6 July 2011


Michael Pye and Kirsten Dalley (editors), UFOs and Aliens: Is there anybody out there? New Page Books, 2011

This is a collection of original essays by writers proclaimed by the publisher's blurb to be "the world's leading experts on modern ufology". Two of the essays are by Stanton T. Friedman, who - leading expert or not - needs no introduction.
The first one is devoted to his insistence that evidence confirming the reality of alien spacecraft can be kept secret indefinitely. It is a curious mix of the uncontroversial - such as a discussion of methods of classifying official documents so that they are seen only by those who need to know about them - and the incredible. Examples of the incredible include "Operation Majestic 12", regarded, even by many fervent UFO believers, as a hoax, and Frank Feschino's book Shoot Them Down, which is largely concerned with an alleged order to military pilots to shoot down UFOs "if they don't land when instructed to do so", resulting in the losses of many aircraft. This book has been dismissed as science fiction by a number of not-very-sceptical ufologists.

The most important point discussed in this essay is that although the UFOs cannot be controlled by the military, the information obtained about them, using classified detection and measurement systems, can be kept secret. "Sightings by members of the public rarely, if ever, provide any scientific or engineering data."

Like most other writers on this aspect of ufology, Friedman concentrates on what happens, or is believed to happen, to UFO information in the USA, apparently forgetting that the systems he describes may be less available and less tightly organised in certain other countries. How, for instance, would the US authorities maintain secrecy about ET spacecraft if one crashed in some impoverished nation, whose rulers quickly decided that it would be a good idea to generate much-needed revenue by putting it on display as a tourist attraction?

The whole idea is absurd, but Friedman's other essay which deals with the feasibility of interstellar space travel, is rather more sensible, as he discusses the sceptics' assertion: "You can't get here from there".

He makes it clear that it is not as difficult as it seems (especially if you are not in a hurry). "The Pioneer and Voyager spacecraft are now outside the solar system and have used the gravitational fields of Jupiter and other planets for this purpose." For more rapid interstellar flight, Friedman considers that future developments in nuclear fission and nuclear fusion systems could make this possible.

Nick Redfern's contribution is good value, as usual. He discusses the alleged crash of a UFO and recovery of an alien body near Kingman, Arizona, on 21 May 1953.

The story began in 1971 when Arthur Stansel told two UFO investigators of his part in the recovery operation. However, when interviewed again by Raymond Fowler in 1973, essential details of his story had changed. When Fowler queried these, Stansel explained that he had been "under the influence of four martinis when he was interviewed back in 1971".

Redfern's research into the ramifications of the Kingman affair uncovered more and more absurdities, including the notorious contactee Truman Bethurum. The book is probably worth buying for this essay alone.

Nick Pope writes about the 'Real X Files', official files and UFO investigations carried out by the Ministry of Defence. He notes that " . . . authors such as Timothy Good and Georgina Bruni used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain a few high-profile documents . . ." Yes, but what does he say about the work of such ufologists as Dr David Clarke, Andy Roberts, Joe McGonagle and Martin Shough, in obtaining official files and solving important cases, such as Rendlesham and Cosford? There is no mention of them, and the important cases remain unsolved, so far as Pope is concerned. This is in accordance with his now well-known Orwellian approach to ufology, whose history is constantly rewritten into a form to keep the believers happy. -- Reviewed by John Harney.

1 comment:

  1. Stan Friedman's approach to the discovery of ETs by the USAF is indeed extraordinary. We could argue that this was perhaps the greatest scientific discovery ever made. And the result: we the public, to say nothing of several hundred thousand keenly interested scientists the world over, are denied this knowledge by a few top military and intelligence people of one country.

    64 years and going strong, but this denial is set to continue ad infinitum. Absolutely amazing. Yet there are quite a few, I dare say, in the US who seriously accept this scenario.

    Perhaps some enterprising writer could put this theme into a play. But whoever does will have to acknowledge that the idea originated from a nuclear physicist who takes it very seriously indeed.