J. Allen Hynek

J. Allen Hynek

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Encyclopedia
Dr. Josef Allen Hynek was a United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

, professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

, and ufologist
Ufology
Ufology is a neologism coined to describe the collective efforts of those who study reports and associated evidence of unidentified flying objects . UFOs have been subject to various investigations over the years by governments, independent groups, and scientists...

. He is perhaps best remembered for his UFO research. Hynek acted as scientific adviser to UFO studies undertaken by the U.S. Air Force under three consecutive names: Project Sign
Project Sign
Project Sign was an official U.S. government study of unidentified flying objects undertaken by the United States Air Force and active for most of 1948....

 (1947–1949), Project Grudge
Project Grudge
Project Grudge was a short-lived project by the U.S. Air Force to investigate unidentified flying objects . Grudge succeeded Project Sign in February, 1949, and was then followed by Project Blue Book. The project formally ended in December 1949, but actually continued on in a very minimal capacity...

 (1949–1952), and Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

 (1952 to 1969). For decades afterwards, he conducted his own independent UFO research, developing the Close Encounter
Close encounter
In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it was started by astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and was first suggested in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific...

 classification system, and is widely considered the father of the concept of scientific analysis of both reports and, especially, trace evidence purportedly left by UFOs.

Early life and career



Hynek was born in Chicago to Czech parents. In 1931, Hynek received a B.S.
Bachelor of Science
A Bachelor of Science is an undergraduate academic degree awarded for completed courses that generally last three to five years .-Australia:In Australia, the BSc is a 3 year degree, offered from 1st year on...

 from the University of Chicago
University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a private research university in Chicago, Illinois, USA. It was founded by the American Baptist Education Society with a donation from oil magnate and philanthropist John D. Rockefeller and incorporated in 1890...

. In 1935, he completed his Ph.D.
Doctor of Philosophy
Doctor of Philosophy, abbreviated as Ph.D., PhD, D.Phil., or DPhil , in English-speaking countries, is a postgraduate academic degree awarded by universities...

 in astrophysics
Astrophysics
Astrophysics is the branch of astronomy that deals with the physics of the universe, including the physical properties of celestial objects, as well as their interactions and behavior...

 at Yerkes Observatory
Yerkes Observatory
Yerkes Observatory is an astronomical observatory operated by the University of Chicago in Williams Bay, Wisconsin. The observatory, which calls itself "the birthplace of modern astrophysics," was founded in 1897 by George Ellery Hale and financed by Charles T. Yerkes...

. He joined the Department of Physics
Physics
Physics is a natural science that involves the study of matter and its motion through spacetime, along with related concepts such as energy and force. More broadly, it is the general analysis of nature, conducted in order to understand how the universe behaves.Physics is one of the oldest academic...

 and Astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 at Ohio State University
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

 in 1936. He specialized in the study of stellar evolution
Stellar evolution
Stellar evolution is the process by which a star undergoes a sequence of radical changes during its lifetime. Depending on the mass of the star, this lifetime ranges from only a few million years to trillions of years .Stellar evolution is not studied by observing the life of a single...

 and in the identification of spectroscopic binaries.

During World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

, Hynek was a civilian scientist at the Johns Hopkins
Johns Hopkins University
The Johns Hopkins University, commonly referred to as Johns Hopkins, JHU, or simply Hopkins, is a private research university based in Baltimore, Maryland, United States...

 Applied Physics Laboratory
Applied Physics Laboratory
The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory , located in Howard County, Maryland near Laurel and Columbia, is a not-for-profit, university-affiliated research center employing 4,500 people. APL is primarily a defense contractor. It serves as a technical resource for the Department of...

, where he helped to develop the United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

's radio proximity fuze
Proximity fuze
A proximity fuze is a fuze that is designed to detonate an explosive device automatically when the distance to target becomes smaller than a predetermined value or when the target passes through a given plane...

.

After the war, Hynek returned to the Department of Physics and Astronomy at Ohio State
Ohio State University
The Ohio State University, commonly referred to as Ohio State, is a public research university located in Columbus, Ohio. It was originally founded in 1870 as a land-grant university and is currently the third largest university campus in the United States...

, rising to full professor
Professor
A professor is a scholarly teacher; the precise meaning of the term varies by country. Literally, professor derives from Latin as a "person who professes" being usually an expert in arts or sciences; a teacher of high rank...

 in 1950.

In 1956, he left to join Professor Fred Whipple
Fred Lawrence Whipple
Fred Lawrence Whipple was an American astronomer, who worked at the Harvard College Observatory for over 70 years...

, the Harvard
Harvard University
Harvard University is a private Ivy League university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States, established in 1636 by the Massachusetts legislature. Harvard is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States and the first corporation chartered in the country...

 astronomer, at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory, which had combined with the Harvard Observatory at Harvard. Hynek had the assignment of directing the tracking of an American space satellite, a project for the International Geophysical Year in 1956 and thereafter. In addition to over 200 teams of amateur scientists around the world that were part of Operation Moonwatch
Operation Moonwatch
Operation Moonwatch was an amateur science program formally initiated by the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory in 1956 . The SAO organized Moonwatch as part of the International Geophysical Year which was probably the largest single scientific undertaking in history...

, there were also 12 photographic Baker-Nunn stations. A special camera was devised for the task and a prototype was built and tested and then stripped apart again when, on Oct. 4, 1957, the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 launched its first satellite, Sputnik.

After completing his work on the satellite program, Hynek went back to teaching, taking the position of professor and chairman of the astronomy
Astronomy
Astronomy is a natural science that deals with the study of celestial objects and phenomena that originate outside the atmosphere of Earth...

 department at Northwestern University
Northwestern University
Northwestern University is a private research university in Evanston and Chicago, Illinois, USA. Northwestern has eleven undergraduate, graduate, and professional schools offering 124 undergraduate degrees and 145 graduate and professional degrees....

 in 1960.

Hynek's son Joel Hynek is an Oscar winning movie visual effects supervisor who directed the design of the so-called camouflage
Camouflage
Camouflage is a method of concealment that allows an otherwise visible animal, military vehicle, or other object to remain unnoticed, by blending with its environment. Examples include a leopard's spotted coat, the battledress of a modern soldier and a leaf-mimic butterfly...

 effect from the movie Predator
Predator (alien)
The Predator is a fictional extraterrestrial species featured in the Predator science-fiction franchise, characterised by its trophy hunting of other dangerous species for sport, including humans and its fictional counterparts, Aliens....

.

Early Involvement in UFOs (Project Blue Book)


In response to many "flying saucer" sightings (later unidentified flying object
Unidentified flying object
A term originally coined by the military, an unidentified flying object is an unusual apparent anomaly in the sky that is not readily identifiable to the observer as any known object...

s), the United States Air Force
United States Air Force
The United States Air Force is the aerial warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the American uniformed services. Initially part of the United States Army, the USAF was formed as a separate branch of the military on September 18, 1947 under the National Security Act of...

 established Project Sign
Project Sign
Project Sign was an official U.S. government study of unidentified flying objects undertaken by the United States Air Force and active for most of 1948....

 in 1948; this later became Project Grudge
Project Grudge
Project Grudge was a short-lived project by the U.S. Air Force to investigate unidentified flying objects . Grudge succeeded Project Sign in February, 1949, and was then followed by Project Blue Book. The project formally ended in December 1949, but actually continued on in a very minimal capacity...

, which in turn became Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

 in 1952. Hynek was contacted by Project Sign to act as scientific consultant for their investigation of UFO reports. Hynek would study a UFO report and subsequently decide if its description of the UFO suggested a known astronomical object.

When Project Sign hired Hynek, he was initially skeptical of UFO reports. Hynek suspected that UFO reports were made by unreliable witnesses, or by persons who had misidentified man-made or natural objects. In 1948, Hynek said that "the whole subject seems utterly ridiculous," and described it as a fad that would soon pass.

For the first few years of his UFO studies, Hynek could safely be described as a debunker
Debunker
A debunker is an individual who attempts to discredit and contradict claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious. The term is closely associated with skeptical investigation of, or in some cases irrational resistance to, controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena,...

. He thought that a great many UFOs could be explained as prosaic phenomena misidentified by an observer. But beyond such fairly obvious cases, Hynek often stretched logic to nearly the breaking point in an attempt to explain away as many UFO reports as possible. In his 1977 book, Hynek admitted that he enjoyed his role as a debunker for the Air Force. He also noted that debunking was what the Air Force expected of him.

Change of opinion


Hynek's opinions about UFOs began a slow and gradual shift. After examining hundreds of UFO reports over the decades (including some made by credible witnesses, including astronomers, pilots, police officers, and military personnel), Hynek concluded that some reports represented genuine empirical observations.

Another shift in Hynek's opinions came after conducting an informal poll of his astronomer
Astronomer
An astronomer is a scientist who studies celestial bodies such as planets, stars and galaxies.Historically, astronomy was more concerned with the classification and description of phenomena in the sky, while astrophysics attempted to explain these phenomena and the differences between them using...

 colleagues in the early 1950s. Among those he queried was Dr. Clyde Tombaugh
Clyde Tombaugh
Clyde William Tombaugh was an American astronomer. Although he is best known for discovering the dwarf planet Pluto in 1930, the first object to be discovered in what would later be identified as the Kuiper Belt, Tombaugh also discovered many asteroids; he also called for serious scientific...

, who discovered the dwarf planet Pluto
Pluto
Pluto, formal designation 134340 Pluto, is the second-most-massive known dwarf planet in the Solar System and the tenth-most-massive body observed directly orbiting the Sun...

. Of 44 astronomers, five (over 11 percent) had seen aerial objects that they could not account for with established, mainstream science. Most of these astronomers had not widely shared their accounts for fear of ridicule or of damage to their reputations or careers (Tombaugh was an exception, having openly discussed his own UFO sightings). Hynek also noted that this 11% figure was, according to most polls, greater than those in the general public who claimed to have seen UFOs. Furthermore, the astronomers were presumably more knowledgeable about observing and evaluating the skies than the general public, so their observations were arguably more impressive. Hynek was also distressed by what he regarded as the dismissive or arrogant attitude of many mainstream scientists
Science
Science is a systematic enterprise that builds and organizes knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe...

 towards UFO reports and witnesses.

Early evidence of the shift in Hynek's opinions appeared in 1953, when Hynek wrote an article for the April 1953 issue of the Journal of the Optical Society of America
Journal of the Optical Society of America
The Journal of the Optical Society of America was founded in 1917 and is a scientific journal of the Optical Society of America. It was split into the Journal of the Optical Society of America A and the Journal of the Optical Society of America B in 1984, with JOSSA covering various topics in...

titled "Unusual Aerial Phenomena," which contained what would become perhaps Hynek's best known statement:

"Ridicule is not part of the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

, and people should not be taught that it is. The steady flow of reports, often made in concert by reliable observers, raises questions of scientific obligation and responsibility. Is there ... any residue that is worthy of scientific attention? Or, if there isn't, does not an obligation exist to say so to the public—not in words of open ridicule but seriously, to keep faith with the trust the public places in science and scientists?" (Emphasis in original)


The essay was very carefully worded: Hynek never states that UFOs are an extraordinary phenomenon. But it is clear that, whatever his own views, Hynek was increasingly distressed by what he saw as the superficial manner most scientists looked at UFOs.In 1953, Hynek was an associate member of the Robertson Panel
Robertson Panel
The Robertson Panel was a committee commissioned by the Central Intelligence Agency in 1952 in response to widespread reports of unidentified flying objects, especially in the Washington, D.C. area. The panel was briefed on U.S...

, which concluded that there was nothing anomalous about UFOs, and that a public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 campaign should be undertaken to debunk
Debunker
A debunker is an individual who attempts to discredit and contradict claims as being false, exaggerated or pretentious. The term is closely associated with skeptical investigation of, or in some cases irrational resistance to, controversial topics such as U.F.O.s, claimed paranormal phenomena,...

 the subject and reduce public interest. Hynek would later come to lament that the Robertson Panel had helped make UFOs a disreputable field of study.

When the UFO reports continued at a steady pace, Hynek devoted some time to studying the reports and determined that some were deeply puzzling, even after considerable study. He once said, "As a scientist I must be mindful of the past; all too often it has happened that matters of great value to science were overlooked because the new phenomenon did not fit the accepted scientific outlook of the time."

In a 1985 interview, when asked what caused his change of opinion, Hynek responded, "Two things, really. One was the completely negative and unyielding attitude of the Air Force. They wouldn't give UFOs the chance of existing, even if they were flying up and down the street in broad daylight. Everything had to have an explanation. I began to resent that, even though I basically felt the same way, because I still thought they weren't going about it in the right way. You can't assume that everything is black no matter what. Secondly, the caliber of the witnesses began to trouble me. Quite a few instances were reported by military pilots, for example, and I knew them to be fairly well-trained, so this is when I first began to think that, well, maybe there was something to all this."

Regardless of his own private views, Hynek was, by and large, still echoing the post-Ruppelt
Edward J. Ruppelt
Edward J. Ruppelt was a United States Air Force officer probably best-known for his involvement in Project Blue Book, a formal governmental study of unidentified flying objects...

 line of Project Blue Book: There are no UFOs, and reports can largely be explained as misidentifications.
Hynek remained with Project Sign after it became Project Grudge (though with far less involvement than with Project Sign). Project Grudge was replaced with Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book
Project Blue Book was one of a series of systematic studies of unidentified flying objects conducted by the United States Air Force. Started in 1952, it was the second revival of such a study...

 in early 1952. Hynek continued as scientific consultant to Project Blue Book. Air Force Captain Edward J. Ruppelt
Edward J. Ruppelt
Edward J. Ruppelt was a United States Air Force officer probably best-known for his involvement in Project Blue Book, a formal governmental study of unidentified flying objects...

 (Blue Book's first director), held Hynek in high regard: "Dr. Hynek was one of the most impressive scientists I met while working on the UFO project, and I met a good many. He didn't do two things that some of them did: give you the answer before he knew the question; or immediately begin to expound on his accomplishments in the field of science."

Though Hynek thought Ruppelt was a capable director who steered Project Blue Book in the right direction, Ruppelt headed Blue Book for only a few years. Hynek has also stated his opinion that after Ruppelt's departure, Project Blue Book was little more than a public relations
Public relations
Public relations is the actions of a corporation, store, government, individual, etc., in promoting goodwill between itself and the public, the community, employees, customers, etc....

 exercise, further noting that little or no research was undertaken using the scientific method
Scientific method
Scientific method refers to a body of techniques for investigating phenomena, acquiring new knowledge, or correcting and integrating previous knowledge. To be termed scientific, a method of inquiry must be based on gathering empirical and measurable evidence subject to specific principles of...

.

Turnaround


Hynek began occasionally disagreeing publicly with the conclusions of Blue Book. By the early 1960s—after about a decade and a half of study—Clark writes that "Hynek's apparent turnaround on the UFO question was an open secret." Only after Blue Book was formally dissolved did Hynek speak more openly about his "turnaround."

By his own admission, the soft-spoken Hynek was cautious and conservative by nature. He speculated that his personality was a factor in the Air Force keeping him on as a consultant for over two decades.

Some other ufologists thought that Hynek was being disingenuous or even duplicitous in his turnaround. Physicist Dr. James E. McDonald
James E. McDonald
James Edward McDonald was an American physicist. He is best known for his research regarding UFOs. McDonald was senior physicist at the Institute for Atmospheric Physics and professor in the Department of Meteorology, University of Arizona, Tucson.McDonald campaigned vigorously in support of...

, for example, wrote to Hynek in 1970, castigating him for what McDonald saw as his lapses, and suggesting that, when evaluated by later generations, retired Marine Corps
United States Marine Corps
The United States Marine Corps is a branch of the United States Armed Forces responsible for providing power projection from the sea, using the mobility of the United States Navy to deliver combined-arms task forces rapidly. It is one of seven uniformed services of the United States...

 Major
Major
Major is a rank of commissioned officer, with corresponding ranks existing in almost every military in the world.When used unhyphenated, in conjunction with no other indicator of rank, the term refers to the rank just senior to that of an Army captain and just below the rank of lieutenant colonel. ...

 Donald E. Keyhoe would be regarded as a more objective, honest, and scientific ufologist.

It was during the late stages of Blue Book in the 1960s that Hynek began speaking openly about his disagreements and disappointments with the Air Force. Among the cases where he openly dissented with the Air Force were the highly publicized Portage County UFO chase
Portage County UFO Chase
The Portage County UFO Chase was an unidentified flying object encounter that began in Portage County, Ohio on the morning of April 17, 1966, when police officers Dale Spaur and Wilbur Neff observed a metallic, disc shaped object flying in the skies....

 (where several police officers chased a UFO for half an hour), and the encounter of Lonnie Zamora
Lonnie Zamora
Lonnie Zamora was a New Mexico police officer who reported a UFO sighting while on duty on Friday, April 24, 1964, near Socorro, New Mexico....

. A police officer, Zamora reported an encounter with a metallic, egg-shaped aircraft near Socorro, New Mexico
Socorro, New Mexico
Socorro is a city in Socorro County in the U.S. state of New Mexico. It stands in the Rio Grande Valley at an elevation of . The population was 9,051 at the 2010 census...

. Zamora witnessed two humanoid occupants of the craft, and in its apparently hasty departure, the craft left physical evidence of its presence. As of 2007, no entirely adequate explanation has been presented that would contradict Zamora's account—in fact, in a secret memo for the CIA, Blue Book's director at the time, Major Quintanilla, expressed his own bafflement at the case. Hynek described the case as a potential "Rosetta Stone
Rosetta Stone
The Rosetta Stone is an ancient Egyptian granodiorite stele inscribed with a decree issued at Memphis in 196 BC on behalf of King Ptolemy V. The decree appears in three scripts: the upper text is Ancient Egyptian hieroglyphs, the middle portion Demotic script, and the lowest Ancient Greek...

" that might unlock the UFO mystery.

In late March 1966, in Michigan, two days of mass UFO sightings were reported, and received significant publicity. After studying the reports, Hynek offered a provisional hypothesis for some of the sightings: a few of about 100 witnesses had mistaken swamp gas
Biogas
Biogas typically refers to a gas produced by the biological breakdown of organic matter in the absence of oxygen. Organic waste such as dead plant and animal material, animal dung, and kitchen waste can be converted into a gaseous fuel called biogas...

 for something more spectacular. At the press conference where he made his announcement, Hynek repeatedly and strenuously made the qualification that swamp gas was a plausible explanation for only a portion of the Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

 UFO reports, and certainly not for UFO reports in general. But much to his chagrin
Chagrin
Chagrin may refer to:*The Chagrin River*Chagrin Falls, Ohio*Chagrin Falls Township, Cuyahoga County, Ohio*Chagrin Falls High School...

, Hynek's qualifications were largely overlooked, and the words "swamp gas" were repeated ad infinitum
Ad infinitum
Ad infinitum is a Latin phrase meaning "to infinity."In context, it usually means "continue forever, without limit" and thus can be used to describe a non-terminating process, a non-terminating repeating process, or a set of instructions to be repeated "forever," among other uses...

 in relation to UFO reports. The explanation was subject to national derision.

Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS)



Hynek was the founder and head of the Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS). Founded in 1973 (originally in Evanston
Evanston, Illinois
Evanston is a suburban municipality in Cook County, Illinois 12 miles north of downtown Chicago, bordering Chicago to the south, Skokie to the west, and Wilmette to the north, with an estimated population of 74,360 as of 2003. It is one of the North Shore communities that adjoin Lake Michigan...

, Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

 but now based in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

), CUFOS is an organization stressing scientific analysis of UFO cases. CUFOS's extensive archives include valuable files from civilian research groups such as NICAP, one of the most popular and credible UFO research groups of the 1950s and 1960s.

Speech before the United Nations


In November 1978, a statement on UFOs was presented by Dr. Allen Hynek, in the name of himself, of Dr. Jacques Vallée
Jacques Vallée
Jacques Fabrice Vallée is a venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, ufologist and former astronomer currently residing in San Francisco, California....

, and of Dr. Claude Poher
Claude Poher
Claude Poher Born in 1935, in Brittany, France, parent of Alain Poher who was President of the French Senate for a quarter century.Engineer in space research. Engineer in electronics...

. This speech was prepared and approved by the three authors, before the United Nations General Assembly
United Nations General Assembly
For two articles dealing with membership in the General Assembly, see:* General Assembly members* General Assembly observersThe United Nations General Assembly is one of the five principal organs of the United Nations and the only one in which all member nations have equal representation...

. The objective was to initiate a centralized United Nations UFO authority.

UFO origin hypotheses


In 1973, at the MUFON
Mutual UFO Network
The Mutual UFO Network is an American non-profit organization that investigates cases of reported UFO sightings. It is one of the oldest and largest UFO-investigative organizations in the United States....

 annual symposium, held in Akron, Ohio
Akron, Ohio
Akron , is the fifth largest city in the U.S. state of Ohio and the county seat of Summit County. It is located in the Great Lakes region approximately south of Lake Erie along the Little Cuyahoga River. As of the 2010 census, the city had a population of 199,110. The Akron Metropolitan...

, Hynek began to express his doubts regarding the extraterrestrial (formerly "interplanetary" or "intergalactic") hypothesis. His main point led him to the title of his speech: "The Embarrassment of the Riches." He was aware that the quantity of UFO sightings was much higher than the Project Blue Book statistics. Just this puzzled him. "A few good sightings a year, over the world, would bolster the extraterrestrial hypothesis—but many thousands every year? From remote regions of space? And to what purpose? To scare us by stopping cars, and disturbing animals, and puzzling us with their seemingly pointless antics?"

In 1975, in a paper presented to the Joint Symposium of the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics in Los Angeles, he wrote, "If you object, I ask you to explain – quantitatively, not qualitatively – the reported phenomena of materialization and dematerialization, of shape changes, of the noiseless hovering in the Earth's gravitational field, accelerations that – for an appreciable mass – require energy sources far beyond present capabilities – even theoretical capabilities, the well-known and often reported E-M (sc. electro-magnetic interference) effect, the psychic effects on percipients, including purported telepathic communications."

In 1977, at the First International UFO Congress
International UFO Congress
The International UFO Congress is an organization in Arizona dedicated to the dissemination of information related to many areas in Ufology. It was established in 1991 and hosts an annual conference. While previously held in Laughlin, Nevada, the conference will move to the Phoenix, Arizona area in...

 in Chicago
Chicago
Chicago is the largest city in the US state of Illinois. With nearly 2.7 million residents, it is the most populous city in the Midwestern United States and the third most populous in the US, after New York City and Los Angeles...

, Hynek presented his thoughts in his speech "What I really believe about UFOs." "I do believe," he said, "that the UFO phenomenon as a whole is real, but I do not mean necessarily that it's just one thing. We must ask whether the diversity of observed UFOs . . . all spring from the same basic source, as do weather phenomena, which all originate in the atmosphere", or whether they differ "as a rain shower differs from a meteor, which in turn differs from a cosmic-ray shower." We must not ask, Hynek said, what hypothesis can explain the most facts, but we must ask, which hypothesis can explain the most puzzling facts.

"There is sufficient evidence to defend both the ETI and the EDI hypothesis," Hynek continued. As evidence for the ETI (extraterrestrial intelligence) he mentioned, as examples, the radar cases as good evidence of something solid, and the physical-trace cases. Then he turned to defending the EDI (extradimensional intelligence) hypothesis. Besides the aspect of materialization and dematerialization he cited the "poltergeist" phenomenon experienced by some people after a close encounter; the photographs of UFOs, some times on only one frame, not seen by the witnesses; the changing form right before the witnesses' eyes; the puzzling question of telepathic communication; or that in close encounters of the third kind the creatures seem to be at home in earth's gravity and atmosphere; the sudden stillness in the presence of the craft; levitation of cars or persons; the development by some of psychic abilities after an encounter. "Do we have two aspects of one phenomenon or two different sets of phenomena?" Hynek asked.

Finally he introduced a third hypothesis. "I hold it entirely possible," he said, "that a technology exists, which encompasses both the physical and the psychic, the material and the mental. There are stars that are millions of years older than the sun. There may be a civilization that is millions of years more advanced than man's. We have gone from Kitty Hawk to the moon in some seventy years, but it's possible that a million-year-old civilization may know something that we don't ... I hypothesize an 'M&M' technology encompassing the mental and material realms. The psychic realms, so mysterious to us today, may be an ordinary part of an advanced technology."

In Hynek and Vallee's 1975 book The Edge of Reality, Hynek publishes a stereoscopic photograph of a UFO he took during a flight. According to the book the object stayed in sight long enough for Hynek to unpack his camera from his luggage and take two exposures. UFO researcher Robert Sheaffer
Robert Sheaffer
Robert Sheaffer , in Chicago, IL is a freelance writer and a prominent investigator of unidentified flying objects, Christianity, academic feminism, and many other subjects...

 writes in his book Psychic Vibrations that Hynek seemed to forget that he had photographed and published these two photographs as he told a reporter for the Toronto Globe and Mail that he had never seen a UFO. The article quotes Hynek saying that in all the years he has been looking upward "He has never seen 'what I would so dearly love to see. Oh, the subject has been so ridiculed that I would never report a UFO even if I did see one - not without a witness'".

Steven Spielberg movie


Hynek developed in his first book the close encounter
Close encounter
In ufology, a close encounter is an event in which a person witnesses an unidentified flying object. This terminology and the system of classification behind it was started by astronomer and UFO researcher J. Allen Hynek, and was first suggested in his 1972 book The UFO Experience: A Scientific...

 scale to better catalogue various UFO reports. Dr. Hynek was also the consultant to Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures
Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc. is an American film production and distribution company. Columbia Pictures now forms part of the Columbia TriStar Motion Picture Group, owned by Sony Pictures Entertainment, a subsidiary of the Japanese conglomerate Sony. It is one of the leading film companies...

 and Steven Spielberg
Steven Spielberg
Steven Allan Spielberg KBE is an American film director, screenwriter, producer, video game designer, and studio entrepreneur. In a career of more than four decades, Spielberg's films have covered many themes and genres. Spielberg's early science-fiction and adventure films were seen as an...

 on the popular 1977 UFO movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Close Encounters of the Third Kind is a 1977 science fiction film written and directed by Steven Spielberg. The film stars Richard Dreyfuss, François Truffaut, Melinda Dillon, Teri Garr, Bob Balaban, and Cary Guffey...

, and made a brief, non-speaking appearance in the film (after the aliens disembark from the 'mother ship' at the end of the film, he can be seen, bearded and with pipe in mouth, stepping forward to view the spectacle).

Hynek's Starlight Fluctuation Studies


The following reports were created by Dr. J. Allen Hynek. These documents offer a rare glimpse into the life of Dr. J. Allen Hynek—away from his study into the UFO phenomenon.

Death


On April 27, 1986, Hynek died of a malignant brain tumor
Brain tumor
A brain tumor is an intracranial solid neoplasm, a tumor within the brain or the central spinal canal.Brain tumors include all tumors inside the cranium or in the central spinal canal...

 at Memorial Hospital in Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale, Arizona
Scottsdale is a city in the eastern part of Maricopa County, Arizona, United States, adjacent to Phoenix. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, as of 2010 the population of the city was 217,385...

. He was 75 years old and was survived by his wife Mimi.

Books


  • ISBN 978-1-56-924782-2 THE UFO EXPERIENCE: A scientific enquiry (1972)
  • ISBN 978-0-80-928150-3 THE EDGE OF REALITY: A progress reports on the unidentified flying objects, co-authored with Jacques Vallée
    Jacques Vallée
    Jacques Fabrice Vallée is a venture capitalist, computer scientist, author, ufologist and former astronomer currently residing in San Francisco, California....

     (1975)
  • THE HYNEK UFO REPORT (1977)
  • NIGHT SIEGE – THE HUDSON VALLEY UFO SIGHTINGS, co-authored with Philip Imbrogno and Bob Pratt (1987)


External links