Wednesday, July 13, 2005
Experts Discuss Possibility Of Existence Of UFOs
Let's meet our panel in what should be an extraordinary hour. In Denver, Colorado, is John Schuessler, former engineer for Boeing and NASA who has worked with pilots and astronauts who claim to have seen UFOs. He's director of the Mutual UFO Network and author of a book documenting a disturbing Texas UFO siting.
In Boston is Dr. Susan Clancy, skeptical author of an upcoming book, "Abducted" about people who claim to have been abducted by aliens. Says memories are not always factual or reliable.
Here in Los Angeles is Seth Shostak, he is senior astronomer for the SETI Institute. The Search for Extra-Terrestrial intelligence.
In New York is Budd Hopkins, a top researcher into the UFO abduction phenomena. Author of "Sight Unseen, Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings."
In Washington is Rob Swiatek, long-time UFO investigator, researcher since 1968. And a board member of the Fund for UFO Research.
And also in Washington is Bruce Maccabee, active in UFO research since the late 1960s. Works with the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, serves on the national board of the Fund for UFO Research.
John, what got you interested in this whole topic to begin with, John Schuessler?
JOHN SCHUESSLER, MUTUAL UFO NETWORK: I became interested in the mid '60s during the Gemini IV flight when astronaut James McDivit (ph) said that he saw something in orbit. The ground controllers kind of ignored him but he went ahead and took a picture and later came back and asked him what he saw. This was not anything really classic but as a young engineer, it just inspired the heck out of me because we'd worked night and day for several years to get Gemini IV up there. After that I started after that talking to pilots and others who I thought were highly credible people, good observers, capable individuals, and I've never stopped sense. KING: Dr. Clancy, what aroused your interest?
SUSAN CLANCY, AUTHOR, "ABDUCTED": I started studying aliens while a graduate student at Harvard. I was doing research on how traumatic experiences impact memory functioning and to make a long story short, alien abductions was a type of traumatic experience people were reporting. And it was very interesting to me because, from the scientific perspective it was people who had created a false memory and that's an interesting group to study.
KING: Seth, what is the SETI Institute?
SETH SHOSTAK, SETI INSTITUTE: Well, the SETI Institute is an organization -- a non-profit research organization designed to investigate the whole question of life beyond earth. And part of our project is to try and prove that there is extraterrestrial - not only life, but intelligent life out there by eavesdropping on signals.
KING: You like the movie "Contact"?
SHOSTAK: Indeed. The movie "Contact" was based on our work.
KING: Paul Allen funded this?
SHOSTAK: Paul Allen has funded a lot of our research. He didn't fund that movie, of course, and he doesn't fund all of our research.
KING: Budd Hopkins in New York, what got you interested?
BUDD HOPKINS, UFO ABDUCTION RESEARCHER: I had a daytime UFO sighting in 1964. I again was a complete skeptic. I had no interest in the subject. And then a few years later a man I knew quite well told me about a UFO landing that he had observed. He didn't know what to call it. This was back in 1975. But he saw figures who disembarked from the craft. Soil samples were taken. The remains of the holes in the ground that were dug. This was in New Jersey right across the Hudson River from Manhattan. And I looked into it and found a second witness who had seen the whole thing from another perspective and found more physical evidence and I was off and going.
KING: Rob, you're a long-time investigator. What got you involved?
ROB SWIATEK, UFO INVESTIGATOR: Well, Larry, I was completely intrigued by sightings of these strange objects back in the 1960s. I couldn't believe that seemingly unexplained craft were being seen in our skies and couldn't be explained. Moreover, I was fascinated by the University of Colorado UFO study that was then on going and this was basically an attempt by the Air Force to have the UFO problem looked at scientifically. The whole thing just fascinated me and I've been fascinated from that day to this.
KING: Now we'll turn to Bruce Maccabee, and it is a fascinating subject No doubt about that. Bruce, what got you involved in things up there? BRUCE MACCABEE, UFO RESEARCHER: Yeah, well, back in the '50s an '60s when there were lots of sightings around, I learned -- I knew about them but I didn't really do anything about it until about the middle '60s when there were a lot of sightings in the United States that resulted in the University of Colorado study that Bob Swiatek just referred to.
And at that time I decided that if there was really something there where the rubber meets the road is in the interviews with the actual witnesses that claim things. So I went with a group known then as Night Cap, and we interviewed some people that would have various types of sightings and it turned out they weren't nuts and so I decided there might be really something going on. And I began a historical research and further case investigation and all of them concluded that there is really something flying around.
KING: Okay, we've got to have drawn sides here. In March of 1997 there were numerous reports from people who claim to see mysterious lights over Phoenix, Arizona, in a special on UFOs earlier this year ABC's Peter Jennings explored it.
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