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from Mimufon Website


Two opposing points of view – one a strong defense of the Colorado group’s findings, the other a searing blast at its methods, techniques and findings



TRUE Report on Flying Saucers

Page 22, Vol. 3, 1969

Above, Robert Rinker, a field technician at the mountain laboratory weather station on Chalk Mountain near Climax, Colo.,

discovered this UFO on his negative after he shot a roll of film in the area and processed it months later.

Rinker said, "I haven’t said it’s a saucer yet."

Photo above by McMinnville, Ore., farmer Paul Trent in 1950 could not be satisfac­torily explained by the Condon Colorado team.

All factors investigated appeared to be con­sistent with the two witnesses’ assertions.

UPI photo

Another sighting that baffled the Condon group was the Aug. 3, 1965, photo taken by Orange County (Calif.)

Highway Investigator Rex Heflin, still the clearest set of photos yet taken by a mature witness.

Heflin got three shots with his Polaroid camera before object moved out of sight. UPI photo






“There is Pay Dirt in a UFO Study – But Quicksand, Too….

                                                                                 - Dr. J. Allen Hynek

by David Daniels

When the long-awaited Condon Report on Unidentified Flying Objects was issued early this year (1969), it was accompanied by a vitriolic rebuttal. For on that same day Dr. David R. Saunders published his own version of what went on behind the scenes at the University of Colorado, where the project was headquartered under the Directorship of Dr. Edward U. Condon.


The Saunders’ "expose" is titled "UFOs? YES" Its subtitle was,

"Where The Condon Committee Went Wrong/The Inside Story By An Ex-Member Of The Official Study Group."

Dr. Saunders is a professor of psychology at the University of Colorado and assistant director of its Department of Testing and Counseling. He holds a Ph.D. (Illinois) in psychology. Yet he was fired from the Project by Dr. Condon for "incompetence" about a year before the scientific UFO study was completed.

The apparent reason for Saunders’ discharge, which he describes at length in his book, was that he and Dr. Norman E. Levine, an electrical engineer (also fired) were so appalled by a memo they had discovered in the project files that they made copies of it and gave these to individuals who, although on an unofficial basis, were seriously interested in the scientific aspects of UFO research. One of these persons, a physicist, showed a copy of the memo to John Fuller of The Saturday Review, who had published two highly successful books about Flying Saucers. The result was an article in Look Magazine by Fuller, called "Flying Saucer Fiasco."

The article infuriated Dr. Condon and Robert J. Low, Coordinator of the official UFO project. It also created quite a stir in Congress because it made no bones about the fact that Mr. Fuller felt strongly that the American taxpayer’s money was being wasted on the University of Colorado UFO study.

Robert Low was the author of the now-famous memo. Written before the project got started, it was to present the pro and con arguments on whether or not the University of Colorado should accept an offer from the U.S. Air Force to finance a scientific study on UFOs - when UFO’s were considered by a vast majority of scientists to be a kooky, nonscientific subject. The University, naturally, did not want to have its reputation tarnished in the scientific community.

Low’s memo seemed to suggest a way out of the dilemma, the dilemma being that science should help the Government when asked to do so ­ but in the process not give the impression of being unscientific, there­by exposing a particular scientific group to be the laughingstock of all other scientific groups.

The memo made its case strong enough so that the University finally decided to take on the UFO project.


Other universities and scientific organizations that had been approached previously by the Air Force refused to have anything to do with such a project. The Air Force was desperate because they were being widely and publicly accused of hiding the true facts about UFO’s. Whether this was the actual case or not, their public image was deteriorating. So they tried to set up an absolutely objective scientific study of the UFO phenomenon.


There were to be no strings attached. The Air Force would cooperate by supplying UFO case histories, but would not even be advisors to the project. They were, in fact, not even to see any interim reports from the project. The Final Report would bypass them completely and be released directly to the public by the scientific team that ultimately took on the project.

This is a fact: L/Colonel Hector Quintanilla, Jr., head of Project Blue Book, the official Air Force UFO evaluation group, often asked friends from time to time what progress the Condon-Colorado Group was making. On the day that the Final Report was released, Col. Quintanilla was asked his opinion of it. He did not have a copy

Returning to the memo, the complete copy is included in Dr. Saunders’ book as "Appendix A." It stunned him and his colleague Dr. Levine. (See Page 23 for excerpts.) (Inserted below)



The Controversial Memo

“The trick would be, I think, to describe the project so that, to the public, it would appear a totally objective study but, to the scientific community, would present the image of a group of nonbelievers trying their best to be objective but having an almost zero expectation of finding a saucer.

One way to do this would be to stress investigation, not of the physical phenomena, but rather of the people who do the observing – the psychology and sociology of persons and groups who report seeing UFO’s.

If the emphasis were put here, rather than on examination of the old question of the physical reality of the saucer, I think the scientific community would quickly get the message.


Did Dr. Condon, along with his staff and scientific consultants, really misuse the American taxpayer’s money to "whitewash" the Air Force and mislead the public? Did he follow Mr. Low’s concept as expressed in that preliminary memo to deceive both the people and scientists of this country?


Dr. Saunders vehemently believes the answer is "Yes" - despite the fact that the University of Colorado psychologist admits in his book that Condon did not even know of the existence of the memo until a few days before he was fired for having passed out that memo to others. Saunders concedes he would have acted differently on the project if he had known of Dr. Condon’s ignorance of the memo.

At the beginning of his book, which was written in collaboration with R. Roger Harkins, a Boulder, Colorado, newspaperman, Dr. Saunders acknowledges Dr. Condon as an eminent man of science who has contributed much to American science and thus to the American people. He laments the unfairness to Condon when so noted a scientist was caught up, without cause, in the spider-web Communist witch hunt during the heyday of the late Senator Joe McCarthy.


But by the time Dr. Saunders reaches page 236 of his book, he blows him down:

"One great weakness in the Colorado Project was the very thing that was supposed to be its greatest strength - the selection of a man to head it on the basis of his outstanding record of past scientific achievement, Edward Condon was a finger-pointer, and it happened to be psychology that caught his eye. When the social scientists seemed unable or unwilling to accept Condon’s assumption that they held the answers, he became increasingly frustrated - until it showed. From that point on, his record speaks for itself.

"That weakness was probably unavoidable, but the greatest weakness of all was the avoidable selection of Robert Low as Project Coordinator. Low is neither an outstanding scientist nor an outstanding administrator. With the right man in Low’s job, many of our problems would have been solved instead of aggravated.

"The monument to all the effort of the University of Colorado Project will be a Final Report... it is inconceivable that it can be anything but a stone stew. No matter how long it is, what it includes, how it is said, or what it recommends, it will lack the essential ingredient of credibility."

Dr. Saunders goes on:

"Inasmuch as credibility was the primary goal when the UFO Project was first conceived and established, the University of Colorado Study can only be regarded as a failure. I would call it an 'essential failure’ rather than a `total failure,’ because I do feel the study catalyzed a few worthwhile things despite itself. These things have more to do with the problem than with its immediate solution, but are nevertheless important.


"At the head of this list, perhaps surprisingly, I would suggest that the scientific study of UFO’s is more respectable today than it was two years ago (when the Condon study began). Respectability is measured by consensus, and I am simply observing that the scientist interested in UFO’s now has an easier time than ever before in identifying his like­minded colleagues...

"Lower on the list, I would suggest that a limited number of highly remarkable facts can even now be recognized as belonging to the UFO puzzle. These facts are still too few in number and still too limited in variety to justify any attempt to formulate an explanatory theory.


However, it is clear that a new theory will be needed, and it is clear that a theory based on some definition of extra-terrestrial intelligence apparently could do the job. It is clear, for example, that the sightings have been going on for too long to explain in terms of straightforward terrestrial intelligence. It is in this sense that ETI (Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) stands as the `least implausible’ explanation of `real UFO’s."’

Dr. Saunders cites two UFO cases as good examples to support a theory of extraterrestrial intelligence being involved, but he adds:

"There are many other cases that seem potentially as good as these, and some of them are already regarded as quite substantial by people whose scientific judgment I respect."

One of the cooler heads in the whole Condon Report flap belongs to Dr. J. Allen Hynek of Northwestern. He probably summed it up best when he wrote:

"I have a hunch that there is scientific pay dirt in a UFO study, possibly very important pay dirt, but there may also be scientific quicksand."

The ETI Hypothesis - that UFO’s are spacecraft guided by intelligent creatures from another world, perhaps from another solar system­ proved to be the quicksand for Saunders in his dealings with Low and Condon. The course of that battle makes fascinating reading in Saunders’ book.

It would be instructive to evaluate the two opposing points of view through one of the cases that Dr. Saunders calls one of "the best available (UFO) cases."

This sighting was unique in that fragments of "UFO hardware" were recovered. It occurred near the town of Ubatuba in the province of Sao Paulo, Brazil, sometime in September of 1957. It was doubly unique because the anonymous observer claimed that he and his friends who were fishing together saw the UFO explode, scattering metallic fragments over the water and shore.


He sent some of the fragments to Ibrahim Sued, a newspaper society columnist of Rio de Janeiro, with a letter that read, in part:

". . . I sighted a flying disc. It approached the beach at unbelievable speed and an accident, i.e. a crash into the sea seemed imminent. At the last moment, however, when it was almost striking the waters, it made a sharp turn upward and climbed rapidly on a fantastic impulse. We followed the spectacle with our eyes, startled, when we saw the disc explode in flames.

"It disintegrated into thousands of fiery fragments, which fell sparkling with magnificent brightness. They looked like fireworks, despite the time of the accident, at noon, i.e. at midday. Most of these fragments, almost all, fell into the sea.


But a number of small pieces fell close to the beach and we picked up a large amount of this material - which was light as paper. I am enclosing a sample of it. I don’t know anyone that could be trusted to whom I might send it for analysis... I am certain the matter will be of great interest to the brilliant columnist."

The letter was signed, but the signature was illegible. Apparently there was no return address on it.

Mr. Sued, the columnist, or perhaps even someone else, apparently turned the sample fragments over to an agency of the Brazilian Government for chemical analysis. The analysis showed the fragments to be of magnesium, but so pure that Earth man at that time did not have the technology to achieve its equivalent. Therefore it was considered to be the product of an extraterrestrial civilization.

Some years later, a few of the same magnesium fragments found their way to the United States and finally the Condon Committee was able to borrow one for analysis by a newly developed nuclear technique. As Dr. Condon states in his Final Report:

"If this [the purity of the fragments] proved to be true, the origin of the fragments would be puzzling indeed. If it could then be established that the fragments had actually been part of a flying vehicle, that vehicle could then be assumed to have been manufactured by a culture unknown to man."

Dr. Condon then continued in his bylined summary of the Report:

"We arranged to have it [the magnesium fragment] studied by the method of neutron activation analysis in a laboratory in Washington, D.C. [it was the FBI Laboratory].


The result, which is presented in detail in Chapter 3 of Section III [of the Final Report], was that the magnesium metal was found to be much less pure than the regular commercial metal produced in 1957 [the same year as the Brazil sighting] by the Dow Chemical Company at Midland, Michigan. Therefore it need not have come from an extraterrestrial source, leaving us with no basis for rational belief that it did."

Dr. Saunders, who wrote his book before the Condon Final Report was completed, stubbornly contradicts the Colorado-Group findings:

"During ’the second week of February, 1968, Roy Craig [a physical chemist on Dr. Condon’s UFO Investigation staff] flew to Washington to run the Neutron Activation Analysis [of the magnesium fragment] at the FBI Laboratory. We learned that he had some interesting results. The sample actually was not pure magnesium, but the pattern of impurities was very odd.

"A Congressional Symposium on UFO’s was held in Washington, D.C., on July 29, 1968. At that gathering, Dr. James A. Harder of the University of California Civil Engineering Department disclosed the FBI Lab findings concerning the sample:

"-The sample is 99.9 percent pure magnesium; the impurities total only about one part per thousand.

"-The major impurities are about 500 parts per million of zinc, and lesser amounts of barium, manganese, and chromium.

"More significant, however, is what the sample does not contain. If the fragment were ultra pure terrestrial magnesium, one would expect to find one of four conditions existing:

"-If the sample were a terrestrial alloy of magnesium, it might have contained aluminum or copper or both. There was no aluminum and only a trace of copper.

"-If someone had made a serious effort to purify the sample, the element most difficult to remove would have been calcium. There was none.

"-If someone had done an unusually fine job of removing the calcium, he would almost certainly have done it using a quartz vessel. This would have introduced minute amounts of silicon into the sample. The FBI tests showed that no silicon was present.


"-If someone had used the best techniques available to purify magnesium in 1968, he would have employed repeated sublimation of the metal under a very high vacuum. A mercury-vapor pump would be required to produce this vacuum, resulting in mercury contamination of the product. There was no mercury in the Ubatuba sample...

"-In 1957, the alloy was apparently unknown on this planet - the world’s metallurgists might well have been unable to duplicate it...

"-I can only say that if the Brazilian fishermen did not really collect fragments from a space ship, then someone did perpetrate one of the most sophisticated scientific hoaxes in history."

And I might add that if it was a hoax, perpetrated to build a Brazilian newspaper columnist’s fame, then Dr. Saunders’ argument for extraterrestrial intelligence falls flat on its face.


One thing bothers me among his listings of why the magnesium sample could not be of terrestrial origin: he uses the qualifying word "might" when referring to aluminum and/or copper content. I have emphasized that word for the reader’s judgment. The other emphasis is his.

It should also be mentioned that when Dr. Saunders refers above to the alloy as being "apparently unknown on this planet," he means almost 100 percent pure magnesium.

The Condon Report is guilty on other counts.

How can Dr. Condon on the one hand recommend abandoning any future formal investigation into UFO’s, and then, on the other, lend truth to their existence by admitting that in the two years’ allotted time and with a budget $525,000 and untold consultants at his disposal, he was still unable to explain at least a dozen cases.

One of the classic instances of leaving himself a convenient "out" was in the wording of the 1950 Great Falls, Montana, sighting.


The Condon Report concludes:

"Witness one, General Manager of a Great Falls baseball team, and Witness two, his secretary, observed two white lights moving slowly across the sky. Witness one made 16mm motion pictures of the lights. Both individuals have recently reaffirmed the observation, and there is little reason to question its validity. The case remains unexplained. Analyses indicates that the images on the film are difficult to reconcile with aircraft or other known phenomena, although aircraft cannot be entirely ruled out."

Wouldn’t you think a case such as this deserved some greater serious scientific consideration?

Three different sightings by astronauts in three different Gemini-Titan flights would certainly make one question The Condon Report’s smug conclusion. The Condon Report’s own consultant summarized:

"The training and perspicacity of the astronauts put their reports and sightings [of UFO’s] in the highest category of credibility. They are always meticulous in describing 'the facts,’ avoiding any [biased] interpretations...


"The three unexplained sightings which have been gleaned from the great mass of reports are a challenge to the analyst. Especially puzzling is the first one on the list, the daytime sighting of an object showing details such as arms (antennas?) protruding from a baby having a noticeable angular extension. If the NORAD listing of objects near the GT-4 (Gemini-Titan-4) spacecraft at the time of the sighting is complete, as it presumably is, we shall have to find a rational explanation or, alternatively, keep it on our list of unidentified."

Whether the Condon Report is a whitewash or not, one fact comes through loud and clear: What Dr. Condon and David Saunders had here was a lack of communication.


As co-author Harkins, an old friend of Dr. Condon’s, says in his foreword:

"I could make excuses for his [Dr. Condon] allowing someone else to direct his project; I could defend his right to fire anyone he pleased; but there is no way to defend his attempt to discredit Dave Saunders. Unable to answer the serious charges that Saunders and others had raised about his investigation, Condon attacked Saunders in the good old American way. He labeled him a "nut" in an attempt to silence him forever.

"The real tragedy of this story is that Condon and Saunders are both legitimate scientists who have dedicated their lives to the same principles, and yet they wound up at odds with each other. It is doubly tragic in that Condon, nearing the end of his career, winds up supporting the very things that he spent his lifetime fighting. Condon crucified Saunders with the very tactics that were unfairly used against Condon when he fought his historic battle with the House Un-American Activities Committee. Ed Condon was not a Communist; neither was Dave Saunders incompetent."






‘Further Extensive Study Cannot Be Justified’

                                                                                 – Dr. Edward U. Condon
by Lloyd Mallan

During the first week of October 1966, the U.S. Air Force announced that one of the nation’s most eminent physicists had agreed to become Scientific Director of a project to evaluate the existence or non-existence of Flying Saucers.


The contract was signed by the University of Colorado, where Dr. Edward Uhler Condon, the physicist, is Professor of Physics and Astrophysics as well as being a Fellow of the joint Institute for Laboratory Astrophysics. Two years plus three months and $525,905.00 later, he released his Final Report of a "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects." The Report, released through the august National Academy of Sciences and the U.S. Department of Defense contained a massive 1,485 pages.

Up to the time of its public release the Report’s contents and findings were kept tightly secret. The reason for this was that Dr. Condon wanted the National Academy first to approve the scientific methodology used in the UFO study. He felt, I am told, that Academy approval was necessary if the Report were to be taken seriously by the scientific community and Government.


The Academy appointed a special Review Panel of 11 members, including its chairman, Dr. Gerald M. Clemance of Yale University. Other universities represented on the Panel by one or more members were the University of Rochester, the University of Michigan, the Rockefeller University, the University of California and Stanford University.

In his covering letter submitting the Review Panel’s report on the Re­port, Dr. Frederick Seitz, President of the National Academy of Sciences, wrote (in part) to The Honorable Dr. Alexander H. Flax, Assistant Secretary of the Air Force:

"The Academy accepted this task because of its belief in the importance of making available to the Government and the public a careful assessment of the scientific significance of UFO phenomena which have been variously interpreted both in this country and abroad.

"Substantial questions have been raised as to the adequacy of our research and investigation programs to explain or to determine the nature of these sometimes puzzling reports of observed phenomena. It is my hope that the Colorado [Condon] report, together with our panel review, will be helpful to you and other responsible officials in determining the nature and scope of any continuing research effort in this area."

The Review Panel members agreed 100 percent with Dr. Condon’s findings, conclusions and scientific method:

"In our opinion the scope of the [UFO] Study was adequate to its purpose: a scientific study of UFO phenomena.

"The [Condon] Report is free of dogmatism on this matter.

"We think the methodology and approach were well chosen, in accordance with accepted standards of scientific investigation.

"The range of topics in the [Condon] Report is extensive and its various chapters, dealing with many aspects of the [UFO] subject, should prove of value to scholars in many fields.

"We are unanimous in the opinion that this has been a very creditable effort to apply objectively the relevant techniques of science to the solution of the UFO problem."

But has the Colorado/Condon Report actually solved the "UFO problem?" The men of the Review Panel who so unanimously suggest that Dr. Condon’s Final Report is the answer to the problem include a Nobel Prize Winner in biophysics (1967), two professors of physics, a professor of psychology, a professor of mathematics, a physiologist, a professor of geology and geophysics, an astronomer, the Director of the Radio Science Laboratory at Stanford University and a former head of the U.S. Weather Bureau.


The Chairman of the Academy Panel, now a professor at Yale University, was a former Scientific Director of the U.S. Naval Observatory.


This is an impressive list of scientists, yet Dr. James E. McDonald, an atmospheric physicist at the Institute of Atmospheric Physics, University of Arizona, claimed publicly that they were "not adequately prepared to assess the Condon Report."


And SCIENCE, official weekly journal of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, had this to say:

"Thus the UFO controversy seems unlikely to end, despite the Colorado Report’s massive documentation . . . and its undoubted contributions to an understanding of the UFO problem."

I phoned Dr. David Saunders at the University of Colorado for his opinion of the National Academy’s Review Panel.


He told me:

"My feeling about the panel is that its members were put in an impossible situation. They are all fine scientists - and this is no criticism of them. They had only the [Condon] Report itself to look at and they had a limited time to do that.


Even though there were ten or eleven of them, they certainly did not represent all of the areas [of scientific specialization] that should have been represented in order properly to review the work. And I kind of draw the analogy here between this situation and the case in which somebody might be charged in medicine with malpractice.

"A major observation at this point would be that the [Colorado] Report is Condon’s Report. The work of his Committee is reflected in chapters that they have put into it. But his recommendations do not rest very firmly on the data in those chapters that were written by the rest of the Committee."

In Section I of his "Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects," Dr. Condon writes his "Conclusions and Recommendations," as follows:

"As indicated by its title, the emphasis of this study has been on attempting to learn from UFO reports anything that could be considered as adding to scientific knowledge. Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFO’s in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge.


Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFO’s probably cannot be justified in the expectation that science will be advanced thereby."

A few paragraphs later on, he qualifies that statement:

"Scientists are no respecters of authority. Our conclusion that study of UFO reports is not likely to advance science will not be uncritically accepted by them. Nor should it be, nor do we wish it to be.


For scientists, it is our hope that the detailed analytical presentation of what we were able to do, and of what we were unable to do, will assist them in deciding whether or not they agree with our conclusions. Our hope is that the details of this Report will help other scientists in seeing what the problems are and the difficulties of coping with them."

Dr. Condon’s next words were entirely overlooked by the press, which gave the impression in their news stories and reviews that Condon had given UFO’s a categorical thumbs­down. I will italicize those sentences that express a Condon attitude which was, for some odd reason, missed by the nation’s newsmen.

"If they [the scientists] agree with our conclusions," Dr. Condon continued, "they will turn their valuable attention and talents elsewhere. If they disagree it will be because our Report has helped them reach a clear picture of wherein existing studies are faulty or incomplete and thereby will have stimulated ideas for more accurate studies. If they do get such ideas and can formulate them clearly, we have no doubt that support will be forthcoming to carry on with such clearly defined, specific studies. We think that such ideas for work [on UFO’s] should be supported ...

"Therefore we think that all of the agencies of the federal government, and the private foundations as well, ought to be willing to consider UFO research proposals along with the others submitted to them on an open­minded, unprejudiced basis. While we do not think at present that anything worthwhile is likely to come of such research, each individual case ought to be carefully considered on its own merits."

In his plea for a rigorous scientific approach to the UFO problem, Dr. Condon adds:

"The subject of UFOs has been widely misrepresented to the public by a small number of individuals who have given sensationalized presentations in writings and public lectures. So far as we can judge, not many people have been misled by such irresponsible behavior, but whatever effect there has been has been bad.


"A related problem to which we wish to direct public attention is the mis-education in our schools which arises from the fact that many children are being allowed, if not actively encouraged, to devote their science study time to the reading of UFO books and magazine articles of the type referred to in the preceding paragraph.


We feel that children are educationally harmed by absorbing unsound and erroneous material as if it were scientifically well founded. Such study is harmful not merely because of the erroneous nature of the material itself, but also because such study retards the development of a critical faculty with regard to scientific evidence, which to some degree ought to be part of the education of every American.

"Therefore we strongly recommend that teachers refrain from giving students credit for school work based on their reading of the presently available UFO books and magazine articles.


Teachers who find their students strongly motivated in this direction should attempt to channel their interests in the direction of serious study of astronomy and meteorology, and in the direction of critical analysis of arguments for fantastic propositions that are being supported by appeals to fallacious reasoning or false data."

While this last recommendation may appear at first glance to be biased and high handed, Dr. Condon is not actually saying that school children should be discouraged from reading anything at all about UFO’s.


Rather he is saying that they should be taught to evaluate critically whatever they may read. There are some good objective books about UFO’s although these are in the minority, and these should be searched out for comparison with the more kooky UFO literature.