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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 4

Re: Sherman J. Larsen and Ufology

From: Jan Aldrich <jan@cyberzone.net>
Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 23:12:29 -0800
Fwd Date: Mon, 04 Jan 1999 11:58:07 -0500
Subject: Re: Sherman J. Larsen and Ufology

>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark@frontiernet.net>
>Date: Sat, 02 Jan 99 14:25:25 PST
>Fwd Date: Sun, 03 Jan 1999 12:38:31 -0500
>Subject: Re: Sherman J. Larsen and Ufology

>>Date: Thu, 31 Dec 1998 00:14:16 -0500
>>From: Gary Alevy <galevy@pipeline.com>
>>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
>>Subject: Re: Sherman J. Larsen and Ufology

>>>From: "Stan Friedman" <fsphys@brunnet.net>
>>>To: "UFO UpDates - Toronto" <updates@globalserve.net>
>>>Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Sherman J. Larsen and Ufology
>>>Date: Sat, 26 Dec 1998 22:48:08 -0400


Greetings List,

I said I wouldn't post on this topic, but I think these comments
are warranted.

In the last few weeks Jerry Clark has argued about almost
everything, but I must say his assessment of Hynek, certainly is

Isabel Davis derided Hynek as, "that timid little man!"  She
really took after him in her letters for what she felt was a
slight to serious investigators in Hynek's "Yale Scientific
Magazine" article.

>As anyone who has spent a lot of time on the question of
>Allen Hynek, as I have, would likely agree, Allen was almost
>a classic case of cognitive dissonance: a guy who was able
>to hold two equal and opposite thoughts in his head at one

>On one level he was an Air Force debunker; on the other, he was
>bugged by the suspicion that maybe there was something --
>something big -- going on.  He also juggled conflicting
>interests.  One, not necessarily admirable but entirely
>understandable, was the paycheck the Air Force gave him.  In the
>end it helped educate his children, no small consideration as
>any parent on this list will understand.

I think Hynek wanted to consider UFOs seriously and lend support
to a few investigators on the extreme QT.  How Vallee came to
be a Northwestern University would, I believe, be a tale.

>There was also his desire, as a guy who had a career in
>astronomy to protect, not to get too far ahead of his scientific
>colleagues, who he knew would criticize him vehemently if he
>began to champion the notion that UFO reports are genuinely
>anomalous.  (This, of course, did happen eventually.)  There was
>also the consideration that his views on the subject fluctuated
>wildly.  In the late 1950s he was even privately urging that the
>term "unidentified flying objects" be jettisoned because it
>implied that there were objects which could fly.  Allen was so
>conflicted on this subject (as private and official memoranda
>richly confirm) that sometimes one gets the impression that his
>view of UFOs depended upon which side of the bed he got up from
>on a particular day.

Scientific reputations are hard to repair after they are
broken.  A consideration surely.  Hynek did give some
support to scientists to look at UFOs after the "swamp-gas"

Hynek's "conversation" is certainly not at this point, but
much before.  His slipping of USAF reports to CSI-NY, I guess
shows him to be a double agent. <BG>

Hynek indicated that he was worried that he had given Ruppelt
incorrect about UFO sightings during "Moonwatch," but did
little to correct the record publically.

>The good Allen Hynek was privately critical of Donald Menzel's
>pseudoscientific explanations of UFO reports (see, for example,
>The UFO Encyclopedia, 2nd Ed., p. 634), and within Blue Book he
>was generally on the side of the angels -- though not to the
>point of directly confronting the bad guys.  As early as 1952 he
>cautiously told the Optical Society of America that puzzling
>reports existed and that witnesses ought not to be ridiculed.
>(It was here that he made the deserves-to-be immortal
>observation "Ridicule is not a part of the scientific method,
>and the public should not be taught that it is.")  He was
>depressed and frustrated by the Robertson panel's dismissive

>People tend to think that Hynek's emergence as a UFO proponent
>in the 1960s happened overnight.  It didn't. Even then there
>were false starts and stops, culminating in the embarrassing
>"swamp gas" episode which troubled Allen the rest of his life
>and to which he kept returning in both public and private
>discussion.  Ironically, it was ridicule -- ridicule on the
>opposite side, of lame-ass Air Force and bogus "scientific"
>explanations for UFO sightings -- that finally forced Allen into
>his role as proponent.  It is even possible that, had it not
>happened, he would have maintained an equivocal posture for
>years afterwards.

I think his trip to France 1955 was something, someone in the know
should comment on.  Did he met with Michel then?

>(An additional aspect of Hynek's cognitive dissonance: On one
>level, he was a trained, well-credentialed, accomplished
>scientist.  On the other, he entertained mystical notions and
>had a deep -- and, it seemed to me, profoundly credulous --
>fascination with occultism.)

He did seem to have a rapport with Col Friend and is almost
"gleeful" at checkmating NICAP in the 1960-61 House hearings.
"Our competetion" he calls them.  He claimed that he thought
Keyhoe was a mountebank which I take as so much trash talk.
I think he was well aware that NICAP was indeed as serious
as CSI.

The recluctance to come to the office when Vallee and Hynek
were just down the street from NICAP is another demonstration
of his extreme conservative nature.  I found that Vallee's and
Beckmen's concept of McDonald and NICAP was stuck in 1967.
How unfortunate they didn't get to know them better.

In Hynek's meeting with Coral in 1953, she comes out with the
impression that the Air Force will share with her.  Again,
another question mark.

>Hynek's chronic Hamlet-like indecision drove the aggressive,
>damn-the-torpedos James E. McDonald nuts, and he despised Allen
>for it.  "Despised," by the way, is not too mild a term. The
>contempt was palpable. McDonald, whose personality could not
>have been more different from Hynek's, found Allen's timidity
>infuriating and irresponsible, and he believed Allen had failed
>as a scientist.

Hynek said that McDonald was somewhat hypocritical because he
had a significant UFO sighting in 1954, but took almost a
decade to come forward.  (BTW Jerry, I urge you to publish
McDonald's sighting in IUR.)  McDonald's early letters to
Hall are somewhat tentative, but once he decides to come
forward, he jumps in with both feet.

>Even so, for all that he was willing to believe just about
>anything bad about Hynek,  McDonald was too smart to entertain
>paranoid notions or level goofy charges such as those we've been
>subjected to on this list.  Still, in common with Gary, he had
>no feeling for the complex human reality that underlay Hynek's
>long failure to step forward.  He could only conclude that Allen
>was a venal man who cared more about his AF consulting fees than
>he did about his duty as a scientist.

I saw one exchange at CUFOS, I think in which Hynek asks
McDonald when the bashing would end, and McDonald comes back
with a heated remark.  However,  McDonald says in another letter
to Hall, I think, that his head tells him he should ally himself
with Hynek while his heart couldn't forgive him for his failure
to speak out earlier.

However, when the attempt to set up a separate UFO organization
was made both McDonald and Hynek were to be officers and seek
grants for research, indication the breech was healing.

>History will have to decide which of these two men was right.
>In the meantime, it does neither history nor rational discourse
>any good to go fishing in schools of red herrings. The reality
>is complex and interesting enough.  A good book could be written
>on the subject, I am sure.  I am equally sure that Gary Alevy is
>not the one who will write it.

Jan Aldrich
Project 1947
P. O. Box 391, Canterbury, CT 06331, USA
Telephone: (860) 546-9135

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