Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Unfair and misconceived reporting of alleged $37 million “debt” accrued by Tom Delonge’s To The Star’s Academy [“TTSA”]

I've posted some comments about Tom DeLonge in the past which were rather critical of (e.g. about excessive hype and his performance on the Joe Rogan Experience podcast number 1029 in October 2017…), but in the last few days I think some of the attacks on his company, To The Stars Academy, have ignored the detail of the content of relevant financial accounts (yawn) and accounting principles (_yawnnnnn_). 

DeLonge, again, hasn’t exactly helped himself but I feel that I should – just this time – explain a few points that actually back him up. 

I know this stuff is a bit tedious,  but -  hey – ufology and related matters don’t always just involve watching 10 second clips of flying saucers/triangles on Youtube. I’m try to keep the most boring stuff to footnote. 

[Footnotes in a blog/Facebook post??!  I may get banned for this since I seem to be breaking an unwritten rule on the Internet…]

Some of the relevant headlines in the last few days have, quite simply, been wrong. For example, the “Motherboard” website posted an article entitled “Tom DeLonge's UFO Organization Is $37.4 Million In Debt" [see Footnote 2].  (Edit : The Motherboard website has posted a correction while I've been writing this lengthy item - but the correction is wrong as well. :)  The word "debt" has been picked up and repeated in numerous other stories anyway...).

These articles have been prompted by reading (or misreading) the content of the latest financial statement filed by TTSA with the SEC (i.e. the Securities and Exchange Commission). Those accounts are at the link in Footnote 1 below. 

That SEC filing include the following [Footnote 1, at bottom of page 13]:

“.,,,The Company has incurred losses from operations and has an accumulated deficit at June 30, 2018 of $37,432,000. These factors raise doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern.

As explained below, however, that SEC filing does:
(1)  _NOT_ show that TTSA has a debt of $37 million;
(2) _NOT_ show that TTSA has spent $37 million;
(3) _NOT_ show that TTSA has borrowed $37 million.

Some of those defending Tom DeLonge on the basis that large expenditure is normal for a start-up are implicitly accepting that $37 million has been spent. It hasn’t. Questions about “what has $37 million been spent on” are based on the equally flawed premise that $37 million has been spent. Again, it hasn’t.

Tom DeLonge has posted an attack on one of those articles that was not altogether coherent (and subsequently deleted). That attack suggested that the author of the article should have contacted him first, which is a bit rich since DeLonge and TTSA have rarely responded to anyone I know that has questioned him/TTSA about anything, rather than just posting adulation of him. Also, relevant discussion had been posted online for several days beforehand and TTSA had done nothing to explain itself.  

But I think his main points are (this particular time, on this specific point…) largely right, as I’ll explain below.

The problem is that some of those attacking DeLonge/TTSA are conflating the meaning of the word “debt” and the word “deficit”. They are different words for a reason – they mean different things. J A “deficit” can arise in accounts for a range of reasons. When considering the impact of a deficit, it is – I’m afraid – necessary to look at how the deficit arose. So, let’s do that below.

The meaning of the word “debt” is that something is owed, usually money, by one party to another.  [See Footnote 3]

Quite simply, TTSA’s filed accounting documents do _not_ show that it owes $37 million to anyone.

Instead, those accounts refer to a “deficit”. This is quite different.

The word “deficit” has various meanings, but in an investing context the gist of those meanings is to refer to a loss, or an excess of expenditure/liabilities above income/assets over a period [Footnote 4].  

Before looking at TTSA’s financial statements in relation to the $36 million “deficit”, let’s try a rather simplified hypothetical example.  I’ll take things to extremes to make them – hopefully – clearer and easier to think about. Imagine Bob writes books. Bob forms a company (“Imaginary Incorporated”) to sell those books. For a decade, Imaginary Incorporated sells 1,000 copies of those books each year, at a price of $11 and with costs of production of $1 – giving a profit per book of $10, i.e. $10,000 profit a year.  Then Bob meets Dave. Dave says he is close to finding the cure for cancer. In return for Dave’s assigning rights over the “cure” to Bob’s company (and working as a consultant on finalising the details of that cure), Imaginary Incorporated gives Dave a right to buy 1% of shares in that company at any point in the next 10 years for $1 million [see Footnote 5 if you don’t know about stock/share options]. At the end of the year, when Bob fills in the accounts for Imaginary Incorporated he has to put in a value for the option that the company has given Dave. Imaginary Incorporated has given something away so it has to account for an expenditure/liability in relation to what it has given away. How much was that option worth? Well, the full answer involved applying a financial model/equation known as the “Black-Scholes model” [Footnote 6]. But, just to simplify things a tad, you have to consider what the shares are likely to be worth during that the period during which the option can be exercised. One common way of valuing a company is to look at the annual profits it has made and then apply a multiple (which tends to vary) to that annual profit. To keep the maths simple, let’s take a multiple of 10 – so the value of the company would be 10 times the annual profit of $10,000 – giving  a value of $100,000. On that basis, unless the value of the company were to change dramatically, a right to buy 1% of the company for £1 million would basically be a joke, worth nothing. But in this hypothetical example Bob thinks the company will, or at least might, be worth $100 billion during the next 10 years after developing the cure for cancer and other anticipated benefits. If that expectation were realistic, then a right to buy 1% of the shares (i.e.a value of $1 billion) for the mere price of $1 million would be a valuable right – worth millions if not hundreds of millions of dollars. So, when filling in the accounts, Bob fills in an expenditure/transfer of say $100 million in relation to the option it gave Dave. Imaginary Incorporated made its usual $10,000 profit on the sale of books but because of it giving away a right to buy shares it, for accounting purposes at least, has suffered a loss of millions of dollars based on Bob’s valuation of that right. Note, Imaginary Incorporated has not spent millions of dollars, it has not borrowed millions of dollars, it is not in debt for millions of dollars and – indeed – it never had millions of dollars. Imaginary Incorporated made its usual $10,000 profit on the sale of books but because of it giving away a right to buy shares it, for accounting purposes at least, has suffered a loss of millions of dollars based on Bob’s valuation of that right. Note, Imaginary Incorporated has not spent millions of dollars, it has not borrowed millions of dollars, it is not in debt for millions of dollars and – indeed – it never had millions of dollars. Imaginary Incorporated made its usual $10,000 profit on the sale of books but because of it giving away a right to buy shares it, for accounting purposes at least, has suffered a loss of millions of dollars based on Bob’s valuation of that right. Note, Imaginary Incorporated has not spent millions of dollars, it has not borrowed millions of dollars, it is not in debt for millions of dollars and – indeed – it never had millions of dollars.

Alternatively, imagine that Bob manages – after a fairly intensive global effort - to persuade a few desperate cancer sufferers to buy a tiny, tiny fraction of the shares in Imaginary Incorporated for a total combined investment of US$ 1 million. On the basis of a straight-line extrapolation, the entire company would then be worth billions and the option given to Dave would again – on that accounting basis – be worth millions of dollars. Of course, one could legitimately question whether a straight-line extrapolation would be meaningful in these circumstances since there would be no real prospect of all the shares in Imaginary Inc being sold for billions of dollars as things stood in this hypothetical example…

Okay, let’s turn to the financial statements for DeLonge’s To The Stars Academy. TTSA’s semi-annual period for the period ending 30 June 2018 (filed on 26 September 2018) can be found online at the link in Footnote 1, which is:

Those accounts show relatively little cash being used in operating activities (less than $1 million) [Footnote 1, at page 7] and proceeds from issuing shares also being in the region of just $1 million [Footnote 1, at page 7].  

So, where do the sums of millions of dollars come in?

Page 4 of TTSA’s latest SEC filing [at the link in Footnote 1] refers to “stock-based compensation expense” of “$4,791,042 for Interim 2018” and “$24,744,757 for Interim 2017”.  The SEC filing states that this relates to the vesting of “stock options and restricted stock units”.

Page 11 of TTSA’s SEC filing [at the link in Footnote 1] indicates that – after considering administrative and marketing costs (but excluding stock-based compensation for a moment) – TTSA’s operations have made  a relatively modest, albeit possibly (probably??) unsustainable, loss [less than $1 million] in the period to 30 June 2018. The muliti-million dollar loss arises when you add in the figure for “stock-based compensation”.

Page 16 of TTSA’s SEC filing [at the link in Footnote 1] is the key bit so far as the apparently huge deficit is concerned. That bit includes the following:

“Stock Based Compensation
 The Company uses ASC 718 and ASC 505 for stock-based compensation. Compensation for all stock-based awards, including stock options and restricted stock, is measured at fair value on the date of grant and recognized over the associated vesting periods. The fair value of stock options is estimated on the date of grant using a Black-Scholes model. The fair value of restricted stock awards is estimated on the date of the grant based on the fair value of the Company’s underlying common stock. For employees, the Company recognizes compensation expense for stock options and restricted stock awards on a straight-line basis over the associated service or vesting periods. For non-employees, the stock-based awards are valued at the value of the stock award on the date the commitment for performance has been reached or their performance is complete. As of June 30, 2018 and December 31, 2017, all non-employee awards had similar vesting terms to those of employees. Determining the grant date fair value of options using the Black-Scholes option-pricing model requires management to make assumptions and judgments. These estimates involve inherent uncertainties and, if different assumptions had been used, stock-based compensation expense could have been materially different from the amounts recorded."

Let’s break that down. 

The value attributed to the stock options and stock awarded as compensation to employees and non-employees is valued according to ASC 718 and ASC 505. ASC stands for “Accounting Standards Codification” and sets out generally accepted accounting practices in the USA [Footnote 7].  ASC 718 contains provisions relating to, among other things, share-based payments to employees (see Footnote 8, para 2.1.3). ASC 505 includes provisions relating to, among other things, share-based payments with nonemployees (see Footnote 8, para 8.2 and illustrative examples in para 9.6).  

So, the multi-million dollar aspect of the deficit relates to assumptions made when valuing the stock and/or stock options given to employees and non-employees. TTSA has put, um, high values on both. This makes it look in their filing like it has given assets worth huge sums away to employees and non-employees. Of course, if different assumptions were made as to the values of the stock and/or stock options then the value of the assets given away could be much, much less. In any event, the assets are stocks and/or stock options – not cash or any assets TTSA has bought. TTSA has, in effect, just given part of _itself_ away (or, in relation to the stock option, given away the right for others to buy part of TTSA _itself_ at a set price within a certain period).  

More details of the relevant stocks and stock options are given on pages 21-22 of TTSA’s latest SEC filing (at the link in Footnote 1). Those pages again contain a statement that “Determining the appropriate fair value of stock-based awards requires the input of subjective assumptions, including the fair value of the Company’s common stock, and for stock options, the expected life of the option, and expected stock price volatility”

I think that the statement in TTSA’s latest SEC filing that TTSA has “incurred losses from operations and has an accumulated deficit at June 30, 2018 of $37,432,000” must be understood in the context of those other parts of the SEC filing.  Similarly, the statement that ”These factors raise doubt about the Company’s ability to continue as a going concern” also must be understood in the context of high values being attributed to stock compensation being given to employees and non-employees. In effect, someone has said, hey, if you’ve given away assets in the shape of TTSA stock and stock options which are (supposedly) worth millions and millions of dollars to get services in the last year or so, how are you going to keep those people happy in the future – are you going to give them more assets (supposedly) worth millions and millions of dollars? But this is all premised on the company having a huge value.

Thus, as stated in my introduction above, the SEC filing does:
(1)  _NOT_ show that TTSA has a debt of $37 million;
(2) _NOT_ show that TTSA has spent $37 million;
(3) _NOT_ show that TTSA has borrowed $37 million.

To that extent, I think that some of the reports and comments online in relation to on DeLonge/TTSA have been misconceived and unfair. Even many of TTSA’s supporters have given defences that are based on misconceptions as to TTSA having “spent” tens of millions of dollars. It hasn’t.

Footnote 1: TTSA semi-annual report to the SEC for period to 30 June 2018 (filed on 26 September 2018):

Footnote 2 : “Tom DeLonge's UFO Organization Is $37.4 Million In Debt”:

Footnote 3 : Definitions of the word “debt” –

Footnote 4 : Meaning of “deficit” in investing context:

Footnote 4 : Basic introduction to stock options:

Footnote 6 : Basic introduction to the “Black-Scholes model”

Footnote 7 : Basic introduction to ASC

Footnote 8 : Ernst & Young 443 page guide to “Share-based payment”

Updated introduction of myself

Since I am starting posting at least a bit again on this blog, I should probably post an updated introduction of myself here...

I am a barrister in England afflicted with an interest in issues relating to "UFOs". 

I write under a pseudonym as some clients and colleagues would probably just be amused at my wasting time on these topics. 

During the last few years, I've assisted with making over 100 sets of UFO periodicals/newsletters freely available online, plus official documentation and other material. 

I've previously helped make available online in a searchable PDF format official UFO documents from the FBI, from Canada (with the permission of the Canadian government), Australia (with the permission of the Australian government), Britain and New Zealand. I've also helped make freely available online in a searchable PDF format quite a few out-of-print UFO publications after getting relevant permissions (such as the newsletters of prominent UFO skeptic Phil Klass, France's "LDLN", Britain's "Magonia", Germany's "CENAP Reports", Spain/Catalonia's "Stendek", John Schuessler's "UFO Potpourri" newsletters - plus over 100 other sets of UFO periodicals after getting necessary permissions). 

I have helped build up an online archive in conjunction with the Archives for UFO Research (AFU) in Sweden (and helped coordinate work by about 50 to 100 other UFO groups / researchers), particularly in relation to material from the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada: 

Here are a few links to samples of my previous items online:

Communicating via a blog again...

Since abandoning this blog about 8 years ago in favour of other means of communication after experimenting with blogging relatively briefly, I've posted on various discussion forums (particularly on, the Paracast and a few others) and - more recently - on Facebook.

For various reasons, I haven't posted as much on discussion forums since late 2016.  After a year away from public participation in ufology, I did start posting again - almost entirely just on my personal Facebook page. Facebook is great for ease of communication, but not so good for more detailed items with several photos / documents and numerous links.

So, I'll resurrect this blog for posting at least some of my items. Most of my shorter posts will continue to be on Facebook.

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Moving home

After trying out a blog for a little while, I decided that having a full-blown website would be better suited to the material I wanted to make available. In particular, I wanted to be able to have tables of references that could be sorted (e.g. by authors name, date or length of discussion) plus other tools, e.g. a search engine that enables users to search various UFO websites at the same time.

So, any further material from me will either be posted on one of the various UFO forums that I visit, or (while not quite fully up and running yet) on my new website:

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

My articles

Articles by Isaac Koi

My Magnum Opus: A 1,800 page chronology of UFO and SETI events:
Outlined at:
Download 1.6 Mb zipped file free:
Download 9.1 Mb unzipped file free:
A PDF version is available at the end of the page below:

"Free UFO Researcher Starter Pack"

"ATS Premium: Top 10 UFO Photos (and masses of others)"

A review of the "Condign Report" (by the British Ministry of Defence)
The Condign Report itself is available online at:

"Photos of 'aliens' - online collections"

Top 100 UFO cases
[Coming soon, in 29 parts]
PART 1: Top 100 UFO Cases: Introduction
PART 2: Challenges to produce lists of top cases
PART 3: Existing lists by various individuals
PART 4: Consensus lists : Introduction
PART 5: Consensus lists : Jacques Vallee’s poll (1965)
PART 6: Consensus lists : Ronald Story’s poll (1979)
PART 7: Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s Vox Populi poll (2006)
PART 8: Consensus lists : Paul Kimball’s expert poll (2005/6)
PART 9: Consensus lists : Fortean Times expert poll (2007)
PART 10: Consensus lists : National Enquirer Panel
PART 11: Consensus lists : The Rockefeller Briefing Document
PART 12: Consensus lists : Conclusion
PART 13: The Top 100 UFO cases
PART 14: Top 10 cases within various categories
PART 15: Qualitative criteria: Introduction
PART 16: Qualitative criteria: Credible witnesses
PART 17: Qualitative criteria: Multiple witnesses
PART 18: Qualitative criteria: Miscellaneous other criteria
PART 19: Quantitative criteria : Introduction
PART 20: Quantitative criteria : Hynek/Berliner/Speiser/Poher
PART 21: Quantitative criteria : Vallee/USI
PART 22: Quantitative criteria : Randles/BUFORA
PART 23: Quantitative criteria : Ballester-Guasp/MUFON
PART 24: Quantitative criteria : Olsen/Ludwiger
PART 25: Quantitative criteria : Figuet/FRANCAT
PART 26: Quantitative criteria : Miscellaneous other criteria
PART 27: Quantitative criteria : An experiment
PART 28: Quantitative criteria : Conclusion
PART 29: Top 100 UFO Cases : Overall Conclusion

Top 50 infamous UFO videos
[Coming soon]

Introduction: Problems within Ufology

Introduction: The need for basic reference documents

Introduction: Developing basic reference documents for ufology

Tools of the trade: UFO software and databases:

Tools of the trade: Hardware for field investigations and instrumented sky searches

UFO Petitions: Various petitions seeking disclosure of information relating to UFOs

The Lighter Side of Ufology: UFO jokes, cartoons etc

Guide to buying UFO books for researchers in the UK

Catalogues of UFO cases involving ElectroMagnetic (EM) effects and vehicle interefence

Discussion of UFOs in the Houses of Parliament in the UK

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Valuable UK UFO Project

My 25 page long review of the Condign Report can now be found at the link below:

The Condign Report itself is available online at the link below:

Sunday, March 05, 2006

UFO and SETI Chronology 1877-2006

About two and a half years after starting drafting it (and several more years after starting relevant reading), I am now ready to share a preliminary draft of a chronology of frequently discussed UFO and SETI related events from 1877-2006 ("Koi Chrono Core" for short).

This Chronology, like my heart, is dedicated to my wife.

I originally had in mind preparing a chronology about 20-30 pages long. The Chronology quickly became, um, considerably longer. The current draft is approximately 1,800 pages long (much of which is taken up with references).

Due to the technical wizardry of Joe McGonagle and Gary Anthony (for which I am very grateful) the download is available as a zipped Word document of about 1.6 Mb. Using a broadband service, this should download in about a second or two. Unzipped, the file size is approximately 9.1 Mb.

Following various technical problems, the webmaster of UFO Updates (Errol Bruce-Knapp) kindly stepped in and offered to host the relevant files on his webspace. The full draft Chronology should (fingers crossed!) be available at the links below.

The first link (below) is to a zipped Word copy of the full Chronology (around 1800 pages long, much of which is taken up with references), which is about 1.6 Mb:

The next link (below) is to an unzipped copy of the same Word document. This is quite a bit bigger, so I wouldn't recommend trying this one unless you have a rather fast internet connection and don't have unzipping software (or if you, like me until recently, don't know what zipped files are). It is about 9.1 Mb:

The download is free. This document, or extracts from it, may be freely used (including being distributed, printed or cannibalised) for non-commercial purposes subject to a couple of minor conditions, included in the first footnote to the document). If it isn't used, I've wasted quite a bit of time!

The Chronology gives the dates of various frequently discussed events, incidents, individuals and documents in the history of ufology and is cross-referenced to related material.

I have concentrated on references to discussions in UFO and SETI books. As part of the preparation of this document, I have read a little over 1,000 such books noting relevant discussions.

So that others can see which books I've intended to cover already and carry on from where I've already reached, I've tried to follow the self imposed Rules when drafting the Chronology:

(A) If the footnote to one entry refers to a book, that _entire_ book has to be reviewed for material relevant to the footnotes for _any_ other entry or entries;

(B) Each book reviewed for relevant material _must_ be listed in the Chronology with an entry in the following format "[Year of Copyright] - Book: [Author] [Title]"

(C) If a new entry is added, each of the books that has already been reviewed must be reviewed again to check if they contained material relevant to the new entry.

I have not stuck rigidly to the last of these "Rules". As a result of that Rule, after reading the first 50 or so books I re-read each of them to look for references relevant to entries that had been added. However, when I added entries after reading (as happened in several instances) about 900 books, I was (to put it mildly) rather reluctant to re-read all the earlier books. Thus, the references for various late additions are relatively incomplete. Fortunately, the number of such entries is rather limited.

I have also made a start on cross-referencing events to underlying primary material (including US Air Force, CIA and FBI documentation) and included a limited number of hyperlinks to material available on the Internet.

This Chronology is intended to act as an efficient way of organising references and hyperlinks to relevant material, in the interests of more fully informed debate and reducing the amount of reinvention of the wheel.

Under the present civil litigation procedure in England in large commercial cases, the parties to litigation are expected to co-operate in various respects so as to make a case fit for trial in as efficient and fair a manner as possible. This commonly involves, at the most basic level, producing various agreed (and therefore non-conteniously drafted) documents so that the trial judge will be able to understand the nature of the dispute and the issues in dispute as efficiently as possible. These non-contentious documents typically include:

(1) a chronology (giving the dates of key events, a few words to identify the event and cross references to further material relied upon by both sides in relation to that event;

(2) a List of Issues (listing the main issues agreed and not agreed between the parties);

(3) a case memorandum (summarising the case in just a few pages);

(4) a dramatis personae (listing the names that the Judge will come across at trial, with a few words to identify them);

(5) a glossary (listing technical terms or terms of art that will arise during the trial, with an agreed definition of those terms);

(6) a reading list (of material to be read in advance of the trial).

I believe that ufology would greatly benefit from adopting some elements of this approach. All too often, the debates regarding UFO reports do not focus on the real issues (or even identify the issues which should be addressed).

The English High Court's "Admiralty & Commercial Court Guide" (commonly referred to as "the Commercial Court Guide") contains the following in relation to chronologies:

"3. As far as possible chronologies and indices should not be prepared in a tendentious form. The ideal is that the court and the parties should have a single point of reference that all find useful and are happy to work with.
4. Where there is disagreement about a particular event or description, it is useful if that fact is indicated in neutral terms and the competing versions shortly stated.
5. If time and circumstances allow its preparation, a chronology or index to which all parties have contributed and agreed can be invaluable.
6. Chronologies and indices once prepared can be easily updated and are of continuing usefulness throughout the life of the case."

Many books are written in chronological order. Some of those books contain a recap of many of the facts and matters covered in this Working Document. However, those books also contain evaluations of the relevant events and are rarely (if ever) written in a non-contenious style.

If the chronology is to be a manageable document, the information about the relevant event contained within the chronology must be kept to an absolute minimum. Since the chronology will only cover well-known key dates and incidents, in most instances the information may only need to be a few words (e.g. "Sighting by Kenneth Arnold") rather than a full description of the relevant event. Therefore, the chronology is _not_ designed to:

(a) act as an encyclopedia. There are already several encyclopedia relating to UFOs (e.g. those by Jerome Clark, Ronald Story and Margaret Sachs).

(b) act as a survey of the history of Ufology. Again, several books of this nature have already been written (e.g. by Jacobs, Dolan and Peebles).

(c) set out primary material. The Chronology is not designed to duplicate the work done by others, particularly by Loren Gross.

(d) act as a comprehensive bibliography. Book length bibliographies have been published already, and the AFU has recently released on the Internet a fairly comprehensive bibliography of UFO books.

(e) act as a list of all UFO sightings, or even all allegedly significant sightings. Various large databases already exist (including UFOCAT and Larry Hatch's *U* Database).

I'd like to stress that the current draft is just that - a draft. The Chronology is far from finished. Indeed, it never will be completely finished. There will always be more references that could be added. The amount of further work done on the present draft, and the form that it takes, will depend at least in part on the amount and nature of the feedback obtained on the present draft.

The draft chronology is intended to be easy to edit (whether by adding to the present draft, or to delete existing entries). In particular, it is important to note that it is not necessary to insert any entry at the relevant point in the main table or the endnote tables. An entry can be inserted at any point (including the beginning or the end) and then the table can simply be sorted. Many of the endnotes contain tables of references. Those tables can be cut and pasted into a new document, and then sorted alphabetically, chronologically or by length of discussion.

Assistance and suggestions from other individuals or groups would be more than welcome. In order of priority, I would particular welcome input in relation to the following:

(1) any concerns (however slight) about any ethical issues arising in relation to the draft Chronology;

(2) any concerns about any apparent bias in the content of the draft Chronology;

(3) suggestions as to the way forward. I am considering a number of ideas, including getting a small group together to discuss relevant issues and/or raising specific queries on the UFO Updates List (if the moderator, EBK, has no objection). Another possibility is simply abandoning further work on the Chronology so that I can concentrate on other projects;

(4) mistakes in the dates for an entry. This sort of mistake is easily corrected, and given the title of the document it would be embarrassing if errors in the dates are not corrected. Please note that the dates for an incident can vary from source to source, so suggestions of corrections to the date of the incident should ideally refer to primary source material. (I'd estimate the error rate in UFO books in relation to dates to be approximately 5-10%. In particular dates for alleged sightings by astronauts vary to such an extent that I'm sorely tempted simply
to delete the whole damn lot of them);

(5) mistakes in the short summary given for each entry;

(6) mistakes in the existing references;

(7) further individual references to _primary_ source material available in published books in relation to existing entries (e.g. where an entry exists in the Chronology for a CIA document, I would like to include multiple references to images and/or the complete text of that document so that it can be located by other
researchers as quickly as possible);

(8) material missed for existing entries from books _already_ listed in the Chronology. I currently own all the books listed in the Chronology in the format "[Year of Copyright] - Book:[Author] [Title]" and thus can quickly access those books;

(9) suggestions as to the priority of further books to be reviewed (particularly those containing significant primary source material). I read a lot, so feel free to give recommendations. If the relevant book is not listed in the Chronology in the format "[Year of Copyright] - Book: [Author] [Title]" then I probably haven't bought that book yet;

(10) further individual references to discussions in published books of events in existing entries in the draft Chronology;

(11) suggestions in relation to referencing internet material. Please note that this item is deliberately placed at the end of this list, because of the distressingly short period of time most links remain valid. Many of the links I inserted in the earliest draft of the Chronology in 2003 became invalid before the preliminary draft of the Chronology was completed in February 2006.

Various chronologies are already available online, including the following:

(a) A chronology entitled "Chronology of UFO History" by FUFOR at:

(b) A chronology entitled "UFO Chronology by Year", apparently
prepared by a chaper of MUFON at:

(c) A chronology entitled "Government Involvement in the UFO Coverup" by "PEA Research" at:

(d) A short chronology entitled "A Century of UFOs" at:

(e) Several pages, starting at:

(f) "A Brief SETI Chronology" by Owen, Robert M on the SETI League website, at:

(g) Last but certainly not least, an ambitious chronology is also in preparation by Fran Ridge on the "NICAP" website.

Various chronologies have also been included in several books,
including by the following authors:
(1) Flammonde, Paris in his "UFO Exist!" (1976) at pages 426-445 (Appendix 1 generally) of the Ballantine Books paperback edition.
(2) Hall, Michael David in his "UFOs : A Century of Sightings" (1999) generally.
(3) Randles, Jenny in her "Little Giant UFO Encyclopedia"
(4) Hall, Richard "The UFO Evidence" (Volumes 1 and 2).

Also, an interesting "Parrallel Time Line" by Martin S Kottmeyer and Ronald Story provides an outline timeline showing developments in:
(a) ufology and SETI,
(b) science and technology,
(c) science fiction, and
(d) politics and religion.

That timeline is printed in "The Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters" (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) at pages 401, 403-417 (in an entry entitled "Parallel Time Line") of the New American Library softcover edition, at pages 392, 393-407 of the pdf edition (with the same page numbering in the Microsoft Word edition) and in "The Mammoth Encyclopedia of Extraterrestrial Encounters" (2001) (edited by Ronald Story) at pages 486-487, 488-502 (in an entry entitled "Parallel Time Line") of the
Robinson softcover edition.

I hope this Chronology is found to be useful.

Kind Regards,

Isaac Koi

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Tools of the trade - Software

I find it useful to split up the various
types of software/databases that ufologists use. In this email,
I'll divide my comments into the following categories:

A. Databases of UFO reports;

B. Databases of other information;

C. Expert systems to assist in identifying possible stimuli for
a report;

D. Other software to assist in investigations and research.

At the very minimum, I consider this exercise to be worthwhile
because it may assist some of the various individuals that
appear to be putting considerable time and effort into
developing their own databases/software. Also, the usefulness of
databases and other software merely as bibliographical tools
should not be underestimated given the sheer mass of literature
and documentation relating to UFO reports. However, before
launching into these topics, I'll just note a few cautionary
remarks in relation to the use of computers within ufology:

(1) "Computers are a powerful tool which properly used will give
enormous assistance to ufologists the world over... but it
should be recognised from the outset that they alone will not
answer the questions. [T]he UFO enigma will not be answered by
computers but by the talented and intuitive thinking of human
minds" per Spencer, John and Vallee, Jacques and Verga, Maurizio
in "UFO: 1947-1987" (1987) (edited by Hilary Evans with John
Spencer) at page 245 of the Fortean Tomes softcover edition (in
Chapter 3.6, entitled "Computers in Ufology").

(2) "Poor data will merely produce the wrong answer more quickly
on a computer. No technology or technique will compensate for
deficient data." per Peter Hill, quoted in Phenomenon (1988)
(edited by John Spencer and Hilary Evans) at page 224.

(3) "The well-known phrase "garbage in, garbage out' applies
equally well to ufology." per Gamble, Stephen and Wootten,
Michael and Danby, J and Smith, Willy and Kuhlemann, Bertil in
"Phenomenon" (1988) (edited by John Spencer and Hilary Evans) at
pages 224-237 of the MacDonald hardback edition (in Part 3, in
the unnumbered chapter entitled "Harnessing the Computer").

(4) See also the remarks by Brad Sparks on UpDates at the
following link:

With these caveats firmly in mind, I turn to the categories I
outlined above.

A. Databases of UFO reports

Given that many ufologists (and non-ufologists) in modern
society appear to be almost compulsive list-makers, it is not
surprising that there are already a wide variety of dabases of
UFO Reports.

Heck, there are already a considerable number of lists of
databases (in effect, databases of databases - or "databases

What is more surprising is that these databases rarely seem to
be referred to by other individuals that are considering
developing their own databases.

If I were to attempt to prepare a comprehensive list of
databases from scratch, I would attempt to divide existing
databases into various categories (e.g. according to the method
of storage or access (such as online, computerised and paper
based), or according to the type of data stored (e.g. worldwide
reports, regional reports, or specialised (e.g. pilot sightings,
EM reports) and gradually build up a comprehensive list of
databases within each catagory.

However, given the existence of some attempts to list databases
already, I think a more efficient and systematic approach would
be to begin by starting by producing a list of references to
lists of databases (in effect, a database of databases of
databases, or a list of databases squared, or a "database

I'll begin with a list of online lists of databases (most of
which are useful as guides to databases available online, but
are rather weak in relation to databases supplied on CD or on

(a) Mark Cashman's list of catalogues at the following link,
which is clearly presented and useful (but rather limited):

(b) Potentially more comprehensive, but a bit hit and miss in
its coverage, is the following page on Francis Ridge's "NICAP"
website. That page refers to various categories or "groups" of
sightings. Clicking on a "group" displays a page relating to
that category of sighting that generally begins with a list of
databases or analyses relevant to that category.

(c) Project 1947 provides a list of catalogues (which appears to
be generally limited to those by contributors to the Project)

(d) A slightly bare list of databases (which includes several
regional databases rarely mentioned elsewhere) is provided by
SUFOI at the following link:

(e) Few of the many computer software projects currently in
development give any indication that existing databases/software
were reviewed before launching into the new project. One of the
few exceptions is the RR0 project being run by Jerome Beau,
which not only includes a limited list of "alternatives and
competition" but also (extremely briefly and not entirely
clearly (possibly because of the somewhat stilted
English/jargon)) attempts to define what is different about the
proposed project. See the "alternatives and competition" table
and the remarks below it at the following link:

(f) A very brief list of databases is given by Terry Groff on his
UFO Tools website at the following link:

The most striking thing about these lists, to me at least, is
that there is very limited overlap in the lists of databases. It
seems to me that merely combining these lists would generate a
more comprehensive list of UFO databases than is currently
available on the Internet.

Even more striking is the fact that the lists of databases and
catalogues that appear in print also have extremely limited
overlap with the above lists. For example, UFO databases are
listed and/or discussed in the following:

Evans, Hilary in "UFO: 1947-1987" (1987) (edited by Hilary Evans
with John Spencer) at page 46 of the Fortean Tomes softcover
edition (Chapter 2.3.1, entitled "UFOs as Global Phenomenon").

Hall, Richard in "The UFO Evidence: Volume 2 - A Thirty Year
Report" (2001) (edited by Richard Hall) at pages 646-647 (in
Section 16) of the Scarecrow Press hardback edition.

Hynek, J Allen and Vallee, Jacques in their "The Edge of
Reality" (1975) at pages 76, 78-82 (in Chapter 3) of the Henry
Regnery hardback edition.

Gamble, Stephen and Wootten, Michael and Danby, J and Smith,
Willy and Kuhlemann, Bertil in "Phenomenon" (1988) (edited by
John Spencer and Hilary Evans) at pages 224-237 of the MacDonald
hardback edition (Part 3, in the unnumbered chapter entitled
"Harnessing the Computer").

Randles, Jenny and Warrington, Peter in their "UFOs : A British
Viewpoint" (1979) at pages 180-181 (in Chapter 11) of the Book
Club Associates hardback edition.

Randles, Jenny and Warrington, Peter in their "Science and the
UFOs" (1985) at page 60 (in Chapter 4) of the Blackwell hardback

Spencer, John and Vallee, Jacques and Verga, Maurizio in "UFO:
1947-1987" (1987) (edited by Hilary Evans with John Spencer) at
pages 238-245 of the Fortean Tomes softcover edition (in Chapter
3.6, entitled "Computers in Ufology").

Sturrock, Peter in his "The UFO Enigma" (1999) at pages 166-167
(in Chapter 24) of the Warner Aspect hardback edition.

Westrum, Ronald M in "UFO Phenomena and the Behavioral
Scientist" (1979) (edited by Richard F Haines) at pages 104-106
(in Chapter 5) of the Scarebrow Press hardback edition.

The above lists are an attempt at a database cubed. I've started
to generate my own database squared (i.e. a list of computer
databases), by listing the databases listed in the
webpages/discussions and other databases I've read about
elsewhere (or have obtained).

Before I spend much more time on this project, I'd invite anyone
that knows of other lists of databases to add to the above
database cubed to do so.

Of the above list of existing lists of databases, I would
heavily highlight in particular the article by Spencer, John and
Vallee, Jacques and Verga, Maurizio in "UFO: 1947-1987" (1987)
(edited by Hilary Evans with John Spencer) at pages 238-245 of
the Fortean Tomes softcover edition (in Chapter 3.6, entitled
"Computers in Ufology").

That article discusses a considerable number of existing
databases. Interestingly, I don't think I've read about most of
those databases since that article was printed in 1987. It would
be interesting to follow up on the status and availability of
those databases. A few hours of effort in following up the
availability of programs or databases that took week or months
to produce could be very rewarding.

I note in particular the following from that article (at the top
of page 242): " This is the only publication in the world
exclusively devoted to the use and application of computers in
ufology. A lot of international researchers contribute to the
[Computer UFO Newsletter] edited by Maurizio Verga. with
articles on research projects, ready programs, proposals of
common works and new software. There is a column, 'Offers of
software', where there is an offer at cost price of all UFO
programs available at the moment (about 30) for different kinds
of computers.".

Presumably, if the authors of the relevant programs were
prepared to make the programs available at cost price, some or
all of them would be prepared to make them available on a
website (such as Terry's "UFO Tools" website).

I note that the Newsletter is referred to on Maurizio Verga's
website at the following link, but I don't know whether the
newsletters that were produced (or the relevant programs) are
already available online or how useful they would be.

Another previous effort that I would be interested in knowing
more about (and may be worth noting by those that are working
on, or thinking about, generating their own database) is the
International Committee for UFO Research ("ICUR"). That
organisation made an effort to consider how more comprehensive
international databases of UFO reports could be generated and
how (if at all) the data in various databases could be
standardised. See the links below:

That Committee boasted an impressive list of members, including
BUFORA, CUFOS, Project UNICAT, Project URD, SUFOI and others.
I'm aware of some background on the Committee (see the short
list of references below), but am quite out of date. I'd like to
know far more about this interesting endeavour. Can anyone point
me to more up to date information? Are any of the members of the
executive of that Committee on this List? How active was/is the
Committee? Did it issue any reports or substantial minutes of
its deliberations?

Some references for the International Committee for UFO Research
(in addition to the 2 hyperlinks given above):

Blevins, Dave in his "UFO Directory International" (2003) at
pages 89-90 (in Part 2) of the McF softcover edition.

Gamble, Stephen and Wootten, Michael and Danby, J. and Smith,
Willy and Kuhlemann, Bertil in "Phenomenon" (1988) (edited by
John Spencer and Hilary Evans) at page 224 of the MacDonald
hardback edition (Part 3, in the unnumbered chapter entitled
"Harnessing the Computer").

Randles, Jenny in her "UFO Reality" (1983) at page 52 (in
Chapter 3) of the Hale hardback edition.

West, Arnold in "Phenomenon" (1988) (edited by John Spencer and
Hilary Evans) at page 12 of the MacDonald hardback edition (in
the unnumbered chapter entitled "About BUFORA and ICUR").

In this part of this email I'm merely seeking to outline how a
comprehensive list of existing computer databases could be
produced, not to give a list of them. (A draft list I'm working
on is probably too long to include in this email). However, it
would be remiss of me to fail to give a couple of comments on
the two offline giants of the UFO database world: UFOCAT and
Larry Hatch's *U* database.

UFOCAT: I don't think that there's any real doubt that UFOCAT is
the most famous and largest offline UFO database.

I gave a list of references to discussion of UFOCAT cut and
paste from an incomplete draft of my Chronology in my email at
the following link:

See also the CUFOS and UFOCAT webpages:

As I remarked in that email, I think it would be in the
interests of ufology and CUFOS for the manual for UFOCAT to be
made available on the internet. The manual hints at the wealth
of data and bibliographical references on various topics that
can be extracted from UFOCAT. Also, the UFOCAT database (which
runs on Microsoft's Access) comes with various pre-prepared
lists relating to particularly types of sightings etc. I would
have thought it would be good advertising for UFOCAT for one or
more of those lists to be made freely available on the CUFOS

I'd also note the following comment from page 5 of the UFOCAT
2002 Manual: "We would first caution potential users not to
expect to be able to begin and end their research using only
UFOCAT 2002-there are too many gaps in the data and, just like
the Internet, not every source of information is as reliable and
accurate as the next. The results obtained from UFOCAT 2002 are
best thought of as a reference guide to the original sources for
the crucial details. Otherwise, the distinction between poorly
investigated reports and exhaustively studied sightings will be
lost. However, you will substantially improve your search for
information by accessing UFOCAT 2002. What was true when Allan
Hendry wrote his critique of UFOCAT in 1979 is even truer today:
UFOCAT 2002 is without peer as a reference source. Thousands of
hours went into creating it, and months have gone into revising
it to improve its ease of use. It exists today as the most
comprehensive reference tool and bibliographic source on UFO
reports in existence."

Larry Hatch's *U* Database - Given Larry's frequent posts to
Updates, his database probably does not require any introduction
or any reference to his website at the following link:

As far as I've seen, this database has not discussed in many
books so far. However, Larry's objective appears to be very
similar to that of Dr Willy Smith's Project UNICAT (i.e. a
filtered catalogue of higher quality UFO reports). Project
UNICAT's database has been discussed in several of the
references given above, and elsewhere (e.g. in the entry
entitled "UNICAT Project" at pages 943-944 of Jerome Clark's
"UFO Encylopedia 2nd Edition : Volume 2 L-Z:" (1998).

Larry's database is currently only available as a Microsoft DOS
program and its appearance is a rather basic. The sound effects
may have been cutting edge for DOS software but are now simply a
bit irritating. However, these rather superficial issues should
not cause the database itself to be underestimated. The database
is a useful tool and I look forward to seeing Larry release a
new version of his database once its been given a new, glossy,
Windows user interface. (Again, I find it interesting that the
references given by Larry's database rarely seem to overlap with
the references given for the same sightings by UFOCAT).

B. Databases of other information

Ah, well, this is a rather wide category of a mass of
(generally) smaller databases.....

For example, there are lists/databases of different types of IFOs
(e.g. Menzel's list, which is now online at:

or lists relating to a particular type of IFO (e.g. the list of
clouds (with photos) for which a link is given on Terry's UFO
Tools website).

More significant are the various bibliographies (by Catoe etc).
I won't attempt to list the existing bibliographies in this
email, but will simply note that several of the existing
bibliographies contain sections which are devoted to listing
bibliographies - see, in particular, the following:

(1) Codes LB and LBA in the excellent online database produced
by the AFU, at the following link:

(2) US Library of Congress, Tracer Bullet 91-1 "Unidentified
Flying Objects (UFOs)" containing section entitled
"Bibliographies", available online at:

Surprising limited, unless I'm missing something, are existing
indexes/databases of government documents. Of course, there are
some lists (e.g. Brad Sparks' list of Project Blue Book
"Unknowns"), but I've seen far fewer such indexes than would be
useful. If someone has already compiled a list of such
indexes/databases, I'd be grateful if they could let me know as
it would produce a short cut for the database squared I'm

The range of other existing lists/databases that might be of
interest to ufologists is almost unlimited, for example:

(1) lists of SETI projects (such as those presented by Darling,
David in his "The Extraterrestrial Encyclopedia" (2000) at pages
378-383 (in the table entitled "SETI Observing Programs: 1960 to
the Present") of the Three Rivers softcover edition and Jill
Tarter's list in "Extraterrestrials: Science and alien
intelligence" (1985) (edited by Edward Regis) as her tabular
Appendix entitled "Archive of SETI observing programs 1959-84"
at page 192 of the Cambridge University Press softcover edition.

(2) various lists of movies involving UFOS/aliens, including:

a. The list entitled "A Checklist of ETs in the Cinema"
presented by Chris Boyce in in his "Extraterrestrial Encounter"
(1979) at page 164 (in Appendix 1) of the David & Charles
hardback edition, at page 152 of the 1980 revised NEL paperback

b. The list of science fiction films with themes of either
visitors from space, or travelling to space or both presented by
Armando Simon in "UFO Phenomena and the Behavioral Scientist"
(1979) (edited by Richard F Haines) at page 53 (in Chapter 3) of
the Scarebrow Press hardback edition.

c. The list entitled "Alien Inspired Movies" presented by
Kurland, Michael in his "The Complete Idiot's Guide to
Extraterrestrial Intelligence" (1999) at page 290 (in Chapter
28) of the Alpha Books softcover edition, and included in
Appendix E at pages 315-316.

(3) List of names of supposed extraterrestrials relating to UFO
sightings/contactees presented by Paul Christopher in his "Alien
Intervention" (1998) at pages 81-82 (in Chapter 5) of the
Huntington House softcover edition.

etc., etc., etc.

C. Expert systems to assist in identifying possible stimuli for
a report

Jacques Vallee has written about an expert system called
OVNIBASE that he developed using NEXPERT SYSTEM (developed by
Neuron Data, Inc) to implement a screening system which could be
operated by clerical personnel with the objective of eliminating
most misidentifications and to enable a skilled scientific
analyst to spend his or her time on those few cases genuinely
worthy of full investigation.

This system was discussed by Jacques Vallee in his
"Confrontations" (1990) at pages 212-213 (in the Appendix) of
the Ballantine Books paperback edition. It is also discussed in
the article by Spencer, Vallee and Verga highlighted above.

I've heard very little about this system in recent years. I
understand that it was being developed further by a French
group, but am not sure of its current status or availability.

D. Other software to assist in investigations and research.

This appears to be the primary focus of Terry Groff's "UFO
Tools" website at:

Again, I won't attempt to list specific examples in this email
(given its already considerable length), but will merely note
some categories for which lists could be developed:

1. Software for checking specific IFOs, the most obvious example
being astronomical sources;

2. Software relevant to particular types of evidence, e.g.
Photographic evidence : image analysis software; Witness
evidence: software/databases to assist in locating witnesses and
calculation tools to assist in evaluating witness evidence. (In
relation to calculation tools, in addition to noting the tools
on Terry Groff's UFO website referred to above, I note that the
article by Spencer, Vallee, and Verga highlighted above appears
to briefly refer to other such calculation tools, including an
Italian program called "Elaborazione Dati Avvistamento"
("Sighting Data Processing"), which, at least according to that
article, "allows the processing of many different parameters
coming from the witness' tale. Probable sizes, altitude,
distance and speed are some of the parameters you can

3. Software for digitising information, e.g. Documents: Scanning
software, OCR (Optical Character Recognition) software; Sound
(e.g. lectures, radio interviews) : software such as Magix's
Audio Cleaning Lab.

Also, it is important not to forget the full range of activities
that may be encompassed by the term ufology, including political
lobbying FOIA requests. There are various interactive tools
online (and other software) that can be useful in relation to
these areas. For example, there are websites that allow the user
to send a fax elected representatives in a particular country,
or to help generate the text of a FOIA request letter.

Furthermore, there are of course the fundamental software
program (word processors, spreadsheets, databases, desktop
publishing software, virus software, zipping software etc etc).

Perhaps the most obvious observations from reviewing the
discussions referred to above are that many, many
catalogues/databases have (a) been planned but not finished, or
(b) finished but are not readily available. I dread to think how
much time and effort has been wasted on such projects. I urge
the various individuals on Updates that are involved in the
development of further databases to:

(1) consider what, if anything, their project adds to existing

(2) adopt realistic goals; and

(3) consider how their project can be designed in stages or

so that others can build upon your work if you decide to
abandon it.

To help me (or anyone else) track down databases that have been
developed but almost forgotten about, I repeat the invitation
given above to let me (or Updates generally) know of references
to lists of databases (other than those given in Section A of
this email) so that a comprehensive list of databases can be
generated and then followed up.

Kind Regards,

Isaac Koi