Wednesday, March 15, 2017

UFOs, Kenneth Arnold and the American Bible



Kenneth Arnold was the original credible witness, a straight-shooting, down-to-earth ex-Boy Scout. Jacques Vallee wrote, "I now think of referring to the (flying saucer) problem as 'the Arnold Phenomenon' after that celebrated witness, businessman Kenneth Arnold." (11 April 1963 entry,  Forbidden Science Volume I.)  However, in the years since, Arnold's role as the herald of the UFO age has been diminished by the overemphasis and promotion of the Roswell crash franchise. His role is important, and there's a lot more to his story.



Shortly after his encounter, Arnold had the first of many other sightings on his flight to Maury Island, a trip that began his informal role as the first civilian UFO investigator. He became interested in Charles Fort's books of phenomena and joined the Fortean Society. Over the years, he came to believe that the objects he'd seen were living creatures, possibly related to what Ezekiel had described in the Book of Revelation. There's a lot more to Kenneth Arnold's story than just his first sighting, but UFO history has largely ignored the story.


Ray Palmer and an Amazing Book

UFO historians have sought to diminish or deny the role of another pioneer, Raymond A. Palmer, who was promoting the reality of extraterrestrials space ships visiting the Earth as early as 1945. Palmer was a science fiction author, but interested in the reality of space travel, Fortean phenomena, Theosophy and all sorts of paranormal topics, so in 1948 he created a non-fiction magazine to discuss them, Fate magazine. Palmer wrote to Kenneth Arnold and persuaded him to tell his story, which became the cover feature for the first issue of Fate. As a result, the two men became life-long friends and worked together, the best-known example being their collaboration on the 1952 book, The Coming of the Saucers.

In 1945 Ray Palmer became fascinated with something that's been called the American Bible, "... an amazing book called 'Oahspe' which purports to be a history of the past 79,000 years, both of the earth and of heaven... which ties into a cohesive whole all the legends and folktales of the world, and all the archeological discoveries of the past, and depicts a logical and convincing, and for the most part provable relationship between all the races of mankind for LONGER than science says civilized men existed on the earth, or even cave-men!" (Amazing Stories December 1945)




"Oahspe, A New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors" was published in 1882, by John Ballou Newbrough supposedly written by automatic writing, channeling the word of Ormazd, "the Creator." In The UFO Phenomenon: Fact, Fantasy and Disinformation,  John Michael Greer describes it's significance to UFOs and the extraterrestrial hypothesis. 
"Like many channeled works, Oahspe defies easy characterization. Written in the style of the King James Bible, it combines Christian imagery with ideas borrowed from many other religions... What sets it apart most strikingly from the religious visions of a previous century, thoughis the way it locates its theology in outer space. Its angels and gods live on countless planets... and travel from world to world in Etherean vessels that range from little scout craft to vast mother ships the size of a planet." 

Ray Palmer's Mystic Magazine, May, 1954

 These vessels are referred to as fire, sun and "star-ships." An example from Oahspe: "Then Osire left this high place and with his host, aboard the etherean ship of fire, sat out toward the earth, at break-neck speed; for such was the disposition of this most determined god."

Ray Palmer promoted the text in the pages of his magazines over the years, and went on to publish three versions of it between 1960 and 1972, writing that, "Oahspe is truly a gateway to understanding."


Arnold's Souvenir Card

In 1950 Kenneth Arnold published The Flying Saucer as I Saw It, an the illustrated pamphlet to be sold as a souvenir at his lectures on the topic. He used the same saucer image for a calling card. His daughter, Kim Arnold wrote: “Kenneth Arnold used to give out philosophy cards to the many people he would meet. They were the size of a common business card. The front of the card had the image of the second to the last of the nine flying saucers he saw on June 24, 1947. The back of the card expressed this quote:”



     Many people have inquired as to my philosophy – due to my involvement in the phenomenon known as "Flying Saucers.” The following I accept is worth thinking about. 
     A great man is the unbelieving man; he is without spiritual sight or spiritual hearing; his glory is in understanding his own understanding. It is he who subdues the forest, tames the beasts of the field to service. He goes alone in the dark, unafraid. He follows no man’s course, but, searches for himself; the priests cannot make him believe, nor the angels of heaven; none can subdue his judgment. He says: why permit others even priests, to you think for you? Stand on your own feet – be a man. Through his arm are tyrants and evil kings overthrown. Through him are doctrines and religions sifted to the bottom and the falsehood and evil in them cast aside. Who but the Creator could have created so great a man as the unbeliever? 
KENNETH ARNOLD

It's an unusual piece of writing, not what you'd expect out of a man like Arnold. It turns out the language is taken from scripture. It's taken from Ray Palmer's beloved Oahspe.


Oahspe, a New Bible in the Words of Jehovih and His Angel Embassadors, Page 361

26. Nevertheless, the Creator created a great man amongst these; and such is the unbelieving man. He hath neither gold nor silver, nor house nor land; and he is without spiritual sight or spiritual hearing; but his glory is in understanding his own understanding.
27. He it is that subdueth the forest, and tameth the beasts of the field to man's service. He goeth alone in the dark, fearing naught. He followeth not the course of any man, but searcheth for himself; the priest cannot make him believe, nor can the angels of heaven; none can subdue his judgment. He beholdeth the glory of the earth and of manhood. He calleth to the multitude, saying: Why permit ye others, even priests, to think for you? Arise, O thou, and be a man! Arise, O thou, and be a woman!
28. He inspireth of the earth and for the earth; through his arms are tyrants and evil kings overthrown. Through him are doctrines and religions sifted to the bottom, and the falsehood and evil in them cast aside. Yea, who but Ormazd could have created so great a man as the unbeliever?

We can't know exactly how Arnold came to use the Oahspe text on his calling card, but there can be little doubt that his friend, Ray Palmer, was influential in its genesis.




Update: Kenneth Arnold's story was on the front cover of the 1st issue of FATE Magazine, but I had forgotten what was on the back cover:



Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Extraterrestrial Evidence and Disclosure by Richard Shaver

Long before Steven Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Devil's Tower had a connection with extraterrestrial life. An ancient connection.


April 1947, two months before the report of flying saucers by Kenneth Arnold, "The Shaver Mystery" was the sole focus of editor Ray Palmer's June 1947 issue of Amazing Stories. The Shaver Mystery was about how we humans are the offspring of god-like ancient aliens, the reality behind all our myths and legends. After abandoning Earth, some of those they left behind were transformed into nasty little degenerate "deros." We came to call their space ships UFOs, and from their cavernous secret underground bases, their dero offspring are responsible for abductions, mutilations and other  of mankind's woes. Ray Palmer's editorial explained:
With the aid of such machines as the telaug (telepathic augmentor) and disintegrating rays, plus various instruments such as the "stim" which enhanced physical and emotional pleasures, these dero took to tormenting surface people and thereby being the basis for all of our legends of cavern wights, little people, demons, ghosts and — during the war — gremlins. They cause many unexplained accidents, such as those train wrecks, plane crashes, cerebral hemmorhages, etc. which are otherwise unexplainable. 
Further, Mr. Shaver declared that the Titans, living far away in space, or other people like them, still visit earth in space ships, kidnap people, raid the caves for valuable equipment, and, in general, supply the basis for all the weird stories that are so numerous (see Charles Fort's books) of space ships, beings in the sky, etc.
So, before the first flying saucer sighting, Richard Shaver was saying extraterrestrials were abducting humans.

Shaver the Experiencer

Richard Shaver's article for the June issue, "Proofs," was a response to the critics of his writings. In his introduction to his essay, he talks about the problems of being an experiencer or witness and knowing and telling the truth:
My strength is dedicated to informing you of the key and the way to the kind of life that produced the beauty and wisdom of those immortal beings of the past, beings whose actual existence has been proved a thousand times to those who, like myself, have had actual experience in the caverns. For we have seen and touched and used those antique mechanisms and we know whereof we speak. But until today, those who knew have feared to broadcast their knowledge, for in olden times it would have meant being burnt at the stake, and today most certainly the insane asylum.

There were giants in the earth in those days


Shaver's Titans were giants, and had been mentioned in the the Bible, and myths around the world. But for those who needed even more evidence, he delivers in "Proofs."

YOU ask for proofs of the giganticism of the far past — and you can find Devil's Tower (Wyoming) in any Atlas. It is a national monument ! If it isn't a gigantic petrified stump larger than any redwood ever hoped to be, I will eat my hat! The stump alone is taller than the Empire State building! What size were men when trees grew that size?
THEY were the men who are spoken of as the Aesir, under Ygdrasil's branches, planning a battle against the Frost Giants! And they had telaug beams (Odin's Eye), and they had "magical" underground dwarfs, and icy underworld realms of magic — and we have only the Devil's Tower to prove it today. But it was a long time ago; when the sun itself was more beneficial and less aging. BUT, BROTHER, HOW CAN YOU ASK FOR PROOF WHEN YOU HAVE A DEVIL'S TOWER?
There you have it, Devil's Tower proves the Shaver Mystery, and therefore, all the extraterrestrial space travel and beings within.

On the need for Disclosure

Richard Shaver fought against skeptical unbelievers, railed against official denials, and can be said to be a founding father for Disclosure:
MANY things could be obtained of infinite value from these people in the caverns, if all of our civilization was aware and trying to salvage even a bit of the mighty wisdom the Elder race left behind them in their miracles of machine art. BUT it can't be done as long as "officialdumb" frowns upon all such efforts as "superstition," "black art," or "crackpots." It is a vital and unseen side of our life WHICH MUST BE OPENED TO THE PUBLIC GAZE! 

“The fact is that any honest investigation of super-normal manifestation always and invariably turns up mighty important data; which data is shelved by fearful, ignorant and bigoted people who are quite sure that the school books are right, and that they cannot go contrary to opinion or they will lose their ‘position.’  ...SOMEONE, SOMETIME, HAS TO CONQUER THAT BLIND DENIAL OF FACT AND COME OUT IN THE OPEN WITH THE TRUTH...”

There's much more to Shaver's argument in "Proofs." For those who dare to read it all:


The telaug of the dero could affect our minds, so who knows what misinformation they were making Shaver believe... or what they are making us believe now!

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Cash-Landrum UFO Case Updates: Witness Reports





The 1980 Cash-Landrum UFO case near Huffman Texas remains a fascinating unsolved mystery. If the witnesses' claims were true, something genuinely extraordinary happened, regardless of the nature of the object they described. The involvement of military helicopters in the incident has always caused the hope that military records or crewmen could be located to provide  more information.

Unfortunately, the incident was not immediately reported. Betty Cash, Vickie Landrum and her grandson Colby Landrum were out for a drive the night of December 29, 1980 when they had their encounter with a fiery UFO. However, they did not report it, or even tell Betty's doctors about it when she became ill. It was not until Betty's second trip to the hospital that the UFO story came out, and more time passed before Vickie reported it. 

The local police gave Vickie contact information for the National UFO Reporting Center (NUFORC), and the UFO report. was finally made on February 2, 1981. Unfortunately, while their information was given to  UFO organizations, there were delays in getting a response. Consequently, the initial interviews were made by a tabloid newspaper instead. Afterwards, a local reporter put Betty Cash in touch with MUFON's John Schuessler. She met with him the next day on Feb. 22, but another week passed before Schuessler saw Vickie and Colby Landrum on Feb. 28, and then visited the roadway where the sighting took place. With all the combined delays, almost two months were lost before the UFO investigation began.



The initial search in the surrounding area produced no additional witnesses. However, after when the story was covered in the media, an appeal was made for anyone else who had seen anything to help. Over the following months and years, a few people did come forward claiming that they, too had seen something around that time. (See this map, which includes details on the secondary witnesses.) The problem remains that none of them had reported seeing anything until after the UFO story received publicity.

Sometimes, people come forward after decades with genuine accounts and add depth to the historical record. But it pays to be careful, because some of these claims are false. For example,  something similar happened in the old West. There were lots of imposters claiming to be famous outlaws who'd somehow survived their reported deaths. John James is one such example, pictured below from "The Many Faces of Jesse James." These fakes "help" keep interest in a story alive, but do nothing to bring us closer to the truth.


Real Witnesses are Needed

If it was real, more people must have seen it. Any helicopter personnel who may participated in the pursuit of the UFO are at (or nearing) retirement age and could now discuss this case without the fear of risk to their military careers. It is possible that once-secret government documents could now be made available, if we knew where to look. Others in Texas from the Huffman area may have been witnesses and be able to add valuable details.



If you are a witness to the 1980 Cash-Landrum incident, or have details that would help in its investigation, please use the link below to send an email reporting your information. Contact is confidential, and your name will not be used without your permission. If you've previously reported your sighting, please mention it in your email.                  

(This is for matters relating to this specific case only.)

Witnesses who are are coming forward for the first time are encouraged to file a report to NUFORC or MUFON, in order that their sightings can be added to the records on the case. 


Saturday, December 3, 2016

Erica Lukes, Ted Roe and the Attack on Isaac Koi

Erica Lukes is Director of Communications for Ted Roe's new IAUAPR ( International Association of U.A.P. Researchers) group.


Isaac Koi is a well-known researcher from the UK working to preserve and share UFO literature and documents, with the stated purpose of making them freely available to all. Isaac is known personally by a few trusted colleagues, but uses a pseudonym while working in the UFO community in order to protect his career. Recently, exposure of his identity has been threatened, causing him to announce that he was leaving UFO research.

Isaac Koi "Goodbye" post on Facebook

Here's how it came to be. 

(Note: The entire discussion along with the others that followed can be found at:

Nov. 28, in the Facebook group "ET Disclosure International," Chris Rutkowski started a discussion about how an old fake photo was featured in a recent book, "UFO's and Alien Abduction Phenomena: A Scientific Analysis" by Harold Povenmire. Chris Bledsoe is featured in the book, and he was touting Povenmire's reprint of a newspaper April Fool's Day joke from 1950 as a genuine photo of an alien body.



Rutkowski offered Isaac Koi's website ( http://www.isaackoi.com/alien-photos/koi-alien-photo-01.html ) documenting the history of this hoaxed photo.
From "UFO's and Alien Abduction Phenomena"
by Harold Povenmire

Bledsoe angrily defended the photo as genuine, said Povenmire was infallible, and asked "Who the heck is Koi?" Without knowing anything about the book or photo, Erica Lukes had joined the conversation to support Bledsoe and picked up on the issue of Isaac's anonymity, "Understanding peoples motives is crucial. When we come forward and put our identities out in the public area we risk our professional careers and our personal relationships."



After that, Ted Roe came in saying, "Isaac Koi deserves some respect for his work, however, operating under a pseudonym makes everything he says suspect." It snowballed from there, with Roe losing his cool, "I have..I'll ask.....Who the fuck is Isaac Koi and why won't he comply w the standards we do?"
Ted Roe
"Exec Dir IAUAPR.org, 
Exec Dir NARCAP.org"



It escalated with unsubstantiated allegations against Isaac and his "followers," charges of bullying and abuse. When a conference was discussed where Isaac had met with researchers, including some from NARCAP, Roe said that his friends had taken pictures, pictures that would identify Isaac.


Afterwards Roe threatened, "watch how I make these malcontents famous anytime someone searches their name."

Roe now claims the controversy started with an attack post on him elsewhere by skeptic Gilles Fernandez, but that's a smokescreen. Roe has issued a series of denials that he's made any threats of exposing Isaac Koi's identity.
Ted Roe's Facebook page


Confronted about his actions, Roe denies it while insulting anyone who shows support for Isaac, portraying them as imaginary followers or Isaac's "minions" of trolls.
Roe's denials, insults and accusations


There's a backstory.

a comment from Erica Lukes on the Roswell Slides from the defunct MUFON group.

This attack on Isaac Koi is Erica Lukes' revenge enacted by Ted Roe, fallout in part from the Roswell Slides fiasco. Lukes was a guest host for MUFON's show on KGRA where she interviewed Jaime Maussan between BeWitness and his MUFON symposium appearance, allowing him to defend the Slides against the critics he said were trying to discredit him. Her primary concern was trying to get the meanies to stop saying unfavorable things about her friends. Lukes has referred to Maussan and Paola Harris as role models that have guided and supported her. She sees anyone criticizing the fakes that these two promote as hateful debunking abusive meanies. She apparently saw the team that exposed BeWitness in that light. Isaac Koi, Chris Rutkowski and I were among the members of the "Roswell Slides Research Group," and it's tragically comic that Lukes rushed in to defend yet another fake photo of a dead alien, this starting this disgusting episode.


There have been shrill cries from Roe and Lukes about bullying and abuse, but they seem to have
engaged in plenty of this behavior themselves while pretending to be the victims. This Dec. 1 post from "UFO Classified  with Erica Lukes" shows she hasn't let the Slides fiasco go. She portrays herself as a victim of bullying attacks, just like Anthony Bragalia.

Erica Lukes on the Roswell Slides

Later in 2015, as part of Erica's MUFON job, she elected to shut down their Facebook discussion group with over 12,000 members. The real purpose was to silence conversations by and about John Ventre (and other embarrassments). I exposed her hand in this publicly, and it made her furious. Time passed, Erica eventually left MUFON and there were no other conflicts until we heard that she was part of a new organization, one that would provide, "... peer-reviewed publication, networking and collaboration, events, expert analysis, and more..." the International Association of UAP Researchers.

When Isaac posted a notice about Ted Roe's new IAUAPR group, I asked that since Erica was a member would her mentors Maussan & Paola Harris be a part of it. I'm sure that infuriated her, and her boss Ted Roe came to her defense and started a feud with Isaac. It trailed off when Isaac refused to respond to Roe's insults.

Erica Lukes found an opportunity to strike back. At the discussion at ET Disclosure International, the topic of Isaac's anonymity came up. Erica seized on this and then Ted Roe took over for her. She'd like to punish me, Gilles  Fernandez and the other "meanies," but found Isaac Koi an easier target. As a result of Roe's threats, Isaac is being forced to withdraw from ufology in order to protect his career and family. Isaac's done an invaluable service to the study of UFOs by working to preserve its history. This a huge loss to UFO scholarship.

Ted Roe is just a henchman. This is clearly the work of Erica Lukes​.

- - -


For further details and documentation:


Cross-referenced copy of Isaac Koi’s farewell statement (PDF, 151 pages)

ATS discussion: Isaac Koi to leave UFOlogy after Ted Roe NARCAP allegedly threatens to expose his anonymity. 

Sunday, August 14, 2016

Cash-Landrum UFO case in American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales





 American Myths, Legends, and Tall Tales: An Encyclopedia of American Folklore (Vol I) edited by Christopher R. Fee and Jeffrey B. Webb is a new book described as, "A fascinating survey of the entire history of tall tales, folklore, and mythology in the United States from earliest times to the present, including stories and myths from the modern era that have become an essential part of contemporary popular culture." It's a hardcover book, weighing in at 1138 pages.



It also features a few entries on UFO matters, such as the Ancient Aliens notions popularized in Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken, aliens & abductions, Area 51, the Hopkinsville Goblins and others. 



The Cash-Landrum case is also discussed on pages 199-201, in an a section by Curt Collins.


The book (including the full Cash-Landrum entry) can be previewed at the listing on Amazon.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

The Cash-Landrum File: Civil Action No. H84 348

UK historical researcher Isaac Koi posted on ATS:

"I am now pleased to be able to share a further collection of material – about 30 booklets of documents produced by Quest Publications (some of which are over 100 pages long). ...thanks to Russel Callaghan and others in the Birdsall family, the under-appreciated “Archives For the Unexplained” ("AFU") in Sweden has now scanned nearly 30 of the collections of documents published by Quest Publications."




Of particular interest, is 101-Cash_Landrum_File-Civil_Action, a collection of legal documents relating to the Cash-Landrum UFO encounter. Below is a link to the ATS article:
101-Cash_Landrum_File-Civil_Action

Direct link to the booklet:
The Cash-Landrum File: Civil Action No. H84 348

I do not believe a complete collection of legal files exists, but between this, the CUFON collection and John Schuessler's book, almost everything has been disclosed.


Many thanks to Isaac Koi for preserving this, and many other UFO historical records.



Friday, March 18, 2016

The $20 Million Cash-Landrum UFO Story



The Cash-Landrum UFO case publicity made a splash in 1981, but had a second wave starting in 1983 after the filing of the lawsuit against the US Government for 20 million dollars in damages. The suit stuck to the details of original incident, avoiding later embellishments such as the legend of the scorched road being removed and replaced by men in unmarked trucks.

Despite the resolve of Betty Cash and Vickie Landrum, there was not sufficient evidence to take the case to trial, and as attorney Peter Gersten later revealed, it was a bluff: 

“The lawsuit was brought in hope that behind the scenes the government would say, `Let’s keep this quiet, we’ll take care of the medical expenses and make sure nothing else happens’." 
Houston Chronicle, Texas Magazine, Page 8, 2 Star Edition, 11/17/1996

 See this earlier article for more on the lawsuit: Cash-Landrum UFO Case: Legal Rumors

Tabloid News

The article below on the Cash-Landrum lawsuit was sent to me by Martin Kottmeyer from his clippings of UFO stories from the 1984 period. It's typical of the coverage at the time and likely came from the tabloid National Examiner. It’s a good summary of the story, but has a few notable variations from canon. Quotations in newspapers, especially tabloids can’t be trusted for fidelity, but it’s interesting that Vickie refers to helicopter searchlights, something absent from earlier accounts. Betty Cash had breast cancer, but said, “The doctors told me radiation definitely caused my cancer.” The tests run during her original hospitalization were negative for radiation exposure.

The other point of interest is Vickie’s reference to the “Pentagon man,” which eventually evolved into a veiled death threat: “He questioned me and I answered him, and then he told me that people had died for less than what I was trying to do.” Vickie Landrum from her appearence on “Sightings” TV episode, segment: “Physical Effects,” July 31, 1992.

The Cash-Landrum case occurred at the same time lore surrounding Roswell was being developed, and distrust of the Government and the belief in a “Cosmic Watergate” UFO cover-up was central to them both. Without a villain to explain the lack of evidence, about all that is left are stories.

Also pictured, UFO sketch by Betty Cash.
Click here for larger version.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The Flying Saucer: A Manufactured Concept by Herbert Hackett


The Flying Saucer

A Manufactured Concept

Herbert Hackett
Ohio Wesleyan University 

(From Sociology and Social Research, May- June, 1948.)

It is interesting to examine the making of public opinion in the matter of the "flying saucer." Public opinion is, of course, not a thing, but the mixture of responses of a number of people to similar or related stimuli. This mixture takes form as a stereotyped, verbalized concept which is, for all practical purposes, a thing and thus used as the basis for action.1 The flying saucer is an excellent subject in that it is almost wholly a manufactured concept, lasting a short period of time and, so, easy to study.  It is, in addition, not too closely tied to the emotional colorations of prejudice and habit which would distort a similar study of opinion on Russia, vivisection, or the home. 

It was of little immediate interest when a pilot in Idaho “saw” a flying saucer. The wire services carried the story, tongue in cheek, and, having little news in the area, kept it alive from day to day with recapitulations of the original. Early the stereotyped concept was suggested; the term “flying saucer” was simple, so homely that everyone could visualize it. It was at once given authority by its appearance in the press. "There must be something to it. I read it in the paper.”

Later, we will see, the concept was strengthened by repetition, repetition by variations, “scientific" evidence and speculation, photography, analogy, wit, denial, apology. Newspapers, through juxtaposition, headlining, and suggestion, soon related it to other concepts, to well-established stereotypes and slogans — “the greatest air force in the world" and universal military training to protect "the American way of life" from "the menace of red- Fascism." Other events were soon reported which fitted the general pattern of the first story of early June 1947. A pilot "saw" one of the "what'sits" at 10,000 feet, going at 1,200 mph. When next “seen" the saucers had already acquired common, if vague, attributes of shape, size, speed, and altitude, and in a day or two had added "a blue, fiery tail," or "two tails like a comet." They came out of the West. 

So far there had been only a groping toward a plausible concept, with a gradual elimination of less easily grasped characteristics such as "disintegration," lateral and/or vertical revolution, and a "blister" for the pilot. Seemingly, however, the picture was about complete, for the wire services and editors the country over began to “lay” the story, concentrating all news of the event in one place, featuring the story by headlining and position, dramatizing it through pictures, invoking every “expert" in the land for pontification.

If we take Los Angeles as an example, it is interesting to note the lack of "live" news at the moment. The sensational Overell murder case had become involved in legal technicalities. There had not been for some time a sex crime where the “partially clad body" of a beautiful, young woman had been found.3 At the national level, John L. Lewis had been “good” for several weeks, coming to terms with the big steel companies, and the Russian”front" was still stalemated.

In the week of the saucer story St. Louis was concerned with the threat of flood and Chicago was involved in bitter discussion of rent control, but these were matters of local interest. In most of the nation it was a “ low” week, from an editor's viewpoint.

The scarcity of news was thus a large factor in the rapid increase of interest in the story. This increase is shown by a table, based on the Los Angeles Times
Date Total Inches   Page One Inches 
July 4 
July 5  28 
July 6  92  36 
July 7  136  32 
July 8  95  18 
July 9  57  13 
July 10 
Samples of flying saucer headlines

The Los Angeles Herald Express, on July 7, devoted over half the front page to the story, putting it in the same class as V-J Day and the "Black Dahlia" sex murder. The national coverage is somewhat less than the Los Angeles average. The Chicago Sun, not a “yellow" sheet in the usual sense, devoted 194 inches, 60 on the front page, on July 8. The story was displayed with two “end of the world" headlines, an 84-point and a 72-point streamer, both 8 columns.5 This is little less than the V-J Day display. 

The Cleveland Plain Dealer was more representative of the conservative press, with a  peak of 68 inches and a maximum of 18 inches on page one. The St. Louis Post Dispatch, recognized for its sense of news values, did not go above 55 inches, and never displayed the story higher than the fold of the front page. Both papers tended to treat the saucer as a human interest feature and not as news. 

Any such discussion by the press is, of course, a repetition of the concept. Whether the story is based on “ acts" or not, whether it is "true" or not, does not matter; for public opinion is often based not on a thing, measurably objective, but on a picture of a thing, repeated. It is better, perhaps, as Hitler demonstrated with his “big lie,” that the basis of the concept be not easy to demonstrate, allowing for the creative imagination of the teller and the lazy credulity of of the hearer. 

It follows, then, that the use of variation in report is an obvious strengthening factor. The skeptic is deceived by this lack of dogma, saying to himself, “ of course the stories are fantastic, but they have something in common; some common experience produced them." He thus maintains his sense of objectivity and can discuss the matter "rationally." In a sample mass-observation interview 6 it was found that few denied the simple concept, the majority merely attacking details which seemed to weaken the validity of the whole : e.g., “ as big as a five-room house,” "it disintegrated before my eyes." 

Another function of variation is that the individual is not inhibited but can exalt himself by observing some new features of the saucer. The conservative individual, too, is not unduly offended. He may accept the older, “proved” parts of the  concept and reject the new, perhaps more specific in detail.
Such repetition, in all its variations, and the endorsement by the authority of the press are the two basic “causes” of public opinion about the flying saucer. Other forces, however, were at work. 

“Scientific" evidence and speculation were soon brought to bear on the subject, strengthening the authority of the press. A “savant" "sees" one and, headlined, achieves authority far beyond that usually invested in a dairy inspector, which he was. Other “experts” report their observations: a meteorologist seems to give credence to the man-made aspect of the phenomena by denying that they are meteors; an engineer, who turns out to be only a pilot, chases one of the objects, discussing it later in terms of a plane spotter, another form of “expert” ; a priest finds something in his back yard, still hot, and takes three days to admit it is a hoax; the FBI, stereotype of accuracy and dependability,  investigates; physicists explain that “all rapidly moving bodies look elliptoid.”

The photographer presents his "factual" evidence, a series of blurs on a negative. Artists reinforce the concept with Buck Rogers pictures. Historians discuss the appearance of saucers in past years — the strange missiles over Sweden in 1946, something in San Francisco a few years ago. The air force admits one “flying wing," which might look like a saucer but it is still on the ground. 

With few exceptions the experts do not say that the discs exist: The spot on the film might be; the drawing could represent; the shape is possible; history has recorded something. In fact, usually buried deep in the story, is the statement or inference that the expert does not credit the stories at all. But the denial is in terms of the things it denies. 

Such denial merely serves to instill the picture more firmly in the public mind For it is obvious that a denial is as much a repetition of the concept as is an affirmation.8 Especially strong is the denial by the air force, so firmly stated that it must conceal “top drawer" secrets. 

Wit, too, is a denial, making homely the unusual. The homely we can accept. Ridicule also strengthens our belief, clearing away our doubts with the acid of emotion.So we find the saucer joke, the saucer gag, and clever ridicule working with the "straight news" story to make familiar the unusual. The concept having been fixed, interest in it is maintained at a strategic level by relating it to the public tensions of the moment. One newspaper displayed the story between news of Russian aggression and features on compulsory military training. 

Such juxtaposition is, of course, accidental in most cases, but a glimpse at the less responsible press will show how editors can build tension merely by relating other tensions. Such news as that of the atomic bomb, Russia, and our "shell of an army, a handful of 1,500,000 men" is soon read with eyes "big as saucers." By suggestion the public is led to see dangers which may not in fact exist, for example, the chaos which will result if the discs are part of a "foul plot of the Reds," -who are "out for world domination." By juxtaposition the press can suggest without a grain of evidence. By innuendo concept is related to concept, each reinforcing the other, wheels within wheels.10 The deliberate display techniques used by many papers, three of four in Los Angeles, is sound "journalism" perhaps, if weak logically.

We have seen how the concept was developed, how through repetition and the authority of the press and "experts" it became accepted. The pattern has much in common with the creation of Hitler's "Jew" or the manufacture of a stock "Communist." It is the die by which un-American activity committees mold the stereotype "un-American." It is the blueprint of the unsemantic world  of unreason. 

If, as the President's Commission on Civil Liberties has stated, we are in for a period of ogres, of witch hunts, and of jousting with the straw men built of hate, then it seems wise that we study the method by which they are introduced to the public. It might be useful when someone tries to prepare the way for a man on a White Horse. 



Notes

1 See Sofia/ Distance, a Syllabus, University of Southern California.

2 (Citation missing. Deals with story receiving authority solely due to being covered by the press.)

3 During the short span of the saucer story Los Angeles seems to have solved the problem of the "sex-fiend." Cf. Lincoln Steffens, Autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, p. 285 ff., the chapter entitled, “I Make a Crime Wave." 

4 Papers studied closely include those of Los Angeles, St. Louis, Chicago, New York, Columbus. A quick survey of Atlanta, San Francisco, Dallas, Cleveland, and Cincinnati papers showed no significant differences.

5 72 point equals 1 inch.  

6 Redlands, California, July 10. 

7 Cf. our ideas of "One World," a concept which most accept because it has the authority of age, 8 or 10 years, and because of its generality, which each can interpret. Many, however, reject the details of such a concept, which are its logical projection.

8 "Coca-Cola does not refresh" is almost as effective as "Coca-Cola, the pause that refreshes." Cf. the kidding of product and sponsor on some radio shows. 

9 Cf. the use of wit in anti-Semitism and the deliberate manufacturing of the “darky,"  happy-go-lucky, shiftless. Magazines such as the Saturday Evening Post have well-known formulas for Negro characters. Cf. also the force of ridicule in building the self-stereotype of minority groups as "God's chosen people." 

10 Cf. from the congressional debate on the Atomic Commission : Lilienthal was born in Lithuania; Lithuania is now part of Russia; so, it is suggested but not stated, Lilienthal is a "Red."


About the Author

Herbert Lewis Hackett, 
as a boy in 1929 

At the time of the article, Herbert Lewis Hackett was Assistant Professor of Journalism, Ohio Wesleyan University Delaware, Ohio. He was an instructor in the department of journalism and English, and also taught writing skills training into the framework of an introductory course in sociology. He was the author of several books on writing.

Here's a brief biography by his grandson, Ethan Daniel Davidson:
My grandfather was Herbert Lewis Hackett, born 16 January, 1917, Rangoon, Burma. He ended up back in the States, by the outbreak of WWII. After having earned his PhD in Linguistics from University of Michigan, he was drafted into the Army, commissioned as a Captain, given the assignment of teaching English to German POWs at a camp in Shamrock, Texas. He seems to have gotten into a fight with his CO after hearing of his father's death, and was ultimately discharged; it's my understanding he was a very reluctant conscript anyway. It was while working at the camp that he met the daughter of an itinerant preacher: Sarah Wilborn. Herbert and Sarah moved frequently, as Herbert was a college Professor: Arkansas, Salt Lake, Lansing, Buffalo. Herbert died of a heart attack in Buffalo, 1964.
Herbert L. Hackett, 1957

He didn't seem to have much else to say about UFOs, but used them as an example in his 1957 book on writing clearly, Understanding, and Being Understood:
"Is the report on the facts consistent within itself? This question implies that facts should not contradict themselves. An early report of the flying saucer, for example, stated that it moved at two thousand miles an hour, and that it had a "blister" in which two or three men were observed; yet that speed would make it impossible for an observer to note such details.”