Msg#: 8146                                         Date: 03-18-96  01:06
  From: Midian                                       Read: Yes    Replied: No 
    To: All                                          Mark:                     
  Subj: Why Scientists Don't Have
From: "midian" 
Originally to: iufo@xbn.shore.net
Original Date: Mon, 18 Mar 1996 15:39:38 +1100 (EST)

Dear Everyone

Have an article.

Kind regards

David K. Minehan

"I don't know what the reasons are that men find fascinating about 
being with two women at the same time but I agree with both of them."

By Richard Hall 
If studying UFO reports is not the way to gain scientific understanding of 
UFO phenomena--what is?  The answer suggested by a distinguished panel of the 
National Academy of Sciences is reviewing the University of Colorado report 
(ref 9) is that "UFOs" really are little-understood natural phenomena; 
therefore, the answers will be found as we study atmospheric phenomena. 
This attitude or answer perpetuates the myth that has persisted in scientific 
circles for over a quarter of a century--that there is no collection of truly 
puzzling cases constituting a UFO mystery. 
Atmospheric phenomena have no domes, portholes, legs, or other structural 
characteristics.  They do not display silvery, metallic-appearing surfaces, 
and neither do they pace and circle cars and aircraft, nor land and debark 
humanoid beings.  Clearly, scientists who attribute UFO reports to 
meteorological causes are totally unfamiliar with the serious, world-wide, 
hard-core UFO reports.  Their ignorance is understandable: they never have 
felt it necessary to study UFO reports in order to pass judgement on the 
public's "naive" view that we might have visitors from space. 
In the 28 years since Kenneth Arnold reported objects flying like saucers 
over Washington State, seven small groups of scientists (usually on a part- 
time consulting basis) have participated in official reviews on the UFO 
subject.  The most ambitious and long-lasting review was the University of 
Colorado Project (1966-1969).  Each time, military and political 
considerations strongly influenced the course of the reviews, and physical 
scientists ended up giving public relations advice rather than applying 
science to UFO cases.  Allusions to "public gullibility" crop up repeatedly 
in the supposedly scientific appraisals, revealing a head-patting paternalism 
based on the assumption that UFOs are a popular myth. 
In order to find meaningful answers about UFOs you must ask the right 
questions.  From the beginning, UFOs were treated as a military intelligence 
problem.  The questions posed by Air Force Projects "Sign" and "Grudge" 
(1948-1951) were: Do they represent a sudden foreign technological 
breakthrough  Are they a threat to national security  The degree to which 
these questions dominated all thinking on the subject well into the 1960's 
is plainly written in Air Force press releases and letters.  The effect on 
scientific investigation of UFOs is equally plain: Once it is determined 
that a UFO represents no threat to national security, says a published Air 
Force letter (17 August 1961), "...an understandably lower priority is 
placed on the further evaluation of the sighting." 
At first the Air Force believed that UFOs were "something real;" this 
expression was used in a letter dated 23 September 1947, reflecting fear of a 
possible foreign technological breakthrough, that lead to establishment of 
Project "Sign."  (Condon Report, p. 894).  The project got underway on 22 
January 1948.  A year later it issued a SECRET report, "Unidentified Aerial 
Objects: Project 'Sign,'" concluding that, "No definite evidence is yet 
available to confirm or disprove the actual existence of unidentified flying 
objects as new and unknown types of aircraft." 
Project "Sign" examined 243 domestic and 30 foreign cases, categorizing them 
as (1) Flying Discs, (2) Torpedo or cigarshaped, (3) Spherical, and (4) Balls 
of light.  About 20 percent were considered explainable, with about another 
20 percent potentially explainable.  A year's study had led to the conclusion 
that the possibility of a foreign breakthrough was "extremely remote," and 
since UFOs were not attacking or bombing America they seemed to pose no 
threat.  The idea that they might be extraterrestrial, based on accepting 
their performance at face value, occurred to investigators quite early in the 
game.  But scientists were skeptical and there were no "hard data." 
The "Sign" report recommended that the project be continued on the "minimum 
level necessary" to complete the evaluation.  Once enough reports were 
explained to indicate that there was no threat to national security, it was 
suggested, then the special project status would be terminated and future 
reports handled as routine intelligence work.  The introduction to the "Sign" 
report characterizes it as a summary of the present state of the 
investigation for those "who are required to assess the possibility of a       

threat to national security presented by the sighting of such large numbers 
of unidentified flying objects."  This assessment, of course, would be the 
business of the national military establishment; scientific research would 
Project "Sign" consulted three outside scientists: Dr. James Lipp, Rand 
Corporation (who speculated about the possibility of extraterrestrial visits, 
concluding it was "very improbable"); Dr. Irving Langmuir, General Electric 
Company (whose contribution is not specified); and Dr. George E. Valley, MIT 
(who submitted an elaborate survey of possibilities for accounting for UFO 
An understanding of Project "Sign" is important because it became the 
prototype for all later studies.  In terms of logic and scientific method it 
confused military-intelligence considerations and social-political questions 
with scientific questions.  (Three scientists offering opinions as an adjunct 
to a military-intelligence review cannot be termed a "scientific" study). 
The strange ambivalence in the "Sign" report was to be reflected in all 
subsequent studies:  Is there any real mystery at all?  Should we consider 
seriously that we are experiencing extraterrestrial visits?  In hindsight it 
is not difficult to understand why later military investigations tended to 
suggest social-psychological origins for UFO reports.  If the phenomena were 
"real," there performance indicated spaceships; and if they were not "real," 
then people must be misinterpreting or imagining things--even Air Force 
pilots.  Since scientists said they couldn't be spaceships and they weren't 
foreign, where could military intelligence go from there?  Their own 
questions had been answered. 
Three vital questions that have always been tangled together in military/ 
scientific studies of UFO  reports: 
(1) Is there a mystery?  Are there documented and well-investigated reports 
establishing the existence of an unconventional or extraordinary phenomenon 
in the Earth's atmosphere? 
(2) Assuming that a mystery is established and in need of an explanation, 
what reasonable hypotheses can we advance to account for the mystery, and 
how can we test them? 
(3) Among the hypotheses, are UFOs extraterrestrials (not COULD they be)? 
Logic requires that each of these questions be analyzed in turn.  To do so 
would require methods and techniques--and especially an attitude of mind-- 
somewhat different from those applied in the past.  So far all studies have 
taken randomly-acquired data and focused on establishing what--from this 
sample--UFOs are NOT (or, according to a recurring theme, "could not be") by 
sitting in judgement about what the fragmentary evidence "proves."  Given the 
premise of most scientists that extraterrestrial visits to Earth are 
"unlikely," the evidence has been found wanting.  This premise is dubious at 
best, since there is no meaningful way to evaluate it without making whole 
chains of assumptions.  Never has an attempt been made to get good data 
through instrumentation, or even to evaluate existing evidence carefully to 
see whether SOMETHING extraordinary is indicated. 
They Can't Get Here From There 
The "scientific" position, consistently, has been that "spaceships are 
nonsense."  When the Air Force or civilian groups have persuaded scientists 
to look at the data, they always have always been evaluated within a 
framework of scientific disbelief about spaceships.  It is one question 
whether that disbelief is justified; it is another question whether it is 
justified to throw the "baby: out with the spaceships. 
The scientific disbelief can be summed up as "They can't get here from 
there."  This notion has influenced studies of UFO reports out of all 
proportion to its basis on imperical fact.  Considering our very imperfect 
knowledge of the universe, it is a speculative and presumptuous premise.  Who 
is to say that extraterrestrials (if they exist) must conform to our level 
of science and must behave according to our preconceived ideas?  Yet, that is 
the advice consistently given to the Air Force by scientists for over 25 
years.  Its main effect has been to prevent objective, scientific study of 
UFO reports regardless of what they may be describing. 
In the Project "Sign" report, Dr. Lipp stated: "...there is no basis on 
which to judge the possibility that civilizations far in advance of ours 
exist outside the Earth."  Despite that lack of basis, he concluded that 
visits from outer space are "extremely improbable" and the behaviour of UFOs 
"inconsistent with the requirements for space travel." 
Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, chief of Air Force Project "Blue Book" in the early 
1950's, said that the reports generated by Projects "Sign" and "Grudge" led 
to the "Dark Ages" of UFO investigation.  The Air Force, he said, began 
glibly explaining away all UFO sightings on the premise that they had to be 
mistaken sightings.  There was no substantive investigation, either 
intelligence-gathering or scientific. 
The "Grudge" report of 27 December 1949 explained away all reports to date as 
delusions, hysteria, hoaxes, and crackpot reports.  It was falsely announced 
that the project was being disbanded.  Despite the prevailing negative view, 
continued sightings and pressure by influential people brought about a 
revitalized project in the fall of 1951, with Ruppelt as the new chief. 
Early in 1952 the project name was changed to "Blue Book". 
A major wave of UFO sightings began a few months later.  It peaked during the 
summer, and involved numerous radar-visual sightings with jet interceptors 
"scrambled" in pursuit.  High ranking Air Force Generals, Ruppelt said, were 
convinced UFOs were spaceships.  In November 1952 a panel of four scientists 
(unidentified) was convened at Air Technical Intelligence Center, Dayton, 
Ohio, to review the reports.  They recommended convening a panel of top 
scientists.  (Ruppelt, p. 264). 
Under the auspices of the Central Intelligence Agency, a panel of five highly 
regarded scientists, chaired by Dr. H.P. Robertson of the California 
Institute of Technology, met on January 14-18, 1953, to examine data supplied 
by the Air Force.  The other scientists were Dr. Thornton Page, Johns Hopkins 
University; Dr. Samuel A. Goudsmit, Brookhaven National Laboratories, 
Dr. Lloyd V. Berkner, Associated Universities, Inc.; and Dr. Luis W. Alvarez, 
University of California. 
Dr. J. Allen Hynek, who was present as Air Force scientific consultant on 
UFOs, has written: "It would seem that the panel's attention was directed 
largely to a defense and security problem rather than to a scientific one." 
(Hynek, p. 168).  The majority of unexplained cases in Air Force files, he 
says, were not even discussed.  The formerly SECRET report of the meetings 
cites only eight specific cases as being discussed "in detail," plus about 
15 others "in less detail." 
The scientists suggested that "public pressure' had led the Air Force to show 
undue concern.  As a consequence of establishing UFO reporting channels to 
the Air Force, "The result is the mas receipt of low-grade reports which tend 
to overload channels of communication with material quite irrelevant to 
hostile objects that might some day appear."  Since the military attention to 
UFOs implied a military threat, "The need for de-emphasization made itself 
Besides, they can't get here from there. 
"Dr. Page noted that present astronomical knowledge of the solar system makes 
the existence of intelligent beings (as we know the term) elsewhere than on 
the Earth extremely unlikely...." 
There is little evidence of the Robertson panel applying scientific method to 
UFO cases and objectively evaluating the situation.  There is lots of 
internal evidence that they took UFOs to be merely a question of public 
relations and public education.  Though there were no psychologists or other 
social scientists on the panel, the report concentrates on 
social-psychological questions: information transmission problems, mass 
hysteria, public gullibility and suggestibility to "possible enemy 
psychological warfare," and implied public fear of hostility.  To set up 
instruments to study UFOs is frowned upon because it would over-emphasize UFO 
stories "in the public mind." 
The panel of physical scientists clearly was convinced that UFOs were a 
social-psychological aberration of some kind.  This has been termed 
scientific "buck-passing' by Dr. Robert L. Hall, a social psychologist: 
"I, speaking as a behavioural scientist, say that there must be a real 
physical phenomenon.  So we pass the buck back and forth without forming any 
adequate explanation, either physical or behavioural."  (UFOs--A Scientific 
Debate, p. 221). 
The Robertson panel saw continued emphasis on reporting of UFOs as "a threat 
to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic," 
especially by "clogging of channels of communication of irrelevant reports... 
and the cultivation of a morbid national psychology...."  It made two 
recommendations: (1) strip UFOs of the "special status they have been given 
and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired;" (2) conduct a 
training and public education program to "debunk" UFOs, an action that would 
result in reduction of public interest in 'flying saucers' which today evokes 
a string psychological reaction."  The program would "reassure the public of 
the total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomena." 
Thus in 1953 the questions were: Are UFOs a threat to national security? 
(Answer: No.  But UFO reports are a threat--to communication channels!.)  Are 
UFOs potentially hostile foreign devices?  (Answer: No.)  The E-T 
(extraterrestrial) hypothesis is discussed only in passing and the question 
is finessed in the conclusions. 
A number of scientists have observed that the Robertson panel report struck 
the death knell for scientific interest in UFOs, primarily because of the 
reputations of the participants.  Afterwards, the Air Force apparently made 
an internal effort to gather more data: Air Force Regulation 200-2, issued 
26 August 1953, spelled out procedures for processing and analyzing UFO 
reports;  diffraction-grating cameras set up to analyze UFO-emitted light 
were announced in December 1953; an agreement with commercial airlines to 
report sightings quickly was worked out, reported by Scripps-Howard 
newspapers on 23 February 1954. 
New Dark Ages 
Also, during 1953 the Battelle Memorial Institute was contracted to do a 
statistical study of the accumulated UFO reports through 1952.  This 
culminated in Project "Blue Book" Special Reports No. 14, dated 5 May 1955 
and publicly released on 25 October 1955.  The first paragraph of its summary 
reiterates the finding of no threat to national security.  The report claimed 
that no pattern could be found to UFO sightings; yet of the twelve 
illustrations of cases studied in trying to derive a model, eight were 
disc-like or elliptical. 
The accompanying press release claimed that "refined methods and procedures" 
had brought the current rate of unexplained cases down to 3 percent, and that 
"no evidence" of UFOs had been found.  It strongly implied that novel 
aircraft--particularly the AVRO "saucer"--might be causing some of the 
sightings.  (The AVRO "saucer" was a total failure and never flew).  All the 
signs of a new Dark Ages were evident. 
Once can only speculate on the thinking within the Air Force that led to this 
write-off of UFOs.  For two years afterwards UFOs all but faded from the 
news.  The November 1957 sighting wave then re-opened the controversy.  By 
then, the public manifestation of the Air Force UFO project clearly was a 
debunking program.  Citizens' requests for information were answered by 
generalized "fact sheets" citing the 1955 report and emphasizing the 
allegedly small percentage of unexplained cases.  "Percentage" was used as a 
substitute for specific facts.  This posture persisted until the sighting 
waves of the mid-1960's created a public outcry that led, in April 1966, to 
brief hearings by the House of Armed Services Committee.  The hearings, in 
turn, led to the University of Colorado UFO Project.  The UFOs had defied the 
Behind the scenes a review of the situation had been requested in a 
memorandum dated 28 September 1965 by Maj. Gen. E.B. LeBailly, Office of 
Information, Secretary of the Air Force.  The timing suggests that it was the 
summer of 1965 international sighting wave, with a U.S. concentration in the 
Southwest, that forced a new look at UFOs.  Gen. LeBailly noted that 
"...many of the reports that cannot be explained have come from intelligent 
and technically well-qualified individuals whose integrity cannot be 
In response, an ad hoc committee of the USAF Scientific Advisory Board met on 
3 February 1966to review "the resources, methods and findings of Air Force 
Project Blue Book...,"  then under heavy fire, and to advise on how to 
improve the program.  For once a good question was asked: "Is Project Blue 
Book scientifically adequate?"  This could be answered unequivocally: no. 
The ad hoc committee consisted of Dr. Brian O'Brien, chairman; Dr. Luanor F. 
Carter, System Development Corp.; Dr. Jesse Orlansky, Institute for Defense 
Analysis; Dr. Richard Porter, General Electric Co.; Dr. Carl Sagan, 
Smithsonian Astrophysics Observatory; and Dr. Willis H. Ware, Rand Corp. 
They quickly concluded that "Blue Book" was understaffed for the job, and 
that to scientifically study UFOs would require more detailed investigation 
of specific cases with the help of scientists.  Although they were not asked 
to pass judgment on UFOs, the scientists added a gratuitous evaluation. 
The meeting report included a skeptical "discussion" in which the panelists 
indicate their belief that most UFO sightings could be explained in adequate 
data were available for analysis.  In effect, the report characterizes UFOs 
as an Air Force public relations problem, "...a subject on which the committee 
is not expert."  But the mandate was to advise on how to improve Project 
"Blue Book," sp with this prologue the scientists dutifully recommended that 
contracts be negotiated with universities to provide scientific teams for 
investigating selected UFO sightings "promptly and in depth." 
The Congressional "hearings" served as a forum for the Secretary of the Air 
Force to accept the recommendations and to announce that one or more 
contracts would be negotiated with universities to conduct an independent 
study of UFO sightings. 
The Colorado Project 
It is now known that the university scientists were so skeptical about UFOs 
that the Air Force Office of Scientific Research had great difficulty in 
finding someone to accept a contract.  The University of Colorado vice 
president involved in the contract indicated, in the Condon Report, that he 
viewed it as performance of a public service.  In familiar-sounding language, 
he painted UFOs as a social-political issue, "elusive," arousing "the 
imagination and emotions of some persons," the subject having gained 
"considerable notoriety over the years," the task at hand an "obligation to 
the country to do what (we can) to clarify a tangled and confused issue." 
When the university reluctantly accepted the job, the project was quickly 
compromised by Dr. E.U. Condon, the nominal director, who made repeated and 
public statements joking about the subject and by Robert Low, project 
coordinate and de facto director, whose well-publicized memo pictured a 
scenario in which the project would only pretend to study UFO reports 
seriously.  In fact, most of the project scientists took their work seriously  
and attempted to do a good job under unfortunate circumstances.  Before a 
meaningful investigation could be completed, the project was split by 
dissension and fell apart from within.  (See UFOs?  Yes!, as essential piece 
to the Condon Report). 
The quixotic Dr. Condon introduced considerable whimsey, once using project 
resources to travel to the Nevada desert to be present for the landing of a 
spaceship predicted by a mystic, and engaging in semantical games such as the 
following: "As a practical matter, we cannot study something that is not 
reported, so a puzzling thing seen but not reported is not here classed as a 
UFO."  (Condon Report, p. 10).  He also made a bid to become the greatest 
prophet of all time (or to perpetuate another joke): "...we consider that it 
is safe to assume no ILE (intelligent life elsewhere) outside of our solar 
system has any possibility if visiting the Earth in the next 10,000 years." 
(p. 28).  This is a remarkable extrapolation from human knowledge, more 
fantastic than many of the claims made about UFOs. 
Although it bears all the trappings of science, including an expensive survey 
on the capabilities of radar, the Condon Report is sadly deficient as a 
scientific study of UFOs.  It covers radar, weather, people--just about 
everything except UFO cases.  As nearly as can be determined (since it omits 
identification of the cases by date and location), the report reviews about 
109 of the 10,000 to 15,000 then on record (about 1 percent).  Of the 697 Air 
Force unexplained cases accumulated in 1967, many of the most puzzling 
radar-visual encounters by Air Force pilots, the report reviews only seven 
(1 percent). 
The widespread 1965 and 1966 sighting waves that immediately preceded the  
project are barely touched upon.  Major cases specifically called to Dr. 
Condon's attention were excluded.  Two major omissions were the 24 April 
1964 Socorro, N.M. landing case with physical evidence, (Police Officer 
Lonnie Zamora--D.M.), and the 17 April 1966 Ravenna, Ohio, police case with 
multiple independent witnesses.  A thick investigation report on the Ravenna 
case, containing witness statement and exhibits, was prepared by university 
instructor William Weitzel on behalf of NICAP and personally delivered to 
Dr. Condon. 
Also missing from the Condon Report are two other important studies.  When 
Dr. David Saunders was "fired" from the project in the controversy over the 
Low memo, his statistical study of thousands of UFO reports was omitted.  I 
was a consultant to the project to help develop a Case Book of outstanding 
UFO reports that was to be sent to scientists all over the country as a 
challenge.  If the scientists could explain them, so much the better; and if 
they couldn't, this would serve as additional evidence substantiating the 
reality of the mystery.  This potentially valuable scientific experiment 
never was completed. 
From my personal knowledge of the project and talks with scientists who 
participated, it is obvious that the Condon Report is a patchwork affair, 
piecing together anything (no matter how vaguely relevant) that looks like 
scientific work in order to fulfill the terms of the contract.  It is far 
more pretentious, but no more scientific, than its predecessors.  In the 
final analysis it lapsed into the pattern begun by Project "Sign" 20 years 
earlier--speculating about whether UFOs could be extraterrestrial visitors, 
displaying ambivalence about whether there was anything extraordinary to be 
investigated at all, and jumbling together in a semantical tangle the 
questions that needed to be asked. 
The failure of scientists to supply convincing answers about UFOs has been a 
failure of commitment.  At each stage, scientists have tried to take 
short-cuts by ruling out the possibility of the most obvious answer 
(space-ships), and then demanding and unrealistic degree of proof--a 
"saucer" in the laboratory--before being willing to investigate at all.  A 
committment to study the phenomena objectively, bringing to bear the 
resources and instrumentation of science, has been conspicuously absent. 
Never mind what some scientists think some UFOs are not; what are they?  To 
this question scientists have responded with guesswork, speculation, and 
forays outside their fields of expertise. 
Why don't scientists have the answers about UFOs?  Basically because they 
have, without intensive study of UFO cases, assumed social-psychological 
explanations.  They have been negatively biased by the speculation (not 
scientific knowledge) about extraterrestrial life and the alleged 
improbability of visits to Earth.  They have not asked the right questions 
and followed up with the kind of meaningful investigations that could supply 
the answers. 
The assumption has always been that "UFOs" are mistaken observations, only 
considered to be spaceships by a naive, uniformed public without "convincing" 
evidence.  In the scientists' view, a fearful, overly imaginative public is 
seeing spaceships behind every light in the sky.  Against this background, 
the National Academy of Sciences correctly summed up the consensus of leading 
"...a study of UFOs in general is not a promising way to expand scientific 
understanding of the phenomena." 
If the mystery is conceived to be of human construction, then the rest 
follows with irresistible logic and the hidden assumption against scientific 
reviewers is brought to light.  Ever since 1949 scientists who have been 
consulted on UFOs have assumed the answer, and in so doing they have denied 
the reality of the data.  If the data are unreal, there is no need to study 
them, QED.

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