As Mac Tonnies has pointed out in a comment at "Ufology's Top 10," if there is a "Top 10" of the best / most influential (for good) people in the history of ufology, there must be a "Bottom 10" of the worst / most influential (for bad) people in the history of ufology.
Yin vs. Yang. Matter vs. Anti-matter. Luke vs. Darth.
Each of the people listed below has had, in varying ways and to varying degrees, a detrimental impact on the serious study of the UFO phenomenon, whether in the eyes of science, the media, the general public, or ufology itself. In each case, ufology would have been better off if these people had chosen some other career path to follow, or another group of suckers to fleece.
Interested observers will note that one man made both the Top 10 and Bottom 10 Lists. To anyone who finds this confounding, I can only say that Richard Nixon managed to open relations with China and cover-up the Watergate break-in. Not everything - or everyone - is simple to figure out.
With that said, and without further ado, here are the Bottom 10 of Ufology - and some dishonourable mentions (a list that could have been much, much longer).
Let the debate begin...
1. Dr. Edward U. Condon – Condon was a distinguished scientist, a pioneer in quantum mechanics, the director of the National Bureau of Standards, the president of the American Physical Society, and a professor of physics at the University of Colorado. It is in this latter post where his claim to ufological infamy rests. The Condon Report, which was the result of a two-year “scientific” study of the UFO phenomenon commissioned by the United States Air Force (known formally as The University of Colorado UFO Project), was released in 1968. Condon was the director. Virtually from the beginning, critics (including some of the committee’s members) charged that Condon and coordinator Robert Low were biased. When the report came out, in concluded that there were prosaic explanations for all UFO cases, and that there was no evidence to support the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. The Air Force, the American media (in general), and the scientific community (again, in general), accepted the report as the definitive word on the subject. Project Blue Book was terminated shortly after its release. Prominent critics such as Dr. Peter Sturrock, Dr. James E. McDonald, Stanton Friedman, and Dr. J. Allen Hynek, have all correctly noted that the report’s conclusions – which were authored by Condon himself – were sharply at variance with the evidence (Condon did not investigate any of the cases himself), which showed that 30% of the cases studied were classed as “unknowns,” higher even than earlier Air Force studies. As Sturrock wrote, “This report has clouded all attempts at legitimate UFO research since its release.” Little has changed in the almost four decades since the Report was released, as governments, the media, and many in the scientific community still cite it as proof that UFOs are not worth serious study. While it might seem unfair to include a real scientist like Condon on the same list as a fake one, like Bob Lazar (see #5), the Condon Report represents everything that science should not be, and irrevocably tarnished the reputation, for those aware of the facts, of a man who might otherwise have been viewed as one of the great American scientists of the 20th century. The damage it did to the serious study of the UFO phenomenon was incalculable.
2. Frank Scully, Silas M. Newton & Leo A. Gebauer (aka “Dr. Gee”) – If crashed flying saucer stories still have a bad reputation (and they do), it is because of these three guys. Newton, the con-man who cooked up the “Aztec Incident” back in 1949 – 1950, Gebauer, his partner who masqueraded as ace scientist “Dr. Gee,” and Scully, the gullible show-biz reporter who fell for the scam hook, line and sinker, and then wrote a book (Behind the Flying Saucers) based on Newton and Gebauer’s claims, are the best examples available of what kind of damage can be done to ufology when greed and dishonesty on the part of hucksters is mixed in equal parts with naiveté and the will to believe on the part of the listener (aka the “mark”). The sad part is that Newton and Gebauer are still sucking in a few well-meaning people to this day, decades after their deaths - people who continue to try and prove the “Aztec Incident” was a real flying saucer crash, despite all of the evidence to the contrary. Ca plus ca change, ca plus ca meme chose.
3. “Professor” George Adamski – Adamski was one of the first people to publicly claim to have seen and photographed alien spacecraft, been contacted by aliens (he was one of the best known “contactees” in the 1950s), and to have even gone on flights with them! He wrote several books relating to his claims which caused quite a stir – both positive and negative – at the time, including the best-selling Flying Saucers Have Landed (1953), which was co-written with Desmond Leslie. All of this, however, was based on a little-known science-fiction book that he wrote in 1949, Pioneers of Space: A Trip to the Moon, Mars and Venus. Adamski enjoyed quite a bit of fame in the 1950s – he travelled the world on lecture tours (he even had an audience with the Queen of the Netherlands), attracted a fairly wide following, and published other books. Not everyone bought his act, however. Time Magazine called him “a crackpot from California,” which hit the nail on the head. His popularity began to wane when he publicly attacked the first moon photos as fakes and then, in 1962, announced that he was to be transported to Saturn for a conference of space travelers. His report of that “trip” was so bizarre that even his most ardent admirers began to have their doubts. By the time of his death in 1965, Adamski’s had become the subject of derision. While here are still some people today who believe that he was telling the truth (just as there are still some people who believe the Holocaust didn’t happen, or that there were no moon landings), it was during the 1950s, when Adamski’s influence was at its peak, that he did the most damage to ufology, undermining the efforts of groups like NICAP and APRO to gain recognition and acceptance for the serious study of the UFO phenomenon with his outlandish, undocumented claims to be a “contactee.” By the way – he wasn’t really a “Professor.”
4. Dr. Steven Greer – Has anyone done more harm to the cause of the serious investigation of the UFO phenomenon over the past decade than Dr. Steven Greer? Ask yourself these questions (I’ve whittled it down to four – I could have included many more): (1) How seriously is anyone who matters going to take a man who charges people good, hard-earned money to wander about a field late at night, flashlights pointed to the sky, because that’s how you contact the aliens? Odd he has never taken a single photo or video of these sightings. (2) How seriously is anyone who matters going to take a man who once claimed that U.S. military forces attacked a Colorado ET base inside a mountain using nerve gas? (3) How seriously is anyone who matters going to take a man who constantly claims he briefed the CIA Director, when in fact this was merely a dinner party where UFOs came up in polite conversation? (4) How seriously is anyone who matters going to take a man who held a press conference in Washington to promote disclosure, and ruined it by including a ton of bogus “witnesses” along with the credible ones, thereby tainting the good guys, and totally undermining any prospect of Congressional hearings for, oh, about the next twenty years? The answer to all of the above is: “Not seriously at all.” Unfortunately, that hasn’t stopped people within ufology, notably those associated with Exopolitics, a wacky off-shoot of Greer’s “work,” from promoting him as a “serious ufologist.” With “friends” like Greer, who needs debunkers?
5. Bob Lazar – Stan Friedman said it best, so I’ll just quote directly from him (see his website http://www.stantonfriedman.com/ for the full article): “Incredible claims have been made about Bob Lazar for years. He supposedly is a physicist with an MS in Physics from MIT and an MS in Electronics from the California Institute of Technology. He was a "Scientist" for Los Alamos National Laboratory, and obtained a job back-engineering UFOs at a very secret site at Area 51 in Nevada through Dr. Edward Teller. Supposedly he figured out how saucers work using Element 115 -- matter/anti-matter, etc. He was able to steal a small quantity of 115 from the 500 pounds available, but this was stolen back. He came forward with his story despite death threats because he thought the public has a right to know. Videotapes are available with his claims. It is all BUNK. Not one shred of evidence has been put forth to support this story: No diplomas, no resumes, no transcripts, no memberships in professional organizations, no papers, no pages from MIT or Caltech yearbooks. He also mentioned, in a conversation with me, California State University at Northridge and Pierce Junior College -- also in the San Fernando Valley, California. I checked all four schools. Pierce said he had taken electronics courses in the late 1970s. The other three schools never heard of him…He was publicly asked when he got his MS from MIT. He said "Let me see now, I think it was probably 1982." Nobody getting an MS from MIT would not know the year immediately. He was asked to name some of his profs, He said: "Let's see now, Bill Duxler will remember me from Caltech." I located Duxler. He's a Pierce physics prof, and never taught at Caltech. Lazar was registered in one of his courses at the same time Lazar was supposedly at MIT! Nobody who can go to MIT goes to Pierce JC, not to mention the rather long commute between LA and Cambridge, Mass… I checked his High School. He graduated in August, not with his class. The only science course he took was chemistry. He ranked 261 out of 369, which is in the bottom third. There is no way he would have been admitted by MIT or Caltech. An MS in Physics from MIT requires a thesis. No such thesis exists at MIT, and he is not on a commencement list. The notion that the government wiped his CIVILIAN records clean is absurd…Scientists leave trails. Lazar is NOT a scientist. He couldn't even answer scientific questions put to him. An excellent review of Bob's "Physics" can be seen at www.serve.com/mahood/lazar/critiq.htm. THIS IS PURE BUNK. BUNK. BUNK.” The pathetic part is that there are still people out there, like Dr. Michael Salla, who defend Lazar, and accept what he says to be the truth – which says as much about them as it does Lazar.
6. Billy Meier – An anecdotal story – my brother and I were attending a UFO conference where a Meier supporter was speaking. He showed some photos and film footage “taken” by Meier of alleged UFOs. My brother leaned over to me and said, “Is there anybody here who can’t tell those are fakes?” To which I replied, “Yeah, go figure. What really ticks me off, as a filmmaker, is how bad the fakes are. I mean, really – I’m offended.” And yet, there were more than a few in the audience that afternoon who bought it all, just as there are people around the planet (including a few extremely gullible UFO “researchers”) who continue to believe that Meier, a Swiss farmer who has claimed to be in contact with “Pleiadian” aliens for the past several decades, is really telling the truth. Of course, if you see Meier for what he really is, then you are, according to his website, “obviously envious, pseudo-scientists, sectarians, fanatics, schizophrenics, or simply slanderers” - so much for peace and love, and the brotherhood of mankind! Here’s all you really need to know about Meier, again from his website: “There is probably no other case as richly documented by witnesses’ testimonies and material as this one…” Wow - Witnesses! Great!! Oh, wait – there’s more: “…even though none of the witnesses has ever had personal contact with extraterrestrials (this privilege was granted exclusively to Billy by the extraterrestrials who came from the planet Erra in the open star cluster of the Pleiades. They have never conducted personal conversations or conscious telepathy with any other person.)” FYI to all Meier-ites – those AREN’T “witnesses,” and Meier ISN’T for real. He IS the direct inheritor of the legacy of George Adamski – and just as damaging to the overall reputation of ufology.
7. Frank Kaufmann & Gerald Anderson – Every lawyer wants witnesses who can corroborate the basic story his client is telling. In the case of Roswell, both of the leading investigators – Stan Friedman and Kevin Randle – wanted witnesses who would corroborate their competing versions of events, which each believed to be the truth. Then, along came Gerald Anderson and Frank Kaufmann, telling tales that Friedman (Anderson) and Randle (Kaufmann) wanted to hear. Randle defended Kaufmann and attacked Anderson, and Friedman defended Anderson and went after Kaufmann. As we now know, both Anderson and Kaufmann were frauds, and both Friedman and Randle got taken as a result. The will to believe (and perhaps the need to one-up each other) got the better of Friedman and Randle for several years, undermining their credibility as investigators in general, and the Roswell case in particular, as they continued to defend Anderson and Kaufmann even after it should have been obvious that they were indefensible. Still, this was the effect – the cause were the falsehoods told by Anderson and Kaufmann, who serve as evidence not of the reality of Roswell, but rather the old saying that if “something is too good to be true, it probably is.”
8. Philip J. Corso – Proof that an honourable military career does not necessarily an honest man make. Corso’s The Day After Roswell basically set him up as the reverse-engineering genius behind everything from the integrated circuit chip (from Roswell to Silicon Valley), to the laser, to the microwave oven. Alas, it was all bunk, the ufological equivalent of the day after a 20 beer drunk – it might have felt good going down, but caused a lot of havoc on the way back up when you realize you can’t stomach it. By misleading Senator Strom Thurmond into writing an introduction for his book (Corso told Thurmond that it was about his career in the military, not Roswell), Corso may have been the first person to generate sympathy for the one-time segregationist Senator, which is, admittedly, quite a feat. Many have called Corso a fraud, which is on the mark. The better term, however, would be “carpetbagger,” because that’s what he did with Roswell.
9. Philip J. Klass – He made the Top 10 list simply because his impact on ufology cannot be ignored. He makes the Bottom 10 list because no-one (not even Donald Menzel) ever offered as many hair-brained, wacked-out, patently ridiculous explanations for the UFO phenomenon as Klass, and no-one (not even Donald Menzel) was ever as mean-spirited when doing it. Some people think Klass served a valuable function by keeping ufologists honest over the years. While that may have been true early on, the fact is that he quickly became such an obvious debunker (as opposed to a fair-minded skeptic) that he wound being ignored, or ridiculed - usually both.
10. Wilbert Smith – It’s hard to sum up everything that is wrong with the Wilbert Smith story in a short paragraph, but here goes (Some factually-challenged folks will no doubt call the following “character assassination.” Que sera sera...): Myths: Wilbert Smith was (a) a pioneering ufologist; (b) head of Canada’s super-secret UFO research and investigation program in the 1950s; (c) privy to the secrets of American UFO programs and research, including alien bodies; and (d) a top scientist. Facts: Wilbert Smith was (a) a UFO believer and a “contactee”; (b) a mid-level civil servant in Canada’s Department of Transportation in the 1950s, where he worked in commercial radio and television regulatory oversight; (c) director of a self-described “part-time” Project Magnet and operator of a “spare-time” UFO “research” station at Shirley’s Bay, Ontario, the latter not an official government project, and the former a project that failed in every respect – both were ignominiously cancelled by 1954; (d) author of a “Top Secret” memo that was not Top Secret (he just stamped it Top Secret), was not primarily about “flying saucers” (rather it was about “geo-magnetics”), and was full of more factual and logical holes than a block of Swiss cheese. And yet more than a few ufologists (most of whom have never done any real research into Smith's work or background) still treat Smith as some kind of ufolgical hero, which is the equivalent of confusing the Joker with Batman. For more info, see my various articles concerning my research into Smith.
Dishonourable mention – Wendelle Stevens, William L. Moore, Linda Moulton Howe, Donald Schmitt, William Steinman, Howard Menger, William Cooper, Dr. Michael Salla, Jeff Rense, Art Bell, Dr. Donald Menzel, Dr. Carl Sagan, Dr. Frank Drake, Richard Doty, Timothy Cooper, MJ-12, J-Rod