Thursday, January 31, 2013

Mumbling Down The Forest Path: Of Ghosts, and PSI, and ETI.

[ Hello again, folks. This post is just a signal that I'm still on this side of the Light Tunnel, and thinking of the world of anomalies occasionally. Life in Wheeling caring for Mom has ended; I have extricated myself from that apartment of three years; and I'm trying to re-settle here in my Kalamazoo home. But it's still a bit chaotic --- I haven't even gotten the laundry done yet, so I'm as far from the world of anomalies as you can get. But still.... here is a posting admittedly different from most. Usually I try to stick closely to a presentation of the factual or at least witness-testified basis for the topic of the moment, and then {maybe} make some hypothetical stretches --- hopefully well labelled as such. This post? I'm going to Blow Into The Wind a bit. The reasons for what will be said here are scattered throughout the 300-odd posts that preceded it. So ... for better or worse, here we go..............]

I find the intellectual world of the 21st century a strange place, even bizarre. We, as a globally-developing culture, seem Hell-bent upon trying to convince ourselves that we have, roughly, figured everything out. In the end, we say "authoritatively", it's all in the textbooks. We have only working out of the details to do. Some really Big {Bang} Thing happened at about X-years ago, spewing out energy and then matter according to textbook laws, and everything else will be explained from there.


There are whole areas of experience which are not incorporated into this [what is really at this level of talking about it no more than] jumped-up opinion. The cardinal sins of these areas are just that "science" can't reduce them to easy materialism nor get them to "hop" on the lab bench when we say "jump".

There is a LOT of tragedy in this. Even from the point of view of the scientist openly seeking truth, that person WILL NEVER FIND "IT" until these other aspects of reality are incorporated into the actual Big Picture.

The title of this post gives some of these realities away. "Ghosts", and "PSI", and, much less profoundly, "ETI."

PSI, at least some forms of it, simply flat exists.

If I was to describe something as a precise awareness of some fact or event which was neither present to the observer's ordinary sense perceptors [as described in the biology textbooks], nor accessible through memory, then such phenomena simply happen. Such moments of "clairvoyance" are actually common. They may not be lengthy nor spectacular, but they are common. Almost all of us are aware of having somethings like this. It is our "culture" that hammers away at us to intimidate us into not believing it.

One of my brothers has these perceptions somewhat regularly and quite a bit more spectacularly than the rest of us. One common theme for him is the perception of auto accidents [with a great deal of specific detail as to ambulances or not, number of police cars, positioning and type of wrecked vehicle]. He "sees" these when he is several miles away yet driving to and from work. They are not the only clairvoyances he has, but are the greatness number as to type.

I'm not so lucky as he as to the quality of my momentary sensing of the Hidden, but such things happen now and then as they do to most of us. These small knowings are not much in themselves. It is the fact that they exist at all which is the big deal.

These moments are telling us that there is more to Reality than the universal stage that we wake up to in the morning and spend our time absorbing and coping with. They are telling us that there is more to Reality than our simplistic models of Space and Dimension. There is something "bigger" about Reality than the physics and astronomy texts are willing to say. And, if we read the better ones carefully, even they are admitting that there is more. NONE of the forces REALLY operates "in" Space. All of them are "projected into spatial locations" from other aspects or dimensions. No actual "matter" exists sitting around and bumping into things like miniature pool balls. All "locations" that we call a "particle" are projections of forces from those same "elsewheres".

But physics wants to make its stand right there. Yes, there are these other dimensions, and yes, the "things" of the material universe that we perceive with our biological senses are projections from these dimensions, but it is all there is. It's still just physics and Law. There is no "special" aspect called "consciousness", and whatever THAT will ultimately be found to be, it will be "physically lawful". Nothing can exist beyond the Laws of Physics, and that will all be seen as "normal". By fiat, the "paranormal" does not exist.

Well, as the Old Hippie on the Reality Street would say: "Ummm.... That's your..... ummmm. opinion.... man". And in fact, the huge preponderance of our own experiences say that it is a hung-up opinion which is flatly wrong. "Somewhere" there is something associated with our consciousnesses which can "touch" many more aspects of this universe than just the blunt stuff directly in front of us. Just as the physical forces "touch/interact" with one another "down there" in those other dimensions, so too is the realm of consciousness capable of such "touch". There is some fundamental intertwining. From that, albeit imperfectly, come clairvoyant and telepathic moments.

But who cares? The reductionists obviously do. The materialists obviously do. They are deathly afraid that this will open up the spiritual, and then all [Heaven and] Hell will break loose and ruin their cozy little Universe and their "I'm all there is" philosophy. But for us here at the blog, it doesn't have to be phrased in science vs spirituality terms. For us it's just our search for a better model of reality; one which can actually cope with the phenomena we see. We simply want to "see" better.

So.... here is another "one": "Hauntings" whatever they are, are real. We have a constant battle in the community of scholars who try to research "odd things" when it comes to the Haunted Houses. There are places wherein there seem to be "only" physical force effects [and we call them poltergeists], there are places where there seem to be only visual appearances, usually of people [and we call them apparitions], and there are places where both of these things manifest [ and we call them the products of "ghosts"]. Whatever these things are, they're all real, and it seems more and more to me that they're closely related. AND, they're a real pain-in-the-butt for the reductionist establishment to contemplate [so the most ridiculous "explanations" are thrown out there for the claims].

The "haunted house" in my family manifests both poltergeist and apparitional phenomena, though, I believe, never at the same time. The physical effects in these locations are as real as the kitchen whisk which flew over the stovetop spiraling nearly six feet onto the floor while my Mother and my Sister-in-law watched. They are as real as the group of nutcrackers which "exploded" like they'd been hit by a bocchi ball, flying all over Mom's apartment to the startled shock of my Sister-in-law. And apparitions appear in that house too. Doctor Ackermann, the original builder/owner, has been seen by several people, usually motionlessly standing or sitting, looking at his pocketwatch. The small child, Kenny, has been seen innumerable times by a particularly sensitive young girl. In Kenny's case, he interacts with her, and told her his name. This was a nickname and not at the time known by anyone in the house. Once, during a "bed-jumping poltergeist effect" heard through the ceiling by four people, the young girl yelled "Kenny, stop jumping on the bed!!", and the effect stopped. It is VERY difficult for me to believe that such things are 1). unreal, 2). mundane, and 3). unrelated. What produces them?

My favorite 19th century girlfriend, Catherine Crowe, collected a small mountain of such events for her Nightside of Nature. So have MANY other open-minded scholars. This stuff is true and it doesn't fit well with the model of the reductionist universe.

The term "Apparitions" itself gives us some trouble. It is applied to what are apparently two entirely different but both anomalistic things. There are the haunted house-type apparitions, which though extremely realistic and seemingly "solid", are in fact not so, and pass right through other solidity as if they were only holographic in nature. The Apparition at Knock was a spectacular example of a holographic apparition which hung about so long that it was seen by dozens, approached, and reached right through by a couple of the witnesses.

The other sort of "thing" which gets the name "apparition/ ghost/ phantom" is very different. This is the thing often known as the Phantom Hitchhiker. These whatever-they-ares are tangible, touchable, "solid". The case in my family, posted on this blog as The Helen Lane case, was lengthy, multiwitnessed, touched by at least three of the four relatives in the automobile, and due to great luck of another relative running the local police station, it was determinable that the entire ensemble of Helen Lane and a non-police officer at the desk, did not exist. In fact the whole affair seemed in retrospect to have taken place in some OZ-effect Twilight Zone. Reductionist theories do not handle this.

The Trickster phenomenon. Well, I'm really puzzled about this one, but I have at least three members of my own family and two very close friends [all excessively sane, by the way; some even obsessive about their household organization, which is why they noticed these things] that have told me of their experiences. Things go missing. Things reappear. Some of these things go missing from locations where it is nearly impossible to see how that could happen. Upon tearing that area apart, and searching all other imaginable places, the thing "comes back", NOT JUST ANYWHERE, but in the exact spot ravaged several times before looking for it --- BECAUSE THAT IS WHERE IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN ALL ALONG.

So.... WAS it there all along? Did it "slip out of phase" with our reality for a while? Or did something "take" it? The Old People have always called this The Trickster or some equivalent name. For them it is a paranormal entity [Or entities], neither good nor bad but enjoying messing with humans. Is that what's going on? Can't say, of course, but SOMETHING very unusual and very outside the Reductionist box is.

I'm going to leave Faerie alone for now. You know from past entries that I have plenty of evidence to at least make a responsible defense of the hypothesis that such paranormal entities exist and occasionally manifest in our seeing. I'm going to leave water kelpies like at Loch Morar et al alone to. Many of the cryptozoological entities seem very like denizens of that same reality whatever it is. I'm going to leave Ouija alone, even though the amount of witness testimony for related "poltergeist" effects is enormous. I'm going to leave the Catholic Church's exorcism effects alone, even though they are suspiciously precisely like the paranormal effects seen in some poltergeist manifestations or more often projected illusions bombarding [literally] the priests involved. And what of Balls-of-Light which seem to move intelligently, nevermind that they shouldn't even exist in the first place? And what of dowsing? My best academic friend --- a physicist!! --- does it frequently. And strange Falls-from-the-Sky? And as you know, we could go on.

This is what all of us want to know. What's really going on? It seems that we have a nice relatively well-behaved universe, and then we have this "other stuff". Of all our current "other stuff", the best behaved [in the sense of fitting comfortably with the unimaginative status quo] are the existences of many forms of extraterrestrial intelligences and the likelihood that they are around covertly watching our weird behaviors and trying to understand our weird ideas. UFOs are simple. They comprise no deep understanding problem at all. It's these other things. The ETI/ETH hypothesis will smoothly solve itself in time, whenever those guys-upstairs want it to. When that happens, we might learn a lot of standard science and advanced technology, but it will all neatly fit. We will probably learn nothing, or almost nothing, more about these other mysteries. In fact, this could be a reason why ETI is here studying us, hoping to get a clue. They could have easily technologically sterilized their lifestyles so badly that creative thought and experience about the Old Mysteries is absent.

I don't think that we explorers of this bigger picture are asking much. We'd like some help from the empowered establishment but we know we aren't going to get it. They are going to sit in their comfortable walled-off boxes and miss the real meaning of the Universe, happily turning into concrete as they do. I'd just like nothing at all out of them. No disapproval, no mockery, just get out of my Cosmos and let our exploration go as it can. I'd like to see an intellectual atmosphere unhindered enough to allow some people to honestly give the physics world and the world of states-of-consciousness an honest try at melding together.

The physical Universe is sure a big place. The Whole Universe is much bigger. The physical universe is a mighty big box. But it is still a box. I don't like boxes, and I don't think that we're going to understand the most important things about Reality working inside boxes. Give me at least a big window or a door.

And that's what I think that the "visions", the haunts, the tricksters, and the Helen Lanes are doing. They are the Windows to this bigger reality. We have to shrug off the constrictions of our modernism and open our eyes.

It's pretty wonderful.

Till next time, friends. Peace and good Communion.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Idle UFO Musings: J.Allen Hynek, Ripples in the Pond.

This is a posting mainly honoring many of my friends, but illustrating Hynek's ongoing impact through other colleagues and the next generation. Even when Allen was becoming too busy and later infirm, the people around him were making UFO history in their own ways. These persons were very talented in their own rights, but there is no questioning that merely being around one another and Allen added to their energy and insight. There is nothing like being around intelligent, knowledgeable, and friendly colleagues to help you avoid your own stupidity and ignorance. I know that I benefitted from this more than I could ever tell you. [Mainly when I would find out how far off the path some of my BS was taking me].

Jennie Zeidman. Jennie was Allen's former graduate astronomy student back in 1952 when Allen re-signed on to work at Blue Book. Jennie was more than a "help" to Allen, she was a VERY good case researcher. Jennie liked Allen and Allen liked Jennie, and they stayed in contact over all of Allen's Wright-Patterson years and beyond into the CUFOS era.

If, as is my opinion previously stated that Boianai, New Guinea is the best case in the UFO literature, then, again in my estimation, the so-called Coyne Helicopter case is the second. THAT case is Jennie's. What an investigation job. A total success. Not only were there several highly credible military witnesses [the helicopter crew] but there were completely independent ground witnesses. The crew were in plain sight to be interviewed [Jennie of course did and did so in a meticulous time and location blow-by-blow way], but those ground witnesses had to be found. Jennie found them. She even found secondary witnesses [unusual experiences of bright light in a bedroom]. But the Crown Jewel was an entire family who watched the overhead encounter from their vehicle. This case, thanks to this spectacular investigating effort, has credibility beyond doubting, and the testimony of the crew puts the strangeness out of sight as well. Philip Klass used to regularly try to, well the only way to say it is, "make things up" in an attempt to destroy what he immediately sensed was a threat to everything he'd staked his weird "career" upon. Jennie, one of the toughest ladies I know, massacred him. She even got a concession out of him once --- something almost impossible out of such an intellectually dishonest and egocentric liar as Klass.

John Timmerman. One of the greatest guys I've ever met in UFOlogy. CUFOS' treasurer for ever it seemed [although that was hardly where his skill lay, as John used to drive us all crazy, particularly Mark Rodeghier, with his quarterly reports]. John's skill was himself --- natural, friendly John. He was and forever will be, the finest "ambassador" for the Center we had.

But John's other contribution to UFOlogy will be better known. John The Ambassador used to go all over North America shepherding the CUFOS photo exhibit in a warrior effort to gain enough money in fees to keep the Center going. Looking at the face in the photo above, you can see why, when at the display, people would come up to John not only to ask questions and "talk UFOs", but to tell him their own "secret" UFO incidents which they'd told almost no one else. John, the forever Little Kid in the UFO Candy Store, taped them all.

I don't remember the number of tape recorded cases off the top of my head but it was over a thousand. Some heroic lady who helped John with his "hobby" did the unthinkable task of listening to all those tapes and transcribing them to hardcopy. Wow. Where are the award shows for invisible heroes? John didn't trust himself with writing this mountain of things up. He lacked a plan to do it, and so my old friend came to me and said: Mike, can you take these cases and try to get them into some useable form? I love cases, and I love "natural" spontaneously narrated ones. And frankly, I loved John for all he'd done and all he was. I told him I'd give it a try. Out of that, and at least two years of work, came GRASSROOTS UFOS. Another heroic lady took all my scribbled chapters and turned them into print. Maybe it's not the most profound UFO book on the shelf, but it's a good "pure everyday folks" book, and, best, it's John's book. It made him so happy. And it was an honor to do it for him.

Mark Rodeghier. Mark is currently Director of CUFOS, as Allen's successor. As a young graduate student, Mark so impressed Hynek that Allen specifically named him to take over the CUFOS reins years later when Allen retired to Arizona. This wasn't a smooth transition as there were two other claimants, but Thank The Maker that this is the route it went. What CUFOS got was a director who was eminently sensible about organizational survival [against terrible cultural-change odds] and an idealist about information accuracy and collegial sharing as well.

Another thing that CUFOS got with Mark was a brilliant analytical mind. Mark is one of the clearest thinking academic-quality intelligences that I've encountered in my career, in a class with Henry Bauer and my good Western Michigan University partner David Hargreave. That my friends, even though you can't realize it, puts one in some very rare air indeed. But in terms of writing, unless one has kept up with CUFOS' magazine, IUR, over the years, the outside world won't know him. His must-have monograph on vehicle interference cases is pictured here. In terms of your UFO shelf resources, that's about it. The tragedy of this is that Mark has WAY more than that in him. So why don't we have it in our hands? Mark is the consummate "servant leader" and organizational loyalist. He has spent the majority of his UFO life in administrational service keeping CUFOS going, while shlepps like myself spend their time writing articles, books, and happily digging into all manner of interesting archives. Mark is another kind of hero, not enough recognized by the field, nor the public. He's also a good friend. There is little that I hope for more in this field than he can dump unnecessary duties and take a deep clear breath and chase some saucers in the files and write about them.

George Eberhart. George is my favorite pagan, although I'm pretty convinced that he doesn't know a thing about it. He is also the most mind-boggling bibliographer on the planet. When I look at his Geo-Bibliography of Anomalies [you need to do yourself a favor and try to get one --- a difficult task, by the way], or his colossal two volume bibliography on UFO literature resources [also essential for a real research UFOlogist], or his cryptozoology bibliography Monsters, or his cryptozoology encyclopedia, beside which all others pale nearly to insignificance, you come away with either a headache at the work involved, or consider some Menzelian hypothesis that this just can't be true. George Eberhart IS The Bibliographer.

He has also been CUFOS' secretary for countless years. In this capacity the thing that has impressed me most has been his editing of the International UFO Reporter magazine. I try NOT to judge George as Obsessive-Compulsive, but how-in-the-heck can I elsewise explain his astounding ability to get it just exactly right before it hits the printers? Just remarkable. Doubtless he's made a whole number of mistakes in his life as a librarian and editor, but his accuracy rate must be in the 99+% category.

Being around high-standards people like George and Mark cannot but improve everything about ones own products, and such has been the case for me. And George has been a good friend. Once I had, by accident entirely, acquired a copy of Abominable Snowman: A Legend Come To Life signed by Ivan Sanderson. I insisted on giving it to George, who as the cryptozoology expert obviously was the proper person to cherish it. Over his objections, he finally accepted it. As years have gone by, I owe my rare copy of the geo-bib, and his crypto-encyclopedia, to his generosity. Bread cast on the Waters comes back one hundred-fold, particularly when you're talking about great guys.

Jerry Clark. Well, what can I say that already has not been slandered about this dude? JUST KIDDING!

Jerry has been "hanging around the Center" from Time Immemorial, back in the 1970s [literally in Chicago while he was writing for FATE] and still at-a-distance today from the wilds of southwestern Minnesota [where you have to be tough to just get through the winters.] Jerry was with Mark and George the Triumvirate of young turks who took over the Center from Allen and kept it going in the 1980s and 90s. He was the primary content editor of IUR, and primary article recruiter for many years [thank Jerry for regular articles by Jenny Randles, Budd Hopkins, Bill Chalker and the like]. Sometimes, in thin months, he'd write half of it himself. But that is not what the outside world knows him for.

Jerry wrote THE Encyclopedia. A lot of that is, of course, pure Jerry, but an important element were the CUFOS files. I'd go through those files at later dates and they'd already have Jerry's fingerprints all over them. One cannot overvalue this encyclopedia. It shames the other attempts that have been made to write one. [as fine an effort as those are]. If you are truly interested in UFOs, you really need to get one. University libraries know this. It is a staple of academic reference collections. Why? Because it's "smart" and accurate. It's also well-written, a Clark trademark.

If anyone does not know, and for this blog's readers this is hardly imaginable, Jerry is a writer for a living. He has written volume after volume about the array of anomalous mysteries that are out there. Other such writers exist. The difference here is that none of them are consistently any good. Do yourself a favor; start with Jerry and expand from there.  For me and my buddies at CUFOS, Jerry's works are, in part, more of the ripples from Allen's stone thrown into the intellectual pond.

Don Schmitt. Every time I see Don I smile. Can't help it; I just automatically like him. But there is a lot more to Don Schmitt that just being a likable personality, and a lot more that UFOlogy owes him.

Without Don there would be no respectable Roswell debate. Yes, Bill Moore and Stanton Friedman were fortunately positioned to "break" the case through the all-important early interview with Jesse Marcel. but because of the successful troll of Moore by the MJ-12 document inventor, Roswell was going into a stagnation mode, which is every complex situation's death knell. Don got Kevin fired up and the two of them went to New Mexico in search of reasons why this case was bogus. I know for certain that this highly skeptical mindset was real. What they found swung them completely around.

More than one hundred interviewed witnesses later, Don and Kevin have established that the USAF handling of the public information clearly was manipulative and contained lies [regardless of what you think Roswell was; the USAF finally was forced to admit that the conventional weather balloon seen in Ramey's office could not have been the real debris], and that a bunch of VERY puzzling "stuff" was littered all over a field on the Foster Ranch. Since descriptions of that "stuff" place it beyond the known metallurgy of the time [well beyond] we have a "problem" explaining this. Don and Kevin did the most lengthy and intense [and intelligent] investigation of a UFO claim in history. I know of nothing else which even comes close. People are free to doubt, but they should not be free to doubt without reading the saga of Don and Kevin's work. The books have flaws --- inevitable, hoaxers were embedded within this and difficult to expose. Today the best "quick read" on Roswell is Don and Tom Carey's monograph published, I believe, by the Roswell Museum. Roswell is, by far, not the only thing Don's done for UFOlogy, but it's what the world will remember him for. Good solid researcher, and a good friend.

Eddie Bullard. Doctor Thomas Edward Bullard is a PhD folklorist "so what can HE know?" Hah!! A very great deal about UFOs and everything associated with them, it turns out.

I can't tell as well for Eddie as I can for the persons above how much he may have been influenced by the "ripples" of Hynek's UFO life, but I can at least say this: Eddie has a tough-minded way of analyzing things which doesn't cave in easily to hypotheses which are short on facts. In fact, his writings very often leave you with very little in the way of speculation at all. In this mental approach, he fits well with the CUFOS crew and with the idealistic scientific approach of Allen Hynek. Eddie has been on the CUFOS board for several years now, and so there has been ample time for us to have polluted his thinking processes.

Exactly what influences Allen or we played in a masterpiece like The Myth and Mystery of UFOs only he can say. Must have been SOME little influence there though. My interactions with Eddie have always been interesting. I've asked him about what an advanced folklorist thinks about Jacques Vallee's claim of a strong correspondence of UFO incidents and Faerie legends, and Eddie tells me that the correlation at least as stated is pretty weak [for a variety of substantive and narrative-style-and-purpose reasons --- a view in which I concur for the very large majority of UFO observations]. I've asked him about his monumental analysis of CE4 researcher findings in which quite a bit of correlation was found, and specifically about whether he trusted the "clean-ness" of the hypnotic sessions data that he had to work with. He said that he gave the data that he had an absolutely honest extraction and analysis, but, yes, whether it was "good" unpolluted data bothered him. The Good Doctor Bullard is an honest man.

And me. I'm a ripple effect too.

I'd like to say a little about UFO history. Allen Hynek WAS UFO history. So was another contemporary of ours, Dick Hall. Most of us are standing on the shoulders of these guys contributing what we can.

Because people such as Hynek and Hall were scrambling about making history, no one in those earlier years was interested [particularly] in researching UFO history. The Air Force was an opponent, not a subject matter. Those stellar fellows did what they had to do, but, in a paradox, by missing "history" they missed the strongest possible argument defending their work as reasonable and worthwhile. It is because no matter what a Hynek or a Hall would write or say, you didn't have to believe him. UFO cases, no matter how strong, would come and go, and nothing was ever established. No "field of study" existed because it had no undebatable foundation. Hynek tried the academic scientist's approach with his textbook, but that still stood only on the "who says so?" nature of all his cases. What UFOlogy needed to become an actual "...ology" was an undeniable base.

This direction began at CUFOS because of Roswell. Don and Kevin were literally all over the country interviewing folks and finding that something happened on the Foster Ranch and nailed that down. But what happened then? Small evidences pointed to Wright-Patterson and the Pentagon. I tried to help a little by reading the whole Blue Book microfilm and picking out the key names. We found the widows of Colonels McCoy and Clingerman and our hunt to understand T-2 Intelligence was on. Barry Greenwood and other heavy lifters like Jan Aldrich and Robert Todd began the flow of FOIAs. Data got richer, deeper. Wendy Conners and Michael Hall got excited and began their hunts into all this as well. Slowly it became clear [to me anyway] that this prying open the "inside story" was the ONLY way that a definitive defense of the UFO phenomenon's importance could be made [short of ongoing interstellar relations in public]. I felt that somebody was going to have to take this mammoth writing task up or we, as a field, had no chance of getting there. Unfortunately I was the guy who got stuck with most of that job.... and "The Book" is the result.

I have no idea whether the book will make any difference. It should, but the mass of mental pollution over six decades might be too much to overcome. Still, Robert Powell and the gang and I did it. It stands there like a non-debatable stone because it is not we who say the things within, but the exact people who wanted us to believe otherwise. Whatever the impact, I know one thing. Allen Hynek would have smiled.

Lots of stuff has gone on in that cramped little office space that we were able to barely afford when the Center existed as a physical address. Look at that picture above top: Jennie Zeidman, Don Johnson [who developed UFOCAT], Mark Rodeghier, David Pritchard [of MIT], Stuart Appelle, and myself just for fun. Stuff happened when such people got together. Good mental stuff. Allen's ghost probably listened in.

The bottom photo is of the library with, incidentally, Frank Reid. Frank is one of the most interesting persons that almost no one in UFOlogy knows. Heckuva lot more interesting than the library books. Hard to call him a "ripple" of anything, but he was not just a regular at CUFOS meetings, but nearly a resident --- I often stepped over his snoring body when I'd arrive for one of my very frequent visits to the Center [I'm not mocking; I had a bedroll there myself!]. Frank is a cluttered, noisy mind which somehow manages to boil up the most esoteric memories. Thankfully they are often germane to the issue being discussed. NOBODY has read more anomalistic paper than Frank Reid. NOBODY. Every once in a while, using his inscrutable and Taoist-style reasoning processes, Frank will come up with an idea and send it to me. If I think that it's good, I'll tell him and then wait --- after a little delay, I'll go into the ones I think are good myself. Sometimes these end up being pretty interesting IUR pieces. Frank Reid has been a good fellow to know and in our strange ways a good friend. One of the worst aspects of us closing the physical Center was that I no longer see Frank [though we hear from him occasionally on this blog].

The very strong intellectual ripples left behind by Allen Hynek at CUFOS still have some "punch" in the world. When Peter Jennings' group wanted to do their big UFO special, they came to CUFOS --- not just for people to be on screen, but for a lot of advice on the subject matter and the history and the illustrations. I had an in-house filming visit and at least three other contacts. When Peter Sturrock wanted to organize the famous Sturrock-Rockefeller meeting, Peter came to CUFOS beforehand too for discussions about topics and personnel [and to bend Mark's and my arms to attend]. When the Sturrock volume was printed the lengthiest thing in it was Jennie Zeidman's Coyne Case.

Allen would have liked all that, too.

Somewhere the Old Man's smiling.

Glad I had a part in that.

Peace to all, and as Allen would say imitating CE3: Watch The Skies.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Idle UFO Musings: J.Allen Hynek, Part Two.

In the run-up years to the Colorado Project and Hynek's distancing from Project Blue Book, from across the Great Waters came Jacques Vallee. Vallee was a very bright young Frenchman with all sorts of training in astronomy and mathematics, and an intense desire to research the UFO Mystery. This had been inoculated into him by personal experiences with members of the French astronomy community and in talks with Aime Michel [which would probably have inspired about anybody]. He came to Northwestern University to study with Hynek, now head of the astronomy department there. This relationship became more Colleague-to-colleague than Student-to teacher rather quickly from what I've been able to determine.

Jacques used Hynek's contacts to create a database for statistical analysis [very crudely at first, but interesting nevertheless] which with his own contacts abroad allowed him to write the twin classics, Anatomy of a Phenomenon and Challenge to Science. These books put Vallee on the UFO map, and in at least this way he owes Hynek a great deal. With Hynek's knowledge and prestige coupling with Vallee's books and statistical ideas, they made a formidable pair as the Colorado Project was formed. Colorado refused to take them on as staff, but they did invite them in to consult. Vallee's approach hit David Saunders right in the sweet-spot, and Saunders decided to attempt to prove the reality not only of UFOs but that they were intelligently driven extraterrestrial technology using statistical data and Vallee's French mentor, Aime Michel's , concept of UFO waves in orthogonal [artificially straight and patterned] lines of occurrence. In doing so, Saunders abandoned larger duties on the Project and the future of UFOlogy suffered due to that abandonment. [Plus the Orthoteny theory failed anyway, so it was a complete bust]. One can't blame Jacques or Allen for this, but they played a role.

Another oddity of this period was Allen Hynek's evolution towards parapsychology. Rather than blaming Jacques for this, it at least as possible that the influence went the other way. Hynek was getting himself into a real mental bind. He KNEW that UFO experiences were real and that they were not just odd lights. But their manifestations had become stranger and stranger across the 1960s. A REAL robust phenomenon with real credible witnesses and real mind-boggling strangeness. Since Allen's astronomer's hang-up about ETs not being able to cross interstellar space still dominated his prejudices, he didn't have many options. Hynek was also in no way conventionally religious, so angels and devils were out as well. He was running out of theoretical options. Allen began turning to the paranormal. He didn't know HOW that realm might answer his questions, but it seemed that it might just be "big" enough to handle them. As I say, I believe that this influenced Jacques as well, as pretty soon Vallee was abandoning his view that science could handle this problem, left the US and went back to France to contemplate other answers, possibly occult ones.

Colorado came to its infamous close, and Project Blue Book to its unceremonial one. Hynek went on with what had by now become an obsession. Back in Evanston, and thankfully for the future of UFO research, carrying loads of "stolen" Blue Book files, he contemplated how to go on. He began thinking about a civilian organization, maybe even without a physical focus: the "invisible college". This group would stay in touch with each other and the phenomenon, some members maintaining anonymity to the outside world so as not to damage their working relations, and plan ways to push research forward. He began to coerce several old buddies into coming in with him on this, even enlisting former Robertson Panel member Thornton Page as an initial name on the brainpower list. But going it alone was going to be tough.

Coincidentally, an old NICAP hand in Chicago, Sherm Larson, was trying to rescue the invaluable NICAP files literally from the trash dumpster. With great energy he managed to almost completely pull this off, as perhaps two-thirds of the files safely transited to Chicago. [Most of the rest blundered about in DC, ending up with Dick Hall --- the story of their ultimate disposition is a tragedy which will not be gone into here]. The Chicago story is pleasanter. Larson convinced Hynek to join him in a new organization led by Hynek, and founded upon the combined resources of the NICAP and Hynek's own personal files. Here then was another formidable source of information. And it was called The Center for UFO Studies.

Now with persons already around Larson and new additions by Hynek or others volunteering themselves, Hynek was no longer alone to try to get things done entirely on his own. Hynek and Larson shot high: a sort-of membership concept, a pretty good newsletter, ultimately a darned good "magazine" [The International UFO Reporter], a couple of academic-style conferences, and ultimately a try at an academic journal. In the meantime he also wrote his book trying to define the field as an academic area of research. None of this was easy, but all of it had some success. And CUFOS got a reputation as the place to come to see the master [Hynek] and get the best information. NICAP had collapsed; APRO was doing so, MUFON was still in "club" status, but CUFOS had Hynek and the NICAP files and the "invisible college". Hynek went from maligned swampgasser to pop cult hero in a few years.

This sounds rosy, but it was very much like every UFO organizational experience in several ways. It still had no secure base of funding and inordinate amounts of time had to be wasted trying to live day-to-day. Also, the supporting troops were nice and helpful in some ways, but in the end it was Hynek himself that everyone wanted to see. Allen, to the outside world, rightly or wrongly, WAS UFOlogy by the mid-1970s. And Allen had not suddenly become a bean-counting administrator. Allen still loved the adventure of the Hunt. He didn't want to just sit in Evanston or Chicago while others had all the fun; he wanted to be out there himself [if the case was right]. Above, there he is with the young Ted Phillips investigating a trace case literally "in the field".

Some of that adventuring he probably should have passed up no matter how tempting. Particularly things like going to Hessdalen, Norway in winter to try to catch the Hessdalen lights with Erling Strand couldn't possibly done his old body's health any good.

But some of these trips were important. On some of them he inspired researchers in foreign countries to organize more seriously and cooperatively. Hynek was attempting to build a UFOlogy community which would separate itself finally from the Uforiacs. Astronomy had separated from astrology and until it pulled that off it had no chance of getting any respect. But that took astronomy many centuries of eroding unhelpful cultural elements. Victories in this quest were small and of course insufficient. Still, three cheers for Allen.

Other sorts of important trips were like his surprising foray to Australia and on to Boianai, New Guinea to interview the local residents who had seen the case usually known as The Father Gill case. As great a witness as Father Gill was [and he was one of the best ever], this case would not have become the number one case of all UFOlogy [my ranking, not, I realize, yours] without a true effort to interview the other 30+ witnesses. Allen didn't get to them all, of course, but he saw plenty. The interviews [on invaluable cassettes in the CUFOS collection] are a real pleasure and even a Hoot on occasion. Language was an issue, but the locals were very intelligent and seemed to "get" Hynek just fine. Hynek however took forever to "get" them. All this was "The great Cultural Divide" and Allen was no anthropologist. Sometimes when he asked a primary witness if she had actually seen the object, she might say "no", totally blowing Allen's mind. What he didn't realize is that she was telling him that she didn't see any object from where they were standing at the time. Upon getting to the exact scene, then yes, the object was right up there.

There were other goofs and howlers like this. Allen tried to get a couple of men to do his "if you use your finger to point to the spot of the UFO, how did it move across the sky?" ... he was trying to count the seconds that a westerner would make his finger move to gauge the subjective speed. Hah! Good luck with That!. The locals just whisked their hands across the sky to show the direction of motion and never the pace. Hynek never could get his thought through to them, and gave up on that one. Despite these [actually funny] "difficulties", Hynek's not-so-brilliant interviews established the vital foundational fact: it wasn't just Bill Gill who saw something astonishing [or made it up], it was many persons, most of whom were about as unpolluted with western hang-ups as you could find on this planet. Hynek helped place the Credibility Index for this case through the roof. Also, the descriptions of the craft and the actions matched up in the end. HIGH STRANGENESS. = UFO.

Allen accomplished quite a lot for one guy, but he was in analogy the equivalent of the young man who is interested in so much that he can't focus. After he wrote The Hynek UFO Report, he wrote no more books [the sit-down semi-BS session volume with Jacques doesn't count, and neither does his tag-along presence on the Hudson Valley Boomerangs book]. We could have used some more. He also didn't really write much of significance at all. Allen was becoming an old man, who was looking for more spontaneous and less grinding "projects". Still, it is very hard to complain about how much he DID do. And probably too base of us to complain about his mistakes.

As Allen became infirm, he gradually left the "business" of CUFOS in others' hands, whether he was relaxed about that or not. When he fully retired to Arizona, he left behind a different CUFOS than the fully academic and field research organization that it never was and only occasionally resembled. But it was a CUFOS which carried much of his finer ideals and his standards of excellence. I'll say something about that in the next post.

I have a couple of busy practical days ahead here in Wheeling. Next post might be a few days from now. See you then, and blessings.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Idle UFO Musings Two: J. Allen Hynek, Accidental Hero.

Ah, Allen. A good man. A good-not-great scientist. A paradoxical timid but avid explorer of the Unknown. We were lucky to have you, "warts and all".

Allen Hynek is the second most significant positive element [speaking of human beings] in UFO history [next to Donald Keyhoe without whose superhuman tenacity there probably would have been no UFOlogy at all]. But not many people following the UFO mystery from 1952 through 1970 liked or trusted him --- and given the strange dramatic role he assumed, it is understandable why not.

Hynek was an obscure astronomy professor at Ohio State University in 1948 when the Project SIGN people at Wright-Patterson wanted an astronomy consultant [mainly for their "final report" to the Pentagon, which became the "Grudge Report"]. Dayton-based Wright-Pat had called upon University of Cincinnati professor Dr. Paul Herget for ad hoc advice, but he wanted no permanent duties. Instead he recommended that they look into Lincoln LaPaz or maybe this fellow Hynek. When asked, LaPaz also recommended Hynek. Since Allen had worked on an important Top Secret project during WWII [the development of the Proximity Fuse to allow bombs to explode before burying themselves in the Earth --- maximum damage is done by blowing the bomb slightly above the target], Hynek was A-OK on those grounds. He was hired. The drive from Columbus to Dayton was fairly short, so he could mosey over there get case files and analyze them from an astronomical perspective.

Allen said that he was totally naive about UFOs and assumed that they were just bunkum. He might have added that he was also totally naive about military intelligence matters and their attitudes towards science. He interpreted his charge as attempting to explain away as many cases as he could, EVEN IF THE EXPLANATION WAS A STRETCH. In later years he would say: "Maybe I reached too far". His appendix to the Grudge Report is almost totally negative about UFOs, but he does often say: "this case has no astronomical explanation", while giving the reader the impression that it can however be explained otherwise. Hynek presumably picked up his added pay at the end of 1948 and went back home to Columbus through with UFOs for good, he thought.

But that wasn't true for long. When the wide-open year of 1952 arrived with all its liberal Pentagon thinking about UFOs, Ed Ruppelt and the new Project Blue Book wanted a "permanent" external astronomy consultant, and they wanted the local guy, Hynek, back.

And back he came... a little more intrigued now, a little more wondering if there might be some new natural phenomena buried in the more mysterious sightings, but no more "hip" to what was actually going on around him.

As this year proceeded, he became convinced that there WAS "something" in this, but not extraterrestrials. ET just couldn't get here. [An absolute dataless dogma of the Academic Tribe]. Hynek never really got over this hang-up. But he DID think that there was reality and that it was a very old reality, mentioned in the Books of Charles Fort [that he was reading Fort shows the quietly renegade adventurer down inside him]. He soon spoke to a major science society about his belief that the UFO phenomenon pointed to a not-yet-described type of atmospheric "X" which he called "The Nocturnal Meandering Light". To Allen he was on to something which could even make him a famous discoverer. Who knows what his colleagues thought.

When Ruppelt and the positive elements of USAF attitudes towards honestly researching UFOs evaporated, Hynek found himself embedded in a Project bent on waving away UFO incidents no matter how mindlessly and savagely opposed to case details the "explanations" might be. Once again, Hynek was naive. He'd present his stretched astronomical possibility with very cautionary language only to find out later that his idea was written into the case file as absolutely the explanation. Rather than complain, he tucked his tail and shut-up. It was these bogus explanations that drove Jim McDonald  around the bend and almost made him come to blows with Hynek in a confrontation in the late 1960s in Hynek's office. McDonald was a science idealist and a fiery man. Hynek was an idealist hiding in a mouse's body, too scared of the bosses for too long, too ignorant and too trusting of what was going on, and subconsciously realizing that he was screwing this mystery up.

In the mid/late 1950s Allen at least woke up to the fact that he wasn't seeing the best cases. Either the Air Force [due to its public attitude] wasn't even getting them [True] or the Air Force were shunting some kinds of cases away from Wright-Pat and into some other intelligence pathway at Air Defense Command [Probably also true]. In desperation, Hynek reached out to certain civilians to try to get better reports. He actually took a trip to France with the famous astronomer Gerard de Vaucouleurs to visit Aime Michel and look at Michel's case files of the 1954 wave. He also reached out to the little-known-today powerhouse triad of NYC researchers, CSI-NY [Isabel Davis, Lex Mebane, Ted Bloecher]. People like Dick Hall and Ted Bloecher have said that Isabel Davis was perhaps the clearest mind thinking about UFOs in their lives. Hynek secretly arranged to meet with the Terrific Trio in NYC at, I believe, Isabel's home [and more than once --- Hynek would ask them if they could get him Broadway tickets so as to double his pleasure from the trips]. He actually would show up at their place almost in disguise --- another testament to his timidity. Hynek would share USAF information [doubtless against his security oath] and they would share case information back. Isabel saw right through Hynek and gave him a blistering letter reminding him of what science was and his duty to a higher purpose. Poor old Allen.

When Sputnik went up Allen got a job at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Laboratory as assistant to Harvard's Fred Whipple to make plots of satellites in their new orbits. They were assisted by ground observers all across the country in what was called Project Moonwatch. These observers were of course set up to catch fast-moving high-altitude aerial objects --- uh oh --- and they did. There was a great debate about whether the Moonwatchers should send in reports on the mysterious lights which were NOT satellites. In some places direct orders went out NOT to send them. Allen, of course, wanted them and many came through. Once again he blew it, as when asked by the press whether there were ever any Moonwatch reports which could be classified as UFOs, he said "never a UFO from Moonwatch". He later in life claimed that he had not yet seen one, but upon returning "to the office" shortly thereafter "I had spoken too soon". Even if he's not telling a fib here, he never [to my knowledge] went to the press to correct his false statement. Allen, no wonder Mac wanted to punch you!

Finally he and the Air Force got on one another's nerves so badly that Hector Quintanilla [last chief of Blue Book] wanted to punch him too. Hynek was straying more from USAF influence, buying the reality of UFOs as far beyond meandering lights, and feeling that he was clearly the expert on these things and Quintanilla was not. Suffice it to say that by the time Swamp Gas came along [early 1966], Hynek and Quintanilla hated one another's guts. The embarrassment of the Swamp Gas fiasco tore everything apart: Hynek's last shred of faith in the Air Force project, Hynek's last shred of credibility in the civilian research community, and the Air Force project itself. In came Colorado. Out went Hynek and Blue Book.

So, how in the world did Allen Hynek get to the point where he was actually doing any service for UFOlogy? I'll continue this riveting masterpiece of [as Frank Mannor would say during a Swamp Gas interview] HULLABILLUSION in the next post, which I hope I'm up to soon.

Till then: Peace.

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Idle UFO musings

Now that Mom has passed to the next stage of spiritual existence, it's a bit lonely around here in Wheeling as I am forced to hang on to wrap up the last bills and things. And ... pack up this not-really-home-away-from-home apartment and begin shipping all the accumulation back to Kalamazoo.

A lot of that accumulation was a [small compared to my actual collection of resources back home] minor mountain of purchases for a "mirror library" so as to have something to work with while I was here. Most --- well, maybe half --- of those things were duplicates of my real library so I've been carting them across the street to The Paradox Books store and giving them to Tom Stobart, the owner, for free to increase his meagre cash flow. I like Tom a lot, and he has a philosophy of selling things for 50cents.  I've tried to talk him out of giving books by Heuvelmanns and Sanderson et al away for only that, and he may price things like In The Wake Of The Sea Serpent for a buck.

As I've given things to Tom and packed up others for home, almost all of the old classics passed one after another through my hands. It brought out to me that some things were FAR more helpful to the understanding of UFOlogy then in their days, and even now in ours. So my idle musing today is to say to myself: for those olden days of UFOlogy, which books were actually "helpful" and generally solid? Which of the oldtimers of the first 25 years or so would I recommend that people today have on their shelves, and hopefully read?

I'm going to pick ten. Anytime one does such a thing, it is bound to upset people in this world and all the way to Tau Ceti, but what-the-hell?, I'm old.

Allen Hynek's The UFO Experience. Allen was a teacher at heart and not at all well-suited for the bravado and extrovertism of the intelligence community. And he was an idealist in his style. So, when Allen left the UFO Project behind [or it he], he approached the field as a teacher would. I have found that people don't think of this book this way, but it is a textbook. Allen was defining "UFO" at the start, classifications of UFOs throughout the middle, and hoping to set the foundations of an academic discipline at the end.

Of course he failed. But it was a noble heroic try for a guy who didn't have much "hero" in him. Had the world been populated by reasonable exploring idealists like Allen, he would have pulled it off. We all know what the world is really composed of.

Despite who "we" are, Allen Hynek's textbook still stands tall. It's good. It's still a best beginning. Bless you, Allen --- given your timid personality and astounding naivete about the military community, you ultimately saw what was going on, and gave us your best. This book, being crafted by a scholarly mind, has the wonderful characteristic of being almost totally unemotional and objective. You are not going to find THAT many places in UFOlogy.

Since we're "here", we might as well list Allen's other book, as it deserves to be in the list too.

This is not at all a textbook but Allen's attempt to give a sort-of personal history of his involvement with the USAF years. It is not as unemotional as the UFO Experience either, as Allen was clearly embarrassed about his [particularly early] behavior "on the job" at Wright-Pat, and massages the history a little to make himself look a little better. Still, the UFOlogy in The Hynek UFO Report is almost always good and the history from his inside standpoint makes this a cherished primary resource. If one read his great book first, then Ruppelt's and then Keyhoe's second book, and followed that with this one, one would be reading a nearly seamless retelling of the early history of UFOs as close to the "inside" as was available for decades. I'd not hesitate for a moment in recommending both Allen's books.

There are UFOlogists who do not like Edward Ruppelt nor his book. They're wrong. They are about as wrong as anyone can be about anything in the field. Captain Ruppelt did this field a service which cannot be overstated. He gave us a pretty accurate look behind the mirror of the UFO project and it was a look loaded with frankness and humility --- as well as astonishing revelations about how good some of the cases that the USAF battled with were. This book is foundational. It in almost every sense inspires the scholar to pursue UFO history. It gives one energy to see, if the FOIA process paid off [and it ultimately did] what the intelligence community actually thought. It hints of the complexity of their divergent views, especially at how to manipulate the public's reactions to the mystery. And in doing all of this, and in stating flatly and honestly that the Air Force was looking at more than 25% unknowns, this book inspired many readers to become lifelong UFO researchers [including this writer, as it was my own "Wow!" moment.]

Shown above is a version of the old ACE undersized paperback edition. All rumpled and worn, it could easily be my own 1956 vintage copy, although mine did not evade ultimate disintegration. Just seeing it there is a nostalgic experience. Three years or so later, the phenomenon blessed me with a nice little well-behaved CE1 to cement what "St. Edward" had told me in his book. Should be on every genuinely interested person's shelves and read at least twice.

Here's the other thing which was nearly an insider look. Don Keyhoe was not inside the Project like Ruppelt was [or Hynek], but he was right at a friendly interface at the Pentagon. Showing up in history at the only fortunate time when powers in the Pentagon who wanted a gradual release of quality information were in the ascendent, Keyhoe benefitted from case releases from public information desk officer, Al Chop, who was getting the go ahead from superior officers such as Dewey Fournet and much higher. During that same golden year of 1952 which saw Ruppelt running Project Blue Book, Keyhoe received a few handfuls of very strong cases from Chop, which contradicted the repeated Air Force mantra about nothing in UFO work being interesting. From these releases came Keyhoe's second, and best by far, book: Flying Saucers from Outer Space.

In the book Keyhoe, as usual, gets almost all the speculations wrong while getting almost all the facts right. If you read the thing with an easy-to-do mental separation between these two elements, this becomes a walloping good UFO book and, when paired with Ruppelt's, a solid foundation for understanding what was happening without hysterics. You will come away from the Ruppelt/ Hynek/ Keyhoe experience with a pretty clear picture of NICAPian UFOlogy --- the UFOlogy which was dominant in the USAF from WWII through the 50s, and which seemed like it could not be anything but advanced aerial technology invading American airspace. No "high strangeness", just fast, maneuverable, solid craft which we can't catch.

This is the first Keyhoe book and the other one you should have on your shelves. Keyhoe's books are a mixed bag and after FSOS [book two] tend to slowly slide downhill in quality until falling off a cliff in his last book [Aliens from Space, or whatever's it's called]. The first book, The Flying Saucers Are Real, is not the resource that FSOS is, but definitely worth the read. Counterintuitively, I think that I'd recommend reading it AFTER reading the ones above. Once you set the real history in mind, reading the naive "first Keyhoe" battling the confusion of what he KNEW somehow to be a MAJOR mystery, becomes not only more understandable, but rather an entertaining Hoot on top of it. You can sit back with FSAR and follow "Just-the-facts-M'am" Don Keyhoe doing his Sgt.Friday impersonation on a 1940s detective hunt. Also, some of the stuff which was making Keyhoe's mind reel, and which left him in tumble-down confusion, will occasionally at least, make you nod and say to yourself: yes, I can see what THAT was and why Keyhoe couldn't understand it [yet]. This was the second UFO book I read, and the last until after getting my PhD and beginning to follow the mystery, still fully inoculated by Keyhoe, Ruppelt, and my own sighting. ... a long trail looking back.

In the 1950s there were very few things in book form which one could read about UFOs which weren't either incompetent or manipulative. Menzel's book was a travesty of intellectual dishonesty by a guy who enjoyed playing pseudoscientific mindgames with people just to go on an ego trip. On the other end of the spectrum were the contactee books, which were usually entirely lies. If they were not lies, they were the productions of delusional minds. I don't say these harsh words lightly. I've studied hundreds of pages of Menzelian correspondence [gawd, what an experience!], and many more of the contactees [I do, afterall house the George Hunt Williamson files, all 15 drawers of them]. There is something in Menzel, admittedly. As the Colorado Project concluded: Menzel was almost always wrong but occasionally his odd atmospheric illusions-style of debunking was correct or at least a possibility. AND there is "something" in the contactees. Mostly just liars, but some are trance control automatic writers so whatever THAT phenomenon is all about should be taken seriously, though, in my analysis, having nothing to do with UFOs.

But, thankfully, the book above, by Aime Michel [with some help from Lex Mebane and CSI-NY] contains none of that crap. Reporting largely on the 1954 European wave, Michel in The Truth About Flying Saucers gives us not only a needed expansion upon purely US-style UFOlogy but also the clear-minded logic which characterizes him. For the vast majority of the pages, this is rock-solid UFOlogy. I, in fact, like it more than his second book, which, although creative in attempting a statistical proof that UFOs represent an intelligently-directed phenomenon, chases what is to me the red herring of "orthoteny", or "The Straight Line Mystery". Even without those theories though, TTAFS did not quite live up to Lex Mebane's high standards. He mainly, and Isabel Davis and Ted Bloecher providing support, translated and supplemented the book for the US audience. The publisher [and maybe Michel himself] included a title [and various wordings in the text] which Lex could not countenance. They were too overpositive, too absolute, not cautiously-worded enough. Lex took a copy of the book, changed the title to "Light on the Flying Saucers" with a paste-over, edited the text, and passed on the marked up version to Ivan Sanderson and SITU, where it resides today. Maybe Lex was a little too rough on the editor or maybe not, but TTAFS is a solidly good read, and one of the rare early ones.

When the later 1950s came along and it was obvious that there was essentially nothing that you could hand a naive reader to begin to convince them that UFOs were worth talking about, NICAP felt that void. They were trying to assault the halls of Congress in hopes of opening up Air Force files through congressional investigation, but had no way to get any politician to show any interest --- they would occasionally make a little progress with a single congressman by the method of a UFO incident happening in their district, some stupid-to-insulting USAF announcement made about it, and having a NICAP member from that district "write their congressman" demanding an explanation for the USAF snub. [this is what later happened in a "perfect storm of incompetence" in the 1966 Swamp Gas situation.]

What NICAP needed was an easily readable "hammer" to hit people between the eyes. So Dick Hall went to work. The UFO Evidence was one of the hardest UFO publications to create in our history. Dick took a few years to finish the final version. What NICAP had in the end was a mighty monograph of hundreds of cases in lists with thumbnail descriptions of examples of each category arrayed. Categories of pilot sightings, scientist-engineer sightings, radar sightings etc each had their chapters with their truncated "Anvil Chorus" of many instances. It was a good try and still a valuable tool today. It failed at the time because it came just too late in the NICAP/USAF war which was fought for congress' attention. By the time The Hammer was ready, the USAF had cleverly maneuvered to reinforce the door. Today what you have is a pretty good research document with just small errors of detail here and there, always in my experience understandable as to how Dick got an occasional date or fact wrong. It's a good book and moreso an honorable piece of our history.

Because Hynek had not yet published, by the mid-late 1960s there was really no orderly scientific approach to UFOs available in any normal literary form. Jacques Vallee put a stop to that deficit with his twin volumes Anatomy of a Phenomenon and Challenge to Science. Good books. Jacques Vallee at his best in the minds of many in the serious UFO research community. Even the Air Force, astoundingly, liked them and in one year actually listed one of them in its recommended readings lists on its public relations publications. [This was quickly "rectified" and Vallee's book was replaced by Menzel's the following year].

Vallee's twins are the source of many persons' interests in UFOs in the generation following my own "Ruppelt generation". In them Jacques talks about cases, statistics, science, all in a scholarly and highly intriguing fashion. In his approach, he is trying in his own style to do what Hynek would shortly also try to do: make UFOs a reasonable field of study. Hynek's approach is more traditionally "academic", but his and Vallee's [in these two volumes] are certainly soul-mates. Solid intellectual stuff done before Jacques became disappointed in the intractability of the phenomenon in yielding to science methods, as well as his concerns that what we might call "social" or "organizational" elements were working against a solution, making things nearly impossible. But that latter is not the Vallee of these books, and regardless of what's right in the end, these are two good presentations to have.

The final in my list of ten oldtime classics is the first true attempt at writing a scholarly history of how we humans handled/ botched the UFO mystery. Coming just after the Colorado Report, it was a proper time for an outstanding university [Wisconsin] to grant a graduate student [David Jacobs] the green light to research UFO history for a PhD thesis. Dave did, and so we have The UFO Controversy In America. The thesis was turned into a marvelous history book through the University of Indiana Press and as such is one of the very few things associated with UFOs ever granted admission through any of the channels of academe.

This is a really good history book. Regardless of what anyone wants to think about UFO abductions and Dave's later non-historical work, he is still one of the sharper knives in the drawer when it comes to intellectual analysis and writing and this book shows it. It has stood the test of time astonishingly. In fact, if it were not for such a huge amount of new information via FOIA, and the ability of those FOIA successes to get us finally behind the curtain of secrecy, Robert Powell, I, and the rest of the UFO History Group would not have had to write UFOs and Government and I could have saved four years.

So.... if I had to pick ten oldtimers which still offer something to the modern reader [and these offer a LOT, especially when one values sanity], these are they. There are quite a few more modern books that one should have on one's shelves, but not as many as one would hope even there. Maybe I'll write an entry on those one day. But as most of them are written by friends of mine, that's a dangerous undertaking --- what if I mention buddy A's book and not buddy B's? Hmmmm....

I'll leave you with two other things which would be nice to have in their different ways: The House Symposium is a tour-de-force of pro-UFOlogy in the late 1960s and one way to read something by Jim McDonald. Max Miller's little monograph was a rare piece of intelligent writing from way back in the 1950s. MM went too pro-contactee ultimately but he was a smart and insightful guy.

whew!.... that was harder than I thought.... took three sittings not counting image searches. Don't know when the next might be. Blessings to everyone in the New Year.


Blog Archive