July 22, 2010

Hynek, J. Allen – UFOs Merit Scientific Study

Hynek, J. Allen, in “UFOs Merit Scientific Study” – a letter submitted to Science Magazine in 1966 – wrote the following passage.

“It is unequivocally false to say that UFOs are never reported by scientifically trained people. Some of the best, most coherent reports come from such witnesses,” Citing examples he said “Four of the sightings were made by professional astronomers while on duty at their observatories, five more by technical specialists, including one reported by the associate director of one of the nation’s ranking technical laboratories. . . All but three involved brilliantly illuminated craft maneuvering in the air.”

This letter, and Hynek’s subsequent change of heart on the matter of UFOs, is as relevant today as it was in 1966.

Many people reading this, faced with the ridiculous nature and the overwhelmingly insane claims by so many people online and offline, usually choose to live their lives in relative isolation from the UFO community. Many people who have sightings or experiences report that those experiences had a significant impact on their lives and their sense of reality. In fact, Dr. Hynek himself started out as a skeptic when he was first asked by the Air Force to take part in Blue Book. It was his careful, scientific analysis of the Blue Book cases that led him to believe that within the noise, there was in fact a signal.

In the Forward that he wrote for Jacques Vallee’s book, “Challenge to Science – UFO Enigma” Dr. Hynek described the field back in 1966. Surprisingly, many readers today, over three decades later, will recognize what Hynek describes.

“As an astronomer, I probably would never have approached the subject had I not been officially asked to do so. Over the past eighteen years I have acted as a scientific consultant to the U.S. Air Force on the subject of unidentified flying objects-UFO’s. As a consequence of my work on the voluminous air force files and, to a greater extent, of personal investigation of many puzzling cases and interviews with witnesses of good repute, I have long been aware that the subject of UFO’s could not be dismissed as mere nonsense. Nonsense is present, to be sure, and misidentification of otherwise familiar objects that many sincere people report as UFO’s. But is there not a “signal” in the “noise,” a needle in the haystack? Is it not precisely our role to try to isolate the valid from the nonsensical? By carefully working through tons of pitchblende, Madame Curie isolated a tiny amount of radium-but the significance of that minute quantity was world–shaking.”

Dr. Hynek was primarily a professor and astronomer, but it was his work as a scientific advisor to the U.S. Air Force for which is he most remembered and famous. Under Project Sign, Project Grudge and Project Blue Book, Hynek analyzed case after case – probably witnessing a volume of accounts and learning of events most of us would never have the time to review. Even after the Air Force dropped Blue Book, Hynek continued on in his pursuit of the truth behind the UFO enigma by analyzing trace evidence left by UFOs.

Hynek was an intelligent guy. With a Ph.D. in astrophysics from Yerkes Observatory, he understood more than most the significance of UFO events and the many physical and natural events and phenomenon that could easily explain most UFO events. In his work with the Air Force, he would do his best to explain a sighting based on known astronomical objects. When he started this work – Hynek was very much a skeptic and worked hard at debunking the many UFO reports sent his way.

However, over time and faced with occasional reports that he couldn’t legitimately convince himself were bogus, the scientist in Dr. Hynek came out. He recognized a true scientific mystery buried within the hundreds and thousands of erroneous reports. He saw reports by very credible and professional witnesses, and couldn’t explain them away. He polled 44 astronomer colleagues and 11 percent came back saying that they’d certainly witnessed objects in the night sky that they couldn’t explain with science, yet were afraid of being ridiculed for reporting them.

In an article Hynek published in the 1953 edition of the Journal of the Optical Society of America, he wrote:

“Ridicule is not part of the scientific method, and people should not be taught that it is. The steady flow of reports, often made in concert by reliable observers, raises questions of scientific obligation and responsibility. Is there … any residue that is worthy of scientific attention? Or, if there isn’t, does not an obligation exist to say so to the public—not in words of open ridicule but seriously, to keep faith with the trust the public places in science and scientists?”

By the 1970s, Hynek and Dr. Jacques Vallee were lockstep in their belief that the UFO phenomenon was not an extraterrestrial “nuts and bolts” phenomenon, but instead was a phenomenon created “closer to home.”

“There are just too many things going against this theory. To me, it seems ridiculous that super intelligences would travel great distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil samples, and frighten people. I think we must begin to re-examine the evidence. We must begin to look closer to home.”

The UN Meeting about UFOs

For those of you who followed our recent expose of Richard Theilmann and his tales of attending a UN conference on UFOs, you may be interested to know (if you didn’t know already), that there was, in fact, a very real meeting at the United Nations in 1978 when Dr. Allen Hynek, Dr. Jacques Vallee, and Dr. Claude Poher presented a speech to the UN General Assembly on the subject of UFOs in an effort to use the UN as an authority, since the United States Air Force had shunned any further review of the phenomenon.

What were some of the events that Dr. Hynek believed actually took place, and could not be explained – as reported by credible witnesses? He reported these to the Joint Symposium of the American Institute of Aeronautics in 1975.

–> materialization and dematerialization
–> shape changes
–> noiseless hovering in the Earth’s gravitational field
–> accelerations that – for an appreciable mass – require energy sources far beyond present capabilities
–> the psychic effects on percipients
–> purported telepathic communications

One thing that is certain is that after the Air Force killed the official study into the phenomenon, as of the mid 1970’s, both Hynek and Vallee ramped their own research into high gear. I’m not convinced that the true details of their work have ever been made public, although the odds are very good that Vallee carried the torch well into the 80s and 90s. Despite his claims to no longer be involved in Ufology, you will find a statement here and there to the media, and a hint that he is actively testing and researching a phenomenon that he and Hynek both viewed as a sort of “control system.”

It seems fitting to close with the words from Hynek himself.

“Certainly no progress can be made without scientific study. Unfortunately, as the authors point out, scientists, “draped with dignity,” have often refused to study the reports. The fact of the matter is that many of my colleagues who have undraped their dignity long enough to take a hard look at the reports have joined the growing ranks of the puzzled scientists: they privately indicate serious interest in the phenomenon but publicly they choose, like the subject itself, to remain unidentified; they are unwilling to expose themselves to the raillery and banter that go with it.

It is to them in particular, and to all who foster the true Galilean spirit, that this book will be of greatest value. They grope and seek, examining even those ideas that seem fanciful and strange, for they know how strange and fanciful the term “nuclear energy” would have been to a physicist one hundred years ago. They are ready to accept a new challenge to science.”

While Hynek’s words and intentions were valiant in 1966, I ask you this – are the intentions and activities of those scientists still as honorable and filled with good intentions as they were so many decades ago?




Filed under: Ufology History,UFOs — Tags: , — RyanDube @ 4:54 am


  1. avatar

    Nicely done….Kudos

    Comment by Andy Murray — July 22, 2010 @ 2:07 pm

  2. avatar

    Nice to see this back on the radar, so to speak. Some time ago you posted what seemed a suspicious stance on Vallee. Interesting what a bit of exposure will do. That said, you are correct in that he knows more than he will say. He has good reasons I infer.
    The work going on at this site seems to mirrors my own, in that it is trying to hit a sort of reset button. Filter out the credulous loons, or as Mark E Smith would say, “Embarrass them in to extinction”. The subject is too important for the fantasy camp crap that crumbs the attention of the hopefully bored. Alas, they are legion, and will continue to clog…
    I will have more to say on your final sentence, which is quite important- it is a very good question.

    We are dealing with near ubiquitous superstitions and fears that prone the conscience and distort reason in this quest for consideration within our notions of power and information.

    Comment by Puppetburglar — July 22, 2010 @ 10:27 pm

  3. avatar

    Correction: Hynek’s Ph.D. in astrophysics was from the University of Chicago.

    He singlehandedly(!) obtained funding in the 1960s to build the Lindheimer Astronomical Research Center at Northwestern University, the newest observatory in the U.S..

    Later, after Hynek’s death Northwestern decided to tear it down, because the $200K it would take to maintain it was better used (they reasoned) to pay a speaker’s fee to Princess Di so that she would visit their campus in 1996….

    Comment by Steve MacKenzie — July 23, 2010 @ 1:49 am

  4. avatar

    Great article guys

    “Later, after Hynek’s death Northwestern decided to tear it down, because the $200K it would take to maintain it was better used (they reasoned) to pay a speaker’s fee to Princess Di so that she would visit their campus in 1996….”

    For some reason that just makes my blood boil.

    Comment by Mike — July 23, 2010 @ 4:27 am

  5. avatar

    You’re just now discovering Hynek? I guess it’s never to late to educate yourselves about subjects you’ve been pontificating upon blindly for years. How about informing us about Hynek’s complicity in the Bennowitz subversion? Or would it take too much effort to uncover that reality?

    Comment by toon — July 24, 2010 @ 1:12 pm

  6. avatar


    Since you seem to have all of the answers, why don’t you? Just don’t forget to lay out the evidence in the process.

    Or is that a bit too much work for you?

    Comment by RyanDube — July 24, 2010 @ 3:09 pm

  7. avatar

    From Saucer Smear

    Long-time researcher CHRISTOPHER ALLAN of England writes:

    “I received the latest ‘Smear’ today. Bill Moore makes the claim that Dr. Hynek was still under contract as a USAF consultant at the time of the Bennewitz affair (1980-81), and that Hynek provided Bennewitz with a means of ‘decoding’ the supposed alien transmissions. Since Project Blue Book closed down in late 1969, and Dr. Hynek formed CUFOS in 1973 as a private research group and also authored two books in the 1970s long after he ceased to be involved with the USAF, Moore should be challenged to prove his assertions.

    I therefore challenge Bill Moore to prove that J. Allen Hynek was still under contract to the USAF as a UFO consultant 11 years after Blue Book closed down. Can Bill please provide documentary evidence or proof of this claim? If he cannot, I suggest that he is guilty of passing disinformation, just as he was in the 1980s.”

    Therefore we can conclude that Kim is a Moore style disinformationalist.

    Comment by Access Denied — July 25, 2010 @ 5:28 pm

  8. avatar

    […] Hynek, J. Allen – UFOs Merit Scientific Study « Reality Uncovered […]

    Pingback by Promotion Complete » Blog Archive » Art Bell UFOs; Police 911 Calls – Pt. 1 — July 25, 2010 @ 11:49 pm

  9. avatar

    While the quotes paint Dr. Hynek in a favorable light I suggest looking more closely at Ann Druffle’s biography of Dr. McDonald. She documents confrontations between Dr. McDonald and Dr. Hynek, several of which took place in Dr. Vallee’s presence. Dr. McDonald confronted Hynek repeatedly on his timidity with regard to promoting the UFO matter to the scientific community. He felt that Hynek failed his responsibility as a scientist and was more concerned with protecting his contract than making certain that the data ended up in front of the “right” people. Dr. McDonald was not satisfied that there was much more than a major foul up on the part of Hynek and co that was keeping UFO data suppressed though he did feel that there were others whose bias was also influencing the situation negatively…

    Comment by Ted Roe — August 16, 2010 @ 3:54 pm

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