18 October 2023


Karl Svozil. UFOs: Unidentified Aerial Phenomena: Observations, Explanations and Speculations, Springer, 2023.

Part One provides a chronological summary of some of the most famous and ‘unexplainable’ UFO cases including foo fighter sightings in WWII, Roswell, 1947, Arnold’s flying saucer sighting of 1947, the Lubbock Lights, 1951, Washington, 1952, Exercise Mainbrace, 1952, Rapid City, 1963, Socorro, 1964, Valensole, France, 1965, the Tehran Incident, 1976, Frederick Valentich’s disappearance, Rendlesham Forest, 1980. Well you get the picture, basically a greatest hits of ufology.
Most of the cases are simply described without much criticism but Svozil raises eyebrows with the inclusion of the Aurora crash and the mystery airship Calf-napping cases of 1897 that have been well-known hoaxes for decades. He makes only a short mention of the US 1909 phantom airship scare, and ignores many other worldwide scares by skipping to the Orson Welles, War of the Worlds radio broadcast ‘panic’ of 1938. He concedes that the so-called Battle of Los Angeles in 1942 could have been caused by war nerves rather than by a ‘genuine UFO encounter’, but blots his copybook by including the Trinity crash story of 1945 without any comment.

After taking us up to the present, Svozil reviews visual photographs of UFOs that have not been identified, starting with two pictures of a silver disc at McMinnville in 1950, the Calvine photos of 1990 gets a mention and he ends with a 2022 picture of a metallic orb in the Middle East.

Part Two examines ‘UFO Compliance-and-Management: Handling Strange Matters’ where it is considered that the US intelligence and government agencies have a two-tier approach to the subject. The first is that they cover-up any attempts to discover the truth about UFOs and allied research. The second approach he notes; ‘It is possible that a select few insiders, with ties to influential think tanks and military-industrial complexes, may have access to crashed UFOs and their occupants,’adding ‘if indeed there are any.’

Project Sign, Project Grudge, Project Bluebook, the Robertson Panel and the UK’s Flying Saucer Working Party and Condign Report are reviewed, followed by a look at UFO investigation studies conducted worldwide.

Other chapters look at the flight characteristics of UAPs, followed by a chapter on abductions and encounters which Svozil warns ‘are speculative and may be purely fictional.’ That viewpoint can be applied to all aspects of ufology. He does look at the best known abduction cases and reviews the influence of sleep paralysis, psychosis, Fort’s ‘we are property’ hypothesis, demonology and Freudian psychoanalysis. In the last chapter of this section crash retrievals and UFO material is considered including the claims of Corso, the research by Canadian Wilbert Smith, a long look at the Wilson memo that he says is consistent with David Grusch’s recent claims, and speculates whether we could hack into a computer from a recovered craft to discover an encyclopaedia galactica. He even looks at the dubious claims that Einstein was invited to look at the remains of the Roswell craft.

Part Three titled ‘UFO Apprehension-and-Challenge: Some Speculations’ has chapters on cargo cults, the possibility of ET life visiting us and the potential consequences of contact. In Part Four ‘Executive Summary’ Svozil wonders if UFO sightings are just delusions and tricks of the mind, or they are reverse-engineered downed craft, or alien craft, perhaps controlled by Satanic entities.

Appendix A, consists of a very detailed look at ‘US Categories of Secrecy’ and serves as a very useful guide for anyone following the twists and turns of the latest stories from US government whistleblowers.

Appendix B, dives into how UFOs might operate with the warning that; ‘The understanding of the motion and propulsion of UFOs may remain elusive due to the limitations of our current means and concepts.’ There follows a lengthy theoretical discussion about inertia, anti-gravity, electromagnetic interactions and quantum mechanics.

Svozil relies on a wide variety of UFO books and online sources that blindside him to better and more sceptical viewpoints, plus the chapters jump around from topic to topic in a disorderly fashion. There are better guides to Ufology and as an Austrian theoretical physicist at the Institute for Theoretical Physics, TU Wien, Vienna, Austria, Svozil who specialises in quantum theory and the logical foundations of chaotic systems, seems on firmest ground writing Appendix B.
  • Nigel Watson  

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