Singular Cerebrations: None of My Cases Belong to Me (or Anyone)
I decided to stop working with MUFON as a field investigator for a few reasons that aren't relevant to what I want to talk about today, and one that is: I didn't like how they treated data. I still don't. I've always believed that the raw data of what we do—the witness interviews, pictures, videos, etc—should be freely available to anyone who wants it. MUFON disagreed with me.
To me, the data is just a small part of what fortean research is all about. It's taking the data and drawing connections that's important. You've got to be able to take all of that disparate data and transform it into something comprehensible, or you're not really doing anything at all. And once you've done all of that, then you've got to be able to present it in a way that anyone will actually enjoy, regardless of your preferred medium. It's not easy.
That's what bothers me about the data hoarders. What they call "research" begins and ends with the collection of information, and their motive is whatever they think they can get for what they've collected. Many of these people say they're motivated by their search for the truth, yet they sit on data like a dragon sits on its hoard of gold—and for the same reason. It's greedy, it's dishonest, and I don't like it.
I'm not advocating for the theft of research. For God's sake, credit people for their ideas and their assistance in data collection; otherwise you're a plagiarist (which is a station somewhere beneath puppy killer for writers like myself, just so you know). But I desperately want to do away with the idea that fortean data is something to be jealously guarded; not just for me, but for all of my friends in the fortean community.
So thank you to all of my wonderful friends and colleagues who already get it. Please know that this isn't about you.
Yours in Impossibility,