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UFOs in the daily Press:

Pr. James E. McDonald:

This article was published in the daily newspaper The Edmonton Journal, on June 5, 1967.

Pay Serious Attention To UFOs, Says Scientist

Times-Post News Service

LONDON. -— An evidently sober American physicist, Prof. James McDonald, is convinced that unidentified flying objects represent "the greatest scientific problem of our time."

He has concluded, he says, that the possibility that they come from outside the earth "must now be given extremely serious scientific attention." McDonald is a professor in the University of Arizona's department of meteorology, and senior physicist at the university's Institute of Atmospheric Physics.

He accuses the United States Air Force, officially responsible for checking on UFO reports, of gross neglect and incompetence, and urges a congressional investigation as a prelude to a much more thorough scientific inquiry.

"Credible UFO reports of close - range sightings are on the increase," he says. Reports published in newspapers represent only "the tip of an iceberg." Scientific and official ridicule have made many people keep quiet. But his detailed study of sightings on record, be says, backed by many interviews with witnesses concerned, have convinced him that the "scientific explanations" commonly proffered are totally inadequate, and that something quite out of the ordinary must be going on.

A detailed report of McDonald's investigations has been sent to the London Observer by a colleague of his, George Dawson, a British scientist working as associate research professor at the University of Arizona's well-known Institute of Atmospheric Physics.


McDonald started his investigations [1] by delving into the files of Project Bluebook, the U.S. Air Force office at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, which handles UFO reports. This office, in fact, consists of three men, a major, a sergeant and a secretary, and is run as "an extremely low priority project," one among 200 projects of thebase's "foreign technology".

Nevertheless, the office frequently issues authoritative sounding "scientific explanations" of UFO sightings. In fact, says McDonald, these are often scientifically "outrageous."

Project Bluebook has had the effect of setting back serious scientific study of UFO's by many years, McDonald alleges, since the U.S. Air Force has become convinced by its own propaganda, while scientists have been led to believe that UFO reports were being effectivelychecked and shown to be generally due to natural phenomena.


Although many saucer addicts believe there is a vast official conspiracy to hush up the "truth" about UFO's (in which they often believe newspapers are implicated), McDonald says that "the big cover-up is really just a big foul-up".

He traces the foul-up back to 1953, when a committee of five eminent scientists, the Robertson Panel, spent two days studying a small group of UFO reports, and concluded that there was no evidence they were "artifacts of a hostile foreign power." The results, McDonald says, was that a recommendation was attached to the panel's report, deriving from the Central Intelligence Agency but never fully made public, urging a systematic "debunking of the flying saucers" in order to "reduce public interest in them."

The CIA, McDonald thinks, having been satisfied by the panel that there was no threat to national security, was merely trying to reduce the number of (to the CIA) irrelevant reports about airborne objects.

The outcome was a new Air Force regulation directing that "the percentage of unidentifieds must be reduced to a minimum," This Project Bluebook has since been diligently doing, with thoroughly bogus results: "Cases bearing not the slightest resemblance to feathered creatures were called 'birds,' and some of the most improbable 'balloon' phenomena in the history of ballooning can be found in bluebook files..." McDonald says.


The professor cites several case histories to illustrate Bluebook's inadequacies. One concerns a sighting of a luminous object which was observed and pursued by two police officers in a patrol car over 70 miles of Ohio and Pennsylvania before dawn on April 17, 1966. They were joined by a third officer who picked up their radio reports, and they came upon a fourth officer observing the object from the side of a road. Shortly after, the object, which they estimated to be about 40 feet in diameter, shot up vertically at high speed and disappeared.

A Bluebook officer suggested to one of the policeman that he had really seen the Echo satellite go over, and had then transferred his attention to Venus rising in the south-east. However, one of the officers watched the object approaching from the northwest (pursued by the two policemen who first saw it), while the whole episode lasted far longer than Echo takes to cross the sky. Yet the Echo-Venus "explanation" still stands in the Bluebook records. The University of Colorado is currently engaged on an officially sponsored inquiry into UFOs. McDonald says that the project appears to have got under way largely because the U.S. Air Force is anxious to get rid of what it genuinely regards as a public relations problem, not a scientific one.

[1] This is not correct, McDonald had for long already made numerous field investigations.

See the Science and Documents sections of this webiste for papers and articles by Dr. James E. McDonald; read "Firestorm: Dr. James E. McDonald's Fight For UFO Science", by Ann Druffel for an excellent biography of this renowned scientist.

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