Dr Hynek continues:
In my paper (Journal of the Optical Society of America 43, pp.311-314, 1963), which I should like to have read into the record, I made reference to the many cases in 1952 and earlier which were nonastronomical in nature and did not seem to have a logical, ready explanation.
I cautioned against the then prevalent attitude of ridicule, pointing out that the UFO phenomenon, which had generated vast public interest, represented an unparalleled opportunity to demonstrate to the public the operation of the scientific method in attacking a problem, and that "ridicule is not a part of the scientific method and the public should not be taught that it is."
In those years and the following ones I repeatedly asked for the upgrading of the method of reporting UFO's to the Air Force. In 1960, in a hearing before Congressman Smart and his committee I urged "immediate reaction capabilities" in the investigation of UFO reports. The recommendation was applauded but not funded.
As the scientific climate grew more receptive in giving the UFO phenomenon a scientific hearing, I published a letter in "Science" (Oct. 21, i966), not without difficulty, in which I pointed out the following general misconceptions regarding UFO's.
One great misconception is that only UFO buffs report UFO's; quite the opposite is the case, as is the misconception that the most baffling reports come from unreliable, unstable, and uneducated people. Most reports of this baffling sort which I at least receive in my mail, are remarkably articulate.
Other misconceptions are that UFO's are never reported by scientifically trained people, are never seen at close range, have never been detected on radars, and have never been recorded by scientific cameras.
It is well to remind ourselves at this point of the definition of an UFO: those
aerial phenomena reports which continue to defy explanation in conventional scientific
terms, even after appropriate study. There is no point to be interested in anything
else; lights at night which might be aircraft, balloons, meteors, or satellite reentry's
- all these fit more
readily into the category of IFO's or identified flying objects.
In other words, only truly unidentified cases should be of interest. The Air
Force has its own definition of an unidentified case, and it has many hundreds in
its files. The Air Force calls a sighting unidentified when a
report apparently contains all pertinent data necessary to suggest a valid hypothesis concerning the cause or explanation of the report but the description of the object or its motion cannot be correlated with any known object or phenomenon.
It is most logical to ask why do not the unidentified in the Air Force files call forth investigative efforts in depth and of wide scope. The answer is compound: the Air Force position is that there is no evidence that UFO's represent a threat to the national security; consequently it follows that it is not their mission to be scientifically curious about the hundreds of unidentified cases in their own files.
It may be that, properly investigated, many of the Air Force unidentifieds would turn out to be IFO's after all, but it is illogical to conclude that this would be true of all unidentified reports. As long as unidentified cases exist, thus bona fide UFO's according to definition, we don't know what they are, and these should represent a remarkable challenge to science and an open invitation to inquiry.
But so powerful and all encompassing have the misconceptions among scientists been about the nature of UFO information that an amazing lethargy and apathy to investigation has prevailed. This apathy is unbecoming to the ideals of science and undermines public confidence.
Now it is of interest to report that in just the past few years, probably because of the persistent flow of UFO reports from this and many other countries (one could base his whole plea for a major investigative effort solely on the reports of the years 1966 and 1967) there has been a growing but unheralded interest on the part of more and more scientists, engineers, and technicians in doing something positive about the UFO problem. To this growing body of qualified people it seems increasingly preposterous to allow another two decades of confusion to exist.
The feeling is definitely on the increase that we should either fish or cut bait, that we should mobilize in earnest adequate groups of scientists and investigators, properly funded, adopt a "we mean business" attitude, or drop the whole thing. My recommendation is to fish.
As a scientist I can form conclusions from and act upon only reliable scientific
data. Such data are extremely scarce in the UFO field for reasons already pointed
out: it has never been considered worthwhile to improve the data gathering process
because the whole subject has been prejudged. Even as a scientist, however, I am
permitted a scientific hunch,
and that hunch has told me for some time, despite the tremendous muddiness of the scientific waters in this area, the continued reporting from various parts of the world of unidentified flying objects, reports frequently made by people of high repute who would stand nothing whatever to gain from making such reports, that there is scientific pay dirt in the UFO phenomenon - possibly extremely valuable pay dirt - and that therefore a scientific effort on a much larger scale than any heretofore should be mounted for a frontal attack on this problem.
In saying this I do not feel that I can be labeled a flying saucer "believer" - my swamp gas record in the Michigan UFO melee should suffice to squash any such ideas - but I do feel that even though this may be an area of scientific quicksand, signals continue to point to a mystery that needs to be solved. Can we afford to overlook something that might be of great potential value to the Nation?
I am reminded of the old story of the member of Parliament who visited Faraday's laboratory where he was at work on early experiments on electrical induction. When asked of what possible value all this might have, Faraday replied, "Sir, someday you may be able to tax it."
Apart from such inducements, I have the following recommendations to make: first, that a mechanism be set up whereby the problem posed by the reports from all over the world, but especially by those in the United States, from people of high credibility, can be adequately studied, using all methods available to modern science, and that the investigation be accorded a proper degree of scientific respectability and an absence of ridicule so that proper investigations can be carried out unhampered by matters not worthy of the ideals of scientific endeavor. I might suggest that this could be accomplished by the establishment, by the Congress, of a UFO Scientific Board of Inquiry, properly funded, for the specific purpose of an investigation in depth of the UFO phenomenon.
Secondly, I recommend that the United States seek the cooperation of the United Nations in establishing a means for the impartial and free interchange among nations of information about, and reports of, unidentified flying objects - a sort of international clearinghouse for the exchange of information on this subject. For, since the UFO phenomenon is global, it would be as inefficient to study it without enlisting the aid of other nations as it would be to study world meteorology by using weather reports from one country alone.
Now, it may be well to remind ourselves at this point, that the UFO problem may not lend itself to an immediate solution in our time. The problem may be far more complex than we imagine. Attempts to solve it may be no more productive than attempts to solve the problem of the Aurora Borealis would have been 100 years ago.
The cause of northern lights could not have been determined in the framework of the science of 1868. Scientific knowledge in those days was not sufficient to encompass the phenomenon.
Similarly, our scientific knowledge today may be grossly insufficient to encompass the problem posed by UFO's. A profound scientific obligation exists, nonetheless, to gather the best data possible for scientific posterity.
To summarize: in the course of 20 years of study of UFO reports and of the interviewing of witnesses, I have been led to a conclusion quite different from the one I reached in the very first years of my work. At first I was negatively impressed with the low scientific content of UFO reports, with the lack of quantitative data, with the anecdotal nature of the reports, and especially with the lack of hardware, of unimpeachable photographs, and with the lack of instrumental recordings.
I am still aware of the paucity of truly hard-core data - but then, no effort has really been made to gather it. Nonetheless, the cumulative weight of continued reports from groups of people around the world whose competence and sanity I have no reason to doubt, reports involving close encounters with unexplainable craft, with physical effects on animals, motor vehicles, growing plants, and on the ground, has led me reluctantly to the conclusion that either there is a scientifically valuable subset of reports in the UFO phenomenon or that we have a world society containing people who are articulate, sane, and reputable in all matters save UFO reports.
Either way, I feel that there exists a phenomenon eminently worthy of study. If one asks, for what purpose, I can only answer - how does one ever know where scientific inquiry will lead. If the sole purpose of such a study is to satisfy human curiosity, to probe the unknown, and to provide intellectual adventure, then it is in line with what science has always stood for.
Scientific inquiry has paid off, even though pioneers like Faraday, Curie, Hahn, Pasteur, Goddard, and many others little realized where the paths they blazed would lead. As far as UFO's are concerned, I believe we should investigate them for the simple reason that we want to know what lies behind this utterly baffling phenomenon - or even more simply, we want to find out what it's all about.
Mr. ROUSH. Thank you, Dr. Hynek.
Part 4 of the hearings