UFOs: Myths, Conspiracies, and Realities by John B. Alexander, Ph.D.
The Long of It
I would hazard a guess that no one has made as extensive an effort to find a center for hidden UFO activities within the US Government/Military complex as the author of this book. This is especially true when one considers the kind of access that was made available to him. His knowledge of the inner workings of government, military and international organizations is quite complete. Once I got past the organizational alphabet soup and acronyms (a glossary of these would have been helpful) I found his conclusion quite convincing — no such deep black budget center exists. In addition he casts serious doubts on the long rumored existence of artifacts retrieved from cashed alien spacecraft, not to mention the reverse engineering of such artifacts to produce an alien reproduction vehicle.
Of course, many with near religious convictions, will find these these conclusions hard to swallow.
The Short of It
The book is not as thorough when it comes to science
First it needs to be acknowledged that UFOs exist. They exist by definition. However, the denotation of Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs) or, perhaps more accurately, Unidentified Ariel Phenomena (UAPs), is often contaminated with the connotation of alien spacecraft which makes for much misunderstanding, and this book is not entirely devoid of that confusion.
The author is listed as John B. Alexander, Ph.D. on the dust cover. He was employed for a period at Los Alamos National Laboratory as a project manager and that would seem to imply a scientific background.
Most of the evidence listed by the author is anecdotal in nature and really doesn’t qualify as scientific. Such evidence cannot be obtained at will and is not reproducible. Some photos, radar contacts, and physical trace evidence exist, but that kind of evidence, although recordable, cannot be replicated at will.
Any hypothesis that is created to cover the 5-10 % of reports that are not easily explained must be empirically verifiable or falsifiable. A metaphysical hypothesis is not acceptable as science. (to be fair, the author did not suggest any such hypothesis, in fact, no hypothesis at all). The presence of alien spacecraft is a valid hypothesis, also valid is the possibility of natural phenomena or domestic technologies that are not known to those doing the identifying.
There is, however, room for theoretical science, and speculation as to how it might apply to the observations listed in the book. The kind of information provided by Carol Rainey in the book Sight Unseen which she co-authored with Budd Hopkins would have been a nice addition.
An example of the kind of scientific speculation that could have been made applies to the sighting described at the bottom of page 30:
“He reported seeing an object moving across the dark sky with a stream of light trailing behind it. According to him the object abruptly stopped and the light seemed to be sucked into the source, much like a string of spaghetti might be vacuumed into one’s mouth. The light did not go out, but it seemed to withdraw into the UFO; something that lights don’t do.”
It is my understanding that a particle beam sent into the atmosphere can produce a ball of plasma which when maneuvered can produce this kind of effect. In fact, such a beam can produce many of the observed maneuvering characteristics of UFOs that would be impossible for a nuts and bolts craft. For more on this, search on “Particle Beams and Saucer Dreams” by Tom Mahood. Of course, even if this is true it still leaves open the question of whether the beam came from above or below and who sent it.
In the Epilogue the author states:
“There is little doubt that some unidentified flying objects are real, three-dimensional solid objects, which are physically present and observable.”
Some may indeed be real, but my “guess” is that they are a some kind of interactive, holographic projection whose purpose is long range remote sensing. This fits better with the way their movements are usually described. For more on this, search on “Alien Spacecraft: Real, Physical or Virtual?” by yours truly. Or go to The UFO Experience Reconsidered: Science and Speculation
Having said all that I nevertheless highly recommend this book on the strength of the parts which are the author’s long suit.
Robert L. Mason
Colonel Philip J. Corso (Retired)
This is a strange book filled with built-in contradictions which I will try to ferret out.
By coincidence, my active duty tour [U.S. Navy] coincides almost exactly with Col. Corso’s time in Army R&D at the Pentagon. This does not give me any special insight into the veracity of his account except possibly a general feel for the climate within the military during that period.
To begin, let’s assume for the sake of argument, that the Colonel’s story is in fact true; that things happened just as he said they did and the whole affair is a huge cover-up. The military, in their wisdom, classified everything concerning the affair “above TOP SECRET” — a decision for which the Colonel expresses his approval on several occasions. If this is so, it must still be highly classified, because if it had ever been declassified we surely would have heard about it. The Colonel, on the other hand, appears to have changed his mind since this book blabs the whole thing — in writing. He can’t have it both ways.
When I was in the Navy, I was cleared for SECRET, and at one point I was Classified Material Control Officer for the ship I was on which included an interim TOP SECRET clearance. Again, this does not give me any special insight into the Roswell affair, but I do know that if you reveal classified material, even after you have left the service, you can be prosecuted. Was Colonel Corso prosecuted? I didn’t hear anything — if not, why not? Two possible explanations occur to me:
1) The Colonel was not prosecuted, because to do so, the military would have to admit too much. By not prosecuting they are counting on the Colonel being generally considered to be some kind of nut, and they hope the whole thing will just blow over.
2) The Colonel was not prosecuted because the whole thing is a fabrication and no secrets were revealed in the first place.
Another point that bothers me is the descriptions of the aliens themselves. As described, the aliens would fall dead center into the whole science fiction/Hollywood mythology about “little green men.” Well, maybe they weren’t green, but close, they were gray. This is a little hard for me to swallow. The probability that a sentient species from a distant star system, with a whole separate evolution, would in any way resemble us has got to be vanishingly small.
It is said of the ancient Greeks that “they turned their gods into men and their men into gods,” and I am mindful of the fact that Michelangelo, when representing God on the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel, painted a human being. Science has forced a long series of demotions on us since those days, but are we still falling into that trap? IF there is an intelligent, technologically advanced species out there somewhere, THEN they must look something like us. In spite of what you see on Star Trek, I—don’t—think—so. Okay, this is a problem. Here are two possible explanations:
1) The aliens look somewhat like us because they are us (from the future). Corso himself hints at this on a couple of occasions, but seems to reject it in the end. This will require a complete overhaul of the laws of physics, but . . . maybe so.
2) The whole thing is a fabrication and Corso has simply tapped into the popular myth in order to increase his credibility with the masses.
Another bothersome point involves the intentions of the aliens. The Colonel, being a military type, needs to have enemies so he automatically assumes that the aliens are hostile. The hostile acts he lists are the mutilations of cattle, violating our air space, disrupting our communications and, oh yes, abductions! Well hmm, if the aliens are hostile then they must have weapons, and if they have weapons, then we would have to assume that their weapons are as superior to ours as their spacecraft is to our aircraft. So why isn’t there some instance of a direct attack? It would seem that they should be capable of overwhelming force, but instead we get this other stuff. Here, again, are two possible explanations:
1) There is no direct overwhelming attack because the aliens really aren’t hostile. They are just curious. They are on a scientific mission and we are part of their study.
2) There is no direct overwhelming attack because that is something that everyone would be aware of immediately. Corso can only maintain his little fiction by keeping things on a subtler level that only the cognoscenti, civilian and military, know about.
Have you ever heard of the scientific maxim called Occam’s Razor? It reads [paraphrased]:
“When given a choice between several explanations for a given phenomenon the one which is the simplest and most straight forward is the one most likely to be true.”
Certainly, accepting as true that we are being visited by aliens from another star system (or from the future) whose spacecraft defy the laws of physics as we know them, and whose very existence has been the subject of a massive government cover-up which has been maintained for over sixty years, is very complex. The alternative is that Col. Philip J. Corso (Ret.) was a liar and that’s a fairly simple and straightforward explanation.
Of course, if you are a career officer in Army intelligence you don’t tell lies, you disseminate disinformation. “Disinformation” is a word that Corso uses on numerous occasions in this book. It is one of the standard tools of intelligence organizations and I assume that Corso is practiced in its use.
Much of the latter portion of this book is a rundown of various projects that were being pursued by Army R&D while Corso was at the Foreign Technology Desk in the Pentagon. After reading through a number of these I got the feeling that these were summaries he had written at some much earlier time, which he had pulled out of his archives and modified for inclusion in this book. Often it seemed to me that the only change he made was to insert the words “and the extraterrestrials” everywhere that the original text mentioned the USSR. Sometimes this phrase was left dangling at the end of a sentence or paragraph like an afterthought.
There is one respect in which Corso was very fortunate. He lived to a ripe old age (over eighty). He mentioned a lot of real people by name in his book, but most of them were deceased at the time of publication. One exception was Senator Strom Thurmond who was still in the Senate at a very ripe old age (96). It is my understanding that Senator Thurmond originally wrote a forward to Corso’s work, but later thought better of it and withdrew it.
Above, I mentioned the possibility that Col. Corso was a liar, plain and simple. Perhaps that is a bit harsh. I’ll give him the benefit of the doubt and say that his book, The Day After Roswell impresses me as the deluded ramblings of an old man.
Robert L. Mason
A Book Review:
Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings
by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey
“Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my
shining palace built upon the sand.”
Edna St. Vincent Millay
It should be noted right up front that among legal scholars, memories obtained via hypnotic regression are considered so unreliable that they are usually judged inadmissible as evidence in a court of law (1). Even if Budd Hopkins was scrupulously careful (as the text seems to indicate) not to guide his subjects during hypnotic sessions, he was still the person selecting the questions to be asked. In addition, all of his subjects approached him because of his reputation in these matters. They had heard him speak or had read his books or had seen other public presentations he had made. Consequently, they were already generally aware of the various parameters and conclusions he had established in other cases before they were even put into a hypnotic trance. As a result, what we may have here is some kind of self-reinforcing psychological feedback loop.
The Hopkins transcripts are well written and entertaining to read, but he seems to take as given that the presence of extraterrestrials is an established fact. This is far from the case. To summarize:
1. There is no observation that can be made at will.
2. There is no experiment that has been made and replicated.
3. There is no artifact that can withstand the scrutiny of a high powered testing lab.
In short, there is currently no scientific evidence for the presence of extraterrestrials, nothing for which their presence is the only possible explanation. On the other hand, if an artifact was found on the Moon, for example, that was not sent there by us, then that would be a clincher. Just one piece of such evidence would be worth more than all the anecdotal accounts and hypnotic regressions in existence. Although we don’t have any of that type yet this does not prove that they are not here because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, it certainly does nothing to increase the probability of truth for such assertions.
It is valid to postulate that if extraterrestrials are here then their technical abilities are likely to be so advanced when compared to our own that it might not be possible for us to detect them at all. Should that, in fact, be the case then it is best that we remain agnostic.
Although, I admit, I have indulged in them myself on occasion (2), speculations concerning alien motivations are premature. As the sub-title of the book indicates, one of its main themes is a supposed extraterrestrial program of interbreeding with human beings to produce a hybrid species. Personally, I can’t assign much credibility to this without something more substantial in the way of collaborating evidence. Until then it’s just a palace of cards built on foundation of sand.
I would bet most people looking back over their lives, can cite personal aberrations of perception that are, in a word, “strange.” I know I can. These could include vivid dreams, missing time, etc. Take the phenomenon of missing time for example — how many readers can remember an occasion when, on a long monotonous road trip, part of one’s mind is driving the car and another part is reviewing some recent social situation or planning an upcoming event. Some people even induce this mental separation on purpose by slipping a recorded book into the CD player to make the time go faster. On occasion I have snapped out of such reveries to realize that I had missed the exit I intended to take some time back. Given that most human characteristics, both physical and mental, are distributed on a bell curve, or normal distribution, we can expect that there will always be those out on the end of the curve for whom these perceptual aberrations are much more intense than for the rest of us.
Of the two authors, Carol Rainey appears to be the more grounded, and a person with a significant degree of scientific literacy. She struggles mightily to lay a veneer of science over the Hopkins guided, fantastic reconstructions and, to her credit, she often succeeds. Perhaps on a couple of occasions she moves a little too easily between established science, theoretical science and scientific speculation. But, in general, she is conscientious about alerting the reader when making such a change. Most of her comments are astute, lucid and interesting.
What we may be witnessing here is the birth of a new religion and as with most other religions (with the possible exception of Buddhism) we are being asked to believe in something which is simply not in evidence. A “leap of faith” is required.
The book is engaging and worth reading if only to glimpse how such a social phenomenon comes into existence, and for the possible science involved.
The UFO Experience Reconsidered by Robert L Mason
More than anything else this book gives the reader some perspective on the extent of the intelligence community’s involvement with the subject of UFOs. One may well wonder why they would even bother. The usual proposed rational is that they have something to hide concerning the extraterrestrial (ET) hypothesis, a crashed ET space craft, or clandestine contact of some sort with ETs. But this book suggests an entirely different rational and one that seems quite plausible.
A number of different agencies are implicated but the main player, and the one the author deals with to the greatest extent, is the US Air Force Office of Special Investigations (AFOSI). It is suggested that many of the vast inventory of black budget projects under development are by their very nature quite visible if one happens to be in the right place at the right time. Sometimes their visibility is the whole point, as with radar and other kinds of decoys. Not wanting to be in the business of constantly having to explain their development tests, the AFOSI has a need for some kind of disinformation cover. UFOs, and especially the ET hypothesis, fits their need quite nicely.
The author lays out a scenario backed by a significant amount of research, showing how the AFOSI keeps the UFO fervor jacked up by constantly feeding it disinformational tidbits undercover, and then denying the validity of ET hypothesis up front. It’s the best of both worlds for them. Of course, full blown UFO/ET believers will not accept this scenario as sufficient, but others of a more agnostic nature may begin to wonder to what extent the whole UFO/ET phenomenon is simply a false front.
The book is well written, engaging and informative but in the final analysis does it also become a conduit for disinformation? You be the judge. I highly recommend Mirage Men by Mark Pilkington.
One thing I like about this book is the way he places the public concept of UFOs in the context of the time period involved, and then he shows how that concept changes and evolves as the time context changes. Other than that, it is yet another historical account of the modern UFO era, and I have read many. This one has a British slant to it and a number of new cases have been published, but it seems to me, to be just more of the same. For instance, there are the usual numerous accounts of jets being scrambled to chase some visual or radar will-o’-the wisp, but not much elucidation as to what they might be. Toward the end of the book he does touch on this to a small degree, but I believe it is possible to make some pretty good speculations on what many of them might be. Here is one that I think was missed entirely:
Radar and particle accelerators are siblings in time. Both were dependent on the prior invention of the klystron tube by the Varian brothers in the late 1930s. Radar, of course, found an almost immediate military application and it use became wide spread during WWII.Today there must be many thousands of people who are intimately familiar with this technology. The technology of particle accelerators, on the other hand, has remained rather esoteric. Other than its use in research facilities, its most common application is the inner workings of machines used for zapping cancer tumors. This is not to say that a military use hasn’t been investigated, and there was some brief public mention of it as a “Star Wars” weapon during the Reagan administration. If a military application of this technology has been developed, it has been kept under pretty tight wraps. The best speculation that I have found is by one Tom Mahood. Here is a link. Maybe you are familiar with it. It’s probably because I have some exposure to particle accelerators myself that I find his analysis so believable.
Mahood himself is an interesting study. The way I understand it, he was originally trained as a civil engineer and worked in the area of traffic control. Somewhere along the line he developed an interest in UFOs and, in particular, the goings on at Area 51. His investigations so intrigued him that he went back to school and obtained a masters degree in physics in order better understand what he was observing. He apparently worked as a physicist for a period of time specializing in research on gravity. Somewhere along the line he apparently lost interest in UFOs, and the last I read he was back working in his old field of traffic control. I tried to contact him once at the email address shown at the bottom of his essay but I received no reply.
Here is another speculation that I believe deserves more attention: Most people have a rudimentary concept of what a mirage is, but I think the phenomenon is larger than is generally realized. Mirages are usually divided into inferior and superior depending on whether the false horizon is below the natural horizon or above it. In addition, they are also active at night which I believe is not generally understood. For a mirage at night one may not see anything at all unless the scene observed has a source of light in it. Suppose, for example, there is a brightly lit interstate crossing which is surrounded by dark desert, and this is observed courtesy of a superior mirage at some distant location. Observers at the distant location would see a formation of lights in the sky at some elevation above the horizon. The lights may even appear to move if there is some undulation in the temperature inversion layer that caused the mirage in the first place. Maybe the famous Phoenix lights could be explained in this manner.
It seems to me that the two speculations above have the potential to explain many sightings — one way or the other.
In the Introduction to her book, author Leslie Kean states she uses the term UFO (Unidentified Flying Objects) and UAP (Unidentified Aerial Phenomena) interchangeably even though she realizes that UAP is the broader term. She might have been better served if she had maintained a strict separation. In those residual cases that truly are unidentified, not only do the objects appear not to “fly” in the normal sense of the word (aerodynamically), but there is the distinct possibility that they are not “objects” in the normal sense of that word either. In addition, as she points out, the term UFO has come (incorrectly) to connote “extraterrestrial” to such an extent that its strictly correct meaning is now probably lost for good. “UFO” is dated and should be consigned to the scrap heap along with “flying saucer.” UAP reflects current thinking best, but probably wouldn’t be as catchy for the title for her book.
The book is well written and carefully researched over a considerable period of time, but despite advocating “militant agnosticism,” a preference for the extraterrestrial hypothesis by the author, and many of the contributors, is implicit. Some of the contributors don’t even attempt a neutral position.
Also in the Introduction, the author states that what is being observed is “a solid physical phenomenon” and she reiterates this position at various other places in following chapters. This may be one adjective too many. It could be a physical phenomenon without being solid. Many of the observed characteristics which are so puzzling for an object which is, in fact, solid are easily explained by an apparent object which is virtual. Without violating any of the currently understood laws of physics, what I am suggesting is some kind of interactive holographic projection (IHP). How do you do that? Good question!
For a particularly astute piece of analysis on this, search on “Particle Beams and Saucer Dreams,” an on-line essay by Tom Mahood. This essay speculates about events observed over Area 51 in the late 1980s and early 1990s and points the way to what may have become a highly developed black budget project.
In Chapter 23 Author Kean does an excellent job of introducing us to the world of classified information and touches on the category of Unacknowledged Special Access Programs (UASAPs). So, let’s pursue that for a moment. Suppose, following the line of thought developed by Tom Mahood, that a technology has been stumbled upon that has highly significant strategic implications. Maybe it’s some combination of a particle beam’s ability to produce a ball of plasma in the atmosphere that can maneuvered with ease, and also has the ability of the standard cathode ray tube as found in traditional TV sets to produce a detailed image. That’s just a wild guess based upon existing technologies, but whatever it is, it has profound implications. They will, of course, need to test this thing, trying it under different circumstances, possibility even putting it in a satellite. We know that there are many classified satellites that the military has put into orbit. The problem is that these tests are highly visible and people are bound to see them from time to time. As Mahood says at the end of his essay “You can hide the program but you can’t hide the physics.” In order to avoid having to explain what is going on, some kind of disinformation cover is required. Serendipity comes to the rescue, that kind of cover already exists — it’s UFOs! Now all the military/government complex has to do is cast aspersions on the whole idea of UFOs and they’re home free.
Most of the above constitutes a domestic technology explanation for UAPs, but does that mean the extraterrestrial hypothesis is invalid? It does not. There is no reason why extraterrestrials wouldn’t make use of the same technology and we would have to expect that it would be in a highly developed state coming from that quarter. For more speculation along this line go to:
Congratulations are in order to author Leslie Kean for providing a clearly written framework for thought on this subject.
Robert L. Mason
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