Readers of the article by-lined by Ware, Flannigan and Andrus (though apparently written by Andrus) in the July '88 issue of the MUFON UFO Journal may get a misleading impression of CUFOS' current stand on the Gulf Breeze, FL CE-III photographic episode. Our concern here is not with what we consider the author's errors in reporting privately-stated views. We simply wish to make clear why we feel its wise to take a cautious view of this difficult case, and to await results of the still-unfinished investigation.
CUFOS considers Gulf Breeze a potentially significant UFO case, but one that remains unproven, and it is essential that research into every aspect of both photographs and testimony, continue. Important questions are yet unanswered, and necessary avenues of inquiry yet unpursued.
1) On November 19, 1987 the Gulf Breeze Sentinel published Ed's original, anonymous letter, accompanying his first five photographs. His letter stated there were no beams coming from the UFO. On December 7th, on his first MUFON report form, he mentions no beams in his account of this November 11th incident. It is not until his third account of the incident, completed January 8th, 1988 that Ed reports a "blue beam"; in fact a blue beam which would come to figure prominently in Ed's claims was first reported by a Gulf Breeze resident on November 11th, according to a November 25th Sentinel article. Critics are bound to suggest that Ed retroactively incorporated a blue beam into his later account of the November 11th incident.
2) Ed has given three different versions of his activity at the initiation of the November 11th sighting. Why?
3) Questions have been raised about the relationship of the MUFON investigators and Ed and his family. Some observers have complained that Ed was kept fully informed on the ongoing inquiries, including those that were turning up leads that might have produced disconfirming evidence. Since all photographic cases should be considered at least POTENTIAL hoaxes, it is essential that investigators operate independently from those whose claims they are checking. An operation that gives claimants sufficient advance warning to cover their tracks (if there are tracks to be covered) is seriously flawed. We are not accusing the MUFON team of committing this kind of methodological blunder, but the charge has been made by others, and has so far not been answered.
We applaud Bruce Maccabee's admirable analysis of the Gulf Breeze photographs. He deserves nothing but praise for the care and thoroughness he has brought to the problem. But his analysis is only the first step. In science, replication of findings is a necessary part of the process of inquiry. It is now time for another scientist, as skilled and conscientious as Dr. Maccabee, to examine the photographs and to report his conclusions.
We feel that the Gulf Breeze case has generated too much needless heat. We hope that in the future, ufologists will devote their energies solely to sober consideration of the promises and the problems of these extraordinary series of events. Since all of us, we hope, have only one concern: that the truth, whatever it is, be found, we can put behind the emotion that has so far played far too large a role in the debate, and concentrate on the work that needs to be done. Whatever the answer turns out to be, ufology can only benefit from adherence to the strictest standards of scientific study.