Tuesday, February 22, 2005

The Great UFO Debate: Friedman V. Shostak (Part One)

The Great UFO Debate - Friedman V. Shostak

     After a month delay due to an illness incurred by Seth Shostak, the debate between he and Stanton Friedman took place on the "Coast To Coast" radio show hosted by George Noory in the wee hours Wednesday, July 21st of last year.

The subject of course was UFOs; more accurately the idea that some UFOs are indeed ET spacecraft, as proposed by Stan Friedman; taking the opposing position was SETI Astronomer Seth Shostak. The latter holds a BA in physics from Princeton
By Frank Warren
The UFO Chronicles
and a PhD in astronomy from Caltech. Stanton Friedman, whom I like to call, "The Godfather of modern day Ufology," received his BS and MS degrees in physics from the University of Chicago in 1955 and 1956. He was employed for 14 years as a nuclear physicist before starting his long career in researching/investigating the UFO phenomenon.

As the show started, George Noory, it's host, and in this instance the debate's moderator, went through all the usual pleasantries in introducing his distinguished guests; he laid out the ground rules for the debate, stating that it would be an informal session starting with each one's view of the subject, followed by Q&A from Noory, then dialogue directly between the two, and finally ending with questions from callers.

Friedman was the first to come out swinging, emphatically stating that:

1. SOME UFOs are alien spacecraft.

2. There exists a "Cosmic Watergate," i.e., that some few people in various governments have been aware of this fact since July, 1947 because of the crash of two alien spacecraft and the recovery of dead bodies in the state of New Mexico.

3. None of the arguments made against the first two points stand up to careful scrutiny.

4. This is the biggest story of the millennium, in that, “we are being visited by aliens, and the government is and has been covering it up since at least 1947.”

From there, Friedman kept jabbing at his opponent making a comparison with Ufology and the stance he feels SETI holds on the subject: he stated that the SETI program is based on a number of assumptions that he feels "have no basis in fact" i.e., there's nobody coming here; that radio is the ultimate means of communication; that if aliens were coming here they [SETI] would know about it; that there is no colonization, no migration; that we need to talk about great distances before there's anybody out there; that we can't possibly be a threat to anybody; there's no national security aspect to the notion of alien visitation.

Staying on the offensive and continuing to jab his opponent with lightening speed, Friedman went on to note the major differences with Ufology and SETI by saying, "they [SETI] ignore the UFO data, we Ufologists look at the SETI data and say, 'hey where's your evidence?'" They want us to provide a body, we want them to provide "any kind of evidence" that there's anybody out there sending signals! Friedman further pointed out that there are stars a billion years older then our sun, and the possibility exists that there are civilizations as old, and that the notion that they would be at our same level of technology is silly.

When the bell rang for round two, although Shostak was ready to spar with Friedman he wasn't initially aggressive. He admitted that he was in agreement with Stan in the sense that "there is in fact 'intelligent life' in the universe," [other then our own] but took issue with Friedman's point of view that "they're here now!" He intimated that the evidence for "that idea" was weak and couldn't be verified. He further stated that if SETI finds evidence of extraterrestrial life it would be able to be verified and leave "no doubt" about the fact.

Noory interjected the idea that some would disagree with their mindset and that we are unique in the universe. Friedman acknowledged the matter of fact that there exist people who think "the human race is indeed alone in the universe." He likened them to extremists he has encountered in giving his lectures who say, "don't bother me with the facts my mind is made up." On the other end of the spectrum he stated that there are those who believe that "aliens are here to save them."

Noory cut in and recollected his first meeting with Friedman back in 1971 and asked Stan if the Roswell Incident was his motivating factor for initiating his UFO research. Friedman set the record straight, and stated that his involvement with Roswell research didn't surface until 1978. [Stan Friedman was the first civilian researcher to bring the Roswell Incident to public light.]

Noory posed a similar question to Shostak in asking him when he decided to get involved with SETI. (The Search For Extraterrestrial Intelligence). Shostak recalled his childhood and early interest in the idea of extraterrestrial life. He went on to state that while being a graduate student and using radio telescopes to study galaxies, he had read a book authored by the well known astronomer, Carl Sagan and I. S. Shklovskii entitled, Intelligent Life in The Universe; that book was his inspiration about using the radio telescope for possibly communicating with alien life. By 1990 he had moved to the Bay Area and joined SETI.

At this point Noory reminded his listening audience to fast blast (vote by fax machine) and or computer in the last hour to indicate whom they felt won the debate. He said he would announce the winner at the end of the show.

From here, Noory suggested dialogue between the two contenders, to start it off he (Noory) posed this question to Shostak; he asked, “Why he couldn’t believe [Seth] we aren’t being visited by the very same people he is listening for?” Seth didn’t waste anytime and came out swinging! He admitted that he could believe it, giving an example of ET visiting earth eons ago, taking samples etc., but also acknowledged how hard it would be to prove that. He then goes for a roundhouse punch saying that if ET had or is visiting in current times there must be compelling evidence to prove that. He then states that he just doesn’t believe that the evidence is sufficient. Staying in that theme, he references Museums, saying that evidence would certainly be in Science Museums if there were any. He said it “should be irrefutable.”

Stan countered with some quick jabs stating it was/is irrefutable! There was a brief exchange of pro and con, with Stan finishing by agreeing with Shostak that the evidence is lacking with SETI and Museums, mentioning the “laughter curtain,” i.e., the fear of ridicule of scientists getting involved with research concerning Ufology. Shostak was quick to interject his disagreement with that mindset, saying that this is the most interesting thing that could be discovered and that he [Seth] didn’t “buy that.” Stan reiterated the number of scientist he’s spoken to over the years that have told him not to use their names, and to keep their comments confidential. He further used as examples the omission of any scientific studies in the books of key “SETI folk," including Shostak, as well as Frank Drake and Carl Sagan. He said based on their books, there wasn’t any indication that any of them looked at the “large scale scientific research” involving Ufology, giving Project Blue Book’s Special Report 14 done by Battelle Memorial Institute as an example.

After the break, Noory pointed out that both Shostak and Friedman agree that there is ET life in the universe, the difference being whether they’re here or not. Stan didn’t waste anytime and went on the offensive. He quickly pointed out that in Seth’s latest book he asked the question, “how come they haven’t landed, and why aren’t they seen on radar?” Stan references Ted Phillip’s research of the last 35 years of over “5000 landing trace cases” from 75 countries, highlighting the fact that these “aren’t crop circles.” He then goes on to cite “multiple-witness/radar visual sightings and the work of Dr. James McDonald, former Professor and Senior Physicist, Institute of Atmospheric Physics at the University of Arizona. He emphasizes the “importance and quality” of that type of evidence as well as the omission of said evidence in Seth’s book and or discussions concerning Ufology. He says [Stan] Seth acts as if it doesn’t exist. He illustrates that the evidence (multiple-witness/radar visual sightings) indicates manufactured objects clearing exhibiting maneuvers that man can’t duplicate, therefore predicating the fact that they were/are made somewhere else! Like Ali did in the past, Stan then taunted his opponent, by saying, “if we’re going to say there is no evidence, then we have to include the exception of what ‘we haven’t looked at.’”


  1. Hey Frank,

    Just a small correction. On Coast to Coast AM, the term "Fax Blast" is erroneous. The term is actually "Fast Blast", and describes a feature of the site where listeners can send an e-mail message (once per hour or half-hour) that goes directly to George's (or Art's) console PC screen. The feature does not involve fax machines in any way. Great piece nonetheless.


  2. Good Day Kyle,

    I stand corrected . . . thank you for bringing that to my attention . . .



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