The Modern UFO Era Begins

The condon/university of colorado report

Critics of the University of Colorado report, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects (1969), complain that it is neither scientific nor objective and that Edward Condon, head of the project, used the report for personal vindictiveness. Commissioned by the U.S. Air Force at a cost exceeding $600,000, more than 50 percent of the Condon Report consists of reprints of old U.S. Air Force releases and irrelevant papers and essays on astronomical, meteorological, and other mundane phenomena. Many of the charts and graphs included date back to the early 1950s.

It would appear that little or no effort was made to collect, correlate, and present accurate data on the thousands of UFO reports received and allegedly studied by the project during the 1966–68 period. The various contributors were unfamiliar with UFO research and the report is poorly organized and appears to have been assembled by a group neither informed nor interested in the subject.

Although the Colorado Project clearly represented a conscious effort to satisfy the needs of the air force contract, in the eyes of its critics it did not indicate a sincere effort to collect and examine the basic UFO data. Its main theme appeared to be the criticism of the extraterrestrial thesis. A genuinely scientific study would have collected sufficient data to determine whether or not a phenomenon existed at all. Then all the various theories would have been studied and compared with the available data. Sighting factors of time, geography, terrestrial features, the correlative aspects in the witnesses' backgrounds and features in their reports, must all be sifted and weighed before any theory can be considered. This type of systematic study was not undertaken. Instead, the project treated the reports individually.

Dr. J. Allen Hynek's review of the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, which appeared in the April 1969 Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, stated that while the Condon committee avowedly was devoted in large part to exposing hoaxes or the revealing of many UFOs as misidentifications of common occurrences, the report contains the same inexplicable residue of unknowns that plagued the U.S. Air Force investigation for 20 years. In fact, Hynek observed, the percentage of unknowns in the Condon Report appeared to be even higher than in the air force investigation that led to the Condon investigation in the first place.

Two former Condon committee members, David Saunders and Roger Harkins, later wrote the book UFOS, Yes! Where the Condon Committee Went Wrong (1968), which depicted a group of investigators at the University of Colorado who had little confidence in the chief scientist, Condon, and who were preoccupied with strenuously avoiding any conclusion that suggested the actual existence of the flying objects sighted by so many people through the years. Saunders and Harkins also showed Condon, the principal investigator, giving statements to the press and to various lecture audiences while the project was still underway, indicating that he had little or no expectation of the investigation ever reaching anything but a completely negative conclusion as to the reality of UFOs.

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