I TOLD YOU SO … AUSTRALIAN UFO HISTORY WARS UPDATE
In the Ufologist issue Vol. 10. No. 2 2006 (the 2006 - TENTH ANNIVERSARY SPECIAL COLLECTOR's ISSUE) my article “Australian UFO history wars” highlighted the dubious nature of the anonymous Wikipedia article “Australian ufology”. Within days of the Ufologist issue appearing in newsagencies there was a frenzy of editorial activity by the writer of the Wikipedia piece, “correcting” the errors in his Wikipedia piece I had outlined in my article.
I have to offer high marks indeed for the person of “vufors” (not to be confused with the group VUFORS) – the anonymous author of Wikipedia “Australian ufology” piece – but unfortunately only for entertainment value only! Sadly there are many more problems, both of fact and bias, and just plain misrepresentation. So the total piece is still the stuff of “the Emperor’s new clothes” – a nakedly biased piece, dressing up in the digital clothing of the internet - his distorted take on Australian ufology. Good luck to all those silly enough to rely only on his poor excuse for UFO history.
After the “corrections” “vufors” undertook to try to correct all of his confusing and contradictory declarations on where all the government files were and went, he still leaves us with more silly confusion. According to the new confused mantra of the Wikipedia entry the government UFO files apparently must have gone backwards and forwards (repeatedly it seems) from his hypothesised Victorian “intelligence cell” to Canberra being vetted by controlling officers, to a “temporary” home in Canberra, to then be shuffled back to Victoria. Well, during my 4 visits to the Canberra headquarters of the Department of Defence (DoD) from 1982 to 1984, if we believe the Wikipedia piece (and I don’t), it must have been a trying time for this strange fantasised “intelligence cell” setup. I saw classified files in 1982 and these same files through to 1984. More realistically I suggest the files were found and brought together and largely stayed in Canberra for the duration, and have been there ever since, rather than the bizarre convoluted antics declared by the Wikipedia “Australian ufology” editor. Or should we accept “vufors” dubious takes as more evidence of the dubious response of military intelligence to UFOs, just like with the UK MOD efforts. Still, I would not impose “vufors” Wikipedia declarations on the real story of the government role in the Australian UFO controversy. I would rather anchor consideration of their role in serious open and transparent analysis and study, than skewed and agenda based anonymous declarations from largely hidden or uncooperative parties.
The anonymous Wikipedia “Australian Ufology” editor confirmed his dubious credentials with his continuing efforts to distort the history of my group UFOIC. The corrections I made to his distorted piece were deleted after being left in place for more than 2 months, apparently due to “duplication”, according to “vufors”.
Here is the original distorted and incorrect piece, now restored by “vufors”:
UFOIC eventually disintegrated under Mr Fred Phillips and Bill Moser and
UFOIC lapsed into silence. But the old power troubles remained right up and into
the 90's. In 1991 a new breed of New South Wales group emerged under the name of UFO Research New South Wales (UFOR(NSW)). This caused problems when Mr Bill Chalker who claimed that the new group had ‘stolen’ the name from him, however, Chalker was unable to justify his rights to the name, to counter this action Chalker registered the defunct UFOIC name for his independent private use. Apart from these power struggles newer groups of the 1990’s, bridged this power divide that some well known individuals still hold to this day. (Auchettl:1985)
Here is the corrected piece I edited into the “Australian Ufology” Wikipedia document:
Following the tragic accidental death in 1969 of long time UFOIC president (serving from 1958 – 1969) Dr. Miran Lindtner, the organization UFOIC itself went through a difficult period or adjustment and reorganization. In 1973 David Buching led an active team which re-energized the group. In line with some other state groups, UFOIC was renamed UFO Research (NSW) in 1976, continuing an energetic phase of investigation and research. By the early 1980s the group reconfigured itself into a loose networking organization, to better work with national networking initiatives, initially with ACUFOS and later UFORA. In 1991 a new breed of New South Wales group, which preferred the old style of public group, emerged registering the name of UFO Research New South Wales (UFOR(NSW)). This development led Bill Chalker, the coordinator of UFO Research (NSW) (1976 – 1991) to readopt the original UFOIC name, allowing it
to continue the networking style organization, while the new UFOR(NSW) introduced its own public group approach. While initially the 1991 appropriation of the UFOR(NSW) name caused tension and confusion, the two groups UFOIC (under Bill Chalker’s continuing direction from 1976) and UFOR(NSW) (under Wendy Burnham’s presidency), have forged good cooperative ties, while pursuing different approaches to research and investigation.
In closing, once again I call for a history that is documented in open, transparent cooperation, where issues that emerge, that seem contentious, are resolved where ever possible through dialogue and friendly and professional debate that has its firm foundations in verifiable and accessible documentation and research. This approach is certainly far better than “history” rooted in anonymous or unverifiable proclamations backed up by “war games” to defend perceived positions or “turfs”? Sadly the Wikipedia “Australian Ufology” piece is an example of the latter sorry approach. Let us continue with the former open and friendly cooperative approach. I will certainly be doing my best to champion that approach with this column and in other forums. Until next time …
I returned to this matter in my third column:
AND REMEMBER I TOLD YOU SO …
Finally a brief revisit to another unfortunate manifestation of Australian UFO history is appropriate. Regular readers of this column and magazine will understand my criticism of the Wikipedia internet document “Australian Ufology”. It seems now that experienced Wikipedia players are also aware of the shortcomings of the article. The author of the piece - “vufors” took it upon himself to nominate his own article for a Wikipedia “Good Article” nomination. His dubious efforts meet with failure, when in the “discussion” section of the article “Pascal.Tesson”, a Wikipedia player, failed the nomination for the following very illuminating reasons:
“I am failing the good article nomination for this article for a number of reasons.
First it is not particularly well written or organized.
It is in violation of WP:POV (Wikipedia Point of View policy) . Sentences like "The strange twist to this event was the person who should have had the chance to see all the files, the past President of CAPIO & VUFORS, Mr Peter Norris, had departed ufology just under 17 months prior to the changes in policy." or "The subject came under attack by bureaucrats in an attempt to stifle the Australian public debate." (among others) are clearly pushing an underlying conspiracy theory hypothesis.
I am concerned about the fact that very few users are contributing to the page. Vufors (talk • contribs) probably has half the edits. This is not a healthy way to build an article and I think explains the POV problems. It also makes the whole article look like a violation of WP:NOR (Wikipedia: No original research policy).
The depiction of the agencies is dubious to say the least.
A number of urls are dead. A bunch of references are dubious. I don't think that any book entitled "Awakening: How Extraterrestrial Contact Can Transform Your Life," can pass as a reliable source.
The talk page has been moved to Vufors (talk • contribs) talk page but concerns about his management of the article have been erased by the user himself.
Not only is this as clear-cut a failure for GA (Good Article) -status as can be but it's also clear that it should not have been nominated in the first place: surely a page that has been nominated twice for AfD (Article For Deletion) in its six-month existence (with a non-consensus the first time around) should not be nominated so soon. As the nominator Vufors most certainly knows this page has a long history of edit wars. I am tempted to view the nomination as a disingenuous attempt to provide an undeserved credibility to the article.”
I placed my own brief respond in the same “Discussion” section:
“Pascal.Tesson seems to have picked up on the problems with this article. My own concerns with this article were raised in a detailed article published in the "Australian Ufologist" magazine. It has been placed on the web at: www.auforn.com/Bill_Chalker_38.htm Make you own mind up, but I see the "Australian Ufology" article as a poor example of the objectives of Wikipedia. Given the games "vufors" has played with "controlling" edits on this article, few serious researchers would bother with trying to add or correct content. Any attempts to do so usually get edited out, so why bother.Regards, Bill Chalker”
The games some people play …
So where is the Wikipedia "Australian Ufology" piece now (December 2007). It is a somewhat leaner piece, but one still underminded by its skewed and agenda driven editing. "Mainstream" Wikepedians have in part caught up with the excesses of the "edit wars" that made it an unattractive destination for researchers interested in a serious history of Australian ufology. Despite the problems encountered in trying to get some reasonable balance and increased accuracy into the article, possible keys to its "anonymous" author may possibly be found in looking at the more recent "Phenomena Research Australia" (PRA) entry on Wikipedia. It is virtually completely sourced from the skewed "Australian Ufology" entry, proclaiming the same "hidden history" as the "true" history of PRA, a history that is alleged to go back as early as 1949. If this was truely the case then it would be fascinating stuff indeed.
The "facts" behind this hidden history seem locked up in two documents that few Australian UFO researchers are privy to - namely PRA director John Auchettl’s 34 page 1985 VUFORS document “The Roots of Australian Ufology” and the 6 page Brian Boyle document “The Early Years: From Saucers to UFOs”. Valid history is built upon verifiable documentation. Until these and other confirmatory data are actually accessible to researchers outsided the PRA "bunker" then this interesting but unconfirmable "hidden history" remains just that.
Attempts to confirm this proclaimed history, authored by anonymous sources, have not advanced much at all. Back in early 1996 while researching The OZ Files - the Australian UFO Story I asked PRA director John Auchettl about the origins of PRA I got a completely different story. He told me then that Bill Campbell Hicks of Southern Air Services started the process of PRA back on June 7th 1969 as essentially "a closed group of army & aviator people based in Victoria." Auchettl characterised the PRA of 1969 as having a membership of about 100 focusing on a phenomena basis - "everything was "flying saucers"then." Auchettl indicated he joined PRA in 1973 via his aviation connections. He joined the better known Victorian group VUFORS - Victorian UFO Research Society - in 1975. Auchettl left VUFORS in 1990 after some problems, resurrecting the old PRA which by then was at a low ebb. The flagship of the new PRA in late 1990 was the PRA journal and it was proclaimed "PRA is not a competive group or society. It is financed by advertising, and or, by Mr. John William Auchettl, and wholly controlled by the founder!"
PRA would later proclaim a legacy back to 1961. What happened to 1969? Perhaps it was Brian Boyle's "missing" 1961 "history" that changed things?: For example "1961-2004 - 43 YEARS OF RESEARCH SERVICE." The appearance of the anonymous Wikipedia "Australian Ufology" piece early in 2006 claimed a PRA lineage back to 1949, as now pointedly proclaimed in the Wikepedia entry for Phenomena Research Australia. Once again it seems the "roots" of this claim lie buried in documentation PRA itself seems unwilling to share with the wider research community.
Does any of this matter? Perhaps not, but PRA claim to be custodians of all sorts of UFO data, some of which is suggested to go back to the early years of ufology. One small problem ... PRA doesn't seem to want to share this claimed data, except on a very limited basis. For example the Kelly Cahill case of 1993, for which, sadly in restrospect, I faciltated PRA's involvement, the claimed PRA investigation, after 14 years, still lies restricted to PRA. Kelly Cahill herself has not had the benefit of full access to this data. The credibility of Kelly Cahill's experience, may or may not be well served by access to PRA's restricted data on the case. There are other examples but given the sorry history of trying to get PRA to share that data it seems pointless to get into details.
It seems that part of the claimed "roots" back to 1949 may be in "the ties that bind" - family connections perhaps - Jack Seers is reported as forming the group AMPR with Brian Boyle back in 1949. The Auchettl and Seers families are related, so perhaps valid blood ties between the claimed entity AMPR and PRA exist. This may be the stuff of fascinating history, but it is a story that will have to await the pleasures of PRA, at a time that suits them.
Until next time …