As I was looking into the history of the Brookings Institution report about their investigation into alien life and what would happen if we learned there were aliens out there, I made a somewhat startling discovery. Walter Sullivan, one time science editor of the New York Times had written a book, We Are Not Alone, in 1964, and he quoted from that report. He was writing about the short section that suggested that communication with an alien race might not be a good thing for the people of Earth… might not be bad, especially if it was only through radio astronomy, but there could be negative consequences.
He quotes exactly a long section from the report about what is found in “anthropological files” and how societies, “sure of their place” suffered from a variety of fates. The implication is that those societies were altered, often for the worse. I say just look at the history of contact between the old and new worlds to see what is meant.
Anyway, after these precise quotes (which I have not reproduced here) Sullivan begins to paraphrase. He wrote, “Such studies, the report continued, should consider public reactions to past hoaxes, ‘flying saucer’ episodes and incidents like the Martian invasion broadcast.”
But the report doesn’t say, “flying saucers.” The line paraphrased in the report says, “Such studies would include historical reactions to hoaxes, psychic manifestations, unidentified flying objects, etc. Hadley Cantril’s study, Invasion from Mars (Princeton University Press, 1940), would provide a useful if limited guide in this area.”
The structure of Sullivan’s quote seems to suggest that flying saucers belong in the hoax category and is somewhat dismissive of the idea of flying saucers. But the report used the term “unidentified flying objects” and it wasn’t next to the word, “hoaxes”, but separated from it. This seems to indicate Sullivan’s personal bias.
Now, let me say that my interpretation might be off base here. I just noticed the changing of the words and I remembered Ed Ruppelt explaining that the Air Force used the term, flying saucer, in a derogatory sense as in, “You don’t believe in those flying saucers do you?” Sullivan, by changing the term, was engaging in the same dismissive attitude… which, of course, is his right… except…
The way his sentence is structured, and the use of quotation marks around “flying saucer” suggests that the term was lifted from the Brookings Institution report. But the document doesn’t use the term, and the structure of that particular paragraph seems more benign to me.
Oh, I know, this isn’t a big thing. It was just something that I stumbled over and thought enough about it to mention it here. But it does, sort of, reveal an attitude that is found throughout the MSM and that is something that shouldn’t exist. They should keep the sneering attitude to themselves… and not only when writing about UFOs.