Page last updated: February 6, 2015 4:42 PM
Some Other Thoughts on J Allen Hynek
as a super-secret "Mole for the CIA"
Below is a reproduction of the essay "Some Thoughts On J. Allen Hynek" - by Richard M. Dolan, located at http://www.ufoevidence.org/documents/doc42.htm
Having read this particular article by Richard Dolan, I find myself disagreeing with it and feel I have enough information at hand to be able to comment on it intelligently. This piece is located here for the purpose of analysis and, as it happens, rebuttal. My interspersed comments regarding same are respectfully written from a "devil's advocate" point of view.
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Copyright ©2002 by Richard M. Dolan
Astronomer J. Allen Hynek is universally regarded as the most important scientist in the history of Ufology. He has even been called the "Galileo" of UFO research.
Yet, it is impossible to ignore Hynek’s complicity in publicly debunking UFOs for years. His own justification is well_known: in order to retain access to official UFO reports, he could not afford to risk an open confrontation with the Air Force. Hynek made these claims as a matter of self_defense, years after the fact in the 1970s, after he had been criticized by nearly everyone in the UFO field as an Air Force lackey. That this was Hynek's reputation in the 1950s and 1960s seems all_but_forgotten today.
jc: I believe to be accurate, you would have to say 1950s and _early_ 1960s.
RMD: Jacques Vallee worked very closely with Hynek for years during the 1960s, and eventually concluded that "the Air Force kept Hynek around only as long as he was silent." This is certainly true. The question is, why did Hynek keep silent? Was it because he was an unassertive type of person – that is, because of a feature of his personality? Nearly all UFO researchers who have written about Hynek say, in effect: yes, for all of his scientific virtues, he was not a fighter. An unfortunate but all too human weakness.
A detached analysis of the historical record does not justify this conclusion.
Generally speaking, Hynek was a genial man who did not seek out open confrontations. This, in fact, was one of the important traits that made him valuable to national security interests. In the first place, Hynek was much more than a mere civilian scientist who "helped out" the Air Force. From 1942 to 1946, Hynek took a leave of absence from Ohio State University to work at the Johns Hopkins University, in Silver Springs, Maryland. While there, he was in charge of document security for the highly classified project sponsored by the Navy to develop a radio proximity fuse.
Along with radar and the atomic bomb, this is often considered as one of the three great scientific developments of the war. The device was a radio_operated fuse designed to screw into the nose of a shell and timed to explode at any desired distance from target.
jc: Fascinating. I have to admit I didn't know this. However, this would further explain why Hynek was hired as a consultant to Project Blue Book. They knew Hynek's work there and knew he would do a good job. Hynek, himself, stated he thought he could explain them all away.
RMD: [photo caption: J. Allen Hynek. A central, and
problematic, figure in the history of UFO research.]
Many scientists, of course, performed work for the defense establishment during World War Two. But Hynek’s project was of considerable importance, and it does not appear that his main contribution was scientific: after all, he was an astrophysicist. Rather, one of his main efforts was in a security_related area.
jc: "Document security", if Richard is correct. We would need to know exactly what that means and Hynek's exact role in it.
RMD: Vallee kept a diary during the period that he worked with Hynek. It remained unpublished until 1992 as Forbidden Science, long after Hynek was dead and enshrined as the "father of scientific ufology."
jc: I'm looking for dates to pin things down. This is the fifth date Richard mentions so far. All have been generalized.
RMD: When read with care, Vallee's observations make it clear that there was much more to J. Allen Hynek than initially met the eye. And yet, the UFO research community has continued to ignore the implications, and even the plain facts, that Vallee related.
[Photo caption: The proximity fuse, used here by anti-aircraft artillery during WWII, was six times more effective than the timed fuses it replaced. Hynek was in charge of document security for the development of this important weapon.]
For example, rumors had abounded through the 1960s that Blue Book was a public relations facade, and that there was a "secret study" of UFOs going on. Vallee, too, had his suspicions, and broached this subject with Hynek every so often. Hynek inevitably rejected such opinions without reservation. Blue Book, Hynek maintained, was the real thing, albeit a project that was being done incompetently.
jc: It is my contention that this is what Hynek honestly believed. I think he probably believed what was in the contract and did his best to do the job. However, sometime prior to Blue Book closing, I think we can safely surmise the Air Force lost their trust in him as time went on. Hynek wrote newspaper articles for Newsweek and The Saturday Evening Post which appeared as though he was blowing the whistle on the UFO situation. Would the Air Force want to keep him in a position where he could be privy to possibly top-secret information if he was advocating the reality of UFOs to the public? Could they trust him after that? We should also remember this was exactly what Hynek stated in the letter he wrote to his superior, Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper" on Oct. 7, 1968; the letter which delineated the problems with Project Blue Book and chastised the project as a whole. Hynek stated he was only supposed to look at the cases they gave him. He wasn't supposed to peruse cases in the files. Obviously, they didn't trust him with some of this material. (Sleeper letter; "On Hynek's Role in Blue Book" )
RMD: Vallee was never quite convinced. He noticed Hynek’s cagey attitude about UFOs, that he seemed to know much more than he usually let on about the subject, that he often appeared to be more interested in self_promotion than actual study of the problem, and that his personal records were in a state of near_disaster.
Then Vallee found the infamous "Pentacle Memorandum" in Hynek's office.
jc: We need to know 1) when Vallee found it. (date & under what circumstances did he find it) 2) How long Dr. Hynek had it in his possession prior to Vallee finding it. 3) How and why Dr. Hynek actually acquired the document in question. Although Vallee could be right in his hypothesis, it could also be that as Hynek gradually came to an understanding regarding how the Air Force treated Project Blue Book and what the project was severely lacking, he might have started to wonder if the Air Force had set him up for a "fools" errand. It is also not impossible the memorandum in question may have confirmed it for him. (Note: this is merely a second scenario out of several possible.)
RMD: This was a highly classified document from January 1953, proving the existence of a separate study group of UFOs, and which urged that the Robertson Panel be delayed until they had come to their own conclusions. Very strong stuff. In the mid_1960s, there was still no inkling among the wider public that there was any such study as this.
jc: Again, did Vallee know how Hynek had come upon this memo at that particular time? It is really important to know how Hynek acquired the document in the first place. It is not impossible that in the course of Hynek's duties and in the pursuit of attempting to find out the truth concerning UFOs for himself, he might have acquired this letter in that regard from whomever.
RMD: On another occasion, a colleague of Vallee and Hynek showed Vallee "some very interesting photographs taken from an airplane." Here is the relevant passage:
"Do you know who took these? Allen did! But he hasn't recorded the place, the date or the time ..." It turns out Allen was aboard an airliner when he suddenly noticed a white object at his altitude, seemingly flying at the same speed as the plane. He made sure it wasn’t a reflection and he convinced himself it must be some faraway cloud with an unusual shape. He pulled out his camera ‘to see how fast he could snap pictures.’ In all he took two pairs of stereoscopic photographs and gave it no more thought.
jc: Gave it no more thought? He has to be kidding. You think he'd ever forget it? Obviously, anyone who took pictures would give it more thought. You have in your possession pictures of a possible UFO. If you were a scientist and you honestly didn't know what the object was, would _you_ go around telling everyone you took pictures of a UFO? What would happen to your reputation after they finished laughing at you? Isn't it totally logical you would need to have them analyzed and certified from an unimpeachable source before considering, even for a brief moment, the possibility of revealing this to everyone; if indeed analysis would lead to a "proof-positive" resolution?
RMD: The photographs themselves appeared in a book authored by Hynek and Vallee in 1975, The Edge of Reality. They may or may not be of a flying saucer, but they are certainly not clouds. The importance of stereoscopic photographs cannot be overemphasized.
jc: Actually, the importance of stereoscopic photographs _can_ be overemphasized. Researchers have a stereoscopic picture(s?) of a UFO taken by Ed Walters (Gulf Breeze, Florida) with a camera given to him by Dr. Bruce Maccabee. However, the pictures did not stimulate everyone to say "Wow! That UFO was the real thing!" Instead, researchers, etc. began accusing Dr. Maccabee of being in on a possible hoax, yet I don't believe they ever conclusively proved his stereoscopic picture(s) were hoaxed. One also notes, people have taken videos of UFOs and those haven't been proof enough either. Isn't it quite likely Hynek gave much consideration to this same thing regarding his own pictures and decided that even photographs weren't enough proof to convince other scientists, especially pictures taken by someone who could be accused of having something to gain regarding the topic?
By the way, the pictures in the Hynek/Vallee book mentioned above had already appeared three years prior in Hynek's own book The UFO Experience, published in 1972. (Last of the pictures just prior to page 53 in his hard-covered book.) It is interesting to note that on page 3, paragraph 3 of that book Hynek says the following:
"I have often been asked whether I myself have had a "UFO experience." The answer is no if I apply the tests I insist are necessary, which will be made clear in later chapters. On two separate occasions in the past 20 years I have seen an object and a light, respectively, that I could not readily explain, but since a possible, though not particularly probable, natural explanation exists, these two experiences do not fall within the definition of UFO used in this book. I have never experienced a "close encounter" (Chapter 4) and probably would not have reported it if I had, unless I had several reputable witnesses, but this does not surprise me. ... My experience with UFOs is secondhand, observed entirely through the eyes of others. The natives in UFO land are reports and the people who have made those reports. ..."
I believe Dr. Hynek was just attempting to remain detached from the subject as he analyzed it. I think it may even be possible he had trouble dealing with his own sighting. I suspect he honestly didn't want to be part of the analytical mix, fearing it might compromise the objectiveness of his analyses. By publishing the pictures, however, he did give us a clue that he himself _had_ seen something unusual. Vallee evidently confirms this. I'd like to know the exact date this happened. It would be very interesting to see his actions immediately after it. I believe this may well have even been one of the most important of a number of motivations Hynek experienced in the course of his lifetime regarding UFOs. Considering his previous analyses regarding the topic, it is certainly not impossible something this dramatic would have further piqued Hynek's need to find a logical answer to this most thought-provoking mystery. It would also make sense he also considered the incredible odds of this having happened to him, of all people. It had to be a mind-blower.
RMD: Such a camera is of outstanding evidentiary value. Hynek, in effect, had captured a possible Holy Grail on film. But what happened?
Fred only learned about this a few weeks later. But then Hynek had lost the negatives and one shot from every pair was missing. ... Naturally the loss of the negatives makes it impossible to determine whether it was really a cloud or not. Fred is indignant: "Sometimes I have the feeling Allen doesn't want to know," he says.
jc Maybe he didn't. From experience I can say there is a big difference in analyzing other people's sightings from a distance as opposed to dealing with something you personally saw. The whole thing can become too damn personal.
RMD: Hynek, who had headed document security for the proximity fuse project, "lost" one (and only one) negative from such a set as this. One might well wonder, to whom did he actually pass this material?
jc: Actually, a very good question: However, not knowing what happened to the single picture from each pair and the negatives tempts one to conjecture a slightly different scenario from the one Dolan has proposed: Suppose this UFO thing is more top secret than some of us may have realized? Suppose Hynek gave it to someone he thought would analyze it for him honestly but the person kept one of each picture and the negatives when he gave it back to him? Suppose the person he gave them to told him (he/they) would deny it? If it were you, what would you do then . . tell everyone about it? Please note, I am not stating this as fact, but rather to demonstrate there can be a number of alternate possibilities, not just Vallee's.
RMD: [Photo caption: One of the two photographs Hynek took from a plane with a stereoscopic camera. He nevertheless lost one (and only one) negative from each image.]
During another conversation, Hynek mentioned to Vallee that the Air Force had sent him a new contract draft. He did not know whether or not he should sign it, and gave it to Vallee to read.
The contract, I was surprised to read, was not really with the Air Force but with the Dodge Corporation, a subsidiary of McGraw_Hill. "What's McGraw_Hill doing in the middle of all this?" I asked without trying to hide my bafflement. "Is that some sort of cut_out?" "Oh, they are just contractors to the Foreign Technology Division," Hynek replied. "By working through companies like McGraw_Hill, which is a textbook publisher, it's easier for them to hire professors and scholars to conduct some Intelligence activities, keeping up with Soviet technology, for example. Many academics would be nervous saying they were working for the Foreign Technology Division." The contract clearly puts Hynek under the administrative supervision of a man named Sweeney, who is not a scientist. And it clearly specifies Hynek's task as evaluating [original emphasis] the sightings of unknown objects to determine if they represent a danger for the security of the United States.
jc: The very fact that Hynek gave it to Vallee to read at all "because he wasn't sure he should sign it" should at that very moment have caused one to rethink the theory of Hynek as a mole. Does this sound logical? If Hynek was this proposed secret mole, wouldn't he have discussed the entire situation with the person(s) who hired him _prior_ to getting the contract? (Don't we usually interview before receiving a contract of this sort?) If so, would Hynek have given Vallee the letter to read in the first place? I propose that the contract was exactly as stated and that Hynek believed what was in the contract, i.e. that he was supposed to evaluate "the sightings of unknown objects to determine if they represent a danger for the security of the United States." This apparently was the stated responsibility of Project Blue Book. That responsibility is enough for anyone. I don't believe there was anything more to it. Additionally, this is exactly what he stated in his letter to his boss, Colonel Sleeper (Oct. 1968, prior to the closing of Blue Book, and thereby Hynek's termination from same.) Read the case stated by Hynek in the "Sleeper" letter above and what he says about it; especially the 4th paragraph down beginning with "This report . . " It sounds as though Hynek was responding to those very instructions, the same instructions Blue Book itself was charged to do. If he was a super-secret mole, wouldn't the contract be secret as well and wouldn't he have been instructed to conceal this from everyone? I don't believe Vallee's line of reasoning holds together here.
Furthermore, it seems likely the articles Hynek published in Newsweek and The Saturday Evening Post were a major catalyst in the Air Force's closing of Blue Book. Closing Blue Book would allow them to avoid any problems possibly created by their chief astronomical consultant who was blowing the whistle on their whole "public relations" operation. (If it wasn't a public relations operation, how could they run it like that? It doesn't make any sense.)
RMD: Hynek's substantial Air Force money was passed to him through a third party. Thus, Hynek’s relationship with "security" continued right through the 1960s. We also learn from Vallee that Hynek, despite his monthly trips to Wright_Patterson AFB, almost never saw Blue Book Chief Hector Quintanilla, but was received personally by the commander, who usually took him to lunch at the officer's club. When Vallee asked Hynek what they talked about, Hynek replied, "innocently," the weather and foreign cuisine.
jc: Because Hynek wouldn't discuss with Vallee what he had discussed at the officer's club makes him a mole? Again, we could have a number of different scenarios here but, suppose for a moment he was instructed not to talk about it or that he just didn't trust Vallee with the information? That doesn't make one a mole.
RMD: The preceding passage raises other unanswered questions, such as how many other academics were receiving cut_out money to hide their intelligence value? Hynek’s remarks implied that he knew quite a lot about this topic, but unfortunately, the conversation appeared to stop dead at that point.
jc: How many of us discuss how much we're getting paid and the details of same with others? Most of us feel it's simply none of the other person's business. This doesn't make one a spy. Jerome Clark Editor of CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies, formed by Hynek) had something to say concerning the monetary topic, responding to a letter from Gary Alevy.
RMD: One might also wonder, who was Sweeney? And, since Hynek was being funded through one cut_out organization, why not two (not at all an unusual intelligence practice)? That is, was the Air Force itself a cut_out for another organization?
jc: Or maybe Richard is a "cut_out" for one of them. One could go into infinity with this kind of reasoning. It is certainly not "scientific" and attempts to lead us to an area of almost total nebulousness with certainly much less-than-minimal proof to even seriously consider same.
RMD: This is currently an unanswerable question, but well worth asking in light of the clear evidence that the CIA was a major perhaps the major player behind the scenes in the UFO mystery.
jc: As far as I can see, not proven by what we have here so far. It certainly can't hurt to delve into it, but you have to have some really concrete proof before thoughtful researchers can allow themselves to accept it.
RMD: Another interesting and generally ignored fact about Hynek was the close relationship he had with Donald Menzel. The astronomical community has always been small, and of course it is not surprising that, aside from the issue of UFOs, the two men would know each other well. But this relationship was more than a simple professional acquaintance.
From 1955 to 1960, for instance, Hynek was associate director of the Smithsonian Institution's Astrophysics Observatory in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and headed its optical satellite tracking program. During this period he also lectured at Harvard University. Menzel, meanwhile, had been a full professor at Harvard since 1938 and was the most prestigious astrophysicist in North America. For all intents and purposes, Menzel was Harvard’s Astronomy Department. While Hynek was in town, Menzel was full director of the Harvard Observatory, and (as Vallee noted in passing) was Hynek’s mentor. On one occasion, Hynek declined to write a Forward for Menzel's book. One assumes, then, that Menzel asked in the first place.
RMD: [Photo caption: Donald Menzel was an arch-UFO debunker, senior member of the U.S. intelligence community, and an alleged MJ-12 member. He was also a mentor of J. Allen Hynek.]
jc: Whatever Dr. Hynek's relationship was with Donald Menzel, they were definitely at odds when it came to UFOs. I don't know when Hynek had his sighting. It may not have happened yet. As I mentioned before, when he did have it, that probably was one of the big turning points for him. Even without that, Hynek had seen many reports in Project Blue Book that made him realize that Dr. Menzel's theories concerning UFOs didn't hold much water ( click here and please see footnote 11) . Hynek spoke about this in his book "The UFO Experience." I believe it is quite likely this, combined with the fact that- if Menzel was Hynek's mentor, it _was_ the perfect reason Hynek refused to write a forward for Menzel's book. It makes total sense that a rational person does not easily criticize his mentor in public. I'm assuming at least part of the book Dolan is referring to had something to do with UFOs. Mr. Dolan hasn't specifically said which of Menzel's books or what date it was published, assuming Menzel wrote more than one.
RMD: When considering the public opposition the two occasionally had (such as their participation in a scientific debate on UFOs in late 1952), this closeness seems out of place. But the public view is often the misleading view.
Menzel, of course, was not merely one of the world's leading astronomers. He was a man tightly connected to the upper levels of the American national security community, and personally close to Vannevar Bush. During the war, Menzel chaired the Radio Propagation Committee of the Joint and Combined Chiefs of Staff and the Section of Mathematical and Physical Research of U.S. Naval Communications. He was a top_level cryptologist who had a longstanding association with the National Security Agency, possessed a Navy Top Secret Ultra security clearance, consulted for 30 companies on classified projects, and worked for the CIA. Through the entire 1950s, Menzel was still a serving intelligence officer.
jc: Depending upon when the book in question was published, this could be an even greater reason for Hynek not wanting to write the forward to Menzel's book. If Menzel was writing about UFOs, what was Hynek supposed to say if, exactly as he stated in "The UFO Experience" (to get the book, see URL above), he disagreed with Menzel's views? Would the average person be able to contradict his own mentor, and in Richard's words "the most prestigious astrophysicist in North America," and in Menzel's own book yet? If I were in his place, I know I wouldn't. Would Menzel have even published the "forward" if it was negative?
RMD: Revelations such as these about are especially important when one considers how sanitized Hynek’s treatment continues to be at the hands of most writers in the UFO field. Indeed, even Menzel is sanitized. Jerome Clark, for instance, claimed that Menzel’s secret government work "does not significantly differentiate him from many other elite scientists of his generation." There is some truth in this statement, but the larger picture is missed. What matters is that the surface and undercurrent move in different directions.
In the 1950s, as today, UFOs were a topic of great secrecy. They were important. In this context, the classified lives of men like Hynek and Menzel matter a very great deal. These were men strongly connected with the topic of UFOs, who by their outward appearance were at antipodes. Yet, below the surface, many commonalities existed.
Hynek's defenders have remained at the surface, claiming that his position on UFOs evolved over the years from skeptic to believer. Such a simple transition is unlikely. For years, Hynek had access to classified Air Force UFO reports. Many of those reports were unusual and unconventional – as Hynek himself stated years after the fact – and the Air Force official explanations for many of these were clearly absurd. Yet, for year after year, he did nothing. Even followers in good faith might ask: what took him so long?
jc question: What would Richard have preferred Hynek do differently, publish secret memos, etc? It is so easy to be an arm-chair general when it is not you who is involved and when its long _after_ the fact. It wasn't very easy for a professional scientist (or anyone else) to talk about UFOs back then without saying they were impossible. As Jerome Clark has noted, even though Hynek's public stance on UFOs was delayed, it was still costly to Hynek's scientific career. * Clark had also discussed Hynek in a letter I mentioned previously.
RMD: Hynek’s remarks and insights, provided years after the fact, remain of value to the UFO researcher. But the careful reader must remain mindful of Hynek’s history in this subject. It is a history that, depending upon which character flaw was his correct one, leads any serious researcher into a stance of wariness regarding J. Allen Hynek.
jc: I believe I've presented enough evidence to demonstrate that this wariness regarding Hynek is most likely unnecessary, but if enough "solid" proof were submitted in this regard, other researchers would be able to give it more thought.
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Some additional points:
Going back to paragraph three . . .
RMD: "Jacques Vallee worked very closely with Hynek for years during the 1960s, and eventually concluded that "the Air Force kept Hynek around only as long as he was silent." This is certainly true. The question is, why did Hynek keep silent?
jc: I believe it was because he was such an excellent scientist. Without really concrete proof, what could the end result of his coming out with it be? One need only read my rebuttal comments throughout this whole essay again including associated links, most notably here, here, and here to see why Hynek most likely remained quiet all that time. He started "blowing the whistle" in 1966. Unfortunately the evidence, as intriguing as it was, just wasn't scientifically strong enough back then. (or even now when it was brought to the Standford Study.) Additionally, since he was hired to debunk UFOs by the Air Force, perhaps an even better question would be, "What did Dr. Hynek have to gain by blowing the whistle on the Air Force? Whistle blowers are not exactly revered by the people who originally hired them. Firing is the standard outcome."
RMD: The question is, why did Hynek keep silent? Was it because he was an unassertive type of person – that is, because of a feature of his personality? Nearly all UFO researchers who have written about Hynek say, in effect: yes, for all of his scientific virtues, he was not a fighter. An unfortunate but all too human weakness.
jc: I believe Richard Dolan's own words pretty much sum it up: "Nearly all UFO researchers who have written about Hynek say, effect: yes, for all of his scientific virtues he was not (by nature) a fighter." I believe that fairly large group of people are most likely correct and what we see Hynek saying, his evolution, etc., is pretty much 100% honest and straight ahead. But, just imagine the great courage and conviction it had to take when he finally came out and dug his heels in to challenge the Air Force and the scientific establishment, putting his own career on the line; especially a person who wasn't known to be a fighter. When we look at the record, we can see Dr. James McDonald was a help in this regard. (Last sentence and link Inserted by editor 8\23\2005)
We should also all remember one important legacy of scientist J. Allen Hynek: The formation of The Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). How many people do you know would invest so much effort to form an organization of this type to study something everyone else considered impossible?
After giving all this a great deal of consideration, and willing to take the other side if necessary, I still believe my thoughts about him back in 1981 when he called my home were correct and true and, if anything, the more I have researched, the more my respect for him has grown.
If you haven't seen it already, click here for my first page discussing whether Hynek was a mole for the CIA.
* jc 1/17/2009 : Here's another reason Hynek's stance on UFOs was delayed; an interview where he tells us, amongst other things, he had signed a security agreement when he went to work on Project Blue Book. (click on VIDEO_1 at the link immediately above, for as long as it remains at that link).
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