Saturday, December 29, 2012

Philip Klass and the FBI

A while back we discussed Phil Klass’ habit of writing to the employers of those who thought they had seen a UFO, or who investigated them, or just disagreed with him. He seemed outraged that there were people who didn’t accept everything he said, and took great offense at that. He would express his disappointment with those by creating a little trouble for them.

A few skeptics who visit here thought I was being overly harsh and a little unfair to Klass. They thought several examples were needed. But even with some acts I thought were over the top, those skeptics thought Klass had done nothing wrong. With Klass it seems to have been an on-going thing.

While going through the FBI files that dealt with UFOs, I came across a series of letters that Klass had sent to them. Apparently Klass was offended by an article written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek that had appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. It was an article that didn’t actually advocate any particular position but suggested that UFO sightings reported to law enforcement entities would be of interest to those at Hynek’s new Center for UFO studies. It provided a way for law enforcement to respond to the concerns of the citizens without having to actually do anything. A sort of win - win. Law enforcement cleared the report and the CUFOS received it for further investigation, if necessary.

According to a Memorandum dated February 21, 1975, Mr. Heim, reported that Klass had called the editor of the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin. According to that document, Klass, “In strong terms laced with sarcasm, he derided our publication of the article by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, ‘The UFO Mystery,’ in the February, 1975, issue of the LEB. Klass suggested that by publishing this article, the FBI had given its endorsement to a hoax (that UFOs are extra-terrestrial in origin) and to a fraud (Dr. J. Allen Hynek).”

Importantly, according to the memorandum, “Mr. Klass was politely reminded that nowhere in Dr. Hynek’s article appearing in the Bulletin, or in numerous other of his writings which were examined by us, does Hynek suggest UFOs are extra-terrestrial in origin…” (Remember, this is 1975, about the time he was establishing CUFOS).

A letter dated June 14, 1975, written to then FBI Director Clarence Kelly, Klass renewed his assault. He wrote, “The enclosed photo-copy of a headline and feature story in the recent issue of ‘The National Tattler’ is a portent of the sort of ‘FBI endorsement’ for the flying-saucer myth that you can expect to see, repeatedly, as a result of an article about UFOs carried by the February issue of The Law Enforcement Bulletin.” While his source for this claim of FBI endorsement outrage is The National Tattler, hardly the pinnacle of journalistic excellence, that didn’t matter all that much to Klass, he quoted it anyway.

Klass added, “That article was written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek, the spiritual leader of the vocal group of ‘believers’ and ‘kooks’ who claim we are being visited by extraterrestrial spaceships. And while the FBI did not endorse Hynek’s views per se, the decision to publish his article and to alert law enforcement agencies as to what to do ‘if they land,’ has embroiled the agency for all time.”

The telephone call then, was not enough to slander Dr. Hynek. When he didn’t receive the response he wanted, he renewed his attack, but toned down the rhetoric in the written communication. He just claimed that Hynek was the “spiritual leader” of, what to Klass, would be the other side. But he had learned that the FBI had not endorsed the opinion that some UFOs were alien craft merely that they approved of the idea of the UFO reports being relayed to a non-governmental agency to investigate. Hynek had offered the various law enforcement agencies an alternative to telling the public to call the Air Force or the local college authorities if they felt a need to make a report.

I am not sure what so annoyed Klass about this. Hynek asked for the various law enforcement agencies to relay the reports to the Center. I don’t know why Klass would object to this. It wasn’t as if he was attempting to force his belief structure on anyone. He was merely asking for information. Klass was actually attempting to somehow inhibit that flow.

There is nothing wrong with Klass contacting the FBI to respond to their publication of Hynek’s article. There is nothing wrong with Klass offering to write a rebuttal piece giving his opinions about the reality, or lack thereof, of UFOs. There is nothing wrong with Klass writing, “I would welcome the opportunity to present the other side of the UFO issue in The Law Enforcement Bulletin, and to thereby help remove the earlier seeming FBI endorsement of flying saucers.”

It was the language, the allegations and the name calling which is out of place. Reasonable people can reasonably disagree, but Klass wouldn’t leave it at that. He crossed a line, repeatedly, with his personal attacks and his shading of reality to suit his purposes. He was uninterested in debate; he was in a campaign to inflict his views on everyone else.

The point is that Klass did carry about a campaign against those with whom he disagreed. I know that I don’t attempt to suppress the opinions and beliefs of the skeptics who visit here (except when the insults become too personal) and welcome, for the most part, their view of the issues. But for a few, such as Klass, it wasn’t enough that he had what he believed to be the ultimate truth; everyone had to agree with that truth as well.


cda said...

I have never seen Hynek's article so cannot comment on it, but Klass should have remembered that the FBI had a passing interest in UFOs going back to 1947, and that there were internal memos on the subject, at least in the early days.

Therefore it was perfectly natural for Hynek or anyone else to publish an article encouraging UFO reports to be sent to CUFOS, seeing that the AF had closed down its own investigations over 5 years earlier.

In fact Hynek had merely said in effect: "forward your UFO reports to a civilian agency that will investigate them for you" and was thus saving the FBI the trouble & expense of investigating it themselves.

You are probably correct that Klass had over-reacted to Hynek's piece. I don't think CSICOP had been formed in 1975, so there was no skeptical UFO investigatory body to handle the reports. Things would change in the next 12 to 18 months (I think) when Klass became chief of the UFO subcommittee of CSICOP, as it was then known.

You can look at it another way and say that all Hynek did was to try and save the FBI time and money on a subject they were not equipped to investigate. Klass evidently thought CUFOS were the wrong organisation for this, and Hynek the wrong person, despite his long experience as Blue Book consultant.

Anthony Mugan said...

The psychology of the extreme ends of the spectrum of opinion in this particular debate is fascinating. As someone without a psychology background I wonder if there are any studies that have been done on what seems to me a rather odd and pseudo-religious approach by both the extremes?

Don said...

Hoover had taken the FBI out of UFO investigations by the autumn of 1947. Thereafter, as can be found in the FBI files, some of the correspondence about UFOs they received was forwarded to the AF, others received a form letter explaining that UFOs were not the agency's area of responsibility and suggesting the correspondent send their info to the AF.

With the official end of the AF interest in UFOs, I do not know what the FBI was doing with UFO inquiries anymore. Hynek suggested they be sent to CUFOS. This would have been, as Kevin wrote, a win win for both.

Some skeptics are 'religionists', and if they are not, they are tempted by it at one time or another. By 'religionist', I mean a true believer in something or other. Klass appears to have fallen into 'religion' on more than one occasion.

Consider the people you know outside the UFO debate...the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. If they think UFOs are hogwash, they are unlikely to give it another thought. Same for those who don't believe in God. But the Atheist or UFO skeptic can hardly hold their pee at the opportunity to witness. They are evangelists and missionaries.

Klass wanted to protect the naive and innocent FBI from the machinations of the wily believers. This is probably the most stupidly hilarious thing I have come across in the UFO story, so far.

The most obvious machination going on is Klass seeing an opportunity to get published by the FBI.



Steve Sawyer said...

"...I wonder if there are any studies that have been done on what seems to me a rather odd and pseudo-religious approach by both the extremes?"

Interesting question, AM. I'd like to know if any such studies have been done, also.

And, I wonder what parallels in terms of the Demo/Repub divide, for example, or what's been termed the "Blue Brain/Red Brain" political and psychological differences in right wing vs. left wing may have related or similar cognitive differences in terms of traits and social functions.

I suspect there may be.

Steve Sawyer said...


"Klass wanted to protect the naive and innocent FBI from the machinations of the wily believers. This is probably the most stupidly hilarious thing I have come across in the UFO story, so far.

"The most obvious machination going on is Klass seeing an opportunity to get published by the FBI."

Yeaaaah, good ol' "Uncle Phil" -- what a "Klassy" guy.

Don said...

Anthony: "I wonder if there are any studies that have been done on what seems to me a rather odd and pseudo-religious approach by both the extremes?"

None that I know of. I don't think UFO skepticism is a cult, or cult-like, but UFO believers can be, and sometimes are. If a skeptic is "extreme", it is more individual and personal. There seems no need for a support community.

Kevin has posted some interesting comments on some "exteme" UFO believers, for example, about Del Rio and 'Colonel' Willingham, as well as others.



Ross said...

There are skeptics' organizations ("support communities"), and their ranks include "extreme" skeptics.

Isaac Koi - New Uploads said...

Hi Kevin, I thought it worth adding to this page a link to a scanned copy of the FBI's file on Klass (on the CUFON website):

The CUFON website also has extracts from the FBI file on Hynek:

I'm currently finalising a fairly long item about FBI files online relevant to ufology, having touched on this point in an item I wrote last year at:

The item I'm currently writing seeks to highlight the fact that the 16 files PDF files on the FBI website labelled "UFO" aren't the only FBI files relevant to ufology, e.g. files on UFO researchers and contactees.

All the best for the New Year,


Steve Sawyer said...

And (thanks Isaac for the link), here is a copy of the article Dr. J. Allen Hynek wrote for the February 1975 FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin" cited:

["The UFO Mystery / Investigating Reports of Sightings"]

Kal Israel said...

And let us not forget about Kal K. Korff who used this tactic (or really in most cases, threatened to use this tactic), which he learned from Klass after Korff befriended Klass, Friedman and others while still a teen. What is it with these UFO extremists and the letter “K”?

Don said...

What seems common to both extremes are paranoia and delusion. I don't mean to imply anything 'clinical', just the common and casual meanings of the words.

An example on the advocate side is Stanton Friedman's insistence that Kevin made "FALSE claims". 'False' is not a synonym for 'incorrect' or 'untrue'. It implies the intention to deceive, and legally it explicitly means (re: "false statement") intention to do damage or harm. Is this a rhetorical turn of polemic or does it express paranoia?

On the skeptic side, if David Rudiak refers to the weather balloon story being the AF explanation of the Roswell case, Bruce Hutchinson is will accuse David of being dishonest and deceptive. Is it a tactic in debate or is it paranoia?

Zoam claims we are not discussing what we appear to be discussing re McMinnville. Instead he asserts we are discussing spaceships from other planets. He is here to expose our wily deception, much like Klass regarding Hynek and the FBI.

I think it debatable whether Stan or Bruce are delusional. Stan might mean the "claims" are simply untrue, and Bruce just might be persnickty on the matter, and therefore neither are really extreme. Zoam's performance, though, is very convincing.



Lance said...

I applaud Don for always managing to keep things civil in his discussions about these matters. That is something that I all too often fail to do.

Kevin, as well, keeps things reasonable here for the most part, even when the arguments get heated.

The differences between skeptics and proponents, of course, almost always lie in interpretation of evidence. I said on a recent radio show appearance that if Kevin were to relay a fact to me about Roswell, that I would assume that the fact was true. I feel very much the same about Dr. Rudiak, who surely is the master of the Roswell data.

But when any interpretation is placed on these facts, my confidence goes down precipitously. As a simple example, note above how Kevin calls Klass's complaints about Hynek, "slander". Whatever you may think about what Klass did, it was hardly slander.

It seems to me that the same kind of shading that Kevin is complaining about is being practiced in this very piece. And I'm not blaming him for it. It's rhetoric.

Most of the Roswell discussion is based upon interpretation, since none of the actual hard evidence in hand advances the space ship idea at all.

And that is where the arguments come from.


Anthony Mugan said...

Hello Lance
Speaking of facts and interpretation I've been meaning to drop you a line to see how the consideration of the data concerning the Mogul flight trajectory is getting on. My own interpretation is still that the work of Rudiack and Sparks pretty much establishes it as falsified but your thoughts appreciated.

KRandle said...

Lance –

I chose my words carefully. According to the law, slander is oral defamation, in which someone tells one or more persons an untruth about another which untruth will harm the reputation of the person defamed. Slander is a civil wrong (tort) and can be the basis for a lawsuit.

Libel is to publish in print (including pictures), writing or broadcast through radio, television or film, an untruth about another which will do harm to that person or his/her reputation, by tending to bring the target into ridicule, hatred, scorn or contempt of others.

So, when Klass called Hynek a fraud, this was the very definition of slander. When he wrote that Hynek was “the spiritual leader of a vocal group of believers and kooks,” it wasn’t quite as egregious. It didn’t rise to the level of libel though calling Hynek the spiritual leader of... believers and kooks, certainly comes close.

My use of the word slander was dead on, based on the legal definitions. You might object, but the truth is, calling Hynek a fraud to the FBI was slanderous.

Lance said...


I see where you are quoting someone else's interpretation of what Klass said. Do you have the actual text from Klass in which he used the word, "fraud."?


KRandle said...

Lance -

It came from an FBI document. It was based on the content of the telephone conversation with Klass.I quoted precisely what is in the FBI document. I am inclined to accept the FBI interpretation here. It is not out of line with other things that Klass had said.

In the letter that Klass wrote, being employed in publishing, he was more circumspect in what he said.

I notice that we have moved away from the definition of slander here.

Lance said...


Here again, you seem to not understand the nature of what a direct quote is and what is hear-say.

This is grade school stuff.

But don't worry, it fits what you and many others want to believe so I am quite certain that you are unlikely to be called on it even though it is a basic foundational concept.

Among UFO folks, you'll be fine.


@ Anthony: Hi, I sent an email.

KRandle said...

Lance -

I do get it, and I understand "other bad acts," which is Klass making similar claims against those with whom he disagrees. I also noted exactly where the information originated, gave you the date of the memo, who wrote it, and who it was sent to. Your complaint is not with me on this. And I give the FBI the benefit of the doubt on this.

If you don't like that quote, then we can use the one from Klass' letter, which is not as egregious, but does, in fact slander Hynek.

I was surprised that you waited so long to jump to Klass' defense in this but not that you reject the FBI statement because it does not fit your philosophy (though it certainly fits with Klass').

I have presented evidence, from Klass' long written record of this sort of thing, but you refuse to admit that Klass might have been a tad overzealous in his statements and writings. You object to my use of the word slander, then change the tone of the debate to something else... typical debunker tactic... The only thing you have yet to do is defend Klass in his communications with the FBI.

Lance said...


I actually don't disagree with much of what you say about Klass.

He was the classic grumpy old man and I am sure that he was sarcastic and uncomplimentary about Hynek and Hynek's article.

One of the things that apparently set him off was when he perceived any sort of government acceptance or support for the UFO idea.

To some extent, I understand this.

If I heard about tax funds being used for UFO research, I would probably complain as well.

But, Klass gave as good as he got. Note in his FBI file how some nut sent in reams of conspiracy nonsense using Klass's name. I have heard plenty of what you might call slander against Klass as well.

Ah, well, UFO believers need to have their devil. Most of them never bring up the often ingenious sleuthing he did on several cases.

For instance, note that Hynek's source for his article is the dubious Incident at Exeter.

Klass figured out how the hoax UFO image on the cover of that book was created. Of course, the UFO community insisted that the sacred photo was real.

It was only years later that the photographer admitted that Klass was right all along and that the photo was bogus.


JAF said...


Klass didn't discover the hoax behind the photo on the cover of Incident at Exeter. He endorsed it as real! It was William Hartmann of the Condon Committee who uncovered the hoax.


Lance said...

JAF is right and I am wrong.

Apparently, Klass figured out part of the story (the hand and saucer bit) but didn't know enough about photography to go any further.



KRandle said...

Lance -

While you often take off into the irrelevant, I will point out that the article was about Klass' attack on Hynek... not someone else attacking Klass. Do you have an example of Hynek attacking Klass in a similar fashion? Who make Klass keeper of the flame?

And while you name some nut case who slandered Klass, that is still irrelevant to the discussion.

Given your comments about tax money, I take that to mean you are outraged that not only was half a million dollars wasted by Condon, they actually gave him more money. And Hynek wasn't advocating spending tax money but promoting a lan to save it.

And some of us have actually thanked Klass for making us work harder... and we also know that he would invent testimony to fit his creative explanations.

Don said...

Lance: "The differences between skeptics and proponents, of course, almost always lie in interpretation of evidence."

There are disagreements over what constitutes evidence, too. The problem is the positions are polarized and I doubt there is any common ground.

I've nothing to say about Klass or Hynek here, so I'll bow out.



Kurt Peters said...

do your homework, children:

1. CUFOS was formed in 1974

2. Hynek was asked to join CSICOP during their formation process, but declined as he felt they leaned towards predetermined conclusions, NOT actual scientific method

3. Klass' whole career was as Senior Avionics Editor for the Cold War's primary CIA anti-Soviet disinfo publication

Kurt Peters said...

....Klass' industry magazine posting was/is called "Aviation Week'..... known in the business as 'Aviation Leak'

(...a fact that I trust will be the subject of Tony Bragalia's next breathless "EXCLUSIVE!!!!!")

JAF said...

Phil Klass had at least one UFO which he believed to be "real".

As Bruce Maccabbee puts it on ,

My analysis of the photo taken by Canadian Air Force pilot RJ
Childerhose in 1955 is now available at

This was, and I think still is, the only photo endorsed by none
other than Philip J. Klass as a real unknown "UFO"... although
he believes it to be a huge plasma/ball lightning. This photo
appears on the front cver of his first book. This case was
presented at the "Sturrock Panel" discussion in Tarrytown, NY,
several years ago and has been mentioned by Jacques Vallee as an
example of the optical power radiated by some UFOs.

As plasma/ball lighting has been pretty much ruled out as an explanation for this sighting, it gets tossed back into the unknown category, which according to zoamchomsky doesn't exist because "real" UFOs don't exist. But a nice color photo of that non-existant UFO disputes zoam's conclusion.

The intensity of light from the UFO overexposed the film giving it a blurry look which it didn't possess in real life. The object was said to have very distinct edges according to the RAF pilot who saw it.

zoamchomsky said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
zoamchomsky said...

JAF; As we've just seen with the Trent photos, anyone can make a photo and make up a "UFO" story about it--that is, force their photo into a "UFO" context. And anyone can take a photo of some ambiguous light in the sky and honestly believe they've seen something extraordinary, and tell a story about the event.

Here we have an image of dubious provenance and a third-hand guesswork account of the details of its creation. Bright mirages, reflections of many kinds, are often seen above water, above or below clouds, and very often at sunset. So, given these real-world considerations, the likelihood of this being a rather mundane event is much more plausible than it being an extraordinary one.

But if it really was one, where's the rest of the story? There were four Sabres.

Robert Sheaffer said...

So far as I know, Kal Korff never 'befriended' Klass. I recall seeing some very contentious correspondence that Klass sent to Korff. Perhaps this mellowed a bit when Korff had become an active Roswell skeptic, but some of Korff's investigations were so far-out (he told me about archaeological evidence of the Pharaoh's men being drowned in the Red Sea) that I don't think Klass ever was comfortable with Korff.

As for the Lucci photos, Klass was inclined to believe they were 'genuine plasma UFOs,' even after Condon and the Hartmann analysis. I was the one who persuaded Klass that they were hoaxes, and made some replications of them on my own. Much later, one of the brothers confessed the hoax to CUFOS.

If Hynek was initially asked to join CSICOP, I haven't heard about that. But recalling that Marcello truzzi was the co-founder of CSICOP, along with Paul Kurtz, I would not be surprised if Truzzi had invited Hynek. Of course, Kurtz, Klass, Randi, Gardner, etc. would all have objected to this. You can understand why Truzzi and Kurtz did not last long together.

JAF said...

zoamchomsky wrote "image of dubious provenance." Credit to the pilot of the F86 is shown on the image ( Now if you've got some reason to think that is not his photo, you've an obligation to notify him or Dr. Maccabbee. Otherwise you've made a frivolous claim which can be made about every photo on the web.

Mirages are seen near the horizon. There is no horizon visible in the photo. Maccabbee discussed the issue of reflections in his report and ruled them out. In short, any mundane cause of the image would have been detected by someone in all these many years since the photo was taken.

As the object did not move around, I'm not going to suggest anything as exotic as an intelligently controlled craft. A much more likely explanation would be an unknown atmospheric phenomenon. Now that to me meets the definition a "real" UFO. Or would you care to identify the object and end the mystery?

Now this is assuming it's not a hoax. You are correct, any photo we look at could be a hoax. But to jump for any to ALL photos are hoaxes is a leap in logic which you've already taken by asserting that there are no real UFOs. It's a big leap in logic which I feel uncomfortable with as I can come up with no rational justification for making it.

Terry's Bazaar said...

I agree that Director Hoover was chomping at the bit from 1947 to perhaps 1955. I have been going through the Project Blue Book files for several years. The FBI was often on distribution for teletype messages at the HQ USAF level. In my opinion Hoover became convinced there was no way to use UFO investi-
gations to build up the FBI or to make political hay. In the mid-1950s there were many FBI letters addressed to PBB passing along reports. I am now in early 1959, and haven't seen a FBI letter for quite some time. Others might save that Hoover was pressured into getting out of the UFO investigation business. I just think he may have retained a personal interest.

Terry "sweating in Thailand" Colvin

zoamchomsky said...

JAF; Addressing your paragraphs one through four. We have a photo of clouds and a bright spot--that appears to show nothing more than a typical sundog--and the pilot's ordinary account of how it was made which strongly suggests the sundog identification: the Sun is near setting; he's headed west into the Sun approximately; and the sundog is at an angle of 22° necessarily and at the same elevation as the Sun. He was UNSURE of the exactly position of either or the angle between them.

Various mirages, sundogs and other reflections can occur under many different circumstances. And no number of Sherlock Holmes mathemagical mumbo-jumbo eliminations will prove the bright spot in the photo is not a mundane reflection and so be transformed into an extraordinary "unidentified" of some kind.

Making far too much of the compounded imprecision of subjective measurements, and intentionally ignoring the real but mundane contingencies inherent in real-world events, are well-known devices used by pseudoscientists for manufacturing a bare possibility of an extraordinary explanation. It's merely a disguised appeal to ignorance.

A photo is never going to be evidence of a real "UFO," much less BE a real "UFO" of any kind. A real "UFO" (TRUFO) would be an unambiguous celestial object that exists in the world--has presence, substance, persistence--but defies explanation. So far, there are no real "UFOs" in the world, there are no "UFO" facts of any kind.

JAF said...


A sundog would maintain its relative position to the sun as the pilot traveled west. It would always be in front of him. In contrast, this is what the object did:

As he continued westward the sighting line to the object rotated backward to an “eight o’clock low” position before he lost sight of it, indicating that it was stationary in the lee of the anvil of the thunderhead
at an altitude considerably below the plane.


As he flew past he decided to take a photo of the object.

The pilot can't fly past a sundog. It would continue to be in front of him as he headed west. So it's not a sundog, not even a good impersonation of one. But I must say you do a mean impersonation of Phil Klass by ignoring the parts of the sighting which conflict with whatever hypothesis you're proposing. Congratulations! :-)

zoamchomsky said...

JAF; As I thought I made very clear, third-party interpretations of the event cannot be evidence. All we have are the two photos; the pilot's changing, admittedly confused account over time; his statement that none of four considered it anything significant, the flight leader saying it was just "reflected sunlight," and later he didn't even recall the event. In the photo we have, the sundog is obviously below to his left and ahead.

Unknown said...

The fact that Klass was Chief UFO Killer for CSICOP tells us something about that organization. I can tell you exactly what CSICOP's position on any given issue will be before any CSICOP spokesman says a word. Admittedly, most of the things CSICOP doesn't believe in are probably physically impossible...but alien spaceships aren't impossible, whether or not they actually exist.
Besides, "Skeptical Enquirer" is, in my opinion, a crashing bore on almost every subject, ludicrous or not.

JAF said...

Sundogs are caused by refraction of the sun's rays through ice crystals. The amount of the refraction varies with the wavelength of light. Reddish rays are refracted the least, blue the most (similar to why a sunset is reddish and the sky is blue). This shows up both visually and in photos of sundogs with the portion of the dog facing the sun having a reddish tinge. But you don't need to take my word for this. You can visit which has a nice page on the formation of sundogs.

There is no reddish side to the object in the photo. It's nothing but white. Maccabbee comments on this very thing in his arguing against it being a reflection. Even though the image is overexposed and thus whited-out, the refractive nature of a sundog would create a reddish outside edge visible in the photo on one side of it. There is none. In Maccabbee's discussion about it not being a reflection, he points out that a reflection would cause a reddish tinge all around the object, which isn't present. A sundog would differ in that it would produce the reddish tinge only on the side pointing towards the sun.

I've seen any number of sundogs in real life. They can't be mistaken for anything else once you've seen one. Possibly you've never seen one.

It's not even a "maybe". Hey, it might be a hoax. But a sundog? Not possible.

Kurt Peters said...

for the 'Robert Sheaffer' entity:

"If Hynek was initially asked to join CSICOP, I haven't heard about that."

His UFO Secretary during that time, Margo Metegrano, can certainly attest to the letter from CSICOP....

zoamchomsky said...

JAF; I've seen all kinds of sundogs--from faint spectral to bright white. Granted, most are red-tinged, but that doesn't mean that all are. The group leader said it was just "reflected sunlight." Even if not a sundog, it was certainly a reflection of the Sun--if of an uncommon sort. As I said earlier, various mirages, sundogs and other reflections can occur under many different circumstances, even seemingly unique situations as this, as are presenting themselves more often to high-flying pilots. So this was a weather or atmospheric physics event rather than a "UFO."

Larry said...

Zoam: I’ve noticed that your speculative explanations of UFO reports seem to be entirely innocent of any accordance with the laws of physics. The 1956 McLeod photo taken from an F-86 aircraft was the subject of a photometric and photogrammetric analysis by Bruce Maccabee. Bruce, of course, is a highly competent and experienced optical physicist and in his analysis he used standard mathematical models that have been validated through many decades of use by members of the relevant technical community. His results were published in the Journal of Scientific Exploration, Volume 13, Number 2 under the title: “Optical Power Output of an Unidentified High Altitude Light Source”. The paper can be accessed in pdf format at

The idea that this image is a solar reflection of some type is, of course one of the very first hypotheses that a competent scientist would consider. Bruce did consider it and rejected it because it disagrees with the physical evidence recorded on the film by a very large margin. Taking into account the geometric view angle, the apparent size of the object and the saturation of the film, the optical power radiated by the surface of the object (radiant emmitance) was estimated to be about 6 Watts per square cm, or 60,000 Watts per square meter. You (or any interested party) can use an online calculator to estimate the optical power of the Sun (insolation) available for reflection at that latitude (49.5 deg, N), time of year (August 27) and time of day (20 minutes before sunset). It comes out to about 100 Watts per square meter.

In other words, the surface of the phenomenon—whatever it was—was emitting optical power at a rate around 600 times faster than it was receiving power from the Sun. Clearly, the phenomenon was self-luminous. Equally clearly, this means the phenomenon had some type of internal energy source and was not a simple passive reflection of Sunlight.

If you disagree with the conclusion, you should be prepared to show where the analysis went wrong.

Steve Sawyer said...


Don't expect Zoam to respond with an objective or empirical argument, Larry.

I don't know what the famous Childerhouse photo actually shows, nor did Childerhouse. It could very well be some bizarre, extremely rare form of "atmospheric plasma" formation, as Philip Klass would have it. I doubt very much that it's a "sun dog" phenomena.

But, you'll get no concessions or balanced discussion from Zoam. He does not wish to be bothered by the facts, since his mind is made up. There are just simply no UFOs, only reports, as he incessantly claims.

The fact that he is wrong never seems to enter his hidebound brain.

Ignore the radar tracking cases, from both ground and airborne radars, and that include direct, close-up visual sightings, the UFOs that have been witnessed to react and interact during pursuit by jet fighters or flying near commercial airliners, EM effects picked up by aircraft, solid multiple-witness incidents involving skeptics, scientists, military and intelligence personnel, theodolite tracking, photos, film, etc.

It's all either misidentification, fabricated hoax, prosaic atmospheric phenomena, or delusional confabulation.

You see, to Zoam there is zero possibility, regardless of the facts, appearance, behavior, and actions of any UFO ever witnessed and/or reported, past, present, or future, that would rationally suggest even the potential of any form of non-human intelligence, maybe, being involved. Or simply unknown, and undecided or unresolved. The issue is settled.

It must be comforting to have such certainty in the psycho-social hypothesis and it's mundane corollaries. One might even say self-satisfied. Zoam has solved the great mystery for us. So, sit back and relax, Larry. Nothing to see here. Move along.

As Stanton Friedman has often said (and no, I don't adhere to Friedman's conclusions about Roswell, MJ-12, or the Hill's "abduction," just to be clear), pseudo-skeptical debunkers follow these four dictums:

"Debunkers seem to employ four major rules:

"1. What the public doesn’t know, we certainly won’t tell them. The largest official USAF UFO study isn’t even mentioned in twelve anti-UFO books, though every one of those books’ authors was aware of it.

"2. Don’t bother me with the facts, my mind is made up.

"3. If one can’t attack the data, attack the people. It is easier.

"4. Do one’s research by proclamation rather than investigation. It is much easier, and nobody will know the difference anyway.

Simple, in more ways than one.

zoamchomsky said...

Larry; I've explained why Scientific realists routinely dismiss ufoolergists' after-the-fact mystery-mongering mumbo-jumbo. They're irrelevant. An eye witness said it was just "reflected sunlight" and all four pilots agreed there was nothing "flying saucerish" about it. The simple facts of the matter in the real world are worth much more than any Believer's insular pseudoscientific photo analysis.

Larry, I've seen equally qualified self-styled ufoolergists employing very similar mathemagical manipulations to "prove" there was a city on Mars; that Apollo 11 was followed by a "UFO;" that routine Shuttle ice blown about by thrusters was an intelligently controlled "UFO;" that Terauchi was followed by a "Giant Mothership;" and that Ed Walters' laughably crude fakes were real visiting spacecraft from another world! All exercises in utter nonsense of course and having currency only in the silly subculture of the "UFO" collective delusion.

cda said...


Larry described Maccabee as "a highly competent and experienced optical physicist". Maybe so.

Presumably this is the same Maccabee who endorsed the Gulf Breeze (Ed Walters) "laughably crude fakes" as genuine UFO photos.

But then Maccabee did rake in a sizeable royalty for doing so and for writing the foreword to Walters' book, didn't he?

Perhaps I have gone off topic and better shut up.

KRandle said...

All -

And away we go into things that have nothing to do with Phil Klass and his telephone call and letter to the FBI...

If you have nothing to say on topic, I think I'll just delete everything else.

Fred Milton said...

Around 20 years ago Phil Klass offered me a wager involving staging a UFO landing hoax. I still have the letter somewhere. I replied that what he had suggested was illegal, but was indeed possible. I declined his wager as I interpreted it as an invitation to entrapment.

Nice to see that you are now concerned about the definition of slander, Kevin, considering some of the things you said about me some years back. Everyone experiences growth.

Isaac Koi - New Uploads said...

When posting a link above to the FBI file on Klass, I mentioned I was working on an item to highlight the fact that the 16 files PDF files on the FBI website labelled "UFO" aren't the only FBI files relevant to ufology, e.g. files on UFO researchers and contactees. I've now posted that (fairly long) item at the link below:

All the best,