High Strangeness: UFO Ruckus!

Monday, April 15, 2013

UFO Ruckus!

A few days ago I wrote a blog post in which I criticized a UFO twitterfeed for not-so-subtly suggesting that my man, UFO investigator Royale Dr. J. Allen Hynek, had deliberately misled the American public about the UFO phenomenon. Specifically, the tweets referred to the famous 1966 Dexter-Hillsdale sighting in Michigan. Dr. Hynek, at the time a consultant to the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book UFO investigation, inspired public ire when he suggested that the UFOs in two of the sightings may have been "swamp gas."

I replied to the tweet in this way: "If you fully research the incident you find Hynek was spot on to say swamp gas may have been the cause. He was NOT wrong!" and then I wrote the aforementioned blog post in which I took the tweeter to task for repeating old news in a way that created an inaccurate picture if Hynek actions and intentions.

The person behind the twitter account responded to me the next day, saying: "May I ask what sources you used to research the incident? Because what I've seen doesn't point anywhere near swamp gas."

Fair enough. I could have easily replied to the request with a whole lot information. What sources did I use? Well, what sources didn't I use? Turns out, Dexter-Hillsdale is one of the most exhaustively documented UFO incidents in history, so there's no end of information available, if you care to look.

Before I could reply, however, I saw that the tweeter had sent me a follow-up message: "Never mind, I read your polemic blog post, and I needless to say I disagree (sic). I find no compelling reasons to 'revere' Hynek."

Well, you win some, you lose some. This person obviously does not share my high regard for Dr. Hynek, and that's ok... Except that, again, this person's dislike seems to be based on information that is entirely inaccurate.

Funny thing is, before I started my research, I agreed with this tweeter. I believed the story that Hynek had deliberately tried to mislead the public at the Air Force's request, and had as a result made a complete boob of himself. But then I researched the incident and found that it's just not true.

This is one witness' depiction of the Dexter-Hillsdale UFO. Unfortunately, pretty much everyone else Hynek interviewed saw something different...
Just to be fair to the tweeter, I will cite one of the sources I used to research the incident: the case report from the Air Force's UFO study program, Project Blue Book, itself. In Hynek's case report, he describes the afternoon he spent interviewing the gentleman he felt was one of the most observant and reliable witnesses in the Dexter-Hillsdale case. This witness had his pilot's license, he was an Air Force veteran, and he was the County Civil Defense coordinator. His testimony carried some weight. And this man told Hynek that when he first saw the floating lights from a quarter-mile away in the Hillsdale College arboretum, he thought they were marsh gas.

Marsh gas. Which is another term for swamp gas.

One of the most credible witnesses of the event told Dr. Hynek that he thought he was looking at swamp gas. Dr. Hynek said at a press conference two days later that it was possible, perhaps even likely, that the witnesses were observing swamp gas, although he couldn't prove that in a court of law. And the press and the public attacked him. The guy who first suggested the swamp gas theory--Mr. Civil Defense himself-- attacked Hynek--over and over again! And, sadly, some people are still repeating the same erroneous claims.

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