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- 1 Comment
- 2 Merge article
- 3 Opening section
- 4 Don Ecker on Robert J. Low
- 5 The article
- 6 Statements and their sources
- 7 Tagged
- 8 Sourcing and balance problems
- 9 Incoming
- 10 My edits
- 11 biased page, misinforming the public of known facts regarding project. please rectify.
- 12 Internal Inconsistencies in the Report
- 13 Use of Project Blue Book
- 14 The NAS Review of the Condon Report
- 15 External links modified
I dont see anything about this article that is wildly anti-neutral?
- It's written as a condemnation. --InShaneee 15:51, 7 October 2006 (UTC)
- Merge The content of the Orthoteny Principle article is thin, and it is a great fit for the other article which is more fully developed. CRKingston 08:57, 11 January 2007 (UTC)
- No Merge because the Orthoteny Principle was not developed by the Condon Committee, they only cited references in their publication (:O) -Nima Baghaei talk · cont 01:56, 16 April 2007 (UTC)
- Do Not Merge. The Orthoteny Principle is a distinct, stand-alone topic. The Principle had already been in existence for almost ten years when the Condon Report was issued. Besides the Condon Committee article is already too long. -- FormerNICAPmember 03:55, 2 May 2007 (UTC)
The opening seems overly long, and includes criticism of the report which really should go later in the article. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by 188.8.131.52 (talk) 17:01, 28 April 2007 (UTC).
I am the Gordon David Thayer mentioned in the article (one of the UFO Committee members in 1968). I agree that the opening section needs some rearranging, but aside from that, I don't believe it is too long. Gdthayer (talk) 20:42, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
In my view this entry features *too* much use of Jerome Clark's work(s) - a UFO advocate and proponant of the ETH - as the main source of this article. It reads like an attack on the Condon Report by various UFO advocates (i.e. Clark, Sturrock, Swords, etc.)! Surely this entry could include a more supportive accounts by skeptics, by way of balance? Furthermore, the "comments by skeptics" section is smaller (and contains mitigating pro-UFO comments by Clark) than the section detailing attacks on it by UFO advocates. While Sullivan is branded an (anti UFO) "Partisan" - Clark, McDonald, Sturrock and Swords are not (even through they are/were well-known advocates of UFO reality and the ETH in particular). While the Condon Report is a flawed study (could it ever be anything else?), this entry should note it was a largely unique one - with no similar effort being conducted by any other country following its publication. The problem is that much of the source material comes from pro-UFO commentators; hence such an admission is never recognised as a consquence! One could also note that, if Condon's comments on UFOs were as worthless as this entry implies, why has NO progress/breakthroughs been made in the study of UFO's since 1969? Surely that fact supports Condon's conclusions, where he t predicted this very outcome! Lastly, some of the cases labled as "Unknowns" by the Condon Committee have also since been thrown into doubt - i.e. the recent re-investigation of the Lakenheath/Bentwaters Radar Visual report conducted by British UFO researchers Dr. David Clarke, et. al.). Another (negative) "development" obscured by the use of limited and biased source material used to "inform" this article.
Robert Moore email@example.com 184.108.40.206 18:21, 2 September 2007 (UTC)
Wow, I never thought I'd see such a joke as this article or the entire section on UFOs. Wikipedia seems to attract the worst sort of crackpot. 220.127.116.11 07:17, 26 September 2007 (UTC)
As an original Committee member, I disagree with the last comment above. The article is not a joke, and the Condon Report, albeit controversial, is a serious attempt at some sort of solution to the UFO problem. That it did not arrive at a solution is a reflection of the nature of the problem, not the fault of those who worked on it. Gdthayer (talk) 20:42, 12 February 2008 (UTC)
Don Ecker on Robert J. Low
I've removed--until it can be properly sourced and cleared--the following paragraph:
- A few weeks later, Low himself left the UFO project. As Don Ecker writes, "Robert Low left the project officially on May 24, 1968. It was realized that in view of the 'trick memo' if Low had any part of the final report, it would not have any public credibility."
The sole reference given is: http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2005/jul/m18-039.shtml
This page is only available by subscription, and as it's currently the sole source for the circumstances of Low's departure I'm reluctant to rely on it alone for such a very serious statement.
Another thing that concerns me is the editorial tone. Don Ecker, as far as I'm aware, is a writer and researcher on UFO matters. Quoting Ecker's opinion as fact doesn't seem appropriate to me, and certainly isn't suitable for an encyclopedia. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 11:34, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
If I recall correctly, when Dr. Condon received the letter from Dr. McDonald regarding the Low memo, he was "furious". This led to the further controversy of the firing of Drs. Saunders and Levine from the committee, as well as the resignation of Dr. Condon's secretary. I'll have to "re-locate' the source. Tonybaldacci (talk) 00:55, 23 December 2013 (UTC)
The article seems to contain several serious errors of fact. I'm reviewing it alongside the content of the report and the various source materials. This article seems to have turned into a hack job. I'm fixing errors as I go along but this is turning into a total rewrite. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 13:36, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
- I've trimmed six paragraphs from the lead, which is now about four paragraphs long. Those six paragraphs constituted half the length of the
articlelead and were devoted to details discussion of various criticisms. --Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The 14:36, 16 June 2008 (UTC)
Statements and their sources
This is a catalog of major statements in the article.
- NB: I have recently retired my old username, User talk:Anticipation of a New Lover's Arrival, The and adopted this much shorter username. --Jenny 17:22, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
- Bryan: C. D. B. Bryan; Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs and the Conference at M.I.T.; Alfred A. Knopf, 1995; ISBN 0-679-42975-1
- Reviewed by Publisher's Weekly: "Bryan (Friendly Fire) brings top-notch reporting skills to this open-minded account of a five-day conference on UFO abductions held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1992."
- Clark: Jerome Clark; The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial; Visible Ink Press, 1998; ISBN 1-57859-029-9
- Reviewed by Independent Publisher:
- Jerome Clark is the former editor of the UFO magazine Fate and former vice-president and current board member of the J. Allen Hyneck Center for UFO Studies as well as the editor of their quarterly publication The International UFO Reporter. He has published several books and a three-volume UFO Encyclopedia encompassing every conceivable aspect of UFOs possible. In short, Clark has spent the past four decades researching, analyzing and bringing to light anything remotely connected to what the world identifies as UFO's and extraterrestrial life. The UFO Book is actually an abridgment of the much larger, two volume work, The UFO Encyclopedia (2nd Edition) published in the fall of 1997. Clark makes it very clear in the introduction that, "Except in those instances where good reason exists to doubt an informant's sincerity, The UFO Book operates on the assumption that intellectual agnosticism...". True to his word, The UFO Book is clear, in-depth, cross-referenced and user friendly and goes to extremes to stand above any hint of opinion regarding the wealth of information contained in this book. The UFO Book includes a historical overview of UFO phenomenon, an overview of its terminology roots, and in-depth information regarding resources in print an other forms of media. Every subject, whether a discussion of a specific topic or a specific incident is organized alphabetically with painstakingly clear cross referencing throughout. The UFO Book is engrossing reading that can fill a few minutes, an hour, or more. It has the authoritative backbone that brings this incredibly diverse and far reaching subject to light in a meticulously objective manner. Clark has put into one volume an incredible amount of research that is a must read for anyone mildly curious about UFO's and extra- terrestrials.
- Publisher website  seems somewhat flippant and facetious. Not a good sign.
- Reviewed by Independent Publisher:
- Condon: The Condon Report
- Hynek: J. Allen Hynek; The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry; 1972; Henry Regnery Company
- Book blurb: Cited by the New York Review of Books as "the best brief for visitation," this classic study presents an analysis of UFO reports and concludes that many sightings cannot be easily dismissed.
- Jacobs: David Michael Jacobs; The UFO Controversy In America; Indiana University Press, 1975; ISBN 0-253-19006-1
- Appears to be a history of ufology written by an academic
- Saunders, or Saunders and Harkins: David R. Saunders and R. Roger Harkins; UFO’s? Yes! Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong; World Publishing, 1969
- No reviews on Amazon. Wikipedia is the second hit for the title "Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong" from Google UK. Saunders was a member of the Condon team. On the other hand, he acted as a partisan in internal disputes, and was eventually fired for leaking a private memo to the head of Nicap. The lack of prominent references to this book is worrying, in view of the fact that much of this article has been written with reference to it.
- Sturrock: "An Analysis of the Condon Report on the Colorado UFO Project" by Peter A. Sturrock, 1987, J. Scientific Exploration, Vol. 1, No. 1, p. 75.
- Growing numbers of critics--including U.S. politicians, newspaper writers, UFO researchers, scientists and some of the general public--were suggesting that Blue Book was conducting shoddy, unsupported research, or worse, perpetrating a cover up. UFO researcher Jerome Clark goes so far as to write that Blue Book had "lost all credibility." (Clark, 592)
- The Air Force wished to stop studying UFOs, yet they found themselves in a bind: If they simply ended Blue Book, they’d risk inflaming cover up accusation, but UFOs had become such a controversial issue that no other governmental agency was willing to take responsibility for further UFO studies. unsourced
- Following a wave of UFO reports in 1965, astronomer and Blue Book consultant Dr. J. Allen Hynek wrote a letter to the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board (AFSAB) suggesting that a panel convene to re-examine Blue Book, and offer some new ideas as to goals and directions. The AFSAB agreed, and asked Brian O’Brien to chair a committee. Should be possible to trace the causal link from Hynek to O'Brien Committee. Currently unsourced
- All Committee members but astronomer Carl Sagan had formal ties to the AFSAB. unsourced
- While none of the O’Brien committee accepted as viable anything so radical as the extraterrestrial hypothesis (or ETH), they did suggest that previous UFO studies had been lacking, and could be undertaken "in more detail and depth than had been possible to date" and that the U.S. Air Force should work "with a few selected universities to provide scientific teams" to study UFOs. (Clark, 593)'
- The O’Brien Committee suggested that, ideally, about 100 well-documented UFO sightings should be studied annually, with about 10 man-days devoted to each case. (Saunders and Harkins, 25)
- [Hynek]'s qualifications were largely overlooked, and the words "swamp gas" were repeated ad infinitum in relation to UFO reports, and the explanation was subject to national derision. unsourced but should be easy to source
- Soon, a UFO hearing was scheduled for April 5, 1966, before the United States Congress, directed by L. Mendel Rivers. unsourced, easily sourced. In context seems to link this to the swamp gas incident. This is probably inappropriate.
- At the hearing, Air Force secretary Harold Brown defended the Air Force’s UFO studies, but he also echoed the O’Brien Committee in stating that there was room for "even stronger emphasis on the scientific aspects". (Clark, 594)
- At the same hearing Hynek suggested that "a civilian panel of physical and social scientists ... examine the UFO problem critically for the express purpose of determining whether a major problem exists." (Hynek, 196)
- Shortly after the congressional hearing, the Air Force announced it was seeking one or more universities to undertake a study of UFOs. The Air Force wanted a respected figure with no publicly declared opinions on UFOs to direct the study. Saunders writes that "a university-based study composed entirely of outsiders could get even Congress off Brown’s neck and quiet the public, which had been finding fault with the Air Force’s handling of the UFO problem since 1947." (Saunders, 25)
- The Air Force ideally wanted to have several groups active at several universities, but it took some time to find even a single school willing to accept the Air Force’s offer. Both Hynek and James E. McDonald suggested their own campuses (Northwestern University and the University of Arizona, respectively), but they were not accepted, because both men had become lighting rods for UFO-related controversy, though for very different reasons: to some, Hynek was tainted by his Air Force association, while McDonald was publicly discussing the extraterrestrial hypothesis as a viable explanation for UFOs. Astronomer Donald Menzel was suggested to lead the project, but he was rejected because he was seen by many as a debunker. unsourced
- Harvard University, the University of California, Berkeley, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill were all asked to consider the UFO project, but all declined. Some schools were afraid of attracting controversy if they mishandled the study, but more often, UFOs were seen as a somewhat suspect field of study. unsourced
- After the National Center for Atmospheric Research declined to undertake the Air Force’s UFO study, its director Walter Orr Roberts suggested that the Air Force ask physicist Edward Condon of the University of Colorado to take the project. unsourced
- In the summer of 1966, Condon agreed to consider the Air Force’s offer. Condon was among the best known and most distinguished scientists of his time, but he required some persuading to accept the Air Force’s project. Condon would later report that Air Force Col. Ratchford had appealed to his vanity and sense of civic responsibility, telling him that the UFO project was indeed "a dirty chore", but a man of Condon's reputation would produce results far more readily accepted by the scientific community than if the study was undertaken by "just some ordinary guy." Lamenting his gullibility, Condon later said, "I fell for this. Flattery got him somewhere." (Jacobs, 208)
- Despite his reticence, Condon was an ideal project director, from the Air Force’s perspective. Perhaps most impressively, Condon had years earlier bucked the House Unamerican Activities Committee when it investigated him due in part to his wife’s Czechoslovakian background; Saunders characterized Condon's tenacious encounters with the HUAC as "almost legendary" among fellow scientists (Saunders and Harkins, 33)
- Saunders writes that this and other occasions had created an impression that Condon "was a scientist who spoke the public language" and who was willing to point out governmental abuses where he saw them. (Saunders and Harkins, 33) Hynek noted that Condon "was noted not only for his scientific record, but also for his courage in speaking out on controversial issues." (Hynek, 192)
- Condon asked Robert J. Low--an assistant dean of the university’s graduate school program--his opinion of the University of Colorado undertaking the study. Low approved of the idea, and presented it to several professors and deans. Reactions were mixed. Some thought the UFO project could be worthwhile, but others rejected it as too controversial or too disreputable. unsourced
- On August 9, 1966, Low wrote a memorandum intended to persuade the more reluctant faculty to accept the UFO project. This so-called "Trick Memo" explained how the University could perform the project without risking their reputation, and how the University UFO research project could arrive at a predetermined conclusion while appearing objective. In part, Low wrote: (etc) ... (Clark, 594)
- In the same article cited above, Klass suggests that the word "trick," as used by Low, did not have the "devious" connotation perceived by Americans, but rather that the Oxford University-educated Low might have absorbed the British usage, meaning, "the art or knack of doing something skillfully." Low insisted he'd meant the word "trick" this way in the memo, and one of Low's colleagues reported that Low had sometimes used the word "trick" more in line with British usage, but Klass's interpretation of this memo, however, seems to be in the minority, with critics suggesting that Low's meaning is obviously deceptive, by its context. presumably Hynek
- The Trick Memo was filed with the Project’s documents in a file labelled "AF (Air Force) Contract and Background." There, wrote Saunders, "the memo sat, ticking like a time bomb." (Saunders and Harkins, 130)
- This Trick Memo would later come to public attention, and would generate considerable controversy. Though Committee member David Saunders had some sharp criticism for Low, he also wrote that even considering the Trick Memo, "to present Low as a plotter or conspirator is unfair and hardly accurate" (Saunders and Harkins, 128), though Saunders does suggest that it was "hasty and foolish to express such ideas on paper--especially foolish if Low really believed what he was saying." (Saunders and Harkins, 129)
- Similarly, Hynek wrote that "I believe Low has been unduly criticized for this memo. I can appreciate the dilemma Low faced. He wanted his university to get the contract (for whatever worldly reason) and to convince the university administration that they should take it ... He wanted to invoke a path of respectability. But the path he chose was unfortunate." (Hynek, 211)
- Afterwards, Low approached several members of the school’s psychology staff--notably William A. Scott and David R. Saunders--who agreed to aid for the project, though they were initially unaware that the prime focus of the study would be psychological. Saunders would become a co-principal investigator, would play a major role in the project, and also in the subsequent controversies and publicity. He was furthermore the only committee member with more than a passing interest in UFOs: he had recently joined civilian UFO research group NICAP, mainly to obtain its regular newsletter. unsourced
- Critics (including Jerome Clark) have suggested that finances were factor in persuading the school to accept the Air Force’s project: The University of Colorado had recently seen substantial budget cuts, while the Air Force offered $313,000 for the study (the total funding would later rise to over $500,000). presumably Clark
- Condon dismissed this suggestion, noting that $313,000 was a rather modest budget for an undertaking scheduled to last more than a year with a staff of over a dozen. More bluntly, Condon also stated that the total funding for the UFO study was "less than we spend to kill one Viet Cong and we go in for that by the thousands." (Saunders and Harkins, 29)
- On October 6, 1966, the University of Colorado formally agreed to undertake the UFO study. Condon would be the director, while Low was coordinator and Saunders a co-principal investigator, along with astronomer Franklin Roach. The other primary Committee members were astronomer William K. Hartmann; psychologists Michael Wertheimer, Dan Culbertson and James Wadsworth (a graduate student); chemist Roy Craig; electrical engineer Norman Levine; physicist Frederick Ayer; and administrative assistant Mary Louise Armstrong. Several other scientists or experts would serve in part-time and temporary roles, or as consultants. unsourced
- Two days after the Committee had formally accepted the project, the Denver Post quoted Low as saying that the project had met the University's acceptance threshold by the narrowest of margins, and furthermore that the project was accepted largely because it was difficult to say no to the Air Force. unsourced, presumably Denver Post can help
- Public response to the Committee's announcement was generally positive; historian Jacobs argues that there was "optimism on all sides." (Jacobs, 225)
- Hynek characterized Condon's perspective towards UFOs as "basically negative", but he also assumed the Condon's opinions would change once he familiarized himself with the evidence in some of the more puzzling UFO cases. presumably Hynek
- NICAP’s Donald Keyhoe was publicly supportive, but privately expressed fears that the Air Force would be controlling things from behind the scenes. That a scientist of Condon's standing would involve himself with UFO research marked something of a sea change, and heartened some academics who had long expressed interest in the subject, such as atmospheric physicist James E. McDonald. Many other scientists who’d earlier been hesitant to speak out on the subject now offered their opinions, whether skeptical, supportive or somewhere in between. unsourced
- One of the Condon Committee’s first formal duties was a briefing by Hynek and astrophysicist/mathematician Jacques Vallee. Both men stressed the importance of implementing a fast, consistent, statistical rating system to sort UFO reports and focus attention towards the best documented and most puzzling cases. The Committee also met with Major Hector Quintanilla (then head of Project Blue Book), and with Col. Robert Hippler of the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. unsourced
- The Committee secured the help of civilian UFO research group APRO, though they would play a relatively minor role in the project when compared to NICAP's involvement. In November of 1966, Keyhoe and Richard Hall (both of NICAP), briefed the panel. They agreed to share NICAP’s considerable research files, and also to implement an Early Warning System to better collect UFO reports. unsourced
- Eventually, Hall and Saunders would form a "close working relationship" after Hall worked for the Committee as a paid consultant for two weeks, compiling some of NICAP’s best-documented, yet most perplexing UFO reports. Clark writes that "As with so much of the project would start, nothing would come of Hall’s efforts." (Clark, 596)
- The remainder of 1966 was devoted primarily to assembling a library, and determining how to best collect on-site investigations of UFO reports as quickly as possible. Despite these advances, the Committee was somewhat adrift and directionless for a few months, due in no small part to disagreements among the Committee’s members as to goals and methods. There was no shortage of suggestions, noted Saunders, who also lamented that "fifteen months and $313,000 did not allow the luxury of doing anything we could imagine." (Saunders and Harkins, 77)
- Hynek notes that "groping for a methodology was an absorbing pastime for the committee." (Hynek, 200)
- A particular problem was that by seeking out people with no position on UFOs, the Committee was staffed by persons with no experience regarding (or knowledge of) previous UFO studies. One Committee member suggested filming UFOs using stereo cameras mounted with diffraction gratings in order to study the spectrum of light emitted by UFOs. This had been attempted some fifteen years earlier following a specific suggestion regarding UFOs made by Dr Joseph Kaplan in 1954, but was quickly judged impractical after a number of such cameras were distributed to Air Force bases. (Hynek, 199) Had the Committee known this, they would not have spent any of their limited time exploring unproductive ideas. unsourced
- When the Air Force asked for a progress report in January, 1967. Committee members scrambled to prepare a presentation. unsourced
- During the meeting with Air Force officials, Committee members noted that they had decided to focus more on the witnesses than on the UFO reports themselves. unsourced
- As Swords writes, "Michael Wertheimer wanted to create UFO-simulation events and then sweep through the area studying the perceptual, memory, and reporting accuracies of the population. Another psychologist, Stuart Cook, supported that. Colonel Hippler said absolutely not. That's all we need: Inventing fake UFOs to fool people; a public relations catastrophe for the Air Force." Swords?
- Yet beyond Hippler's disapproval of Werthheimer and Cook's idea, the meeting was unproductive until Low asked specifically what the Air Force expected from the Committee. The Air Force representatives had no ready reply. unsourced
- A few days later, Col. Hippler wrote to Low. Though he wrote on Air Force letterhead, Hippler stressed that he was writing not in any official capacity, and suggested that ultimately, the UFO project "ought to be able to come to an anti-ETH conclusion", as Clark writes. Hippler went on to write that the Air Force wanted to cease its UFO studies, and that an official study reporting that there was nothing unusual about UFO reports would be the best way to accomplish this goal. (Clark, 597) Low replied to the letter, thanking Hippler for clarifying the Air Force’s expectations. With this sequence of events, Dr. Michael D. Swords argued some years later, "the fix was in." (Clark, 597)
- In late January, 1967, Keyhoe and Hall gave Saunders a clipping of The Elmira Star-Gazette, dated January 26. Condon was quoted as saying that he thought the government should not study UFO’s because the subject was nonsense, adding, "but I’m not supposed to reach that conclusion for another year." (Clark, 597)
- Saunders was stunned. He asked if Condon could have been misquoted, but Keyhoe reported that several NICAP members had been present when Condon delivered his lecture; one of them had resigned from NICAP in protest, arguing that the Condon Committee was nothing more than pretense. unsourced. Saunders?
- The next day Saunders confronted Condon about the press clipping. Saunders feared that NICAP would end their association with the Committee (thus eliminating a valuable source of case files), and furthermore that the negative publicity following a split from NICAP could harm public perception of the Committee. unsourced. Saunders?
- In the meantime, Condon had taken no part in the field investigations; he would ultimately investigate at most four or five cases--mostly contactees--of several hundred cases which the Committee examined. unsourced, but wasn't he the project director rather than a field worker?
- Furthermore, the Committee’s members found it difficult to speak with Condon: they usually had to speak to coordinator Low with questions or problems, but were often unsatisfied with Low's efforts. unsourced
- On at least one occasion, Condon fell asleep while a consultant was offering a presentation. unsourced
- Consultant James E. McDonald had initially been hopeful for the Committee, but after making a few presentations and feeling as though Condon completely ignored his contributions, McDonald grew increasingly vocal in his criticism. He would soon begin to detail his view of the Committee’s problems in letters to Frederick Seitz, president of the National Academy of Science. unsourced.
- Despite the growing internal tension, the Committee’s members continued to collect, study and analyze UFO reports, including nearly 40 field investigations around the United States. They investigated a few well-known reports, including an early cattle mutilation report. There was, however, an increasing suspicion among the Committee’s members that their research would be used to support a forgone conclusion. unsourced
- Most of the Committee’s regular members objected to the manner in which Condon and Low were directing the Committee, and several members were considering writing a dissenting minority report if Condon overruled their conclusions that some UFO reports seemed anomalous and deserving of closer scrutiny. unsourced
- The Committee was disturbed that Condon and Low tried to insulate them from Hynek, Vallee, McDonald and others who thought UFOs deserved study, while simultaneously openly consulting with avowed UFO debunkers. unsourced
- That Condon focused most of his interest towards the lunatic fringe of UFO reports disturbed much of the Committee as well. unsourced
- Another particular irritation was that while NICAP and Blue Book had promised to share new UFO reports as quickly as possible, only NICAP had done so. Even Condon--so often criticised for bias and ambivalence--formally complained to the Air Force about their lack of cooperation. unsourced
- The Committee's members usually worked solo, and rarely (if ever) met as a group to discuss their progress, to critique one another's work, or to reach a consensus on disagreements. Because of this, individuals embraced a number of approaches, sometimes resulting in conflict or disagreements. unsourced
- Notably, the Committee’s members differed in their opinions regarding the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Some (especially Saunders) thought the ETH should be included as one of a range of hypotheses to explain UFOs; others (Notably Low and Wertheimer) rejected any consideration of the ETH. Low wrote a position paper, characterizing the ETH as "nonsense"; Wertheimer adamantly argued that the ETH could neither be proved nor disproved, and he afterwards had little to do with the Committee. (Jacobs, 228)
- This ETH dispute developed into an ideological and methodological schism among the Committee’s members: One group, championed by Low, thought that "the solution to the UFO mystery was to be found in the psychological makeup of witnesses"; the other group, championed by Saunders, "wanted to look at as much as the data as possible." (Jacobs, 230)
- In September 1967, another collision with NICAP was narrowly averted. Keyhoe learned that Condon had given a lecture to the National Bureau of Standards, a group Condon had once chaired. In his lecture, Condon had discussed three UFO reports made by obviously unstable kooks, and had intimated that many or most UFO reports came from such persons. An irritated Keyhoe asked Saunders why NICAP’s time and money should be used in collecting and forwarding UFO reports to the Committee when Condon's bias was obvious. Keyhoe threatened to sever NICAP’s association with the Condon Committee. In spite of his own growing doubts, Saunders convinced Keyhoe that Condon could separate his own opinions from his work, and had simply forgotten to state where his personal opinions began. Keyhoe accepted this, but also warned that if the Committee could not demonstrate a more objective manner, NICAP would cease their involvement and publicize their complaints. unsourced
- After Keyhoe was mollified (at least temporarily), Saunders told Condon of the development. Condon was nonplussed; if NICAP chose to sever their association he had no objection. After some thirty minutes of discussion, Saunders persuaded Condon to write Keyhoe and report that the quotes from the National Bureau of Standards speech were taken out of context. unsourced. Saunders?'
- Shortly after this, both Low and Condon were quoted in the Rocky Mountain News as expressing their approval of an article in Science arguing against the ETH. Privately and publicly--including during Committee proceedings--Low and Condon were repeatedly arguing that UFO studies were a waste of time. Clark writes that, "By now all that was keeping the staff from open revolt was one hold-out: Roy Craig, who insisted that Condon still had his full confidence." (Clark, 598)
- Fearing the worst from NICAP following the Rocky Mountain News story, Low flew from Colorado to Washington DC for a meeting with Keyhoe. Keyhoe asked Low if the Committee was "on the level". According to Keyhoe, Low replied, "I see no reason why you have to determine whether the Colorado Project is on the level or not," and furthermore admitted that Condon had a very negative opinion of the Project and of UFO studies in general. Low noted that much of the Committee held opinions very different from Condon's, but Keyhoe countered that as director, Condon could override any dissenting opinions when the final report was written. unsourced
- Despite these problems, Low urged Keyhoe to continue sending case files and reports to the Committee. When Keyhoe asked why NICAP should continue supporting a project which had effectively reached its findings, Keyhoe reported Low’s reply as, "If you don’t, the project could be accused of reaching a conclusion without all of NICAP’s evidence." (Clark, 599)
- Due to several developments in 1966 and 1967, the internal conflicts in the Condon Committee were about to burst into public awareness. On November 14, 1966, Keyhoe wrote a long letter to Condon (cc’d to Low), detailing his concerns and questions regarding the project. Were Condon and Low’s biases tainting the project? Were the Air Force’s orders directing the project? Had Condon himself read any of the NICAP case studies? Why had Condon himself done so little field research? Condon and Low replied by telling Keyhoe that they were under no obligation to answer his queries. With their non-answer, Keyhoe had nearly reached his breaking point; NICAP was no longer sending UFO case files to the Committee. unsourced, and doesn't explain the claim of public awareness
- In July, 1967, Committee Member Roy Craig was scheduled to speak before a Portland, Oregon audience regarding the Condon Committee. When Craig asked Low for some documentation regarding the Committee’s origins, Low gave him a stack of papers, unaware that a copy of the Trick Memo was included. After giving the speech, Craig--previously Condon's staunchest ally on the Committee, other than Low--showed the Trick Memo to Committee member Norman Levine, saying, "See if this doesn’t give you a funny feeling in the stomach." (Clark, 600)
- Levine showed the memo to Saunders, who was saddened but not surprised; the memo seemed to explain the attitudes Low and Condon had demonstrated from the project’s beginning. Copies of the Trick Memo were circulated to the entire Committee, barring Low and Condon. Public disclosure of the memo was considered, but decided against: there was still hope that the final report might recommend further study of the UFO phenomenon. Eventually, however, Saunders gave a copy of the memo to Keyhoe. In turn, Keyhoe told James E. McDonald of the memo's contents, but, citing confidentiality promises, did not give him a copy of the memo. Eventually, McDonald located a copy of the memo in the project's open files. unsourced
- The Trick Memo confirmed McDonald’s worst suspicions about the Committee. In response, he wrote a seven page letter to Condon, explaining point by point, his problems, frustration and disappointment with the Committee's shortcomings. Apparently unaware that the Trick Memo was never intended to see the light of day, McDonald quoted a few lines from it (the same "...the trick would be..." portion cited above), then added, "I am rather puzzled by the viewpoints expressed there ... but I gather that they seem straightforward to you, else this part of the record would, presumably, not be available for inspection in the open Project files." (Clark, 601)
- When Condon read McDonald’s letter on February 5, 1968, he became furious. Low read the letter, and Armstrong reported that he "exploded," suggesting that whomever was responsible for McDonald’s having the memo should be fired, before calming down and discussing the affair with Condon. (Saunders and Harkins, 188)
- The next day, Condon called a meeting of the Committee to uncover the chain of events that had led to McDonald’s receiving the Trick Memo. Saunders characterized Condon's manner as imperious, behaving as though he were "the Grand Inquisitor." (Saunders and Harkins, 190)
- Condon asked the Committee to read McDonald’s letter. When they did, the Committee was initially occupied with the substance McDonald’s incisive, pointed critique and all but ignored the few lines quoted from the Trick Memo. unsourced
- When Condon wanted to know how McDonald had received a copy of a project memo, Saunders admitted that he’d forwarded the Trick Memo to Keyhoe. Condon reportedly called Saunders "disloyal" and said, "For an act like that you deserve to be ruined professionally." (Saunders and Harkins, 189) Saunders responded, he said, by stating he was loyal to the American public, while Condon seemed beholden to the Air Force. (Saunders and Harkins)
- The next day, in brief letters, Saunders and Levine were fired "for cause", and Condon issued a press release reporting that the men had been fired "for incompetence." The Colorado Daily asked Condon to elaborate on the nature of the incompetence, and he declined. Fearing libel charges from Saunders and Levine if the paper ran unqualified accusations of incompetence, the Colorado Daily omitted the reason for Saunders and Levine’s termination, thus angering Condon. (Saunders and Harkins, 193)
- Though the Trick Memo had never formally been declared confidential or personal, and though McDonald had located the memo in the project's open files, Condon repeatedly insisted in subsequent months that McDonald had "stolen" it from Low’s personal files. (Saunders and Harkins, 201)
- Condon telephoned the president of the University of Arizona to report that McDonald had stolen the trick memo from the Project’s files, and also wrote a letter to the Air Force to deprecate Levine in an attempt to harm his security clearance. (These were not the only instances in which Condon tried to damage someone’s career after they’d dissatisfied him regarding the UFO Project. Condon had earlier tried to get Committee consultant Robert M. Wood fired from his McDonnell Douglas position after Wood had written "a critical but polite letter listing his concerns about project shortcomings"; and Condon would later consider blocking Carl Sagan’s entry into the distinguished Cosmos Club because Sagan--though quite skeptical of UFOs--had been "too soft on UFOs for Condon's taste." (Clark, 603)
- On February 24, 1968 administrative assistant Mary Lou Armstrong resigned from the Condon Committee. In her letter she wrote staff morale had reached a deplorable depth, and that "there is an almost universal 'lack of confidence'" in coordinator Low, arguing that much of the Committee's troubles was Low's fault. "Had you (Condon) handled the direction of our activities, there would not have been such a serious conflict." (Hynek, 244)
- On April 30, 1968, Keyhoe held a press conference to announce that NICAP had severed all ties with the Committee. He circulated copies of the Trick Memo, which received wide publicity. unsourced
- By now, the Condon Committee’s conflicts were being covered in the mass media, including a John G. Fuller article, "Flying Saucer Fiasco" in the May, 1968 issue of Look, a general interest magazine quite popular in its day. Including interviews with Saunders and Levine, Fuller detailed the controversy and accusations leveled against the Condon Committee, and described the project as a "$500,000 trick." (Clark, 601)
- Condon responded by writing to Look, declaring that Fuller’s article contained unspecified "falsehoods and misrepresentations". (Jacobs, 231)
- The press had earlier occasionally mention of the Committee’s troubles, but Fuller’s article brought a much higher level of attention, especially from scientific and technical journals, many of which began discussing the Committee in their editorial and letters pages. Industrial Research reprinted the Trick Memo, while Scientific Research interviewed Saunders and Levine, who reported that that they were considering a libel suit against Condon for terminating them for alleged "incompetence"; they furthermore said that Condon had used an "unscientific approach" in directing the Committee. (Jacobs, 231)
- Condon said that calling his methods "unscientific" was itself libelous, and in turn threatened to sue Saunders and Levine. unsourced
- When the American Association for the Advancement of Science covered the ongoing Committee controversy in an issue of its official journal Science, Condon first promised to grant an interview apparently in the hopes of offering his side of the conflict. Shortly thereafter, however, Science editor Daniel S. Greenberg reported that Condon announced it would be "inappropriate for Science to touch the matter, withdrew his offer of cooperation, and proceeded to enunciate high-sounding principles in support of his new-found belief that Science should not touch the subject until after the publication if his report." When Greenberg noted that Condon had promised his help, "Condon flatly refused to discuss the matter further." (Jacobs, 233)
- When Science ran the article without Condon's contributions, Condon resigned from the AAAS in protest. unsourced
- The Fuller article even helped inspire Congressional hearings. Representative J. Edward Roush spoke on the House floor, arguing that Fuller’s article brought up "grave doubts about as to the scientific profundity and objectivity of the project" unsourced
- in a Denver Post interview, Roush suggested that the Trick Memo proved that the Air Force had indeed been dictating the Project’s direction and conclusions. (Jacobs, 233)
- Even before the Condon Report was released, astronomer Frank Drake wrote to the National Academy of Sciences, suggesting that the Condon Committee's final report was tainted, and should thus be discredited. unsourced
- The General Accounting Office announced that they were considering an investigation of the Committee’s finances. unsourced
- In spite of the ongoing controversy, the Committee’s members largely continued their work. By late 1968, they’d completed their reports and handed them over to Condon, who wrote summaries of each case study and then offered the manuscript to the NAS, then headed by Condon's longtime friend and former student, Frederick Seitz. A panel of 11 NAS members claimed they reviewed the report, and then issued a statement that supported the manuscript’s conclusions. In response to the report's findings, Project Blue Book formally closed down in late 1969. unsourced
- The Report ran to 1,485 pages in hardcover and 965 pages in the Bantam paperback edition. It divided UFO cases into five categories: old ufo reports (from before the Committee convened), new reports, photographic cases, radar/visual cases, and UFOs reported by astronauts (some UFO cases fell into multiple categories). The entire Condon Report is available online; see External Links section below. unsourced, easily verified by external link
- In the second paragraph of his introductory "Conclusions and Recommendations", Condon wrote: "Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby." (Condon, 1)
- This was the core of Condon's position of UFOs, and these are his words which received wide attention in the mass media. Many reviews of the book and newspaper editorials supported Condon's position that the UFO question was answered and the case was closed. Hynek suggests that Condon's conclusion was "surely the kiss of death to any further investigation in the name of the quest for knowledge." (Hynek, 193)
- Astrophysicist Peter A. Sturrock notes that, in general, "critical reviews came from scientists who had actually carried out research in the UFO area, while the laudatory reviews came from scientists who had not carried out such research." (Sturrock, 46) Sturrock also writes that "most of the scientific community paid little attention when the report was published, and none later." (Sturrock, 49)
- Furthermore, Sturrock writes that while the Condon report received "almost universal praise from the news media", responses from "scientific journals were mixed." The esteemed journal Nature, printed A Sledgehammer for Nuts, a largely positive review, while Icarus (then edited by Carl Sagan) took an unusual and admirable approach, publishing both an approving review by Dr Hong-Yee Chiu, and a negative appraisal by Dr James E. McDonald. unsourced
- To no one’s surprise, however, a number of critics--several of whom had already attacked the Committee--argued that the Report was profoundly flawed, or even unscientific. C.D.B. Bryan writes that the final report "left nearly everyone dissatisfied." (Bryan, 189)
- Science and Time were among the many newspapers, magazines and journals which published approving reviews or editorials related to the Condon Report. Some compared any continued belief in UFOs as an unusual phenomenon to those who insisted the earth was flat; others predicted that interest in UFOs would wane and in a few generations be only dimly remembered, like relics of spiritualism such as ectoplasm or table-raising. unsourced
- The March 8, 1969 issue of Nature offered a generally positive review for the Condon Report, but seemed to suggest that UFO studies were a wasteful, futile indulgence. Approvingly, the editors note that "The salient feature of the report is its almost obsessive attention to detail", but despite this detail, the editors opine that "it is not immediately obvious why the job had to be done at all. Will a single flying saucer buff alter his credo as a result of it? Will the five million Americans who believe they have seen a flying saucer diligently peruse the report to discover for which of many possible reasons they were mistaken? Was it likely that anything of real scientific value could emerge from the report? Or could it be that several members of Congress or the United States Air Force really believe in flying saucers?" In summary, the editors write "The Colorado project is a monumental achievement, but one of perhaps misapplied ingenuity. It would doubtless be inapt to compare it with earlier centuries' attempts to calculate how many angels could balance on the point of a pin; it is more like taking a sledgehammer to crack a nut, except that the nuts will be quite immune to its impact." presumably quoted from Nature'
- On January 8, 1969, the New York Times headline reported, "U.F.O. Finding: No Visits From Afar." The article (by Walter Sullivan) glowingly declared that due to the report’s finding, the ETH could finally be dismissed and all UFO reports had prosaic explanations. Sullivan noted that the report had its critics, but characterized them as "U.F.O. enthusiasts", a term which would subsequently reappear (often with the same dismissive tone) in later descriptions of UFO researchers. Sullivan’s review of the Condon Report would see widespread attention. (Clark, 602)
- Regarding Walter Sullivan’s influential New York Times review of the Condon Report, Clark argues that "Sullivan was hardly an objective journalist but a partisan already engaging in spin control. Critics were charging that the report was damaged goods; the conflicts and controversies that had troubled the project were raising credibility problems that could be addressed only if the critics themselves were discredited. Though his Times article does not mention it, Sullivan had already written the introduction to the Bantam paperback edition." (Clark, 602)
- Furthermore, Clark characterizes Sullivan’s introduction as "a revisionist history of the project." (Clark, 602) Condon is portrayed as a tough but fair leader, attacked unjustly by NICAP and "disgruntled UFO believers", meaning Saunders and Levine. Though Keyhoe’s Flying Saucers Are Real had been out of print for over a decade, Sullivan suggested that Keyhoe’s involvement with the Condon Committee was simply a publicity stunt to boost the book’s sales. If it seemed that Condon had focused on the lunatic fringe, wrote Sullivan, it was only because Condon loved to tell a good yarn, and crackpots made for some of the most entertaining tales. (Clark)
- Several observers have criticised the report as a sloppy work: Jacobs describes the report as "a rather unorganized compilation of independent articles on disparate subjects, a minority of which dealt with UFOs."(Jacobs, 240) Hynek agrees with this characterisation, he argues that the report is "a voluminous, rambling, poorly organized report ... considerably less than half of which was addressed to the investigation of UFO reports." (Hynek, 192) Hynek also contended that beyond Condon's introduction, "the rest of the lengthy report defies succinct description. It is a loose compilation of partly related subjects, each by a different author." (Hynek, 193) Swords contends that "To those of us who have opened it (the Condon Report), it has a peculiar structure, almost audibly saying, 'don't try to read me'. Paranoia aside, this probably is not deliberate. Reading the primary documents of the project indicates very clearly that the organization's chaos and personnel dislocations that afflicted it made the creation of a smooth document impossible." (various, attributed)
- In the April 14, 1969 issue of Scientific Research, Robert L. M. Baker, Jr. wrote that rather than settling the issue, the Condon Committee’s report "seems to justify scientific investigation along many general and specialized frontiers." (The UFO Report: Condon Study Falls Short, Robert L. M. Baker, Jr., Scientific Research)
- In the December, 1969 issue of Physics Today, Condon Committee consultant Gerald Rothberg wrote that he had thoroughly investigated about 100 UFO cases; three of four of these had left him puzzled. He thought that this "residue of unexplained reports" indicated a "legitimate scientific controversy." (Clark, 604)
- In the November, 1970 issue of Astronautics and Aeronautics, The American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics published their review of the Condon Report. The AIAA subcommittee appreciated the difficulty of the undertaking, and generally agreed with Condon's suggestion that little of value had been uncovered by scientific UFO studies, but had some criticism for the Condon Report, stating that the AIAA "did not find a basis in the report for his (Condon's) prediction that nothing of scientific value will come of further studies." UFO - An Appraisal of the Problem, 1968 Statement of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Subcommittee on UFOs
- Of the Condon Report’s 56 case studies, 30--whether termed "probable" "possible” or "suspected" hoaxes, misidentifications or the like--are classified as unknown. unsourced
- In a review published in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hynek noted that the percentage of unknowns (nearly 50%) in the Condon report was well above the unknowns in Project Sign, Project Grudge and Project Blue Book, the projects which "led to the Condon investigation in the first place." (Clark, 603)
- Hynek, McDonald and others would argue that some of the solved cases were solved more by strained presumption than detailed dissection of the evidence presented. A few of the unknowns were judged by the Committee’s members to be most perplexing, yet Condon made no mention of these conclusions in his summaries. unsourced, attrib
- Critics often charge that Condon's summaries are inaccurate or misleading. unsourced, weaseling
- For example, Gordon David Thayer was the Committee’s consultant on the 35 radar-visual cases. Thayer concluded that 19 of 35 cases were almost certainly due to "anomalous propagation": so called "radar ghosts" that can be generated by fog, clouds, birds, insect swarms or the like, yet are suggestive on the radar screen of a solid object. Though Thayer offered anomalous propagation as an explanation for just over 50% of the cases he studied, Condon suggested that anomalous propagation was responsible for all the radar cases. unsourced, attrib
- The case studies feature scattered statements which seem to suggest that at least some of the Committee regarded a few of the UFO reports as genuinely anomalous, yet in his summaries, Condon makes no mention of these conclusions. Jacobs argues that these enigmatic reports were "buried" among the confirmed cases. (Jacobs, 241)
- In his analysis of a 1965 Lakenheath, England radar-visual case, Gordon Thayer wrote,“The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of this sighting.” Later discussion of this case notes that "The probability of at least one UFO involved appears to be fairly high", yet Condon completely ignores this conclusion. unsourced, attrib
- Another instance is Case Number 46, a series of photographs taken in 1950 in McMinnville, Oregon. The original photographic negatives were offered for inspection, and in his conclusion, Committee investigator William K. Hartmann wrote that, "This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses." Condon made no mention of this conclusion. unsourced, appears to be original research'
- In 1969, as part of his lecture "Science in Default", physicist James E. McDonald said, "The Condon Report, released in January, 1968, after about two years of Air Force-supported study is, in my opinion, quite inadequate. The sheer bulk of the Report, and the inclusion of much that can only be viewed as 'scientific padding', cannot conceal from anyone who studies it closely the salient point that it represents an examination of only a tiny fraction of the most puzzling UFO reports of the past two decades, and that its level of scientific argumentation is wholly unsatisfactory. Furthermore, of the roughly 90 cases that it specifically confronts, over 30 are conceded to be unexplained. With so large a fraction of unexplained cases (out of a sample that is by no means limited only to the truly puzzling cases, but includes an objectionably large number of obviously trivial cases), it is far from clear how Dr. Condon felt justified in concluding that the study indicated 'that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby.'" Science in Default - Twenty-Two Years of Inadequate UFO Investigations - James E. McDonald -1969, AAAS
- In a 1969 issue of The American Journal of Physics, Thornton Page reviewed the Condon Report and wrote, "Intelligent laymen can (and do) point out the logical flaw in Condon's conclusion based on a statistically small (and selected) sample, Even in this sample a consistent pattern can be recognized; it is ignored by the 'authorities,' who then compound their 'felony' by recommending that no further observational data be collected." Letter from Thornton Page to American Journal of Physics, Vol. 37, No. 10, 1071-1072, October 1969
- Ironically, Page had been a member of the Robertson Panel which suggested UFOs should be debunked to reduce public interest, though his opinions regarding UFOs changed in his later years. unsourced, opinionated
- Allen Hynek's criticism (Hynek)
- Peter A. Sturrock's Criticism (various, Sturrock)
--Jenny 18:34, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
At this point in my investigation of the statements, sourcing and tone of this article, I can say that there are grave doubts about its factual accuracy and neutrality. I'll summarise what I see as the worst problems when I've finished my investigation. Meanwhile I've tagged it. --Jenny 17:59, 1 July 2008 (UTC)
Sourcing and balance problems
The article writer didn't lack for good sources (Bryan, Sturrock, Jacobs, and Hynek all seem to be works with a good reputation), but this is not reflected in the balance of the article, which relies too often on obscure sources such as Clark and Saunders.
Of the 114 significant statements I listed in the above section, the sources of many are not given. The following tabulation indicates the source citations I could find:
- Bryan 1
- Clark 20
- Hynek about 12 (some are vague attributions to Hynek)
- Jacobs 10
- Saunders 14
Hynek's and Sturrock's criticisms are covered in some depth, which is as it should be. The trouble is that they're drowned out by all the historical stuff which seems to be sourced from Saunders and Clark and is, overall, given rather more prominence than it merits. There was undoubtedly some adverse publicity, mainly due to the Look piece, but the Condon report is noted mainly for the air of finality with which it closed the Air Force's public involvement in investigating unidentified flying objects. --Jenny 06:53, 5 July 2008 (UTC)
- The types and number of sources unfortunately appear to be weighing down the article. I agree that too much of the historical material is present here, as well. I've tagged the page accordingly. --Several Times (talk) 16:03, 9 July 2008 (UTC)
I decided to be bold and just go to work on this. There was an enormous amount of trivia (the administrative assistant's letter of resignation!) and a general inability to tell the story in a straightforward way. By that I mean that many statements of fact were qualified with "so and so later said that this..." or "it later turned out..." -- enough to get in the way of just setting out the basics and leaving debates for when they actually occur. Low's memo was called, tendentiously, the "Trick Memo". Etc. Citations are more consistent and at least not in the body of the article now. And I hope the writing style has been sufficiently wikified. There's still more to be done, but it's much shorter now and I hope more balanced. I've kept material of lesser interest in the citations, though more citations are needed for that material. I could sprinkle more "citation needed"'s around but what's the point?
I'd still like to describe the Report itself at greater length and then organize the assessments into some categories: general press, technical journals, comments by participants, major critics.
Another useful project would be to take all the citations to Hynek The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, 192-244, and have each one cite a specific page or pages, not just a range of 50+ pages. Bmclaughlin9 (talk) 00:34, 30 May 2011 (UTC)
biased page, misinforming the public of known facts regarding project. please rectify.
"preposterous" , uncited
"preposterous", shouldn't of used. "seemingly preposterous", should have. "in a long, uncited", my bad, will correct. (some people refuse to face facts, or refuse to become aware of them ie: 'skeptics'. and this page WELL appears to be written by such. it does NOT take into account what was actually occurring during the project/60's that FORCED the airforce into assigning someone else to decide if "ufo's" were apparently interplanetary space vehicles. it was members of congress who were pushing for an open hearing/congressional probe on the subject due to the airforces' lies/misinforfation and/or apparent ineptitude that forced the airforce into hurriedly assigning an "unbiased investigation", with the work to be "conducted under condition of the strictest objectivity". BUT.. that did not happen. The project head, mr Condon could not of been more biased!, and "unbiased objectivity" was directed NOT to be used, as implied by the Low memorandum to CU President Thurston Marshal and other university heads, stating that "Our studywould be constructed almost exclusively by non-believers... The trick would be, i think, to describe the project so that, to the public, it would appear to be a totally obbjectivestudy..". FAR from being reprimanded for such a statement/recommendation, he was then made Project administator, AND, the two invetigators who released the memo to congress/public were fired! now, as for mr condon -Oct 7, 1966 AF announcement that CU Study would be "a serious, objective, scientific investigation"... within 24 hours he stated "it is highly improbable they exist". -oct 9, "air force had been doing a good job." "about 95% of the ufo reports are relatively easily identified, with more info others could probably be explained, (which) indicates an appalling lack of understanding." How would he know?!! leass than 48 hours in! jan 1967- "ufo's were not the business of the air force and it did not take the matter seriously" "my attitude right now is that there's nothing to it" "anyone who believed the AF was concealing facts was suffering paranoia" (omg. they have been caught concealing facts/given false statement HUNDREADS of times!) now, mr low.. -oct 9, "this project came close to being unacceptable. it will probably yeild more information about witnesses who report ufo's than evidence." please, we all must ensure a correct description of the projects/events is viewable for the adults, and most importantly the children of this earth. IT WAS NOT AN UNBIASES STUDY, IT IT DID INDICATE "ALIEN" VEHICLES, AND THE WIKI PAGE SHOULD INFORM THE PUBLIC OF THAT. i look forward to someone more capable reworking this/these pages very soon, and i would be very very appreciative. ref- aliens from space (donald keyhoe) — Preceding unsigned comment added by 18.104.22.168 (talk) 02:26, 19 July 2012 (UTC)
Internal Inconsistencies in the Report
It surprises me that neither the introduction nor the body of the article makes reference to the notable inconsistency between Condon's "summary" of the detailed report (and the Conclusions he drew from it), and the contents of the report itself.
There are in effect three reports, not one:
- A set of disconnected reports from consultant authorities who were not involved in any phase of the Committee's investigations;
- Reports from Committee members who actually investigated UFO cases
- The "report" ("Conclusions and Recommendations" and "Summary of the Study") by Condon.
For the most part the contributions in (1) are interesting but only indirectly relevant to the Committee's work. They provide some good background information, but mostly (with some exceptions) avoid the subject of UFOs.
The contributions in (2) are mixed, but most notable are the chapters "Optical and Radar Analysis of Field Cases" and "Photographic Case Studies", both of which include analyses of "high strangeness" events for which, implicitly or explicitly, the ETH hypothesis is seen as the most likely explanation. Several cases in the "Case Studies" section also represent occurrences in which "relatively incredible things were reported by relatively credible observers".
Contribution (3) from Condon is notable for being almost entirely unrelated to the material in (2), and utterly failing to reflect any of its "high strangeness" conclusions. Condon almost completely avoided quoting the material, except misleadingly. However, it appears that it was from Condon's material, and his material alone, that scientists and the media took their own conclusions.
For example, with respect to radar-visual cases, Condon wrote in the "Summary of the Study":
Studies of specific UFO radar reports and their interpretation are presented in Section III, Chapter 5 by Gordon Thayer. Thayer is a radio propagation specialist on the staff of the Environmental Science Services Administration in Boulder. In his chapter, Thayer presents a detailed analysis of some 35 cases, some of which are visual, others radar, and some are both. Both optical and radar phenomena are treated together because of the similarity in the wave propagation problems involved.
In his summary of results he says: " . . . there was no case where the meteorological data available tended to negate the anomalous propagation hypothesis. . ." However, Thayer points out that adequate meteorological data for a thorough interpretation is often lacking so that a great deal more observational material of this kind would be needed in order to deal with a larger proportion of all of the reported UFO radar cases.
In view of the importance of radar to the safe operation of all aircraft, it is essential that further research be done leading to the more precise knowledge possible of anomalous propagation of radar signals.
Thus, Condon appeared to represent all radar cases as being entirely concerned with anomalous propagation phenomena. (He ignored the non-radar visual sightings in the same section of the report, which were the majority.) However, the quote he took from Thayer is actually relevant only to one category of radar reports. Thayer identified two such categories:
- "AP-like Cases where the radar scopes showed a confused or random distribution of images, blips that showed erratic or discontinuous motion, or other patterns bearing a general similarity to anomalous propagation (AP) returns."
- "Blip-like Cases where the radar target (or targets) showed characteristics similar to the return from a solid object (such as an aircraft, etc.), and where the target did not display erratic or discontinuous behavior. Acceleration or velocity in excess of known aircraft capabilities, or periods of immobility, were not considered to be contrary to normal target behavior."
Looking at Condon's sole quotation from Thayer's report in its original context, it is clear that the words refer only to the first category:
The reader should note that the assignment of cases into the probable AP cause category could have been made on the basis of the observational testimony alone. That is to say, there was no case where the meteorological data available tended to negate the anomalous propagation hypothesis, thereby causing that case to be assigned to some other category. Therefore, a review of the meteorological data available for the 19 probable-AP cases is in order.
In a summarising table, Thayer indicated that, of the 15 radar cases, ten fell into the "probable AP" category. together with nine of the "visual" cases. Two radar reports were analysed as (probable) man-made devices, and one as "No UFO". The remaining two were categorised as "Unknown" (along with five of the 19 "visual" sightings).
The implications of the "Unknown" category are well-exemplified by comments regarding the well-known radar-visual case from Lakenheath AFB (England) in 1956. Thayer wrote of this: "The apparently rational, intelligent behavior of the UFO suggests a mechanical device of unknown origin as the most probable explanation of this sighting."
The other "Unknown" radar case came from Colorado Springs in 1967. Thayer wrote, "This must remain as one of the most puzzling radar cases on record, and no conclusion is possible at this time. It seems inconceivable that an anomalous propagation echo would behave in the manner described ...", thereby directly contradicting Condon's partial quote.
With respect to photographic cases, Condon's "Summary of the Study" examined the Zanesville, Ohio case, and two photographs in "the Look Special on 'Flying Saucers'". The conclusions presented were entirely, and quite properly, negative; but none of those photos formed part of the official project study that Condon was supposedly summarising. He also mentioned the McMinnville, Ohio, photos, but said that they "turned out to be too fuzzy to allow worthwhile photogrammetric analysis".
In his next sentence, he mentioned almost in passing that "Other photographic studies were made for the Colorado project by Dr. William K. Hartmann", who "made a detailed study of 35 photographic cases". This study, he said, "led to the identification of a number of widely publicized photographs as being ordinary objects, others as fabrications, and others as innocent misidentifications of things photographed under unusual conditions".
What he didn't mention was that the McMinnville photos, though "too fuzzy" in his estimation, actually received nineteen pages of detailed "photogrammetric analysis" from Hartmann, who arrived at the conclusion that "all factors investigated, geometric, psychological, and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses". This was emphatically not an identification of an "ordinary object", nor a "misidentification of something photographed under unusual conditions". With regard to Condon's third choice (fakery), Hartmann considered that "the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives ... argue against a fabrication".
Cases such as the above seem greatly at odds with Condon's claim, "that the existing record and the results of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects of the University of Colorado ... support the conclusions and recommendations" he presented. Overall, of the 35 radar and visual sightings Thayer examined, seven were placed in the "Unknown" category. This is a proportion of 20%, ten times higher than the proportion of "unknowns" left at the end of the Blue Book project. (An even higher proportion of the Case Studies remained "unidentified" after detailed analysis.) Thayer described this category of explanation as being either " caused by a mechanical or other device designed for transportation, surveillance, or other related objectives, and which may or may not have been controlled by extraterrestrial beings", or "an unknown natural phenomenon". Either "explanation" ought to be eminently worthy of further scientific investigation. The conclusions that his own project staff arrived at seem incompatible with Condon's personal conclusion, that "further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby".
It would be nice if the article could be amended to reflect the situation above. At the minimum, I should like to see something like the following bold text inserted into the introductory material:
After examining hundreds of UFO files from the Air Force's Project Blue Book and from the civilian UFO groups National Investigations Committee On Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO), and investigating sightings reported during the life of the Project, the Committee produced a Final Report in which the Project Director wrote that the study of UFOs was unlikely to yield major scientific discoveries.
However, Dr Condon's summary and conclusions were strongly at variance with material and conclusions provided by his investigative staff in the body of the report. Overall, more than 30% of the cases studied remained "unidentified" (a far higher proportion than in the Air Force projects that led to the study). Some individual case studies included strong statements concerning the probability that the reports were of "mechanical devices" with extraordinary flight characteristics and unknown motive power, "which may or may not have been controlled by extraterrestrial beings". Other cases, less dramatically, were referred to possibly novel atmospheric phenomena (with possible implications for flight safety). Condon either avoided all mention of these conclusions and the associated evidence, or obfuscated them by using misleading partial quotations.
Nevertheless, it was Condon's conclusions that were generally welcomed by the scientific community ... (etc.)
If nobody objects within a few weeks of this posting, I shall undertake to make those changes myself.
I further submit that some of the more detailed material above should be included in the section summarising the report. Despite an isolated reference to the Lakenheath case, the current summary is strongly biased towards Condon's idiosyncratic personal conclusions, and away from the evidence-based conclusions of his investigation team.
The reference to the NAS study appears to show either bias, or a lack of awareness that the report was based solely on Condon's personal opinions, and not on the evidence actually presented in the report. This is sufficiently important for an additional topic below.
Use of Project Blue Book
The Introduction makes what appears to me to be a thoroughly misleading claim:
After examining hundreds of UFO files from the Air Force's Project Blue Book and from the civilian UFO groups ... (NICAP) and ... (APRO) ... the Committee produced a Final Report
Am I the only person who initially read this as a claim that the "committee" examined hundreds of USAF files? And even if, on re-reading, it means that hundreds of files were "examined" by the project staff--is that a true claim?
The NAS Review of the Condon Report
The article summarises the latter review as follows:
Even before its completion, the Air Force had asked the National Academy of Sciences to "provide an independent assessment of the scope, the methodology, and the findings" of the Committee. A panel chaired by Yale astronomer Gerald M. Clemence studied the Report for six weeks and concluded that "on the basis of present knowledge the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent beings" and that "no high priority in UFO investigations is warranted by data of the past two decades."
These statements conceal the fact that the "Review" conclusions (see http://www.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/688541.pdf) were based only on Condon's "Recommendations" and "Summary", with no consideration of any of the evidential material. The editor summarised the case studies generally with the words, "It was found that nearly all cases could be classified in such categories as pranks, hoaxes, naive interpretations, and various types of misinterpretations". The Review also admitted that "A few events, which did-not fit these categories, [were] left unexplained", but made no other reference to those cases. It quoted (without attribution) Condon's somewhat inaccurate and highly misleading statements about the photographic cases, concluding that "none proved to be 'real objects with high strangeness'". This shows that the panel cannot have read the photographic case studies themselves, where at least one was concluded as being a "real object with high strangeness" [Condon Report, p. 118], while another was "either a fabrication or an extraordinary object ('flying saucer')" (ibid.. loc. cit.), but most probably "an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial" (ibid., p. 625).
The review repeated Condon's references to the use of "Stanford Research Institute on radar anomalies and a subsidiary of the Raytheon Corporation for photogrammetric analyses", apparently with no awareness that the actual case studies in the body of the report were not performed by persons from either group, but by project staff. It also failed to consider that some of the radar cases were also of "high strangeness" as well as high credibility.
The report "paraphrased and summarised" Condon's specific "findings and evaluations", and approved every one, again without making any reference to the contradictory material in the body of the report. It denied the existence of "high strangeness" reports such as those found in the case studies, while making no attempt to challenge any of the evidence or conclusions presented by the project staff.
In short, the NAS Review, while not a whitewash, was a rushed job which relied solely on the conclusions of one man who had not been involved in any of the field investigations or data analyses, and who only quoted the results of those investigations and analyses, if at all, in utterly misleading terms. It was, sadly, a blot on the landscape of science.
I propose that the relevant paragraph should be rewritten as follows (new/revised material in boldface):
Even before its completion, the Air Force had asked the National Academy of Sciences to "provide an independent assessment of the scope, the methodology, and the findings" of the Committee. A panel chaired by Yale astronomer Gerald M. Clemence studied the Report for six weeks and concluded that "on the basis of present knowledge the least likely explanation of UFOs is the hypothesis of extraterrestrial visitations by intelligent beings" and that "no high priority in UFO investigations is warranted by data of the past two decades."
However, the Review shows no awareness of any material in the Report, other than the Director's idiosyncratic "Summary" and "Recommendaions" (all of which were approved). It not only ignores the high-quality evidence of "high strangeness" events contained in a few case studies and associated expert summaries, but (quoting Condon's own words) flatly denies the existence of such evidence.
Swords and Powell comment (UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry, p. 345): "The only thing that saves these admiring scientists any face at all is that almost certainly they had no idea what had been going on [within the Condon Committee] and generally did not know what they were talking about. But are scientists supposed to be making strong comments about things they know nothing about?"
Sadly, the uncritical NAS Review (which made not a single adverse comment about the Report) is typical of the latter's reception by both the media, and the scientific community.
---<end proposed rewrite>---
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