THE SEARCH FOR EXTRATERRESTRIAL INTELLIGENCE

individuals as something seen in the sky … which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary, natural origin’. Hynek (1977: 286) maintained that this definition led to ‘an inordinate waste of time and money’, inflating the report with spurious observations which were easily identified by experts. According to Hynek:

The sky is full of things which many observers find puzzling: bright planets, meteors, advertising planes, twinkling stars, etc. While it is true that the ‘u’ in UFO means unidentified, we must always remember to ask ‘unidentified’ to whom? A bright planet such as Venus shining through a cloud cover which is sufficiently thick to blot out the rest of the stars may appear strange and mysterious to a given observer, but it would not be to an astronomer.

(ibid.)

Condon’s criteria for proof of extraterrestrial involvement in UFOs can also be criticized for their one-sidedness. The example, cited by Condon, whereby conviction would be secured if a UFO landed on the lawn outside a hotel in which eminent scientists were in conference, offers a misleading concept of proof. Condon sought a single convincing case for ETI, but while in many activities dramatic evidence secures conviction, in much of science, especially in astronomy, conviction is achieved by means of a slow accumulative process which increases with acceptable data and theory.

Critics of the Condon Report fall into two camps. First, there are various New Age theories which involve a range of beliefs in parallel universes and spiritual dimensions which are unrelated to ‘nuts and bolts’ flying craft, and consequently it is argued that Condon had limited the scope of the inquiry to preclude these explanations. Second, there are scientific thinkers who maintain that Condon had abandoned critical observation, or that explanations of UFOs require a different methodology of science. The problem for scientific thinkers, who face pressure and ridicule from their peers, is that of preventing their objections to the perceived shortcomings of the Condon Report from collapsing into support for various New Age beliefs. Consequently, the scientific community has distanced itself from the UFO controversy.

Despite its critics the Condon Report marks a watershed in the scientific study of UFOs. Since then there has been very little interest within the scientific community for further investigation. The report, however, did not diminish public enthusiasm for details of alleged encounters with UFOs.

 

Operation Majestic

The status of Operation Majestic is very much a matter of dispute. The controversy focuses upon an alleged report compiled as a briefing for Dwight D. Eisenhower, President-Elect, on 18 November 1952. It is alleged to report on the

 

 

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wreckage of an ‘alien spacecraft’ recovered 75 miles north-west of Roswell, New Mexico, in July 1947. Four alien bodies were allegedly recovered, having apparently been ejected from their vehicle two miles east of the wreckage site. The name of the operation allegedly set up to investigate the incident was Majestic 12, or MJ-12.

It is still in question whether the ‘leaked’ documents concerning Operation Majestic are genuine. The report was allegedly prepared by Admiral Hillen-koetter, Director of the CIA. One document describes the four bodies: ‘although these creatures are human-like in appearance, the biological and evolutionary process responsible for their development has apparently been quite different from those observed or postulated in Homo sapiens’ (Good, 1991: 139; Blum, 1990). If authentic, this document would suggest that government sources were understood to have believed that beings from another world have visited Earth. In 1990 the UFO sceptic, Philip Klass, claimed that the MJ-12 documents were a forgery. Apparently there had not been a special investigation into the allegedly crashed UFO. This, however, was resisted by several Ufologists who claimed further levels of  CIA disinformation (see Blum, 1990). There were claims that the CIA produced its own forgeries of the originals which were designed to be detected, thereby maintaining the secrecy of talks that have been taking place between US officials and aliens since 1947. In 1995 an investigation of government files relating to the Roswell incident by the US General Accounting Office concluded that the document known as MJ-12 is a forgery.

 

Military interest in EBEs

There are believed to be many political and military benefits of contact. Sagan (1970) has advocated space exploration as a useful diversionary occupation for military personnel in the superpowers. UFO investigations were actually encouraged during the Cold War period, when there were fears that the other side might make first contact and enjoy the advantage of knowledge of military hardware from a superior intelligence. The main explanatory theories within the US military during the period when Projects Sign, Grudge and Blue Book were operative, divided between hoaxes, ETI and Russian secret weapons. The potential military application of UFO research is significant. The military apparatuses of the superpower nations have long been engaged in a massive information search, collecting data on dolphin intelligence, paranormal spoon-bending experiments, and UFO sightings, very often in the belief that something just might turn up in a brute force search. Information on UFO sightings, for example, would be one more category in which to file less familiar data, and could usefully eliminate categories of unaccounted-for enemy aircraft. A similar system of classification might be employed for alleged ET signals from outer space. The reasons for collecting this data need not be based on the weight of evidence regarding ET life-forms, but on broad expectations unrelated to any specific results. Blum (1990: 58) reports on the ‘something-might-turn-up’

 

 

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