Monday, January 24, 2005

UFO Ignorance--(Part One)

By Frank Warren
1-24-05

It's not often one sees an article about UFO's in the mainstream print press or on television these days; when one does, it's usually filled with terms like "believers, pseudo-science, fringe, paranormal, cult, hoax," etc. On television the reporting of UFO events is generally done in a light comical manner, complete with the "winks, nods and guffaws included."

That said, it's no surprise how ignorant the American public "of today" is on the subject of UFO's. Moreover, when attempts are made by independent sources, via television, the bulk of these productions come complete with organ music, smoke machines and are narrated by an eerie character with a British accent.

Occasionally when a reporter from the mainstream press does gather the courage to broach the subject of UFO's, more often then not we see an individual who approaches the subject from the afore mentioned education received by his fellow colleagues; that's not to say there haven't been some reporters/newsmen etc., who have done some good publicized research; but those individuals, and instances are far and in-between!

The "all to common" term, or phrase used by the mainstream reporters, is "UFO believers." Most Americans are familiar with the term, "UFO", and most incorrectly associate the term with extraterrestrial spacecraft and or beings. The term, "UFO" was borne by the Air Force back in 1952, specifically Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt, Chief of the Air Force's Project Blue Book, the government's "public investigating agency" of the UFO phenomenon. In the verbatim it is an acronym for, "Unidentified Flying Objects"; the "key word" being "UNIDENTIFIED."

To associate the verb, "believer" with a "factual thing" i.e., "UFO," is an oxymoron. Say to yourself, "I believe in the Empire State Building," or use the term "The Mount Rushmore believers"--just doesn't make sense does it? Yet the layman who is ignorant of the subject of UFO's, or who's only knowledge on the subject is from the comedic side of the mainstream press might assume there is a debate about the existence of such things, particularly if the individual has never seen one--henceforth we breed more ignorance!

The public as a whole, I'm sure would be quite surprised to learn that the media in the early years of UFOlogy (late '40's and early '50's) did not turn a "blind eye" to this phenomenon--quite the opposite in fact! "Flying Saucer" stories (the term created by a reporter from Oregon in response to Kenneth Arnold's report of his sighting of 9 UFOs in June of '47, describing their flight characteristics) permeated the press--it was headline news in most states across the country. The press was eager to learn and report what these "strange objects" were, flying in our skies.

Ironically it was the press that provoked the "powers-that-be" to become very aggressive in a public anti-UFO campaign. Initially, when the "newly" independent branch of the military, i.e., the Air Force, established "Project Sign," aka, "Project Saucer" (one of the predecessor's to "Blue Book") who's function was "to collect, collate, evaluate and distribute to interested government agencies and contractors all information concerning sightings and phenomena in the atmosphere which can be construed to be of concern to the national security"; there seemed to be a genuine desire to get to the bottom of the UFO phenomenon; however, the evidence towards the end of 1948 was leading to an apparent extraterrestrial explanation, which didn't sit well with the higher-ups, namely "Air Force Chief of Staff General Hoyt S. Vandenburg."

In the beginning of 1949 "Project Sign" was no more, and "Project Grudge" was in it's stead. "Grudge" like it's name took to a dim view of UFO reports, and indicated the Air Forces "public shift" in policy to "explain away" reports as natural phenomenon, e.g., planets, meteors or stars; more drastic explanations would include: hallucinations, reflections, birds and even "particles that float in the fluid of the eye that cast shadows on the retina."

When the Air Force couldn't explain away the evidence they inturn would ridicule the witnesses. UFO observers were called hoaxers, fearsome freaks, or people just trying to get media attention.

Capt. Edward Ruppelt in his book, "The Report On Unidentified Flying Objects" referred to the beginning of the "Project Grudge era" as the "Dark Ages," or "as a period of "intellectual stagnation.'" What he didn't realize is that "stagnation" would evolve and continue for decades.

In the beginning of the Air Force's "debunking policy" it used big names like Vandenburg, and LeMay to substantiate and solidify the "natural explanation" of UFO reports; but it didn't stop internally; the Air Weather Service was asked to verify "balloon flights" that must have been confused with UFO's. In regards to astronomical answers, Dr. J. Allen Hynek, head of Ohio State University's Astronomy Department sorted out reports that could be associated with stars, planets, etc.

Although the public and the media didn't swallow the Air Force's policy shift at once, it did sow the seed of doubt. Magazines like "True and Life" from 1949 through 1952 published some ground-shaking revelations on UFOs based on Air Force reports and files; however that rich source of "official unbiased information" was soon to dry up.

4 comments :

  1. And today few if any media persons are interested in UFOs and then only as a "funny feature" for a slow news day.

    Media persons, nowadays, consist of people who are not journalists but egotists who want the spotlight and the money that goes with it.

    Existential matters and metaphysical or cosmological issues are ignored unless their bosses insist they do a piece, mostly in conjunction with some NASA nonsense.

    The government's attempt to marginalize UFOs was successful for the period 1953 onward, to the late 70s, when a shift in the public demeanor changed -- to one of greed and self-interest -- the so-called "me" generation, where UFOs and other consequential aspects of life were set aside for the mundane glories of cash and standing among peers.

    So, it's left to the followers of the UFO cult (which I don't mean pejoratively) to keep the candle of UFO investigation alive.

    To expect media, government agencies, or politicos to take a renewed interest in the phenomenon is asking for something that's not going to happen....nope.

    Rich Reynolds

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  2. Anonymous5:46 AM

    This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  3. Anonymous6:58 AM

    Being an independant investigator into this phenomenon, I couldn't agree more with your conclusions. The ignorance of most people, Americans especially, seems never ending.

    A example of this is the question, "Do you believe UFOs are real?" This is like asking, "Do you believe George Washingtons white horse is white?" It is a trick question... Duh! And yet, millions of idiots fall for this question all the time.

    By its very nature, UFOs are real. Meaning - Unidentified Flying Objects, Period. Not little green men from mars, nor greys from Zeta or tall whites from the center of the Earth. If UFOs did not exist, everything would be an IFO. The intelligent question would be, "What do you believe is responsible for UFO sightings?" But then intelligence is something most Americans lack.

    So the next time someone asks you if UFOs are real, pull out a dictionary and show them in print that they are. Then ask them if they would like to correctly rephrase their ignorant question.

    "Truth, like the sun, submits to be obscured, but, like the sun, only for a time." - Christian N. Bovee

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  4. I felt sufficiently moved to comment that I formed my own blog so as to sign in to relate this....

    A long time ago I lived by the sea in west Wales. The area became known as "The Welsh Triangle" (if I remember correctly a farmer's wife who claimed the most spectacular sightings emigrated to America and wrote one, or more, books on her experiences) and some decidedly strange things occured there - one of which, in the 1940's, was amongst the first ufo events recorded anywhere.

    Anyway...

    One evening the children came home from school saying "We saw a spaceship today".

    We were a tight knit community somewhat outside the main village and nearly all the primary school children were unrelated to one-another. We nodded and hummed and hahed and threw in some quips and went about our business.

    The next day reporters from all the national newspapers swarmed all over the school and village.

    You see the headmaster, Mr Llewellyn, had had the foresight to seperate all those children who claimed to have seen the "ship" handed them paper and crayons and said "If you saw something please draw it". Over 40 children drew a silver three legged inverted saucer. The other 3 drew the same but with a silver suited biped standing alongside.

    The next day all the papers carried the story. The broadsheets treated it with some disdain but left room for conjecture. The tabloids went into a frenzy. The Sun and The Daily Mirror (the best sellers of their day) devoted pages two and three (amazingly - as semi-naked women had just become the vogue on page three) to the drawings the children had made - all of them were similar - in fact similar is not a descriptive enough word. The pictures were identical.

    The story ran it's course by tailing off after some comments, related snippets and being mentioned in dispatches when other ufo related events occurred.

    Try doing a search for the story.

    Even in the best-selling books on the subject (specifically "The Welsh Triangle") there is no mention.

    Go figure.

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