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The Condon Report

In the late 1960's, the United States Air Force issued a contract to the University of Colorado to carry out a scientific study of evidence concerning the UFO phenomenon. The director of the project was Prof. Edward U. Condon, a distinguished and influential physicist who made no secret of his opinion even at the outset that no substantive evidence for extraterrestrial visitation was liable to result. The study was relatively brief (2 years) and had a notably low budget (app. $500K) for a serious scientific study. When the Condon Report was released in 1968, the American scientific community accepted its negative apparent conclusion concerning evidence for extraterrestrial visitation in a generally uncritical way, and to some extent even an enthusiastic way since it offered an end to a troublesome situation. An endorsement of the Report by the National Academy of Sciences took place following an unusually rapid review and the Air Force quickly used the Report as a justification to terminate any further public involvement with the topic of UFOs. Project Blue Book closed up shop. The negative conclusion of the Report is more apparent than real however, since there is a substantial discrepancy between the conclusion in the "Summary of the Study" written by Condon singlehandedly, and the conclusion one could reasonably draw from the evidence presented in the body of the Report. (Bernard Haisch, UFOSkeptic.org)

articles & documents

An Analysis of the Condon Report on the Colorado UFO Project

Peter A. Sturrock (Stanford University), Journal for Scientific Exploration

In-depth analysis of the Condon Report details the many disagreements between Condon's dismissive summary and the actual data. - The analysis of evidence by categories shows that there are substantial and significant differences between the findings of the project staff and those that the director attributes to the project. Although both the director and the staff are cautious in stating conclusions, the staff tend to emphasize challenging cases and unanswered questions, whereas the director emphasizes the difficulty of further study and the probability that there is no scientific knowledge to be gained.

Dr. Thornton Page's Review of The "Condon Report"

Thornton Page, American Journal of Physics, October 1969

In one sense, the Condon Report lives up to its title Scientific Study, because physical principles and available data are applied meticulously to more than 56 selected, well-documented "cases" (UFO sightings), with the result that 33 cases are explained. however, as several other reviewers have noted, this leaves unexplained a larger proportion than the 10% or so which caused all the ruckus and forced the Air Force to fund the Colorado Project in the first place. Hence, it may be argued that Condon's carefully written conclusions (the first five pages of the Report) do not logically follow from the case studies.

Flying Saucer Fiasco

John G. Fuller, Look Magazine, May, 14, 1968

The extraordinary story of the half-million-dollar "trick" to make Americans believe the Condon committee was conducting an objective investigation.

National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Panel Review of the Condon Report

National Academy of Sciences / Sign Historical Group

A positive review and endorsement of the University of Colorado Report on UFOs (Condon Report). - The charge to the Panel was "to provide an independent assessment of the scope, methodology, and findings of the (University of Colorado) study as reflected in the (University's) Report."

Secrets of the Condon Report

Flying Saucers and UFOs 1969, Vol. 3

Reprinted excerpts from Flying Saucers and UFOs magazine's article on the Condon Report.

The Condon Report (Review/Comment by Stanton Friedman)

Stanton Friedman, Crash at Corona

The initially enthusiastic support [for the Condon study] from the major private UFO groups soon turned sour, as it became apparent that outspoken study director Dr. Edward Condon had concluded well in advance that there was nothing to be learned from investigating UFOS.  R

The Condon Report (Review/Comment)

Bernard Haisch, Ph.D., Astrophysicist

The negative conclusion of the Report is more apparent than real however, since there is a substantial discrepancy between the conclusion in the "Summary of the Study" written by Condon singlehandedly, and the conclusion one could reasonably draw from the evidence presented in the body of the Report.

The Condon Report (University of Colorado Report on UFOs, 1968)

University of Colorado / U.S. Air Force

Full text of the Condon Report, conducted by the University of Colorado with the US Air Force, under the directorship of Dr. Edward U. Condon.

The Condon Report and UFOs - Review by J. Allen Hynek

J. Allen Hynek, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientist, April 1969

Hynek does not agree with the Condon Report and in this review essay he tells why.

The Truth About the Condon Report

NICAP (National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena), The U.F.O. Investigator, Vol. IV, No. 9, SPECIAL (January 1969)

The conclusions of the Colorado University UFO project are fully negative, as we predicted. However, some of the chapters contain strange contradictions of what the project's director, Dr. Edward U. Condon, stated in his two opening sections. Several reports state the probable existence of structured, intelligently controlled, unknown objects capable of precise maneuvers and extremely high speeds.

The UFO Report: Condon Study Falls Short

Robert M. L. Baker Jr., Scientific Research, April 14, 1969

This half-million-dollar, 965-page report probably represents the ultimate case against the UFO "cult" – in fact, it was to be the last scientific word on that controversial subject. But, paradoxically, the report contains some evidence suggesting that the UFO phenomenon should be studied further.

UFO - An Appraisal of the Problem

1968 Statement of the American Insitute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) Subcommittee on UFOs

Includes a discussion of the Condon Report: "There are differences in the opinions and conclusions drawn by the authors of the various chapters, and there are differences between these and Condon's summary. Not all conclusions contained in the report itself are fully reflected in Condon's summary." R

UFOs And The Condon Report - A Scientist's Critique (James MacDonald Critique of the Condon Report)

James E. McDonald

Summary of a talk presented to The Dupont Chapter of The Scientific Research Society of America (RESA), Wilmington, Delaware, February 12, 1969, by Dr. James E. McDonald, member of the Condon Report, in which he critiques the Condon Report's conclusions. R

UFOs, Social Intelligence, and the Condon Committee (PDF) PDF Document

Diana Palmer Hoyt, thesis submitted to the Faculty of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

The history of UFO sightings and their sociopolitical context and consequences constitutes the broad subject of this study and provides a site for analysis of how scientists address, both publicly and privately, anomalies that appear to pertain to science. The Condon Report, the Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, commissioned by the Air Force in 1968, provides a complex case for the exploration of how the outcome and conclusions of the study were influenced by all that had gone on before in ufology.

USAF-Sponsored Colorado Project for the Scientific Study of UFOs

Michael D. Swords, Ph.D., 1995 MUFON Symposium Proceedings

One of the most significant elements in the history of UFOlogy was the so-called Condon Project, centered at the University of Colorado in 1967-1968. This paper discusses the origin, methodological philosophy and overview of the research problem, the activities, results, and external impacts of this work. The paper finds a complex mix of personalities, attitudes, and theories enmeshed in political and social forces, which predestined the project's conclusions and crippled its ability to make any scientific contribution toward the solution of the UFO mystery. Its resultant impacts were nevertheless formidable, both negatively and positively.

websites & organizations

Links Related to the Condon Report

Sign Historical Group

The following links represent a work in progress aimed at providing a broader understanding of the complexities and personalities involved in the University of Colorado Scientific Study of Unidentified Flying Objects, the director of the project, Dr. Edward Uhler Condon, and the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science and Astronautics UFO Symposium.