Guest Commentary

Official Policy of Ridicule: The Robertson Panel Report

By George A. Filer (

There really is a national policy to ridicule UFO reports. The US government's own historical documents obtained through the Freedom of Information Act explain why it became US government's policy to debunk, mock, and discredit anyone who provides good evidence for UFOs. In the late 1940s early 1950s, the numerous reports from high quality witnesses was putting the government in a precarious and embarrassing position. Leading the revelations were Major Donald Keyhoe and Vice Admiral Roscoe Hillenkotter the third director of the CIA (1947 to 1950) who declared UFOs were real. UFOs were reported in headlines buzzing Washington DC and flying at will over our military bases. The Cold War with the Soviets and Communist countries was heating up. Strange craft were reported all over our skies, and the news media was critical of government's explanations. Many thought the craft belonged to the Soviet Union or perhaps aliens bent on invasion. There was fear the Soviets could use UFO propaganda to discredit the US government. There was genuine concern that a national panic could occur. Whether UFOs were real or not, the situation made the president nervous, the military and the various intelligence agencies look bad. Plenty of good reports were leaking out and thousands of military aircraft were crashing. Stories started leaking out these aircraft were crashing while chasing UFOs. The crashes were explained has training accidents and mechanical failures but the news media was starting to tie the two types of reports together. Best selling books were claiming the UFOs were real and might signal a Soviet or alien invasion. The situation whether real or unreal was deteriorating. The Robertson Panel was formed at the request of the White House to quell the situation. It was not unlike the Warren Commission or Waco Hearings where the public wanted answers. So powerful forces in the CIA, Air Force and the scientific establishment came together to cool the UFO state of affairs.

CIA documents reveal five members of the Scientific Advisory Panel who were known skeptics were given several poor UFO cases to examine and came to the conclusion that "there was no evidence of a direct threat to national security in the objects sighted. Flying saucer reports were overloading emergency reporting channels with false information, clogging up communication lines, causing alarm, and realistically even if they were real there was little we could do about them. Further the government was losing the confidence of the people. Our science and aircraft seemed to be confronted by far superior technology. The Robertson Panel discussions and recommendations centered around the main problem of eradicating belief in these unidentified flying objects. Ways of bringing in the news media, and movies were discussed. CIA documents reveal, one of the panel's recommendations was that a policy of debunking UFO reports should be instigated. This would result in reduction in public interest in flying saucers which today evokes a strong psychological reaction. This media such as television, motion pictures, and popular articles. Basis of such education would be actual case histories which had been puzzling at first but later explained. As is the case of continuing tricks, there is much less stimulation if the secret is known. Such a program should tend to reduce the current gullibility of the public and consequently there susceptibility to clever hostile propaganda."

The CIA reports reveal a national policy of debunking UFO reports. Like was instigated and the power of the government was set in motion to debunk the field. The panel discussed the various insidious methods that could be implemented to execute such a program: It was felt strongly that psychologists familiar with mass psychology should advise on the nature and extent of the program. These national programs resulted in the National Policy became to debunk any valid sighting even if it resulted the embarrassment of pilots and government employees. UFO reports were denied, debunked and those who see them ridiculed. Timothy Good in his book Above Top Secret writes: Another sinister recommendation of the panel was that civilian UFO groups should be watched "because of their potentially great influence on mass thinking if widespread sighting s should occur. The apparent irresponsibility and the possible use of such groups for subversive purposes should be kept in mind." The panel concluded that "the continued emphasis on the reporting these phenomena does, in these parlous times, result in a threat to the orderly functioning of the protective organs of the body politic," and recommended:

a. That the national security agencies take immediate steps to strip the Unidentified Flying Objects of the special status they have been given and the aura of mystery they have unfortunately acquired.

b. That the national security agencies institute policies on intelligence, training, and public education designed to prepare the material defenses and the morale of the country to recognize most promptly and to react most effectively to true indications of hostile intent or action. P. 338

Shortly thereafter every effort of the government went into debunking UFOs even if it would mean embarrassing its own people. It soon became known the best way to destroy your military career was to report a UFO. Captain Edward J. Ruppelt, Chief of the Aerial Phenomena Branch at the Air Technical Intelligence Center, said that the CIA ordered the Air Force to debunk sightings and debunk witnesses. "We're ordered to hide sightings when possible," he told Major Keyhole, but if a strong report does get out we have to publish a fast explanation--make up something to kill the report in a hurry, and also ridicule the witness, especially if we can't figure out a plausible answer. even have to discredit our own pilots." P.339

The millions of dollars spent by the Air Force to debunk the Roswell report show this policy is still strongly in effect. It's an uphill climb to bring out the reality of the situation. If a group of military people observe a UFO and the case has merit, they are quickly transferred or retired to keep the observers from talking and told to keep quiet with various threats. Every time I see a strong debunking article that tears at the reputation of a courageous UFO researcher, I wonder who the debunker is working for? If you study Ufology, you soon discover in almost every important case there will be an attempt to ridicule those who bring the pro UFO evidence forward. The better the case the stronger criticism. Frequently this is led by a small but ferocious group who seem to claim every sighting is the planet Venus or a hoax. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but they usually attack the researcher rather than the data. The attacks are vindictive towards the person rather than his research or sighting. I always wonder if the attackers are paid to conduct these character assassinations? One favorite tactic is to attack the person for any attempt to obtain a financial reward for researching UFOs. Some how in every other field its all right to make a living accept in Ufology. I'm happy to stand up in court to testify or debate anyone on the reality of UFOs. The Cold War is over, so now many who were once government employees are questioning these methods. The intensity of the government actions tend to prove UFOs exist. Perhaps the policy needs review. Almost fifty years have gone by since these debunking methods and ridicule became national policy. I feel its time for a change.


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