Friday, May 2, 2014

UFOologist Josef Allen Hynek

Have you noticed that UFO sitings have diminished.

The Writer's Almanac wrote... is the birthday of astrophysicist and "ufologist" Josef Allen Hynek, born in Chicago in 1910. He's best known for his work with a series of government projects to investigate reports of flying saucer sightings. The U.S. Air Force formed Project Sign in 1948, changing the name to Project Grudge and then, finally, Project Blue Book in 1952. Hynek, initially skeptical, was brought on board as a scientific consultant, and his job was to investigate claims of unidentified flying objects. He enjoyed his role as government debunker.

Over time, and after investigating several sightings reported by reliable witnesses like pilots, astronauts, and even fellow astronomers, his outlook began to change, and he became frustrated at the refusal of the Air Force and the scientific community to admit the possibility of UFOs. He said, "As a scientist, I must be mindful of the past; all too often it has happened that matters of great value to science were overlooked because the new phenomenon did not fit the accepted scientific outlook of the time." He didn't believe that UFOs were necessarily intergalactic travelers from the far reaches of space, and said, in 1976: "To me, it seems ridiculous that super intelligences would travel great distances to do relatively stupid things like stop cars, collect soil samples, and frighten people. I think we must begin to reexamine the evidence. We must begin to look closer to home." He considered them "an aspect or domain of the natural world not yet explored by science," and he didn't rule out visitors from other dimensions.

He developed the "close encounter" method of categorizing UFO sightings, which inspired Steven Spielberg's 1977 hit movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Hynek served as a consultant on the film, and made a cameo appearance near the end, a bearded gentleman with a pipe who steps out of the crowd to gaze in awe at the spacecraft.

Josef Allen Hynek [Wikipedia]

FBI file

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