Many years ago, my pal, Rich Reynolds, thought that we geezers in the UFO field should step aside and allow the youngsters to take over. I don’t think he phrased it quite that way but the implication was clear. We had failed to solve the riddle of the flying saucers, so let someone else, with newer ideas, come forward. Maybe they would do better than we had.
Now we have Lue Elizondo, a late comer to the party, saying that he wanted to kill Ufology so that whatever replaced it might by more holistic and harmonized. He wanted a community that was far more academically serious and representative of the topic. You know, like the To The Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences. Yes, I know that he is no longer associated with it, but then, it certainly wasn’t, exactly, serious and representative of the topic.
What he seems to have missed was that Ufology has always been relegated to the civilian world for any serious investigation. The Air Force spent its time ridiculing the topic, often suggesting that those who see UFOs are not the most reliable of observers and providing useless answers to high quality cases.
Oh, you want an example?
In a word, “Levelland.”
Here was a case in which witnesses, who had observed a UFO close to the ground, that stalled their car engines, dimmed their headlights, and filled their radios with static, provided multiple chains of evidence. Sightings lasted for minutes, giving the witness enough time to get a good look at the UFO before it took off in a bright red glow. The craft interacted with the environment and there are even hints of landing traces having been found. The local sheriff saw the UFO but if you read the Air Force report, it said that he’d only seen a streak red light in the distance rather than an object. Before the Air Force investigator arrived, he told reporters that he had seen a glowing red object that was oval or football shaped. After he talked with the Air Force investigator, and according to the Project Blue Book file, he said he had only seen a streak of red light in the distance. Later still, he told Don Berliner that he had seen an object.
Witnesses around the Levelland, Texas, area independently reported the craft, reported the electromagnetic effects, and there were reliable reports of landing traces. The Air Force said that only three people saw the object and ignored most of the reports of stalled engines. The Air Force concluded that the sightings were the result of ball lightning even though, at the time, scientists argued about the reality of ball lightning. Doesn’t really matter because ball lightning has been described as never being larger than a foot to two feet in diameter and existing for mere seconds. Witnesses talked of large craft that remained close to them for five or more minutes. The sightings by multiple witnesses lasted for two and a half to three hours in and around the Levelland, Texas, area.
The Air Force didn’t issue an immediate explanation for the Levelland sightings because they were waiting for NICAP to issue theirs first. The Air Force believed that it was easier to respond to NICAP than it was for them to issue the first report. By waiting, the Air Force was able to change the tone of the discussion from the sightings to the number of the witnesses to those sightings, and then to lie about those numbers. They claimed that only three witnesses had seen an object but their own files provide five names and newspapers, some of the clippings in the Air Force file, reported on many other names.
wasn’t the only deception by the Air Force related to the sightings in
November, 1957. James Stokes, an engineer working at Holloman Air Force Base,
reported that just days after the Levelland sightings, his car had been stalled
by a low flying UFO
near Orogrande, New Mexico, just south of the Air Force base and near the White Sands Missile Range. Stokes also spoke of a slight, sunburn effect, that reddened his skin. Although the sunburn was seen by others, including the news director at an Alamogordo, New Mexico, radio station, the Air Force investigator, who arrived two days later, didn’t see the burn. The Air Force officers also made a big deal out of the claim that Stokes was an engineer, saying that there was no record of his graduating with any sort of engineering degree and that he was just a technician assigned to the base. It was a smear designed to reduce Stokes’ credibility by suggesting that he was misrepresenting his job status.
The problem was that the Air Force officers assigned to Holloman AFB and who knew Stokes, refuted the other Air Force claim. They said that Stokes was an engineer, had been doing the work of a trained engineer for some eighteen months, and was a twenty-year veteran of the Navy. It was an example of the attitude suggesting that if you can’t explain it, then ridicule it. We had two Air Force organizations dueling over Stokes’ qualifications which, of course, changed the discussion from the reality of the sighting to the credibility of the witness which was what some in the Air Force wanted anyway.
The point here is that the problem wasn’t the quality of the civilian investigations into UFO sightings, but the government and the Air Force attitude and interference in them. Rather than conduct a real investigation, the Air Force just labeled the cases, smeared the witnesses, and went on about their business as if they had supplied accurate analysis.
There are other examples of this, including the case of the photographs taken by William Rhodes in 1947. I have detailed this on the blog and you can access some of that information here:
I certainly could supply additional examples of these tactics but after a point it becomes tedious. For those who wish to read more information about Air Force attempts to smear witnesses, including members of the Air Force, I point you to:
Elizondo complains that some self-professed Ufologists (is there really another kind) on social media have been less than productive. He reminds us that the Intelligence Community and the Defense apparatus watch social media. I’d suggest their time might be better spent engaging those of us who stay away from social media and the nonsense produced there. While Elizondo mentions a “few naughty children… that have decided that no other children are allowed to play in their sandbox…,” I would suggest that these spats, once called flame wars, have little to do with the scientific work being done by those of us associated with the Center for UFO Studies and the recently formed Scientific Coalition for UAP Studies (SCU), which embrace the scientific method and rejects these other spats as counterproductive.
Many of these “spats” are not between members of the UFO community on the side of alien visitation, but are the result of half-truths and lies created by the so-called skeptical community. Philip Klass had a habit of attacking those with whom he disagreed. In the past, I have enumerated some of these allegations. Rather than go into them, at length now, you can read find the information here:
I would also point out that there are scientific journals that routinely report on UFOs. The Journal of Scientific Exploration, a peer reviewed scientific journal, publishes research into the UFO phenomenon. This is the sort of thing that Elizondo advocates but seemed to know nothing about.
And there is the MADAR system created by Fran Ridge and others. These are stations around the world with sensor arrays that detect and record a wide range of anomalies in the environment. Then, tracking with MUFON and the National UFO Reporting Center, they search for visual observations of UFOs, looking for correlation. Although the results have been slim, there have been some interesting correlations between alerts from the MADAR array and UFO sightings. This brings another level of science to the investigations that provides corroboration for the visual sightings and adds another link in a chain of evidence.
Elizondo wrote that the first place the newcomers go for information about UFOs is social media and that suggests a rather superficial look at UFOs. There are some very good websites and blogs that provide solid and well thought out examinations of the evidence but, of course, there are those that are filled with conjecture, conspiracy, and conflicting data. Shouldn’t anyone interested in the topic seek out multiple sources of information rather than just searching social media? Shouldn’t they be given the opportunity to draw their own conclusions rather than have some suspected and self-appointed authority tell them what the truth is and where to find it?
Elizondo wrote, “Sadly, the UFO Community as of late has become somewhat of an irrational morass of mob rule and popularity seekers. Gone is the respect and decorum, in favor of mosh pit elbow shoves and boot kicks. Voices of those who would otherwise apply a scholarly focus are being drowned out by those social media personalities sensationalizing their efforts as ‘disclosure activists’ in order to generate revenue through viewers and subscribers. Those who seek ‘credit’ instead of cooperation are hijacking the topic for their own enrichment at the expense of genuine truth advocates.”
While I might point out that science is often driven by the same sad motivations, and would point to the Dinosaur Wars of the late 19th and early 20th centuries as but a single example, it would seem that some of these newcomers are driven by the same motivations. Some of these newcomers have engaged the services of agents and public relations specialists for the very purpose of enriching themselves and propelling themselves into the spotlight. Others have used their connections, however indirect those connections might be, to suggest inside information and knowledge as a way of improving their access to media and those important monetary rewards.
I have often wondered, however, why researching and writing about UFOs is about the only field in which it is a sin to profit from hard work. I can name several older UFO researchers who have written books and given presentations about their research to share the information for the purpose of sharing that information. For those who visit my blog, there is no pay wall or donation button. The information is offered freely. But I still wonder why I am criticized for publishing books on the topic when the compensation rarely covers the expenses for gathering the information. I don’t know how many times I have been accused of only being in it for the money, when there are easier and better ways for me to make money such as historical fiction. The accusation is hurled as a way of dismissing my work, and that of many others, without having to do much research into how we gathered the data or what credentials we might hold.
And while Elizondo condemns us for many of the problems in Ufology, I would suggest they grow from the attempts to cover up what is happening. I can point to the CIA-sponsored Robertson Panel from early 1953 as a good example. Their recommendations after their alleged investigation were to debunk the phenomenon, have teachers deny students permission to use UFOs as research projects and reject reports on UFO books. They suggested an “education” program to demystified UFOs so that the public would lose interest all the while knowing that the truth was much more interesting.
We also have had the Air Force sponsored, University of Colorado “Scientific Study” of UFOs, commonly called the Condon Committee. We have the documentation showing that the conclusions were written before the investigation began. Air Force Lieutenant Colonel Robert Hippler wrote to Dr. Robert Low of the committee telling him what the Air Force wanted, that is, there was no national security threat, there was no scientific benefit in continued in the investigation of UFOs, and that the Air Force had done a good job with their investigation. For the next fifty years, science beat us all over the head with the results of this “scientific endeavor” only to learn that it was more anti-UFO propaganda paid for by the US Government and the Air Force. You can learn more about this here:
Now we learn that “the social media circus of today has challenged the government’s confidence in UFOlogy as a worthy area of study.” I submit that this social media circus might be driven by the government that has worked for 75 years to prove that UFOs do not exist and are not worth the expenditure of government resources. I suggest that the podcasts, YouTube channels, Twitter fees, and Instagram pages are not the problem here, but the decades of ridicule, misinformation and outright lies spread by official government and Air Force sources are the reason that there is the confusion and division that Elizondo condemns as he attempts to propel himself into a leadership role in the UFO community. That ridicule and division was exactly what the Air Force and the government wanted to keep the answers hidden and it has worked for 75 years.
And now we have a bunch of ex-government officials, some with questioned credentials, lecturing us on what is wrong in the world of UFOs. While many of us have been toiling for decades to bring science to UFOs, have written about it, made suggestions about it, and have attempted to apply science, we have the newcomers telling us that we should now embrace science as if we hadn’t thought of that all by ourselves long ago. Well, thanks for the enlightened view of the situation and I’m sure everything will now change… except, of course, the government is again wrapping its investigation in the cloak of national security so that they can bury the information. John Greenewald just reported that the Navy has determined that the majority of the information and video evidence they have gathered is a national security issue and will not be released to the general public anytime soon. This is the same dodge they used for the last 75 years.
But that’s okay because we have these newcomers who have the answers as they find themselves on the lecture circuit and writing the books, for which they are paid, sometimes quite handsomely, all the while condemning us for writing books and appearing on the lecture circuit. But that’s okay because their motives are pure. We know this because they have told us so.
So, obviously, I find it difficult to read the suggestions made by someone who doesn’t seem to know the history of UFO research. I find it difficult to listen to the suggestion that we embrace science when many of us have done that for years. I wonder just how useful Elizondo’s suggestions are because they seem to address a symptom of the problem but not the problem itself. The problem isn’t the current state of UFO research, but to interference by government, DoD, and Air Force officials. Had they not attempted to hide the information, we would be having a completely different discussion and we would have “solved” the problem decades ago without the help of the enlightened newcomers.
PS: I do wonder if putting in links to other articles that have relevance here is worth the effort. Those links lead to other links so that a comprehensive picture can be drawn. The problem is that it can take a long time to wade through the material. Does putting in the links help or hinder the discussion. I would like to know. Please provide a comment with your thoughts.