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.It takes a lot of chutzpah to write this paragraph, lambasting civilian UFO researchers, when you consider the ones that came just before and after it:
Before:No evidence of official secrecy about UFOs (which is different than saying there had been a massive coverup of something like a crashed flying saucer)? I'm no conspiracy theorist, but even I recognize that this statement is absurd on its face, given that there was plenty of evidence that the subject had been subjected to official secrecy. I'm not talking about bogus materials like MJ-12 (which, if it had been real, would have been in place at the time Condon was writing), but rather real secrecy, like the Robertson Panel (which was specifically referenced in the Condon Report), or even the cover-up of the Roswell Incident, which is undoubted, whether you buy the alien spacecraft explanation, Project Mogul, or something else - whatever it was, it was not a "weather balloon".
It has been contended that the subject has been shrouded in official secrecy. We conclude otherwise. We have no evidence of secrecy concerning UFO reports. What has been miscalled secrecy has been no more than an intelligent policy of delay in releasing data so that the public does not become confused by premature publication of incomplete studies of reports.
So, no official secrecy, and the government is perfectly clean - rather, it's the civilian UFO researchers, authors, lecturers, and so forth, who are the problem according to Condon. What to do about that?
A related problem to which we wish to direct public attention is the miseducation 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.Whatever you might think of the UFO phenomenon, this section should anger any thinking, rational individual (particularly given the erroneous conclusions offered by Condon just before). If these children for whose welfare Condon was seemingly so concerned had read the data in his own study, the hypocrisy of this conclusion / recommendation would have been clear. There was evidence, there was data - in other words, there was something that was worthy of serious scientific study, as opposed to the virtual censorship advocated by Condon. Children would not be educationally harmed by reading about UFO reports; they were educationally harmed by the people who took Condon's conclusion as gospel, and acted on his erroneous and unscientific recommendations.
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.
Whether intentional or not - and reasonable people can debate the motives that underlay the Condon Report - the effect was to achieve exactly what the Robertson Panel recommended in 1953: the debunking of the UFO phenomenon. The ultimate irony is that the Condon Report, when it discussed the Robertson Panel, concluded:
Of course, who needed a "private" debunking effort, when you could get one funded by the United States Air Force, and directed by one of America's most respected and accomplished scientists, who, in chastising teachers for allowing their students to look into the UFO subject, ignored the data contained in his own report, which showed the subject of the UFO phenomenon to be one of the great unsolved scientific mysteries of the 20th century. Or, as the conclusion to the study of the Trent photos case (1950) found:
So far as we can determine, no official steps were ever taken to put into effect the training and "debunking" recommendations of the Roberston panel. A private effort was not to be expected, since such a program would not be commercially attractive and would conflict with books that were beginning to make money by exploiting popular confusion about the ETH and alleged government conspiracies.
This is one of the few UFO reports in which all factors investigated, geometric, psychological and physical appear to be consistent with the assertion that an extraordinary flying object, silvery, metallic, disk-shaped, tens of meters in diameter, and evidently artificial, flew within sight of two witnesses. It cannot be said that the evidence positively rules out a fabrication, although there are some physical factors such as the accuracy of certain photometric measures of the original negatives which argue against a fabrication. (p. 407)This should leave any reasonable observer with only one conclusion: that the real danger to the sound education of not just children, but all Americans, came from Edward Condon, and those in the mainstream who bought into his debunking, hook, line and sinker. Unfortunately, the effect of his unscientific debunking is stronger than ever today - and citizens are that much poorer because of it, whatever the UFO phenomenon may represent.