UFO Phenomena and the
Self-Censorship of Science
by George C.
In the field of UFO research, there is a constant
tug-of-war between zealot skeptics and zealot true believers, which like a
Punch-and-Judy show distracts public attention from open-minded attempts
to address the real issues, since both of these groups have their minds
made up in advance.
It is unfortunate that a large proportion of
the academic community falls into the category of zealot skeptics, insofar
as UFO phenomena are concerned. Although regrettable, this is
understandable, since any other attitude endangers the grants on which
their livelihood depends, as well as their prestige in the hierarchy's
The treatment Dr. John Mack received from
his colleagues and the trustees at Harvard after his book on UFO
abductions was published amply illustrates what happens when a previously
respected professor investigates a taboo subject and comes up with
unconventional conclusions. However, Dr. Mack emerged from the controversy
relatively unscathed, when one compares what happened to him with what
happened to Dr. James E. McDonald about a quarter of a century
Dr. James E. McDonald was Senior Physicist of the
Institute of Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Arizona. He thought
that the Federal Power Commission was evading the evidence concerning UFO
involvement in the total power failure that paralyzed New York on July
13th, 1965, and dared to say so in front of a Congressional committee. His
courageous statements on this and other occasions triggered a torrent of
derision and abuse, and he was ostentatiously ostracized by his
colleagues, in ways reminiscent of the treatment Dr. Mack recently
received from his colleagues at Harvard. However, unlike Dr. Mack, Dr.
McDonald was shortly thereafter found dead under suspicious circumstances,
which to this day have not been satisfactorily elucidated.
Arbitrary denial of the reality of UFO phenomena by the academic
community, in spite of the substantial evidence to the contrary which has
been surfacing persistently at irregular intervals for the last fifty
years, demonstrates a self-censorship that amounts to an abdication of
responsibility and is incompatible with the principles on which their work
is supposed to be based.
matter what the subject matter, scientific research is supposed to be
carried out impartially, following the trail of truth wherever it may
lead, without skewing the results one way or another to make them fit
preconceived biases. It should make no difference if the results are
unpopular or subject to ridicule by the ignorant who have not bothered to
examine the evidence themselves, even if some of the ignorant happen to be
in positions of authority that control research grants and advancement in
the academic hierarchy.
It is the academic research community
which sets the tone for so-called serious media coverage, as well as
statements made by government representatives. Because it has
systematically deprecated, minimized or denied evidence out of fear of
ridicule, for a full half-century adopting an attitude of zealous
skepticism, the academic community now bears a large part of the
responsibility for the catastrophic present situation, in which the
population as a whole must adjust to the shock of acknowledging the
reality of the alien presence on this planet, although deeply conditioned
for fifty years to dismiss it as a laughing matter, as easily controlled
as a television set.
course, the decision made in 1953 by the CIA's Robertson Panel to
pursue a policy of systematic ridicule towards civilian UFO reports is
also a major factor in the equation. This decision illustrates the extent
to which contemporary science is influenced by the military/industrial
complex, since that disastrous policy is still being implemented to the
What is the evidence I claim is being arbitrarily
incident witnessed by a single person is always open to question, and an
eyewitness report on its own does not constitute substantial evidence.
However, in the investigation of a traffic accident or a crime, if there
are multiple witnesses who independently give similar descriptions of the
event, their cumulative testimony tends to be taken seriously in a court
there are literally hundreds or even thousands of witnesses independently
giving similar descriptions of an event, the cumulative weight of their
testimony becomes overwhelming. Long-term patterns over periods of
sever-al decades that include entire populations of towns and cities
making similar reports should be considered scientifically as even more
decisively significant, no matter what the subject matter.
exception is the taboo topic of UFO phenomena. There are literally
hundreds of examples I could point to, but one incident illustrates
particularly well how this taboo operates.
I'll begin by
specifying my sources, which are articles in the following newspapers:
Arkansas Gazette, Little Rock, AR, January 23, 1988
Arkansas Democrat, Little Rock, AR, January 23, 1988
Gazette, Texarkana, TX, January 23 & 24, 1988
BEE, Dequeen, AR, January 28, 1988
Northwest Arkansas Times, Fayetteville, AR, February 4—8 and
March 27, 1988
McCurtain County Gazette, Idabel, OK, April 10,
magnitude and extent of the incidents that began to be reported on January
19, 1988, from Little River County in Arkansas were on a scale that went
beyond any other UFO phenomena that occurred in 1988. The incidents
clustered around the towns of Foreman and Ashdown in south-west Arkansas,
near the Texas border. A few sporadic sightings had occurred in previous
months, including a low-altitude sighting of a UFO as large as a football
field in November, 1987, but the witnesses did not dare speak out for fear
local population tends to be quite conservative, and the first witnesses
to go public after a UFO chased three women in a car at terrifyingly close
range on January 19, 1988, were subjected to persistent harassment and
ostracism, until hundreds of citizens began seeing the phenomena
simultaneously and its reality became undeniable.
typical report described
... a ball of light that was as big as a hay wagon at first, but
which got smaller when as many as 100 people gathered to look at it. The
object changed color from red to green to blue. It was first seen near
ground level, then flew high into the sky. It got under the moon and it
looked just like a star up there until everyone went away, then it came
back down. When it was up off the ground, lights were flashing, and you
had to see it to believe it.
Witnesses included a professional astronomer, an Air Force veteran
with 1,800 hours of flying time who had been a navigator on a B-52, a
science teacher who had been selected as a finalist for the NASA "teacher
in space" program, and a design engineer familiar with propulsion systems.
Photos were taken that neither the Arkansas Sky Observatory, NORAD
[North American Air Defense Command] or NASA were able to
give plausible explanations for.
However, Clay Sherrod, the Director of the Arkansas Sky
Observatory, succeeded in insulting everyone's intelligence by maintaining
that the extremely mobile metallic objects with multicolored flashing
lights being perceived simultaneously by whole crowds of people, hovering
at low altitude then suddenly rising straight up at incredible speed,
performing maneuvers such as no known aircraft can perform, were either
misidentifications of the planet Venus or moonlight reflecting off the
bellies of white snow geese flying overhead.
coverage of the incidents ceased on March 27, the incidents continued to
occur for approximately one full year well into 1989, without even being
mentioned in the local press. They were considered no longer newsworthy,
having been persistently disparaged by the authorities and the national
news media, which parroted the "planet Venus" and "moonlight reflecting
off the bellies of snow geese" explanations made by the Director of the
Arkansas Sky Observatory, who was hundreds of miles away from the scene of
the action in his office in Little Rock.
Besides the many
eyewitness reports of UFO sightings, there have been many cases that
involve craft landings, sometimes with physical evidence of landing traces
left behind after the craft's departure. These traces of physical evidence
have often been carefully investigated, and once again there are literally
hundreds of examples I could point to. However, one specific case is
outstanding because of the remarkable way these details were supported by
the meticulously conducted research of high-level scientists, which backed
up the anecdotal eyewitness reports with hard physical evidence.
Trans-en-Provence is a little village near Avignon in France. The
incident took place there at 5:10 P.M. on January 8, 1981. Renato
Nicolai, aged 55, a retired mason who had become a farmer, saw a
strange aircraft land in his garden, where it remained for about one
minute. It then took off and disappeared over the horizon.
Nicolai thought that it was probably some sort of experimental craft being
tried out by the French Air Force. He did not believe in flying saucers.
That evening when his wife came home from work, he described to her what
he had seen. The next morning she went with him to look at the markings on
the ground, then told a neighbor about the incident. The neighbor was
frightened and informed the police.
A contingent of the Draguignan
police came to Mr. Nicolai's farm. He described the craft to them as
approximately 6 feet in length and 7 1/2 feet in diameter. The color was a
dull gray, like that of lead. The shape was flat and circular, bulging
slightly above and below. The craft rested on small telescopic legs. There
was no light, and no smoke or flames. There was no sound except for a
faint whistling. It first appeared at an altitude of about 150 feet, like
a mass of stone falling. However, it came down lightly on the ground. He
approached it and could see the craft clearly. He had advanced about
thirty paces toward it, when it took off at very high speed. When he saw
the object from beneath, it was round, and had four port-holes.
The police reported that there was a circular outline about half
to three-quarters of an inch deep and 7 1/4 feet in diameter, with skid
marks at two places. The site had the appearance of a circular stain,
being darker in color than its surroundings. The police collected samples
of soil and vegetation along a straight line through the impact site,
writing on each sample taken its distance from the impact site.
their return to Draguignan, they transmitted their report and the samples
to GEPAN (Group for the Study of Unidentified Aerial and Space
Phenomena), which is a branch of CNRS (National Center of
Space Research, the French equivalent of NASA).
GEPAN passed the samples on to INRA (National Institute
of Agricultural Research) and several other government research
institutes for analysis. GEPAN personnel visited the site to take further
samples on two other occasions. On June 7, 1983, after two and a half
years of analyses, a bulky preliminary report which assembled data from
the different laboratories was turned in.
government scientists attributed the circular outline to a soil fracture
caused by the combined action of strong mechanical pressure and a heat of
about 600°C, which is about 1100°F. Dr. Bounias, who was the
Director of the Biochemical Laboratory at INRA, had personally taken
charge of the examination of the plant specimens. He carried out the
analyses in the most rigorous fashion possible. First he established
samples from plants of the same species (alfalfa), taken at different
distances from the point of impact. Then he and his assistants
meticulously analyzed the photosynthetic pigments (such as carotene,
chlorophyll, and xantophyle), the glucides, the amino acids and other
found differences sufficiently important that the statistical significance
of the results is irrefutable. Certain substances that were present in the
close-range samples were not present in those taken further away, and vice
versa. The bio-chemical trauma revealed by examination of the leaves
diminished as the distance from the UFO impact site increased. Some of the
plants had been dehydrated, but were not burned or carbonized.
following year control samples were taken from the site, which
confirmed the changes made in the vegetation. After completing the
analyses, Dr. Bounias made the following formal statement:
"We worked on very young leaves. They all had the anatomic and
physiologic characteristics of their age. However, they had the
biochemical characteristics of advanced senescence, or old age! This
bears no resemblance to anything known to exist on our planet."
Bounias refused to speculate about the cause of the strange facts
he had established, or to propose any explanation at all for them.
Although neither Dr. Bounias nor the French government have
followed through on the implications of this evidence, or proceeded any
further with it, at least as far as the general public is concerned, the
Trans-en-Provence case remains one of the most strongly substantiated
investigations of landing traces in the history of UFO research.
Another aspect of UFO research which involves physical evidence is
the crop circles, though
there has been much dispute over whether they are caused by UFOs or by
human hoaxers. I believe that some are made by UFOs, and some are made by
human hoaxers. Other theories have been proposed, but at present these are
the only ones that have retained their plausibility, since freak
whirlwinds and hypothetical plasma vortices cannot by any stretch of the
imagination explain geometrically precise pictograms and other complex
1978 to 1989, the shapes were for the most part simple circles. However,
since 1989, the patterns have become more and more intricate, eliminating
the possibility that they could be caused by unusual meteorological
The summer of 1991 was a quantum leap as patterns of
rings and circles became true complex pictograms. Straight bars, or boxes,
and arcs, both inside and outside of circles, were combined with circles
and rings to form complex pictograms. Some pictograms combined more than
Crop circle developments during the summer
of 1991 were well described by Michael Chorost in the October 1991
issue of the MUFON [Mutual UFO Network] UFO Journal:
One of the most interesting formations was a representation of
the Mandelbrot set, a two-dimensional graph made famous by chaos theory
. . . the last two seasons of crop circles have clustered densely in a
tiny area containing Europe's most remarkable ancient constructions:
Avebury, Silbury Hill, Windmill Hill, Barbury Castle, Adam's Grave, the
White Horses, and the East and West Kennet Long Barrows. . . . I invite
my readers to consider that the mystery of the crop circles is very much
like the mystery of the megaliths.
Each consists of compelling geometric forms. No one knows why
they were made, nor why they are where they are. Nor do we know how
either were made. Perhaps the two mysteries are deeply intertwined. Not
that either one "caused" or "inspired" the other, but that the two
phenomena somehow "talk" about the same thing, a thing still unknown to
us, or "do" a single thing, taken together as a total system. It could
be that solving one mystery will automatically solve the other.
Chorost goes on to describe the research results of Marshall
Dudley, a systems engineer for Tennelec/Nucleus of Oak Ridge, Tennessee,
as well as those of Michigan biophysicist Dr. W. C. Levengood.
Dudley detected significant isotope changes in the soil samples
from crop circles he had been provided with, and Levengood found that cell
pits in plant cells in the affected formations had been subjected to rapid
heating that had separated the cell pits. He found this to be true in
samples from England, the United States and Canada.
breakthrough was made by Gerald Hawkins, the author of
Stonehenge Decoded, who discovered that in eighteen photographs of
crop circle formations, there was a repeated pattern of frequency ratios
that are equivalent to the diatonic scale (the white keys on a piano). In
addition to that finding, he has outlined four new theorems about
relationships of triangles to circles to squares that he finds in the crop
circle formations, and these theorems do not exist in any known academic
That is a very brief condensation of a large amount of
highly complex technical research. In light of the fact that there is
strong and abundant evidence in support of these results, one would think
that the news media would eagerly leap upon so thoroughly substantiated a
sensational story, and proclaim it to the world in banner headlines and TV
What actually happened?
world news media instead leaped eagerly on a flimsy story full of holes:
that two British senior citizens had "confessed" to hoaxing the circles
with no equipment except some planks. This was triumphantly pro-claimed to
the world as the final and definitive solution to the mystery of the crop
circles, in spite of the obvious fact that two men with planks can-not
produce significant isotope changes in the soil, nor heating so rapid that
it separates the cell pits without leaving burn marks on the outside of
Other obvious impossibilities deliberately ignored were how these
two senior citizens had managed to make so many hundreds of circles
without having once been detected, or how they managed to make patterns of
such precision and size and complexity with planks while working in the
dark. All the factual evidence was deliberately ignored in order to
convince the public that the mystery of the crop circles had now been at
least definitely solved: Doug and Dave did it.
public was bombarded with ten-second TV shots of Doug and Dave flattening
some wheat with some planks, until finally the vast majority was
conditioned into accepting this absurdity as the proven explanation. The
minority of those who persisted in trying to point out flaws in this
explanation was then subjected to scathing ridicule and social ostracism.
numbers of copy-cat imitators followed the example set by Doug and Dave,
and have ever since devoted themselves to muddying the water and confusing
the research picture, egged on with the full collaboration of the news
media, intent on trivializing the subject.
In spite of the
sabotage and harassment, the research haltingly continues. An intriguing
development that occurred recently in England is that a group of hoaxers
busily at work making yet another faked crop formation noticed several
balls of light hovering above them, which seemed to be under intelligent
control. This frightened them to the point that they abandoned their work
and fled from the field. There are now quite a few eye-witness reports of
small white discs and grapefruit-sized balls of light seen in the vicinity
of the crop formations, and the small white discs have been captured twice
Some of the crop formation patterns resemble
traditional geometric artwork of indigenous tribal cultures from all over
the world so closely as to be identical. Without exception the religious
traditions of these indigenous cultures describe contacts with celestial
beings in deep antiquity at the time of their tribal origins.
According to researcher Colin Andrews, all but a few of the
symbols on the panels from the wreckage in the so-called Roswell film have
been clearly and precisely reproduced in the crop circle glyphs.
Back to Contents
Back to The Saga of Flying Objects