La Commission Robertson

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Certaines personnes dans l'établissement de la Défense commençèrent à s'inquiéter de la tendance à un intérêt du public pour les ovnis d'un point de vue différent, c'est-à-dire, la possibilité que les canaux de communication militaire puissent être encombrés de signalements d'observations à un moment où un un énemi lançait une attaque sneak sur les Etats-Unis. D'un autre côté, il y avait la possibilité qu'un énemi, avant de lancer une telle attaque, pourrait délibérément générer une vague de signalements d'ovnis dans le but-même d'encombrer les canaux de communication militaire. L'Agence Centrale de Renseignement entreprit d'évaluer la situation avec l'aide d'un Panel Spécial de 5 scientifiques s'étant distingués en recherche physique et dans leurs contributions à la recherche militaire durant et après la 2nde guerre mondiale. Le panel passa 1 semaine à étudier les rapports de cas séléctionnés et examiner des films et photographies tels que disponibles à l'époque. A la mi-janvier 1953, le panel produisit un rapport qui fut classé secret jusqu'à être partiellement déclassé en 1966 s1Lear,1966. Le rapport toujours classé partiellement dans la mesure où les noms de certains des membres sont effacés des archives déclassées des actes.

Feu le professeur H. P. Robertson de l'Institut de Technologie de Californie served as chairman of the panel. He had been a member of the Mathematics Department of Princeton University form 1928 to 1947 when he joined the faculty of Calif. Inst. of Tech. In academic work he distinguished himself by his research in cosmology and the theory of relativity. During the war he made important contributions to operation research of the Allied forces in London (Jones, 1968). After the war he served from 1950-52 as research director of the Weapons Systems Evaluation Group in the office of the Secretary of Defense and in 1954-56 was scientific advisor to the Supreme Allied Commander in Europe.

Le professeur Samuel A. Goudsmit, avec le professeur George Uhlenbeck, découvrit le spin de l'électron while they were young students in Leiden, Holland, in 1925. Soon after that both came to the University of Michigan where they developed a great school of theoretical physics which contributed greatly to the development of research in that field in America.

Goudsmit is best known outside of academic physics circles as having been scientific chief of the Alsos Mission toward the end of the war. This mission was the intelligence group that was sent to Germany to find out what the Germans had accomplished in their efforts to make an atom bomb (Goudsmit, 1947; Groves, 1962; Irving, 1967). Most of the post-war period he has served on the physics staff of the Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island.

Luis Alvarez est Professeur de Physique à l'Université de Californie à Berkeley et vice-président de l'American Physical Society (1968) s2[Alvarez reçut le Prix Nobel de Physique de 1968]. Durant la 2nde guerre mondiale il fut membre du Laboratoire de Radiations au Massachusetts Institute of Technology où il fournit une contribution particulièrement exceptionnelle au développement d'un système de radar micro-ondes pour guider les atterrissages d'avions lors de brouillards épais. La recherche aujourd'hui connue sous le nom de Ground Controlled Approach (GCA) fut d'une importance décisive dans la guerre. La localisation de l'appareil arrivant est suivie de près par le système radar au sol dont les opérateurs instruisent le pilotent sur la manière d'amener l'avion sur la piste pour un atterrissage en toute sécurité. Dans la dernière partie de la guerre il servit sous J. Robert Oppenheimer sur la grande équipe qui développa la bombe atomique à Los Alamos. Dans la période après-guerre, Alvarez produisit de nombreuses grandes contributions à la recherche en physique des hautes énergies. Aujourd'hui il est engagé l'utilisation de l'absorption des rayons cosmiques dans les matériaux des pyramides égyptiennes près du Caire pour rechercher des chambres internes non découvertes.

Lloyd Berkner, né en 1905, fut un ingénieur de l'Expédition Antarctique Byrd en tant que youngster en 1928-30. Most of the pre-war period he was a physicist in the Department of Terrestrial Magnetism of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. At the beginning of the war he became head of the radar section of the Navy's Bureau of Aeronautics, and for a time at the end of the war was executive secretary of the Research and Development Board of the Department of Defense. In 1949 he was special assistant to the Secretary of State and director of the foreign military assistance program. While in the Department of State he prepared the report which led to the posting of scientific attaches to the principal American embassies abroad. From 1951 à 1960 he was active in managing the affairs of Associated Universities, Inc., the corporation which operates Brookhaven National Laboratory, and toward the end of that period was its president. In 1960 he went to Dallas, Tex. where he organized and directed the new Graduate Research Center of the Southwest. During most of his life he was a member of the U. S. Naval Reserve, and rose to the rank of rear admiral. The concept of an International Geophysical Year, (1957-58) -- the greatest example of international scientific cooperation that has yet occurred -- was his brainchild.

Le professeur Thornton Page a été professeur d'astronomie à l'Université Wesleyienne de Middletown (Connecticut) depuis 1958. During the war he did research at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory, mostly in connection with design of underwater ordnance and operations research on naval weapons. This year (1968) he is vice-president for astronomy of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In astronomy he has worked mostly on the atomic spectra of planetary nebulas.

The panel has been criticized for not having spent more time studying its problem. But in January 1953, the subject only had a four and a half year history and it was really quite possible for a group of this competence to review the whole situation quite thoroughly in a week. The panel has also come under incessant fire from UFO enthusiasts because of its recommendations.

It might have been possible to put together other panels that would have performed as well, but it would not have been possible to choose one superior in scientific knowledge, background of military experience, and soundness of overall judgment.

The Robertson panel report was originally classified "Secret" and declassified in the summer of 1966. Because of its central importance to the UFO story, and especially because it has been the subject of many misrepresentations, we present here the text of its main conclusions, and in Appendix U the full text of the declassified report just as it was released to the public with the names of certain participants deleted.

  1. Pursuant to request ... the undersigned Panel of Scientific Consultants has met to evaluate any possible threat to national security posed by Unidentified Flying Objects ("Flying Saucers"), and to make recommendations thereon. The Panel has received the evidence as presented by cognizant intelligence agencies, primarily the Air Technical Intelligence Center, and has reviewed a selection of the best documented incidents.
  2. As a result of its considerations, the Panel concludes:
    1. That the evidence presented on Unidentified Flying Objects shows no indication that these phenomena constitute a direct physical threat to national security.

      We firmly believe that there is no residuum of cases which indicates phenomena which are attributable to foreign artifacts capable of hostile acts, and that there is no evidence that the phenomena indicates a need for the revision of current scientific concepts.

  3. The Panel further concludes:
    1. That the continued emphasis on the reporting of these phenomena does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic.

      We cite as examples the clogging of channels of communication by irrelevant reports, the danger of being led by continued false alarms to ignore real indications of hostile action, and the cultivation of a morbid national psychology in which skillful hostile propaganda could induce hysterical behavior and harmful distrust of duly constituted authority.

  4. In order most effectively to strengthen the national facilities for the timely recognition and the appropriate handling of true indications of hostile action, and to minimize the concomitant dangers alluded to above, the Panel recommends:
    1. That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired;
    2. That the national security agencies institute policies on intelligence, training, and public education designed to prepare the material defenses and to react most effectively to true indications of hostile intent or action. We suggest that these aims may be achieved by an integrated program designed to reassure the public of the total lack of evidence of inimical forces behind the phenomena, to train personnel to recognize and reject false indications quickly and effectively, and to strengthen regular channels for the evaluation of and prompt reaction to true indications of hostile measures.

Le Tableau 3 shows the number of cases studied by Project Blue Book in the years 1953-1965 and how the Air Force classified them.

So far as can be determined, little was done to implement the recommendations contained under 4a and 4b of the report of the Robertson panel. It would have been wise at that time to have declassified all or nearly all of the previous reports of investigations of flying saucer incidents such as those waking up the bulk of the Project Grudge and Project Blue Book reports 1 - 12. In fact they were not declassified until 9 September 1960. Had responsible press, magazine writers, and scientists been called in and given the full story, or had a major presentation of the situation been arranged at a large scientific convention, such as at an annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, they would have seen for themselves how small was the sum of all the evidence and in particular how totally lacking in positive support was the ETH idea. The difficulty of attempting to base a careful study on the anecdotal gossip which was the bulk of the raw material available for the study of UFOs would have been clear.

But secrecy was maintained. This opened the way for intensification of the "aura of mystery" which was already impairing public confidence in the Department of Defense. Official secretiveness also fostered systematic sensationalized exploitation of the idea that a government conspiracy existed to conceal the truth.

Tableau 3 - Cas d'ovnis classés en catégories par le Projet Blue Book, 1953-1965.
1953 1954 1955 1956 1957 1958 1959 1960 1961 1962 1963 1964 1965
Catégorie Astronomique 175 137 135 222 341 221 144 235 203 136 85 123 246
Appareil 73 80 124 148 210 104 63 66 77 68 73 71 210
Ballon 78 69 102 93 114 50 31 22 37 19 23 20 33
Données insuffisantes 79 102 95 132 191 111 65 105 115 94 59 99 66
Autre 83 58 65 61 120 93 75 94 77 65 50 88 122
Satellite 0 0 0 0 6 13 0 21 69 77 82 143 152
Non identifié 42 46 24 14 14 10 12 14 13 15 14 19 16
Astronomique Météores 70 92 79 88 179 168 100 187 119 95 57 61 101
Etoiles et planètes 101 44 52 131 144 56 40 45 78 36 23 55 135
Autre 4 1 4 3 18 7 4 3 6 5 5 7 9
Autre Canulars, etc. 15 6 18 16 37 29 14 13 17 11 16 34 34
Missiles, fusées 2 1 1 3 2 6 14 12 13 9 13 7 10
Réflexions 4 6 4 3 2 7 11 9 3 3 0 2 7
Flares, fireworks 1 4 8 6 8 3 5 7 4 3 3 7 4
Mirages, inversions 3 3 4 1 5 2 4 5 6 3 0 2 5
Projecteurs 8 6 14 9 12 8 5 6 1 3 2 6 9
Nuages, contrails 6 3 2 1 9 5 3 4 5 4 5 0 1
Chaff, oiseaux 4 10 3 7 3 7 1 7 5 7 4 5 12
Specimen physiques 1 6 5 3 5 10 3 7 4 15 3 3 3
Analyse radar 15 7 1 3 27 3 8 6 9 0 1 2 6
Analyse photo 1 1 2 4 1 7 4 6 3 2 3 6 12
Satellite decay 0 0 0 0 0 1 0 0 3 3 4 3 8
Divers 1 7 4 0 9 5 3 3 4 2 4 6 13

There are those who still cling to this idea of a government conspiracy to conceal a portentous "truth" from the American people. Soon after our study was announced a woman wrote me as follows:

Since your committee is using moneys appropriated by the people, it is your duty to level with the citizens of this country and tell the truth. Don't bend facts to suit the Silent Group. People are intelligent. Have faith in the adaptability of our citizens to take the truth. The public didn't collapse under the facts of A bombs, H bombs and the L bombs. It took our space program in stride. It adopted the use of "miracle" drugs. We, as citizens, can manage to live with the truth about saucers. DO NOT knuckle under to the censorship boys. If you want a place in history that is honorable -- report the truth to the public about UFOs, because millions of us already know and believe. I have seen "flying saucers". I have heard a man talk who has been to Mars and he can prove it, I'm sure. Of course the planets and stars are inhabited. Our government is acting like the small child who was punished for an act which endangered the lives of his brothers and sisters. Our government should be big enough to face facts as our citizens are able to face the facts. JUST TELL THE TRUTH. It is the easiest way and the only way.

Where secrecy is known to exist one can never be absolutely sure that he knows the complete truth. There is an ironic recognition of this fact in Lt. Gen. Nathan Twining's letter of 23 September 1947 (See p.884) in which he acknowledges that consideration must be given to "the possibility" that UFOs "are of domestic origin -- the product of some high security project not known to AC/AS-2 or this Command."

We adopted the term "conspiracy hypothesis" for the view that some agency of the Government either within the Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency, or elsewhere knows all about UFOs and is keeping the knowledge secret. Without denying the possibility that this could be true, we decided very early in the study, that we were not likely to succeed in carrying out a form of counter-espionage against our own Government, in the hope of settling this question. We therefore decided not to pay special attention to it, but instead to keep alert to any indications that might lead to any evidence that not all of the essential facts known to the Government were being given to us.

Although we found no such evidence, it must be conceded that there may be a supersecret government UFO laboratory hidden away somewhere of whose existence we are not aware. But I doubt it. I do not believe it, but, of course, I can not prove its non-existence!

About half way through this study, a young woman on the editorial staff of a national magazine telephoned from New York to Boulder. She wanted my comment on a report that had come to her editor that the Colorado study was merely pretending to be a study of UFOs, that this was a cover story. What we were really doing, she was told, was to carry on a "Top Secret" study for the Defense Department's "Martian Invasion Defense Program (MIDP)," that is, a war plan for a response by our defense forces in the event of an invasion of Earth by the Martians. She wanted to know whether this was true!

I could only tell her, "If it were true, I think it would certainly be Top Secret; then I would not be at liberty to tell you about it. This being the case, if I tell you that it is not true, you do not have the slightest idea as to whether I am telling the truth or not."

Her problem was like that of the man who thought his wife was unfaithful. He set all kinds of clever traps to catch her, but he never got any evidence. From this he concluded that she was deucedly clever about her infidelity.

In 1953 the general level of suspicion and mistrust was pervasive. The new administration was re-opening old security cases. The whole system of security investigations was being elaborated. This was the peak year in the career of the late Senator Joseph McCarthy. This was the year that charges were made against the late J. Robert Oppenheimer, culminating in AEC denial of his clearance in the spring of 1954.

In this atmosphere all kinds of dark suspicions could and did take root and grow -- including the belief -- and the commercial exploitation of the pretended belief -- that the government knew much about UFOs that it was concealing, or that the Government was woefully ignorant of the real truth.

In 1956 the National Investigations Committee for Aerial Phenomena was founded by Donald E. Keyhoe, a retired Marine Corps major. As its director he now claims that NICAP has some 12,000 members. Although organized for the purpose of studying UFO cases on an amateur basis, a large part of its effort has gone into promulgation of attacks on the government's handling of the UFO matter. In October 1953, Keyhoe 's second book appeared, Flying Saucers from Outer Space and soon was found on best-seller lists. Of it, E. J. Ruppelt commented, "To say that the book is factual depends entirely upon how one uses the word. The details of the specific UFO sightings that he credits to the Air Force are factual, but in his interpretations of the incidents he blasts way out into the wild blue yonder." (Ruppelt, 1956).

Here is how Keyhoe links the conspiracy hypothesis with the ETH:

Three years ago this proposal would have amazed me. In 1949, after months of investigation, I wrote an article for True magazine, stating that the saucers were probably interplanetary machines. Within 24 hours the Air Force was swamped with demands for the truth. To end the uproar the Pentagon announced that the saucer project was closed. The saucers, the Air Force insisted, were hoaxes, hallucinations, or mistakes.

Later, in a book called The Flying Saucers are Real I repeated my belief that the Air Force was keeping the answer secret until the country could be prepared. Several times officers at the Pentagon tried to convince me I'd made a bad mistake. But when I asked them to prove it by showing me the secret sighting reports, I ran into a stone wall...s3Keyhoe, 1953.

Another sensational book of this period was Harold T. Wilkins' Flying Saucers on the Attacks4Wilkins, 1954. It is characterized by its publishers as A book of facts that is more astounding and incredible than science fiction and which is an introduction to events that may dwarf our civilization. Has the invasion of Earth by beings from another world already begun? The most startling revelations yet made about mysterious visitors from outer space. Wilkins too professed to believe that the government was concealing these "astounding and incredible" facts from the people.

The late newscaster, Frank Edwards, found the Air Force's secrecy baffling and difficult to deal with. In Flying Saucers -- Serious Business s5Edwards, 1966 he recalled:

Through the Washington grapevine, various friends in the news business had told me that the Pentagon was very unhappy because I continued to broadcast reports of UFO sightings. By late 1953 the news services had virtually ceased to carry such reports; if they were carried at all it was on a strictly local or regional basis. The major leak -- and just about the only major leak in the censorship of UFO's -- was my radio program.

Developments of this kind leave no doubt in my mind that a serious mistake was made in early 1953 in not declassifying the entire subject and making a full presentation of what was known, as recommended in the report of the Robertson panel.

Another major recommendation of the Robertson panel favored the launching of an educational program to inform the public about UFOs. If any attention was given to this proposal the effort was so slight that there was no discernible effect. But in any event such a program could hardly have been expected to be effective while the "aura of mystery" continued because of continued secrecy surrounding much of Project Blue Book's activities.

Much of the attack on the Robertson panel report centers on the fact that the report declared that a broad educational program should have two major aims, "training and 'debunking'". Training would be broadly concerned with educating pilots, radar operators, control tower operators and others in the understanding and recognition of peculiar phenomena in the sky. The panel concluded that, "this training should result in a marked reduction in reports caused by misidentification and resultant confusion."

The word debunking means to take the bunk out of a subject. Correctly used, one cannot debunk a subject unless there is some bunk in it. Over the years, however, the word has acquired a different coloration. It now sometimes means presenting a misleading or dishonest account of a subject for some ulterior purpose. The critics of the Robertson panel insist that this latter meaning is what the group had in mind. That the earlier definition of debunking was what the panel meant is evident from the following statement explaining how the "debunking" would be carried out:

The "debunking" aim would result in reduction in public interest in "flying saucers" which today evokes a strong psychological reaction. This education could be accomplished by mass media such as television, motion pictures and popular articles. Basis of such education would be actual case histories which had been puzzling at first but later explained. As in the case of conjuring tricks, there is much less stimulation if the "secret" is known. Such a program should tend to reduce the current gullibility of the public and consequently their susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda.

So far as we can determine, no official steps were ever taken to put into effect the training and "debunking" recommendations of the Robertson panel. A private effort was not to be expected, since such a program would not be commercially attractive and would conflict with books that were beginning to make money by exploiting popular confusion about the ETH and alleged government conspiracies.

In 1953, Donald H. Menzel, then director of the Harvard College Observatory published an excellent book s6Menzel, 1953. It emphasizes the optical mirage aspects of the subject (Section 6, Chapter 4), and is generally regarded as "debunking" and "negative." Menzel's book never achieved a large enough market to be issued as a paperback and is now out of print.

By contrast, a book, by D. Leslie and George Adamski entitled, Flying Saucers Have Landed was published in 1953 s7Leslie and Adamski, 1953. Best known for its full account of Adamski's alleged interview with a man from Venus on the California desert on 20 November 1952, it enjoyed widespread popularity in hardcover and paperback editions.

It is difficult to know how much of the UFO literature is intended to be taken seriously. For example, Coral Lorenzen's first UFO book was first published under the title, The Great Flying Saucer Hoax, but in the paperback edition it became, Flying Saucers: the Startling Evidence of the Invasion from Outer Space, subtitled "An exposure of the establishment's flying saucer cover-up" (Lorenzen, 1962, 1966).

The paperback edition contains an introduction by Prof. R. Leo Sprinkle of the department of psychology of the University of Wyoming. In this introduction, Prof. Sprinkle writes:

Coral Lorenzen has been willing... to describe her fears about potential dangers of the UFO phenomena; to challenge sharply the statements of those military and political leaders who claim that citizens have not seen "flying saucers;" and to differ courageously from those who take a "head in the sand" approach... She realizes that censorship is probably controlled at the highest levels of governmental administration...

It may be that the earth is the object of a survey by spacecraft whose occupants intend no harm to the United States. However, regardless of the intent of UFO occupants, it behooves us to learn as much as possible about their persons, powers and purposes. Mrs. Lorenzen realizes that her present conclusions may not all be verified, but she is also aware that it may be too late for mankind to react to a potential threat to world security. It is to her credit that she has avoided feelings of panic on one hand and feelings of hopelessness on the other. She has demonstrated a courageous approach: the continuation of the process of gathering, analyzing, and evaluating of information, and the encouragement of the efforts of others to come to grips with the emotional and political and scientific aspects of the UFO phenomena.

Her book is largely taken up with vivid accounts of UFO incidents that are alleged to be factual and to support the idea of ETA, of actual visits to Earth of extra-terrestrial intelligences. A sample of the kind of material presented is the following condensation of an incident in Brazil which is said to have occurred on 14 October 1957 (p. 64 et seq.).

On that evening Antonio Villas-BoasL'enlèvement de Villas Boas was plowing a field with a tractor when an UFO shaped like an elongated egg landed about 15 yd. away from him. The tractor engine stopped and Villas-Boas got out of the tractor and tried to run away when he was caught up short by something grasping his arm. He turned to shake off his pursuer and came face-to-face with a small 'man' wearing strange clothes, who came only to his shoulder. He knocked the little fellow down and several more came to the aid of the first one. They lifted him off the ground and dragged him toward the ship, which had a ladder reaching to the ground.

There follows a description of the interior of the ship and of the way in which the unearthly visitors talked with each other which reminded Antonio of the noises dogs make, like howls, varying in pitch and intensity. He was forced to undress and to submit to various medical procedures, but then:

After what seemed like an eternity to Villas-Boas the door opened again and in walked a small but well built and completely nude woman. There follows a description of her voluptuous, distinctly womanly figure.

The woman's purpose was immediately evident. She held herself close to Villas-Boas, rubbing her head against his face. She did not attempt to communicate in any way except with occasional grunts and howling noises, like the 'men' had uttered. A very normal sex act took place and after more pettings she responded again... The howling noises she made during the togetherness had nearly spoiled the whole act for they reminded him of an animal.

Villas-Boas' clothing was then returned to him and he was shown to the UFO's door. The man pointed to the door ... then to the sky, motioned Antonio to step back, then went inside and the door closed. At this, the saucer-shaped thing on top began to spin at great speed, the lights got brighter and the machine lifted straight up..."

Meanwhile, back at the tractor, Villas-BoasL'enlèvement de Villas Boas consulted his watch and concluded that he had been aboard for over four hours.

Mrs. Lorenzen comments:

The above is condensed from a 23-page report which was submitted to APRO by Dr. Olivo Fontes, professor of medicine at the Brazilian National School of Medicine... My own first reaction was almost one of scoffing until I began to add up some important factors:

If an alien race bent on contact and possible colonization were to reconnoiter this planet, one of their prime tasks would be to learn if the two races could breed. To do this they would need a human subject. Either sex would be all right, but it would be much more efficient to pick a male by some means. If a human female subject were used, the chances of no conception, or conception followed by miscarriage, would be great due to the considerable nervous strain of removing that female subject from her familiar surroundings to a completely foreign location and alien companions, and then literally subjecting her to forcible rape. It should be quite well known, especially to an advanced culture, that the psychological makeup of women, especially where sex is concerned, is considerably more delicate than that of her male counterpart. The ideal situation, then, would be for the experimenters to pick their own female subject whose ovulation period would be known beforehand and proceed exactly as the strange UFO occupants apparently did with Villas-Boas.

She says that it was not possible at that time to have Villas-Boas examined by a psychiatrist and that Villas-Boas has subsequently married and does not care to dwell on the subject because of his wife's feelings in the matter. Preliminary examination by Dr. Fontes, however seems to assure us that Villas-Boas is stable, not a liar, and certainly not knowledgeable about certain information which he would have to have in order to concoct such a logical tale."

Mrs. Lorenzen's final comment is: It is unnerving to me that, along with the thousands of sightings of flying, landed and occupied unconventional aerial objects, an incident such as the above could take place and not be objectively scientifically and logically analyzed because of emotional predisposition! But in her account there is no indication of any corroboration: the story stands or falls entirely on the veracity of Villas-Boas.

Her book is a compilation of reported incidents of which the preceding is fairly typical. What is of particular interest for a scientific study of UFOs is that in many instances the investigations, like that of the Villas-Boas case in Brazil, are carried out by a person having an advanced degree and an academic position. The next one in the book describes the case of some men who were bow-hunting on 4 September 1963 near Truckee, Calif. One of them became separated from the others and was chased up a tree by some "robots" also called "entities," who belched out puffs of smoke which would cause the man to lose consciousness. She writes:

He said he felt that the "robots" were guided by some kind of intelligence, for at times they would get "upwind" of him to belch their sleep-inducing "smoke."

After a harrowing night the man escaped and dragged himself toward camp, finally collapsing on the ground from exhaustion.

Dans ce cas l'enquêteur de l'APRO qui a fournit les détails à Melle Lorenzen fut le docteur James A. Harder, professeur associé d'ingéniérie civile de l'Université de Californie à Berkeley. Le Dr. Harder a reçu son bachelor's degree de l'Institut de Technologie de Californie, et son doctorat à Berkeley, a servi comme ingénieur de conception pour le Service de Conservation des Sols, et servi dans la Marine durand la 2nde guerre mondiale. Il fut l'un de ceux qui prirent part à un symposium sur les ovnis devant le Comité pour la Science et l'Astronautique de la Chambre, devant la présidence du membre du Congrès J. Edward Roush de l'Indiana (29 Juillet 1968). Dans ce témoignage au Congrès, le Dr. Harder a déclaré :

...there have been strong feelings aroused about UFOs, particularly about the extra-terrestrial hypothesis for their origin. This is entirely understandable, in view of man's historic record of considering himself the central figure in the natural scene; the extra-terrestrial hypothesis tends inevitably to undermine the collective ego of the human race. These feelings have no place in the scientific assessment of facts, but I confess that they have at times affected me...

Indeed, there are flying saucer cultists who are as enthusiastic as they are naive about UFOs -- who see in them some messianic symbols -- they have a counterpart in those individuals who exhibit a morbid preoccupation with death. Most of the rest of us don't like to think or hear about it. This, it seems to me, accurately reflects many of our attitudes toward the reality of UFOs -- natural, and somewhat healthy, but not scientific.

In the second Lorenzen book, a considerably more detailed account of the Truckee, Calif. incident than the first one is given including this comment:

At present the preliminary interviews by a qualified psychiatrist have been made preparatory to either sodium amytol or hypnotic trance questioning. We feel that Mr. S. [the man who was up the tree] may have information buried at a subconscious level which may shed considerably more light on the whole incident. We are reasonably certain that the whole incident took place and was a true physical experience, and therefore the trance questioning will not be done to attempt to discredit him in any way.

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