Mutual UFO Network
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|Founded||May 31, 1969|
|Jan Harzan, International Director|
|Part of a series of articles on the|
The Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) is an American-based non-profit organization that investigates cases of alleged UFO sightings. It is one of the oldest and largest civilian UFO-investigative organizations in the United States. MUFON claims 3,000 members worldwide with chapters in every US state. The group maintains a number of investigators, who undergo training administered by MUFON. The organization has been criticized for its focus on pseudoscience, and critics say its investigators fail to use the scientific method. In 2015, MUFON founded an unaccredited online institution called MUFON University.
MUFON was originally established as the Midwest UFO Network in Quincy, Illinois on May 31, 1969 by Walter H. Andrus, Allen Utke, John Schuessler, and others. Most of MUFON's early members had earlier been associated with the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO).
MUFON is currently headquartered in Newport Beach, California under the direction of Jan Harzan, with chapters in every American state. The organization claims to have more than 3,000 members worldwide, with a majority of its membership base situated in the continental United States. MUFON operates a worldwide network of regional directors, holds an annual international symposium, and publishes the monthly MUFON UFO Journal. The group now has more than 390 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.
The stated mission of MUFON is the study of UFOs for the benefit of humanity through investigations, research and education. Along with the J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) and the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR), MUFON is part of the UFO Research Coalition, a collaborative effort by the three main UFO investigative organizations in the US whose goal is to share personnel and other research resources, and to fund and promote the scientific study of the UFO phenomenon.
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, however the qualifications of the amateur volunteers examining the reports 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
A 2018 article in Newsweek reported evidence of wide-spread anti-immigrant, anti-trans and anti-Muslim sentiments among MUFON officials. Such officials include J.Z. Knight and former MUFON State Director for Pennsylvania John Ventre, Both 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.
MUFON International Directors
- 1969–1970: Allen Utke
- 1970–2000: Walter H. Andrus, Jr.
- 2000–2006: John F. Schuessler
- 2006–2010: James Carrion
- 2010–2012: Clifford Clift
- 2012–2013: David MacDonald
- 2013–Present: Jan Harzan
In the media
Some of MUFON's investigations have been featured in the documentary television miniseries UFOs Over Earth, which premiered on the Discovery Channel in 2008 and currently re-airs on Investigation Discovery. Richard Hoffman helped produce the History Channel TV show, UFO Files: Hangar 1 - The UFO Warehouse with producer Weller-Grossman.
MUFON is also featured in the television show The X-Files.
MUFON was also mentioned in a New York Times Article "People Are Seeing U.F.O.s Everywhere, and This Book Proves It" written by Ralph Blumenthal.
- 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.
- 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.
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