Email Exchanges between
Bob Pratt and Jerry Cohen

(Click Bob's name above to see who he is)


....Bob Pratt

3/3/2007: More links added for easier access to information between letters.

11/21/2009: Skip to Blue Ribbon UFO Panel

 

Bob's original letter to me

Date: Tue, 25 Jun 2002 12:26:30 -0400
From: Bob Pratt
To: Jerry Cohen

Hello, Jerry. When I first looked at your page on "Dr. Hynek and the Enquirer," I thought you were way off base. But then I also looked at the page on "NICAP, APRO and the Enquirer" and was a bit amazed. I have never seen that issue of the NICAP Investigator and what it said is totally news to me.

I knew Jack Acuff and Jim Lorenzen, but didn't get to know them until late 1975. From then through the rest of the 1970s and into the early 1980s I was in touch with them frequently, either by phone or in personal visits to their offices or meetings with them elsewhere.

I must say that I never heard of any such arrangement with the Enquirer to (1) have the approval of those two organizations before the Enquirer printed a UFO story, and (2) that the Enquirer would provide funds for investigations (bottom of that page).

If such agreements had been made, they were no longer in effect when I got involved in late 1975. I covered my first UFO story in May 1975 and was so fascinated that I asked my editor to assign all UFO stories to me. But there was an interlude during which I returned to the re-write desk for some weeks before I went back to full time reporting and UFOs.

When I got into UFO reporting full time (I did other stories as well), I developed good rapport with Acuff, both Lorenzens and Walt Andrus of MUFON, all of whom tipped me off to good sightings, etc. In return, the Enquirer paid "lead fees" of maybe $100 to $150, which helped them with their office expenses. I also shared with all three organizations virtually all of the information I obtained in a case -- photocopies of not only the stories that I wrote but transcripts of all interviews and other information. There was a great flow of information to the organizations (and to CUFOS as well, although I don't remember getting anything in the way of leads from CUFOS).

The Enquirer had what we called a "Blue Ribbon UFO Panel" consisting of four or five Ph.Ds and a "mini-panel" composed of the heads of NICAP, APRO and MUFON (John Schuessler represented MUFON instead of Walt Andrus; Walt and Jim Lorenzen despised each other). Leo Sprinkle, Jim Harder, Frank Salisbury, Dr. Hynek, John Warren and at least two other fellows whose names I can't remember were members of the Blue Ribbon panel at various times. Dr. Hynek was a member when I got involved but he dropped out a year or two later after he became convinced that the Enquirer wasn't too interested in funding research. By that time he and I felt we could level with each other and he asked my advice on whether he should stay on the panel. I told him I didn't think the Enquirer was serious about funding any research and he quit the panel. He had agreed to participate in the beginning in the hope that the Enquirer would provide some research funds. It certainly could have afforded to do so (it would spend great gobs of money to get stories of all kinds) but the publisher, Gene Pope, wasn't all that interested.

In those days the Enquirer was offering $1 million to anyone who could prove that UFOs came from outer space. The Blue Ribbon panel was formed to determine whether any case provided that proof. The panel would get together at least once a year to assess the "best" cases of the previous year. None, of course, proved UFOs were from outer space, but the Enquirer also paid $5,000 to $10,000 to those witnesses involved in the case of the year that provided the "best scientific evidence of the reality of UFOs" or something to that effect. That was the main task of the panel, choosing the best case. The mini-panel, consisting of representatives of the three main UFO organizations, would meet once or twice a year with me and my editor to help select those cases that would be considered by the big panel. No one got paid anything but the Enquirer took care of all arrangements and all expenses for visits to south Florida or wherever the panel would meet -- such places as New York, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and even Mexico City).

In the six years or so that I covered UFOs for the Enquirer, no stories were ever submitted to any of these organizations for approval or anything. Dr. Hynek and I stayed in touch after he left the panel and long after I left the Enquirer. As you know, he and I and Phil Imbrogno collaborated on the book, NIGHT SIEGE. Allen and Willy Smith were good friends and he would visit Willy in Longwood, Florida (near Orlando) once or twice a year and I would usually drive up to see him (three hours each way). Dr. Hynek died in 1986 of a brain tumor and I have wondered why no one has ever written a biography of him. I don't have enough information to do that and most of his contemporaries are dying off as well.

Best wishes, Bob
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My letter to Bob
June 28, 2002

jc: Hi Bob, Electrical storm is passed so I can finish this now.

As I was looking through my NICAP issues to find things that related to Hynek and the Enquirer I came across a piece that NICAP had written concerning itself and the Condon Committee. It was so great I had to type it out so I wouldn't lose it. Even though Condon is old news, and the Sturrock study revised its findings, I'm sure there are still some skeptics out there that are faulting them for doing so. I think this piece with no single person's name attributed to it really puts the nails in the coffin, I think probably even for some of the hard-liner's. I'll be posting it shortly. Some comments below.
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At 12:26 PM 06/25/2002 -0400, you wrote:

<bp: Hello, Jerry.

<When I first looked at your page on "Dr. Hynek and the Enquirer," I thought you were way off base. But then I also looked at the page on "NICAP, APRO and the Enquirer" and was a bit amazed. I have never seen that issue of the NICAP Investigator and what it said is totally news to me.

jc: We all tend to think that people who are well-known working on a topic have all the information regarding that topic at their disposal but that obviously isn't the truth. We're usually so busy following our own leads, agendas, whatever, that we're not privileged to have an external view. I realized that about Paul Devereux after analyzing some conversations I had with him. I got a bit testy with him during one of our exchanges on Bruce Errol Knapp's UFO Updates mail list, but it was because he was so positive he could explain the whole thing with earthlights & EMF helmets. However, the results of our conversations were interesting to say the least.

<bp: I knew Jack Acuff and Jim Lorenzen, but didn't get to know them until late 1975. From then through the rest of the 1970s and into the early 1980s I was in touch with them frequently, either by phone or in personal visits to their offices or meetings with them elsewhere.

I must say that I never heard of any such arrangement with the Enquirer to (1) have the approval of those two organizations before the Enquirer printed a UFO story, and (2) that the Enquirer would provide funds for investigations.

jc: That's interesting. It's possible I made an incorrect assumption. I was trying to figure out why Hynek was involved with it. That was the scenario I envisioned. However, you can see from the last paragraph in the above URL, the UFO groups appeared to be expecting to acquire funds from the Enquirer.

<bp: If such agreements had been made, they were no longer in effect when I got involved in late 1975. I covered my first UFO story in May 1975 and was so fascinated that I asked my editor to assign all UFO stories to me. But there was an interlude during which I returned to the re-write desk for some weeks before I went back to full time reporting and UFOs.

jc: About how long was that? I have to read more of your site to think of other questions to ask you; if I can keep my focus on this one area. I think it's getting tougher with age. I've noticed a tendency in myself to drift.

<bp: When I got into UFO reporting full time (I did other stories as well), I developed good rapport with Acuff, both Lorenzens and Walt Andrus of MUFON, all of whom tipped me off to good sightings, etc. In return, the Enquirer paid "lead fees" of maybe $100 to $150, which helped them with their office expenses. I also shared with all three organizations virtually all of the information I obtained in a case -- photocopies of not only the stories that I wrote but transcripts of all interviews and other information. There was a great flow of information to the organizations (and to CUFOS as well, although I don't remember getting anything in the way of leads from CUFOS).

jc: This makes sense. CUFOS was set up to generally analyze sightings from a scientific point of view. This required that "scientists" do the field studies, but the numbers of scientists involved at that time were basically miniscule. (Getting a little better today.) Therefore, CUFOS had to be performing far fewer field studies than the other groups. However, their main focus was to analyze, to the best of their abilities with the resources available, the best cases they could find (jc 3/3/2007: that would permit scientific analysis). So, in that special moment, for the first time, the three major UFO groups & Hynek found themselves together trying to draw out sightings from people who had been reluctant to report them because of the AF's negative stance on the subject. If I analyzed what happened back then correctly: When the final Colorado Report was issued and Blue Book closed, the places where Hynek could publish his findings regarding UFOs diminished greatly. As a scientist, you were thrown back into the realm of " 'you're crazy' for thinking about those things" when a major scientific study and the Air Force has said there is nothing important to be learned about UFOs. CUFOS was struggling for funds and he was searching for places to publish what he had gathered and for anyone that would fund the research of same. The Enquirer panel therefore, at least from my point of view, was a very special moment in ufological history.

<bp: The Enquirer had what we called a "Blue Ribbon UFO Panel" consisting of four or five Ph.Ds and a "mini- panel" composed of the heads of NICAP, APRO and MUFON (John Schuessler represented MUFON instead of Walt Andrus; Walt and Jim Lorenzen despised each other). Leo Sprinkle, Jim Harder, Frank Salisbury, Dr. Hynek, John Warren and at least two other fellows whose names I can't remember were members of the Blue Ribbon panel at various times.

jc: US Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General Tom C. Clark, and former New York Court of Appeals Judge Francis Bergan. I remember the panel. (Evidently Lorenzen, Acuff, and Schuessler were screening cases, then passing them on to the judges for their final decision. So you seem to be saying there were other cases coming in besides theirs? I remember it started at $1,000 then grew to $1,000,000. If both judges approved the award, the Enquirer was saying it was willing to give one million dollars to the person or persons who supplied the evidence. My grandmother used to bring me UFO articles from the Enquirer at that time because she knew how great my interest was after my own sighting. I put them in scrapbooks. I was cross-referencing all of them to try to find proof of what I had seen. Just out of curiosity, what's your take on why Walt and Jim Lorenzen despised each other?

<bp: Dr. Hynek was a member when I got involved but he dropped out a year or two later after he became convinced that the Enquirer wasn't too interested in funding research. By that time he and I felt we could level with each other and he asked my advice on whether he should stay on the panel. I told him I didn't think the Enquirer was serious about funding any research and he quit the panel. He had agreed to participate in the beginning in the hope that the Enquirer would provide some research funds. It certainly could have afforded to do so (it would spend great gobs of money to get stories of all kinds) but the publisher, Gene Pope, wasn't all that interested.

jc: What a shame. Obviously, the head(s) of the paper probably led all of them on to obtain their material. Don't know it for a fact, but that makes a lot of sense. From what you know, we can probably figure out (or know) a cut-off time when Hynek, NICAP and APRO stopped submitting their cases to the Enquirer. I was always curious about this. Do you know approximately when this happened for each group?

<bp: In those days the Enquirer was offering $1 million to anyone who could prove that UFOs came from outer space. The Blue Ribbon panel was formed to determine whether any case provided that proof. The panel would get together at least once a year to assess the "best" cases of the previous year. None, of course, proved UFOs were from outer space, but the Enquirer also paid $5,000 to $10,000 to those witnesses involved in the case of the year that provided the "best scientific evidence of the reality of UFOs" or something to that effect. That was the main task of the panel, choosing the best case. The mini-panel, consisting of representatives of the three main UFO organizations, would meet once or twice a year with me and my editor to help select those cases that would be considered by the big panel. No one got paid anything but the Enquirer took care of all arrangements and all expenses for visits to south Florida or wherever the panel would meet -- such places as New York, Salt Lake City, Las Vegas, and even Mexico City). In the six years or so that I covered UFOs for the Enquirer, no stories were ever submitted to any of these organizations for approval or anything.

jc: That's very interesting. I remember Walton winning $5,000, partly because of the witnesses and partly because of a similarity between his description of "beings" and those described by Charles Moody in a case that happened 3 months earlier. I did a fairly thorough analysis of those two cases. Any idea of whatever happened to Charles Moody? As you probably know, Walton has a web site and is still claiming it happened.

<bp: Dr. Hynek and I stayed in touch after he left the panel and long after I left the Enquirer. As you know, he and I and Phil Imbrogno collaborated on the book, NIGHT SIEGE. Allen and Willy Smith were good friends and he would visit Willy in Longwood, Florida (near Orlando) once or twice a year and I would usually drive up to see him (three hours each way).

jc: Those must have been great trips. I can just imagine some of the topics of conversation.

<bp: Dr. Hynek died in 1986 of a brain tumor and I have wondered why no one has ever written a biography of him. I don't have enough information to do that and most of his contemporaries are dying off as well.

jc: The CUFOS organization is probably the one that should really do it if they could spare a person(s) to do it. If it wasn't for him, they wouldn't exist with quite the level of prestige they have. I tried to sum him up as best I could from my limited vantage point but I was thinking to myself that I wished I could have done more. I had so many things I was trying to cover in the essays I was submitting that I couldn't focus on him for as long as I would have liked. He was the one thing throughout those years that kept me feeling like I wasn't totally nuts.
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Bob's return letter to me

Date: Thu, 11 Jul 2002 11:17:29 -0400
From: Bob Pratt
Subject: Your questions...
To: CohenUFO

 

<<bp: If such agreements had been made, they were no longer in effect when I got involved in late 1975. I covered my first UFO story in May 1975 and was so fascinated that I asked my editor to assign all UFO stories to me. But there was an interlude during which I returned to the re- write desk for some weeks before I went back to full time reporting and UFOs.

<jc: About how long was that?

bp: My recollection if four to six weeks. By then I was bored and wanted to get back to UFO stories.
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The Enquirer had what we called a "Blue Ribbon UFO Panel" consisting of four or five Ph.Ds and a "mini-panel" composed of the heads of NICAP, APRO and MUFON (John Schuessler represented MUFON instead of Walt Andrus; Walt and Jim Lorenzen despised each other). Leo Sprinkle, Jim Harder, Frank Salisbury, Dr. Hynek, John Warren and at least two other fellows whose names I can't remember were members of the Blue Ribbon panel at various times.

<jc: US Supreme Court Justice and Attorney General Tom C. Clark, and former New York Court of Appeals Judge Francis Bergan. I remember the panel. (Evidently Lorenzen, Acuff, and Schuessler were screening cases, then passing them on to the judges for their final decision. So you seem to be saying there were other cases coming in besides theirs?

bp: Neither Clark nor Bergen was a member of any panel. They had agreed to weigh any "evidence" (meaning proof that UFOs came from outer space) that the Blue Ribbon panel put forth to determine whether that evidence would stand up in a court of law. I think there were three judges at one time but eventually the number went down to just one, Bergen. I never knew or spoke to Clark on the phone but did phone Bergen once in the late 1970s to ask him to continue serving as out "court of last resort" or whatever we called it then. He agreed to stay on, and I believe at that time he was the lone member of the "court." Jacques Vallee, incidentally, declined to serve on our Blue Ribbon panel (I ran into him at a MUFON Symposium in Dayton, Ohio in 1978) because the Enquirer's million-dollar offer was only for proof that UFOs "came from outer space" and not from any other source.

<jc: ... snip ...

Just out of curiosity, what's your take on why Walt and Jim Lorenzen despised each other?

bp: Simply because Walt Andrus broke away from APRO to form his own UFO group, Midwest UFO Network (later Mutual UFO Network) and the Lorenzens never forgave him for that.

<jc: That's interesting. I didn't know that. I never really focused on MUFON. I had read one or two books from the Lorenzens and knew how NICAP felt about them. That was the extent of my knowledge of them. The few cases I read from APRO appeared more sensationalistic.

bp: Dr. Hynek ... agreed to participate in the beginning in the hope that the Enquirer would provide some research funds. It certainly could have afforded to do so (it would spend great gobs of money to get stories of all kinds) but the publisher, Gene Pope, wasn't all that interested.

<jc: What a shame. Obviously, the head(s) of the paper probably led all of them on to obtain their material. Don't know it for a fact, but that makes a lot of sense. From what you know, we can probably figure out (or know) a cut-off time when Hynek, NICAP and APRO stopped submitting their cases to the Enquirer. I was always curious about this. Do you know approximately when this happened for each group?

bp: I don't think it was so much a matter of leading them on to get material as it was simply to lend legitimacy to the Enquirer's reward offer. Here you have these Ph.D.s studying UFOs for the Enquirer, etc. As for material, the Enquirer never had any trouble finding things to write about.

<jc: O.K. I guess that makes sense.

bp: I'm not sure what you mean by "submitting cases." I don't recall Hynek ever giving us a case but APRO, NICAP and MUFON did tip us off to cases, and if any of them looked promising we would follow up. None of these groups ever stopped helping us in that sense. As I said before, we paid the organizations "lead fees" of usually $100 to $150 if those tips led to published stories.

All of this came to an end in 1980 or 1981 (I left the Enquirer in July 1981) when the Enquirer formally abandoned the reward offer and disbanded the Blue Ribbon panel and the mini-panel.

Hope this helps. Bob

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jc: Please note, Bob Pratt has passed away Nov. 19th, 2005 and thanks to his wife's efforts and MUFON, his website is presently hosted by MUFON.


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