High Strangeness: Hynek: UFO Rebel

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Hynek: UFO Rebel

Just a short post here today before I head out for a few days' vacation.

Last week I was at the University of Chicago archives researching the early work of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. And when I say early, I mean back in the mid-1930s when he was getting his Ph.D. and just beginning his career as a professional astronomer.

It's been one of the great joys of working on this book that I have found so many surprises in Hynek's past that completely obliterate the popular perception among his contemporaries and among modern-day UFOlogists that he was a weak, timid, lily-livered coward who sold out the UFO community and enabled the U.S. Air Force's UFO "coverup." This view is still pervasive today, as one recent UFO book revealed: the authors laughably titled their chapter about the Doctor, "J. Allen Hynek: Dupe or Accomplice?"

Uh... How 'bout neither?

There's a mountain of documented evidence that Hynek was in fact remarkably brave and outspoken in the astrophysics community even when he was an absolute nobody! He was already quite the rebel when he took up his first professional position at Ohio Wesleyan University in the '30's. You just have to look for the evidence.

For today, one example will suffice. At the U of C archives one can find folder after folder of correspondence between Hynek and his mentor and former boss at the Yerkes Observatory, Dr. Otto Struve. In these letters, Hynek's penmanship is striking: his handwriting leans very dramatically to the left...
 (NOTE: The images are a little askew because the folks at the U of C archive do not allow scanning of files; you can only take photos, and only with express permission. These images were made as I held my iPad over the documents and snapped pics of them. Not very exacting, but the best I could do under the circumstances)
May 15, 1939 from J. Allen Hynek to Otto Struve


April 16, 1939 letter from J.A. Hynek to Otto Struve
I thought this pronounced slanting was pretty interesting, and I wanted to find out what it might mean. I did a little unscientific online research into handwriting analysis and discovered a pretty consistent theme running across several websites...

A person whose handwriting leans heavily to the left is "quiet, reclusive, and usually thinks before acting," said one website. That is very true of Hynek, but it's not the whole story. Another site stated that if your handwriting slants left, "You tend to keep to yourself and generally like to work behind the scenes. If you are right-handed and your handwriting slants to the left, you may be expressing rebellion." 

The key question, then, is this: Was Hynek a right-handed rebel? I'll let the photographic evidence speak for itself...

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