chrLz wrote:* to be fair - do you, or anyone have a decent cite for Hynek's 'survey' of astronomers? I understand that it was a sample size of just 44.. - how were those lucky 44 selected? And the 11% (ie 5) astronomers that apparently reported they had seen things that were not explainable - just how exactly was that determined/asked? I've read a fair bit of Hynek's stuff, and I have to say I am unimpressed with his continual use of flowery speech, anecdotes and hearsay - it is very obviously for dramatic effect and seems to cover a lack of substance.
I don't have any UFO books except the one I just downloaded and read, by Captain Ruppelt. You know what's in Wikipedia, but I'll post it anyway:
Hynek's opinions about UFOs began a slow and gradual shift. After examining hundreds of UFO reports over the decades (including some made by credible witnesses, including astronomers, pilots, police officers, and military personnel), Hynek concluded that some reports represented genuine empirical observations.
Another shift in Hynek's opinions came after conducting an informal poll of his astronomer colleagues in the early 1950s. Among those he queried was Dr. Clyde Tombaugh, who discovered the dwarf planet Pluto. Of 44 astronomers, five (over 11 percent) had seen aerial objects that they could not account for with established, mainstream science. Most of these astronomers had not widely shared their accounts for fear of ridicule or of damage to their reputations or careers (Tombaugh was an exception, having openly discussed his own UFO sightings). Hynek also noted that this 11% figure was, according to most polls, greater than those in the general public who claimed to have seen UFOs. Furthermore, the astronomers were presumably more knowledgeable about observing and evaluating the skies than the general public, so their observations were arguably more impressive. Hynek was also distressed by what he regarded as the dismissive or arrogant attitude of many mainstream scientists towards UFO reports and witnesses.
Here's Captain Ruppel's description (he didn't want to name Dr. Hynek at that time):
We asked an astronomer, whom we knew to be unbiased about the UFO problem and who knew every outstanding astronomer in the United States, to take a trip and talk to his friends. We asked him not to make a point of asking about the UFO but just to work the subject into a friendly conversation. This way we hoped to get a completely frank opinion. To protect his fellow astronomers, our astronomer gave them all code names and he kept the key to the code.
The report we received expressed the detailed opinions of forty five recognized authorities. Their opinions varied from that of Dr. C, who regarded the UFO project as a "silly waste of money to investigate an even sillier subject," to Dr. L, who has spent a great deal of his own valuable time personally investigating UFO reports because he believes that they are something "real." Of the forty five astronomers who were interviewed, 36 per cent were not at all interested in the UFO reports, 41 per cent were interested to the point of offering their services if they were ever needed, and 23 per cent thought that the UFO's were a much more serious problem than most people recognized.
None of the astronomers, even during a friendly discussion, admitted that he thought the UFO's could be interplanetary vehicles. All of those who were interested would only go so far as to say, "We don't know what they are, but they're something real."
He also mentioned that an astronomer called in and reported seeing a balloon through this telescope north of Nashville during the time Captain Mantell was chasing what might have been a skyhook balloon, which was top secret at the time, and which the operators never admitted to having in the air at that time, although Captain Ruppelt did try to find out.
But anyway, only five astronmers in a small survey conducted in the only way they thought they could get any astronmers to talk, and in the early 1950s. But recently I heard someone now well known in ufology (I don't remember who) say that he was at a symposium where the audience was full of astronomers and that when someone opened that door and shouted that there was a UFO outside none of the astronomers went out to look. Cute story. Dr. Hynek, I'm sure, would have gotten a kick out of that.
Here's a quote from Dr. Clyde Tombaugh, who on August 20, 1949, observed a UFO that appeared as a geometrically arranged group of six-to-eight rectangles of light, windowlike in appearance and yellowish-green in color, which moved from northwest to southeast over Las Cruces, New Mexico:
I doubt that the phenomenon was any terrestrial reflection, because . . . nothing of the kind has ever appeared before or since. . . . I was so unprepared for such a strange sight that I was really petrified with astonishment.
So small, since he went and visited his astronomer friends, but here's a summary report on a survey of the membership of the American Astronomical Society conducted by Professor Peter Sturrock of Stanford University: