Approximately two years ago, NCAS placed the 1968 report of the University of Colorado UFO project, Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, on the web. That report represented, and still represents, the mainstream scientific consensus on the UFO issue, to the effect that no scientific purpose would be served by further study of UFO's. That view, however, was not unanimous. A small minority of scientific critics of the Colorado work objected strenuously to its conclusions even as they were being developed. Those critics, in addition to their respectable scientific credentials, had connections to influential figures in politics and the media, and those connections led eventually to the convening of a hearing ("the Symposium") before the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Since the Symposium was held several months prior to the release of the Colorado report, the project staff had the opportunity to study the record; Dr. Edward Condon, the project's Scientific Director, wrote a summary evaluation that concluded with these words*:
We studied the transcript of this symposium with great care to see whether we would be led thereby to any new material related to this study. We did not find any new data.
Several of the contributors to that symposium have become trenchant advocates in the past several years of a continuing major government investment in an UFO program. Several have long urged a greater degree of congressional interest in this subject. The symposium of 29 July afforded them an occasion on which with the utmost seriousness they could put before the Congress and the public the best possible data and the most favorable arguments for larger government activity in this field.
Hence it is fair to assume that the statements presented in that symposium represent the maximum case that this group feels could be made. We welcome the fact that this symposium is available to the public and expect that its data and arguments will be compared with those in this report of this study by those whose duty it is to make responsible decisions in this area.
We have studied this symposium record with great care and find nothing in it which requires that we alter the conclusions and recommendations that we have presented in Section I, nor that we modify any presentation of the specific data contained in other sections of this report.
Because of their timing, the circumstances surrounding their production, and the strongly divergent views represented in each document, the Symposium record and the Colorado report stand in historic opposition. The Symposium's participants strongly recommended that substantial scientific efforts be undertaken in the investigation of the UFO issue; the Colorado investigators just as strongly recommended the contrary. In this controversy there was no compromise; the scientific community came down firmly in opposition to the recommendations of the participants in the Symposium.
It is this historic opposition that makes the Symposium record of interest to students of the UFO issue. NCAS has chosen to place its full text on-line with confidence that, along with the Colorado report, the Symposium record will prove useful in the rational evaluation of many aspects of the this still-contentious issue.
Beth Wolszon of the University of Minnesota library located a copy of the Symposium record and provided a photocopy for scanning.
Jim Giglio did the optical scanning and HTML coding of the record, and coordinated a team of NCAS volunteers who proofread the on-screen result.
The proofreaders who performed this crucial, tedious, and often under-appreciated task, were Lynn Francis, Mary Pastel, Neil Inglis, Tim Scanlon, Barry Blyveis, and Zoe Ann Lapinski.
National Capital Area Skeptics