Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Science and UFOs: Part 4 - Sincere but Uninformed Skeptics Have Been Duped by Skeptical Inquirer Magazine

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By Robert Hastings
     In this fourth and final installment of my article regarding scientific ignorance and presumption about the UFO phenomenon, I discuss the intriguing, almost completely unpublicized connections between the leading organization of UFO “skeptics” and the U.S. government. Because this group, the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry, has had significant influence on scientists’ attitudes toward UFOs over the years—by constantly promoting the idea that there is nothing worthwhile to study—a closer examination of its role in debunking the phenomenon is warranted.

Those who missed Parts 1, 2 and/or 3—including physicist Dr. James E. McDonald’s Prepared Statement before the U.S. Congress, in which he summarized his UFO research and asserted his position that UFOs are probably extraterrestrial craft—may read those here:

So, who am I and what do I bring to the table? On September 27, 2010, I co-sponsored the “UFOs and Nukes” press conference at the National Press Club in Washington D.C., during which seven U.S. Air Force (USAF) veterans spoke about their UFO encounters at nuclear weapons sites, including incidents involving large numbers of ICBMs mysteriously malfunctioning at a time when disc-shaped craft were observed silently hovering near their launch facilities by Air Force Security Police.

CNN streamed the ground-breaking press conference live and the full-length video of it may be viewed below:

My co-sponsor for the event, former USAF Captain Robert Salas, was directly involved in one such missile-shutdown incident, at Malmstrom AFB, Montana, on March 24, 1967, a fact now verified on audio tape (see below) by his missile commander that day, retired Col. Frederick Meiwald. The tape recorded statements of a third former missile launch officer, retired Col. Walter Figel, regarding another such incident at Malmstrom eight days earlier, may be heard here. Although I have roughly three hours of audio taped comments by Figel, he chose not to participate in the press conference.


(UFO debunker James Carlson’s many falsehoods about Figel and Meiwald’s confirmatory statements are thoroughly exposed in these tape recordings. No wonder Carlson tries so hard to refute them on countless blogs, going so far as to claim that I doctored the tapes. A fuller discussion of this pathetic sideshow may be read here: The Echo/Oscar Witch Hunt).

In any case, the press event, which was covered worldwide by media organizations large and small, was the very satisfying outcome of my nearly four-decade-long research career. I began seeking out and interviewing U.S. military veterans in 1973, to attempt to learn more about UFOs’ apparent interest in our nukes. My fascination with this intriguing topic was sparked in March 1967, when UFOs were rumored to be hovering near some of Malmstrom AFB’s ICBM sites—something now confirmed by Salas, Meiwald, Figel and other veterans involved in the incidents.

At that time, my father, SMSgt. Robert E. Hastings, was stationed at the base and worked in the SAGE building, which housed one component of the world’s most sophisticated radar network, designed to detect Soviet bombers in North American airspace in time of war. During the same period, I was a high school junior who worked three nights-a-week as a janitor at Malmstrom’s air traffic control tower. Long story short, my father and I independently learned of the UFO presence around the vicinity of the base, as confirmed by two different radar systems.

By 1981, after numerous interviews with former/retired USAF personnel, I believed that I had enough solid testimony about all of this to take the subject of UFOs and Nukes public. Consequently, I ventured out on the American college lecture circuit in September of that year. That was over 500 lectures ago; I have also appeared at England’s Oxford University.

Simply put, my opinion is that the U.S. government does not have the right to keep the American people and the rest of humanity in the dark, decade after decade, about the UFO reality and the now well-documented interest on the part of their pilots in our nuclear weapons. (Soviet Army veterans have reported UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites in the U.S.S.R. during the Cold War. Now-available documents from the KGB and Soviet Ministry of Defense support some of those revelations.)

Skeptics or Disinformation Agents?

Over the years, I have found that a great many of the debunkers in my lecture audiences had one thing in common: They had read one or more of the supposedly objective articles on UFOs which routinely appear in Skeptical Inquirer magazine, published by the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP)—which has now renamed itself the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI).

Although most of the debunkers I encounter tout Skeptical Inquirer as a source of credible, scientific information on UFOs—which it is not—when I question them, I find that virtually none of these UFO critics know anything about those responsible for publishing this “skeptical” magazine. I, on the other hand, made it my business long ago to find out exactly who was so intent on fervently debunking UFOs, year after year, decade after decade. I must say, what I discovered surprised me. At the same time, I was not at all surprised.

The Executive Editor of Skeptical Inquirer is Kendrick C. Frazier. Many years ago, I discovered that Frazier was in fact employed, beginning in the early 1980s, as a Public Relations Specialist at Sandia National Laboratories, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Yes, the same Sandia Labs that has been instrumental to the success of America’s nuclear weapons program since the late 1940s, through its “ordinance engineering” of components for bomb and missile warhead systems.

In my opinion, Frazier’s affiliation with Sandia Labs—he is now retired, after working there for over two decades—is highly significant, given the hundreds of references in declassified government documents, and in the many statements by former military personnel, which address ongoing UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites over the past six decades.

Considering these disclosures—which clearly establish a link between UFOs and nukes—I find it interesting, to say the least, that the longtime editor of the leading debunking magazine—whose pages routinely feature articles discrediting UFOs and those who report them—worked for over 20 years as a public relations spokesman for one of the leading nuclear weapons labs in the United States.

Interestingly, Skeptical Inquirer’s publisher’s statement, or “masthead”, which appears at the beginning of each issue, never once mentioned Frazier’s employment at the highly-secretive, government-funded laboratory. Instead, the magazine merely listed, and continues to list, his profession as “science writer”—a reference to his having written several books and articles on various scientific subjects. Also curious is the fact that a number of online biographies on Frazier—including one written by him—also fail to mention his two-decade tenure at Sandia Labs.1 An odd omission indeed.

Over the years, Frazier has been quick to dismiss the astonishing revelations about UFOs contained in government documents declassified via the Freedom of Information Act. He claims that researchers who have accessed thousands of U.S. Air Force, CIA, and FBI files have consistently misrepresented their contents. In one interview he stated, “The UFO believers don’t give you a clear and true idea of what these government documents reveal. They exaggerate the idea that there is a big UFO cover-up.”2

Just as Frazier strives to minimize the significance of the declassified revelations about UFOs, it is likely he will also attempt to downplay the relevancy of his former employment with one of the U.S. government’s top nuclear weapons labs, as it pertained to his magazine’s relentless debunking of UFOs. He will presumably assert that his skeptical views on the subject are personal and sincere, and were in no way related to, or influenced by, his public relations position at Sandia National Laboratories.

However, regardless of his response, I believe that Frazier’s long-term employment at Sandia is very relevant, and raises questions about his impartiality, if nothing else, given his long track-record of publishing stridently anti-UFO articles in Skeptical Inquirer.

Furthermore, the “skeptical” organization’s connection with nukes does not end with Kendrick Frazier. James Oberg, one of CSI’s leading UFO debunkers, once did classified work relating to nuclear weapons at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, located at Kirtland AFB, just down the road from Sandia Labs, in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

From 1970-72, Oberg was an Air Force officer whose assignments with the Battle Environments Branch at the weapons lab involved the development and utilization of computer codes related to the modeling of laser and nuclear weapons. Oberg also served as a “Security Officer” while at the weapons lab and was, therefore, responsible for monitoring the security procedures used to safeguard the classified documents generated by his group.

After former USAF Lt. (now Dr.) Bob Jacobs went public with the still-classified, nuclear weapons-related case known as the Big Sur UFO Incident—during which a domed, disc-shaped craft was inadvertently filmed as it circled a dummy nuclear warhead in flight, subsequently disabling it with four beams of light—Oberg wrote to him, chastising Jacobs for revealing “top secret” information.

In his 1989 MUFON UFO Journal article, Jacobs wrote that after he had broken his silence, “I was contacted by a variety of investigators, buffs, cranks, proponents and detractors alike. James Oberg, a frequent ‘mouthpiece’ for certain NASA projects and self-styled UFO Debunker wrote to disparage my story and to ask provocatively, ‘Since you obviously feel free to discuss top secret UFO data, what would you be willing to say about other top secret aspects of the Atlas warhead which you alluded to briefly?’”3

Despite Oberg’s charge, Jacobs has correctly noted that because the USAF officer who had shown him the film of the UFO encounter, Major Florenze J. Mansmann, subsequently told him with a figurative-wink that the incident had “never happened”—not that it was Top Secret—Jacobs had no personal knowledge of the classification-level attached to the incident. In any case, it is almost certain that Oberg would not have criticized Dr. Jacobs for exposing “top secret UFO data” had he known that Jacobs would subsequently publish his private remark.

So, cutting to the chase, here we have one of CSI’s leading UFO debunkers—whose public stance is that UFOs don’t even exist—angrily asking Jacobs in a private letter whether he would also openly discuss “other” top secret aspects of the missile test.

Even though Oberg also disparaged Jacobs’ story in his letter—perhaps hoping that Jacobs would recant it under pressure—his remark, “Since you obviously feel free to discuss top secret UFO data” appears to be a very odd and startling departure from Oberg's public persona as a debunker on UFOs.

I have no doubt that Oberg will claim that I have misinterpreted his remark, just as he will probably attempt to debunk the many credible statements by my ex-military sources regarding other nuclear weapons-related UFO incidents. Nevertheless, I view Oberg’s letter to Jacobs as a rare, unguarded moment when he fleetingly revealed something other than his self-professed skepticism about UFOs.

To me, it seems that Oberg, the former Security Officer at the Air Force Weapons Laboratory, was simply unable to stifle his strong indignation over Jacobs’ disclosure of what Oberg considered to be top secret information about the UFO incident. Once a security officer, always a security officer, I guess.

Efforts by Skeptical Inquirer editor Kendrick Frazier to debunk the Big Sur case, using demonstrably bogus information supplied by one of Jacobs’ former colleagues, engineer Kingston George, were later exposed in my linked-article above. (George's motives remain unclear, however, he repeatedly misrepresented the facts of the case in two separate articles published by Frazier and has failed to respond to my latest exposé on his attempted sleights-of-hand.)

For his part, CSICOP/CSI’s chief UFO-debunker, the late Philip J. Klass, aggressively hounded Dr. Jacobs after he published the Big Sur UFO story, going so far as to write a derisive letter to Jacobs’ department chairman—Dr. R. Steven Craig, Department of Journalism and Broadcasting, University of Maine—in which Klass accusingly questioned professor Jacobs’ fitness as a representative of the academic community.

Jacobs’ understandably indignant response to Klass, entitled, Low Klass: A Rejoinder, may be found online.4 It is a must-read for anyone wishing to understand the behind-the-scenes battle that ensued after Jacobs went public with the UFO incident.

Among other subjects, the rejoinder touches on acrimonious correspondence between Jacobs and Klass. At one point, after Dr. Jacobs ignored Klass’ repeated demands that he respond to the debunker’s charges, Klass offered character references, citing Admiral Bobby R. Inman (USN Ret.)—the former Director of the National Security Agency, who also held Deputy Director positions at both the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency—and Lt. General Daniel O. Graham (USA Ret.), the former Director of the Defense Intelligence Agency and former Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. Klass not only provided Jacobs with their names, but home addresses as well, and told him, “Both men have worked with me and gotten to know me in my [journalistic] efforts for Aviation Week.”

The character references provided by Klass are certainly interesting, given his stock response over the years to those who questioned his motives. Whenever he was confronted with the charge that he was not really a UFO skeptic, but a disinformation agent for the U.S. government, Klass would always recoil indignantly and ridicule the notion. Nevertheless, out of public view, in a private letter to Dr. Jacobs, who does Klass choose to present as character references? Why, two of the top intelligence officers in the U.S. government!


Journalist Terry Hansen has investigated CSICOP, before it became CSI, and offers the very plausible theory that the skeptical organization was infiltrated early on by a small but determined group of U.S. government-affiliated operatives, whose true motives have far more to do with disinformation than skepticism.

He writes, “[The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal] is an organization of people who oppose what they contend is pseudo-science...CSICOP, contrary to its impressive-sounding title, does not sponsor scientific research. On the contrary, its main function has been to oppose scientific research, especially in areas such as psychic phenomena and UFOs, two topics that, coincidentally or not, have been of demonstrated interest to the U.S. intelligence community over the decades. Instead, CSICOP devotes nearly all of its resources to influencing the American public via the mass media.”5

Hansen continues, “CSICOP can accurately be described as a propaganda organization because it does not take anything approaching an objective position regarding UFOs. The organization’s stance is militantly anti-UFO research and it works hard to see that the news media broadcast its views whenever possible. When the subject of UFOs surfaces, either in the news media or any other public forum, CSICOP members turn out rapidly to add their own spin to whatever is being said. Through its ‘Council for Media Integrity’ CSICOP maintains close ties with the editorial staffs of such influential science publications as Scientific American, Nature, and New Scientist. Consequently, it’s not too hard to understand why balanced UFO articles seldom appear in those [magazines].”6

For whatever reason, CSICOP/CSI’s chief representatives have been intent on claiming that there are no UFOs and, therefore, no U.S. government cover-up of them. In view of their rather interesting affiliations, I merely ask:

Wouldn’t Kendrick Frazier’s statements be more credible had he not spent his career doing public relations work for the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program—especially in light of the many declassified documents related to UFO activity at nukes sites?

Shouldn’t Philip Klass—having worked for more than two decades as a journalist for one of the U.S. intelligence community’s most valued media conduits—Aviation Week magazine—been more carefully scrutinized by fellow journalists, for a conflict of interest, when he tirelessly insisted that there is no government UFO cover-up?

Even James Oberg’s own classified nuclear weapons-related work while with the Air Force, as well as his later involvement with the U.S. government’s space program, seems to fit this pattern of direct or indirect governmental ties on the part of those who ostensibly dismiss UFOs on purely scientific grounds, but who seem arguably more intent on dismissing the notion that there is an official UFO cover-up.

(Yes, admittedly, almost all of my own sources have military backgrounds too. Importantly, however, unlike the highly-vocal UFO debunkers at CSICOP/CSI, most of them have divulged their UFO-related secrets only reluctantly, when persuaded by myself or other researchers to do so. Therefore, as a rule, they have very cautiously presented their insiders’ perspective on national security-related UFO activity. This is entirely dissimilar in approach to the relentless, high-profile, anti-UFO public relations campaign undertaken by CSICOP/CSI’s debunkers over the years. I might also add that my own ex-military sources present their accounts in a simple, straightforward manner—and rarely insist that anyone believe them—whereas the ongoing UFO-debunking pronouncements by the CSICOPers are routinely jam-packed with classic propaganda devices, obviously designed to influence public and scientific opinion.)

In any case, the question being asked here is whether or not CSICOP/CSI has had within its ranks a few persons who have a hidden agenda on UFOs, which has nothing to do with genuine scientific skepticism. While I don’t know the answer to this question, given the extreme, unscientific anti-UFO track-record of the organization, I think it needs to be asked.

Regardless, whatever these debunkers’ affiliations and motives may be, the reader doesn’t need what they have to offer unless, of course, you actually enjoy being misled by pseudoscientific propaganda, government-inspired or not.

It goes without saying that the statements above do not apply to the CSICOP/CSI membership in general. It’s only natural and to be expected that an organization which bills itself as “skeptical” in orientation will attract persons with a similar philosophical outlook. CSICOP/CSI counts among its membership many world-renowned scientists and other respected intellectuals. There is no question that a great many of these persons share a sincerely incredulous outlook on various subjects classified as “paranormal”, including UFOs.

Therefore, the fact that many of CSICOP/CSI’s members have rejected the validity of the UFO phenomenon—a subject about which they know little or nothing, and are not qualified to discuss authoritatively—certainly does not mean that they are secretly working for the CIA. Bias and presumption, rather than ulterior motives, account for these self-appointed UFO experts’ flawed perspective on the phenomenon. Consequently, if they have been misled by CSICOP’s (now CSI’s) top UFO debunkers, they have no one to blame but themselves.

I’ll conclude by simply saying that if one is seeking an objective, unbiased scientific assessment of the UFO phenomenon, one should bypass the sometimes subtle, sometimes obvious misinformation (disinformation?) foisted on us all by Klass, Oberg, Frazier, and other debunkers affiliated with CSICOP/CSI.

Instead, one would do well to read anything ever written on the subject by Dr. James McDonald or Dr. J. Allen Hynek—at least, anything written by Hynek during his post-Project Blue Book period, when his scientific investigation of UFOs was not hampered by the official restrictions under which he labored while affiliated with the U.S. Air Force.

Astronomer Dr. Bernard Haisch—who advocates a comprehensive, unbiased investigation the UFO phenomenon—has defined a Skeptic as “One who practices the method of suspended judgment, engages in rational and dispassionate reasoning as exemplified by the scientific method, shows willingness to consider alternative explanations without prejudice based on prior beliefs, and who seeks out evidence and carefully scrutinizes its validity.”7

Perhaps I am being overly optimistic but, who knows, once acquainted with some legitimate data on the UFO phenomenon—including that gathered decades ago by McDonald and Hynek—a few of the scientific skeptics reading this article might actually begin practicing their profession, when addressing the subject of UFOs, instead of just offering lip-service to that practice.

1. http://www.annonline.com/interviews/971009/biography.html
2. Critical Eye: “Aliens”. Discovery Communications, Inc., 2002.
3. http://www.nicap.org/bigsur2.htm
4. http://www.nicap.org/reports/bigsurrej.htm
5. Hansen, Terry. The Missing Times: News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-up,
Xlibris Corp., 2000, p. 228.
6. Ibid., pp. 228-29
7. ufoskeptic.org


  1. An excellent article.

    One minor point: I think you erred when you referred to Sandia Labs being involved with “ordinance engineering”. They don't engineer ordinances (local laws), but rather ordnance (weapons).

  2. Robert states in his article, "Although I have roughly three hours of audio taped comments by Figel, he chose not to participate in the press conference."

    I've asked Robert on at least two occasions to provide the reasons of Walter Figel's absence and he has stated to me that Figel "chose" not to attend.

    How then does this published comment from Robert on the Marine Times (3-20-12) square with Figel's lack of participation:

    Robert Hastings: "Figel, after accusing Salas of making up the UFO-related events at Oscar, as you mention above, never acknowledged that he had been wrong when he said that Salas’ statements were fiction, never called Col. Meiwald (whose number I provided to him) to verify the authenticity of Meiwald’s tape recorded comments in support of Salas—which contradicted his own uninformed opinions entirely—and frankly, never had the decency to apologize to Salas, even after Col. Meiwald supported Salas without reservation.

    Figel’s tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth is one of the reasons he was not initially invited to participate in my press conference—where seven USAF veterans *with backbone* stuck to their stories and talked in detail about multiple UFO encounters at ICBM sites, including the Echo and Oscar shutdowns.

    With this caliber of witness (seven of them, actually) at the press conference, why would I include Figel, who told me on tape that he didn’t want to get caught up in the debate between you and me and fan the controversy further? That kind of wishy-washy attitude didn’t make the cut."

    So which version is correct?



  3. Tim Hebert didn't read my statement on the Marine Times blog carefully. Here it is again, with the key word highlighted in all caps:

    "Figel’s tendency to talk out of both sides of his mouth is one of the reasons he was not INITIALLY invited to participate in my press conference—where seven USAF veterans *with backbone* stuck to their stories and talked in detail about multiple UFO encounters at ICBM sites, including the Echo and Oscar shutdowns."

    Actually, Mr. Hebert, after debunker James Carlson wrote to Figel, informing him of the press conference and copying me on the message, I emailed Figel and asked him to come, if he wished to participate. He was already working near Washington so I would not have to pay to fly him in, put him up in a hotel, etc., as I did with the other participants.

    So, Tim, Figel was indeed invited, eventually, so there is no discrepancy with what I have written online. He chose not to participate, just I have said.

    I further told Figel that the other participants had lots of questions for him about his wishy-washy stance on the Echo Flight incident--telling me in detail about the UFO presence on tape, on the one hand, but downplaying it to Carlson on the other. If one listens to the taped conversations I had with Figel, he clearly attempted to do the same thing with me--wriggle out of acknowledging the serious UFO reports he got from his missile guards, which he had already confirmed to Bob Salas on tape in 1996--but I didn't let him get away with it. The audiotapes speak for themselves and verify all of this.

  4. Actually Robert I did indeed noticed that you stated "initially" Figel was invited, but it was the last section of your reply to Carlson that caused me to take notice:

    RH: "With this caliber of witness (seven of them, actually) at the press conference, why would I include Figel, who told me on tape that he didn’t want to get caught up in the debate between you and me and fan the controversy further? That kind of wishy-washy attitude didn’t make the cut."

    This leads me to conclude that you really did not want his participation to begin with. Was Fred Meiwald invited? Or, did he fit in Figel's category as potentially unreliable? Meiwald, like Figel never toe'd the party line, did he? Well, Meiwald could not 100 percent corroborate Salas' receiving a report from the FSC.

    After all these years, has anyone come forward to say that they had actually *seen* something in Echo's flight area or at Oscar?




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