Ufology in Ukraine: interview with Igor Kalytyuk—Part 1

"Ufology is a quasi-science, and this is because serious developments in it, which can still be called scientific, are lost in a gigantic stream of sectarian and subcultural “absurdity”".


Published 2024-03-30 at 04:24

Reading Reading 18 min.

UAP Check: How did you first become interested in the subject of UFOs?

Since childhood, I have had an interest in astronomy, meteorology, and other exact sciences. In the third grade, I redrew a map of the starry sky, and at the same time, I could draw a political map of the world from memory. However, I still did not know what photocopying was. Having entered technical school, I forgot about astronomy for five years, becoming completely occupied with computer science and computer hacking.

Currently, my profession is related to the administration and installation of networks and video surveillance, repairing computers, cash registers, and cosmetic equipment. However, when I finally had good Internet access (at that time, I was already studying at the institute), I accidentally found a website of someone named Murphy, which had very interesting information about planets in other star systems. This sparked my curiosity about the possibility of extraterrestrial life, and my interest in astronomy was renewed. I started looking for information on this issue and encountered a lot of "contact absurdity" that I believed in at the time. This was the beginning of my interest in ufology, which started in 2008.

Over time, I began to doubt many nuances. Digging deeper into various historical and religious texts, I started to lose the remnants of the religious worldview that had been instilled in me since childhood. It was a very challenging period for me, and I began to realize that the world around me is not as simple as it seems and as we were taught. The path of doubt led me to scientific methods to unlock my untapped potential.

A significant impetus was my acquaintance with Artem Bilyk, who taught me about the scientific method. Reading books by Randy Gage and Everett Shostrom provided answers to many questions. Later, when the EIBC Center and the first developments in verification had already been established, I met Mikhail Gershtein, who showed me the way to also realize my untapped potential for systematization. The first developments on the “Unification” and “Global Archive” projects also appeared, which I will discuss in detail later.

I came to admit that ufology is not a science at all, but a pseudo-scientific discipline, although previously I actively promoted it as a science, based on misunderstandings. Indeed, ufology is a quasi-science, and this is because serious developments in it, which can still be called scientific, are lost in a gigantic stream of sectarian and subcultural "absurdity" and a lot of interpretation. Many established ufologists with numerous "academic" degrees declare on television and other media that they "professionally" began studying UFOs since they were children. Moreover, TV channels continue to pour tons of ufological nonsense into the minds of viewers, only now with increasing intensity. I wanted to distance myself from those deceitful individuals who confidently claim on all TV channels that they are ufologists; an internal protest was brewing in me.

UAP Check: Tell us about SRCAA "Zond"

The Ukrainian Research Center for the Study of Anomalies (SRCAA) "Zond" is an independent unit and a member organization of the Aerospace Society of Ukraine. Established in 2004, our center is dedicated to the scientific investigation of anomalous phenomena within Ukraine. In its endeavors, SRCAA "Zond" adheres strictly to scientific methodologies, steering clear of both ambiguity and the sacralization of issues. The majority of the center’s participants are affiliated with scientific and educational institutions, possess advanced degrees, and are experts in their respective fields. Serving as the intellectual heir to most Soviet commissions that investigated anomalous phenomena since 1978, the center has also inherited their extensive archives.

UAP Check: What is the purpose of the "Ufology News" resource?

In the information landscape pertaining to ufology, there exist approximately a hundred resources. Most of these are cluttered with sensationalist "yellow" headlines, both overt and subtle falsehoods, errors in identification, and other similar absurdities. Collectively, these can be viewed, from a scientific standpoint, as subcultures or even neo-sects. Recognizing the absence of a reliable news resource in the Russian language that could offer scientific, pseudo-scientific, and investigative articles on this topic, this platform was established. Over time, it evolved to include Ukrainian, becoming bilingual and expanding its reach. "Ufology News" has gradually taken on a deeper role as an endeavor to engage these subcultures in scientific methods of understanding the world around us. I refer to this initiative as the "Project Enlightenment".

UAP Check: Do you consider yourself a ufologist?

Not at all. There are several areas in which this topic interests me:

First, the history of the subcultural ufological environment and its related elements allows for scientific examination. We possess the world's largest electronic archives on this subject, which I established to aid enthusiastic historians, and we frequently exchange these resources among ourselves. I am also willing to share these archives with anyone who identifies as a historian, positioning myself primarily as a historian in this realm. This is our "Global Archive Project".

Second, there are many socially marginalized individuals within the subcultural environment who report experiences termed “abductions.” I refrain from making judgments on these claims without substantial evidence. Instead, I organize these individuals into groups, enabling them to find some peace in their relentless quest for answers and to exchange information safely, away from societal judgment. Together, they can collaboratively draw conclusions. We vet potential “experiencer” candidates using proven methods to detect deceit, such as analysis of gestures and handwriting, and employ strategic deception. It is crucial to screen for individuals likely to have mental disorders or hallucinations using specific tests and behavioral observations. Distinguishing the abduction narrative from other altered states of consciousness (ASC) is also vital. In the context of this "Project Unification", I function as a psychologist.

For example, I recently published a scientific paper titled "Subject-oriented program investigating the intellectual system of witnesses of anomalous phenomena." This article elaborates on the methodologies for testing the cognitive processes of participants ("to-1.0-1.1 tests"), identifying logical and associative errors in the intellectual model through our measurements. The primary motivation for this research was the ubiquitous issue of human error in the interpretation of visual data—such as images and observed phenomena—which may not be reliably transmitted to analysts, leading to misinformation and factual distortions. The critical importance of accurate information transfer in societal interactions is clear, a challenge that most analytical bodies face. The scientific novelty and subsequent findings of this study have reinforced disciplines including logic, psychology, methodology, and philosophy, focusing on innovative combinations of features and the integration of new elements. The outcomes to date confirm that biased interpretations significantly affect logical reasoning.

Third, from a scientific perspective, the topic of Anomalous Aerospace Phenomena (AAP), and specifically Undiscovered Atmospheric Phenomena (UAP), is profoundly intriguing. We have developed a comprehensive guide titled “How to identify UFO? How to investigate AAP?” In this capacity, I see myself as the coordinator of a collaborative scientific team ("Project Breakthrough"). This project explores how an automated model for UFO identification is devised, considering the completeness and accuracy of data, anomaly factors, and human influence. Our methodology includes visual and instrumental observations, development of both static and mobile monitoring complexes, and a field laboratory. We have compiled an extensive catalog of natural and anthropogenic phenomena that might lead to misidentification, and conduct various on-site analyses—geochemical, cytological, biological, and metrological.

UAP Check: What is the "Global Archive" project, what is it about and for what purpose was it created?

This repository is a comprehensive electronic collection that I developed alongside Mikhail Gershtein. It primarily includes books, newsletters, and publications related to UFOs, UAPs, and extraterrestrial life. The contents range from enlightening publications and SETI research papers to scientific studies, as well as subcultural, non-sectarian, and "contact" materials—terms that are often used ambiguously within the subculture. Collectively, these resources hold significant historical value.

Many of the materials are digitized versions of original paper documents, but the collection also features exclusively digital content that has never been printed. Over 90% of these documents are stored in PDF format. Currently, the entire archive can be conveniently stored on a removable hard disk drive (HDD).

The materials are organized systematically by country, organization, or ministry. For books, the cataloging format begins with the author's surname and initials, followed by the title and the year of publication—all listed in English. Bulletins are organized differently: they start with the name of the bulletin, followed by the volume, issue number, and publication year.

UAP Check: What purpose did you create your own YouTube channel for?

YouTube channel UFO and AAP Scientifically was primarily launched to introduce the English-speaking audience to research ideas and methodologies related to unidentified flying objects (UFOs) and anomalous aerospace phenomena (AAP). It aims to connect with like-minded individuals and those who support our research approach. For decades, the English-speaking research community has had limited exposure to the advancements in UFO research from non-English speaking regions, such as Ukraine. Ukrainian researchers have predominantly worked within the Russian-speaking domain, and as a result, research efforts in these different linguistic environments have largely progressed independently.

You mentioned that you were involved in analyzing UFO testimonies collected through a state program by meteorological services under the auspices of the State Committee for Hydrometeorology of Ukraine.

Image from Igor Kalytyuk

According to a request dated October 8, 2009, addressed to O.O. Kosovets, the director of the Central Geophysical Observatory, the management of SRCAA "Zond" received 30 testimonies concerning UFOs and other anomalous phenomena. Subsequently, four additional testimonies were recorded in 2016 and 2018. I was tasked with performing the analysis of these testimonies. The collection and examination of evidence are conducted following the protocol established by the order dated September 17, 1997, which itself builds upon the foundational order dated January 16, 1981, and an even earlier order from July 30, 1979. The details of these examinations can be accessed through the following link

UAP Check: in a recent video, the Ukrainian military captured footage of a UFO using a drone. What are your thoughts on this incident?

Image from Igor Kalytyuk

The skies over Ukraine, currently among the most monitored in the world, are observed not only for tracking enemy drones and missiles. Given the prohibition of civil and sports aviation, with only military, training, and weather probes active, capturing photos or videos of something unusual would not be surprising.

Analysis of the distribution of reports in space and time
Number of reports excluding aircraft alerts
Military UFO sightings range from minor to drone footage.

In just the second half of 2023, we received 8,493 UFO reports. This surge in reports was facilitated by our access to a database of eyewitness accounts managed by the Ministry of Defense. We utilized artificial intelligence to synchronize these reports on a timeline, filtering out sightings that coincided with missile and air alerts—approximately 1,700 reports. Even after this exclusion, the remaining number of reports is strikingly high. Notably, there was a significant influx of reports from late July to mid-August, followed by a sudden decline, which is peculiar. Our research into these phenomena is ongoing and promises to be quite revealing.

It is not uncommon for some of these military-obtained messages to reach the media in Ukraine, where there is no sacralization surrounding such topic.

UAP Check: do you use the acronym UFO or another designation, and if so, why?

Regarding terminology, UFO stands for Unidentified Flying Object, which refers to any object observed in the atmosphere or outer space that is not immediately identifiable by the observer. This could include any phenomenon that the eyewitness could not recognize, with the goal of UFO identification being to determine the nature of the object. The identification process involves a thorough analysis and classification of initial reports according to their uniqueness and the details provided, categorizing them into classes (A, B, C, D). This discipline intersects with meteorology, ecology, and psychology, highlighting its multidisciplinary nature.

Practical implementation examples: most UFO sightings, unidentified to the observer, are fully or partially identified later. However, some remain unidentified due to incomplete data, either quantitative or qualitative. A very small number of cases, despite having robust data, remain enigmatic. These instances are particularly intriguing to meteorologists as they might represent unexplored or exceedingly rare natural phenomena. They are also of strategic interest to the military as potential intelligence threats and to environmentalists if they impact both living and non-living elements of nature. The "human factor" in UFO sightings makes them relevant to psychologists as well.

The effectiveness of identification not only depends on the expertise within the expert council but also on the precision of the calculations performed by the object-oriented expert system.

UAP Check: should the UFO investigator become an expert in IFOs?

The expert approach involves the formalization of the Arrays Primary Message (APM), which reflects qualitative parameters on classification scales and assigns significance to the weight coefficients of messages. Before the APM is formed, documents containing detailed observations of an event or recordings from the relevant equipment are segmented during the copying process into separate fragments. Each fragment contains information pertaining to only one specific observation.

The array of primary information should include all messages, irrespective of their content. When entering a report into a computer database, it is crucial not to distort the text; that is, it should be typed exactly as written by the eyewitness. Only grammatical errors are permissible to correct, not stylistic elements, which themselves could be subjects of psychological research. Additionally, stylistic studies may help determine whether we are dealing with a mentally stable individual or not.

Further work with the Arrays Primary Message (APM) involves the preparation of the Preliminary Catalog (PC) and the Working Directory (WD), both of which require a specialized procedure. Each array can independently serve as a subject of research.

The formation of the PC is a logical continuation of work with the APM and is based on documents that contain information about observations or recordings from relevant equipment. It is common for the same eyewitness to provide additional details or clarifications about a previous observation.

There is also a scenario where a group of independent and unconnected observers report the same phenomenon observed at the same location and time. At the stage of PC formation, such primary documents should be systematized and sorted by date, time, and place of observation. More detailed sorting at this stage is unnecessary.

The aggregation of primary documents based on these parameters also constitutes a case. Collectively, these cases form the PC. The next stage involves the formation of the Research Catalog (RC), which includes analyzing cases and matching them with known natural and technogenic phenomena. For this, leveraging the experience of case classification based on their level of unusualness and information content is advisable, with division into four categories:

  • Category A: Cases that could be reliably identified with known natural and technogenic phenomena and objects.
  • Category B: Cases that could not be reliably identified with known phenomena and objects, but potentially could be with more complete and accurate data.
  • Category C: Cases about which nothing definitive can be said due to the lack of information or the ambiguity of the data.
  • Category D: Cases for which there is complete, detailed, and exhaustive information, yet identification with known natural or technogenic phenomena is still impossible with the existing knowledge.

Additionally, Category D can be further divided into subcategories:

  • Subcategory D1: Represents an unknown phenomenon or object with an average level of unusualness and information content (e.g., one witness or no photographic evidence).
  • Subcategory D2: Represents an unknown phenomenon or object with a high level of unusualness and information content (e.g., photographic evidence from different observation points by independent witnesses).

In the proposed model of identification, phenomena of Category C should be filtered out first. Among the remaining categories, the qualitative accumulation of knowledge primarily occurs through Category D.

Decisions regarding the nature of the observed phenomena within a particular identification category are predominantly made by an expert, based on the generalization and meticulous examination of all available information.

UAP Check: if there were still some unexplained phenomena, what could they be?

The modern world has made such progress that even the most ambitious futurologists of half a century ago could only have dreamt about it. Never before have scientists had the opportunity to rely on such extensive experience and wield such powerful tools for exploring the external world as they do today. However, possessing research tools and relevant skills alone are insufficient to advance our understanding significantly.

Any breakthrough begins by recognizing an anomaly, that is, by identifying occurrences in nature that defy the expectations set by dominant paradigies, which guide scientific progress. Prehistoric people lived in close contact with anomalies or phenomena of the outside world. It was the noumena, underlying these phenomena, that formed the explanatory model of their world. The gradual analysis, modeling, and determination of relationships among observed events have enabled the deepening and refinement of these paradigms to reach their current sophistication. The entire cognitive process appears to be an ongoing discovery of anomalies, indicating that our paradigms are still immature. To account for these anomalous facts, a scientific revolution must occur, leading to a new theory or an adaptation of the prevailing paradigm by expanding its scope. The absence of anomalies has long been considered a chimera or an idealistic utopia. A lack of anomalies implies an incomplete representation of the world, suggesting no room for further cognition, as all constraints and properties of the world would be known. Clearly, such a scenario seems implausible, even for a small and comprehensible portion of the universe, due to the fundamental ambiguity and incalculable nature of the world.

A phenomenon is the existential and descriptive essence of an occurrence, independent of its explanation or the cause of its origin. It emerges directly from observation, rather than from a hypothesis. Defined as non-periodic and transient occurrences observed in the environment, anomalous phenomena are also phenomenological. With no explanations available within the conceptual framework and scope of the existing scientific paradigm, what remains is merely a description of their parameters and characteristics, which are, nonetheless, real.

Thus, the actual purpose of studying anomalous aerospace phenomena is to develop a science-based perspective on these occurrences as part of a comprehensive scientific representation of the world at large.

(to be continued in Part 2)

Igor Kalytyuk

Born in 1987, Igor Kalytyuk is an expert of the information and technical department of Ukrainian Scientific Researching Center for Analyses of Anomalies "Zond". He was involved in the examination of UFO testimonies received under the state program from meteorological services within the framework of the State Committee for Hydrometeorology of the Ukraine. He is editor of "Ufology News", YouTube channel "UFO and AAP scientifically", creator of the "Global Archive" project, author of the guide "How to Identify Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs)?" , as well as several dozens of articles published in scientific publications.