UFO information about specific events breaks down into stories and cases. What's the difference?
- A case is an investigated narrative about a specific UFO event. The investigation has been done by a credentialed UFO investigator. Usually, after the investigation, a formal report is produced.
- A story is an uninvestigated narrative about a specific UFO event.
Oregon MUFON Field Investigators start with a narrative about a specific UFO event. This narrative, or story, may get turned into a case, but this depends entirely on the cooperation of the narrator of the story. If the narrator is interested in a more formal investigation complete with formal interviews, examination of any photographic or physical evidence, formal filling out of numerous MUFON forms, etc., then we proceed.
Some very close UFO encounters are quite emotional experiences and a witness may be uncertain about how far he or she wants to probe his or her own sighting. Also, witnesses are usually aware of the ridicule factor surrounding UFOs and may have second thoughts about opening themselves up to ridicule. If the narrator shows no interest in a formal investigation, then the narration, or story, remains just that.
But UFO Stories Are Valuable
But are stories still valuable without a formal investigation turning them into a case? Of course, they are. UFO investigators have found over the years that a very large majority of people who tell UFO stories do so with the intent of providing accurate information about a puzzling event.
Newspaper articles report stories all the time. Reporters usually don't have the time to check every fact or to do any formal investigation into the truth or reliability of the information they get from their sources. They trust implicitly people in authority who give them information, and they trust information given to them by bystanders to an event when the information is consistent with other testimony.
A story together with some background on the story teller is valuable because it gives you some information about something that might have some truth behind it. Many stories from many disparate sources can "average out" to something interesting or provocative that should be looked into with formal investigative procedures.
A Few Stories Are Hoaxes
But there have to be liars, right? Yes, they certainly do exist and ufology has a long history of hoaxed UFO information. However, MUFON has found over 30 years of investigations that hoaxers account for around one or two percent of reports at best. Check out our Oregon MUFON UFO investigations that turned out to be hoaxes or, at least, very questionable stories by people whose motives remain unclear to this day. (Sorry. We haven't had time to write this up yet. Someday . . . )