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Was J. Allen Hynek a Mole for the CIA?

There have been a small number of people who have claimed Dr. Hynek was a mole for the CIA, working secretly for them while displaying another face to the general public. Respecting some of what I'd seen written, I found myself giving thought to this interesting subject. At first glance some of the reasons they gave appeared as though they might have had some merit. However, going back through my research and thinking about it further, I came to a different conclusion. Therefore, I offer this "contrasting view". Interested readers are welcome to make their own determinations.

I had responded to an open posting between Ed Komarek and Jan Aldrich on UFO UpDates in 1997 stating why I had disagreed with Ed's views on this topic. (Located in my web site index under Hynek) Located within were links to various articles and quotes by Hynek himself, interspersed with comments from several people who worked fairly closely with him and additionally, a recall of this researcher's own personal experience with Dr. Hynek when he called my house back in 1981 responding to a letter I had written him concerning my own sighting. After his call I remember thinking to myself, "I'm not anyone politically connected to any of this and yet Dr. Hynek took time to call me and discuss what I had written. I asked myself "Why would he pick a nobody to call to have a long conversation with concerning a letter that would never be seen by anyone except him unless he was seriously studying UFOs?" During our conversation, he gave me his son's phone number in the New York area in case I had any further reason to contact him. After I hung up and my amazement that he had called had settled a bit, I thought, "How do you like that, he just gave me his son's phone number. This whole thing has got to be really up-close and personal for him. He's got to be seriously looking for an honest answer."

In thinking about this mole question and gathering data in the process, I asked myself the following: 1) Do we have any real, direct factual proof he was working for the CIA? 2) What would have caused Hynek write his 10/10/66 Newsweek and 12/17/66 Saturday Evening Post articles saying he thought there might be something to UFOs? We know that after the Condon/Colorado study (11/66-68) had published its findings, Hynek had published his views against same in the April 1969 Bulletin of Atomic Scientists, letting all scientists know his views and challenging them on the topic. Then, in Hynek's now-famous book The UFO Experience (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1972), we found him once again taking a direct stance against the results of that same study. Then I asked myself, "Isn't a "mole", by its very definition, usually burrowed in deep, working in secret, _not_ drawing attention to oneself? Why would Hynek draw attention to himself in this incredible manner? If he was a mole, why would he openly pit himself against such an eminent mainstream scientist as Edward Condon? And why would he, in that same book take a stance _against_ the Air Force, going so far as to openly display the negative letter Hynek had written to his boss Colonel Sleeper at Blue Book; a letter which gave everyone an inside look at some of the myriad problems at "Project Blue Book"? Hynek's words had rung out loudly and clearly when he said, "The statistical methods employed by Blue Book are a travesty on the branch of mathematics known as Statistics." 1 What on earth would cause him to openly challenge the Air Force and the entire scientific community? Why would he risk putting his entire career in jeopardy when going against both the voice of mainstream science and against the Air Force was guaranteed to have the effect of calling _Hynek's own_ credulity and sensibility into question? Was the man crazy?

And while we're at it, another intriguing question: Does it really make sense that Hynek would further jeopardize the respect of his peers two years later via his open involvement with the National Enquirer in 1974? If he were a mole, how would it serve any rational purpose for him to ruin his standing with his peers and entire professional scientific career in the process? Who on earth would do such a thing? After giving it much thought and research, I finally decided the following:

Hynek had been a good company man, believed in Blue Book's mission, and accomplished all the things the Air Force had expected of him over the years; he went with the flow. He explained many cases away, but he had also looked as closely as possible at some of the really tough cases he had come across, tried his best to explain them in rational terms, and yet found himself unable to do so.

It appears the straw that broke the camel's back occurred when he was called before a Hearing by Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives (April 1966) [6 months prior to his Newsweek/Saturday Eve. Post articles - URLs above]. 2 Hynek had previously been made to look foolish when the Air Force had issued their own explanations for a number of astronomical cases without consulting him. 3 Additionally, there were a flurry of low level observations by pilots, police officers, doctors, lawyers, etc. In one of them (Spaur/Neff - Ravenna Ohio case ) the Air Force claimed that what was seen was a satellite or Venus. (As we find out later, _not_ Hynek's explanation.) 4 However, the close-up detail and consistency of the observations by many police officers, etc. made the Air Force and Dr. Hynek look completely ridiculous. Hynek, in effect, was looking like nothing more than a stooge for the Air Force. If that wasn't bad enough, Hynek had just taken a beating in the Dexter, Michigan "swamp gas" case where he was thoroughly ridiculed by the press even though he had issued a carefully worded statement referring to only two of the many sightings. 5 The quality of the UFO cases combined with his statements concerning them had helped spawn the hearings at which he was now being forced to testify; an uncomfortable situation to say the least. 6

April 5, 1966, at the Hearing by Committee on Armed Services of the House of Representatives, Eighty-Ninth Congress Hynek found himself unavoidably forced into a major altercation with the Air Force. The scientist in him began asserting itself over the politician. He said the AF "working hypotheses" that all UFO reports were errors, hallucinations or hoaxes - had been "very successful" but might be a roadblock to research for

"if one digs too intently for coal he is apt to miss diamonds . . . And in dealing with truly puzzling cases, we have tended either to say that, if an investigation had been pursued long enough, the misidentified object would have been recognized, or that the sighting had no validity to begin with." 7

Hynek also found himself admitting he had told the AF that Project Blue Book was not fully investigating UFO unknowns:

. . . "enough puzzling sightings have been reported by intelligent and often technically competent people to warrant closer attention than Project Blue Book can possibly encompass. . . " 8

We note in the May/June 1966 NICAP Investigator, that when the hearing committee questioned Hynek concerning Exeter New Hampshire (9/3/65) , he was unable to come up with a reasonable explanation for the well-detailed sightings. 9 I'm pretty certain he was forced to admit deep within himself he just couldn't explain them. Over the years, sightings had progressed from a simple "light or object in the sky" to low level, close-up fly-over's, with detailed accounts, many cases from level-headed, basically competent witnesses including the police, some of whom Hynek, himself, personally interviewed. To make matters worse, at that same hearing the Air Force found itself forced to admit it 1) had not properly followed up "unexplained" UFO reports 2) was not investigating the "unknowns," and 3) was only explaining what they could; . . . talk about letting the chickens out of the coup. 10

As their main civilian astronomical consultant, Hynek was stuck between a rock and a hard place. He knew he didn't have the answers he needed to redeem himself and that both the rules imposed by the Air Force and their actions, were destroying his reputation and at the same time not permitting him to find those answers. He had to find a way to make the situation right and reclaim his scientific reputation. Along with everything political that had happened, he also realized that the UFO situation was literally screaming for more attention and he knew the major responsibility of it was sitting squarely on his shoulders. It was the combination of all these circumstances which eventually coalesced and drove him to find the courage to tell the Air Force his honest, critical feelings and finally, to inform the entire scientific establishment as to the inside story.

After six scientists appointed by the committee (one of them Carl Sagan) recommended a university study to solve the problem, the University of Colorado was selected, and the project placed under the leadership of Dr. Edward Condon. 11 Hynek had spent twenty years studying UFOs and now a group of scientists was going to come along and, with only a relatively short time to study the phenomenon, was going to make a pronouncement on it. He wasn't even sure what cases they were going to base their decisions on. He also knew that the Air Force had released explanations that made no sense, and knew everyone thought they were "his." Chances were, he was in for a roasting. His reputation had been fouled and he realized that most likely, no one was going to do anything to let everyone know what had led him to this point. He knew the Air Force probably wasn't going to admit what they had done, therefore he had no choice but to protect himself. He finally decided the only way he could possibly do this would be to calmly lay the whole thing out to other scientists and the public.

Reading The NICAP UFO Investigator (August/September 1966), we discover Hynek then wrote a long letter to Science Magazine in which he revealed a "pattern" found in numerous sightings, admitted the existence of unexplained UFO photos and radar tracking, and called for an end to a ridicule of reliable witnesses. He said AF reports included unexplained UFO photos and radar trackings (which the Air Force had repeatedly denied), unexplained pictures by Moonwatch and satellite tracking cameras, also the existence of a 1958 photograph of a "retrograde satellite." (Orbiting east to west instead of west to east, as all earth-launched satellites do, except polar orbiters. The unknown orbiter's speed, as computed at Adler Planetarium, was three times that of any earth-launched satellite.) 12

jc: Aha! Now I feel better about having selected that article for my web site. I don't remember ever actually reading and absorbing that NICAP Investigator article regarding Hynek. Having called the event "Sky Thing," I thought Dr. Hynek probably was aware of it, and I had chosen that incident simply to pique people's curiosity since I had the original newspaper articles in my possession.

Some Hynek Quotes from that letter:

"I have in my files hundreds of 'brain teasers' . . . . The truly puzzling reports come from reliable, stable, educated people who generally consider such reports as bunk until shaken by their own experiences. Very few are from cranks or low IQ people."

"In the last two years, UFO sightings have reached a new high. Each wave of sightings adds to the accumulation of reports which defy analysis by present methods of attacks. (Project Blue Book claims it has explained almost all reports in the last two years, and most of the others.)"

"It is unequivocally false to say that UFOs are never reported by scientifically trained people. Some of the best, most coherent reports come from such witnesses," Citing examples he said "Four of the sightings were made by professional astronomers while on duty at their observatories, five more by technical specialists, including one reported by the associate director of one of the nation's ranking technical laboratories. . . All but three involved brilliantly illuminated craft maneuvering in the air."

Concerning the Air Force statement "The AF has no evidence that the UFOs are extraterrestrial or represent advanced technology of any kind." This is widely interpreted there is evidence against the extraterrestrial and advanced technology hypotheses. Listing this as a misconception he states: "As long as there are 'unidentifieds,' the question must obviously remain open."

NICAP October/November 1966 UFO Investigator reported that Science Magazine at first refused to print it, then recanted and printed it in their October 21st issue. Most likely a derivative of that same article, those other two previously-mentioned articles from Hynek were published in both Newsweek (Oct. '66) and the Saturday Eve. Post. (Dec. '66 - URLs above) I think it should be fairly obvious the Air Force had to be less-than happy with what Hynek had said at the hearings, and then followed up with in his public outburst.

Hynek was by no means finished. When he found out from McDonald and NICAP that the Colorado study (11/66-68) had rejected or neglected to use many of the good cases they had submitted to it, and was coming out with a decision that basically said nothing could be learned from UFOs, I believe his patience had most likely reached its limit. Since he was probably no longer going to be working for the Air Force, he decided to come forth with some of the cases he had gleaned from his tenure with Blue Book. 13 (jc 6/27/2009: and we're pretty sure from Hynek's own words, those cases probably weren't even the best ones.)

At another hearing, a July 29, 1968 Symposium on UFOs sponsored by Hearings before the Committee on Science and Astronautics, U.S. House of Representatives, Hynek took some of his significant UFO reports out of wraps and presented them to the committee. He said the following: He admitted he first regarded the UFO subject as "rank nonsense." But in describing his changed opinion he said;

"I have been led to a conclusion quite different . . . the cumulative weight of continued reports from groups of people from around the world, whose competence and sanity I have no reason to doubt, reports involving close encounters with unexplainable craft, with physical effects on animals, motor vehicles, plants, and on the ground, has led me reluctantly to the conclusion that either there is a scientifically valuable subset of reports in the UFO phenomena, or that we have a world society containing people who are articulate, sane and reputable in all matter save UFO reports."

". . . when one or more obviously reliable persons reports - as has happened many times - that a brightly illuminated object hovered a few hundred feet above their automobile, and that during the incident their car motor stopped, the headlights dimmed or went out, and the radio stopped playing only to have these functions return to normal after the disappearance of the UFO, it is clearly another matter."

"By what right can we summarily ignore their testimony and imply that they are deluded or just plain liars? Would we so treat these same people if they were testifying in court, under oath, on more mundane matters?" 14

He also wrote a letter to his boss, Colonel Sleeper (Oct. 7, 1968) which exposed the myriad problems of Blue Book and chastised the Air Force for releasing astronomical answers to cases without consulting him. Then he wrote his book The UFO Experience (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co., 1972), including within that letter and information he had gathered concerning problems in the Colorado Study. and published it approximately four years later. This book can be considered a direct result of all these pressures. Hynek once again explained to the world what had happened, this time more completely and including his scientific methodology.

As if all this wasn't enough to convince us of Hynek's sincerity, we also note that Hynek was attempting to raise funds for the study of UFOs after the Air Force closed Blue Book. During several discussions I had with Bob Pratt, writer and field investigator for the Enquirer who had worked with Hynek in the mid-1970's, he mentioned that Hynek left the Enquirer panel when he realized the Enquirer was not serious about providing funds for same.

So I finally conclude, his reversal with the Air Force, involvement with the Enquirer, the call he had made to me, and the observed strength of the cases he chose to detail in his own book and at the hearings at which he testified, make no real sense unless the man was truly searching for his own honest answer to one of the world's most intriguing mysteries.

Clicking here will take you to my "devil's advocate" piece by piece analysis of an essay, "Some Thoughts on J. Allen Hynek, written by Richard M. Dolan in which he asserts Dr. Hynek was a mole for the CIA. In it one will find more of my historical research which I believe directly refutes that theory.


Jerry Cohen

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Hynek, J. Allen "The UFO Experience" Henry Regnery Company
1972, appendix four (Excerpt of a Letter from J. Allen Hynek to
Colonel Raymond S. Sleeper)

2. UFO Investigator, May-June 1966 (Vol. III, No. 8)

3. UFO Investigator, March-April 1966 (Vol. III, No. 7), "Police Chase
Low Flying UFO
", sighting April 17th, 1966.

4. Hynek, J. Allen "The UFO Experience" Henry Regnery Company 1972,
appendix four (Excerpt of a Letter from J. Allen Hynek to Colonel Raymond S.
Sleeper) : This case also drew the attention of the well-respected atmospheric scientist
James McDonald
. Please see, McDonald's investigation of the Spaur-Neff Case

5. UFO Investigator, March-April 1966 (Vol. III, No. 7), "Swamp Gas Answer Disproved", sightings March 20-21, 1966.

6. UFO Investigator, May-June 1966 (Vol. III, No. 8), "AF Admits Faulty UFO Investigation", begin page 1, last paragraph

7. UFO Investigator, May-June 1966 (Vol. III, No. 8), "AF Admits Faulty UFO Investigation", begin page 2

8. Ibid; paragraph 3

9. Ibid; paragraph 6

10. Ibid; page 1

11. Ibid; page 1, last paragraph on bottom left

12. UFO Investigator; August-September (Vol. 111, No. 9), "Hynek Hits UFO Investigation, Confirms Evidence", Seven Misconceptions #2

13. UFO Investigator; January-February 1968 (Vol. 1V, No. 4), page 1, "Surprise Warning"

14. UFO Investigator; July-August 1968 (Vol. IV, No. 7), "Congressional Hearings on UFO Problems" Scientists Urge Unbiased National Investigations

Other important Footnotes:

An _extremely_ important article demonstrating Hynek's thoughts on the UFO situation in 1966, located at the NICAP web site (Thanks for posting this Fran! This says it all.) - In this, one will discover Hynek's sincerity and determination to study, what he felt deep within himself, was of a major importance akin to the discovery of radium. The following is a statement by J. ALLEN HYNEK in the Foreword to CHALLENGE TO SCIENCE - UFO ENIGMA by Jacques Vallee, 1966 : What Is The Responsibility Of The Scientist?


Hynek's actual presentation to the July 29, 1968 House of Representative Symposium on UFOs

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Other articles concerning Dr. Hynek and his supposed role as a mole for the Air Force or CIA (various articles, etc.) can be found by clicking here.
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