems reasonable to conclude that most, if not all, such reports were made without contamination. These EM effects are not reported in most of the UFO sightings, so we have something here that might provide a clue about the nature of some of the UFO reports.
The third chain of evidence is one reported by Don Burleson, based on his reinvestigation some forty years after the fact. Burleson said that he had talked to the daughter of the sheriff, Weir Clem, and Clem had been called out to a ranch north of Levelland where there were markings on the ground. In other words, a "footprint" of the UFO.
Had this bit of evidence surfaced in 1957, meaningful measurements might have been made. Coupled with the work of Ted Philips, who has cataloged some 4000 landing trace cases, we might have had the UFO sighting that would have moved UFOs from myth to accepted fact, just as the French study moved thunderbolts (rocks from the sky) into the realm of science.
But here is the problem... The French were interested in the truth, and in 1957, the Air Force was interested in explaining all UFO sightings in the mundane. It mattered not what the facts were. If they could generate an answer that stopped the interest in the case, they were happy. They had fulfilled their mission.
Yes, the Project Blue Book files prove this. On a Joint Messageform prepared by Captain G. T. Gregory and dated November 3, 1957, in PART III, paragraph a., it says, "Contrary to Keyhoe’s and Washington Press reports only three, not nine persons witnessed the incident."
Later, in his book, The World of Flying Saucers (and found in the Levelland papers and reports in the Project Blue Book files), Donald Menzel would write, "Three persons, not ‘dozens,’ had seen the phenomenon near the ground. Some ten or fifteen others (including the sheriff) had not observed it at close quarters but had merely seen brilliant flashes of light in the sky."
Neither the Air Force statement nor Menzel’s words reflect the reality of the situation. There were people at thirteen, widely separated locations who were close enough to the craft to report EM effects. And, there were more than fifteen people who saw the object at a distance but none of them described the UFO as a flash of light in the sky.
The other evidence of this is that the Air Force explained the sighting as "ball lightning." In 1957, you could get any number of scientists to argue that there was no such thing as ball lightning. In other words, the Air Force was attempting to explain one phenomenon with another that had yet to be proved. And they forgot to mention that ball lightning was short–lived and rarely larger than eight inches in diameter.
The real point here, however, is that this case, the Levelland sightings, had they been treated with any sort of scientific curiosity at the time, would have yielded a report with multiple chains of evidence. We would have been able to develop some very interesting evidence, if the government in the form of the Air Force and the scientific community in the guise of Donald Menzel hadn’t been more interested in proving themselves right than they were in gathering the information. In other words, we would have had those multiple chains of evidence that would independently lead us toward the extraterrestrial. Instead, we have another controversial case that has been compromised by those who know that there can be no aliens visiting Earth.