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Science and the UFO phenomenon:

"Statement on Unidentified Flying Objects"

This statement has been submitted by Dr. James E. McDonald, Senior Physicist, Institute of Atmospheric Physics, and professor, Department of Meteorology, The University of Arizona, Tucson, Arizona, to the House Committee on Science and Astronautics at July 29, 1968, Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects, Rayburn Bldg., Washington, D.C.

I created a table of content below; which was not part of the original scientific publication. The 56 pages publication is some 250Kb and I broke it in several files for acceptable web access speed.

Please go to the Science section of this website for more scientific papers by James E. McDonald and other scientists, plus comments and information regarding scientists' work and position about the UFO phenomenon.

Table of content

Dr. James E. McDonald.

Summary and recommandations:

In summary, I wish to emphasize that my own study of the UFO problem has convinced me that we must rapidly escalate serious scientific attention to this extraordinarily intriguing puzzle.

I believe that the scientific community has been seriously misinformed for twenty years about the potential importance of UFOs. I do not wish here to elaborate on my own interpretation of the history behind that long period of misinformation; I only wish to urge the Committee on Science and Astronautics to take whatever steps are within their power to alter this situation without further delay.

The present Symposium is an excellent step in the latter direction. I strongly urge your Committee that further efforts in the same direction be made in the near future. I believe that extensive hearings before your Committee, as well as before other Congressional committees having concern with this problem, are needed.

The possibility that the Earth might be under surveillance by some high civilization in command of a technology far beyond ours must not be overlooked in weighing the UFO problem. I am one of those who lean strongly towards the extraterrestrial hypothesis. I arrived at that point by a process of elimination of other alternative hypotheses, not by arguments based on what I would call "irrefutable proof." I am convinced that the recurrent observations by reliable citizens here and abroad over the past twenty years cannot be brushed aside as nonsense, but rather need to be taken extremely seriously as evidence that some phenomenon is going on which we simply do not understand. Although there is no current basis for concluding that hostility and grave hazard lie behind the UFO phenomenology, we cannot be entirely sure of that. For all of these reasons, greatly expanded scientific and public attention to the UFO problem is urgently needed.

The proposal that serious attention be given to the hypothesis of an extraterrestrial origin of UFOs raises many intriguing questions, only a few of which can be discussed meaningfully. A very standard question of skepticism is "Why no contact?" Here, the best answer is merely a cautionary remark that one would certainly be unjustified in extrapolating all human motives and reasons to any other intelligent civilization. It is conceivable that an avoidance of premature contact would be one of the characteristic features of surveillance of a less advanced civilization; other conceivable rationales can be suggested. All are speculative, however; what is urgently needed is a far more vigorous scientific investigation of the full spectrum of UFO phenomena, and the House Committee on Science and Astronautics could perform a very significant service by taking steps aimed in that direction.

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This page was last updated on September 21, 2002.