Can UFOs Advance Science? A New Look at the Evidence. SUNRISE Information Services, 2015.
Among the vast plethora of UFO books that I read in the 1970s was one called UFOs, Past, Present and Future by Robert Emeneger (Ballantine Books, 1974), based on a TV documentary. What distinguished this otherwise reasonable run-of-the-mill book was a fictional presentation of a future alien landing. Years later UFO-lore started to claim that this story was an actual event; a real life UFO landing at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in 1964 - although that was later changed to 1954, and the president that met the aliens was Eisenhower not Johnson. Needless to say no actual evidence was ever presented to back up this tale or tales.
This tale is now being resurrected along with a good many more pieces of ufological apocrypha in Larry Holcombe's book, which purports to document how US presidents dealt with the 'UFO problem'. Contemporaneous documentation is notable in large part for its absence, instead we have fake documents such as the notorious MJ12 memos, alleged memories, various rumours presented as fact and so on. Of course also included is the hint that President Kennedy was murdered (by whom?) because he was about to reveal the 'truth' about UFOs.
We now have more alleged 'documents' claiming that an alien spaceship or spaceships was/were shot down or otherwise crashed during the Second World War and that FDR (who clearly didn’t have enough to do) set up a top secret investigation. He was succeeded by Harry Truman, who knew how to keep a secret because the US military is good at keeping secrets - tell that to Julian Assange or Edward Snowdon - as witness the Manhattan project (not exactly a secret to Stalin); or indeed for the most important secret of all, the details of the D-Day landings, which were so secret that they ended up in a Times crossword, compiled by a group of schoolboys as a punishment.
As has frequently been pointed out (by me among others) that secrecy only works when you are in charge of the situation. What would have been the point of secrecy if an alien spaceship crashed at Roswell? How would they know that the aliens would not land on the White House and demand the wreckage back (that’s what the US military would have done), and why would any politician keep schtum about the greatest story in human history and not spin it for maximum political capital? That secret would have to be kept by every leader of every country in the world for nearly 70 years.
Apparently the president who was going to reveal the truth about the UFOs was Richard Nixon. We know this because the widow of the comedian Jackie Gleeson tells us so. Obviously Gleeson was in the possession of the secrets that 'They' shot John and Bobby Kennedy to protect. I can just about imagine that Tricky Dicky might have been tempted to create a UFO contact story in some last desperate bid to hang on to power, but either got cold feet or was stopped at some point.
Of course we are told that Donald Menzel the noted UFO skeptic was in the dreaded MJ12 and was a personal friend of John Kennedy (or so we are told). That was before James Jesus Angleton had Kennedy assassinated to protect the secrets of MJ12. That was after bumping off Marilyn Monroe for the same reason. It is not clear what Menzel thought about that. All of this will be familiar to viewers of the old Dark Skies TV series, but that was at least advertised as fiction.
What is clear is that American ufologists’ now think investigating actual UFO reports is below their dignity, playing political activist and hunting out imaginary conspiracies is clearly far more fun, at least for those who are not playing at being psychotherapists. The sub title of this book should read 'fantasy history' rather than 'secret history'
The short answer to the question posed in the title of the second book under review is 'maybe', but not by the methods adopted in this anonymous book, which consist of a few poorly and uncritically presented UFO cases, none of them new or original, and lots of idle speculation, much of it centred around the anti-gravity theories of the late Thomas Townsend Brown. Brown was the original founder of NICAP, the well-known American UFO group, only to be booted out and replaced by Donald Keyhoe after about a year. As with much of these theories, most of the last century of physics is ditched.
Needless to say despite chapter headings 'Are we dealing with a secret man-made experiment' and 'Are we dealing with ball lightning' these suggestions are dismissed and we are back to good old fashioned nuts and bolts ETH.
The mysterious organisation which has published this book is described as an 'Australian owned private research centre', aimed at creating what it calls 'stable core knowledge' which will eventually explain everything in a simple way and will act as a sort of religion; indeed the acronym stands ‘Search for a Unified Religion in Information for Social Equality‘. Information that is not provided on its website or in this book is the names, qualifications and background of its members. You might think that when people hide behind anonymity it means they have something to hide, but I couldn’t possibly comment.
Of course the idea of a search for a 'stable core of knowledge', which is presented as a quasi- religion may appeal to authoritarian and uninspiring school teachers but is antithetical to real science. If this book is anything to go on it is also unlikely to have more than a superficial resemblance to the science taught even in the dullest and most out of date textbooks, even at your local free school. -- Peter Rogerson.