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Dr. J. Allen Hynek Speaking at the United Nations, Nov. 27th 1978

Dr. J. Allen Hynek

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Summary: I am delighted to have been invited by Sir Eric Gairy and the Grenada Mission to speak to this committee on behalf of many of my scientific colleagues about the subject of Unidentified Flying Objects.

J. Allen Hynek ,  Ph.D.

author's bio

Mr. Chairman:

I am delighted to have been invited by Sir Eric Gairy and the
Grenada Mission to speak to this committee on behalf of many of
my scientific colleagues about the subject of Unidentified
Flying Objects. Many years ago, in conversation with His
Excellency, U Thant, I was informed by him that protocol
demanded that a member nation first bring a subject up in the
General Assembly before any action on that subject could be

Now, many years later, one of the smallest nations on the Earth
has courageously introduced the perplexing subject of UFOs to
the General Assembly, and thus made possible this meeting today.
I commend the initiative his excellency Sir Eric Gairy has
taken; he has trod where mightier nations have feared to tread.

Mr. Chairman, there exists today a world-wide phenomenon...
indeed if it were not world-wide I should not be addressing you
and these representatives from many parts of the world. There
exists a global phenomenon the scope and extent of which is not
generally recognized. It is a phenomenon so strange and foreign
to our daily terrestrial mode of thought that it is frequently
met by ridicule and derision by persons and organizations
unacquainted with the facts. Yet, the phenomenon persists; it
has not faded away as many of us expected it would when, years
ago, we regarded it as a passing fad or whimsy. Instead, it has
touched on the lives of an increasing number of people around
the world.

I refer, of course, to the phenomenon of UFOs... Unidentified
Flying Objects... which I should like to define here simply
as “any aerial or surface sighting, or instrumental recording
(e.g., radar, photography, etc.) which remains unexplained by
conventional methods even after competent examination by
qualified persons.

You will note, Mr. Chairman, that this definition says nothing
about little green men from outer space, or manifestations from
spiritual realms, or various psychic manifestations. It simply
states an operational definition. A cardinal mistake, and a
source of great confusion, has been the almost universal
substitution of an interpretation of the UFO phenomenon for the
phenomenon itself.

This is akin to having ascribed the Aurora Borealis to angelic
communication before we understood the physics of the solar

Nonetheless, in the popular mind the UFO phenomenon is
associated with the concept of extra-terrestrial intelligence
and this might yet prove to be correct in some context. Surely
it would be a huge joke on all of us should it develop that
evidence for extra-terrestrial intelligence was right here under
our noses all the time while great effort was spent searching
for it elsewhere!

But I repeat and emphasize, Mr. Chairman, that the global
phenomenon of UFO reports, reports frequently made by highly
responsible persons, is not yet understood. Yet it is a
phenomenon that has claimed the interest and attention of
millions of people. In the United States alone, the Gallup Poll
has not only shown a remarkably high awareness on the part of
the public of the UFO subject, but indicates that 57% of the
U.S. population... thus well over a hundred million persons...
believe that UFOs are real and not a figment of the imagination.

The terms Flying Saucers and UFOs now appear in the dictionaries
of many countries... itself a sure sign of the popular
awareness. Thus we have the terms:

O.V.N.I.-Objetos Voladores Non ldentificados in the Latin
American countries and Spain Soucoupe Volante in France
Fliegende Untertasen in Germany Letaiici Talire in Czech And so
on in a host of other languages.

The subject is truly in the minds of many peoples. Indeed,
according to our records UFOCAT UFO reports have been assembled
from 133 different countries! as you probably already have noted
from the material furnished you.

I must also emphasize here, Mr. Chairman, that were it so that
these reports, albeit their global nature, were solely generated
by irresponsible and ignorant persons, I should not be here this
morning. The facts are quite otherwise: UFO reports in
significant numbers have been made by highly responsible
persons, to wit: astronauts, radar experts, military and
commercial pilots... many, many of these... officials of
governments, and scientists, even including astronomers!

We have on record many tens of thousands of UFO reports. Even
granting that by no means all of these are of high quality, they
include extremely intriguing and provocative accounts of strange
events experienced by highly reputable persons... events which
challenge our present conception of the world about us and which
may indeed signal a need for a change in some of these
concepts... a point brought out some time ago in a radio
broadcast to the French nation by the then Minister of Defense,
M. Robert Galley, stressing the importance of investigating the
truly unknown.

In a radio interview on Feb. 21, 1974 he stated:

"I must say that if your listeners could see for themselves the
mass of reports coming in from the airborne gendarmerie, from
the mobile gendarmerie, and from the gendarmerie charged with
the job of conducting investigations, all of which reports are
being forwarded by us to C.N.E.S. (National Center for Space
Studies), then they would see that it is all pretty disturbing.
My view about the gendarmerie is that they are serious people.
When they draw up a report, they don’t do it haphazardly. But I
must tell you that in fact the number of these gendarmerie
reports is very great and they are greatly varied. The whole
thing is, of course, still very fragmentary but I must emphasize
that, in this UFO business, it is essential to preserve an
extremely open mind."

Much of the UFO data are "hard", not necessarily as that term
would be used by the physicist, but certainly "harder" than much
of the data used in the social sciences and in the practice of

Perhaps the hardest data we possess so far are the so-called
Close Encounters of the Second Kind, otherwise known as the
Physical Trace cases. These are the cases in which it is
reported that concommittant and simultaneously with the
occurence of a UFO event, there appears physical evidence of the
immediate presence of the UFO. This can take the form of
immediate physical effects on either animate or inanimate
matter, or on both. Thus, physiological effects on humans and
animals and plants have been very reliably reported, as have the
interference with electrical systems in the immediate vicinity
and the appearance of disturbed regions on the ground also in
the immediate vicinity of the reported UFO event. Now over
thirteen hundred physical trace cases are on record.

Mr. Chairman, any phenomenon which touches the lives of so many
people, and which engenders puzzlement and even fear among them,
is therefore not only of potential scientific interest and
significance but also of sociological and political
significance, especially since it carries with it many
implications of the existence of intelligences other than our
own. I will confine my remarks, however, to the scientific
aspects of the subject. Dr. Vallee will, I believe, address
himself more directly to the sociological, and hence, likewise
political aspects of the phenomenon.

Speaking then for myself as an astronomer, and I believe for
many of my colleagues as well, there is no longer any question
in my mind of the importance of this subject. It is my
considered opinion, based on many years of study, both as
Scientific Consultant to the U.S. Air Force, and in recent
years, as an involved scientist, that the UFO phenomenon
whatever its origin may turn out to be, is eminently worthy of

And I am by no means alone in this opinion. There is today a
growing community of scientists, from many countries, who have
declared an interest, either privately or openly, in pursuing
the challenge presented by the UFO problem, and who are
gathering and analyzing the relevant data.

This appears to be especially the case in France and in the
United States, though this conclusion may simply arise because I
know more about the situation in these two countries. I do have
knowledge that France has assumed a leading role in the
scientific approach to UFOs. Acting under instruction the French
Gendarmerie diligently undertook the investigation of many UFO
reports. Their investigations in turn provided material for
further study by a scientific group headed by Dr. Claude Poher,
of CNES, called GEPAN. This group comprised specialists from
many disciplines, not only those of physical science but in
psychology and the social sciences, and in law and medicine as
well. The work of this group was reviewed by an independent
scientific board from the parent organization, CNES, and the
group was given instructions to proceed on an expanded and
well-funded basis.

This further work, I understand, has not materially advanced
and, it is further my understanding from reliable sources that
its initial results comprises work done on cases of high
strangeness and high credibility. Only one of the cases was
found, I have been told, to have a conventional explanation. The
others were "Close Encounter" cases, that is, UFOs reportedly
occurring within approximately 200 meters of the witnesses, and
two of these were re-ported to be Close Encounters of the Third
Kind... that is, those in which the presence of intelligent
beings is reported. It has also been reported that the care with
which the measurement of directions, distances, and maneuvers,
as well as the evaluation of psychological factors involved,
were carried out was exemplary and far superior to the previous
studies in other countries.

For most of the cases carefully studied, it was concluded that
the UFO report involved a material phenomenon that could not be
explained as a natural phenomenon or a human device. If my
information is correct, then the implications for science and
the public at large of this French investigation are profound.
The history of science abounds with unlooked for benefits
resulting from the investigation of the unknown.

Who can tell what benefits might accrue from the study of UFOsl
It might well lead to the solution of many pressing problems
facing man-kind today.

But we need not base our opinions or actions solely on the
French in-vestigations, as competent as they may have been.
Similar conclusions have already been drawn indepen-dently by
scientists with whom I have been associated, many of whom,
however, have been reluctant to express their opinions openly.
There is a surprisingly large number of individual scientists
who have expressed to me, privately and personally, their
involved concern with the challenge of the UFO phenomenon, and
who entertain opinions consistent with those of the French
report. These scientists are in many cases associated with large
and prestigious scientific organizations, both government and
private, which, as organizations are silent or even officially
derisiveabout the UFO phenomenon. The individuals within these
organizations who have intimate knowledge of the UFO phenomenon
are restrained by organizational policy to remain officially
silent about their interest and in private work with UFO

There are many others, not so restrained, who are independently,
or in small groups, quietly studying the subject with whatever
means they have at hand.

It is the scientists and specialists in both these categories
that are the main concern of my address to you today, Mr.
Chairman. These persons have no means by which they can share
the results of their researches with other workers, or pool them
for the benefit of others, as is standard practice in scientific
matters. There is for them nothing remotely resembling the World
Health Organ-ization or the World Meteorological Organization
through which they can pool and share the results of their
researches and learn what colleagues are doing in the field. Nor
is there any non-governmental organization to serve this
purpose. Collectively, these scientists possess information and
results which, in my opinion, are important and should be shared
with their colleagues elsewhere. I stress that all that is
needed is a mechanism whereby such interchange can be
accomplished; the actual investigative and analytical processes
remain the responsibility of the scientists in their respective

I am not, therefore, Mr. Chairman... and I emphasize the
"not"... asking that the United Nations organization create its
own commission to conduct researches into the UFO field, but
merely one to provide a means whereby work and investigations
already carried out and accomplished by scientists in their own
countries can be expeditiously disseminated to their colleagues
in other countries.

Specifically, then, Mr. Chairman, I ask, on behalf of my
colleagues in this and other countries, that you recommend
through appropriate channels, that there be devised a mechanism
within the United Nations Organization whereby scientists and
other specialists in member nations can bring together and
interchange their ideas and their investigative work with
colleagues in other member nations. Mr. Chairman, I seek your
advice and help on how such a procedure might be brought into
being without financial burden to the United Nations
Organization and without disruption of the many other vital
activities of this organization.

Such a mechanism, Mr. Chairman, would also facilitate the
immediate exchange of information about current UFO activity in
member nations.

Thus, for instance, and solely as an example, there appeared a
short while ago a brief news item about a UFO sighting made in
Kuwait by a number of highly qualified engineers.

It is obviously important that concerned scientists in all parts
of the world be informed whether, there is any merit whatever in
such a report, and if so, to assist in the investigation and
analysis of the reported events. Enormous amounts of UFO data at
present remain in the "newsclip" status, and data of high
potential significance to science and the world is continually
being lost for lack of a means to prevent its loss.

The creation of such a mechanism would also provide means
whereby concerned scientists in member nations can become known
to each other, and can therefore furnish each other with their
already completed research work or with progress reports

Mr. Chairman, we are dealing here with an unexplained phenomenon
which has been reported so far from 133 nations, and which has
aroused the concern, and often the fear, of significant
fractions of their population. Virtually all 133 countries are
member states of the United Nations. It is a phenomenon which
therefore has great possible sociological and political
implications, as well as scientific potential. It is surely
within the purport of the United Nations Organization to
seriously consider this request that I make on behalf of my
scientific colleagues everywhere.

In conclusion, Mr. Chairman, let me once again clearly state
that it is my considered opinion, as a scientist who has devoted
many years to its study, that the UFO phenomenon is real and not
the creation of disturbed minds, and that it has both grave and
important implications for science and for the political and
social well-being of the peoples of this Earth. It is therefore,
in my opinion, worthy of cognizance by the United Nations
Organization, and worthy of study as a phenomenon. I distinguish
sharply here, as do my colleagues, between any given theory of
the UFO such as, for example, that they originate in some
specific solar system, and the phenomenon itself, a situation
which would put the cart before the horse.

Mr. Chairman, I have not always held the opinion that UFOs were
worthy of serious scientific study. I began my work as
Scientific Consultant to the U.S. Air Force as an open skeptic,
in the firm belief that we were dealing with a mental aberration
and a public nuisance. Only in the face of stubborn facts and
data similar to those studied by the French commission... have I
been forced to change my opinion. I recognize, Mr. Chairman,
that an opinion, no matter on what insights or experience it is
based, still does not constitute positive proof. The creation of
a mechanism within the United Nations to facilitate the exchange
and translation of UFO reports and studies made in various
member nations will, I firmly believe, hasten the day when this
opinion will be translated into firm scientific knowledge.

The UFO phenomenon, as studied by my colleagues and myself,
bespeaks the action of some form of intelligence... but whence
this intelligence springs, whether it is truly
extra-terrestrial, or bespeaks a higher reality not yet
recognized by science, or even if it be in some way or another a
strange psychic manifestation of our own intelligence, is much
the question. We seek your help, Mr. Chairman, in assisting
scientists, and particularly those already associated with the
many formal and informal investigative organizations around the
world, by providing a clearing house procedure whereby the work
already going on globally can be brought together in a serious,
concentrated approach to this most outstanding challenge to
current science.

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