Friday, May 09, 2008

Ufology and Perspective

Three years ago, a well-known ufologist sent me a de-classified Top Secret memo from 1947 that read as follows:

16 December 1947

MEMORANDUM FOR DR. BUSH:

Subject: Preparation Against a Sneak Attack

1. At the meeting of the War Council on 18 December the following decision was reached:

Secretary Forrestal appointed a committee consisting of Dr. Bush, Mr. Souers, and General Gruenther, with Dr. Bush as chairman, to examine this problem in all its facets, particularly its relation to civil defense. This committee is to render a report covering the best manner of handling these problems from an organizational standpoint.

2. Your committee will be considered a committee of the War Council, and his office is prepared to furnish such personnel, funds, and other forms of assistance as may be required in the prosecution of the committee's work. As in the case of all committees of the War Council, your committee will be authorized to call on all agencies under the Secretary of Defense for such assistance as the committee may from time to time require.

3. I recognize that the problem before your committee is a difficult one and that it will require some time for you to prepare any recommendations. At the same time, I would appreciate it if you would keep the War Council periodically advised as to the progress which is being made.

JOHN H. OHLY
Special Assistant to the Secretary

Now, if you were to show this to anyone outside ufology even remotely familiar with the time period, they would no doubt tell you that the meeting was clearly designed to deal with a sneak attack from the Soviet Union, which is what all American defense planning was focused on in 1947, a very turbulent year at the beginning of the Cold War, where the risk of a "hot war" was very real indeed (see the Wikipedia entry for that period for a reasonably good summary of events).

The ufologist who sent this to me, however, saw it differently, as seen by the fact that he wrote "by whom?" in the margin next to the phrase "Preparation Against a Sneak Attack" - the implication being that the meeting may have been discussing a sneak attack by aliens, not the Soviets.

This... "interpretation" (to be kind) shows a complete lack of historical perspective and understanding. It also shows a ufologist who is sadly typical, particularly amongst the "Cosmic Watergate" group, i.e. one who is less concerned with logic, reason, and the truth, than he / she is about fitting everything into their very small "it's all about Roswell / ET / conspiracy" box. You can see the most recent manifestation of this way of "thinking" this week in Steven Bassett's paranoid ranting about how Google has censored his "open letter" to Senator Hillary Clinton (see here for the text of Bassett's press release).

This is what the ET / conspiracist types do - they filter everything through their own myopic world view. Unfortunately, this is the point of view that gets reported most often in the mainstream media, not because they are part of some over-arching conspiracy, but because the conspiracists themselves are the people amongst all UFO researchers who yell the loudest, and so therefore attract the most attention.

This is bad history, pure and simple - the kind that would get a person flunked out of a 1st year university course. But in the wacky world of ufology, it often passes as received wisdom from on high... which is a sad but telling state of affairs.

Paul Kimball

1 comment:

Tom Huston said...

I don't know, Paul... Read through an MJ-12 lens, that memo is pretty awesome. This line is the best: "I recognize that the problem before your committee is a difficult one and that it will require some time for you to prepare any recommendations." If they're really talking space aliens, then the understatement is priceless. :)

Now if you are firmly decided that MJ-12 never existed, then, sure, it's just more Cosmic Watergate paranoia. But you have to at least appreciate, even from a purely mythological standpoint, how hilariously cool that memo reads through Majic eyes, especially with the names involved...