Here is the paper I gave at the Smithsonian UFO Panel in Washington, DC in 1980.
My paper recounting a talk that the famed UFOlogist J. Allen Hynek gave at Northwestern in 1969 as "freshman orientation."
While I was at Northwestern in 1970, Dr. J. Allen Hynek allowed me to read a chapter of the book he was working on, The UFO Experience. Here are my comments to him about it, Hynek's reply, Klass' comment on it, and the note Hynek inserted in his book to answer my critique.
In light of the weird letters from the public that was part of the release of British UFO files, here is a peek at the UFO-related correspondence referred to me by NASA - the great majority comes from schoolchildren! See my entry about it on BadUFOs.com. (Oct. 15, 2013).
My very first published article: from the October, 1974 issue of the NICAP UFO Investigator: "Erich von Daniken's Chariots of the Gods: Science or Charlatanism?" (Added Jan. 7, 2019) This article was shown in Ancient Aliens Season 13 Episode 14 on the "History" Channel (2019).
Philip J. Klass (1919-2005) was the best-known and most influential UFO skeptic of all time. Upon his death, Klass' papers were donated to the American Philosophical Society,
where they can be viewed by researchers willing to travel to
Philadelphia to see them, or to pay the associated fees to have copies
sent. As his long-time collaborator, I acquired an extensive
collection of Klass' "White Papers" (informational papers about UFOs
detailing some of the findings of his research) and other
correspondence. Some of the collection appears below. I plan to
place all of the significant Klass papers in my possession
on-line as time permits.
- Robert Sheaffer
Never-before seen letters discussing the Hill "UFO Abduction" between Dr. Benjamin Simon, Philip J. Klass, Betty Hill, and myself. Dr. Simon strongly states his opinion to Klass that the abduction story was a fantasy, and attempts to justify not stating this forthwith earlier. Betty Hill tries to convince Klass that her abduction story is true. Includes the skeptical article I wrote about the Hill case in Official UFO magazine, August, 1976. (added Dec. 22. 2015. 48 pages, 14 MB).
Klass' arguments against the authenticity of the alleged MJ-12 papers (first series only. Even Stanton Friedman won't strongly defend the second series of MJ-12 papers, promoted by Robert Wood.) Discussion involves William L. Moore, Stanton Friedman, Peter A. Gersten.
Klass explains the $1,000 wager he lost to Stanton Friedman.
Philip J. Klass' never published 1968 report on the reported 'UFO landing' in South Hill, Virginia (added Dec. 29, 2018). Dr. J. Allen Hynek said that he "can't think of it being a hoax." Klass could.
Klass' advance critique of the Air Force sponsored University of Colorado study (Condon Report, new Sept. 2, 2013) Mostly he complains about them ignoring his "plasma hypothesis," but also addresses researcher bias.
Klass' "White Papers" about atmospheric physicist and UFO proponent Dr. James E. McDonald (1968). Many pro-UFOlogists have accused Klass of unfairly 'hounding' the poor Dr. McDonald, implying that Klass was largely responsible for driving McDonald to his tragic suicide in 1971. For the first time, Klass' own papers on the subject are now available to researchers. While Klass was no doubt a serious critic of McDonald, who had rapidly become a leading public promoter of UFOs, you can judge for yourself the validity of Klass' criticisms of McDonald's allegedly inconsistent statements about UFOs. ( Anne Druffel in her book Firestorm: Dr. James E. McDonald's Fight for UFO Science makes it very clear that McDonald's suicide was triggered by his ongoing divorce, not by Klass.)
Klass' letter to "Plasmarians" (at that time Franklin Marrow, Dr. David Ashkin, and myself) complaining about the pro-ETI 'stacked deck' of the forthcoming AAAS-sponsored UFO Symposium in Boston (Nov. 18, 1969). Note that Klass includes Carl Sagan among the pro-ETI panelists. This is not a mistake. In testimony to the 1968 hearings before the U.S. House Committee on Science and Astronautics, Carl Sagan said: "I might mention that, on this symposium, there are no individuals who strongly disbelieve in the extraterrestrial origin of UFO's and therefore there is a certain view, not necessarily one I strongly agree with -- but there is a certain view this committee is not hearing today, along those lines." In other words, Sagan was saying that there were no strong skeptics on that panel. Since Sagan was himself on the panel, it's obvious that Sagan did not himself "strongly disbelieve" in the ETH at this time. Klass' letter to Dr. Thornton Page making a complaint of unfair treatment, with a note to Plasmarians (Nov. 24, 1969). This AAAS Symposium later became the subject of the book UFOs A Scientific Debate (Sagan and Page, 1972).
Klass' correspondence involving the January, 1970 UFO Symposium of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), to which he was added at the last possible moment. (added Nov. 10, 2013).
Klass' talk to the Maryland Seminar on Science and Technology, UFOs, "N-Rays" and Pathological Science (Dec. 18, 1969). Discusses Blondlot, Hynek, Socorro, James E. McDonald, Heflin, Father Gill, Trent.
Klass' UFO-related correspondence with his "plasmarians," 1969-1970. There was also an even larger volume of political debates mostly concerning the ongoing Vietnam War, not included here. (As a member in good standing of the "Military-Industrial Complex," Klass supported the war effort. While Klass always identified as a Democrat, there were strong-defense Democrats in those days: Sen. Henry Jackson, LBJ, Hubert Humphrey, etc.)
Klass' letter to David Michael Jacobs, pointing out what Klass says are inaccuracies in Jacobs' 1973 book The UFO Controversy in America (This was before Jacobs became famous as an Abductionist. At this time, Jacobs was known as a UFO historian.) (Feb. 16, 1976)
Klass debunks Travis Walton, (Feb. 7, 2012). Miscellaneous news stories and memos documenting the origins of the story. (Feb. 12, 2012)
The Socorro UFO Case, and its "Multiplying Multiple Tourist Witnesses" (Aug. 29, 1976). Examines inconsistencies in the claim that one or more unnamed tourists also witnessed the UFO allegedly seen by Officer Lonnie Zamora in Socorro on April 24, 1964.
Capt. Lawrence Coyne's Views on UFOs and his own experience before he and his crew won the "National Enquirer" best case award of $5,000 (Dec. 31, 1976). There's nothing like fame and money to cement a UFO witness' story.
Papers and news clippings concerning the famous Captain Terauchi JAL 1628 UFO sighting, Nov. 17, 1986. Includes "Summary White Paper" by Philip J. Klass. (added April 25, 2014).
Authorization for Robert Sheaffer to enroll in a "student organized seminar" on UFOs, taught by J. Allen Hynek. This course quickly filled up with friends of the organizer before I got word of it. However, knowing of my strong interest Hynek generously authorized me to enroll anyway.
PJK critiques of Hynek's perceived inconsistencies (1975-83). Hynek's ever-changing "UFO Invariant." A letter from Klass to SI editor Kendrick Frazier after the latter had met Hynek, urging him to press Hynek harder on inconsistencies. A critique of Hynek inconsistencies by David Schroth, and one by me.
Miscellaneous correspondence and papers involving Hynek and Klass. PJK comments on Hynek's interview in OMNI. (1970s and 80s) (new Jan. 14, 2012.)
Curious statements by J. Allen Hynek (mostly 1970s and 80s). Endorses astral travel, psychic powers, etc. (new Jan. 14, 2012).
J. Allen Hynek conveniently "forgets" his own UFO sighting; Philip J. Klass reminds him (Aug. 9, 1983). See also p. 39 of my book Psychic Vibrations. In fact, Hynek reported seeing a different UFO, supposedly chased by a jet. He reported it to Project Blue Book, but because it took place in Canada it was not investigated! (Updated Jan. 8, 2012.)
A collection of letters and other papers from my correspondence with Gray Barker (1925-1984), a now-legendary figure in the Flying Saucer field, instrumental in the promotion of the Men in Black, Mothman, and other legends. Barker's 'serious letter' beginning on page 11 offers a rare glimpse into his thinking. His candid comments on certain colleagues is revealing. "I often have the frightening impression that [John Keel] may actually BELIEVE in a great deal of the stuff" (Feb. 8, 2014).
Letters documenting the ongoing battle during the 1980s and 90s between the Bay Area Skeptics, and the late "psychic" Sylvia Browne (1936-2013). The late Bob Steiner, at that time the BAS Chairman, sunk his teeth into Sylvia and would not let go. Also newspapers articles about her financial scandals. (Added Nov. 20, 2013)
"Remote Viewers" Ingo Swann (1933-2013) and Harold Sherman (1898-1987) claim to psychically visit Jupiter and Mercury. Comments by J. Allen Hynek and Carl Sagan.