Smart People, Foolish Statements

I have not read Paul Davies’s new book, “Eerie Silence.” Only some reviews. But I’ll wager I have learned more about his book in those few reviews than he has about the UFO phenomenon in whatever he has read about it, if anything. Otherwise he would not quote with apparent approval the advise of Seth Shostak.

The general theme of his book seems interesting enough, but irrelevant to our focus here.

Shostak is an astronomer by training, but mostly preoccupied with collaborating in space based science fiction and the search for extraterrestrial life – “out there.” He is a cheerleader for giant radio telescopes that search millions of stars, thousands of light years away, waiting patiently for someone to say hello. In the May 5th internet journal,, appeared a comment by one Billy Cox, concerning an article about “Eerie Silence” in The Herald of May 4th. It contained among much else, this summary of Seth Shostak’s advice to Davies, and some strange thoughts of Davies’s on the status of Ufology in 2010.

Shostak reassured Davies that neither Uncle Sam nor anyone else can keep secrets for very long, and which was a relief. “It’s not enough for the US government to conceal the truth over many decades,” Davies went on. “What about the governments of, say, Belgium or Botswana? You might expect at least one of them to let something slip from time to time.

My comments about Davies and Shostak are limited to what is contained in that paragraph and it assumes the accuracy of the contents. Cox, properly, took umbrage to the ignorance displayed in Shostak’s ‘advice’ but there is much more to be said on the matter. For starters, the constantly repeated mantra that the government could never keep a secret for so long made in the context of the UFO history is nonsense. It implies that since the government has not revealed the existence of extraterrestrial activity, it must not exist. If it did there would have been leaks.

There have been leaks galore. Since 1950 there has been a flood of books, articles, pamphlets, interviews and public statements of all sorts. Not to mention the numerous witnesses, both military and civilian who have done more than let something slip. The government’s key weapon, which has worked so well, is not keeping everyone quiet, but ridiculing those many who made noise.

Colonel Philip Corso’s “The Day After Roswell,” is a good beginning point. Corso was not a UFO researcher working to get information hidden by the government. He was the government, or at least a part of it. He headed the ‘Foreign Technology Desk’ for several years immediately after the Roswell event in 1947. It was his duty to oversee the effective use of the remains and debris gathered by the military at the crash site, and it was considerable. He kept his silence as a good soldier until 1997, the year before his death. After telling a few acquaintances that he felt there was no longer a reason for secrecy, he published his book in that year.
Was there an attempt at coverup? There was, he said, no means of defending against the aliens, which was one factor that “forced us into a silence about the alien presence. If there were no public enemy, there would be no public pressure to do anything about it. So we simply denied all extraterrestrial activity… but all the while we were still planning to counter the threat.”

In short, we couldn’t stop them, so we just decided to keep it secret. Some secret.

There is also the case of Colonel Marion Magruder, reported by Carey and Schmitt in “Witness to Roswell.”. Two weeks after the Roswell crash, he and other attendees at the Air War College in Alabama were shown a live member of the UFO’s crew. He and his fellow officers were sworn to secrecy, but fifty years later, thinking of his own death, he could no longer keep it secret and described to both his son and granddaughter the humanoid that had been exhibited.

There was Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. Humiliated by patently false information given to the press, Marcel was sworn to secrecy, an oath he kept until shortly before his death. Struggling with emphysema, he described to an investigator the material he actually found at the crash site: “It was not an aircraft of any kind; of that I am sure of. We didn’t know what it was. It was nothing made on this earth.”

There were others, both civilian and military who, later in life, did not want to keep their secrets locked within themselves. There was a sheriff whose life and those of his family members were threatened, but who nonetheless told his wife, both what he had seen and the threats that were made by government personnel. There was a 13 year old girl, likewise sworn to secrecy by such a threat, but, her adulthood seared by the memory of the event , finally spoke to investigators. There are many, many more.

The ‘secret’ was not kept nor merely leaked. It was openly reported by scores of airline pilots beginning in the late 40s in vivid description, astronauts, law enforcement officers, military pilots and just plain, respectable citizens, all risking public humiliation and worse.

And what is the big thing about Belgium, obviously meant by Davies as an example? A humorous one apparently. If there’s any truth to ‘this UFO thing,’ some country like Belgium could be expected to let something slip, says Davies. He is apparently unaware that three years ago the Belgian press was fully briefed about UFO sightings that go back to about 1990. But there is much more out there to shred Davies’s vapid attempt at humor.

In May 2008, Britain’s Ministry of Defense released files on UFO sightings dating back to the 1970s, including witness accounts and the government’s responses. Canada and Sweden have released all files, or are in the process of doing so. Uruguay has declassified everything since 1955, and Brazil, one of the most active UFO sites, everything since 1954. Ditto for the Philippines Switzerland and Spain, also a hotbed of UFO activity.

In our secrecy the United States stands almost alone now. The truly incredible aspect of this whole UFO ‘thing’ is how much intelligent people such as Davies and Shostak profess to know without the slightest effort to ascertaining the facts, or even any evidence of them.

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