Tuesday, March 16, 2010

FSR 1957: The Human Side of UFOlogy

FSR in 1957 was like a child with attention-deficit-disorder in a toy shop, if one wishes to be as charitable as possible, or an adult with MPD, several personalities of which were fantasy-prone. My feeling is that the charitable characterization is the one which applies to most of it---flying saucers were a great mystery, and not at all solved yet for them. The pictures above show the big kids having fun outdoors on a flying saucer night out, with Desmond Leslie [perhaps the only one in the picture who "already knew the answers"], acting out his somewhat absurdly posed role of pointing to an alleged saucer in the sky with one hand while pointing to a drawing of an Adamski scoutship with the other.[ hmmm...on magnifying the picture, I see that I have defamed Desmond---he is pointing to the closest thing to a scoutship that's on there but the "real" scoutship is in the bottom right of the array.] FSR was open to all comers at this time, and probably that was OK for the moment. As we know, NICAP, whether they were ultimately right or wrong, crystallized too early around a narrow range of the phenomenon for "political" reasons and the character of its leader. Of the let's say four [NICAP, APRO, FSR, CSI-NY] major civilian players in the english-speaking world, APRO and CSI-NY straddled the most rational middle ground, taking things as they came, but with crap detectors functioning at high enough levels to be seriously critical of the obviously bogus. Which of these approaches one feels most sympatico to oneself is of course a matter of our own biases. I personally like CSI-NY, but feel the wider-open door of APRO to be very useful in getting the "unexpected" so that analysis can be done at all. Ted Bloecher's approach to CE3s [in later years] would have been an ideal model if anyone [in the general UFO-seeing public] would have been able to locate his "door" as a spot to deposit their reports. This has always been why I am not as critical of overly-enthusistic UFO hawkers in today's field [if they are still part of the community in the sense that they are willing to share information]. They serve as "welcoming entries" for cases, even including the most strange. It's a tough line to walk: open enough to encourage high-strangeness reporting, but having personal standards rational enough to not lead people astray. FSR overdid it on the "openness" element, but in the end it was understandable [especially for the moment] and harvested a whale of a lot of intriguing reports. [This is the great value of MUFON today and no one should take that away from that organization. If the Journal would hold up the other end of this difficult stance (rational editorship and filtering), the more conservative elements of our community should stand and applaud.] But we live in an imperfect world and so must continue to talk with one another if we are to utilize all our strengths. FSR didn't do the critique part that well, and it's happened very few times in UFOlogy's history.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Still, very solid things showed up in FSR. They reported on the stunning press conference of Keyhoe's Naval Academy buddy, chief of Naval research into missiles, Admiral Delmar Fahrney, wherein he launched NICAP as a public force. Fahrney left little doubt that he felt that the evidence was overwhelming that the flying disks were real, and not the product of Earth technology, and had intelligence behind them. FSR came to the wrong conclusion [thinking that this plus Ruppelt plus the UFO film heralded a great revelation of facts by the military], but were properly informed and impressed by Fahrney, nevertheless.-------------------- FSR was also aware of the release of Project Blue Book Report#14. This document is a whole story in itself, and no one in the UFO community realized what was behind its release. [they thought they knew but did not]. BBR#14 was released not just because Air Force irritant, Dr. Leon Davidson, was making noise, but because the Blue Book debunkers [George Gregory{project BB chief}, Francis Arcier{Chief BB consultant}, Lawrence Tacker{Pentagon "UFO Spokesman"} and the Pentagon's Congressional liaison] had decided that it could be used as a weapon against Keyhoe and similar thorns in their side. Paradoxically, just like the Colorado Project report later, everybody read it as they wanted to--nay-sayers saying it said nay, and yay-sayers saying it said yay. [even Ruppelt was read this way]. Weirdly, almost everyone was celebrating. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
A few other clearly good things happened: people in those days had very little to read [which was making any sense, anyway]. Keyhoe's books created a foundation. Aime Michel's two books augmented that [and so too, to an extent, Jimmy Guieu's, if anyone could get it]. Ruppelt came along as the cornerstone, validating everything else. But there it really ended [as far as English-language was concerned]. Then Max Miller created the little book you see alongside. Despite being only an inflated magazine-looking thing in size, it was filled with generally good material and, of course, very sympathetically told. It is today a small forgotten gem. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------An unusual news story deserves some mention. The USNavy was anxious to make some headway with the press [just general PR] and invited a bunch of reporters to visit a base in Hawaii [tough assignment]. Once there the reporters found that the flyers at the base hadn't received any cautions about talking about UFOs when asked. The reporters asked. The flyers stated that they had specific orders regarding encounters with UFOs thus blowing apart the Air Force's consistent claims that there was nothing to the subject. When the Navy flyboys said that they were empowered to fire on them if necessary, well, that was not only sensational, but a huge embarrassment to the USAF. One assumes that the USN was chuckling behind their serious military demeanors at the Pentagon.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
FSR continued to be highly welcoming to contactee tales and all manner of speculation no matter how unsupported it was. The bogus "Tibetan monk", T.Lobsang Rampa [Ramps in West Virginia are a particularly nasty relative of the Onion], got two whole articles to spew his hoax. Adamski got an Exclusive Special Report to FSR in one issue. And my favorite [congenial] lunatic, George Hunt Williamson, got three major features. [I am the holder of the GHW papers, and he holds an almost affectionate place in my heart--despite my view that 90% of what he claimed was fantasy]. Williamson at that time was in the jungles of Peru [really--I've read the files and seen a few pictures--and his wife Betty "left me" some Amazonian plants in one folder] where he was attempting to re-establish an ancient order of ?shamans?priests? of a remnant Atlantean race--no kidding. Someday he hoped that through trance mediumship he would receive the directions to find the lost cities of Atlantaen Paititi deep somewhere in the jungles or underneath the mountains. Of course UFOs were the signs that all this was about to be revealed to him. Believe me, that story is a LOT longer than what's known, especially by FSR. Brotherhood of the Seven Rays, here we come!----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

There were many other idiosyncratic, odd, or even believable things in this year's issues. NICAP's Charles Maney had an article on Science right after one by Rampa. Percy Wilkins wrote three interesting, and somewhat romantic [but not crazy] articles about possible life on Mars and the Moon. FSR insider, Bernard Finch, wrote about the possibility of an anti-gravity drive. Arthur Constance broached the idea that UFOs could be the three-dimensional appearances of the penetration of our space by ultradimensional realities [inspired by Abbott's Flatland]. There were three articles on 19th century air anomalies. Someone spoke very supportively of the Scully crash story. Most unexpected by me, a short article put forward the idea that it was likely that some extraterrestrials were already mixing and working among us. ---------------------------------------------------------Among all this mish-mash of news-gathering and imaginative thinking, FSR actually tried to build a case investigation network. By the end of the year they had 30 sign-on field investigators scattered across Britain, led by Brinsley LePoer Trench himself as "chief investigator". One cannot say that they weren't serious. They were also trying to establish regular contacts with researchers world-wide. Probably the most dependable of those was New Zealand's Harold Fulton, shown at the telescope above.
So, so long to FSR 1957 for now. The original founder, Derek Dempster, above, celebrated his retirement from saucers by taking a trip to the US, where he studied...well...saucers.


  1. Hello, Prof.

    Thank you for this continuing UFO summary. If you don't know where you've been, it's difficult to say where you're going, IMO. Your blog is consistently interesting, and a daily read for me.

  2. Thank you--encouragement is never wasted on the encouraged.

  3. Yes Prof, thanks for the excellent post. I am glad that theres a site such as yours, dedicated to the history of the UFO story. I was fortunate to be raised by an uncle who was well informed about UFO's and discussion about such things was dinner table conversation dating back to this era. I think that some small understanding of the phenomenon might be had by carefully examining how it's presented itself at different times. I think we don't appreciate that there was a time, for example, when we didn't see automotive interference and then, POOF, it started being reported. Your review of the history nicely underlines the trends. It would be cool to make a time chart showing when the major trends started emerging.

    Anyway thanks, this is one of my regular stops on the internet.



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