The Phenomenon
The Contactee Issue
The Air Force Response
The Academic Response
The Public Response
The Problem
The Politics of Science
The Personal Politics of Science
The Growth of Knowledge
The Scientific Process as a Political Process
The Scientific Process and the Scientific Method
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In order to put McDonald's involvement in the UFO controversy in proper perspective it is necessary to view the controversy from its inception. Yet this itself is a difficult task because the matter is complex, convoluted and strewn with half truths and falsehoods; there is really no adequate way in which to adequately convey the flavor of the period from 1947-65 in an introductory chapter. [1]  But it is possible to cover some of the important events and in the process attempt to communicate something of the atmosphere which pervaded the subject at the time McDonald began his work in 1966. It would appear that the best way to briefly go about this is to first present a discussion of the general nature of the phenomenon reported since about 1947 and then indicate the response to it by the Air Force, the scientific community and the layman.


Although there have been efforts to relate the post World War II UFO phenomenon to the foo-fighters (balls of light seen by fighter pilots) of World War II, the airship wave of 1897, Medieval accounts of things seen in the sky and the miraculous events recounted in the Bible, [2]  for our purposes this kind of information is too esoteric and the links too tenuous for it to be relevant to setting the stage for McDonald's entrance. We can be content to engage the subject in 1947 when it first came to the attention of the American public as a result of the publicity afforded the sighting made by Kenneth Arnold as he flew his plane over Mt. Rainier, Washington, on June 24, 1947. Arnold allegedly saw eight disc-shaped objects flying at an estimated 1500 miles per


hour. The disc shape, somewhat similar to an inverted saucer on top of an upright saucer, soon became the prototype description as reports accumulated. Of course, many other shapes and variations on the saucer prototype, as well as the classic unidentified "light in the sky" have also been described.

J. Allen Hynek, Chairman of the Department of Astronomy at Northwestern University, has provided us with a typology of UFO reports which is useful for obtaining an initial grasp of the data. His typology consists of: nocturnal lights, daylight discs, radar-visual reports, close encounters of the first kind, close encounters of the second kind and close encounters of the third kind.

Nocturnal Lights are the most common UFO report and consist of unidentified lights in the night sky. As a class of reports they are numerically large, but evidentially not as significant as the other types. Hynek argues that:  [3]

The typical Nocturnal Light is a bright light, generally not a point source, of indeterminate linear size and of varying color but most usually yellowish-orange, although no color of the spectrum has been consistently absent, which follows a path not ascribable to a balloon, aircraft, or other natural object and which often gives the appearance of intelligent action. The light gives no direct evidence of being attached to a solid body but presumably may be.

The Daylight Disc, on the other hand, provides much more information to the researcher. [4]

The object (often objects in pairs) is variously described as oval, disc-shaped, "a stunted dill pickle," and ellipsoid. It generally is shiny or glowing (but almost never described as having distinct point source lights), yellowish, white or metallic. It exhibits in most cases what we would anthropomorphically describe as "purposeful" directed motion, with the ability to accelerate extremely rapidly. No loud sound or roars seem to be associated with Daylight Discs; sometimes there is a faint swishing sound.


As we move through the typology the evidence claims UFO researchers are prepared to make for their data increases. The Radar-Visual report consists of an observation made both with instrumentation and visually by one or more witnesses. [5] 

. . .  it can be said that the radar operator observes a blip on his screen that, he avers, is definite, is akin to the type of blip given by a large aircraft, is not the result of malfunction, and does not resemble "weather phenomena." A visual sighting is characteristically a light, or possibly a formation of lights strikingly unfamiliar to the observer, with generally only a suggestion, if that, of an object dimly outlined by the brightness of the lights. The speeds involved are invariably high, but combinations of high speeds at one time and hovering at another are not uncommon. Reversals of motion and sharp turns, not abrupt 90-degree turns, are characteristic of Radar Visual cases.

The Close Encounter cases are the most impressive from the viewpoint of the researcher. A brilliant light or object is seen within 500 feet, sometimes much closer, to the observer, although in Close Encounters of the First Kind there is no interaction between the percipient and the stimulus. Hynek describes a prototype thusly: [6]

Brilliant luminescence, relatively small size (of the order of tens rather than hundreds of feet), generally oval shape--sometimes capped with a dome-absence of conventional wings, wheels or other protuberances, and ability to hover and to accelerate very rapidly to high speeds characterize the UFO at close encounter.

The Close Encounter of the Second Kind does not differ from the Close Encounter of the First Kind except that the stimulus interacts with the environment in some way and leaves physical effects. Hynek States: [7]

The physical effects reportedly include tangible marks on the ground that can remain in evidence for days or even months and come ostensibly from physical contact of the craft with the ground, the scorching or blighting of growing things (particularly plants and trees), discomfort to animals as evidenced by their behavior, and such physical


effects on the human observer as temporary paralysis, numbness, a feeling of heat, and other discomfort. Interference with the local gravitational field is sometimes also reported, as evidenced by the reports of some observers of temporary feelings of weightlessness or other inertial effects, as though the well-known laws of inertia had been temporarily abrogated.

One remarkable reported physical effect involves interference in electrical circuits, causing car engines to cease functioning temporarily, radios to cut out or to exhibit uncommon static, car headlights to dim or be extinguished for a short while, and, on occasion, car batteries to overheat and deteriorate rapidly.

The Close Encounter of the Third Kind is even more bizarre, for it involves the reporting of the presence of an animated creature as part of the UFO observation. Hynek does not provide much of a prototype, he says: [8] 

They differ from other close encounter cases only by definition, by the reported presence of occupants, (in or about the craft) and by the fact that these encounters are not as frequently reported by highly trained and sophisticated people as are other close encounters.

Up to this point the qualitative aspects of the phenomenon have received attention. Let's now turn to the quantitative. Below is a table indicating the number of sightings of all types reported to the Air Force from 1947-65. These reports are almost exclusively domestic, but a few from American bases abroad are also included (see Table I). This does not mean the phenomenon itself is primarily domestic, on the contrary it is global in its scope. However, international communication about the problem and knowledge of foreign research itself is so limited that it is wise at this point to treat the American experience in isolation. Suffice it to say that reports of the same sort of data exist throughout the world.





  SOURCE: Project Blue Book,
Project Blue Book Information Office,
SAFOI, Washington, D.C.,
August 1, 1967, p. 7.

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Although Hynek's typology encompasses that aspect of the UFO phenomenon which he believes represents legitimate data, there is another component to the problem which most investigators conceive of as illegitimate, but because it is so bizarre it has received more that its share of attention and consequently, according to many UFO researchers, has had a disproportionate and unfavorable effect on the study of the UFO problem. It is the contactee issue.

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Hynek spoke of occupants in his prototype of the Close Encounter of the Third Kind. However, he was unwilling to entertain contactee reports. In the lexicon of Ufology the former consists of observations of, but not interactions with, alleged UFO occupants, while the latter consists of definite interaction with the occupants, often of a religious or semi-religious nature and often including claims of trips to other planets and/or assertions that the observers themselves are from other planets. The circus-type atmosphere which these reports created flourished in the 1950s and continues to exist to some degree. A few of the better known of the contactees were George Adamski, Truman Bethurum, Daniel Fry, Orfeo Angelucci, Howard Menger and Gabriel Green. They all wrote books and/or had followings based upon the extraterrestrial messages of doom or salvation which they profferred. [9]  They attracted a great deal of attention and regardless of the merits of the data enumerated by Hynek, data which serious UFO investigators claimed was, and is, anomalous, the contactee cults distracted interest from those data and increased the probability that the scientific community would view the UFO question as a nonsense problem and not submit it to rigorous scrutiny.

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Soon after the initial American UFO observations in June 1947 the Air Force as the defender of American air space took the responsibility to look into the problem and determine whether these events jeopardized the national security of the United States. Because earlier observations made in 1946 were over Sweden the fear existed that they were actually tests of Russian missiles which could, if they had intercontinental range, change the complexion of the embryonic cold war.

The Air Force maintained the sole official responsibility for explaining UFO data between 1947 and 1969. Volumes could be written on this subject alone. However, such detail is not necessary for the purposes of this study. What is important is that the Air Force staffed a small investigatory project which from 1947-49 was called Project Sign, from 1949-51 was named Project Grudge and from 1952-69 bore the code name Project Blue Book. The reports and press releases of each of the projects assured the public that the sightings were not a threat to the national security and could be explained as misidentifications of stars, planets and man-made objects, or were natural atmospheric phenomena, or hoaxes. [10]  The Air Force adhered to this public position for 22 years until the closing of Blue Book in 1969.

The Air Force made its pronouncements against a background of claims that it did so after careful investigation of sightings with the aid of some of America's finest scientific talent. The implication for members of the scientific community became obvious. The Air Force, through the use of the ample scientific muscle at its disposal, could readily explain the UFO sightings which perplexed the untrained layman.

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To the practicing scientist this meant that further work on the problem was unnecessary. This attitude received further reinforcement in the 1950s by the only academically produced treatise on the subject. A noted Harvard astronomer, Donald Menzel, produced a volume entitled Flying Saucers. [11]  Menzel pursued his UFO work very differently from the way in which he did his astronomy. Rather than trying to explain sightings by investigating them, i.e., interrogating witnesses, looking for possible causes for each event, etc., he authored a book containing examples of the various ways in which the atmosphere could produce a shining sphere-like or elliptical-shaped phenomenon which could fool the untrained observer. In so doing he produced the equivalent of an atmospheric optics text for the layman. However, he never confronted the data; he only offered possible explanations while assuming that UFOs were a nonsense problem. Nevertheless, his book became the definitive academic work on the subject during the 1950s and as such carried considerable weight among scientists.

In 1963 he followed it with a second book entitled The World of Flying Saucers written with Lyle Boyd. [12]  He drafted it in the same vein, treating the entire UFO phenomenon as preposterous pseudoscience. However, Menzel did get closer to the data, not through personal investigation of cases, but by gaining access to and explaining away official Air Force UFO reports from the Project Blue Book files. This book further ensconced Menzel as the definitive academic word on UFOs.

Consequently, prior to 1966 academics did very little to elucidate the UFO problem. Two UFO groups, the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) and the Aerial Phenomena Research Organization


(APRO) used some scientists and engineers as investigators, but no one made a concerted effort to examine the data. Two possible exceptions to this generalization, however, were J. Allen Hynek, at Northwestern University, and his protege Jacques Vallee. Because Hynek began his Air Force consulting with Project Sign in 1948 and maintained that relationship through 1969 he could claim closer ties to the UFO phenomenon than any other scientist. Yet, regardless of what he believed about the significance of the observations during those years. It was not until 1966 that he began publicly to take the position that the data deserved closer scrutiny. On the other hand, Jacques Vallee while ostensibly Hynek's protege wrote considerably more about the UFO phenomenon. In 1965 he published Anatomy of a Phenomenon [13]  and in 1966 with his wife Janine he penned Challenge to Science; the UFO Enigma. [14]  In both volumes he took a more systematic look at the UFO problem than had been previously attempted and tried to interest the scientific community in looking at the data. Nevertheless, for all practical purposes there was no UFO research taking place in the academic community prior to 1966.

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The response which the phenomenon evoked from the public proved detrimental to scientific activity in the short run, but if the data should prove anomalous, will be very important to the scientific response in the long run. This is because the public in the form of various authors, UFO groups and charlatans initially helped to frighten off rigorously trained investigators, yet these same individuals kept the UFO question alive, chronicled the data, and overcame Air Force efforts to inter the subject.


Former Marine Major Donald Keyhoe began it all in 1949 and developed into the most influential layman in the area. He published an article in True Magazine for December 1949 in which he claimed there was more to the UFO problem than the Air Force claimed and hypothesized an extraterrestrial explanation. [15]  Thus Keyhoe gave extensive exposure to both the extraterrestrial and conspiracy hypotheses. He elaborated on these ideas in books which appeared in 1950, [16]  1953, [17]  1955, [18]  and 1960. [19]  Each one enjoyed good sales which helped make the UFO problem a topic of general conversation. Of course, Keyhoe was not alone. Scores of authors wrote UFO books in the period 1950-1965, but Keyhoe remained the most authoritative sounding as a result of his "Pentagon connections," and probably the most widely read.

Many privately funded UFO organizations were formed during this time, however, only two still survive. The Aerial Phenomena Research Organization (APRO) began in 1952 under the direction of Coral Lorenzen, while the National Investigation Committee on Aerial Phenomena (NICAP) formed in 1956 with Harrison Brown as its head. Both functioned primarily as repositories for UFO sighting reports while they attempted to obtain a hearing for the data before the scientific community. Each recruited individuals on an international basis to investigate sightings and forward the ensuing reports to national headquarters; for APRO Tucson, Arizona, and for NICAP Washington, D.C. The NICAP group reorganized under the leadership of Donald Keyhoe (1956-69), attacked the Air Force vigorously and constantly lobbied on Capitol Hill for Congressional Hearings on the UFO question. On the other hand, the APRO leadership, recognizing the inadvisability of trying to attack the Air Force from its remote Tucson base of operations,


concentrated instead on fostering an image of a research-oriented organization. In fact, neither group did much research other than that done by the field investigators. Investigators wrote up and filed reports running into the tens of thousands over the years, but due to a lack of funds the research endeavor never went much further. Consequently, the groups developed their data bases, published newsletters and made very few converts in the scientific community.

The contactees referred to above, along with various charlatans and hucksters, did much harm to the attempt to acquire scientific legitimacy for the UFO phenomenon. The relatively quiet, by and large non-sensational, efforts of NICAP and APRO took a back seat to the bizarre tales of those individuals only interested in making a fast dollar from the excitement generated by UFO reports. As a result as time passed the first thought that crossed people's minds when the subject of UFOs arose was "little green men." This was obviously the last thing on the minds of the few serious researchers in the field, but it is representative of the type of image that had to be altered if the scientific community was going to consider the subject a legitimate topic of inquiry.

Therefore, we can see that between 1947 and 1965 there were a number of factors working to keep UFO data from undergoing scientific scrutiny. The Air Force had consistently written the matter off for 18 years. With these assurances, as well as those from Donald Menzel of Harvard, most scientists found no need to delve further into the problem. Moreover, this conclusion was additionally reinforced by the conspiracy claims of Keyhoe and various contactee and charlatan assertions which most reasonable men viewed as fraudulent.

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Briefly elucidating these salient aspects of pre-1966 UFO lore prepares us to embark on our case study in the strategy and practice of borderland science. I suspect what is observed in this instance is a slightly exaggerated version of the manner in which "science as usual" is conducted. This exaggeration appears to have two causes. The first concerns the perquisites of the scientific profession which are at stake. That is, if UFO data achieved respectability the scientists responsible, particularly if the extraterrestrial hypothesis (ETH) were assumed, would never have to go begging for research funds again. The second cause for exaggeration involves the restructuring of world views necessary to accommodate the hypotheses generally advanced to explain UFO data by those who believe it has significant scientific and social import. In other words, the ramifications of accepting UFO sightings as new observational data are much greater than those customarily encountered by the scientist in his daily work. Viewed as a political problem it is concerned with how scientists interact when confronted with a potentially anomalous phenomenon and at the same time it raises the issues both of how knowledge grows and of who gets what, when, where and how in the scientific community?

The term "anomalous phenomenon " is used here for lack of a better one. Ordinarily an anomalous observation is one which does not fit into existing theories or frameworks of analysis. What is denoted here is a special case within this class. It is an observation which, according to Kuhn, is potentially a cause of a paradigmatic shift in whatever discipline it occurs. [20]   To accommodate it, entire world views must be revised, it is not enough to "fudge a little" or extend already extant


conceptions of reality. These conceptions must undergo extensive revision or be shelved entirely. This distinction between the routine and the revolutionary discovery is made explicit by Blackwell. The routine discovery is made within the confines of previously established knowledge, while the revolutionary discovery is made outside these confines and results in a genuine upheaval of scientific thinking. [21]  When the possibility of such an event is in the offing the politics of science associated with it tends to become more visible.

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Political scientists generally conceive of the politics of science in terms of the relationships between government and science. The areas of principal emphasis have been the impact of government on science, the scientist as decision-maker, and the scientist and foreign policy. A few examples should serve to illustrate this.

A number of studies speak to the question of government impact on science. Price discusses the problems arising from the growth of the federally funded post World War II scientific establishment, [22]  while Reagan examines the funding policies of the federal government with respect to scientific research. [23]  In the same area Knorr and Morgenstern address themselves to policy questions related to the management of military research and development in the United States. [24]

Several authors treat the scientist as a decision-maker. In this respect Wohlstetter considers the effect scientists have on decisions concerning national and international security [25]  and Schilling explores President Truman's decision to pursue development of the H-Bomb. [26]  Gilpin directs his inquiry to the dispute which developed in the


scientific community over the nuclear test ban treaty, [27]  while the influence of scientists on policy-making in the executive branch is appraised by Schooler. [28]

With regard to foreign policy Schilling outlines the recent history of the scientist in the policy-making process [29]  and Skolnikoff illustrates the importance of scientific input to the Department of State decision-making process. [30]  Lastly, Nelson uses a study of the Pugwash Conference to indicate the increased sensitivity on the part of scientists to international politics. [31]

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On the other hand, "the personal politics of science" encompasses the everyday interaction of scientists. This approach stresses the interpersonal strategies invoked by scientists in the pursuit of knowledge. It fleshes out the skeleton of scientific research to provide insights into the social processes underlying the formal outcomes which are found in scholarly journals and texts. In so doing this personal politics of science brings one to a better understanding of both the context of discovery and validation. Unlike the traditional politics of science it is concerned with the micro-analysis of the behavior of scientists. Although governmental and scientific institutions play a role, the primary actors in such analyses are the scientists themselves. The point of such endeavors is to break out of the time-honored myth which portrays the scientist as a disinterested observer who, with respect to his research, is neutral both in the laboratory and in the world.


For example, DeGrazia chronicles the treatment given Emmanuel Velikovsky and his work by the scientific community. He concentrates on the interactions of Velikovsky with his critics, the scientific journals, book publishers and other academics. [32]  This personal approach to the politics of science is also utilized by Greenberg. He takes advantage of the knowledge he acquired as an assistant editor of Science to explicate the history of the politics of what he calls "pure science" in the United States. He places emphasis on the period just prior to World War II through 1965 in a discussion directed toward which scientists wanted what projects, where, and why. [33]  In a similar (personal) vein Barber points out that while literature exists which explores political, technological, economic and religious resistance to new ideas in science, virtually none probes resistance to new discoveries on the part of scientists themselves. He goes on to provide examples of this phenomenon. [34]

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There is another stream of literature which converges on these same problems from the perspective of the sociology and history of science. It is concerned with the manner in which knowledge grows. [35]  The building bloc notion has been generally accepted until quite recently. In essence this hypothesis suggests that knowledge grows progressively and incrementally, each new idea following logically from that which has gone before. However, this is not the only position in the literature. According to Kroeber it is the exhaustion of ideas in one area of research which leads to new problems or orientations and the concomitant growth of knowledge. [36]  The identical outcome is produced by a series of


"micro-revolutions" if the argument of Toulmin is accepted. He claims that old theories are not discarded in crisis periods, as Kuhn would have us believe, but rather changes are made in the basic assumptions. Later the "so-called" old theories are reintroduced or surface in other disciplines. [37]

The concept of growth accepted by Crane [38]  and Ziman [39]  is that of Kuhn [40]  which was later reinterpreted by Masterman [41]  and thus accepted by Kuhn. [42]  Kuhn asserts that periods of science-as-usual, what he calls "normal science," are interspersed with periods of crisis and then revolution. Once a revolution occurs a paradigm develops in a discipline, or a part thereof, which attracts scientists to it and permits normal science to continue again. Crisis is precipitated by problems insoluble within the old paradigm. Revolution is the "breaking out" of the old paradigm and the formation of a new one in order to resolve crisis-causing problems. The definition of paradigm is not clear, but Masterman presents three usages gleaned from Kuhn's work:

  1. metaphysical, a world view

  2. sociological, a universally recognized scientific achievement

  3. an artifact or construct which provides tools for specific problem-solving

Beyond the range of all of these usages anomalies may occur which could lead to crisis within a discipline and eventual revolution. The growth of knowledge, then, is portrayed as a cyclical process.

An aspect of this process which the proponents of all of these hypotheses fail to entertain is the political component. Although Crane comes close, by citing the cognitive and social constituents of knowledge growth, [43] and Kuhn even uses the revolutionary analogy to describe his paradigm shift, [44]  they nonetheless neglect the political.


It is at that point where this research takes advantage of both the personal politics of science literature and the growth of knowledge hypotheses to suggest how scientific growth, of a revolutionary nature, occurs, not only at the abstract level of theory, but also at the real world level of the scientific arena. The Kuhnian model of growth seems potentially the most appropriate to the UFO phenomenon. It has an appeal regardless of which conception of paradigm one chooses to adopt. For it is a paradigm shift which is necessary, if the UFO phenomenon is truly anomalous, to transform the scientific climate of opinion toward the subject and foster interest in it. Either a change in world view, a critical experiment, or some application of new, or heretofore unused, instrumentation for observational purposes, is required to change the research picture vis-a-vis the subject. This is necessary because research cannot go forward as long as the subject is deemed illegitimate.

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To understand the efforts which have been made in this direction it is constructive to conceive of the scientific process as a political process. While this is heresy to the positivist, it is fundamental to bridging the gap between paradigms. As Kuhn points out there is always resistance to new ideas from the old guard. In some instances it is overcome, in others the younger


generation of scientists is forced to wait for the older generation to die off before acceptance of the new ideas can occur. However, Kuhn does not give much consideration to the nature of the struggle to obtain acceptance. The struggle results from the incommensurability of the old and the new paradigm. Each carries with it a set of criteria for evidence claims and acceptable methods of validation. Unfortunately, the criteria and methods of the new paradigm may not be admissible under the standards of the old. Since the latter has proven itself many times in the past and its adherents, who are legion, have world views and careers securely anchored within it, resistance to the new paradigm develops. Yet, because the standard bearers, of each do not accept one another's basic assumptions about the world and/or how to do research they can only talk at, not with, one another; intersubjectively verifiable claims are not possible because the followers of each approach speak different languages. When such a situation exists the outcome becomes a matter of persuading those of the old school to accept the new. Kuhn is cognizant of this and points out that proponents of the new paradigm try to make their case by showing that their paradigm solves the problems which had previously caused a crisis, predicts further unexpected solutions to other problems and is more aesthetically pleasing than its predecessor. However, Kuhn does not see this as a political process and does not elaborate on it.


In fact, he admits that the research which could throw light on the conversion question has not been done. I believe this attempt to gain acceptance can usefully be viewed as politicking, often in a revolutionary way, for purposes of securing an assenting constituency. These behaviors, and those related to them, constitute the personal politics of science of this study.

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We are well under way to grasping this concept if we define the scientific process as any and all behaviors engaged in by scientists to further their science-related interests. This is a considerable embellishment of the concept of scientific method which is usually used interchangeably with scientific process. When traditionally used it consists of an objective scientist hypothesizing an outcome, doing an experiment, collecting the resulting data, interpreting the outcome and writing up the findings for publication. The result of the above expanded definition, on the other hand, is to suggest that science consists of much more than what scientists do in their labs or report in books and journal articles. The scientific process viewed as a political process does not conceive of the scientist as neutral, but rather as an advocate. He has a position with respect to the problems he studies, possibly to a greater extent on controversial issues, and he desires to promulgate this position. Therefore, he engages in


behaviors which he believes will foster his substantive findings, argumentation and other research ends. These behaviors are political and constitute the tactics of the strategy which he feels will best serve to resolve the issue which is at stake. This view, then, enlarges the repertoire of activities which comprise the scientific process and makes it possible to speak of the scientist as a political actor.

This orientation has certain distasteful aspects to some. For instance, it makes the behaviors associated with the scientific method, namely those enumerated above, a subset of the behaviors included in the scientific process. The figure which appears below serves to illustrate this. The schematic itself is the scientific process. It consists of the scientific method represented by the behaviors in the inner box and the associated political activities shown peripherally outside the inner box. The latter are not intended to be all inclusive, but should serve as a useful heuristic.

Another difficulty with this enlarged conception of the scientific process is that it permits individuals other than scientists to participate. This implication should not be interpreted as a covert means of legitimating as scientific the actions of those who take part in the scientific process, but who are not scientists; for this is not the intention of the definition. An individual can be a party to the scientific process without the




Obtaining Grants   University Colloquia

Developing Strategies

Retaining Credibility

Radio Appearances

Industrial Colloquia

Scientific Method
  • Hypothesizing
  • Experimenting
  • Data Collection
  • Interpretation
  • Writing up Findings
  • Publication

Attacking Other

Defending Oneself

Government Agency

Neutralizing Opponents   TV Appearances


necessity that the inference be drawn, either that he is a scientist, or that his work is scientific. For these labels are reserved for the professional scientist in the first instance and for anyone who adheres to the scientific method in the second instance.

The elaboration of the normal scientific process definition is a means to a better understanding of the personal politics of science. Informally it has existed since the first scientist penned a biography. In reading The Double Helix [45]  or Lawrence and Oppenheimer, [46]  for instance, all of the above is implicit, but not elaborated. The McDonald UFO case study which follows is a detailed examination of selected aspects of one man's attempt to force a paradigm shift on the American scientific community. The ramifications would have been of major import to society if McDonald had proved successful. Few areas of life would have remained unaffected, at least in the industrialized world; space budgets, military budgets, priorities at all levels would have undergone reassessment along with life styles, careers, and cosmological orientations. That McDonald failed is not to say that he was wrong, nor that the issue is no longer joined. Neither is it to imply that he was correct and championed an idea whose time had not come. The UFO phenomenon is a thorny issue, not readily amenable to scientific investigation; the controversy continues, but is smoldering, rather than burning. Only time will tell if James McDonald pursued, in his own words, "the most important scientific problem of our time," or a will-o'-the-wisp.


In either case, a great deal can be learned about the behavior of scientists when paradigms are at stake from the analysis of his attempt to legitimate the study of the UFO phenomenon. In particular, we can better understand, at least in this case, how a scientist tried to bridge the chasm between an old and a potentially new paradigm.

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  1. See David Jacobs, The UFO Controversy in America, Indiana University Press, 1975, for an excellent discussion of this period. - Back To Text

  2. See Jacques Vallee, Anatomy of a Phenomenon, H. Regnery Co., Chicago, 1965. - Back To Text

  3. J. Allen Hynek, The UFO Experience, H. Regnery, Inc., Chicago, 1972, p. 49. - Back To Text

  4. Ibid, p. 67. - Back To Text

  5. Ibid, p. 79. - Back To Text

  6. Ibid, p. 108. - Back To Text

  7. Ibid, p. 110. - Back To Text

  8. Ibid, p. 161. - Back To Text

  9. See Jacobs for an excellent discussion of the backgrounds of these men and the beliefs they put forth. - Back To Text

  10. United States Air Force Air Material Command, Unidentified Aerial Objects; Project Sign, Dayton, Ohio, W.P.A.F.B., 1948.

    United States Air Force Air Material Command, Unidentified Flying Objects; Project Grudge, Dayton, Ohio, W.P.A.F.B., 1949.

    Assorted Blue Book press releases, 1951 - 65. - Back To Text

  1. Donald Menzel, Flying Saucers, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1953. - Back To Text

  2. Donald Menzel & Lyle Boyd, The World of Flying Saucers, Doubleday, Garden City, New York, 1963. - Back To Text

  3. Jacques Vallee, Anatomy of a Phenomenon, H. Regnery Co., Chicago, 1965. - Back To Text

  4. Jacques & Janine Vallee, Challenge to Science; the UFO Enigma, H. Regnery Co., Chicago, 1966. - Back To Text

  5. Donald Keyhoe, "The Flying Saucers are Real," True Magazine, December 1949, pp. 17-21. - Back To Text

  6. Donald Keyhoe, The Flying Saucers are Real, Fawcett Publications, New York, 1950. - Back To Text

  7. Keyhoe, Flying Saucers from Outer Space, Holt, New York, 1953. - Back To Text


  1. Donald Keyhoe, The Flying Saucer Conspiracy. Holt, New York, 1955. - Back To Text

  2. Donald Keyhoe, Flying Saucers: Top Secret. Putnam, New York, 1960. - Back To Text

  3. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Second Edition), Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1962. - Back To Text

  4. Richard J. Blackwell, Discovery in the Physical Sciences, University of Notre Dame Press, 1971, pp. 53, 54. - Back To Text

  5. Donald K. Price, The Scientific Estate, Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1965. - Back To Text

  6. Michael D. Reagan, Science and the Federal Patron, London: Oxford University Press, 1969. - Back To Text

  7. Klaus Knorr and Oskar Morgenstern, "Science and Defense: Some Critical Thoughts on Military Research and Development," Policy Memorandum No. 32, February 18, 1965, Princeton University. - Back To Text

  8. Wohlstetter, "Scientists, Seers and Strategy," Foreign Affairs. April 1963, pp. 220-35. - Back To Text

  9. Warner R. Schilling, "The H-Bomb Decision -- How to Decide Without Actually Choosing," Political Science Quarterly, March 1961, pp. 58-70. - Back To Text

  10. Robert Gilpin, "The Intra-Scientific Conflict Over a Nuclear Test Ban: The Problem of Conflicting Expertise," in Robert Gilpin, ed., American Scientists and Nuclear Weapons Policy, Princeton, New Jersey: Princeton University Press, 1968, pp. 251-78. - Back To Text

  11. Dean Schooler, Jr., Science, Scientists, and Public Policy, New York: The Free Press, 1971. - Back To Text

  12. Warner R. Schilling, "Scientists, Foreign Policy, and Politics," The American Political Science Review, June 1962, pp. 287-300. - Back To Text

  13. Eugene B. Skolnikoff, "Scientific Advice in the State Department," Science. November 25, 1966, pp. 980-85. - Back To Text

  14. William R. Nelson, "Pugwash: The Scientific Conscience and International Politics," in William R. Nelson, ed. The Politics of Science, London: Oxford University Press, 1968. - Back To Text

  15. Alfred DeGrazia, ed., The Velikovsky Affair. New Hyde Park, New York: University Books, 1966, pp. 171-232. - Back To Text

  16. Daniel S. Greenberg, The Politics of Pure Science, New York: The World Publishing Company, 1967. - Back To Text

  17. Bernard Barber, "Resistance by Scientists to Scientific Discovery," Science, September 1, 1961, pp. 596-606. - Back To Text

  18. Much of the following discussion relies upon Diana Crane, Invisible Colleges, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1972. - Back To Text

  19. A.L Kroeber, Style and Civilizations, lthaca, New York: Cornell University Press, 1957. - Back To Text

  20. S. Toulmin, "Conceptual Revolutions in Science," In R.S. Cohen & M.W. Wartofsky, eds., Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science, Dordrecht, Holland: Reidel Publishing Company, Vol. 3, pp. 331-47. - Back To Text

  21. Crane, passim. - Back To Text

  22. J.M. Ziman, Public Knowledge: The Social Dimension of Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1968. - Back To Text

  23. Kuhn, passim. - Back To Text

  24. M. Masterman, "The Nature of a Paradigm," in I. Lakatos & A. Musgrave, eds.. Criticism and the Growth of Knowledge, Cambridge: At the University Press, 1969, pp. 59-89. - Back To Text

  25. Thomas Kuhn, The Structure of Scientific Revolutions (Second Edition), Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1971, passim last chapter. - Back To Text

  26. Crane, passim. - Back To Text

  27. Kuhn (Second Edition), passim. - Back To Text

  28. James D. Watson, The Double Helix. A Personal Account of the Discovery of the Structure of DNA, New York: Antheneum, 1968. - Back To Text

  29. Nuel P. Davis, Lawrence and Oppenheimer, New York: Simon and Schuster, 1968. - Back To Text

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