Let’s Talk UFOs

Ufology is a complex and controversial subject. I’ve found a remarkable lack of concise, well designed guides for newcomers to the subject. This is an attempt to fill the gap by cataloging the most relevant individuals, cases, and resources into the most effective overview possible.

The content here was selected through personal research, a comparison of existing lists, and responses to my Best of Ufology Survey. The survey in particular has allowed me to discover some of the best choices to include in each area. Although, it has only received twenty submissions (as of October 2018) and has a way to go towards becoming substantial. It’s still a great way to give comprehensive, structured feedback. Please take it if you have any experience with the subject and would be willing to contribute.

A majority of the information for this guide was derived directly from Wikipedia, news articles, and the individual’s own websites. My intention has not been to reinvent the wheel or rely exclusively on my own words, but to share the best and most relevant information possible in a clear and concise way. I do not have a scientific, research-based, or writing background. This site will never have advertising or involve any form of affiliate links and is primarily for educational purposes.

 

What is a UFO?

“A visual stimulus which provokes a sighting report of an object or light seen in the sky, the appearance and/or flight dynamics of which do not suggest a logical, conventional flying object and which remains unidentified after close scrutiny of all available evidence by persons who are technically capable of making both a technical identification as well as a common sense identification, if one is possible.”

Richard Haines (NARCAP Science Chief)

It’s important to remember when an object is a UFO we do not know what it is. Once it is identified, it is no longer a UFO and becomes an IFO (Identified Flying Object). Some researchers and organizations have even stopped using the term UFO in an attempt to forgo some of its misuse and cultural baggage. UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon) is a common alternative and may also used to describe the range of various phenomena discussed here.

Cases

There is no single best case in ufology. Many researchers even hesitate to share their own lists of which they consider the best. Some even goes as far to stay away from cases which receive a high degree of publicity in favor of encouraging people to study original or lesser known cases themselves. Regardless, the sheer number of cases and time needed to effectively investigate any individual case are the most limiting factors.

Despite any consensus among researchers, I have cataloged over forty best case lists by various researchers and organizations. None of this would have been possible without the incredible research of Isaac Koi, who collected an immense amount of information on various cases and lists across over a thousand books. Using his research, I was able to review each list for it’s relevance and calculate which cases were listed most frequently. I then evaluated the top thirty cases based on whether on not they met these criteria:

  • Involved multiple, independent, credible witnesses
  • Involved ground and/or air radar data
  • Lasted a significant duration
  • Were thoroughly investigated by independent researchers
  • Have been thoroughly challenged by skeptics
  • Had some form of government or official response

I then selected five which I would consider my best cases and the most relevant for newcomers. I will not attempt to provide comprehensive summaries of each, as every case is complex and involves extensive research and perspectives from a variety of sources. Instead, these are summaries of the most significant aspects and best resources for learning more about them.

Washington, D.C. Incident (1952)

On Saturday night, July 19, 1952, air traffic controller Edward Nugent at Washington National Airport saw seven unusual blips on his radar screen. Nugent checked with the control tower and learned both controllers in the tower had also seen the blips. They called nearby Andrews Air Force Base, who confirmed a similar sighting on their own screen.

Two of the objects hovered over the White House, with another over the Capitol. Controllers continued tracking the objects, which they estimated to be traveling at about 130 mph, until they suddenly disappeared. Then reappeared shortly after, moving erratically and making 90-degree turns throughout the sky. An airline captain, S.C. Pierman, waiting on the tarmac to takeoff also reported seeing similar events.

A second sighting occurred one week later on July 26, 1952. At around 8:15pm a stewardess and captain inbound into Washington National Airport reported seeing strange lights above their plane. Other pilots in the air and an officer at Andrews Air Force Base also reported observing the objects as well.

Around 12:10 a.m. on July 27, 1952, the U. S. Air Defense Command scrambled two F-94 jet interceptors to investigate the sightings. One of the F-94 radar operators said, “I see several unknowns! Some are flying at over 1,000 miles per hour.” A little later he said, “We’re closing in at five miles,” and the F-94 pilot said, “It looks like a lit cigar.” Then, “As soon as we started to gain on them, they vanished!” Later, that same pilot said, “There’s a strange light five miles from me, over Mt. Vernon.” The light disappeared when he approached it. Two more F-94s took off and searched the skies over Washington, but found nothing.

On July 29, 1952, Air Force Major Generals John Samford, Director of Intelligence, and Roger Ramsey, Director of Operations held the largest press conference since the end of World War II to discuss matters related to the events. The official explanation of the sightings was the objects were “misidentified aerial phenomena” and the blips on radar were due to temperature inversions. Samford also said since the radar blips were not caused by any solid material, there was no threat to national security. He explained that when a weather inversion occurs, lights that are really on the ground may look like they are in the air and this caused the radar to misreport ground objects being in the sky.

All the air traffic controllers involved stated that even if the weather could cause a blip on the radar, it would be as a straight line and would not appear as lights. In 1969, a scientific report released by the Air Force concluded a temperature inversion strong enough to create the effect attributed to it by General Samford could not possibly occur in the Earth’s atmosphere.

There has never been any video or photographic evidence for the event. This image is from a video which is often shown as evidence, but is simply a recreation.

Belgium UFO Wave (1989-1990)

A wave of sightings began on November 29, 1989, just outside of a small town of Eupen, Belgium, near the German border. Police officers Heinrich Nicoll and Euber Von Montige were on a routine patrol when they spotted strange lights in the sky. Pulling over, they saw a large triangular platform with large headlights lighting up a field below. They watched for over thirty minutes, until a second, similarly shaped object appeared and both flew away.

Thus began a wave of similar sightings over the next few months. Civilians reported a strange series of lights in the sky near Brussels. Suspecting it might be an experimental American aircraft being tested in Belgian skies without permission, the Belgian government made inquiries of the American embassy. The American embassy issued a statement, declaring that there were no unauthorised flights of American aeroplanes in Belgian airspace.

The most significant encounter took place on the night of March 30h, 1990. Following UFO reports and radar confirmation from multiple stations, two F-16s were scrambled to investigate. As they approached, the pilots saw two of the triangular objects, their lights shifting in colour and an irregular sequence. The jets tried to lock onto the objects and succeeded briefly several times, but each time the UFOs would accelerate away at extraordinary speed.

In April of 1990, an anonymous man came forward claiming to have photographed one of the objects. In 2011, a man named Patrick M. came forward and publically stated the photograph was a hoax created by him and some friends.

Wilfried de Brouwer, Air Force Major General (Ret.), was tasked with handling the official response to Belgian UFO wave. He wrote a chapter recounting his experience in UFOs: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record by Leslie Kean (2010).

Minot B-52 (1967-1968)

There were several incidents at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota from 1967 to 1968. Originally opened in 1957 as an Air Defense Command (ADC) base, it became a major Strategic Air Command (SAC) base in the early 1960s, with both nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and manned bombers. On March 5, 1967, a UFO appeared to hover over the area and strike teams were called in to confront the vessel.

Later that year, the Air Force claimed an unidentifiable craft “attacked” the air base, specifically the missile silos. The “attack” involved two beams of light, one of which appeared to be an offensive weapon. On June 6, 1968, a UFO hovered over a silo then left the area, but was tracked by ground and air radar. Afterwards, personnel discovered a missile was armed and in launch mode, and its nuclear warhead was armed.

Kaikoura Lights (1978)

On December 21, 1978, a series of UFO sightings occurred over the Kaikoura mountain ranges in New Zealand. The first sightings were made by the crew of a Safe Air Ltd cargo aircraft, which observing a series of strange lights around their plane which followed them for several minutes before disappearing and then reappearing elsewhere. The pilots described some of the lights to be the size of a house and others small but flashing brilliantly. These objects appeared on the air traffic controller radar in Wellington, aircraft’s on-board radar, and were sighted by hundreds of observers.

Over a week later, on December 30, 1978, an Australian television crew recorded a similar event on film onboard a cargo aircraft flying between Wellington and Christchurch. The UFOs were filmed, tracked by Wellington ATC, and observed by witnesses simultaneously, with one of the objects following the aircraft almost until it landed. When the aircraft took off again, it was paced by an enormous orb-like object for fifteen minutes. Again, the event was filmed, observed and tracked, and the resulting footage garnered worldwide interest and speculation.

Following the sightings, the Royal New Zealand Air Force(RNZAF), police, and Carter Observatory in Wellington cooperated in an investigation. The New Zealand Ministry of Defence stated it was difficult to explain the lights, “short of them being some anomalous type of reflection or refraction, cars or trains” and it was probable the Wellington radar returns were “spurious”.

Past Researchers

J. Allen Hynek

(1910-1986)

Ph.D. in physics and astronomy
Professor, author, ufologist, and astronomer
Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Hynek’s legendary career in ufology phenomena began in 1948 at Ohio State when he was asked by the United States Air Force to act as astronomical consultant to Project Blue Book, a systematic study of UFOs, which he carried out for twenty-one years.

In 1966, after a rash of sightings in Michigan, he went to the area to take charge of the investigation. After interviewing scores of people he ascribed certain sightings to luminous marsh gas rather than something from space. In stark irony, the infamous “swamp gas” flap had a major impact on the level of skepticism toward government investigations and prompted many amateurs to become citizen investigators.

Hynek eventually became disenchanted with the intentions and methodology of the Air Force. When Project Blue Book was closed, he voiced this concern, continued his work privately, and eventually founded the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS) in 1973. By then Hynek had executed a 180 degree turn in his skeptical views on the subject – one of the most famous such reversals in ufology history.

Dr. Hynek wrote several books and published the International UFO Reporter. He also formulated the close encounter classification system, made famous in the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

A reporter once suggested to him he might be remembered not as an astronomer but as the man who made UFOs respectable. He replied, “I wouldn’t mind. If I can succeed in making the study of UFOs scientifically respectable and do something constructive in it, then I think that would be a real contribution.”

Donald Keyhoe

(1897-1988)

Bachelor of Science from the U.S. Naval Academy
Marine Corps Major, writer, and researcher
Born in Ottumwa, Iowa, USA

Keyhoe graduated in 1920 from the U.S. Naval Academy with a commission as a second lieutenant in the Marine Corps. He flew balloons and airplanes for a few years until he was injured in a crash in Guam. He retired, worked for the government for some time, and eventually became a freelance writer. During World War II he was recalled to active duty with the rank of Major and served at the Pentagon.

After the war, Keyhoe personally test-flew a wide variety of aircraft and evaluated their performance and features for True Magazine. When the Kenneth Arnold sightings were reported in 1947, Keyhoe was skeptical. When he was asked to investigate in 1949 and interviewed numerous fliers as well as military officers in the Pentagon, he discovered expert observers had seen the unexplained discs, many at close range.

He remained skeptical, but interviewed  many more pilots and military officers and discovered many of them had sightings and close encounters. He soon became convinced the phenomenon were real, that they came from outer space, and the government was trying to cover up the truth.

His article “Flying Saucers Are Real” in the January 1950 issue of True Magazine became one of the most widely read and discussed articles on the subject in history, and caused a cultural  sensation. He later expanded the article into the book The Flying Saucers Are Real (1950), which reached an even larger audience. He later followed with Flying Saucers From Outer Space (1953), Flying Saucer Conspiracy (1955), and Flying Saucers: Top Secret (1960).

In January 1957 Keyhoe became director of the newly formed National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) in Washington, D.C., which  encouraged congressional hearings and gave serious publicity to the UFO mystery throughout the 1960s.

He was ousted as NICAP’s director in December 1969, but remained on the board of governors. By then, government agents reportedly had infiltrated NICAP and the character of the organization changed greatly in the following years. NICAP became little more than a report collection agency, many members resigned, and in 1980 was shut down for good.

Donald Keyhoe was one of the most prominent researchers in ufology in the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. His books and numerous articles on UFOs convinced countless people UFOs are real. Because of him, many of those readers became UFO researchers who are still active today.

James E. McDonald

(1920-1971)

Ph.D. in Physics, B.A. in Chemistry and Meterology
Physicist, ufologist
Born in Duluth, Minnesota, USA

James McDonald was an American physicist best known for his UFO research. He was senior physicist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics and professor in the Department of Meteorology at the University of Arizona. McDonald campaigned in support of expanding UFO studies during the mid and late 1960s, arguing UFOs represented an important unsolved mystery which had not been adequately studied by science. He was one of the more prominent figures of his time who argued in favor of the extraterrestrial hypothesis as a plausible model of UFO phenomena.

McDonald interviewed over 500 UFO witnesses, uncovered many important government UFO documents, and gave many presentations of UFO evidence. He testified before Congress during the UFO hearings of 1968. McDonald also gave the famous talk “Science in Default” to the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), which was a summary of the current UFO evidence and a critique of the 1969 Condon Report UFO study. Jerome Clark called the talk “one of the most powerful scientific defenses of UFO reality ever mounted.”

In 1954, while driving through the Arizona desert with two meteorologists, McDonald spotted an unidentified flying object none of the men could readily identify. Though a rather unspectacular sighting of a distant point of light, this sighting would spur McDonald’s interest in UFOs. By the late 1950s he was quietly investigating UFO reports in Arizona, and he had also joined NICAP, then the largest and most prominent civilian UFO research group in the nation. Given his training in atmospheric physics, McDonald was able to examine UFO reports in greater detail than most other scientists, and was able to offer explanations for some previously unexplained reports. Using his security clearance with the US government, he also uncovered a number of well-documented UFO reports from the US Air Force’s Project Blue Book, which he judged deeply puzzling even after stringent analysis.

By the mid-1960s, McDonald began speaking about UFOs more openly. McDonald’s first detailed, public discussion of UFOs was in a lecture given before an American Meteorological Society assembly in Washington D.C. on October 5, 1966. Entitled “The Problem of UFOs”, McDonald’s speech was the first of many given to an overflow audience. McDonald declared that scientific scrutiny should be directed towards the small number of “unknowns”, which he defined as a UFO reported by a “credible and trained observer as machine-like ‘craft’ which remained unidentified in spite of careful investigation.” He noted that the vast majority of UFOs could become Identified flying objects, and, in his estimation, only about 1% of UFOs were true “unknowns”. McDonald also lambasted the U.S. Air Force for what he saw as their inept handling of UFO studies.

In 1967 the Office of Naval Research granted McDonald a small budget in order to conduct his own UFO research, ostensibly to study the idea that some UFOs were misidentified clouds. He was able to peruse the files of Project Blue Book at Wright Patterson Air Force Base, and eventually concluded that the Air Force was mishandling UFO evidence. Following the Robertson Panel’s recommendations in 1953, the Air Force was following a debunking directive towards UFO reports, and only discussing UFO cases which were considered solved by a mundane explanation. All unexplained UFO cases were classified “secret” and not released to the public.

McDonald was particularly disturbed that astronomer J. Allen Hynek, had not alerted the scientific community to the fact that Project Blue Book was withholding some of the most anomalous and compelling UFO reports. Hynek argued that if he had exposed this, the Air Force would have dumped him as Blue Book’s consultant; Hynek was the only scientist formally studying UFOs for the government. This was the beginning of a rift between the two men that would never be entirely reconciled.

From the mid-1960s, McDonald devoted much of his time to trying to persuade journalists, politicians and his colleagues that UFOs were the most pressing issue facing American science. He gave dozens of lectures, and wrote volumes of letters to newspapers, to his peers and politicians. McDonald wrote to the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, arguing that they needed to radically shift what he saw as their superficial perspective towards UFOs. In response, the Air Force determined that they needed to “fireproof” themselves against McDonald’s statements because of his unquestionable qualifications and credibility.

In the 1970s, McDonald’s UFO efforts took a significant toll as be became professionally isolated and his marriage faltered. In March, 1971, McDonald’s wife Betsy asked for a divorce. McDonald seems to have started planning his suicide not long afterwards. He finished a few articles he was writing (UFO-related and otherwise), and made plans for the storage of his notes, papers, and research. In April 1971 he attempted suicide by shooting himself in the head. He survived, but was blinded and was recovering in the hospital. The next day he was no where to be found. However, on June 13, 1971, a family, walking along a creek close to the bridge spanning the Canada Del Oro Wash near Tucson, found a body that was later identified as McDonald’s. A .38 caliber revolver was found close to him, as well as a suicide note.

John Mack

(1929-2004)

M.D. from Harvard Medical School
Psychiatrist, parapsychologist, writer, researcher
Born in New York City, New York, USA

Mack received his medical degree cum laude from Harvard Medical School in 1955. He was a graduate of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute and was certified in child and adult psychoanalysis. The dominant theme of his life’s work was the exploration of how one’s perceptions of the world affect one’s relationships. He addressed this issue of “world view” on the individual level in his early clinical explorations of dreams, nightmares and teen suicide, and in A Prince of Our Disorder, his biography of T. E. Lawrence, a British officer stationed in the Middle East who became known as “Lawrence of Arabia”, for which he received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography in 1977.

In the early 1990s, Mack commenced a decade-plus study of 200 men and women who reported recurrent alien encounter experiences. He initially suspected such persons were suffering from mental illness, but when no obvious pathologies were present in the persons he interviewed, his research deepened. Following encouragement from longtime friend Thomas Kuhn, who predicted that the subject might be controversial, but urged Mack to collect data and ignore prevailing materialist, dualist and “either/or” analysis, Mack began concerted study and interviews. Many of those he interviewed reported that their encounters had affected the way they regarded the world, including producing a heightened sense of spirituality and environmental concern.

Mack was somewhat more guarded in his investigations and interpretations of the abduction phenomenon than were earlier researchers. In a 1994 interview, Jeffrey Mishlove stated that Mack seemed “inclined to take these [abduction] reports at face value”. Mack replied by saying “Face value I wouldn’t say. I take them seriously. I don’t have a way to account for them.” Similarly, the BBC quoted Mack as saying, “I would never say, yes, there are aliens taking people. [But] I would say there is a compelling powerful phenomenon here that I can’t account for in any other way, that’s mysterious. Yet I can’t know what it is but it seems to me that it invites a deeper, further inquiry.”

Mack noted that there was a worldwide history of visionary experiences, especially in pre-industrial societies. One example is the vision quest common to some Native American cultures. Only fairly recently in Western culture, notes Mack, have such visionary events been interpreted as aberrations or as mental illness. Mack suggested that abduction accounts might best be considered as part of this larger tradition of visionary encounters. His interest in the spiritual or transformational aspects of people’s alien encounters, and his suggestion that the experience of alien contact itself may be more transcendent than physical in nature—yet nonetheless real—set him apart from many of his contemporaries, such as Budd Hopkins, who advocated the physical reality of aliens.

His later research broadened into the general consideration of the merits of an expanded notion of reality, one which allows for experiences that may not fit the Western materialist paradigm, yet deeply affect people’s lives. His second (and final) book on the alien encounter experience, Passport to the Cosmos: Human Transformation and Alien Encounters (1999), was as much a philosophical treatise connecting the themes of spirituality and modern worldviews as it was the culmination of his work with the “experiencers” of alien encounters, to whom the book is dedicated.

In September 2004, while in London to lecture at a conference, Mack was killed by a drunken driver while walking home alone.

Stanton Friedman

(1934-Present)

Master of Science in Nuclear Physics
Physicist, Marine Corps major, writer, lecturer, and researcher
Born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, USA

Stanton T. Friedman received BS and MS degrees in Physics from the University of Chicago in 1955 and 1956, where Carl Sagan was a classmate. He worked for fourteen years as a nuclear physicist for companies such as General Electric, General Motors, Westinghouse, TRW, Aerojet General Nucleonics, and McDonnell Doulglas on advanced, classified, eventually canceled projects such as nuclear aircraft, rockets, and nuclear power plants for space. Since the 1980s, he has done related consulting work in the radon-detection industry. Friedman’s professional affiliations have included the American Nuclear Society, the American Physical Society, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and AFTRA.

Friedman became interested in UFOs in 1958 and gave his first UFO lecture in 1967. In 1970 he left full-time employment as a physicist to pursue scientific investigation of UFOs. Since then, he has given numerous lectures around the globe, written five books, and worked as a consultant on the subject. He has also provided written testimony to Congressional hearings and appeared twice at the United Nations. He was presented with a Lifetime UFO Achievement Award in Leeds, England, in 2002, by UFO Magazine of the UK. The City of Fredericton, New Brunswick, declared August 27, 2007, Stanton Friedman Day.

Friedman is often referred to as the “Father of Roswell”. He was the first civilian to document the site investigate the incident in 1978. He has since supported the hypothesis the incident involved a genuine crash of an extraterrestrial spacecraft and invoked the general subject of flying saucers (his preferred terminology) represents a kind of ‘Cosmic Watergate’ and a government cover-up of the best data is ongoing. He is also known for his considerable research into the proposed ‘Majestic 12’ and Betty and Barney Hill case.

Friedman has regularly debated many prominent UFO skeptics and criticized the scientific community at large for it’s treatment of the phenomenon, of stating he is not an “apologist ufologist”. In 2009, on CNN, he sat on a panel of ufologists who debated Skeptic Magazine’s Michael Shermer. In 2004, on Coast to Coast, he debated Seth Shostak, SETI’s senior astronomer regarding the implications and credibility of UFO sightings. He also criticized Carl Sagan, a proponent of SETI, for ignoring empirical evidence, such as “600-plus UNKNOWNS” of Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14. Friedman argued this empirical data directly contradicted Sagan’s claim in Other Worlds that the “reliable cases are uninteresting and the interesting cases are unreliable”. Specifically, Friedman referred to the data which he says “shows that the better the quality of the sighting, the more likely it was to be an ‘unknown’, and the less likely it was to be listed as containing ‘insufficient information.'”

Friedman announced his retirement from UFO research in early 2018. Friedman said Kathleen Marden, niece of Betty and Barney Hill, is another author and lecturer that will carry on his work. He also said his first choice would be John Greenewald, creator of The Black Vault, because he is “a sharp young man with plenty of data.”

Current Researchers

Jacques Vallée

(1939-Present)

Ph.D. in computer science & master of science in astrophysics
Computer scientist, author, ufologist, astronomer
Born in Pontoise, Val-d’Oise, France

Jacques Vallée received his Bachelor of Science degree in mathematics from the University of Sorbonne, followed by his Master of Science in astrophysics from the University of Lille. He began his career as an astronomer at the Paris Observatory in 1961. He moved to the United States in 1962 and began working in astronomy at the University of Texas, where he worked on NASA’s first project making a detailed informational map of Mars.

In 1967, Vallée received a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Northwestern University. While at the Institute for the Future from 1972 to 1976, he was a principal investigator on the large NSF project for computer networking, which developed one of the first conferencing systems, Planning Network (PLANET), on the ARPANET.

When I was beginning my career in science,” recalls Vallée, “the main argument against UFOs was that astronomers never saw them. I found that argument convincing.” Then, in 1961, he and other satellite trackers at the Paris Observatory detected something odd overhead. The project director erased the data tape before an orbit for the unidentified object could be computed. “I thought, here we are at a renowned institution, seeing something we can’t explain and destroying data for fear of ridicule. That, for me, reopened the entire question.”

In the mid-1960s, like many other UFO researchers, Vallée initially attempted to validate the popular Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). UFO researcher Jerome Clark argued that Vallée’s first two UFO books were among the most scientifically sophisticated defenses of the ETH ever mounted.

However, by 1969, Vallée’s conclusions had changed, and he publicly stated the ETH was too narrow and ignored too much data. Vallée began exploring the commonalities between UFOs, cults, religious movements, demons, angels, ghosts, cryptid sightings, and psychic phenomena. Speculation about these potential links were first detailed in Vallée’s third UFO book, Passport to Magonia: From Folklore to Flying Saucers.

Vallée’s views gradually became far more exotic and stranger than what he calls the reigning “nuts and bolts” approach to the subject. Consequently, he’s been attacked by believers and prominent ufologists so often that he jokingly refers to himself a “heretic among heretics.” As Vallée puts it, “I will be disappointed if UFOs turn out to be nothing more than spaceships.”

Vallée is often highly critical of UFO investigators overall, both believers and skeptics, asserting that what often passes for an acceptable level of investigation in a UFO context would be considered sloppy and seriously inadequate investigation in other fields. He has often pointed out logical and methodological flaws common in such research. Unlike many critics of UFO investigative efforts, his critiques are not condescending or dismissive and he indicates that he is simply interested in good science.

Vallée served as the real-life model for the character portrayed by Francois Truffaut in Steven Spielberg’s film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Vallée attempted to interest Spielberg in an alternative explanation for the phenomenon, saying he “argued with him that the subject was even more interesting if it wasn’t extraterrestrials. If it was real, physical, but not ET. So he said, ‘You’re probably right, but that’s not what the public is expecting — this is Hollywood and I want to give people something that’s close to what they expect.’”

Vallée proposes there is a genuine UFO phenomenon, partly associated with a form of non-human consciousness which manipulates space and time. The phenomenon has been active throughout human history and seems to masquerade in various forms to different cultures. In his opinion, the intelligence behind the phenomenon attempts social manipulation by using deception on the humans with whom they interact.

Vallée also proposes a secondary aspect of the UFO phenomenon involving human manipulation by humans. Witnesses of UFO phenomena undergo a manipulative and staged spectacle, meant to alter their belief system, and eventually influence human society by suggesting alien intervention from outer space. The ultimate motivation for this deception is probably a projected major change of human society and the breaking down of old belief systems and implementation of new ones. Vallée states the evidence, if carefully analysed, suggests an underlying plan for the deception of mankind by means of unknown, highly advanced methods.

Vallée has stated there must be a whole building somewhere filled with UFO hardware, but it’s unlikely that the government, or any government, has been able to understand who made it and how the technology works. Vallée also feels the entire subject of UFOs is mystified by charlatans and science fiction. He advocates a stronger and more serious involvement of science in the UFO research and debate, as only this can reveal the true nature of the UFO phenomenon.

In the epilogue from his most recent book, Forbidden Science 1: A Passion for Discovery, The Journals of Jacques Vallée 1957-1969 (2017), Vallée commented on his current position within the field:

“For some time various knowledgeable friends have urged me to take my research behind the scenes again. I intend to follow their advice. I cannot justify remaining associated with the field of ufology as it presents itself to the public today. Furthermore, I suspect that the phenomenon displays a very different structure once you leave behind the parochial disputes that disfigure the debate, confusing the researchable issues that interest me. The truly important scientific questions are elsewhere.”

Robert L. Hastings

(1950-Present)

BFA in photography & certificate in materials science applications
Ufologist, lecturer, author, and filmmaker
Born in Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

Hastings’ father was career U.S. Air Force and their family was stationed at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, during a peak period of UFO activity near Minuteman nuclear missile sites. In March 1967, Hastings witnessed five UFOs being tracked on radar at the base air traffic control tower. He later learned that these “unknown targets” had been maneuvering near ICBM sites located southeast of the base, and his experience ultimately led to his decades-long research into the UFO-nukes connection.

Hastings received a BFA in Photography at Ohio University in 1972, and worked as a photographic technician at Northern Illinois University for eight years. In 1981, after conducting numerous interviews with former US Air Force personnel regarding their knowledge of nuclear weapons-related UFO incidents, Hastings ventured out on the college lecture circuit to speak about the U.S. government’s cover-up of UFOs.

In 1986–88, Hastings retrained in Electron Microscopy at San Joaquin Delta College in Stockton, California, and received a certificate in Materials Science Applications. Between 1988 and 2002, he was employed as a laboratory analyst by Philips Semiconductors in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

On September 27, 2010 Hastings hosted the UFO-Nukes Connection press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., during which seven U.S. Air Force veterans discussed UFO incursions at nuclear weapons sites during the Cold War.

Hastings believes UFOs are piloted by extraterrestrials who, for whatever reason, have taken an interest in our long-term survival. He contends these beings are occasionally disrupting our nukes to send a message to governments that their possession and potential use of nuclear weapons threatens the future of humanity and environmental integrity of the planet.

Hastings has interviewed more than 150 military veterans to date who were involved in various UFO-related incidents at U.S. missile sites, weapons storage facilities, and nuclear bomb test ranges. Now retired, he continues to lecture and promote public awareness of the reality of UFOs their connections to nuclear weapons sites.

Jerome Clark

(1946-Present)

Ufologist, writer, reporter, and musician
Born in Canby, Minnesota, USA

Clark attended South Dakota State University and Moorhead State University, studying history and political science. He has been an editor of FATE magazine, International UFO Reporter, and board member of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). He has also been the editor of the Journal of UFO Studies, the only peer reviewed publication in ufology.

Clark is widely regarded as one of the most prominent and reputable writers in ufology today. In his Saucer Smear, longtime ufologist James W. Moseley wrote Clark “is acknowledged … as the UFO Field’s leading historian.”

Clark’s greatest accomplishment in the field has been the publication of his comprehensive The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning (1991). Backed by detailed research and extensive bibliographies, Clark’s encyclopedia is largely considered one of the best-researched and most credible publications on the subject. In 1997 Clark authored The UFO Book, an abridged version of The UFO Encyclopedia, which won the 1998 Benjamin Franklin Award in the Science/Environment category.

Clark wrote his “position statement” in The UFO Encyclopedia: “In the past two or three years, I have become an agnostic about all UFO theories. I have discovered, as one who is no less guilty of it than anyone else, that one can “prove” just about anything by focusing on certain data and ignoring others. I happen to sympathize with the impulse to theorize about UFOs; after all, theories are how we make sense of things. But we ought not under any circumstances to take our theories too seriously, and we must never give them greater primacy than we give the observed facts … In my darker moments, I have come to suspect that UFOs may represent something so far beyond us that our attempts to understand them may be comparable to an ant’s efforts to comprehend the principles of nuclear physics.”

In the years since, Clark has championed a sort of open-ended agnosticism, choosing to focus on phenomena which have some degree of documentable support—whether physical evidence, or reliably reported events and has argued cautiously in favor of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH).

John Greenewald Jr.

(1981-Present)

Writer, Speaker, Researcher
Born in Tarzana, California, USA

In 1996 at the age of fifteen Greenewald became curious about UFOs and began researching and utilizing the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) to gain access to thousands of records from the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, NSA, and other groups. Currently, he has accumulated over two million documents on UFOs, the JFK Assassination, nuclear weapons, top secret aircraft, and many others subjects. He began making the documents he obtained freely available online at his website, The Black Valut, which has now become the largest, private, online collection of government documents in the world. Greenewald published his first book, Beyond UFO Secrecy, in 2002. He has regularly writen, produced, and directed for television networks such as The History Channel, Discovery Channel, The Learning Channel, A&E, FOX, NBC, along with international networks such as the BBC (UK) and NTV (Russia). Greenewald started his podcast, The Black Vault Radio, in 2018.

In December of 2017, Greeneewald launched The Black Vault Investigations (TBVI), a volunteer-project to coordinate and perform research on UFO reports. Greenewald said “I have seen many UFO groups come and go, and I have seen many researchers/investigators get frustrated even to the point of leaving the field entirely over the politics and the material being presented. My aim with this project is to change that.” The project includes a public case file database, telephone system for the general public to report cases, and internal system for researches to coordinate their efforts. TBVI is currently seeking individuals interested in taking part. More details can be found here.

Richard Dolan

(1962-Present)

Master of Arts in History
Historian, Author, Speaker, Ufologist
Born in Brooklyn, New York, USA

Dolan graduated from Alfred University with a Bachelor of Arts in English and history in 1984. He subsequently completed his graduate work at the University of Rochester, where he studied U.S. Cold War strategy, European history, and international diplomacy. Before that, he had studied at Alfred University and Oxford University, and had been a finalist for a Rhodes scholarship.

Dolan became interested in UFOs in 1994 and is best known for his two-part books series, UFOs and the National Security State, which is a comprehensive study of the United States government’s response to UFO phenomena from 1941-1991. Dolan has since become a publisher with Richard Dolan Press, which features the work of many leading thinkers exploring alternative subjects.

Richard Dolan is among the world’s leading UFO historians and believes they constitute “the greatest mystery of our time.” He has lectured around the world and appeared on numerous television networks, including The History Channel, SyFy, BBC, and in numerous documentaries. Currently, he is the writer and host of the series False Flags, which appears on Gaia TV, and begun writing a book on the same subject. He also hosts his own radio shows, The Richard Dolan Show on KGRA, and is a frequent guest on Coast-to-Coast AM. Dolan also teaches Introduction to Ufology, an online class offered through the International Metaphysical University as part of its ufology program.

David M. Jacobs

(1942-Present)

Ph.D. in Intellectual History
Historian, Professor, Author, and Ufologist
Born in Los Angeles, Californa, USA

Jacobs obtained his Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin–Madison in 1973 in the field of intellectual history. He became interested in UFO research in 1965. In 1973, he wrote his dissertation on the controversy surrounding UFOs in America. From 1977 to 2011 he taught the country’s only regular curriculum university course on UFOs and abductions, “UFOs and American Society”. He recently retired as Associate Professor of History at Temple University, specializing in 20th-century American popular culture. He stated his current research interests involve a “delineation of the role of anomalous experiences in personal and cultural life”. Jacobs is best known ufology for his research on alleged alien abductions. Since the early 1980s, he has investigated over 1,150 abductions with over 150 individuals and written five books on the subject.

“I have tried to be as objective and as “agenda free” as possible. I have no New Age, spiritual, religious, transformational, or transcendent program to promote. I try to stay as close to the evidence as I can. However, there is no possibility that I have avoided error. The majority of evidence for the alien abduction phenomenon is from human memory derived from hypnosis administered by amateurs. It is difficult to imagine a weaker form of evidence. But it is evidence and we have a great deal of it. Still, readers must be skeptical of what I say and of what all others say in this tangled arena of alien abductions, hypnosis, popular culture, and memory. Abduction researchers are mainly amateurs doing their best to get to the truth knowing that objective reality may elude them.” – David M. Jacobs, ICAR website

In recent years Jacobs has argued his research purports alien-human hybrids are engaged in a covert program of infiltration into human society with the possible goal of taking over Earth. He claims his research subjects are teaching hybrids and hubrids (his term for hybrids indistinguishable from humans) how to blend into human society and become indistinguishable from humans. He also asserts this is occurring worldwide.

Jacobs’s hypotheses have been criticized as unsupportably dire by those who take a more positive view of the alien abduction experience, such as John Mack, who Jacobs labels as “positivists”. Details of abductions reported by Jacobs and other researchers may not differ to any great extent; critics of Jacobs therefore focuses on his interpretations. Where Jacobs sees “infiltration” (others may see “integration” (a positive). Where differences in reports are more substantial (extending beyond the interpretive to actual distinctions between the alleged events reported by those who Jacobs interviews versus those interviewed by others), Jacobs has explained elements not matching his own perspective are what he terms “confabulations.”

“This is a global phenomenon. People around the world are reporting the same things. They’re seeing the same things as they have always seen them for decades and decades and decades and now they’re saying the same thing. Now here’s another way of looking at this; Suppose none of this is true. Supposing there [aren’t] aliens up there who are kidnapping people. And yet all around the world people are saying the same things about the abduction phenomenon and it’s happening to them. And it’s not happening. If that’s the case, then we have stumbled on one of the most important aspects of human mentalities, so to speak, around the world of all saying the same things with these same psychological aberrations and not knowing that other people are saying the same things. That is profoundly important. You’d think that scientists would get interested in this ‘fake phenomenon’ that everybody is talking about.” – David M. Jacobs, Interview with Richard Dolan (2018)

Skeptics

Philip J. Klass

(1919-2005)

Electrical engineering degree from Iowa State University
Journalist and researcher
Born in Des Moines, Iowa, USA

Klass’ first job was working on aviation electronics systems for General Electric during World War II.He is credited with coining the term “avionics” and went on to become the first avionics editor of Aviation Week & Space Technology, the premiere journal of the aviation industry.

Klass is largely considered the most famous skeptic within ufology and wrote several books critical of UFOs. Perhaps because of his immersion in the reality-based world of aviation and science, Klass did not automatically give credence to claims of flying saucers and alien abduction which first began proliferating in the late 1950s and early 60s.

Klass inspires polarized appraisals in both the ufological and skeptical communities, and had a reputation as  the “Sherlock Holmes of ufology”. In 1999, Skeptical Enquirer named him number five on their list of top skeptics of the 20th century.

In 1966, Klass offered a $10,000 reward if certain conditions proving UFOs were met, which remained unclaimed at his death.  Klass left a particularly damning statement towards his critics titled The Last Will and Testament of Philip J. Klass, originally published in Saucer Smear in October 1983:

“To ufologists who publicly criticize me, … or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE: No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know anymore about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know anymore about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own deathbed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse.”

Robert Sheaffer

(1949-Present)

Bachelor of Science in mathematics
Freelance writer, skeptic, author, and investigator
Born in Chicago, Illinois, USA

Sheaffer is a prolific researcher specializing in UFOs and conspiracies. He was a founding member (with Philip J. Klass and James Oberg) of the UFO Subcommittee of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI – formerly CSICOP) in 1977.  He is a regular contributor and columnist for their magazine, The Skeptical Inquirer. He writes the Bad UFO Blog and The Debunker’s Domain and is the author of The UFO Verdict: Examining the Evidence and Bad UFOs.

“I’m an equal-opportunity debunker, refuting whatever nonsense, in my judgment, stands in the greatest need of refuting, no matter from what source it may come, no matter how privileged, esteemed, or sacrosanct. Sacred cows, after all, make the best hamburger.”

Sheaffer feels “sympathetic consideration of UFO sightings” is not only “irrational” but threatens a “new dark age.” Ufology of any sort, even a cautious methodological variety is, in Sheaffer’s estimation, “fundamentally a reaction against science and reason.”

Brian Dunning

(1965-Present)

Degree in writing for film and television
Writer, producer, and author
Born in Santa Monica, California, USA

Dunning has hosted Skeptoid, a weekly podcast, since 2006 dedicated “to furthering knowledge by blasting away the widespread pseudosciences that infect popular culture, and replacing them with way cooler reality.” Skeptoid has been the recipient of several podcast awards, including the Parsec Award. Dunning created the Skeptoid.org video series, inFact, and The Feeding Tube. Dunning has also produced two educational films on the subject of critical thinking, Here be Dragons in 2008, and Principles of Curiosity in 2017.

Dunning also writes articles for Skepticblog.org, published by The Skeptics Society. is a member of the National Association of Science Writers, and “Chancellor” of the non-accredited “Thunderwood College”, a parody of unaccredited institutions of higher learning which offer “degrees” in a variety of subjects.

Dunning co-founded Buylink in 1996, a business-to-business service provider, and served at the company until 2002. He later became eBay’s second biggest affiliate marketer, but has since been convicted of wire fraud through a cookie stuffing scheme. In August 2014, he was sentenced to 15 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release for wire fraud.

Paul Kurtz

(1925-2010)

Doctor of philosophy from Columbia University
Professor, author, and philosopher
Born in Newark, New Jersey, USA

Kurtz has been called the “father of secular humanism” and was founder of the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSICOP), the Council for Secular Humanism, and the Center for Inquiry. He was co-president of the International Humanist and Ethical Union and was a Humanist Laureate and President of the International Academy of Humanism. After his resignation from his positions with the Center for Inquiry in 2009, he founded the Institute for Science and Human Values in 2010. Kurtz published over 800 articles and reviews and authored over fifty books.

Kurtz promoted what he called “Skepticism of the Third Kind,” in which skeptics actively investigate claims of the paranormal, rather than simply question them. He saw this type of skepticism as distinct from the “first kind” of extreme philosophical skepticism, which questions the possibility anything can be known, and the “second kind” of skepticism, which accepts knowledge of the real world is possible but is still largely a philosophical exercise.

“An explanation for the persistence of the paranormal, I submit, is due to the transcendental temptation. In my book by that name, I present the thesis that paranormal and religious phenomena have similar functions in human experience; they are expressions of a tendency to accept magical thinking. This temptation has such profound roots within human experience and culture that it constantly reasserts itself.”

Mick West

(1960-Present)

Game programmer and author

West began his career as a video game programmer and became best known for his work as lead programmer for Neversoft Entertainment and the Tony Hawk Pro Skater series. Mick has since stopped working in games and now focuses on investigating and explaining conspiracy theories involving chemtrails, 9/11, and false flags. He also provides in-depth analysis of UFOs, pseudoscience, and Flat Earth theory.

West runs Metabunk.org, a website “dedicated to the art of honest, polite, scientific investigating and debunking.” The is primarily a discussion forum, with a focus on providing concise useful resources and attempting to avoid repetitive debate and arguments. It started as a spin-off of his Contrail Science site, as regular posters requested a more flexible forum for discussing a wider range of topics.

Experiencers

Travis Walton

(1953-Present)

Lumberjack and author
Born in Arizona, USA

Walton was an American logger who claims to have been abducted by a UFO on November 5, 1975 while working with a logging crew in the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Walton went missing after the event, but reappeared after a five-day search. Walton’s case received considerable mainstream publicity and remains one of the best-known instances of alleged alien abduction. UFO historian Jerome Clark wrote that “few abduction reports have generated as much controversy” as the Walton case.

According to Walton, while riding in a truck with six of his coworkers, they encountered a saucer-shaped object hovering over the ground approximately 110 feet away and making a high-pitched buzz. Walton claims he left the truck had approached the object when a beam of light suddenly appeared and knocked him unconscious. The other six men were frightened and supposedly drove away. Walton claimed he awoke in a hospital-like room, being observed by three short, bald creatures. He fought with them until a human wearing a helmet led him to another room, where he blacked out while three other humans put a clear plastic mask over his face. Walton claimed he remembers nothing else until he found himself walking along a highway, with the flying saucer departing above him.

Skeptics have described the case as “sensationalizing on the part of the media” and “a put-up job to make money.” Philip J. Klass considered it a hoax perpetrated for financial gain and noted many “discrepancies” in the stories between Walton and his co-workers. Klass also reported the lie detector tests done on Walton were “poorly administered” and he used “polygraph countermeasures” such as holding his breath. He also uncovered an earlier failed polygraph test administered by an examiner who concluded the case involved “gross deception”.

Researcher Michael Shermer criticized Walton’s claims, saying, “I think the polygraph is not a reliable determiner of truth. I think Travis Walton was not abducted by aliens. In both cases, the power of deception and self-deception is all we need to understand what really happened in 1975 and after.”

Walton wrote The Walton Experience (1978) about his claims and the book became the basis for the film Fire in the Sky (1993). The film differs from Walton’s account significantly, as Paramount Pictures deem his story “too fuzzy and too similar to other televised close encounters” and they ordered screenwriter Tracy Tormé to write something “flashier, more provocative.”

Karla Turner

(1948-1996)

Master’s of Art and Ph.D. in Old English studies
Professor, author, and ufologist

Well educated and well spoken, Turner was widely respected within the UFO community for her abduction research. In 1988, she endured a series of experiences along with her husband and son which forced them to believe they had been taken by extraterrestrials. Karla eventually dropped her university career to turn her full attention to abduction research. Her first book, Into the Fringe (1992), recounted their experiences and her second book, Taken – Inside the Alien-Human Abduction Agenda (1994) profiled the abduction stories of eight different women. Her final book, Masquerade of Angels (1994), was co-written with psychic Ted Rice and recounted Ted’s lifelong encounters with strange entities. Karla was working on a fourth book, but became ill in early 1995. She died of cancer in January, 1996. 

Turner’s perceived deceit and cruelty by her abductors made her into an activist who insisted abductees must stand up for themselves and seize their souls from a rapacious, non-human species. Turner also speculated the entities had developed parallel to us on Earth, then become transdimensional. “To accept a spiritual explanation for the abduction process and the abducting entities,” she told an interviewer for Contact Forum in June 1995, “is foolhardy and potentially dangerous to our souls.” To another interviewer she reiterated that if we do not rouse ourselves, “we may come to the point where we cede the sovereignty of our souls. We should stand up for our souls. I think there is a possibility of finding out how to change the situation.”

Until shortly before her death, Turner regularly issued veritable calls to arms from the podiums of UFO conferences across the country and abroad. The aliens, she said time and again, used their powers to control our perceptions and practice disinformation in order to break down our resistance and deceive us into believing they were interested in our well-being when they were not. All the evidence, she said, suggested their purposes were entirely self-serving and without regard for the needs of homo sapiens. Now was the time, she insisted, “to work at getting back control.”

Turner contended the best defense against alien intrusions was not “abduction therapy” but abduction research itself. ahe listed what she considered to be the only “facts” which might be construed about the alien invaders:

  • We do not know with any certainty what they are.
  • At least some of the aliens lie.
  • During encounters, they control our perceptions.
  • They can implant false memories.
  • What we report about them is what they want us to report.
  • The alien agenda has physical aims and procedures that have nothing to do with reproduction.
  • From childhood, they manipulate us physically, spiritually, and sexually.
  • They create virtual reality scenarios that are absolutely real to the abductees.
  • They show an extraordinary interest in human souls and in our thoughts.
  • There is some element of human involvement in UFO phenomenon.

Turner also insisted the aliens were engaged in a propaganda war to convince us their intentions were more benevolent than they were. They could be creating virtual reality scenarios of cross-breeding to suggest we share commonalities and that they need us. But, she said, there are just as many accounts of brain operations as there are of fetal transplants. In a propaganda campaign which included demonstrating their superiority, proprietary relationship to us, and consistently painting a benevolent picture of themselves they were primarily attempting to “debase and lower our self-view and to break down our resistances.”

“If the terrors of the abduction experience made us grow stronger,” concluded Turner, “it was not because the aliens wanted us to have this strength, but because we willed it ourselves.” Similarly, she insisted, we should take into our own hands this appalling violation of our rights as human beings and fight it with all the resources which we could muster out of the richness of human creativity and experience.

Whitley Strieber

(1945-Present)

Author
San Antonio, Texas, USA

Strieber is best known for his horror novels and Communion (1987), a nonfiction account of his perceived experiences with non-human entities.

On December 26, 1985, Strieber was reportedly abducted from his cabin in upstate New York by non-human beings. Although his book Communion recounting his experiences is generally perceived as an account of alien abduction, Strieber draws no conclusions about the identity of his alleged abductors. Instead, he refers to them as “the visitors”, a name chosen to be as neutral as possible and entertain the possibility they are not extraterrestrials and may only exist in his mind.

Following the popularity of the book, Strieber’s account was subject to intense scrutiny and derision. Some came from within the publishing world itself: Although published as non-fiction, the book editor of the Los Angeles Times pronounced the follow-up title, Transformation (1988), to be fiction and removed it from the non-fiction best-seller list (it nonetheless made the top 10 on the fiction side of the chart). “It’s a reprehensible thing,” Strieber responded. “My book is a true story … Placing this book on the fiction list is an ugly example of exactly the kind of blind prejudice that has hurt human progress for many generations.”

Criticism noting the similarity between the non-human beings in Strieber’s autobiographical accounts and the non-human beings in his earlier horror novels were also acknowledged by the author as a fair observation, but not indicative of his autobiographical works being fictional: “The mysterious small beings that figure prominently in Catmagic seem to be an unconscious rendering of [the visitors], created before I was aware that they may be real.”

Strieber wrote four additional autobiographies detailing his experiences with the visitors, Transformation (1988), Breakthrough (1995), The Secret School (1996), and Solving the Communion Enigma: What Is to Come (2011). Strieber wrote the screenplay for the film Communion (1989), directed by Philippe Mora and starring Christopher Walken as Strieber. Strieber also co-authored The Coming Global Superstorm with Art Bell, which inspired the film about sudden climate change, The Day After Tomorrow.

In his 1995 book Breakthrough, Strieber offered a new theory regarding his experiences and claimed to have recovered repressed memories of early childhood encounters with his Visitors. They came, he concluded, to teach him how to time-travel, and in his books he is using imagination to prompt readers to overcome their fears of the unknown.

In Solving the Communion Enigma, Strieber reflects on how advances in scientific understanding since his initial book may shed light on what he perceived, noting, “Among other things, since I wrote Communion, science has determined that parallel universes may be physically real and that time travel may in some way be possible”. The book is a consolidation of UFO sightings and related phenomena, including crop circles, alien abductions, mutilations and deaths and attempt to discern some form of meaningful overall pattern. Strieber concludes the human species is being shepherded to a higher level of understanding and existence within an endless “multiverse” of matter, energy, space and time. He also writes candidly about the deleterious effects his initial experiences had upon him while staying at his upstate New York cabin in the 1980s, noting “I was regularly drinking myself to sleep when we were there. I would listen to the radio until late hours, drinking vodka.”

Strieber is currently the host of the paranormal and fringe science-themed internet podcast, Dreamland, available from his website, Unknown Country. The program was a former companion show to Coast to Coast AM, before being taken on by Strieber in 1999.

Sherman served in the US Air Force for twelve years (1982-1994) and began training as an electronic intelligence (ELINT) analyst for the National Security Agency (NSA) in 1992. He claims this only served as a “cover” for his primary training as an ‘Intuitive Communicator’. Sherman stated he was taught to telepathically interface with extraterrestrials (ETs) and pass information through a secure computer system to his handlers within the NSA.

When he was subsequently assigned to the NSA, Sherman worked on a specially designed computer where he could perform both his normal ELINT work and also work as an intuitive communicator. During a ten-month period, Sherman received more than 75 messages from a primary ET communicator he dubbed “Bones”. Sherman states this was all part of the US military’s preparation “for a future time in which all electronic communications would be rendered useless” and his communicator stated substantial Earth changes were pending.

Sherman learned the ETs had been visiting various Earth cultures throughout history and had made contributions of learning and scientific technology to certain civilizations. He surmised the ETs had genetically influenced human groups long before the modern era. His ET communicator told him there are a huge number of extraterrestrial cultures throughout the universe and revealed more than one country conducted a similar communications project with them.

After retiring, Sherman went public with a book, Above Black – Project Preserve Destiny: Insider Account of Alien Contact and Government Cover-Up, recounting his experiences. His low-key, straightforward presentation has lent him support in a field where stories are often dramatized and embellished. Sherman stated in an interview: “If I were to make up a story, it would be a lot more elaborate than this. I want to stick to what happened to me, and let everyone else conjecture upon that. If I start conjecturing, then it sullies my credibility. I need to stick to the facts.”

Betty & Barney Hill

(1919-2004 & 1922-1969)

Social worker and postman
Born in Newton, New Hampshire and Newport News, Virginia, USA

Barney and Betty Hill’s story was the first widely publicized claim of an alien abduction in the United States. It also largely introduced the notions of missing time and grey aliens into popular culture and became the subject of many books and films.

The Hills were driving home through a rural portion of New Hampshire on the night of September 19, 1961. Near the resort of Indian Head they stopped in the middle of Route 3 to observe a strange light moving through in the sky. Looking through binoculars, Betty observed an “odd-shaped” craft with flashing, multi-colored lights traveling across the face of the moon.

Because her sister had claimed to have seen a flying saucer several years earlier, Betty thought it might be what she was observing. Barney observed what he reasoned was a commercial airliner traveling toward Vermont on its way to Montreal. However, he soon changed his mind when the craft rapidly descended in their direction. He quickly returned to the car and drove them toward Franconia Notch on a narrow mountainous stretch of the road.

The Hills claimed they continued driving on the isolated road, moving slowly through in order to observe the object as it came closer. The couple watched as the silent, illuminated craft moved erratically and bounced back and forth in the night sky.

Approximately one mile south of Indian Head, they said, the object rapidly descended toward their vehicle, then hovered above their vehicle, causing Barney to stop in the middle of the highway. Using the binoculars, Barney claimed to have seen multiple humanoid figures peering out of the craft’s windows, seeming to look at him. In unison, all but one figure moved to what appeared to be a panel on the rear wall of the craft. The one remaining figure continued to look at Barney and communicated a telepathic message to him saying “stay where you are and keep looking.” Barney had a recollection of observing the humanoid forms wearing glossy black uniforms and reported the “beings were somehow not human.”

Barney tore the binoculars away from his eyes and ran back to the car. In a near hysterical state, he told Betty, “They’re going to capture us!” He then saw the object shift its location to directly above the vehicle. He drove them away at high speed, telling Betty to look for the object behind them. Almost immediately, the Hills heard a rhythmic series of beeping or buzzing sounds which they said seemed to bounce off their vehicle, and the car vibrated as a tingling sensation passed through their bodies. The Hills said at this point they experienced the onset of an altered state of consciousness which left their minds dulled. A second series of beeping or buzzing sounds returned the couple to full consciousness. They then found they had traveled nearly 35 miles (56 km) south, but had only vague memories of the section of road in front of them. They recalled making a sudden, unplanned turn, encountering a roadblock, and observing a fiery orb in the road.

The Hills arrive home around dawn and tried to reconstruct the chronology of events as they witnessed the UFO and drove home, but their memories had become incomplete and fragmented.

Betty telephoned their close friend, Major Paul Henderson, at the nearby Pease Air Force Base, to report the UFO sighting. She then begin having vivid nightmares two weeks later involving being taken up into an alien spacecraft and having medical experiments performed on her. As a result of these nightmares, Betty and Barney decided to undergo hypnosis over two years later. In separate sessions, they described two similar, but different experiences of being taken on board the spacecraft by short beings with large black eyes and smooth gray skin. Betty was then shown a star map during her experience which she was able to memorize and reproduce later. Although, the map has been largely dismissed based on it’s multiple, possible interpretations and general inability to provide any useful positional information.

Barney Hill died only a few years after the alleged incident, but Betty Hill lived much longer to have the consistency of her story and credibility examined as a result. Skeptical Inquirer columnist and noted skeptic Robert Sheaffer wrote:

“I was present at the National UFO Conference in New York City in 1980, at which Betty presented some of the UFO photos she had taken. She showed what must have been well over two hundred slides, mostly of blips, blurs, and blobs against a dark background. These were supposed to be UFOs coming in close, chasing her car, landing, etc… After her talk had exceeded about twice its allotted time, Betty was literally jeered off the stage by what had been at first a very sympathetic audience. This incident, witnessed by many of ufology’s leaders and top activists, removed any lingering doubts about Betty’s credibility — she had none. In the oft-repeated words of one ufologist who accompanied Betty on a UFO vigil in 1977, she was “unable to distinguish between a landed UFO and a streetlight.”

Controversial Figures

Steven Greer

(1955-Present)

Bachelor of Science in Biology and Doctor of Medicine
Physician and ufologist
Born in Charlotte, North Carolina, USA

In 1990 Greer founded the Center for the Study of Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence (CSETI) to create a diplomatic and research-based initiative to contact extraterrestrial civilizations. In 1993, he founded the Disclosure Project, a nonprofit research project, whose goal is to disclose to the public the government’s alleged knowledge of UFOs, extraterrestrial intelligence, and advanced energy and propulsion systems. It also aims to grant amnesty to government whistleblowers willing to violate their security oaths by sharing insider knowledge about UFOs.

In May 2001, Greer held a press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C featuring 20 retired Air Force, Federal Aviation Administration and intelligence officers. According to a 2002 report in the Oregon Daily Emerald, Greer has gathered 120 hours of testimony from civilians and various government and military officials, including astronaut Gordon Cooper and a brigadier general, on the topic of UFOs.

In 2013, Greer co-produced Sirius, a documentary detailing his work and hypotheses regarding extraterrestrial life, government cover-ups, and close encounters of the fifth kind. Greer also produced Unacknowledged (2017), a more recent documentary in a similar vein.

Although Greer was initially seen as the ‘father of the modern Disclosure movement’ his credibility has fallen significantly over the years as he has become more known to make remarkable, unfounded claims and speculations while aggressively commercializing his projects.

Greer claimed to give a briefing to CIA director James Woolsey at a ‘dinner party’ which was later denied by Woolsey and the other attendees. Greer responded to the denial with his own claims, citing his wife’s account and the meeting was actually a briefing and not an informal gathering.

Greer hosted a press conference with credible UFO witnesses on Capitol Hill, but presented the work of others using his own name, causing significant controversy among those involved. 

Greer has advertised private, paid UFO events at his farm in Virginia, where he offered to teach others the “nature of reality and the experience of higher states of consciousness” and what “extraterrestrial contact is really about.” Greer state the intent of the gathering was to create a historical record of events and designed to quickly get the truth out to the public, but had guests sign non-disclosure agreements and has yet to release anything resulting from such events. Greer has also advertised a specific methodology for establishing communication with extraterrestrials at similar paid events and several times claimed to have made contact with large craft, but never produced any tangible evidence of the fact.

Royce Myer, who writes at ufowatchdog.com, stated:

“Greer is quick with “the truth” and how the field of UFOlogy is often marginalized and subjected to ridicule while the faceless and nameless bad guys rush in to cover it all up. The reality here is one need not look any further than Greer (among others) for the real problem the UFO field is faced with: The charlatans , delusional personalities, and outright sensationalists who are taking center stage with their completely unfounded and often times exaggerated claims, citing of anonymous sources, and offering of not a shred of tangible evidence as to those claims.”

Bob Lazar

(1959-Present)

Physicist and photographer
Born in Coral Gables, Florida, USA

In 1989, Lazar appeared in a special interview with investigative reporter George Knapp on Las Vegas TV station KLAS to discuss his purported employment as a physicist from 1988-89 at S-4, allegedly located near Groom Lake, Nevada, at the location also known as Area 51. According to Lazar, S-4 served as a hidden military location for the study and possible reverse-engineering of extraterrestrial technology. Lazar says he saw nine different discs there and provided details on their mode of propulsion. When asked why he decided to do the interview, he said he wanted to share his work with the scientific community and felt the best way was to go public to insure himself against any mysterious sudden demise for exposing classified information.

In his interview, Lazar said he first thought the saucers were secret terrestrial aircraft whose test flights must have been responsible for many UFO reports. Gradually, on closer examination from having been shown multiple briefing documents, and boarding one craft and examining its interior Lazar came to the conclusion the discs were designed for space travel and not of human origin.

For the propulsion of the vehicles, Lazar claimed the atomic Element 115 served as a nuclear fuel. Element 115 (temporarily named “ununpentium”) reportedly provided an energy source which would produce anti-gravity effects under proton bombardment along with antimatter for energy production. As the intense strong nuclear force field of the element’s nucleus would be properly amplified, a large-scale gravitational effect would distort the surrounding space-time continuum and greatly shorten the distance to a charted destination.

Lazar also claims he was given introductory briefings describing the historical involvement by extraterrestrial beings with Earth for the past 100,000 years. The beings originate from the Zeta Reticuli 1 & 2 star system and are therefore referred to as Zeta Reticulans, popularly called ‘Greys’.

Lazar claims to have degrees from the California Institute of Technology and Massachusetts Institute of Technology. However, his name does not appear on the alumni roll of either institution and yearbooks from that time contain neither photos or references to Lazar. In 1993, the Los Angeles Times investigated his background and found no evidence to support his claims. They also discovered he had pled guilty to felony pandering in 1990, when he installed a computer system for a local brothel, declared bankruptcy, and listed his occupation as a self-employed photo processor on documents.

Lazar claims to have worked at the Los Alamos National Laboratories, but no record of his employment has been found, aside from a phone book directory of Los Alamos scientists which has been heavily disputed. His hospital birth records, college transcripts, and employment records, including those of his employment with Los Alamos National Laboratories and through EG&G have apparently been erased. Lazar claims his past identity has been ‘disappeared’ by the government for reasons of secrecy, but has been unable resolve these contradictions in his story.

Opinions are divided regarding whether Lazar’s knowledge of physics is credible. Many say he has a weak grasp of the scientific principles involved, but to the uneducated in the subject he appears to know what he is talking about.

In the year 2000, Lazar started United Nuclear, a scientific supply company selling a variety of research materials and chemicals. In 2006, Lazar and wife were charged with violating the Federal Hazardous Substances Act for shipping restricted chemicals across state lines following a federal investigation started in 2003. The charges stemmed from a 2003 raid on Lazar’s business where chemical sales records were examined. Lazar claimed that he mistakenly concluded he could legally sell the chemicals after finding incorrect information on the internet.

In 2007, United Nuclear was fined $7,500 for violating a law against selling chemicals and components used to make illegal fireworks. Lazar “pled guilty to three criminal counts of introducing into interstate commerce and aiding and abetting the introduction into interstate commerce of banned hazardous substances.” Lazar also “entered into a consent decree that permanently limits the amount of future sales of fireworks-related chemicals, and United Nuclear Scientific Equipment and Supplies was placed on probation for three years.”

In 2015 Michael Pratt, a prolific researcher and ufologist, produced a technical white paper analysis of many of the claims made by Bob Lazar titled The Lazar Report (Fraud, Fiction and Fantasy at S4).

Tom DeLonge

(1975-Present)

Musician, author, filmmaker, and ufologist
Born in Poway, California, USA

DeLonge is the lead vocalist and guitarist of the band Angels & Airwaves and former guitarist and vocalist of the band Blink-182. DeLonge manages multiple business ventures including Atticus Clothing, Macbeth Footwear, and Modlife. In 2015, he founded To the Stars Academy of Arts and Sciences (TTSA), a scientific research, aerospace, and media company which incorporates Angels & Airwaves and a number of his books, including the Sekret Machines series.

The TTSA website states it “has mobilized a team of the most experienced, connected and passionately curious minds from the US intelligence community, including the CIA and Department of Defense, that have been operating under the shadows of top-secrecy for decades. The team members all share a common thread of frustration and determination to disrupt the status quo, wanting to use their expertise and credibility to bring transformative science and engineering out of the shadows and collaborate with global citizens to apply that knowledge in a way that benefits humanity.“

DeLonge’s passion for ufology has been long documented, although his credibility as a researcher and knowledge on the subject has undergone significant criticism. Since forming the TTSA he has also become less forthcoming regarding specific aspects of his sources and information, as best seen in his 2017 Joe Rogan interview.

DeLonge has partnered with many distinguished figures for the TTSA,  including Chris Mellon (former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense of Intelligence), Jim Semivan (former Senior Intelligence Office, CIA), Steve Justice (former Advanced Systems Director for Lockheed Martin’s “Skunk Works”), Luis Elizondo  (former Director of programs to investigate unidentified aerial threats, USG), among others.

The TTSA is structured as a Public Benefit Corporation (PBC), enabling regulation A+ crowdfunding and investments from the general public. The company’s offering circular indicates the various funding milestones and restructuring of projects and scopes depending on the level of investments. The TTSA listed the amount of funding raised at approximately $2.5 million from 3,000 investors, but the total amount as of April 2018 has since been removed from the website. As the initial funding reaches a close at this amount, the offering circular indicates the likely result:

“If the offering size were to be less than $5 million and above the $1 million minimum, TTS AAS would adjust its use of proceeds by reducing planned growth of employee headcount, reducing operational costs, and slowing down projects or not making investment in projects. The company is also required under the loan to Our Two Dogs, Inc. to repay 10% of the net proceeds from funds raised in this offering, up to $400,000 in this scenario.”

Our Two Dogs, Inc. is another of DeLonge’s companies, although it’s exact nature is unclear. Regardless, the future of the TTSA is unclear at this level and it is difficult to know what to expect from it’s science and research arms in the future, if anything, as well as it’s media ventures.

Stephen Bassett

(1946-Present)

Lecturer, activist, and author
Bachelor of Science in Physics
Born in Vallejo, California, U.S

Basset’s entry into ufology was working at the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research (PEER), founded by Dr. John Mack in Cambridge, MA. In July,1996 he left Cambridge to set up a consulting practice, Paradigm Research Group (PRG), in Bethesda, Maryland.

PRG is an exo-politics organization “dedicated to ending the government imposed truth embargo regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.” It assists organizations and initiatives working to raise public awareness of the both the extraterrestrial presence and the truth embargo, convene open congressional hearings to take government and agency witness testimony, and incite the media to appropriately cover the related issues.

In 1999, Bassett founded the Extraterrestrial Phenomena Political Action Committee (X-PAC), a UFO lobbying group. Presently, he is the only registered lobbyist in the United States representing UFO research and activist organizations and X-PPAC is the first political action committee to target the political implications of UFO phenomena.

In 2013 PRG produced a Citizen Hearing on Disclosure at the National Press Club in Washington, DC. At that time 42 researchers and witnesses testified over five days before six former members of the U. S. Congress regarding events and evidence confirming and extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.

Bassett believes extraterrestrials are visiting earth, we have back engineered their technology from the Roswell crash, and is a leading advocate for ending the supposed ‘truth embargo’ regarding an extraterrestrial presence engaging the human race.

Bassett’s discretion regarding his support of specific witnesses has garnered him significant criticism. In a 2009 appearance on The Paracast he was asked why he gave platforms to people with questionable beliefs at his events he stated “Credibility is not an issue in the Disclosure process.”

David Wilcock

(1973-Present)

Masters in Psychology
Lecturer, author, filmmaker, researcher, and intuitive consultant
Born in Rotterdam, New York, USA

Wilcock research focuses on ancient civilizations, consciousness and spiritual evolution, and new paradigms of energy and matter. He is best known for his Convergence series of books, writings on his website, DivineCosmos.com, and as host of Gaia TV’s Cosmic Disclosure series featuring experiencer Corey Goode.

Wilcock has claimed to have many synchronistic, spritual, and out-of-body experiences throughout his life. At age 23, he claims to have broken through to direct verbal contact with his own Higher Self, thanks to his study of The Ra Material and his ongoing daily dreamwork (Wilcock has kept an unbroken, daily dream journal for over twenty years). This proved to be the most important single event of his life, as the source showed it was outside of time and fountain of unending wisdom for how Wilcock could progress spiritually.

In September of 1997, he was told in a consciously induced OBE to move to Virginia Beach, Virginia. When he arrived, people from Association for Research and Enlightenment (ARE) recognized him as the spitting image of a young Edgar Cayce. Wilcock has since come to believe he is the reincarnation of Edgar Cayce and is the co-author of the book The Reincarnation of Edgar Cayce (2004).

Hoaxers

George Adamski

(1891-1965)

Teacher and ufologist
Born in Bydgoszcz, Poland

In 1930 Adamski was teaching his personal mixture of Christianity and Eastern religions, which he called “Universal Progressive Christianity” and “Universal Law”. In the early 1930s, while living in Laguna Beach, Adamski founded the “Royal Order of Tibet”, which held meetings in the “Temple of Scientific Philosophy”. Adamski served as a “philosopher” and the church was given a government license to make wine for “religious purposes” during Prohibition. Adamski was quoted as saying “I made enough wine for all of Southern California … I was making a fortune!” However, the end of Prohibition also marked the decline of his profitable wine-making business and Adamski later told two friends that’s when he “had to get into this [flying] saucer crap.”

In 1949 Adamski began giving his first UFO lectures in Southern California where he made many claims, including the “government and science had established the existence of UFOs two years earlier, via radar tracking of 700-foot-long spacecraft on the other side of the Moon.” He further claimed “science now knows that all planets [in Earth’s solar system] are inhabited” and “photos of Mars taken from the Mount Palomar observatory have proven the canals on Mars are man-made, built by an intelligence far greater than any man’s on earth.”

In 1950, Adamski took a photograph of what he alleged were six unidentified objects in the sky, which appeared to be flying in formation. This same UFO photograph was depicted in an August 1978 commemorative stamp issued by the island nation of Grenada in order to mark the “Year of UFOs.”

In 1952, Adamski and several friends were in the Colorado Desert when they purportedly saw a large submarine-shaped object hovering in the sky. Believing the ship was looking for him, Adamski is said to have left his friends and headed away from the main road. Shortly afterwards, he claimed a scout ship made of a type of translucent metal landed close to him and its pilot, a Venusian called “Orthon”, disembarked and sought him out. Adamski claimed the people with him also saw the Venusian ship, and several of them later stated they could see Adamski meeting someone in the desert, although from a considerable distance.

Adamski said Orthon communicated with him via telepathy and through hand signals. During the conversation, Orthon purportedly warned of the dangers of nuclear war, and Adamski later wrote “the presence of this inhabitant of Venus was like the warm embrace of great love and understanding wisdom.” Adamski claimed Orthon had refused to allow himself to be photographed, and instead, had asked Adamski to provide him with a blank photographic plate, which Adamski claimed he gave Orthon.

Orthon is said to have returned the photographic plate to Adamski later that year and when developed was found to contain strange symbols. It was during this meeting Adamsk is said to have taken a now famous photograph of Orthon’s Venusian scout ship using his 6-inch (150 mm) telescope.

Anglo-Irish eccentric Desmond Leslie struck up a correspondence with Adamski, having written a manuscript about the visitation of Earth by aliens. Adamski sent Leslie a written account of his supposed contact with Orthon and photos. Leslie combined the two works into a co-authored book Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953). The book claimed Nordic aliens from Venus and other planets in Earth’s solar system routinely visited the Earth.

In his 1955 book Inside the Space Ships, Adamski claimed Orthon arranged for him to be taken on a trip to see the Solar System, including the planet Venus, the location where Orthon said the late Mrs. Adamski had been reincarnated. He claimed in another voyage he met the 1,000-year-old “elder philosopher of the space people”, who was called “the Master”. Adamski said he and the Master discussed philosophy, religion, and the “Earth’s place in the universe”.[28] Adamski said he learned that he had been selected by Nordic aliens to bring their message of peace to Earth people, and that other humans throughout history had also served as their messengers, including Jesus Christ. Adamski further claimed aliens were peacefully living on Earth, and he had met with them in bars and restaurants in Southern California.

Adamski’s stories led other people to come forward with their own claims of contact and interplanetary travels with friendly “Space Brothers”, including such figures as Howard Menger, Daniel Fry, George Van Tassel, and Truman Bethurum. Through books, lectures, and conventions – the contactee movement grew throughout the 1950s and Adamski remained the most prominent and influential among them.

In the early-to-mid 1953 USAF Captain Edward J. Ruppelt and head of Project Blue Book, the Air Force group assigned to investigate UFO reports, decided to investigate Adamski’s claims. He traveled to California’s Palomar Mountain and, dressed in civilian attire to avoid attracting attention, attended one of Adamski’s lectures before a large crowd at his Palomar Gardens Cafe.

Ruppelt concluded Adamski was a talented con artist whose UFO stories were designed to make money from his gullible followers and listeners, and compared Adamski to the famed hoaxer, carnival, and circus showman PT Barnum. In describing Adamski’s speaking style, Ruppelt wrote “to look at the man and listen to his story you had an immediate urge to believe him…he was dressed in well-worn, but neat, overalls. He had slightly graying hair and the most honest pair of eyes I’ve ever seen. He spoke softly and naively, almost pathetically, giving the impression that ‘most people think I’m crazy, but honestly, I’m really not.'” According to Ruppelt, Adamski had a persuasive effect on his audience, “you could actually have heard the proverbial pin drop” in the restaurant as Adamski told of his initial 1952 meeting with Orthon. When Adamski finished his story, Ruppelt noted that many of his listeners purchased copies of Adamski’s UFO photos that were on sale in the restaurant. At another lecture led by Adamski and other well-known contactees, Ruppelt wrote that “people shelled out hard cash to hear Adamski’s story.”[4]

According to Ruppelt, Adamski’s UFO lectures and his first two books had made him an affluent man: “[His] hamburger stand is boarded up and he now lives in a big ranch house. He vacations in Mexico and has his own clerical staff. His two books Flying Saucers Have Landed and Inside the Space Ships have sold…200,000 copies and have been translated into every language except Russian.” Adamski remains the most famous contactee of the 1950s, although most investigators have concluded his claims were an elaborate hoax and Adamski himself was a con artist.

Billy Meier

(1937-Present)

Born in Bülach, Switzerland

Meier claims his extraterrestrial encounters began at the age of five, when he met an elderly “Plejaren” man named “Sfath”. He claims to have had encounters with multiple Plejarens throughout his life, and has shared many photographs, metal samples, sound recordings, and even film footage. Meier later founded a religious movement based on his alleged contacts in the late 1970s called the “Free Community of Interests for the Border and Spiritual Sciences and Ufological Studies” and established the “Semjase Silver Star Center” in Switzerland.

Meiers photographs include alleged Plejaren “beamships”, as he calls them, saying they gave him permission to photograph and film them so he could produce evidence of their extraterrestrial visitations. His other photos include a pterosaur, supposedly taken when Meier was taken back in time by the Plejarens, two Plejaren women, and celestial objects taken from outer space.

Meier has been widely characterized as a fraud by skeptics and ufologists, who suggest he uses models to fabricate his photographs. In 1997, Meier’s ex-wife, Kalliope, told interviewers his beamship photographs were crafted with items such as trash can lids, carpet tacks, and other household objects, and the stories of his adventures with aliens were similarly fictitious. She claimed the photos of the purported Plejaren women “Asket” and “Nera” were really photos of Michelle DellaFave and Susan Lund, members of the singing troupe The Golddiggers. It was later confirmed the women were indeed members of The Golddiggers performing on The Dean Martin Show from 1969-1973. His pterosaur photo was simply a photograph of an illustration in a book about dinosaurs.

Ray Santilli

(1958-Present)

Musician, filmmaker, and producer
Born in London, England

Santilli is best known for his 1995 “alien autopsy” film. The seventeen minute, black and white film features autopsy footage of supposed extraterrestrial corpses from the Roswell UFO incident. Santilli claimed the footage was authentic and supplied to him by a retired military cameraman who wished to remain anonymous.

Fox television broadcast the film in the United States on August 28, 1995 under the title Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction. The program caused a sensation, with Time magazine declaring that the film had sparked a debate “with an intensity not lavished on any home movie since the Zapruder film.” Fox rebroadcast the program twice, each time to higher ratings.

In 2006, the events surrounding the release of the footage were adapted as a feature film, Alien Autopsy, a British comedy directed by Jonny Campbell. The film gave a humorous reconstruction of the making of the Santilli film based on Santilli’s statements, without commenting on the veracity of his claims.

In April 2006, Sky UK broadcast a documentary, Eamonn Investigates: Alien Autopsy ,where Ray Santilli and fellow producer Gary Shoefield admitted their film was actually a reconstruction containing only “a few frames” from the original film Santilli had viewed in 1992, but have never identified which alleged frames are from the original. They stated by the time they had raised enough money to purchase the original, only a few frames were still intact, the rest having been degraded by heat and humidity.

According to Santilli, a set was constructed in the living room of an empty flat in London. John Humphreys, an artist and sculptor, was employed to construct two dummy alien bodies over a period of three weeks using casts containing sheep brains set in raspberry jam, chicken entrails, and knuckle joints obtained from a local meat market. Humphreys also played the role of the chief examiner, in order to allow him to control the effects being filmed.

The footage also showed a man reading a statement “verifying” his identity as the original cameraman and source of the footage. Santilli and Shoefield admitted in the documentary they had found an unidentified homeless man on the streets of Los Angeles and persuaded him to play the role for the film. After filming, the team disposed of the “bodies” by cutting them into small pieces and placing them in rubbish bins across London.

In 2007, Spyros Melaris came forward and claimed he had lead the team which helped Santilli create the film. Researcher Philip Mantle helped Melaris tell his story and recounts his experience in detail in a 2017 article at openminds.tv.

Stan Romanek

(1962-Present)

Author and ufologist
Born in Aurora, Colorado, USA

Romanek is self-proclaimed alien abductee. His claims to have collected a wide variety of evidence over the years proving the existence of aliens including hundreds of photos, videos, audio recordings, drawings, and math equations he claims he could not/should not know. In one account from 2003, he said he woke up and found himself wearing a flannel ladies’ nightgown, and suspected he had been abducted and returned in different clothing. Romanek says he eventually came to suspect that the clothing belonged to another supposed abductee, Betty Hill. When asked if the gown had been tested for Hill’s DNA, Romanek claimed that it had not because the test was too expensive.

In 2008, Romanek appeared on Larry King Live, along with Jeff Peckman, former Denver Mayoral candidate endorsing Romanek’s story as part of his campaign for a Denver Extraterrestrial Affairs Commission. Romanek claimed to have recorded a video of an expressionless alien peeking in his window, now commonly referred to as the ‘’Boo Video’’.

In May of 2008 during an interview of Romanek on Coast To Coast AM radio, host George Noory suggested that Romanek take a lie detector test over the authenticity of the Boo Video. Romanek agreed to this test. When it was conducted later that year, Romanek failed on the question “Is the Boo tape a hoax?” Romanek alleged without evidence that he had medical conditions that prevent a lie detector test from working on him. Later at the 2009 Mysteries of the Universe conference in Kansas City, Romanek instead alleged without evidence that he was set up by Noory to fail.

In 2009, he was asked by ABC News to submit a purported alien implant in his leg to medical examination. When the time came, Romanek claimed it had disappeared from his body. The Rocky Mountain Paranormal research group recreated a famous video produced by Romanek, purporting to show a little green man peeking in his window. The groups claims they reenacted the video for $90. In a 2015 video interview on the Peter Maxwell Slattery show, Romanek said he faked the strange movement of objects that occurred during a 2014 interview on the same show. Romanek initially denied he had faked evidence and then later apologized, alleging a government conspiracy coerced him into confessing and incriminating himself.

In 2017, director Jon Sumple released Extraordinary: The Stan Romanek Story, a documentary recounting Romanek’s fifteen years worth of alleged extraterrestrial and supernatural encounters. The film features a series of vignettes, home videos, photographs and interviews, often accompanied by dramatic classical music. Sumple presents much of the purported evidence of UFOs and encounters which made Romanek famous. The film’s epilogue attempts to dispel some of the stigma surrounding the recent criminal charges brought against Romanek.

On February 13, 2014, Romanek was arrested after turning himself in at the Larimer County jail on charges of possessing and distributing child pornography, the outcome of an eight-month investigation launched by Homeland security. More than 300 images as well as video files depicting child pornography were found on Romanek’s computers. After appearing at the Larimer County Courthouse, Romanek was released on a $20,000 personal recognizance bond. In March 2016, Romanek pleaded not guilty to both charges after refusing a plea deal from the 8th Judicial DA’s Office. Romanek and his wife both denied the charges, claiming their home computer was hacked in an effort to silence him and warn other experiencers not to speak out.

Despite public allegations by Romanek that the government had planted the evidence on his computer, Deputy District Attorney Joshua Ritter at the sentencing hearing accused Romanek of deception “to try to place blame on others” and “doctoring evidence” of fake videos alleging computer hacking, and disclosed that Romanek had even tried to frame his stepson Jacob Shadduck for placing the pornography on the computer, evidence the prosecutor pointed out that even the defense team would not allow into court.

On August 8, 2017, Romanek was found guilty of felony possession of child pornography but not guilty of distribution of child pornography. His sentencing was held December 14, 2017, where he was sentenced to serve two years in the Larimer County Community Corrections halfway house, and to register as a sex offender.

Glocker produces the UFO-focused Youtube channel Secureteam 10, currently at over 1.5 million subscribers. Glockner has consistently misrepresented videos and fabricated outright fakes through his channel. Although, His videos were largely demonetized as a result of Youtube’s revised advertising policies and Glocker has transitioned to Patreon for garnering financial support and means to continue producing content.

Glockner created and impersonated an informant he called “Ken the Astronomer” and clumsily Photoshopped an image of Neptune behind Saturn, claiming it was a new planet entering the solar system. Dazzathecameraman did an excellent breakdown of the audio of Ken’s voice, showing they were the same person. Glocker later backtracked, claiming the audio was a “re-creation” simply meant to compensate for distortion from the original audio.

UFO Theater, a notable Youtube channel run by Dean Guilioits (aka Constantine), has regularly debunked and responded to Glackner’s videos with analyses of many of his clips.

Science

The following is an abridged version of Mark Cashman’s What Kind of Science Is The Study Of Unidentified Flying Objects?

Despite frequent criticism, scientific study can be performed on UFO phenomena and is an integral pursuit of credible researchers. Generally, the ideal scientific process follows this procedure:

1. Observe something which needs explaining (the observation).
2. Formulate a mechanism which explains it (the hypothesis).
3. Determine characteristics which differentiate an observation consistent with the hypothesis from one which is inconsistent with the hypothesis (the discriminator).
4. Formulate an experiment or an observation which will identify if the discriminator is present
5. Perform the experiment or observation.
6. Record and publish the results for comment and attempted reproduction by others. If the discriminator is confirmed, then the hypothesis may be considered correct, otherwise it is considered incorrect.

The self-correcting nature of science comes from step six, which allows others to comment on the entire process or attempt to reproduce the results of the experiment or observation and publish their own results.

By adhering to a definition of UFOs which does not include initial reports which contain any known physical event, object, process, or any psychological event or process (after examination by qualified persons) we can subsequently eliminate the notion all instances are the result of misperception, hallucinations, or hoaxes (MHH Hypothesis).

The Objective Existence Hypothesis (OEH), which states UFO reports are the result of an objectively existent phenomenon, generally acts as a baseline hypothesis regarding UFOs and do not reach as far as other, more frequently discussed theories. However, many criticisms are still regularly made against the OEH which can further illustrate the nature of study necessary for investigating UFOs:

UFO reports are typically anecdotal. Anecdotes are not scientific data. Therefore, the study of UFOs is not scientific.

Initial reports are the result of the observation of a phenomenon by a witness who is typically in a normal context, recognized by that witness as being unusual, and which is then reported to some authority. In this sense, the UFO observation is similar to the observation of a crime being committed, and forensic procedures are appropriate for determining the truth, falsity, and accuracy of the account. Such techniques include testing with leading questions for ease with which the witness incorporates spurious data into an account, validation of witness visual and auditory acuity via standard tests, validation of witness accuracy via comparison with accounts from other (preferably independent) witnesses, and measurement of any physical results of the incident. Where possible, qualitative information must be supplemented by quantitative information.

The UFO filter must be applied to the resulting account, and only if it passes that test, is it admissible as UFO data.

Anecdotal, qualitative and quantitative data are admissible as scientific data, as can be seen in criminology, natural environment animal behavioral studies, etc. The study of UFOs is not physics or chemistry – it is more like intelligence gathering, forensics, or sociology.

UFO observations are non-repeatable. Only repeatable observations are amenable to scientific study. Therefore the study of UFOs is not scientific.

Obviously, this is not entirely true. For instance, one could cite any reliable multiple witness observation as, in essence, a repetition of the observation. One could also cite those cases of objects of similar descriptions being reported at different times and locations as repetitions of the original observation.

But the key point being made by critics of UFO study is that the UFO will not perform on demand, and that therefore no conclusions can ever be drawn from a study of essentially unrepeatable events. Since hard sciences like physics and chemistry can perform repeatable experiments on demand, UFO research can never be a science like physics or chemistry.

In essence, this is a straw man.

First, UFO photographs, landing traces and medical effects are amenable to laboratory analysis by a variety of workers.

Second, potentially valid and testable hypotheses can be arrived at by examining the universe of UFO reports, as Vallée did in his examination of the “psychosis” hypothesis for UFO observations. This is not dissimilar to how astronomers derived concepts of stellar and galactic evolution. Stellar and galactic evolution are not directly observable, but a number of objects at various stages of evolution are. Thus, careful examination of the characteristics of these objects for similarities and differences, can, in conjunction with known laws of physics, provide hypotheses as to the process of stellar or galactic evolution. By the same token, the observation of similarities and differences between reliable UFO reports can yield testable hypotheses as to energy output, flight characteristics, landing trace characteristics, occupant appearance and behavior, etc.

Thirdly, the study of UFOs does not have to be a repeatable laboratory exercise like chemistry and physics to be scientific. As mentioned above, psychology, sociology, natural behavior of animals, and astronomy are all sciences which have extremely limited components of repeatable laboratory science. Does this make progress more difficult? Yes. Impossible? No.

UFOs are investigated by non-professional investigators without funding. Scientific research requires professional researchers, therefore the study of UFOs is not scientific.

Many fields of science such as physics, electrical science, biology, etc, were begun by the efforts of dedicated amateurs working in their own time at their own pace. Science does not require professionals. It is a process

The gathering of data requires a careful and thorough approach. Often, even professional scientists are not up this. One has only to see the original and recent criticisms of the work of Kinsey in human sexuality, or criticisms of the attribution of medical effects to low level EM fields, or criticisms leveled at “cold fusion” researchers, to see that professional status is no guarantee of accuracy or unbiased sampling. But one also sees thereby how scientific data and theories are validated or invalidated.

As long as the method used to gather data is openly discussed and the discriminators used in confirming or denying a hypothesis are presented, the self-correcting nature of science ensures that errors will eventually be found and purged. Those who fail to meet these criteria will find their work is not supported in the scientific community.

UFO anecdotes are corrupted by non-professional investigators who are biased toward finding that the OEH hypothesis is confirmed, and that the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) or paranormal hypothesis (PNH) accounts for the data better than the MHH. Scientific research requires unbiased investigators, therefore the study of UFOs is not scientific.

The myth of the “disinterested scientist” is one which seems to persist, despite the obvious fact that no one spends enormous time and effort on a subject which they find inherently uninteresting and unimportant. However, the nature of the process of science is such that the publication and critiques or attempted reproduction of results are an inbuilt bias correction mechanism. This mechanism clearly operates within the study of UFOs, where members of the field frequently debate the IFO/UFO classification of specific cases, the validity or accuracy of specific evidence, and the validity of hypotheses such as ETH, PNH, etc.

If the progress of science depended on the scientist being an unbiased saint, said progress would not occur, since this is not the nature of the scientist. It is not some specific grace associated with the scientist which ensures the validity of their results and the absence of mysticism, it is the harsh application of external criticism, and, in some cases, internally enforced sanctions, which purges science of frauds and unsupported theories.

There is no reason to think that such a process is not or cannot be applied to the study of UFOs. It is certainly true that adherence to this part of the process is at present uneven, and certainly imperfect, but this is a sign of the field’s immaturity, not that the field is unable to follow the process of science.

Science, like law, is an adversarial process, and does not work unless there are parties in disagreement during the transition between initially confirmed hypothesis and reliable theory.

UFO investigators are not familiar with, experienced with or trained in methods for uncovering hoaxes, hallucinations, and misperceptions. Only “skeptical” investigators [read: debunkers] have this knowledge and attitude. Since this is required for the scientific study of UFOs, the study of UFOs is not scientific.

This is not consistent with the facts. UFO investigators and organizations have classified many reports as IFOs. However, this contention reflects the belief of skeptics that better knowledge and better investigation will result in the elimination of UFO classifications and will result in all cases being claimed as IFOs. Unfortunately, the record of such “investigators” as Klass and Menzel (neither of whom ever spent much time interviewing witnesses) has not shown that they make better application of the UFO filter than those who are going out into the field from the major UFO organizations, or those who come from outside the field (such as John Fuller). Much of their “investigation” seems to be to find key items of the UFO account which can be distorted or omitted until the result fits an ad hoc hypothesis of misperception or hoax.

Is “skeptical” knowledge required for the scientific study of UFOs? Certainly some forensic knowledge and experience is useful. However statistics from the Air Force Project Blue Book and the Condon committee indicate that only a relatively small percentage of initial reports are proven to be hoaxes. It is believed, but not yet quantified, that the percentage is higher with regard to photographs, and some contend that it is also higher with regard to contact claimants and repeaters, but, again, there has been little quantitative study to demonstrate these propositions.

UFO reports represent a transient phenomenon, localized in a narrow slice of time and space, witnessed largely by unspecialized personnel who are unprepared to make quantitative or qualitative observations. Like it or not, that is the nature of the beast.

Given this, however, it is an unjustified assertion to state the phenomenon cannot be studied scientifically, or that its existence cannot be demonstrated. It is clear that science can study any subject which allows for its process to be followed, and, as we have seen, one can indeed

  • Observe something which needs explaining (the UFO report).
  • Formulate a mechanism which explains it (the hypothesis).
  • Determine characteristics which differentiate an observation consistent with the hypothesis from one which is inconsistent with the hypothesis (the discriminator).
  • Formulate an experiment or an observation which will identify if the discriminator is present.
  • Perform the experiment or observation (on the original report or similar / different reports).
  • Record and publish the results for comment and attempted reproduction by others. If the discriminator is present, then the hypothesis may be considered correct, otherwise it is considered false.
  • In fact, in the study of UFOs, this process is followed in at least two layers:
  • Determining if an initial report is a UFO (the hypothesis is that it is not).
  • Determining if UFO reports support OEH, MHH, or any other hypothesis as to the generative cause of the report.

From what has been presented, it seems clear that not only can UFOs be studied scientifically, but that they are being studied scientifically. Observations are recorded, hypotheses are formulated, discriminators are isolated, the discriminator is sought in the observation, and the results are published, discussed, validated or invalidated by subsequent follow up.

The nature of the UFO filter tends to discount the MHH, since MHH cases are not allowed to be considered UFOs. Additional objections to UFO research on the grounds that the data are not suitable or have been biased in the field have been shown to be unsupportable. The existing research thus so far supports the OEH as the only fundamental alternative to MHH.

Drake’s Equation

The Drake equation, first proposed by radio astronomer Frank Drake in 1961, is a probabilistic argument used to estimate the number communicative extraterrestrial civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy by multiplying several variables. It is generally written as:

N = R* • fp • ne • fl • fi • fc • L
N = The number of civilizations in the Milky Way galaxy whose electromagnetic emissions are detectable.
R* = The average rate of formation of stars suitable for the development of intelligent life.
fp = The fraction of those stars with planetary systems.
ne = The number of planets, per solar system, which can potentially support life.
fl = The fraction of those planets which actually develop life.
fi = The fraction of those planets on which intelligent life emerges.
fc = The fraction of those civilizations which have developed technologies releasing detectable signs of their existence into space.
L = The length of time over which such civilizations release detectable signals.

Many of the estimated values for the equations various factors are highly conjectural and not well established. Other factors are excluded entirely, such as the possibilities of panspermia (i.e. intentional or passive spreading of live across the universe). The resulting uncertainty is so large the equation is not useful for drawing firm conclusions. Although, the equation was not written for the purposes of quantifying the number of potential extraterrestrial civilizations, but as a way to stimulate scientific dialogue at the first scientific meeting on the search for extraterrestrial intelligence (SETI). The equation better serves to summarize the main concepts which scientists contemplate when considering the possibility of life outside our solar system.

 

Additional Reading: Reflections on the Equation (2013) by Frank Drake

The Fermi Paradox

“Fermi did not say UFOs aren’t being seen. He did not say there are no aliens visiting. He asked a question: “Where is everybody?”. Please can’t we all stop putting words in his mouth?” – Stanton Friedman, physicist and ufologist

Fermi’s Paradox is the apparent contradiction between the high probability of the existence of extraterrestrial civilizations and the lack of contact with such civilizations. The paradox is named after Enrico Fermi (1901-1954), an italian physicist and Nobel prizewinner who created the world’s first nuclear reactor. While lunching with his colleagues Emil Konopinski, Edward Teller, and Herbert York at Los Alamos National Laboratory one day in 1950, they were chatting about a cartoon in The New Yorker showing cheerful aliens emerging from a flying saucer carrying trash cans stolen from the streets of New York City when Fermi asked “Where is everybody?”

Everyone realized he was referring to the fact that we haven’t seen any alien spaceships, and the conversation turned to the feasibility of interstellar travel. York seemed to have had the clearest memory, recalling of Fermi:

“… he went on to conclude that the reason that we hadn’t been visited might be that interstellar flight is impossible, or, if it is possible, always judged to be not worth the effort, or technological civilization doesn’t last long enough for it to happen.”

Both York and Teller seemed to think Fermi was questioning the feasibility of interstellar travel—nobody thought he was questioning the possible existence of extraterrestrial civilizations. So the so-called Fermi paradox—which does question the existence of E.T.—misrepresents Fermi’s views. Fermi’s skepticism about interstellar travel is not surprising, because in 1950 rockets had not yet reached orbit, much less another planet or star.

Fermi was not the first person to consider the notion, nor did he ever actually publish anything exploring the question or on the subject of extraterrestrials. Others have elaborated on the notion, and the notion “… they are not here; therefore they do not exist” first appeared in print in 1975, when astronomer Michael Hart claimed if smart aliens existed, they would inevitably colonize the Milky Way. If they existed anywhere, they would be here. Since they aren’t, Hart concluded that humans are probably the only intelligent life in our galaxy, so looking for intelligent life elsewhere is “probably a waste of time and money.”

Hart’s argument has been challenged on many grounds—maybe star travel is not feasible, or maybe nobody chooses to colonize the galaxy, or maybe we were visited long ago and the evidence is buried with the dinosaurs—but the idea has become entrenched in thinking about alien civilizations and instilled an air of pessimism around efforts such as the SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) Institute.

Over the years, however, their idea has been confused with Fermi’s original question. The confusion evidently started in 1977 when the physicist David G. Stephenson used the phrase ‘Fermi paradox’ in a paper citing Hart’s idea as one possible answer to Fermi’s question. The Fermi paradox might be more accurately called the ‘Hart argument against the existence of technological extraterrestrials’, which does not sound quite as authoritative as the old name, but seems fairer to everybody.

As for the paradox, there is no logical contradiction between the statement “ETs might exist elsewhere” and the statement “ET is not here” because nobody knows that travel between the stars is possible in the first place.

 

Additional Reading: There Is No Fermi Paradox (1985) by Robert A. Freitas, Jr.

Belief

Before going further into the nature of our beliefs surrounding UFOs, it is important to outline a common misconception. Unless we are strictly debating the validity of the phenomena between the MHH and OEH hypothesis, we cannot “believe in UFOs”. This notion contradicts the generally accepted definition of a UFO by indirectly equating them with extraterrestrial spacecraft.

The same logic applies to the idea of whether “UFOs are real”, which is indisputable, as the thousands of monthly reports to organizations such as MUFON and NUFORC indicates. The notion of belief should be kept within discussions of theory and implications of the phenomenon. If unchecked, this form of wording lets pass unspoken assumptions about the nature of UFOs and warps the context of our conversation, hindering our the goals towards greater understanding.

Many polls have been taken within the United States regarding the public opinion on UFOs since the 1970s. A paper from the Asian Journal for Public Opinion Research titled Paranormal Beliefs: Using Survey Trends from the USA to Suggest a New Area of Research in Asia (2015) was written by a team of professors from the US, Korea, and the associate director of research at the Pew Research Center. They sought to gather poll data to encourage sociological research in Asian countries, and their findings covered a variety of paranormal phenomena. Their results showed public beliefs regarding the nature of UFOs has remained relatively consistent throughout the last four decades:

Their data was pulled from a variety of different organizations. Question wording and sample size varied throughout.
View the paper if you’d like a more detailed view of the data.

Appeal of Belief

“UFO cultists are influenced not by the objective facts of a situation but by their interpretation of those facts. They act according to what they believe, not according to what might actually be true. The fact that their interpretations may be grossly inaccurate does not prevent them from behaving as if they were correct. This is what Vallée means when he says that ‘contact with space may become a social fact a long time before it is a scientific reality.’ “ – David Swift

A variety of psychological factors can contribute to our desire to form specific beliefs involving UFOs:

  • Need for feelings of uniqueness by displaying scare knowledge.
  • Need for meaning in the absence of religious beliefs.
  • Fear of changing times and social conditions.
  • Desire to transcend the fear of death, embodied in the promise of travel to another physical level.
  • Boredom and feelings of inadequacy in the human condition.
  • Desire to escape everyday responsibilities.
  • Desire to interpret evidence favorable to our existing beliefs or misinterpret evidence unfavorable to them.

These are only a few examples, and the fundamental reasons obviously vary between individuals. Although, the most devout groups of believers have existed since the 1960s and impacted society in a myriad of ways. David Swift, a professor of sociology at the University of Hawaii, elaborates on the topic in the epilogue to Jacque Vallée’s Messengers of Deception (1979):

At present, contactee groups are small, and have no obvious effect on society, except for discrediting serious research into the UFO phenomenon. But will this situation remain the same? What are the circumstances under which these cults could become broad social movements, posing a real challenge to society? Such movements arise when many people feel frustrated by existing conditions, and when the movement gives hope for improvement. These hopes may seem far-fetched to an outsider, but there is practically no limit to the irrationalities which may be associated with a successful movement. The factors that affect social movements in general have been summarized in The Handbook of Social Psychology:

The ultimate success of social movements does not depend on their size or organization, or the quality of their leadership, or the sophistication of their views. It depends, rather, on the extent to which they successfully express the feelings, resentments, worries, fears, concerns, and hopes of large numbers of people, and the degree to which these movements can be viewed as vehicles for the solution of widespread problems.

UFO cults appeal to a vast audience. The problems they address are an undeniable fact of our times. Profound changes have affected everyone, particularly in the Western world. Science, technology, and education have undermined traditional beliefs, but have not provided satisfactory substitutes. “God is dead”; yet nothing has taken his place to guide us, reassure us, and protect us. Families have shrunk nearly to the vanishing point. It is the rare person who still lives in the same house or community as his grandparents did. Few of the hundreds of people we pass on the streets know who we are, or care. Old occupations, practiced by generations, suddenly become extinct; skills developed by a lifetime of practice become worthless. And over all these social and psychological concerns loom the threats of environmental pollution and energy crises, and the very real possibility that nuclear war will bring an apocalyptic end to life on this planet.

There is widespread uneasiness about these problems, and various remedies are being offered, including meditation, political action, drugs, and religion. UFO cults are competing with all of these for the support of dissatisfied, disillusioned people. What are the chances that UFOs will outdraw the others? What can saucer sects offer that the rest cannot? A light in the sky, and the message that someone up there can help you.

At first glance this may not seem impressive, but if we think about it we will realize that the UFO has some features which make it a formidable contender.

First, the UFO, more than any of its competitors, highlights the inadequacies of science, the armed forces, and government. These are among the most powerful institutions in our society; yet they are unable to deal with UFOs.

For thirty years the flying saucer has made our leaders look ludicrous. They can’t explain it, they can’t ignore it, they can’t catch it, and they can’t make it go away. It hovers on the edge of public awareness, occasionally darting into the spotlight, creating a moment of consternation, and then withdrawing into the shadows, usually leaving its observers unharmed but shaken by the experience. Physical scientists say that it is a problem for social scientists, and social scientists just as quickly throw it back to the physicists and astronomers. The Air Force, after grappling with the problem for twenty years, tried to wash its hands of the matter in the late 1960s. Although the government denies that UFOs exist, a 1973 Gallup poll found that almost all Americans (93 per cent) were aware of UFOs, and 15 million adults thought they had actually seen one. When the question “Are UFOs real or imaginary?” was asked of the group that was aware of the problem, the percentage of those responding “real” increased from 46 per cent in 1966 to 54 per cent in 1973, and to 57 per cent in 1978, when only 27 per cent responded “imaginary.” No other symbol has so silently but effectively undermined the credibility of our leading institutions.

Secondly, the UFO is a universal symbol, appealing to men and women of many lands, ages, and races. It is not even restricted to a specific period in history. To simple observers, it is a wondrous bauble glittering in the sky. To the more sophisticated, it seems to be a product of a superior technology. In either case, the underlying message is so clear that it hardly needs to be verbalized: the creators of this awesome object have fantastic knowledge and power, and this knowledge and power might help you.

This is an alluring message, and it will become more attractive with each failure of conventional attempts to solve  our complex problems. The thought of salvation from the sky is likely to grow in appeal.

This belief is, after all, not so different from traditional religious doctrine. The idea that benevolent beings live in the sky goes back to our childhood, and to the early stages of human society. The UFO  simply adds the trappings of modern science to those ancient beliefs. Because of twentieth-century technology, even we humans can fly into the heavens, and the advocates of radio astronomy encourage us to believe that there are civilizations far out in space.

Thus, belief in UFOs is not such a big step, and may well attract large numbers of people who are dissatisfied with more mundane answers to our inescapable problems.

Would such movements be a threat? Quite possibly. They could undermine the rational foundations of society. They would not have to overthrow the present system all by themselves; they could simply reinforce irrational currents that already exist.

Revelation rather than reason is the source of contactee beliefs. This is not a new occurrence. There have been previous periods during which people followed voices rather than logic, superstitious belief rather than observation and experiment, and the consequences were disastrous.

This is one of Vallée’s most telling points. He thinks that UFO sects will be influential because of today’s spreading belief in the irrational. It is to this belief that our institutions are vulnerable. Thus, as he observes, the genuine counter-culture of today is not that of hippies or drugs, but rather the counterculture of UFO contact. It is more durable, subtle, and dangerous because it has a broader social base; it is not tied to any specific group or age bracket.

The irony is that scientists themselves have contributed to this situation by refusing to consider problems beyond the borders of safe, established science. Vallée remarks that the attitude he first observed among his colleagues at Paris Observatory – science’s reluctance to investigate paranormal phenomena – is slowly driving many people to react by accepting any claim of superior or mystical contact.

Vallée himself elaborates within the same book on the general social effects such groups have on society. His thoughts were considerably prescient, considering they were written over forty years ago:

It remains for us to summarize the social effects that the belief in UFOs is likely to create – whether such physical objects exist or not. We have seen six major effects throughout this investigation. They were reflected in personal interviews and in quotations from the books and pamphlets of contactee organizations.

1. The belief in UFOs widens the gap between the public and scientific institutions. Some day our society will pay the price for the lack of scientific attention given the UFO phenomenon. As more and more sincere witnesses come forward with their stories, only to be summarily rejected by the academic or military institutions they thought they could trust, an increasing gap is created. Not only may the public turn away from science in any form (and become skeptical of the value of its investment in energy research and space technology), but it may seek a substitute in new high-demand philosophies and pseudosciences. This movement toward superstition in turn antagonizes the scientists, who cite it as evidence that the UFO phenomenon should not be studied seriously, and the vicious circle continues.

2. The contactee propaganda undermines the image of human beings as masters of their own destiny. Beginning with the idea of Atlantis and of “Chariots of the Gods,” and continuing with Biblical interpretations of Yahweh as an extraterrestrial, contactee literature is replete with suggestions that all the great achievements of mankind would have been impossible without celestial intervention. Should we thank extraterrestrial visitors for teaching us agriculture, the mastery of fire, the wheel, and most of our religious traditions? To anyone who has studied the history of science, such ideas (romantically attractive as they are) appear ill-founded. The best and the worst in human beings have been displayed in all the cultures we know. Early cultures were as gifted for fashioning pyramids and building canals as they were skilled at exterminating their enemies, at raping, and at pillaging. Three thousand years later, we are engaging in the same behavior, although we build canals and exterminate enemies “scientifically.”

3. Increased attention given to UFO activity promotes the concept of political unification of this planet. This is perhaps the most commonly recurring theme in my entire study of these groups. Through the belief in UFOs, a tremendous yearning for global peace is expressing itself. In a way that was captured very early by novelists like Koestler and Newman, the UFO is focusing human attention away from the Earth. Whether this becomes a factor for positive or negative social change depends on the way in which this focused attention is channeled.

4. Contactee organizations may become the basis of a new “high-demand” religion. The current conservative backlash against “decadent” morality and social liberalism has led many to reconsider their spiritual orientation. The Catholic Church is at a critical point in its history, and many other religions are in trouble. The new churches emphasize high standards and strict discipline. The creeds of UFO organizations often emphasize themes of sexual repression, racial segregation, and conservative values that place them in a position to capitalize on the growth of this movement. Especially noticeable in this respect is the attention received by “the Two” and the widespread success of the Melchizedek groups. Inherent in such sectarian activity is the seed of revolutionary religious movements with almost unlimited potential.

5.Irrational motivations based on faith are spreading hand in hand with the belief in extraterrestrial intervention. As the UFO phenomenon develops unchecked, with no expectation that research on its nature will be honestly attempted, a continually growing fraction of the public is becoming convinced that many phenomena are beyond the scope of science and are “unknowable” by rational process. If this fraction becomes the majority, they may end society’s unquestioned support for rational science. Instead we may soon find an intermediate system of beliefs, in which an almost mystical faith in higher “contact” blends together with advanced technology in strange hybrid ways. Among the contactees, the idea that all attempts at scientific control must be given up and replaced by blind faith is already prevalent.

6. Contactee philosophies often include belief in higher races and in totalitarian systems that would eliminate democracy. From the statement that UFOs have visited us in the past, it is only a small step to saying that their occupants have “known” the Daughters of Man, “and found them fair!” Then some of us may have celestial blood in our veins, which would make them “superior, to others. The idea of a “chosen people” is an old one; it had lost its appeal in recent decades. Strong belief in extraterrestrial intervention could revive this primitive concept, with particular groups claiming privileges peculiar to those who descend from the stellar explorers. We have also seen that the alleged communication with UFO occupants, when it touched on political subjects, tended to emphasize totalitarian images. Vorilhon, for instance, reports he was told that democracy was obsolete. Raymond Bernard was instructed to expect a “reversal of the old values.” These six effects of the belief in extraterrestrial intervention indicate that an increase in the social conditioning correlated with the UFO phenomenon may lead to complex changes. If the Manipulators do exist, I certainly salute their tenacity, but I am curious about their goals. Anybody clever enough to exploit the public’s expectation of UFO landings, or even to simulate an invasion from outer space, would presumably realize that human institutions are highly vulnerable to changes in our images of ourselves. It is not only the individual contactee who is manipulated, but the global image in humanity’s collective psyche. One would like to know more, than, about the image of humanity such Manipulators harbor in their own minds – and in their hearts. Assuming, of course, that they do have hearts.

Hypothesis

There are many theories which attempt to explain or address the potential nature of UFOs. No one theory could possibly explain all cases, and more than one may be closer to the truth. Regardless, we should clarify the difference between theory and hypothesis, since they are not reliably distinguished outside scientific contexts.

A hypothesis is proposed for the sake of argument so it can be tested to see if it might be true and is constructed before any applicable research has been done. You ask a question, read up on what has been studied before, and then form a hypothesis. It is usually tentative, an assumption or suggestion made strictly for the objective of being tested.

A theory is a principle which has been formed as an attempt to explain things which have already been substantiated by data. It is a system of explanations which ties together facts, explains those facts, and predicts what we might find from other observations and experiments. A theory has a much higher likelihood of being true.

UFOs are far too elusive for anyone to have developed a working theory regarding their true origins. Although, many hypothesis have been widely debated and attempts are still being made to view UFO data within broader contexts to discern more effective perspectives.

Additional Reading: UFO Theories and Explanations (2013) by Daniel Tarr

 

Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH)

 UFOs are physical spacecraft occupied by extraterrestrial life or non-human aliens from other planets visiting Earth.

Despite the ETH being most culturally pervasive and widely discussed explanation for UFOs, it is not necessarily accepted by ufologists and has received a significant amount of criticism as a result. In reality, the ETH is significantly inadequate at explaining many of the anomalous qualities of the UFO phenomenon. Researcher J. Allen Hynek summarized his own arguments against it in 1983. To paraphrase them:

 

  • Our surveillance systems lack the ability to reliably detect incoming or outgoing UFOs.
  • Contact reports indicate a significant lack of physiological variance in extraterrestrials, who appear overwhelmingly humanoid, even thought extrasolar planets would likely have very different biospheres, gravity, and other conditions.
  • The amount of reports are disproportionate to the number of expeditions an alien civilization would statistically be expected to mount for a study of Earth.
  • The reported behavior of extraterrestrials during alleged abductions is often inconsistent, irrational, and contains aspects of high strangeness.
  • UFOs are isolated in time and space and seem to appear and disappear at will, leaving only vague, ambiguous and mocking evidence of their presence.
  • Reported UFOs are often far too small to support a crew traveling through space, and their reported flight behavior is often too erratic to be representative of a craft under intelligent control.
  • The distance between planets makes interstellar travel impractical, particularly because of the amount of energy that would be required for interstellar travel using conventional means.

Related Hypotheses:

Intraterrestrial Hypothesis (AKA Hollow Earth Hypothesis) – UFOs originate from somewhere on or within Earth.
Extraterrestrial Energyzoa Hypothesis (ETZH) – UFOs are some kind of biological lifeforms.
Geophysical Hypothesis – UFOs are the result of unknown natural phenomena.

Misperception, Hallucination and Hoax Hypothesis (MHH)

UFO reports are psychologically induced and the result of misperception, hallucination, or hoaxes.

The MHH implies UFOs do not exist as objective and distinct phenomenon, and UFO reports cannot be considered as evidence for UFO existence or as information about the properties of a UFO phenomenon.

Although, the generally accepted definition of a UFO and its purpose is to filter or eliminate reports which meet the MHH criteria. Indeed, there is significant amount of reports (between 80-95% in many cases) which are explainable or fall within the context of the MHH. Scientifically, we could claim reports which do meet these standards cannot be explained by the MHH.

 

Related Hypotheses:

Mistaken Observer Hypothesis – UFO sightings are the result of misunderstood phenomena.
Psychological-Social Hypothesis (PSH) – UFO reports are best explained by psychological or social means.
Thought Form Hypothesis – UFOs are psychic projections originating from the mind of the observer.

Objective Existence Hypothesis (OEH)

UFO reports are the result of an objectively existent physical phenomenon.

Prior to applying any filters, we have initial reports of an indeterminate nature which may be UFOs or IFOs (Identified Flying Objects). The OEH implies there are UFO reports which pass through the necessary filters and are not IFOs.

Anthropogenic Hypothesis (APH)

UFOs are advanced, secret or experimental aircraft of earthly origin.

The APH purports secret groups or governments have been researching and developing advanced aircraft and causing sightings for some time. Stories from figures such as Bob Lazar, involving supposed accounts from such research facilities, have caused significant speculation as to the capabilities of classified technology. Papers have shown circular-shaped aircraft were being considered as early as the 1960s.

Interdimensional Hypothesis (IDH)

UFOs involve visitations from other “realities” or “dimensions” which coexist separately alongside our own.

Despite the ETH being most culturally pervasive and widely discussed explanation for UFOs, it is not necessarily accepted by ufologists and has received a significant amount of criticism as a result. In reality, the ETH is significantly inadequate at explaining many of the anomalous qualities of the UFO phenomenon. Researcher J. Allen Hynek summarized his own arguments against it in 1983. To paraphrase them:

  • Our surveillance systems lack the ability to reliably detect incoming or outgoing UFOs.
  • Contact reports indicate a significant lack of physiological variance in extraterrestrials, who appear overwhelmingly humanoid, even thought extrasolar planets would likely have very different biospheres, gravity, and other conditions.
  • The amount of reports are disproportionate to the number of expeditions an alien civilization would statistically be expected to mount for a study of Earth.
  • The reported behavior of extraterrestrials during alleged abductions is often inconsistent, irrational, and contains aspects of high strangeness.
  • UFOs are isolated in time and space and seem to appear and disappear at will, leaving only vague, ambiguous and mocking evidence of their presence.
  • Reported UFOs are often far too small to support a crew traveling through space, and their reported flight behavior is often too erratic to be representative of a craft under intelligent control.
  • The distance between planets makes interstellar travel impractical, particularly because of the amount of energy that would be required for interstellar travel using conventional means.

 

Related Hypotheses:

Intraterrestrial Hypothesis (AKA Hollow Earth Hypothesis) – UFOs originate from somewhere on or within Earth.
Extraterrestrial Energyzoa Hypothesis (ETZH) – UFOs are some kind of biological lifeforms.
Geophysical Hypothesis – UFOs are the result of unknown natural phenomena.

Ultraterrestrial (UTH) Hypothesis

UFO’s originate from a form of superior, non-human entities of natural or supernatural origin.

The concept of ‘ultraterrestrials’ was a invented by John A. Keel, author of The Mothman Prophecies (1975), to describe an elusive type of beings he associated with paranormal phenomena. He equated UTs to ‘cosmic tricksters’ who would take any variety of supernatural forms, such as demons, ghosts, or UFOs, who likely fed off humans energetically.

When David Clarke interviewed Keel for his book, How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth (2015), Keel admitted “the idea of ‘ultraterrestrials’ is a literary device. It wasn’t a theory as such.” Keel even later admitted he didn’t believe his own hypothesis, stating “we are the intelligence which controls the UFO phenomenon”. Although, it isn’t entirely clear what Keel meant by this.

The concept of UTs is often jumbled with ETs, but fits more appropriately within the scope of the Interdimensional Hypothesis. It is notable more based on Keel’s popularity, rather than as an established hypothesis.


Related Hypotheses:

Parallel Universe Hypothesis – UFOs are visitors from parallel universes.
Time Travel Hypothesis – UFOs are time travelers or time machines.

Control-System Hypothesis (CSH)

UFOs and related phenomena are the result of attempts to inflict social change and manipulate humanity’s collective beliefs.

The CSH was developed by researcher Jacques Vallée and largely expounded upon in his books The Invisible College (1975) and Messengers of Deception (1979), as the potential effects of the growing contactee movements were becoming more visible. From Messengers of Deception:

“I differ from [most scientists] in believing that these contactees are being used in a dangerous way, and that the symbolism they propagate will make a deep impact on our lives. The new belief is completely lacking in logic. That is the key to its power. It serves to keep scientists away. The more absurd the statement, the stronger its effect. When the Establishment is rational, absurdity is dynamite. Through the contactees, the Manipulators are undermining both religion and science.”

Vallée outlined the notion further within the same book:

“When I speak of a control system for planet earth, I do not want my words to be misunderstood: I do not mean that some higher order of beings has locked us inside the constraints of a space-bound jail, closely monitored by psychic entities we might call angels or demons. I do not propose to redefine God. What I do mean is that mythology rules at a level of our social reality over which normal political and intellectual action has no power….”

Vallée stated in The Invisible College (1975) a “characteristic feature is a constant factor of absurdity that leads to a rejection of the story by the upper layers of the target society and an absorption at a deep unconscious level of the symbols conveyed by the encounter.” He proposed people were being exposed to the by unknown forces to inexplicable phenomena to produce specific reactions, modify our beliefs and collective mythology, and gradually establish a new normal. The ultimate goal is still unknown, as he suggests “we can recognize it for what it is – the result of a shifting of our mythological structure, the human learning curve bending toward a new cosmic behavior. When this irreversible learning is achieved, the UFO phenomenon may go away entirely. Or it may assume some suitable representation on a human scale. The angels may land downtown.”

Vallée discussed the origins of the CSH in a 1978 interview with researcher Jerome Clark: 

Vallée: I’ve always been unhappy with the argument between those who believe UFOs are nonsense and those who believe they are extraterrestrial visitors. I don’t think I belong in either camp. I’ve tried to place myself between those two extremes because there’s no proof that either proposition is correct. I’ve come up with the control system concept because it is an idea which can be tested. In that sense it’s much closer to a scientific hypotheses than the others. It may turn out that there is a control system which is operated by extraterrestrials. But that’s only one possibility.

There are different kinds of control systems – open ones and closed ones – and there are tests you can apply to them to find out what kind of control system you’re inside. That leads to a number of experiments you can do with the UFO phenomenon, whereas the other interpretations don’t lead you to anything. If you’re convinced that UFOs are extraterrestrial, then about the only thing you can do is to climb to a hilltop with a flashlight and send a message in Morse code. People have tried that, I know, but it doesn’t seem to work very well!

The control system concept can be tested by a small group of people – you don’t need a large organization or a lot of equipment – and you can start thinking about active intervention in the phenomenon.

Clark: How could I prove to my satisfaction that there is a control system in operations?

Vallée: If you think you’re inside a control system, the first thing you have to look for is what is being controlled and try to change it to see what happens. My friend Bill Powers proposes the following analogy:

Suppose you’re walking through the desert and you see a stone that looks as though it was painted white. A thousand yards later you see another stone of similar appearance. You stop and consider the matter. Either you can forget it or – if you’re like me – you can pick up the stone and move it a few feet. If suddenly a bearded character steps out from behind a rock and demands to know why you moved his marker, then you know you’ve found a control system.

My point is that you can’t be sure until you do something. Then you realize that what you were seeing, the thing that looked absurd and incongruous, was really a marker for a boundary that was invisible to everybody else until you discovered it because you looked for a pattern. I think that’s exactly what we have to do with UFOs. We have to do something that will cause them to react. And I don’t mean building landing strips in the desert and waiting out there to welcome the space brothers.

Clark: But what do you mean?

Vallée: I hesitate to be too specific. I’m speaking, as I’m sure you understand, of the attempted manipulation of UFO manifestations. It’s a pretty tall order. We’re assuming that there is a feedback mechanism involved in the operations of the control system; if you change the information that’s carried back to that system, you might be able to infiltrate it through its own feedback.

Clark: How does one go about investigating UFOs, taking into consideration the possible existence of a control system?

Vallée: You should work outside any organized UFO group. Also you must be very careful about the types of instruments you use for your analysis. For example, I have become increasingly skeptical of the use of computers in UFO research. We’re losing a great many data because of a certain situation that is developing: The field researcher will spend a lot of time and money investigating a case. Typically he will write it up in an excellent 10-to-20-page report; then he’ll send it to his superiors in the organization, assuming that they are going to put it on the computer and that in this way it’s going to add to some great body of knowledge.

But it doesn’t. Investigators should understand that their reports go absolutely nowhere. They end up in a drawer somewhere, they are never published, and they’re quickly forgotten. All that’s left in the computer is a bunch of codes and letters and numbers on magnetic tape somewhere and that’s the end of that.

For another thing you don’t want to go around chasing every UFO that’s reported. If a sighting gets a lot of publicity, you should stay the hell away from it. Instead you should go after cases that you select yourself, ones that have received very little publicity and you’ve heard about through personal channels. There are plenty of those and they are surprisingly rich in content. You should take your time investigating them. Get involved with the people as human beings. And then you have to become part of the scene, getting as close as you can to what’s happening especially if it continues to happen.

 

Breakaway Civilization

A secretive group within a nation or society which furthers a hidden agenda involving technological advancements which lead to resource independence from the parent community.

Researcher Richard Dolan coined this term to describe a separately evolving, covert, technically advanced community of people with significant resources siphoned off from a host society. This very autocratic, even fascist elite society would use any means necessary to remain invisible to its host society, repress public technology, and maintain the status quo of the energy industry. Its resources would include but are not limited to, financial, social, or material demands which would be transcended as a result of an agenda’s success.

This is not a hypothesis relating directly to UFOs as much as the other here, but has become a notable concept within the realm of speculation. It is also generally synonymous with the notions of a ‘deep state’ or ‘illuminati’, but is more literal and focused on the implications and origins of such a group which could potentially play a key role within the UFO phenomenon.

Dolan asserts that by now, the classified world has moved far beyond the reach of the public world. Given the mixture of an unparalleled military budget and private connections, he purposes the likelihood exists there is a clandestine group that possesses:

  • Technology that is vastly superior to that of the “mainstream” world.
  • The ability to explore areas of our world and surroundings presently unavailable to the rest of us.
  • Scientific and cosmological understandings that give them greater insights into the nature of our world
  • A significant “built off the grid” infrastructure, partially underground, that affords them a high degree of secrecy and independence of action

This might well qualify them as a separate civilization – one that has broken away from our own, in effect, a breakaway civilization. Still interacting with our own, its members probably move back and forth between the official reality of what we are supposed to believe, and the other reality which encompasses new truths and challenges.

Online Resources

Reddit’s largest subreddit related to the discussion of UFOs. Reddit is a social news aggregator, discussion website, and currently ranks as the sixth most-visited site in the world. Communities are organized into ‘subreddits’ which host content submitted and voted upon by users. r/UFOs features some of the most relevant UFO content and news online, with over 100,000 subscribers.

The Black Vault

(theblackvault.com)

The Black Vault (TBV) is the largest privately run online repository of declassified government documents in the world. It houses over 1.7 million pages of documents from the CIA, FBI, Pentagon, Air Force, Army, Navy, NSA, DIA, and other official organizations. The documents range from a variety of topics, including UFOs, JFK Assassination, WWII, chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons, and top secret aircraft. TBV also hosts an online discussion forum with thousands of active members.

In November 2017 TBV launched The Black Vault Investigations (TBVI), a volunteer research group to bring together investigators and researchers to help tackle the UFO phenomenon. TBVI provides a toll-free number for the public to report UFO cases and become connected with volunteer researchers in their area who can investigate and share findings within an online database. It also allows researchers to work together, record their interactions with witnesses, and connect their findings to the TBV’s extensive library of documents and reports.

Isaac Koi

(isaackoi.com)

Koi is a lawyer from England and studied ufologist, having read over a thousand books on the subject. Koi’s most significant contribution has been cataloging each individual case mentioned in each of the books he’s read and using the data in an attempt to calculate the most historically relevant UFO cases. All of his work is available for free online, including a “UFO Researcher Starter Pack” which outlines various online resources, official documents, UFO books, podcasts, and other materials for upcoming researchers.

Koi operates under a pseudonym, as some of hs “clients and colleagues would probably roll on the floor with laughter at the thought of my spending time on these topics, even though my focus of my interest is actually on various sociological and psychological issues relating to UFOs and ufology.”

Koi stated his retirement from researching the subject in 2016 when Ted Roe, founder of IAUAPR (International Association of U.A.P. Researchers), threatened to out his identity due to online clashes between the two, but has since continued making contributions to the field.

Additional Resources

I’ve cataloged all the relevant UFO websites I’m aware of and listed them here:

Books

UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go On the Record

by Leslie Kean (2010)

Kean’s book is largely considered one of the best, objective introductions to the subject of UFOs. The book includes a foreword by John Podesta and first-person contributions written by multiple highly credible military and government officials from nine countries. Kean examines many notable cases, including the Tehran incident, Belgium UFO wave, Phoenix lights, and JAL 1628 sighting over Alaska with commentary by many of the officials involved.

Kean is an independent investigative journalist with a background in freelance writing and radio broadcasting. She began covering UFOs in 2000 with a feature story in the Boston Globe and has published many mainstream stories since. In 2007, she co-organized a press conference on official UFO investigations which received media coverage around the world. She also produced I Know What I Saw (2009) and helped write the documentary Secret Access: UFOs on the Record (2011).

Messengers of Deception

by Jacques Vallée (1979)

An intriguing, disconcerting book from one of the field’s most progressive thinkers. Vallée became entangled in bizarre mind games while investigating UFO cults in the 1970s and thoroughly documented the growing effects of UFO contact on our culture and belief systems. He explores the hidden realities of the cults, contactees, and murky political intrigues and motivations of the investigators.

Vallée addresses the incidents and experiences of contactees and the messages conveyed in some of the key contacts. His scientific approach is evident throughout and though he does not consider his views conclusive he offers several hypothesis which builds into his theory of UFOs as a control system. The book is an excellent summary of Vallée’s unconventional and thought-provoking theories of the phenomenon.

The UFO Experience

by J. Allen Hynek (1972)

Hynek worked for several years as an external advisor for the USAF and wrote The UFO Experience largely as a response to the Condon Report (a 1969 report from the Condon Committee, funded by the USAF) which concluded UFO reports were not to be taken seriously. In his book Hynek argues for stronger scientific interest in UFOs, examines individual cases from the Project Blue Book files, and introduces his own classification system of Close Encounter rankings. He then responds explicitly to the Condon Report, giving insight into its history, where it went wrong, and what conclusions should be drawn from it. The UFO Experience is a historical work by one of the most seminal UFO researchers and considered a classic within the field.

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects

by Edward J Ruppelt (1956)

The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects is Ruppelt’s memoir of his role in the seminal US Air Force UFO study projects: Projects Sign, Grudge, and Blue Book and was the first serious book about UFOs written by someone actively involved with the government’s official investigations into the phenomena. According to his account, he coined the acronym ‘UFO’ and put many of the official procedures for reporting and studying UFOs into place. Researcher J. Allen Hynek suggested Ruppelt’s “book should be required reading for anyone seriously interested in the history of this subject.”

The book captures the feel of working for the mid-20th century US military and describes the changing attitudes of the USAF about UFOs during the early 1950s: wobbling between denial, ridicule, paranoia, and genuine inquiry. A key point of the book is to resolve doubts about the military’s role; Ruppelt makes a strong case that UFOs weren’t a top secret weapons system and the reports were not disinformation by intelligence agencies, nor was there a concerted effort to cover up UFOs by the US government. Ruppelt recounts the many times when the brass tried to dismiss reports without investigating them sufficiently, but states this was simply standard-issue military ‘cover-your-ass’ behavior, not a vast conspiracy.

Podcasts

The Paracast

The Paracast is a paranormal radio show focused on UFOs and other strange phenomena. It seeks to shed light on the mysteries and complexities of our Universe and secrets which surround us in our everyday lives. The show has a standard version which includes ads and Paracast+, a paid version with ads removed. The core content of both remains the same.

Host Gene Steinberg is a journalist, writer, and researcher with a strong interest in UFOs and has written a number of commentaries on the subject. He has also written over thirty books on computers and the Internet, plus hundreds of articles for publications such as MacAddict, MacHome, MacUser, and Macworld. His computer news and support Web site, The Tech Night Owl, has its own radio show as well.

Co-host Christopher O’Brien is a researcher with a passion for UFOs and has investigated hundreds of events reported in the San Luis Valley. His ten-plus years of investigation have resulted in the three books, The Mysterious Valley, Enter the Valley, and Secrets of the Mysterious Valley.

Steinberg has been regularly criticised for using the Paracast and his other platforms for repeatedly soliciting personal donations from his listeners under the context of financial woes, distress, or medical crises. Chris O’Brien discussed his opinions on the matter on the End of Days podcast with Michael Decon in 2017.

Hosts: Gene Steinberg & Christopher O’Brien
Airs: Weekly
Started: 2006

Coast to Coast AM

Coast to Coast AM is the most-listened-to overnight radio program in North America and broadcasts live seven nights a week from 1-5AM EST. It focuses on news and current events, conspiracy theories, paranormal phenomena, time travel, alien abduction, and all things unexplained. Hosts George Noory (weekdays, first Sunday of the month) and George Knapp (weekends) welcome guests and callers from all walks of life, while providing a judgment-free forum for ideas beyond the mainstream. Listeners can subscribe to become a Coast Insider, allowing them access to full shows, live or on-demand, transcripts, and exclusive chats with guests.

Hosts: George Noory & George Knapp
Airs: Daily
Started: 1984

Mysterious Universe

Mysterious Universe is an Australian podcast covering the paranormal, technology, reality, aliens, and anything mysterious. It covers the strange, extraordinary, weird, wonderful and everything in between with a balance of healthy skepticism and entertainment, while maintaining a sense of humor. Memberships to Mysterious Universe Plus+ gives members access extended editions of shows, exclusive shows, without ads, and better audio quality.

Hosts: Benjamin Grundy & Aaron Wright
Airs: Weekly
Started: 2006

Open Minds UFO Radio

Open Minds UFO Radio features interviews and discussions with UFO researchers, authors, witnesses, scientists, and others related to the phenomenon. Host Alejandro Rojas has been a UFO investigator/researcher for many years and served as the Director of Public Education for the Mutual UFO Network (MUFON) for several years. Alejandro has worked with ABC, NBC, CBS, Fox News, MSNBC, the History Channel, Discovery Channel, CNN, and others throughout his career.

Host: Alejandro Rojas
Airs: Weekly
Started: 2010

The Unexplained

Howard Hughes is a British broadcaster and journalist with a long history in broadcasting. He has received one of the UK’s most notable radio accolades, the IRN Special Award for Contribution to Commercial Radio. Hughes started the The Unexplained in 2006, and has had conversations with some of the most renowned mediums, paranormal investigators, and independent researchers in the world. Hughes continues to work for the BBC as a newscaster and presenter.

Host: Howard Hughes
Airs: Bi-weekly
Started: 2006

 

Skeptico

Skeptics focuses on the science of human consciousness, including near-death experiences, parapsychology, spirituality, and close encounters. The show features interviews with leading consciousness researchers, scholars and thinkers. Host Alex Tsakiris is an entrepreneur turned podcaster and author of Why Science is Wrong…About Almost Everything (2014). Alex has appeared on many syndicated radio talk shows and podcasts both in the US and the UK and is well-know within the parapsychology and near-death experience research communities.

Host: Alex Tsakiris
Airs bi-weekly
Started: 2007

Documentaries

UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed (2016)

UFOs and Nukes: The Secret Link Revealed rigorously examines the officially-still-hidden history of UFO activity at nuclear weapons laboratories, test areas, storage depots, and missile sites using authenticated files and the testimony of vetted military eyewitnesses. Based on Robert Hasting’s research, the film focuses on the long history of UFO interaction with USAF and Russian missile bases as told through interviews with former officers and declassified documents.

Director: Robert Hastings

Secret Access: UFOs on the Record (2011)

Secret Access: UFOs on the Record is a History Channel Special based on Leslie Kean’s book UFO’s: Generals, Pilots and Government Officials Go On the Record (2010). It features Air Force and commercial pilots, investigators, military Generals, and NASA officials sharing personal testimonies regarding UFOs and investigations. The film introduces witnesses not included in the book, as well as audio tapes from air traffic and ground control involved in specific sightings.

Directors: Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg
Writers: Leslie Kean, Ricki Stern, Anne Sundberg, Pax Wasserma


I Know What I Saw (2009)

I Know What I Saw is a sequel to director James Fox’s documentary Out of the Blue (2003) and compiles new interviews with UFO witnesses around the world and investigations conducted by analysts and government officials. The film examines reasons behind government secrecy and reluctance for disclosure.

Director: James Fox
Producers: Leslie Kean, Tom DeLonge, and others

Out of the Blue (2003)

Considered one of the best UFO documentary films, Out of the Blue aims to show some UFOs may be of extraterrestrial origin and secrecy and ridicule are regularly employed to keep the truth about them hidden. It features interviews with many high-ranking and notable figures such as governor Fife Symington, astronaut Dr. Edgar Mitchell, Russian general Leonid Aleviev, President Jimmy Carter, Cosmonaut Major General Pavel Popovich, UK Admiral Lord Hill Norton, Physics Professor Dr. Brian Greene, President Gerald Ford, Astronaut Colonel Gordon Cooper, and White House Chief of Staff John Podesta.

Directors: Tim Coleman, James Fox, Boris Zubov

UFOs: It Has Begun (1974)

Originally titled UFOs: Past, Present, and Future, the film examines several prominent UFO sightings from the post-war to contemporary era and is based on the book UFOs: Past, Present, and Future by Robert Emenegger. The film was re-released under the title UFOs: It has Begun in 1976 for television and 1979 with an additional 30 minutes of content. It is narrated by Rod Serling, Dr. Jacques Vallée, Burgess Meredith, and José Ferrer. The film uses dramatizations, interviews with government officials and scientists, and examines sightings such as the Lubbock lights (1967), Washington D.C. sightings (1952), and Ann Arbor sightings (1966).

Director: Ray Rivas
Writers: Robert Emenegger, Carol Johnsen

Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers (1956)

Mixing fictional characters with real life witnesses and military personnel, Unidentified Flying Objects: The True Story of Flying Saucers is part fictional re-enactment and documentary. Starting in 1947, it follows a fictionalized government UFO investigator and press liaison, Al Chop, going from base to base, speaking to experts on radar and aviation, and reporting his findings to government officials.

The film includes recreations of the Kenneth Arnold UFO sighting, the Mantell UFO incident, Gorman Dogfight, and Washington D.C. incident. It traces the development of UFOs as both a popular fad and a serious concern for the US Air Force, starting with Project Sign and Grudge before moving on to Project Bluebook. It may cover familiar territory for the ufologist of today, but coming just nine years after the first official sighting (Kenneth Arnold’s) of the modern age of ufology, gives a sense of the history and movement before the momentum of the phenomenon had even reached the decade mark. Before Hollywood and popular culture at large expanded the surrounding lore to include abductions, greys, and missing time, the story of UFOs was as simple as seeing an unidentified light and struggling with the unknown.

Director: Winston Jones

Contribute

This guide is intended to evolve alongside my own understanding and feedback from others. I am profoundly lacking in many areas of knowledge needed to give unique or complete perspectives on the fundamental science, psychology, and nature of belief as they pertain to UFOs. I would gladly welcome any feedback or potential collaborators. You can give structured feedback by taking the Best of Ufology Survey, even if you only have experience in one or two areas of the field. You can also contact me directly if you would be interested in helping write or add to the guide.

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