“You can tell when something is not moving forward anymore: when the doubts you have about it don't go away,” writer Antonio Paris quoted author Jeffrey Eugenides as stating to begin the final chapter of Paris' book, 'Aerial Phenomena: Reviving Ufology for the 21st Century'. It was easy to envision why Paris chose that particular quote, as by that point in the book it was abundantly clear he had much more reason to doubt the legitimacy of stories circulating around the UFO community than believe them.
Antonio Paris is the founder and director of Aerial Phenomenon Investigations (API). According to its website, API is dedicated to conducting systematic investigations, research and analysis regarding UFOs and other aerial phenomena. The group is poised to bring more science and credibility to the study of UFOs.
Though Paris' book is just a 150-page easy read, it offers readers clear and specific explanations as to how API approaches an investigation and the tools it uses. A former soldier, former special agent for the Department of Defense and having earned two science-related degrees, Paris designed a six-step investigative process that employs scientific principles and sound research practices. The resulting procedures guarantee uniformity, continuity and the creation of a functional – and accessible - data base.
A large portion of the book is dedicated to sharing the specific results of 50 cases, the investigations of which were conducted over the course of a year and involved some 2,000 hours of work. The vast majority of the cases were solved for all practical purposes. A small percentage defied currently available explanations, yet simple lack of information obviously contributed to that being the case to a large extent. Paris documented how most UFO sightings and related reports were misidentified terrestrial objects, natural phenomena, hoaxes or outbreaks of hysteria.
The author explained how his experience at attending UFO conferences and public meetings allowed him to observe a community stagnating in fantastic yet unsupported claims. Paris subsequently found UFO organizations to be poor sources of accurate information while promoting sensational speculation. Such organizations had tendencies to conceal collected data and avoid cooperating with one another, individual researchers and the public at large. In one circumstance, Paris explained, “I was offered a leadership position in another UFO group, but the offer was conditional: I would have had to dismantle API.”
As one reaches the final pages of 'Aerial Phenomena: Reviving Ufology for the 21st Century', they might well empathize - after his experience with certain questionable members of the UFO community and his extensive investigations that time and time again showed nothing of profound interest - if Antonio Paris were to ask UFO Land, “Is this all ya got?”. However, he portrays neither cynicism nor sarcasm as he brings his book to a close with visions of moving ufology forward, sincerely seeking cases of interest while apparently committed to conducting transparent and credible research.
While some readers might find themselves disappointed there are no sensational stories within the book, others are certain to find themselves refreshingly pleased with the fact. The author provides realistic case documentation and candid assessments of ufology, circumstances that, along with his organization's commitment to scientific investigation, would make it quite interesting should he ever inform us he has identified a situation of particular interest. Readers should find themselves motivated to point API in the direction of what genuine unknowns might be out there.