Saturday, July 08, 2017

MUFON Blowback

There are those who don’t seem to understand that I have nothing against MUFON and that I have great respect for the thousands of members who volunteer their time, resources, effort, education and experience to the organization. I certainly understand that when you have a full-time job, a family, and all sorts of other obligations, it is tough to find time for UFOs. I get all that.

And, I understand the First Amendment. It allows us to say any damned stupid thing we want. It just doesn’t guarantee freedom from consequence. If you post a racist rant to your Facebook page, you can expect that it will offend many, and they, operating under the same First Amendment guarantees, have the right to condemn that rant for what it is.

This is sort of the situation that exists today at the top of MUFON. Please note here that I am referring, not to the rank and file, but to specific members of the leadership of that organization who are found in the Inner Circle. The first reaction to that rant by the man at the very top, Jan Harzan, the Executive Director, was to condemn those who found the rant as offensive as “haters.” His purpose was to support a colleague, which is not necessarily a bad thing to do, but by labeling those who objected to the racist comments as haters he just poured gasoline on the fire.

Once the offensive post was noticed, then the proper action was to condemn it and not those who objected to it. It might seem that Harzan did not have the authority to unilaterally fire the offending party (though he did), but he certainly could have made that clear rather than do what he could to offend more people. Eventually, when it became evident that this was not something that could be brushed aside, Harzan removed the man, John Ventre, from his position as a State Director. I did invite Ventre on my radio program but he declined the offer.

As I was researching this first problem, I learned of MUFON’s the Inner Circle, and discovered that the main qualification for membership there was five thousand dollars handed over yearly. I did a little additional research and learned that another member of that elite group had also engaged in some rather disgusting racist rants. Harzan seemed unconcerned, telling me that if she had been a State Director, he would have fired her… but no indication that he would refund her money or remove her from this Inner Circle.

Listening to Harzan, it seemed that the Inner Circle has no influence over the activities of MUFON, so that it something of a non-issue. Harzan said that it is a donation level. Of course, according the page on the MUFON website, “Inner Circle members provide advisory guidance [emphasis added] to MUFON,” which certainly sounds like there is more to it than just handing over five grand each year. Although Harzan downplayed it, the conclusion I draw is that the Inner Circle does have influence and given that, it would seem that a review of the qualifications might be in order. Please note here that I am not suggesting that all members of the Inner Circle are a problem, only a couple of them who have expressed attitudes that don’t seem to be reflected by the mainstream of America.

Since I posted the material about this controversy, I have received a number of emails from MUFON members, some of them holding important positions. The attitude of them seems to be that Harzan has done a lot of good for MUFON and that he had brought in a great deal of money.

But I have to ask, “At what expense and is that the only important criterion?”

First, take a look at how some of that income has been raised. We are treated to Hangar 1, which can only be described as fiction with a shaky base in reality. It is similar to those movies that are labeled, “based on a true story,” which means that a name or two might be real or an event that was sort of the same took place at some point, maybe. When you check out the facts, you see that the film makers veered into the weeds early on and never got out of them. You might say that any similarity to a real event is more accident than intent.

Some of those who wrote to me privately suggested that some of the Hangar 1 episodes were very good, but I’m thinking that the general population, who is not immersed as deeply in UFOs as we are might not make that distinction. When confronted with the tale of the boy abducted to serve in an alien army for twenty years only to be returned to his bed some fifteen minutes later might conclude that all the information of that particular series is bogus. The excuse is that MUFON couldn’t control what the producers were doing, but there was nothing to separate MUFON from that tale. MUFON, according to the latest issues of the Journal (which used to be the MUFON UFO Journal) seems to still embrace the series.

In fact, it seems that they doubled down with their symposium about a Secret Space Program. Now taking the stage are two men who claim involvement in this secret program, and who have traveled through space and time. They are being given a platform from which to tell their incredible tales. The excuse? Well, we just want to let the membership decide for themselves if these stories are to be believed. Really? There isn’t a conclusion to be drawn at this point about the reality of these tales? Ten seconds after hearing about the time travel aspects, the conclusion should be obvious.

But the bottom line here is the bottom line. These sorts of sensational stories bring in people to listen to them. It’s not about revealing a secret space program, but about bringing in money. This is entertainment but certainly not science.

That’s the thing that I’ve heard most often in defense of Harzan and the MUFON leadership. He has brought in money and brought in new members like those who responded to the Hangar 1 program. MUFON is receiving more UFO reports today than it has in years past but is all that a good thing? If you are doing that at the expense of scientific research and the claims of scientific methodology, then haven’t your violated your stated mission?

If you are interested in science and serious investigation of UFOs, then how can you support a symposium program that has no basis in fact? We have these incredible tales but no evidence any of them are true and yet the reason these people are given a platform is allegedly so the membership can make up its mind about the truth. But doesn’t this also require that there be truth in what is being said rather than a story that is more science fiction that science fact? By giving them a platform, isn’t the MUFON leadership suggesting that there is some credibility to what they are saying, even if it involves time traveling men with absolutely no evidence they traveled in time. At what point should the membership just say, “No,” and then return to the original concept of scientific investigation of sightings of unusual things (not wanting to bias the argument I used generic terms but we all know what I mean)?

The other thing that I have heard and think is hilarious is that others, politicians of the past, have made similar if not worse racist comments and some of them even belonged to the KKK. But we’re talking of events more than a half century old not something that was said or done last month.

Earl Butz
I’m not going to spend any more time on this but ask, “How does that apply in today’s world? Haven’t we all grown a great deal since then?” This sort of defense of the racist rants by members of the Inner Circle shouldn’t be tolerated not in 2017. There is enough hate out there, enough of the racism out there, that an organization devoted to UFO research must not allow it in its ranks.  Yes, as I have said, there is free speech but there are also consequences for that speech and while some suggest that racism in the past was acceptable, I remind those that Earl Butz told a racist joke in 1978 that resulted in his resignation from the President Ford’s cabinet. You would have thought that we all would have learned from that, but apparently not.

I’ll make one final comment for the rank and file membership. You end up with the organization you deserve. By not speaking up, you allow the organization to deteriorate into a parody of itself. If you find listening to time travelers telling you about a secret space program that allowed them to visit distant planets, then you are in the right place. If, on the other hand, you desire a program that might resolve the riddle we all find so fascinating, then let the leadership know because, at the moment, they don’t seem to care.


Louis Nicholson said...

I suspect that a considerable number of "aluminum-foil wearing UFO nuts" will be attending MUFON's Secret Space Program Symposium. If that happens and the mainstream media makes a big deal about them (or even just the time travelers' nonsense), the public blowback from that would be just what MUFON deserves. As a life-long serious student of UFOs, I am so disappointed in MUFON. What other organizations can we turn to for serious published scientific study of the subject?

Jason Mitchell said...

As a former member of a state-level organization(very briefly and very low on the chain of command), I have to say that I will never associate with MUFON again. At least until profound changes are made.

I became a field investigator (in other words, I spent the money, bought the book, and took the 'test.') because I wanted to engage in a scientific investigation of the UFO phenomenon. At first, I found MUFON to be scientific. The methods of investigation presented in the training manual are very close to scientific in many ways. The state leadership and membership were, in my case at least, very professional, very hard-working, and not interested in peddling nonsense.

I quickly realized, however, that MUFON as an organization was not in the least interested in finding the answers to the UFO question. They send FIs out to gather reports on sightings. Fine. Then the reports go into the MUFON database. Again, fine. But then what? What is the point of the massive data collection effort? Is any analysis done on the data collected? Are outside researchers allowed access to the data? What is the point?

I quickly understood that FIs were simply members who paid higher dues and got to feel like they were part of some grand investigation, when they were actually just engaged in busywork with no actual purpose.

Well, when you combine that realization with the scandal that was "Hangar One," you quickly see that MUFON is just another non-profit that exists to collect money from people who are misled into believing their interests are being served. No, I won't be associated with a group that associates with people like Jaime Maussan or whose annual symposium includes topics like “Destination MARS: The hidden history of the CIA’s Mars Jump Room" or “The Fluxliner, or Alien Reproduction Vehicle, Theory of Operation.”

Kevin, please feel free to reach out to me if you want to chat.

James Kelly said...

Jason, I agree with you. I was involved with MUFON in the 1990's and was right in the center of the Phoenix Lights case and watched what happened during a large scale sighting. Our lead investigator proved without any doubt that those lights you see in documentary footage after 10:00 PM WAS indeed flares. He also proved that the V shaped formation captured that night was indeed aircraft moving independently of each other proving that it was not a giant triangle. He was not supported by MUFON for his work even though they did publish his findings. Was it possible that there was another UFO up in the sky that night? Yes it was but there was no evidence except for eye witness testimony that supported that theory. The lead investigator left MUFON shortly after that due to the way he was being portrayed in the media and the lack of support from MUFON. I stayed on for a few more years until I saw that FRINGE people began to want to stray away from scientific investigation and grasp on to FRINGE beliefs such as channeling and other bizarre practices. MUFON had to change to get support for their newsletter publication that helped keep them going. It was once a great organization now cloaked in scandal and questionable organizational direction.

Bombastic Bill said...

Michael, I appreciate your enthusiasm for the Meier case and I'm sure it has nothing to do whatsoever with any personal monetary gain. However, when your factor's claims can be rebutted so easily by an Colonel in the fictitious Israeli Special Security Services then I believe you may have to reconsider your point. Now Michael, before you try to attack me, let me just say that I am simply a lowly research scientist. I do not represent any foreign person who claims special contact from extraterrestrials, I have not made highly successful programs for elderly people to exercise while sitting, I am just merely a scientist. With that being said, my biggest problem with you and your organization is the fact that it claims all of it's rather flimsy evidence of sightings by a single witness are exceptionally genuine while a sighting like 13 independent witnesses in Leveland you would consider all those witnesses to be wrong. How come only Billy can have "genuine" experiences Michael?

Bombastic Bill said...

BTW, Kevin, my real name is Will DeVito (I post under Bombastic Bill) if you or Michael would like to look into my claims.

KRandle said...

Bombastic Bill -

I appreciate you outing yourself but it was unnecessary. I agreed with what you said and was going to prepare a comment that said much the same thing.

Michael -

As I mentioned to you in our telephone conversation, I do not accept the Meier contacts as a part of our shared reality, which is a fancy way to say that I don't believe them.

However, suggesting that you know more about UFOs than anyone else is the sort of hyperbole that is bound to create controversy. If we say, for the sake of argument, that Meier is in communication with alien visitors, then we have to ask why only him? Might there not be others who have a much lower profile? And if we accept the idea of alien visitation, then aren't we suggesting something more than them coming to visit a single person, Couldn't we expect other visitations that don't involve Meier?

If there are other visitations, then doesn't that open the discussion to many other UFO sightings, and if so, then your statement is proven to be hyperbole. I hazard a guess that you are not fully cognizant of UFO landing race cases, animal mutilations, crop circles, abductions, crash retrievals, or a number of other subsets of the UFO phenomena. If that is true, hat you can't discuss, say, Levelland right now, without checking out the sources available, then you aren't as well informed as you claim... and you can't dismiss all other aspects of the UFO phenomena as evidence that you know more than anyone else about it.

I will note here that this post was about MUFON and not an arena to push the Meier agenda. Comments that are not relevant to the original post will not be seen here.

Paul Young said...

I have to wonder if the lack of anything of interest happening in the last decade, UFO wise, has prompted the hierarchy at MUFON to attempt to keep interest in the subject alive, no matter what!

The cattle mutilation abruptly stopped in the 80's, at least at the industrial level it was running at...though it seems obvious to me that this was not UFO related but some kind of US govt contamination progamme field testing.
The abduction phenomenon seems to have dramatically tailed off since the 90's.
We've had no Belgium or Iran style UFO flap for decades!
In fact, since the Stephensville low level fly-past, I can't think of any other event that has really captured my attention, and that must be 10 years back!

Let's face it...nothing much is happening at the moment. Probably explains, but doesn't excuse, MUFON's seeming desire to jazz things up.

Maybe there's something in the theory that "they" come here and do what they need to do, then scarper to their next project for a few years till it's time to come back here again to check on their progress...which explains the up and down-turns in observed activity.

Either way, MUFON are either blissfully unaware or simply don't care that the complete lack of critical thinking coming out of that organisation tars other Ufologists with the same brush.

Mr. Sweepy! said...

One of the original points about this discussion was MUFON and Hangar One. To add to Paul Young's comment, Hangar One had very few new stories or new ideas. The same old stories usually with maybe a different view of the story. Yes, MUFON is likely making more money but the quality of the show is not.

One additional point. One would think there should be more quality pictures with millions (50 million worldwide) of cell phone, smart phones with cameras in the hands of customers. MUFON should be getting dozens more pictures but they are not. I really think if MUFON was smart about marketing their organization, they would ask the show's producer to put in the show a website address to report new sightings. My point here is while we can talk about individual sightings and cases, MUFON is weak at running the business to see it grow into the future.

Tim M. said...

Let me answer that question for you, Mr. Horn. The *hope* has always been that MUFON, as a scientific endeavor, will eventually be led by those who would see it become what it was meant to be. There is still good science to be done, with regard to UFO phenomena, and anomalous, non-prosaic sightings still occur every year. MUFON needs a push in the right direction, given that competent leadership can eventually be found will will have the stones to lead it as grass roots science. Perpetuating the organization as primarily a business is a proven non-starter, and it is my hope that Jan Harzan knows this.

Full disclosure - I have been an on-again/off-again member of MUFON since the 80s, and there is a great deal of solid research being done at the local level, of that I am sure of. Why the current leadership continues to carry water for the New Age agenda at all is seriously flummoxing. When James Carrion was ousted as Intl. Director, it not only marked a turning point in my association with MUFON but an apparent break with their stated intent to carry out good science.

Mr. Sweepy! said...

Mr. Horn, I can not speak for Kevin and all of his followers. However there are many discussion on his blog that we have dismissed cases as fake or lacking credibility. Many if not all are true believers that UFO exist. The people of this discussion group wants real and creditable sightings with quality witnesses and evidences even if it begins with a picture. This was the foundation of what MUFON was. Today, many feel that MUFON has abandoned these beliefs.

My comment about business practices is in part from my corporate marketing background. I sincerely believe that MUFON needs an upgrade across the board in what it presents to the public to the marketing and PR level. A clear overall of the organization. This overall is needed now and not later. That is what I was referring to.

purrlgurrl said...

I'm beginning to wonder if the only people who take MUFON seriously anymore are its members. It has lost all credibility and relevance for me, but God speed to all the members who still believe in the mission it has obviously abandoned.

Signifying Nothing said...

If extraterrestrials really are about sending hokey 'let's all live in peace and hold hands' messages to credibility lacking wierdos on Earth, than I hope the Space Brothers move on to the next star system. Everyone assumes that we would have much to learn from aliens, but from the purported messages thus far it hasn't been the case.

Might be time for MUFON to break apart into an occult-friendly group and one closer to its original ideals.

Gal220 said...

@jason mitchell

"Then the reports go into the MUFON database. Again, fine. But then what? What is the point of the massive data collection effort? Is any analysis done on the data collected? Are outside researchers allowed access to the data? What is the point?"

The Hangar1 series was an attempt to get cases out in the public domain instead of letting them die in the database. Unfortunately they gave creative control to the History channel and ratings trumped everything, the cases they covered were based on interest or theme, not credibility.

Billy Cox was able to get this quote from board member John Schuessler about Hangar1,

“We’ve been accused of being a in black hole where information keeps going in but we never tell anybody everything we’ve got,” he said. “Well, we have files on almost everything. It doesn’t mean we’ve verified everything or that we believe everything we’ve got. So it’s a double-edged sword. Production companies take what they want and they’re free to use artistic license — that’s business.”

link to the full articled -

MUFON also publicizes cases on their website as well as telling us what they think the top reports for the year. Interesting stuff for those that are researching...

Is the organization perfect? Could it be run better? Just look at the NFLs handling of all their controversial issues in domestic abuse, things could always be done better.

Hopefully they eventually run across a case that has the kind of evidence to prove something really happened. Not as easy as many people think, even with a mass sighting like Hudson valley, we dont have any pics even though numerous people saw it.

Adam S. said...


I can understand the sentiment. They lost my respect over the selling of abduction interviews to Robert Bigelow fiasco. Though it was perpetrated by only one individual, the higher ups at the organization did not take a hard enough stand on such a MAJOR ethics violation.

But, if you follow that Rabbit down its hole you will come to an abbreviation which, more and more, these accounts lead to....CIA.

Brian Bell said...

Having served on nonprofit boards myself, I can tell you that any serious organization vets its prospective board members before they get a seat. The fact that MUFON doesn't do this is ridiculous.

It's not really a "board" given Harzan's description. It's a quasi-board of directors who are really just donation level sponsors. Technically, Harzan doesn't appear to have a true board if they aren't advising and influencing him as director. That's what nonprofit boards are supposed to do.

In fact, it's possible that MUFON might be violating its nonprofit status by having a pretend board (that doesn't give direction to the director) which is in reality just a donation recognition program. Nonprofits must legally have functional boards.

I found it interesting that Harzan said (in Kevin's interview) that he didn't even know who the woman was who channels an ancient warrior when she sits on his board! That indicates to me that MUFON isn't really having board meetings which means their nonprofit status could be challenged. Given that Harzan is directing MUFON as a money making company, more or less, it could lose its nonprofit status given these issues.

KRandle said...

Brian -

Well, except for the fact that MUFON does have a regular board of directors (a few of them are also in the Inner Circle), your analysis might have been useful. So they do have a legally functioning board. The question is how much power does the Inner Circle have and do they have (do members of it have) some sort of agenda that is communicated to the director.