Tuesday, January 26, 2010

UFOs and History: a loser's game?

Good day, folks. I had hoped to post something on the spiritual side today in keeping with my pattern ["Miracles, Anomalies, and Science"] but, with my "distractions" with my mother's health I can't seem to do a full-blown scholarly posting. It'll wait. Instead I decided [as I was preparing the original documents to include in the UFO History Group's massive book, that I'd "go easy" and just show-and-tell a few of them. Musing about a "title picture", I was googling about the web and came across an image of Dick Hall, so I clicked on it. I was treated to the following commentary: "Deaths will clean the UFO palate. That is, the mummified concepts of ufology will be washed away, and new paradigms will be allowed to flourish....Once the old guard is gone, and the mid-lifers dismissed because of their foolishness, the young crop of UFO mavens' newer ideas will hold sway with the public and the media, because this new generation isn't conscripted by former old-think about UFOs, presenting instead original thought and pursuit of the UFO mystery as they discard the fossilized 'revelations' that have gone nowhere as far as the phenomenon is concerned". I don't know where to begin on that, so I'll not try. I have never read a more arrogant, insensitive, and ungrateful remark in my life. Well, indeed, it will be quite the celebration when all those in the picture above have finally croaked, and their horrible stultifying influence on UFO research is removed. Thank GOD we've already gotten rid of Hall, Hynek, Keyhoe, Michel, McDonald, and those similar idiots who accompanied them. --------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------In my old-style way, I think that I have noticed that some of the blog readers actually like UFO history when it places the phenomenon in the context of its moment, and [in my opinion] fills out our understanding of specifics, and corroborates the reality of what went on. So, despite the uncivilized commentary quoted above, I've decided to do what I thought I'd do anyway, and risk wasting my time [as for that guy, I have all my life]. What is below is a small attempt to show you some of the original documents that are foundations for early UFO history. I can't give you all a full-fledged research library [though I'd like to], but I can at least show you a few sources.
This is an original case document from the very beginning. It comes from Allen Hynek's personal files [he was allowed to take many of the originals "home" for his studies] and is an archival treasure. Here is one way that it fits into the story: when the early cases were reported [Kenneth Arnold et al] the Air Force [rather naturally] didn't think that they could be real as reported. They largely ignored the reports in the latter part of June of 1947. What woke them up was when they began to get reports from their own pilots [and a few scientists]. The page above is Army Air Force Captain James Burniston's statement to Brigadier General George Schulgen [assistant chief of intelligence under George McDonald] of what he saw. As military cases mounted, the Pentagon decided that, as unlikely as this was, it seemed that people were actually seeing something.
This is an early FBI document discussing the situation. It's dated July 10, 1947. It says that Schulgen has told all air bases to pursue every avenue to get information on what's going on. It mentions that despite what the FBI might think, the Air Force is quite serious about this, citing particularly Schulgen's interrogation of an AF pilot [quite possibly Burniston himself] and his insistence that he saw a flying disk. The Air Force says that it is concerned that these things might be happening for "political" reasons, and cites "Communist sympathies". The Air Force would like the FBI to check up on UFO reporters [civilians] to see if such fears are true. [The insert is General Schulgen].
This is an FBI document of two weeks later. The FBI has established a liaison with the Air Force's "Collection" [of information] Division at the Intelligence Department in the Pentagon to coordinate this activity. FBI and Hoover are promising full cooperation. Schulgen promises to share information in return. He also says that the phenomenon might be caused by individuals trying to create mass hysteria. All this is very understandable for the times. {The insert is of D.M. Ladd, assistant to Hoover, who is receiving this memorandum].
Meanwhile at the Pentagon, AF intelligence has assigned the job of information collecting to the number two man in the division. This is Lt.Colonel George Garrett [sorry, I've never found a picture of him]. Garrett is puzzled, to say the least, by the information that he's getting. He takes the stacks of reports that he has received and sifts them for what he considers the ones of strongest credibility [based mostly upon the level of witness credibility]. He selects first 16, then 18, cases and begins to see if he can find any pattern to the problem [standard intelligence work]. The page above is the first of a small study that was sent to the FBI, and was FOIA'd from FBI files.
This is from a later page in that file. You might call it Garrett's summary but it really is what the military calls an "estimate of the situation" without yet being formally written up. What Garrett did to get this "estimate" was to lay out his best cases and extract their details page-by-page. One of those exact pieces of paper was the page of Burniston's case you saw above. [we know that because there is a big "10" circled in the bottom left corner, where Garrett marked his tenth case in the study. I am a childish person, I suppose, but just holding that sheet of paper was a thrill. For that moment, UFO history was very real]. You can read Garrett's conclusions yourself. The bottom line is: "something is really flying around". What that reality was? : metallic and discoid.
This next document comes slightly after Garrett's estimate [which though undated was probably early August 1947] and shows that he and the FBI liaison [S.L.Reynolds, pictured] have been talking this over and scratching their heads. The phenomenon is clearly real, they say, but something's wrong. They are not getting pressure from the high reaches of the Pentagon to solve this. [this "topside silence"is a mystery that has never been solved, by the way]. Their reasoning was that the High Pentagon must already know what this is. Could they [Garrett and Reynolds, and AF Collections and the FBI], be wasting their times? Garrett felt that he had to do something to answer that. [by the way, some people have seen Roswell as playing a role in this "high brass knows what this is" conundrum.]
What Garrett did was to compose an estimate to be placed in a letter which would go to all the high-tech military offices in the government and ask a simple question: Is this ours? The document above is the copy that went to Curtis LeMay's Air Force Research and Development office. LeMay and everyone else [including the Navy, Army, etc] said : no. we've nothing like this. {This request was sent for Garrett by his boss, chief of the collections division, Colonel Robert Taylor (pictured) }. This left Garrett and Reynolds and the FBI in a complete quandary. What the heck was going on? They tried one last thing---maybe something super-secret was going on at Wright-Patterson that even LeMay et al wouldn't know about. So, they asked.------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I'm pausing here and will finish this little history excursion tomorrow, GOD willing. Till then, I'll just say that I refuse to think that the people at the top of the page were/are a waste of all our times. They are: [on the top strip] Jacques Vallee; Ray Fowler; Walt Webb; Ted Phillips. {in the middle-right box-of four} Chris Rutkowski; Claude Poher; Eddie Bullard; Bill Chalker. [at the bottom right] Jenny Randles; Jerry Clark. {at the bottom left} John Timmerman with Walt Andrus; and Barry Greenwood showing Allen his files (perhaps the greatest on the planet). [in color on the mid-left] Don Schmitt (who I know extremely well and who has gotten an unbelievably undeserved smearing in some quarters) and Jennie Zeidman. [and in the bottom center] Richard Haines and Mark Rodeghier----boy. what a relief it will be when they're all out of our hair! Pardon me... these are my friends and cherished colleagues... this is personal and not at all "scientific" on my part.


  1. Professor
    Thank your for sharing this information. After decades for reading about this topic I find myself, again, going back to original sources in some feeble attempt to try and understand what the phenomenon is about. (Yeah, I know, good luck on that)
    The early stuff, such as you shared, is, for lack of a better way to put it, unfiltered. Or at least any "filtering" is now, in the light of history, more transparent. I just ordered several of the old Lorenzen books and, compared to what I see on the internet today, they are a breath of fresh air.
    And I would also add that we owe a HUGE debt of gratitude to the old guard for all the fine (and often elegant) work they did....and the work they continue to do. One of my favorite fantasies is that I find myself waiting for an airplane (or whatever) and suddenly find myself sitting next to someone like Jacques Vallee. Or Michel. Or Hynek, in an airport lounge. Yeah, I know, kinda late for some of them but still.
    Keep up the good work.

  2. One of my favorite fantasies is being asked to come to a strange location and when I walk in, there at the table are sitting Mark and Jacques and Kevin and Don and Jerry and Barry and Dick [Haines] and Ted [Bloecher] and Ted [Phillips] ... and in walk some intel agents and they say: glad you guys were willing to come. We want to show you some information that you may be able to help us with. [Admittedly, they'd have to put Jerry and Jacques on opposite sides of the table :-) but they'd both think it was worth it. ]

  3. "Something is really flying around" - as our new generation of saucer-ologists would say, "way cool," with an added "dude!" if necessary. Great post, especially in light of your comments on history the other day. We can debate the reality of the phenomenon until the cows come home, but the documents tell a story of how seriously the mystery was taken in some circles. Look forward to the book, which, if I understand it correctly, takes this as it's focus and premise. The saucers leave nary a trace, but the document trail is a few miles long.
    Does Garrett's "something is really flying around" eventually get directly translated into the famous Twining memo's statement that the "phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious," that, too, was sent to Brig. Gen. Schulgen?

  4. As to the document trail being a few miles long, it is. When one immerses oneself in the real stuff, one is no longer any sort of skeptic of the reality of the anomaly. As to the posted stuff setting up the "Twining memo". you guessed it.

  5. Dear Professor,

    Great stuff as always. A few years back I had contact with the people who made the remarks concerning the Old Guard. I feel pretty confident in ignoring most of what they have to say.

    Regarding the 'lack of topside inquiry' comment: to my way of thinking that points to a second group or project that's also looking at the data. It's not necessarily Roswell, either. This was the era when the intelligence agencies were increasing their presence and stature. I'd be really, really interested in just when Batelle started their analysis, or what the people named on Vallee's Pentacle Memo (found in Hynek's files!) would have to say.

  6. All we have on Battelle is in the Blue Book microfilm [which includes the so-called "pentacle" letter. My view and Jacques' are very different on this. I'll try to post something later on Battelle/Pentacle. There is recently [on the web] a lot of bunk being thrown about [not by Jacques] on Battelle and I suppose I should toss my two cents in.

  7. Its my opinion that Vallee misinterprets the memo in a very substantive way. He interprets it as meaning that Batelle was recommending 'simulating' a UFO wave or waves.

    I read the memo as meaning 'Stake out an area that's high in UFO activity. Fly a variety of stuff through there without telling the observers. This will allow us to screen any REAL UFO reports from misinterpretations of the scheduled activity, which will filter the wheat from the chaff and give us a solid database of reports from known, good observers.

    'It will also, at worst, let us determine how badly people misperceive known phenomena.'

    Vallee seems to see some sort of conspiracy behind this.

  8. Generally agreed. To say that Jacques sees conspiracy in this is putting it mildly, as I'm sure that he'd agree. Another thing, though, Jacques Vallee is a very intelligent man, and his ideas don't necessarily stand still year after year--so I never want to say that what anyone wrote some time ago is exactly what they believe today. My good buddy Jerry would certainly agree to that, and I think that the person who never changes anything never grows.

  9. Agreed; Vallee is very bright (and I have all of his books, too).

    I think he's *partially* right on the conspiracy aspect: at some point in history certain groups found it convenient to convince people that UFOs were real and responsible for all sorts of shenanigans. Not all of these groups are government agencies, either.

    BUT...that doesn't mean that each and every government involvement with UFOs is part of the conspiracy, and I think that's where Vallee goes off the rails. I think his early experiences with Hynek (as chronicled in 'Revelations') led to and solidified this attitude.

    This doesn't affect his work in the field but it colors his conclusions.



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