The Problem with *U*

In 1993, I developed a seven-stage system to study UFOs. Stage one of the system involved collection of unscreened searchable data related to the UFO phenomenon, including an ever-expandable compilation of sighting reports. The idea was to use this freestyle database to aid detection of non-statistical patterns without employing presumptions about what might emerge from the mix. My initial compilation was sufficient to bring the other six stages into play as further analytical tools, and they revealed many completely new insights into the complex and mystifying phenomenon. As more unfiltered information was added to the stage one process, the insights became increasingly better validated to the point that a list of certainties was able to be drafted. 

Not long after I finished a manuscript for a book to present my innovative system and exciting findings to the world, I saw an advertisement for a new MS-DOS®-based “mapping and research tool” that looked as if it might prove useful in further expanding and managing part of my stage one database and thereby serve my quest for big-picture pattern detection. The tool was called, simply, *U*, with the two asterisks. In mid-1995 I ordered a copy of the *U* software, which included zoom-able maps, various search filters, and came preloaded with a bare-bones database of fewer than 15,000 “carefully screened” sighting reports drawn from about 200 previously published sources—a bold beginning. The software boasted ten different statistics functions, and users could add their own records of sightings. 

I experimented with *U* over the course of a few months but abandoned it because it proved to be more of a hindrance than an aid. My personal library of source material was far more extensive and comprehensive, and the *U* database of reports was too streamlined regarding descriptions to achieve much more than attractive statistical graphics based on standard parameters. Also, the database was too scanty to produce meaningful statistics and, of course, the vast numbers of “classified” (hottest) sightings were not included, nor were they ever likely to be. Anyway, location data reflected the place where a sighting occurred, which is not necessarily where the UFO was positioned, and flight paths were unmapped—understandably. The only reliable pattern was an incomplete pattern of UFO witnessing (re unsuppressed reports). 

Not a single new insight emerged by using *U* as an adjunct to my system. To the contrary, I found the *U*-guided approach to facilitating a breakthrough counterproductive and realized that this would not change, because the database could never be complete enough to allow unbiased solid conclusions or facilitate new provocative questions for researchers intent on gaining a clear big picture. This was not the fault of the software developer, who had done a fine job of creating a tool to assist mainstream ufologists, particularly stat-loving PhDs, some of whom gave rave reviews of *U* in UFO periodicals. In short, *U* supported the long-established (albeit dysfunctional) approach to study. 

In the mid-1990s, I was yet to fully understand exactly why my completely unconventional New Science approach had been able to reveal in less than three years more than conventional scientific systems and methods had apprehended in fifty. For lack of sufficient usefulness to me, the *U* software soon fell off my radar screen. To my knowledge, *U* was never upgraded to run in a post-Windows ME® or a Macintosh® environment. I imagine that some researchers still use DOS systems and continue adding material to their proprietary *U*-structured databases, although I have heard no report of any ufological breakthrough achieved during twenty more years on that left-brain dominant path.

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