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Thread: J Allen Hynek

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    J Allen Hynek

    Any thoughts on the man? Seems the most serious in the field of investigating unidentified flying objects. He started as a team member of project blue book as a skeptic, but changed his opinion as time went on.

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    Any thoughts on the man? Seems the most serious in the field of investigating unidentified flying objects. He started as a team member of project blue book as a skeptic, but changed his opinion as time went on.
    I never heard of him.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hornblower View Post
    I never heard of him.
    Among a number of activities he created the Close Encounters scale

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Close_...er?wprov=sfti1


    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J%2E_A...ek?wprov=sfti1

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    I was very interested in UFO's when in college and for a while after, although always very skeptical. I recall reading Hynek's book with the Close Encounters scale, which also included more distant sightings like Daylight Disks and Nocturnal Lights. He didn't come across as a UFO nut, just an intelligent skeptic who had some cases he couldn't explain satisfactorily.

    He was also noted for postulating a noted sighting as "swamp gas". He was probably correct about that.
    Cum catapultae proscriptae erunt tum soli proscript catapultas habebunt.

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    Hynek acted as scientific advisor to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under three consecutive projects: Project Sign, Project Grudge, and Project Blue Book. Where is the conspiracy?

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    The view from The Skeptical Inquirer, which is skeptical that he was wholly a skeptic himself. The "swamp gas" comment seems to have changed his life.

    https://www.csicop.org/si/show/the_s..._j_allen_hynek
    There is something fascinating about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact.
    Mark Twain, Life on the Mississippi (1883)

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    He was not a “ufo nut” or someone out to make money by expounding fantastic theories. He was a down to earth scientist, who was irked by the airforce setting up a panel of low ranked officers to pretend to investigate cases and summarily dismiss them apriori. He said that the label “flying saucer” was propagated, because it trivialised the question to the verge of ridicule.

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    Well, that didn't take long. 6 replies and already big mean Air Force setting up honest scientist to fail. Whether it is true or not doesn't matter, such accusations are why we have a CT forum and why we keep UFO topics here. Please don't pretend there's no conspiracy angle to UFO researcher topics. Here's an official warning, gzhpcu: do not post such threads again outside the CT forum, and do not again comment on moderator actions in other ways than allowed in rule 17.

    ETA: the moderator action mentioned was moving this thread from OTB to the CT forum
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    Please delete or lock the thread. Thanks

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    Quote Originally Posted by gzhpcu View Post
    He was not a “ufo nut” or someone out to make money by expounding fantastic theories. He was a down to earth scientist, who was irked by the airforce setting up a panel of low ranked officers to pretend to investigate cases and summarily dismiss them apriori. He said that the label “flying saucer” was propagated, because it trivialised the question to the verge of ridicule.
    He was never really a down-to-earth scientist though, was he?
    Although I have no great respect for Csicop, they make a valid point about his occult interests, which really blossomed into the public domain with The Edge of Reality, which he coauthored with Jaques Vallee.
    While one may sympathize with Hynek's standpoint that "there is a case to be answered" with regard to some UFO experiences, when he strikes off into speculation about unobserved domains of reality he leaves "down-to-earth" scientific rigour a long way behind. There's a big gap between "there are things we can't explain" and "we need a whole new understanding of the nature of reality".

    Grant Hutchison
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    Quote Originally Posted by grant hutchison View Post
    He was never really a down-to-earth scientist though, was he?
    I dunno - his ADS bibliography shows a lot of work on stellar spectra, using image-orthicon TV-style detectors in astronomy, satellite-tracking techniques, searching for lunar transient phenomena, and a bunch of director-paperwork annual observatory reports. Pretty down-to-earth at least as astronomers go, and that's about all we'd have to go on were it not for the UFO projects.

    Although I have no great respect for Csicop, they make a valid point about his occult interests, which really blossomed into the public domain with The Edge of Reality, which he coauthored with Jaques Vallee.
    While one may sympathize with Hynek's standpoint that "there is a case to be answered" with regard to some UFO experiences, when he strikes off into speculation about unobserved domains of reality he leaves "down-to-earth" scientific rigour a long way behind. There's a big gap between "there are things we can't explain" and "we need a whole new understanding of the nature of reality".
    To my mind, it depends on whether one speculates in the name of doing science.

    Hynek almost certainly ran into an eventually-documented facet of Blue Book - the USAF, once they decided that UFOs were not a national-security threat (after some of the brass initially leaned the other way), didn't care what beliefs were popular as long as they dd not include "we are operating high-altitude and high-speed aircraft". "Swamp gas" was fine by that standard even (especially?) if many people thought it an obvious coverup. At about the same time (~1952), the CIA is documented to have become concerned that the USSR could deliberately generate a flap of UFO reports and tie up reporting channels for a genuine air attack, and thus had an interest in keeping the whole discussion low-key. (Some of this documentation is set out in the book Watch the Skies: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth by Curtis Peebles, Smithsonian 1994)

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    Quote Originally Posted by ngc3314 View Post
    I dunno - his ADS bibliography shows a lot of work on stellar spectra, using image-orthicon TV-style detectors in astronomy, satellite-tracking techniques, searching for lunar transient phenomena, and a bunch of director-paperwork annual observatory reports. Pretty down-to-earth at least as astronomers go, and that's about all we'd have to go on were it not for the UFO projects.
    I'm not suggesting he didn't do down-to-earth science; just that he was not a down-to-earth scientist - there was a thread of occult and paranormal belief that predated his UFO involvement, and a subsequent willingness to speculate well beyond the data ("extradimensional intelligences" for instance). Neither of those are easily described as being "down-to-earth" attributes.
    I once had a colleague who was solidly good at his job, who had published in many medical journals on mainstream topics, but who nevertheless believed that dinosaurs were a hoax.

    Grant Hutchison
    Blog

    Note:
    During life, we all develop attitudes and strategies to make our interactions with others more pleasant and useful. If I mention mine here, those comments can apply only to myself, my experiences and my situation. Such remarks cannot and should not be construed as dismissing, denigrating, devaluing or criticizing any different attitudes and strategies that other people have evolved as a result of their different situation and different experiences.

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