[ufo] Dr. James E. McDonald


This is the statement read by Dr. James E. McDonald at the Outer 
Space Affairs Group of the United Nations and the letter, 
introductory to this reading, sent by the scientist to Mr U. Thant, 
General Secretary of the United Nations.
James E. McDonald received his Ph.D. in physics from Iowa State 
University in 1951, then worked there as an assistant professor in 
meteorology. He then worked as a research physicist in the 
University of Chicago's department of meteorology from 1953 to 1954, 
when he 1954 he joined the University of Arizona faculty, first as 
an associate professor from 1954-1956, then as a full professor in 
the department of meteorology from 1956 to 1971. McDonald was also a 
senior physicist in the University's Institute of Atmospheric 
Physics, and served as both associate director (1954-56) and 
scientific director (1956-57). He also advised numerous federal 
agencies, including the National Science Foundation, The Office of 
Naval Research, the National Academy of Sciences, and the 
Environmental Science Service Administration. 

During the mid-late 1960s, McDonald became intensively involved in 
UFO research, interviewing hundreds of UFO witnesses and lecturing 
widely on the subject to professional societies. His talks 
emphasized the need for a serious scientific study, adding that he 
considered the best reports to be evidence of extraterrestrial 
visitation. He also played an important role in Congressional UFO 
hearings in 1968. 

Privately, McDonald analyzed all Project Blue Book case files, 
convincing him that the Air Force had performed an entirely 
inadequate investigation, which appeared to have been more concerned 
with internal politics rather than real science. He also reviewed 
the cases of the Air Force's sponsored University of Colorado UFO 
study, and concluded that many of their explanations were not well 
founded either. McDonald left no book but privately published many 
monographs based on his lecture presentations, some of which are 
avaliable in the science section of my webiste. 

During twenty years, there was a persisting and intriguing flood of 
reports, coming from countries located in all the parts of the 
world, relating to what we finally called the unidentified flying 
objects (UFOS). In all these reports, whatever their geographical 
origin, the nature of the reported objects appears to be primarily 

During the last twelve months spent, I pursued an intensive 
examination of the scientific aspects of the UFO problem, dealing 
with reports originating within the limits of the United States. 
After I interviewed the key witnesses to dozen important cases 
distributed over the whole 1947-1967 period; after having studied, 
with personal of the U.S. Air Force, official methods of 
investigation; and after having personally checked a great number of 
other sources of information, I concluded that, far from being a 
stupid problem, the problem of the UFOS is a problem of an 
extraordinary scientific interest. 

It is my conclusion that no official group of my country conducted 
an adequate study of this problem. This conclusion is against the 
impression many people have, at the same time inside and out of the 
United States, that a qualified scientific examination of the 
American reports was undertaken. I fear that this false impression, 
largely spread, has diverted the scientific attention to a problem 
of a great international scientific interest for a long time. I 
requested the present occasion to appear in front of the Group of 
the Outer Space Affairs because I want to urge that all the possible 
steps be immediately taken by the United Nations, via its scientific 
staff and via scientific establishments available in all the nations 
which are members, so that a systematic study of the UFO problem, at 
the scale of the world, is undertaken without delay. 

There is now a clear indication that the number of reports of 
observations, at short distance and low altitude, of absolutely 
strange aerial objects, having the appearance of machines and whose 
performances show unexplainable characteristics, increased in the 
few years that have just passed. It is certainly apparent inside the 
United States. I have the strong impression that the same increase 
appears in many foreign territories. My own studies led me to reject 
the opinion according to which they are only natural atmospheric 
phenomena or misinterpreted astronomical phenomena; in this respect 
a number of official explanations are almost absurdly erroneous. It 
is not possible anymore to explain all these observations with 
assumptions calling upon the products of a technology of avant-garde 
or experimental secret craft, with assumptions of mystification, 
fraud or trickery, or with psychological assumptions. Each one of 
these assumptions intervenes indeed in a great number of cases, but 
there still remains an astonishing number of other reports, 
submitted by observers highly worthy of faith during the two last 
decades, which cannot receive such a satisfactory explanation. I 
believe that this vast residue of reports, which amounts now to 
hundreds and perhaps thousands of cases, requires the attention of 
the most eminent scientists of the world. However, because of the 
official mocking remark that journalists, and even scientist, 
largely spread, almost no scientific attention is currently granted 
to this problem. This situation, I insist there, must be as fast as 
possible transformed, because the records - as soon as one examines 
them closely as I tried to do these last months - directs 
irrisistibly towards a certain phenomenon about which we should 
quickly acquire much better information. The official mocking remark 
must be replaced by a meticulous scientific examination and of high 
precision of this problem. Because of the worldwide nature of the 
phenomenon, it falls immediately into sectors where the United 
Nations must take its responsabilities to encourage an immediate 
raising of the level of the scientific examination of the problem. 

It is my present opinion, based on what I believe to be a sufficient 
scientific examination of excluding mutually assumptions, that the 
most probable assumption to account for the phenomenon of the UFOS 
is that these are a certain type of monitoring space probes, of 
extraterrestrial origin. 

I stress that, at present, this can only be considered as an 
hypothesis against which, naturally, much preconceived scientific 
ideas are opposed, which are obvious. I stress also the fact that 
there are innumerable facets of the UFO phenomena which I can only 
describe as highly strange and unexplainable in terms of the 
scientific and technological knowledge of today. I would also like 
to point out that, if these objects are not extraterrestrial origin, 
then the mutually exclusive assumptions which would be necessary to 
account for them would be even odder, and perhaps of an even greater 
scientific interest for humanity. Therefore, regardless of what 
ultimate explanation is found for the UFO phenomena, the present 
scientific neglect and ridicule must be replaced by scientific 
concern and intensive study. My recommendation to the Outer Space 
Affairs Group is that it seek all possible means of securing 
worldwide attention to this problem. 

The first need is for erasing the ridicule that is quite clearly 
suppressing open reporting of sightings of unconventional objects in 
the air and on the ground. I am personally totally aware about its 
inhibiting effects in my own country. My conversations with 
scientists and other people from abroad convinced me that derision 
and the mockery are comparable in the foreign countries to those one 
can find in the United States, and that only a tiny fraction of the 
whole of the reports manages to pass by the official channels. It is 
necessary to quickly remedy this deplorable situation, since all the 
attempts to discover significant structures of the space and 
temporal distribution of the observations are blocked at present by 
an obvious difficulty: it is never known if a structure that one 
distinguishes is not simply and fortuitously in connection with some 
local and transitory reduction of the mocking remark with which the 
reports are so frequently accomodated. A serious interest with 
regard to an unknown and potentially very important problem must 
become the dominant official treatment of these observations of UFOS 
throughout the world if one wants to put an end to the mocking 
remark which constitute an obstacle to a complete information today. 

In the second place, the existence of a detection system already 
available in the form of radar equipment of radars must be 
recognized as extremely fortunate. At present, most radar sightings 
of UFOs are not getting into scientific hands, largely because most 
radar equipment is operated by military groups who, in almost all 
countries of the world, tend to ignore inexplicable high-speed radar 
target reports or else to withhold them from scientific attention. 
As though this is fully understandable, at first sight, this 
attitude must quickly be changed. No other currently available 
technique can compare with radar acting to obtain objective data on 
the movements and operating features of the unidentified flying 
objects. It is hoped that better detector sets will be elaborate as 
soon as the problem of the UFOS is considered with the serious that 
it largely deserves. But, in the immediate future, radar equipment, 
more than any other available equipment, offers the greatest promise 
to provide us the scientific data about this problem. 

A wide range of electromagnetic disturbances accompanying close 
passage or hovering of the UFOs is now on record throughout the 
world - despite this record not yet being admitted into what one 
would ordinarily call the "scientific record". Disturbance of 
internal-combustion engines coincident with close passage of disc-
like or cylindrical unconventional objects is on record in at least 
several hundred instances. I personally know of dozen cases of this 
phenomenon reported by credible people, within the sole limits of 
the United States and during the last years. Often the disturbances 
are accompanied by broad-spectrum electromagnetic noise picked up on 
radio devices. In many instances compasses, both on ships and in 
aircraft, have been disturbed. Magnetometers and even watches have 
been affected. All these reports point to some kind of 
electromagnetic noise or electromagnetic side-effects that offer 
promise for design of new sensing devices, which will only be 
developed when competent engineers and physicists take seriously the 
rapidly growing body of reports of close-range, low-altitude 
sightings. But these equipment can be useful only when qualified 
engineers and physicists seriously take the quickly increasing mass 
of the short distance and low altitude sightings reports of the 
unidentified flying objects. In the immediate future, radar must be 
used but new detectors will have to be worked out to reinforce the 
means of continuation and the techniques of detection of these 
objects. The temporal and space variations at the time of the 
movements of the UFOS must be noted without the diverting effects of 
these psychological factors which exert an inhibiting influence even 
on the fraction of all the observations which is openly reported. 
Some serious students of the UFO phenomenon claim since years that 
one can distinguish in UFOS the structures, the layouts, of 
reconaissance and exploration. I am been willing to give the 
insurance that some of these layouts appear in the reports, but I am 
not inclined to try to draw from this any firm conclusions, because 
I was informed by too many testimonys that only a small fraction of 
all the observations reach us, or are even confidentially announced. 

There is curious evidence, still too inadequately studied to warrant 
any firm conclusions, that unconventional objects apparently rather 
similar in nature to those that have been reported in our global 
airspace in the past two decades have been seen prior to the 1947 
epoch of marked rise in sightings. If this is true, then it is, with 
regard to our final interpretation of what happens in the UFO 
phenomenon UFO, that it has huge implications. It would be necessary 
that a scientific examination of these testimonys is undertaken by 
people versed in a large variety of disciplines, by scientists who 
have a knowledge of the various historical aspects of technology and 
the disciplines which relate to it. I will not try here to develop 
the thing in detail, I only want to stress that a certain number of 
students of the problem gathered testimonys in which rises the 
convinction that the UFO phenomenon goes back to at least a half-
century, if not more. Consecutively with this remark, one must then 
stress this somewhat disconcerting point that the frequency of 
sightings increased by perhaps two or three orders of magnitude in 
1946-47 - for reasons we do not now understand in the slightest 
degree. It may be that this ignorance is not easy to surmount; but, 
unless we begin the serious scientific study of the UFO problem, we 
will persist in complete ignorance of what is perhaps, for the 
entire humanity, a subject of exceptional concern. 

In short, I will say all the value that give to this occasion which 
was given to me to meet you and to speak with you about this 
problem. I insist that the United Nations immediately undertakes the 
examination of the problem of the UFOS, perhaps by the intermediary 
of the Group of Outer Space Affairs. And I hope that all the member 
nations will be encouraged to create research groups and commissions 
for the examination of the UFOs observation in their own country, 
and in order to obtain a rapid increase in the world scientific 
attention with regard to this problem. 

If, on the basis of my recent scientific research about this 
attractive problem, I can personally help you in some manner, I hope 
that your Group will call upon me. Many others which I know would be 
also ready, I believe, to offer their assistance in this field, with 
the hope that this long time neglected problem can be quickly raised 
to the condition of a problem in which a high scientific priority 
would be granted. I do not know any other scientific problem whose 
character is more intrinsically international than this problem of 
the nature and the origin of the unidentified flying objects. 
Consequently, it seems essential to obtain that the United Nations 
engage in the study of this problem, whose importance can be really 
enormous for the world.