by Ivan T. Sanderson

The sheer volume of double-talk and gobbledygook that has been spouted about what has and/or has not been seen in the skies that cannot be explained, is now really monumental. It has been flowing out since written records were first kept on rock-faces, clay tablets, and papyrus. It has been handed down by word of mouth and on paper since long before printing was invented. The Bible, Vedic texts, and Buddhist psalms are full of it.

Since 1947, the American press has poured it out. Servicemen and civilian aviators have since then sometimes almost choked the wire services with it – and from almost every country in the world. Hundreds of people have written books about it, and goodness knows how many little magazines and other periodicals have bloomed for dissemination of it.

Yet, not one gosh-darned thing has come out of it that has ever been even verified. About thirty percent of humanity seems to accept the fact that there are unexplained things buzzing about in the upper and sometimes lower strata of our earth’s atmosphere, and a not inconsiderable body of these persons are willing to state that they think they have seen such; but frankly, about 99.9% of everybody else is now just plain bored stiff with the whole business.

The remaining hypothetical 0.1% (which, incidentally, if you take the human population of the earth as being several billion, amounts to quite a tidy congregation) would appear to be divided into four quite distinct groups:

1. Trained and working scientists in various fields.



2. Technologists, including the personnel of armed services in all countries.

3. A minute body of people composed of not a few of the above two categories, as well as the most diverse of other occupations, who treat the business as a subject worthwhile recording and trying to investigate.

4. Quite a large body of assorted mystics, in the widest sense of that word, who stolidly believe not only in the existence of as-yet unexplained items in our skies, but who for the most part also believe that these are vehicles intelligently controlled by all manner of characters, from demigods to devils – but mostly by what they call “Space People!”

Some of Group 3 believe, like Group 4, that either some or all of these UFOs are space vehicles controlled by intelligent entities, but they refuse to attribute to said entities any specific characteristics as yet – good or evil, different or indifferent. What Groups 1 and 2 think, we, the public, have yet to be told; but, while the impression has been widely put about (and obviously most carefully fostered) that they don’t think anything of the whole notion, there is really now an enormous volume of published material that clearly demonstrates that at least some of them are thinking furiously on the matter, and have been for a long time.

For these reasons, one cannot divide the four classes of “believers” into the two neat camps that most everybody would like. Both the real scientists and, I am sure, the technologists would be only too happy to be able to deny and thus disclaim the whole wretched business, while the mystics (Group 4) have made it quite plain that they embrace the whole shebang with howls of glee, and would be equally happy if only Groups 1 and 2 would deny it, and Group 3 would go some place and die.

The whole thing now is thus like a “dissension” in one cage in a muscularium, in which a million purebred mice are housed. The rest of the mice – that’s us, the other 99.9% of humanity, or what is usually referred to as “the public” – are no longer interested, even if we could make head-or-tail out of that particular cage of mice and their problems. We are fully occupied with the business of living, breeding, and the upcoming possibility of mass extermination.

In a way, this is all a great pity. Any aspect of nature is worthwhile considering, however esoteric it may be. Ghosts have been around since time immemorial, too, and many more people believe in their existence than do in UFOs – with or without built-in space blondes.

Unfortunately though, while quite a lot has been attempted vis-à-vis ghosts, nothing has so far been accomplished that has convinced the great 99.9% either that they “exist” or that they are worth serious consideration. The same may, to some extent, be said for such altogether more concrete items as poltergeists, sea monsters, abominable snowmen, the “Jersey Devil,” and other summer-season standbys.

Of course, singular unpleasantnesses like the Coelacanth fishes turn up from time to time to plague biologists, and physicists keep unearthing anomalies and paradoxes in nucleonics, but both such items are really quite beyond the scope of the public. Besides, they all get explained in time, and everything returns to normal.

The trouble with UFOs is that there does not as yet appear to be anything anybody can do about them, apart from observing and reporting them. And, even if organizations like our governmental agencies, departments, and services with the necessary funds and equipment do so “observe” them, what are they going to do about them? I must say that, if the departments of our officialdom have so observed them – and so many people assert that they have – I don’t see quite what they can do, or might be expected to do. What, in God’s name, is the use?

Until recently, almost everybody asserted that the full moon was a great grinning human face. It certainly looks like one to the naked eye. Viewed in even a small telescope, however, it does not. To state that it is not a face (or that it is not made of green cheese, for that matter) is thus really quite redundant, and simply not worthwhile. I suppose that the moon could turn out to be made of cheese, though that is somewhat unlikely; but the only real way to find out is to go there and take a sample with one of those funny semicircular knives they once used to extract servings of Gorgonzola.

So it is with UFOs, of however many kinds and varieties of origin and composition they may be. They are interesting, perhaps, but of no consequence until we can devise ways of doing something about them. Members of the 0.1% mentioned above are variously interested in just this; but neither classes 3 or 4 have, or are, doing anything realistic about them. How can they? Also, we don’t know if classes 1 and/or 2 are any more advanced in this respect – or even concerned. So why should the remaining 99.9% of us even be interested?

To be thoroughly pragmatic, one might suppose that our going up into the upper atmosphere and beyond, will eventually solve this whole business. If there are the number of unauthorized items flying through, or floating in, these upper reaches as so many people have reported and now assert, then surely some space-prober is going to come face-to-face with one.

If said “prober” is alive and a human being, he will doubtlessly be disbelieved, unless his report is backed up by a lot of simultaneous non-human gadgetry. If he is so backed up, or if the gadgetry – TV cameras and such – get it on their own, I suppose the “obscenity” (as Charlie Fort would have called it) still need not be reported, let alone published. And a decision not to publish might be just as sensible as many people might believe it to be criminal.

I’m not a tub-thumper for officialdom, but it’s the best that humanity has so far been able to erect to manage its affairs, and not infrequently governments and departments of governments are not nearly as stupid as the public imagines. (A golden example is our National Parks Service, which gets on with its job without fanfare, and turns in a magnificent account of itself year after year, despite the crass stupidity and appalling destructivity of the public it serves.)

However, I must admit that the behavior, or alleged behavior, of the long-suffering U.S. Air Force, as pointed out by Major Keyhoe, does appear to leave a great deal to be desired. This service is, of course, primarily empowered with our protection in the air. It, like other fighting services, is not set up to prosecute basic research in matters other than its own province. But UFOs would seem to fall within its province.

The complaint is that it has not reported properly or adequately on its findings in this province. This may be true, for to this reporter at least, it appears that the Air Force has consistently and persistently stated for the public record that it cannot as yet find anything to report on in this field. This may be a divarication. Major Keyhoe thinks it is, and he has stated his reasons.

It would appear that the Congress now feels that he has made his point. It is therefore up to the Major, as sponsor for NICAP, to state that case and for the proposed subcommittee of Congress to assess it. And I personally feel that all of us who are in any way interested should back both Major Keyhoe’s and the Committee’s efforts to the hilt, so that the “ghost” may possibly be laid to rest once and for all.

At the same time, there is no reason to give up whatever investigations any of us may have initiated. Moreover – and I say this sincerely – those whom I have called mystics should carry on in their own mystical way. Why not? Hypnosis came out of Mesmerism; and who knows what even they may not dredge up that some hardboiled technologist may not find he can weigh and measure!

They may be way out on an imaginary limb, but there are some among their ranks who at least believe what they pretend to believe. Who in heck are we in our almighty ignorance to say that everything they say is pure baloney – or even salami! So far, they have not, to my knowledge, turned up one single iota of concrete proof of anything they have ever said; but, I have to admit, neither has anybody else, except those infuriating witnesses who have picked up UFO trinkets.

I could, but will not at this time for various reasons, name quite a number of persons who at this very moment possess all manner of bits and pieces of “stuff” and “things” that have, or are alleged to have, fallen from the sky in inexplicable circumstances of one kind or another.

Example: Six small, monometal cylinders containing what appears to be powdered charcoal, that landed with dozens of others of an exactly similar nature on just one field in Pennsylvania over a period of three weeks.

Example: Several shoeboxes full of bits of very strange-looking material with little globules of pure copper in them, said to have landed over wide areas in both the East and the West.

Example: Large hunks of vitreous (glassy) material that demolished a large power pylon and then formed a boiling cauldron of molten what-have-you at its base.

Example: The alleged space pancake.

Example: Half a dozen other items known to have been sent to “official institutions,” but never conclusively reported on.

And so on… I am a reporter, and I am endeavoring to report to you. Why have these items not been reported upon? Why do people sit on those that they have, like broody hens on a clutch of Guinea-fowl eggs? We are all crying out for facts. Why don’t we start with what we have now, or allege to have now?

Why fumble around with radar blips and housewives’ reports of hovering lights when there are boxes full of material objects lying around that can be tested and either pronounced phony or odd? What’s the matter with metallurgists, chemists, and geologists? Can’t any of them say what these items are, or what they are not?

I’ve seen and handled a lot of these items personally, and they are not “make-believe.” They exist. Furthermore, I have some years of past experience just looking at “things” and “stuff”; I have a degree in geology; and I collected for museums professionally for many years. I tell you that all of these odd bits and pieces that I have examined are beyond my ken. Perhaps they would be everyday objects to the proper specialists. But I do wish that they might be shown to said specialists, even if they debunk them out of hand.

Meteoritics is now a rather precise discipline, and despite what any crackpot may say about “scientists,” I’m sure that real ones would most readily admit that any substance submitted to them that did not fit into what is known, was unknown, and thus worthy of further examination.

After all, you don’t even need to state that your specimen did, or was alleged to have, come down out of the sky. Just turn it in for identification, and if it cannot be matched with anything known, then start asking questions. You may get blasted into the next county, but again I must use the corny phrase, what the heck?

Here at least we might have something concrete (no pun intended), and something that the great 99.9% could get their teeth into. Just find one “something” or a bit of “stuff” that has not previously been known on this earth, and you would really be getting somewhere. In the meantime we are all floundering around in a welter of pure “yakk.”

“Flying Saucer Research,” my foot! How can you “research” anything you can’t contact or even prove exists?

And that, my friends, is just precisely the present status of both ufology and saucerism.

Printed with the permission of New Saucerian Press