Mutual UFO Network
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|Founded||May 31, 1969|
|Purpose||"The Scientific Study of UFOs for the Benefit of Humanity"|
|Jan C. Harzan, Executive Director; John F. Schuessler, Founder and Board Member; Roger Marsh, Editor; Chase Kloetzke, Director of Investigations|
|Part of a series on the|
The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) is a US-based non-profit organization based in the United States composed of civilian volunteers who study alleged UFO sightings. It is one of the oldest and largest organizations of its kind, claiming more than 4,000 members worldwide with chapters and representatives in more than 43 countries and all 50 states. In 2015, MUFON founded Mutual UFO Network University, an unaccredited online institution which seeks to train members to investigate UFO sightings. The organization has been criticized for its focus on pseudoscience, and critics say its investigators fail to use the scientific method.
MUFON, Inc. was originally established as the Midwest UFO Network on 31 May 1969, in Quincy, Illinois, by Allen R. Utke, Walter H. Andrus, Jr., John F. Schuessler, and others. Most of MUFON's early members were associated with the SKYLOOK newsletter of Stover, Missouri and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), formerly of Sturgeon Bay, Wisconsin. MUFON was renamed the Mutual UFO Network in 1973 because of its expansion to other states and internationally.
In 2019 MUFON celebrates its 50th anniversary.
MUFON is currently headquartered in Irvine, California, under the direction of Jan Harzan, with chapters in every U.S. state. The organization claims to have more than 4,000 members worldwide, with a majority of its membership base situated in the continental United States. It holds an annual international symposium and publishes the monthly MUFON UFO Journal. The group now has more than 500 field investigators, as well as specialized teams to investigate possible physical evidence of any extraterrestrial craft. The network trains volunteers to be investigators and teaches them how to interview witnesses, perform research, and how to draw conclusions from the evidence. Although investigators are not paid, they must pass both an exam based on a 265-page manual, and a background check. MUFON's features a case management system on its website, produces a monthly UFO journal (print and on-line), provides investigator training, and hosts a web-based newsroom.
According to science writer Sharon A. Hill, MUFON's focus is "decidedly unscientific with talks on alien abduction, conspiracy theories, human-ET hybrids, hypnotic regression, and repressed memories", and reflects "a wide range of pseudoscience". MUFON has been the subject of criticism for drifting away from their original "nuts and bolts UFO investigation" into "bizarre conspiracy and exopolitics talk". The organization receives large numbers of UFO reports every year; the qualifications of the amateur volunteers examining the reports, however, have been questioned. Hill wrote that MUFON's idea of scientific researchers "appears to be people who are not scientists or propose fantastic, anti-science tales".
Association with far-right viewpoints
An April 2018 article in Newsweek reported evidence of "anti-immigrant, anti-trans, and anti-Muslim sentiments" among MUFON officials, including J. Z. Knight and former MUFON State Director for Pennsylvania John Ventre, both of whom have publicly expressed racist and/or anti-Semitic views, and are described in the article as "high-tier Inner Circle donors to MUFON". The expressed far-right viewpoints "kicked off a wave of anger and resignations across MUFON", including former MUFON Director of Research Chris Cogswell (who stated, "My internal conscience would not let me continue") and former board member and Washington State Director James Clarkson (who stated, "Remaining in MUFON in any capacity is morally unacceptable.") Erica Lukes, former MUFON State Director for Utah, is also reported in the article as describing MUFON as "an organization unwilling to adequately address sexual harassment".
In the media
MUFON has been mentioned in:
- The 2008 Discovery Channel documentary miniseries UFOs Over Earth
- The X-Files series
- The History Channel's series Ancient Aliens
- The New York Times article "People Are Seeing U.F.O.s Everywhere, and This Book Proves It"
- Forbes article "MUFON, America's UFO Experts, Discuss Roswell And Possible Cover-Ups"
- Trares, Ryan (11 October 2012). "Have you seen a UFO? Hoosier investigators aim at identifying unexplained". Franklin Daily Journal. Archived from the original on 14 October 2012. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
When local residents see something in the sky that they can’t explain, they call the Mutual UFO Network. The nationwide organization receives dozens of similar reports every year of unusual lights in the night sky.
- Trares, Ryan (15 October 2012). "Mutual UFO Network investigates sightings". Evansville Courier & Press. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
Most often, the reports can be explained naturally. Refracted light in the sky, electric flashes high in the atmosphere or meteors easily can be mistaken for UFOs.
- Schuessler, John. "A Brief History of MUFON". MUFON. mufon.com. Retrieved 10 January 2019.
- Olanoff, Lynn (15 October 2012). "UFO sightings lead Pa. man to alien sleuth work". New Jersey Herald. Retrieved 15 October 2012.
Black triangular objects with three lights are the most commonly seen UFO, not the stereotypical flying saucer shape, Royer said.
- Hill, Sharon. "UFO research is up in the air: Can it be scientific? - Sounds Sciencey". Skeptical Inquirer. Committee for Skeptical Inquiry. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
- Hill, Sharon. "MUFON to rebrand". Doubtful News. doubtfulnews.com. Retrieved 21 December 2016.
- William F. Williams (2 December 2013). Encyclopedia of Pseudoscience: From Alien Abductions to Zone Therapy. Routledge. pp. 254–. ISBN 978-1-135-95522-9.
- Whalen, Andrew (29 April 2018). "What If Aliens Met Racists? MUFON Resignations Highlight Internal Divisions in UFO Sightings Organization". Newsweek. Retrieved 7 May 2018.
Everything this world is was created by Europeans and Americans
- Blumenthal, Ralph (24 April 2017). "People Are Seeing U.F.O.s Everywhere, and This Book Proves It". The New York Times. Retrieved 19 November 2018.
- Clash, Jim (17 January 2017). "MUFON, America's UFO Experts, Discuss Roswell And Possible Cover-Ups". Forbes. Retrieved 19 November 2018.