The primary focus of this study is the personal politics of science which tends in this instance to cast light upon the reception of potentially new observational data in science, Thomas Kuhn's notion of paradigm shift, and the history of the UFO controversy itself. Moreover, through a decidedly different look at the scientific process than that which is traditionally put forth, an effort is made to demonstrate that the scientific process can be profitably regarded as a political process.
Ideally, a more complete reconstruction of the scientific controversy surrounding the UFO problem is the proper foundation on which to build. Unfortunately, some participants in the affair refused to, or could not for various reasons, cooperate. Consequently, this study is based on a subset of information, the core of which I believe is virtually complete. By this I mean that the nucleus of this research consists of the complete work, and correspondence where relevant, of the late Dr. James E. McDonald who was the most outspoken academic in the UFO debate from 1966-71. Concentrating on McDonald, for my purposes, is the wisest strategy to pursue, for it will permit me to examine those issues referred to above, with the knowledge that only a limited amount of material pertinent to the McDonald experience has escaped my scrutiny. Yet, this should not be misconstrued to mean that McDonald alone will receive attention; for in his efforts to resolve the UFO riddle McDonald interacted with virtually all the prominent names in what has come to be referred to as the Field of Ufology. As these interactions arise I will chronicle them. As a result the reader will
obtain an understanding of the personalities, issues, and strategies which compose the context of the UFO controversy. More importantly, however, this will convey the politics of being a scientific frontiersman. That is, attempting to make knowledge claims beyond those generally accepted by the scientific community.
The study is organized into seven chapters. In chapter one a framework for analysis is developed after reviewing some of the literature in the fields of Ufology, the politics of science, the sociology of science and the history of science. Within this framework the distinction is made between the scientific method and the scientific process; the former being a subset of the latter. Chapter two concentrates on McDonald's activities in 1966, the first year of his UFO involvement. He is followed intensively in order to capture the flavor of the highly political milieu in which he functioned and accordingly to make the case that the scientific process, at least in the potentially revolutionary instance, is a political process. Having demonstrated that, chapters three, four, five and six are less intensive, but are more substantively focused on single events as they highlight various aspects of the borderland science endeavor. In chapter three McDonald is observed meddling in the Air Force sponsored Condon Project at the University of Colorado, while in chapter four he engineers the 1968 UFO Symposium before the Science and Astronautics Committee of the U.S. House of Representatives. A few of the pitfalls of engaging a borderland subject are illustrated in chapter five by the battle which ensued over McDonald's spending of Office of Naval Research atmospheric physics research funds for UFO studies. This is followed by an examination of the 1969 American Association for the Advancement of
Science (AAAS) UFO Symposium preparations in chapter six. Although McDonald did not play a role as a symposium organizer, the event itself -- getting established science to confront the UFO problem -- was the primary goal of his campaign. It is therefore instructive to view the confrontation. Lastly, chapter seven speaks to the concept of borderland science activity and an attempt is made to flesh out Kuhn's notion of a paradigm shift by discussing it in terms of a revolutionary political process.