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Meet J. Allen Hynek, the Astronomer Who First Classified UFO ‘Close Encounters’

by Greg Daugherty                      November 19, 2018                      (history.com)

• In 1947, a rash of reports of UFOs had the public on edge. The Air Force created Project Sign to investigate these UFO sightings. But they needed outside expertise to sift through the reports and come up with explanations for all of these sightings. Enter J. Allen Hynek.

• In 1948, Hynek was the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory. He had worked for the government during WWII developing new defense technologies for the war effort with a high security clearance. The Air Force approached him to be a consultant on ‘flying saucers’ for the government. “I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” Hynek recalled.

• Hynek’s UFO investigations under Project Sign resulted in twenty percent of the 237 cases that couldn’t be explained. In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge, which said Hynek, “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” The 1949 Grudge report concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, and warranted no further study.

• But UFO incidents continued, even from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously. The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge under a new name: Project Blue Book. Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. But he had changed his mind about the existence of UFOs. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in 1977. Hynek deplored the ridicule that people who reported a UFO sighting often had to endure, causing untold numbers of others to never come forward, not to mention the loss of useful research data.

• “Given the controversial nature of the subject, it’s understandable that both scientists and witnesses are reluctant to come forward,” said Jacques Vallee, co-author with Dr. Hynek of The Edge of Reality: A Progress Report on Unidentified Flying Objects.

• On October 4, 1957, the Soviet Union surprised the world by launching Sputnik, a serious blow to Americans’ sense of technological superiority. Hynek was on TV assuring Americans that their scientists were closely monitoring the situation. UFO sightings continued unabated.

• In the 1960s, Hynek was the top expert on UFOs as scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. But he chafed at what he perceived as the project’s mandate to debunk UFO sightings, and the inadequate resources at his disposal. Air Force Major Hector Quintanilla, who headed the project from 1963 to 1969, writes that he considered Hynek a “liability.”

• Hynek frustrated UFO debunkers such as the U.S. Air Force. But in 1966, after suggesting that a UFO sighting in Michigan may have been an optical illusion created by swamp gas, he became a punchline for UFO believers as well.

• In his testimony for a Congressional hearing in 1966, Hynek stated, “[I]t is my opinion that the body of data accumulated since 1948…deserves close scrutiny by a civilian panel of physical and social scientists…”. The Air Force established a civilian committee of scientists to investigate UFOs, chaired by physicist, Dr. Edward U. Condon. In 1968, Hynek assailed the Condon Report’s conclusion that “further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified.” In 1969, Project Blue Book shut down for good.

• UFO sightings continued around the world. Hynek later quipped, “apparently [they] did not read the Condon Report”. Hynek went on with his research, free from the compromises and bullying of the U.S. Air Force.

• In 1972, Hynek published his first book, The UFO Experience. It introduced Hynek’s classifications of UFO incidents, which he called Close Encounters. Close Encounters of the First Kind meant UFOs seen at a close enough range to make out some details. In a Close Encounter of the Second Kind, the UFO had a physical effect, such as scorching trees, frightening animals or causing car motors to suddenly conk out. In Close Encounters of the Third Kind, witnesses reported seeing occupants in or near a UFO.

• In 1977, Steven Spielberg released the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Hynek was paid $1,000 for the use of the title, another $1,000 for the rights to use stories from the book and $1,500 for three days of technical consulting. He also had a brief cameo in the film, playing an awestruck scientist when the alien spacecraft comes into view.

• In 1978, Hynek retired from teaching. In 1973 he had founded the Center for UFO Studies which continues to this day. Hynek died in 1986, at age 75, from a brain tumor.

 

It’s September 1947, and the U.S. Air Force has a problem. A rash of reports about mysterious objects in the skies has the public on edge and the military baffled. The Air Force needs to figure out what’s going on—and fast. It launches an investigation it calls Project Sign.

By early 1948 the team realizes it needs some outside expertise to sift through the reports it’s receiving—specifically an astronomer who can determine which cases are easily explained by astronomical phenomena, such as planets, stars or meteors.

For J. Allen Hynek, then the 37-year-old director at Ohio State University’s McMillin Observatory, it would be a classic case of being in the right place at the right time—or, as he may have occasionally lamented, the wrong place at the wrong one.

The adventure begins

Hynek had worked for the government during the war, developing new defense technologies like the first radio-controlled fuse, so he already had a high security clearance and was a natural go-to.

“One day I had a visit from several men from the technical center at Wright-Patterson Air Force base, which was only 60 miles away in Dayton,” Hynek later wrote. “With some obvious embarrassment, the men eventually brought up the subject of ‘flying saucers’ and asked me if I would care to serve as consultant to the Air Force on the matter… The job didn’t seem as though it would take too much time, so I agreed.”

Little did Hynek realize that he was about to begin a lifelong odyssey that would make him one of the most famous and, at times, controversial scientists of the 20 century. Nor could he have guessed how much his own thinking about UFOs would change over that period as he persisted in bringing rigorous scientific inquiry to the subject.

“I had scarcely heard of UFOs in 1948 and, like every other scientist I knew, assumed that they were nonsense,” he recalled.

Project Sign ran for a year, during which the team reviewed 237 cases. In Hynek’s final report, he noted that about 32 percent of incidents could be attributed to astronomical phenomena, while another 35 percent had other explanations, such as balloons, rockets, flares or birds. Of the remaining 33 percent, 13 percent didn’t offer enough evidence to yield an explanation. That left 20 percent that provided investigators with some evidence but still couldn’t be explained.

The Air Force was loath to use the term “unidentified flying object,” so the mysterious 20 percent were simply classified as “unidentified.”

In February 1949, Project Sign was succeeded by Project Grudge. While Sign offered at least a pretense of scientific objectivity, Grudge seems to have been dismissive from the start, just as its angry-sounding name suggests. Hynek, who played no role in Project Grudge, said it “took as its premise that UFOs simply could not be.” Perhaps not surprisingly, its report, issued at the end of 1949, concluded that the phenomena posed no danger to the United States, having resulted from mass hysteria, deliberate hoaxes, mental illness or conventional objects that the witnesses had misinterpreted as otherworldly. It also suggested the subject wasn’t worth further study.

Project Blue Book is born

That might’ve been the end of it. But UFO incidents continued, including some puzzling reports from the Air Force’s own radar operators. The national media began treating the phenomenon more seriously; LIFE magazine did a 1952 cover story, and even the widely respected TV journalist Edward R. Murrow devoted a program to the topic, including an interview with Kenneth Arnold, a pilot whose 1947 sighting of mysterious objects over Mount Rainier in Washington state popularized the term “flying saucer.” The Air Force had little choice but to revive Project Grudge, which soon morphed into the more benignly named Project Blue Book.

Hynek joined Project Blue Book in 1952 and would remain with it until its demise in 1969. For him, it was a side gig as he continued to teach and to pursue other, non-UFO research, at Ohio State. In 1960 he moved to Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, to chair its astronomy department.

As before, Hynek’s role was to review the reports of UFO sightings and determine whether there was a logical astronomical explanation. Typically that involved a lot of unglamorous paperwork; but now and then, for an especially puzzling case, he had a chance to get out into the field.

There he discovered something he might never have learned from simply reading the files: how normal the people who reported seeing UFOs tended to be. “The witnesses I interviewed could have been lying, could have been insane or could have been hallucinating collectively—but I do not think so,” he recalled in his 1977 book, The Hynek UFO Report.

“Their standing in the community, their lack of motive for perpetration of a hoax, their own puzzlement at the turn of events they believe they witnessed, and often their great reluctance to speak of the experience—all lend a subjective reality to their UFO experience.”

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UFOs: “Deception…Is The Key To This Whole Business”

by Nick Redfern           March 14, 2018          (mysteriousuniverse.org)

• The 1950’s was the heyday for the ‘Contactee/Space Brother’ movement wherein people like George Adamski (pictured above) were routinely visited by benevolent non-terrestrial beings. Also known as “Orthons”, these Space Brothers have appeared throughout history on mountain tops, in deserts, and have appeared to walk on water, or fly in the sky. The Contactee is a sort of psychic lightning-rod who is highly susceptible to receiving psychic messages. The Orthon will plant ideas and stories into the mind of the Contactee as a seed to spread these ideas to the rest of the population. These implanted ideas are meant to provide a helpful cultural message to humanity. Orthon was the name of Adamski’s Venusian ‘space brother’ whom he “met” in November 1952.

• In his book Looking for Orthon, the late Colin Bennett explains that these Orthon’s are figments of the imagination triggered by extraterrestrial forces for the purpose of implanting information into a susceptible Contactee, including the physical presence of the being itself. The Contactee is certain that he has met an actual physical being, and may even photograph it. So there is a measure of deception and manipulation happening. The psychic implant may also extend to materializing objects and situations.

• In his book Passport to Magonia, Jacques Vallee says that Orthons and Space Brothers may be a form of ‘alien’ life that has been with us for a long time. Such ethereal beings are part of the structure that creates a “mystical experience” in a Contactee. When someone says that they’ve seen a fairy being, and another says that is impossible as fairies don’t exist, it still leaves the idea of the possibility that nevertheless, they may in fact exist.

• Writes Vallee, “[Orthons] allow humanity to breathe and access a Matrix world in which anything that can be imagined can happen. It might be denied by [the] social-scientific left, but the truth is that dreams, fantasies, and mystical experiences of all kinds play an absolutely essential part in all human mental operations.”

• “George Adamski played a significant part in establishing New Age thinking,” continues Vallee. “It might be well to remember that the entire body of our moral philosophy and spiritual life is formed by visions and inspirations… Those who thoughtlessly dismiss mystical experience cut themselves off from all art, literature, and no small part of all thought and philosophy… The greatest tribute that can be paid to Adamski is that through both foul means and fair, he helped to create one of the very few routes to the unconscious that we have.”

 

As some readers of Mysterious Universe will know, one of my big interests is the Contactee/Space Brother phenomenon, which was most prominent in the 1950s. It’s a subject which is very often derided by many in Ufology (and, at times, with good reason…). But, that doesn’t take away the fact that the issue is an important one. Of those who tackled the whole controversy, certainly one of the most knowledgeable was the late Colin Bennett. He wrote what – in my opinion – remains the most important and insightful book on contactee George Adamski. The title of Colin’s book? Looking for Orthon – Orthon being the alleged name of the equally alleged alien that Adamski claimed to have met in November 1952.

Back in 2009, I interviewed Colin about his ideas on Adamski, the Space Brothers and the Contactee crowd. And, today, I thought I would share with you – and without interruption – Colin’s observations on those long-gone times of the 1950s when the Contactee movement ruled the ufological roost. Colin, who died in 2014, told me:

“Many Orthons have appeared throughout history. The equivalents to Adamski’s Venusian ‘space brother’ have appeared on mountain tops, in deserts, and have appeared to walk on water, or fly in the sky. Their sole function is to sow seeds in the head; just as a farmer grows a particular crop. These seeds act on the imagination, which replicates and amplifies whatever story-technology is around at the time. People such as Adamski and the rest of the contactees were, and still are, like psychic lightning-rods for certain brands of information. Undoubtedly, rich or poor, clever or dumb, they are possessed by a kind of higher cerebral disturbance, and like Moses, they are as prepared for the ‘visitation’ as they anxiously await for a new product brand, for the equivalent to RFID-type branding is what ‘contact’ is all about.

“Contactees are host-nutrients for whatever cultural sales lines are on offer from visions conjured up by clouds, sea or sand. The message is ‘consumed’ and thoroughly processed exactly as a viral product is absorbed. The incomprehensibility of the received stories is irrelevant. They represent a heavily codified branch of postmodern intellectual consumerism. In receiving ‘messages’ at all, Contactees are bar coded as it were, and elements of the induced story-technology are ready to crystallize out into that final alchemical stage called the mechanical real. But we must be careful here. As the alchemist said to his apprentice, ‘The game may be rigged, but it’s the only game in town.’

“Deception and all its ramifications is the key to this whole business. This does not burst the bubble of the mystery however, for manipulative levels of faction may well be our first clue as to how a possible alien mind might work. If the levels of deception of all kinds in human culture are anything to go by, the range of such within an alien culture must be both multiple and profound.”

“The ‘space-folk’ are sculptured by wars between rival viral memes competing for prime-time belief. It may be that, as an independent form of non-organic life, memes as active viral information can display an Orthon entity at a drop of a hat. They come complete with sets of cultural agendas. After they have rung the doorbell as it were, and the goods are sold, these metaphysical salesmen disappear like the traditional Men in Black, no doubt traveling on to seed other dreams in other towns and other heads. The goods we have unwittingly bought are half-formed memories of having met someone from another world.”

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FAIR USE NOTICE: This page contains copyrighted material the use of which has not been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. ExoNews.org distributes this material for the purpose of news reporting, educational research, comment and criticism, constituting Fair Use under 17 U.S.C § 107. Please contact the Editor at ExoNews with any copyright issue.

The MJ12 Documents: The Government’s Position

by Nick Redfern         December 9, 2017           (mysteriousuniverse.org)

• In 1980, William Moore co-authored the book,The Roswell Incident. Soon thereafter, Moore was contacted by intelligence insiders who would covertly pass along intelligence information. In 1984, Moore’s friend, tv producer Jaime Shandera received a roll of film of photos of MJ-12 documents. Moore, Shandera, and Stanton Friedman studied and attempted to authenticate the documents for 2 ½ years.

• MJ-12 or Majestic 12 is a clandestine UFO/extraterrestrial oversight group, above the President, created in 1947 in the wake of the Roswell crash. It was/is comprised by twelve elite military, scientific, and intelligence officials.

• In 1987, Timothy Good published his book, Above Top Secret, and revealed the existence of MJ-12 along with leaked copies of MJ-12 documents. With the release of Good’s book, William Moore released his information on MJ-12 as well and it all went public.

• According to Jacques Vallee, when the FBI were given these MJ-12 documents, they turned away in disgust, professing no interest in the matter. When UFO debunker Philip Klass contacted the FBI about the alleged MJ-12 documents in 1988, the FBI opened an investigation. Also in 1988, an unauthorized Air Force agent gave the Dallas FBI office a file of MJ-12 documents. The Air Force immediately told the Dallas FBI that the documents were part of a number of these fake documents circulating around the United States. They told the Dallas FBI office to close the investigation.

• In 1993, the Air Force told this article’s writer, Nick Redfern, that they never had any MJ-12 documents in their possession and that MJ-12 doesn’t exist. Furthermore, the Air Force had never discussed MJ-12 with the FBI. The Air Force could not, however, provide any documents or evidence showing that they actually investigated the matter. Today, the FBI’s investigation into MJ-12 is officially “closed”.

• In the 1990s, investigator Timothy Cooper brought to the FBI hundreds more pages of MJ-12 documents, but they never made it to the public domain.

• Redfern ponders: ‘how was the Air Force able to determine that the papers were faked if no investigation on their part was undertaken?’ Was it just an opinion based on the unlikely nature and content of the documents?

[Editor’s Note] Amazingly, Redfern takes the side of the Air Force cover-up, agreeing that the MJ-12 documents (presumably all of them) are bogus fakes. He considers the Air Force’s arbitrary dismissal of such a clandestine deep state government UFO committee to be “both understandable and reasonable”. Redfern ends the article flippantly, saying “[it] is time, methinks, for the rotted corpse to be laid to rest, once and for all,” the rotted corpse being the very existence of an MJ-12 oversight committee. It was all just a rumor. Really Nick?

 

It has been thirty years since the original, so-called “MJ12 documents” surfaced. In 1987, Timothy Good’s bestselling book Above Top Secret was published. One of the most-talked-about aspects of Good’s book was the mention of a supposed top secret research and development group established in 1947 to deal with highly classified UFO data. Referred to as either Majestic 12 or MJ12, it was said to have been created in the wake of the notorious events at Roswell, New Mexico in July 1947. It was said to have been comprised of military personnel, scientists, and the elite of the U.S. Intelligence community. Not only that: Good published copies of what were said to be leaked MJ12 documents that told of (a) the establishment of the group; (b) the apparent crash of a UFO, complete with alien bodies, at Roswell; and (c) a briefing given in 1952 on the matter to President Dwight D. Eisenhower.

Shortly after Good’s publication of the documents, additional copies surfaced in the United States. They came from the then research team of well-known ufologist Stanton Friedman, William Moore (the co-author, with Charles Berlitz, of the 1980 book The Roswell Incident) and Jaime Shandera (a television producer). Moore had been working quietly with a number of intelligence insiders who had contacted him shortly after publication of The Roswell Incident. From time to time various official-looking papers were passed onto Moore, the implication being that someone in the U.S. Government, military or Intelligence Community wished to make available information on UFOs that would otherwise have remained forever outside of the public domain.

It was as a result of Moore’s insider dealings that a roll of film negatives displaying the MJ12 documents was delivered in the mail to the home of Shandera in December 1984. Moore, Friedman and Shandera worked carefully and quietly for two and a half years in an attempt to determine the authenticity of the documents. With Timothy Good’s release, however, it was decided that the best course of action was to follow suit. As a result, a controversy was created that still continues to this day. At least, it continues to a small degree. Most people in Ufology have moved on from the MJ12 documents. But, they still occasionally cause a brief raising of eyebrows, such as when the latest batch surfaced earlier this year. Who remembers them now? I try not to.

Jacques Vallee, UFO author, investigator, and former principal investigator on Department of Defense computer networking projects-stated in his book Revelations that the FBI turned away from the MJ12 documents in “disgust” and professed no interest in the matter. Papers and comments made to me by the FBI and the Air Force Office of Special Investigations, however, reflect a somewhat different scenario. It was in 1988 that the FBI’s investigation began – after the late UFO skeptic/debunker Philip Klass contacted the FBI and told them all about the supposedly leaked, highly-classified documents and who had put them in the public domain.

We also know – thanks to the provisions of the Freedom of Information Act – that what was possibly a separate autumn 1988 investigation was conducted by the FBI’s Foreign Counter-Intelligence division (operating out of Washington and New York). Some input into the investigation also came from the FBI office in Dallas, Texas – the involvement of the latter confirmed to me by the Dallas office in the early 1990s.

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