"I saw 10,000 people who's tongues where all broken... Bob Dylan
“It wasn’t just one UFO that landed at noon on July 17 1955, but two. They landed three or four streets apart. One was in Bexleyheath, King Harold’s Way. All the people came out of their houses. There must have been at least 170 people standing around this thing.”
How do you talk about a man who was a giant but now, to trendy ufologists, is nothing more than a footnote? A man who stood head and shoulders above the people who destroyed him…
In UFO history this giant’s hardly mentioned, while others are championed as heroes. Today the cult of celebrity means it’s more important to be known…than what you are known for.
Dr. James McDonald never wanted to leave the mainstream scientific community. In fact, Dr. McDonald was counting on the scientific establishment to support the unraveling of the UFO phenomenon because he was a member.
James McDonald understood that if sloppy science were allowed to stand as explanation for UFOs, then nothing put forward as evidence by UFO researchers --save the final smoking gun proof-- would ever be looked at seriously.
Sloppy science had to be discounted right away, McDonald believed. And not with rhetoric and disinformation campaigns, but by logically refuting the science around the explanation, and examining the science, sloppy or otherwise, right along with your scientific colleagues.
McDonald had qualities other researchers did not possess. Because he was both well-respected as an authority and genuinely liked by the larger scientific community, Dr. McDonald was extremely dangerous. So stopping him was a must.
As time has begun to show us, McDonald’s approach to research was right.
Run this inventory yourself: in the last 60 years have you witnessed any real change in the attitude of science on UFOs? Isn’t it still true that a talking head science expert on TV can throw out the most outlandish explanation for any facet of the UFO phenom and it’s never, ever challenged?
The other tragedy of the inquisition mounted against McDonald back in the day --no matter what you and I might imagine UFOs will ultimately turn out to be-- is that the debunkers, along with the government, have effectively halted pure science research projects on this important reality.
By destroying or marginalizing anyone and any evidence pointing to the reality of this phenomenon, not only were careers ruined, but pure science was ended and the debate controlled.
Seventy-odd years later, we’re still debating what these things in the sky and landing in our fields are, yet the evidence for their existence continues, with global reporting from citizens of every nation.
November 2007 Washington DC Press Conference "Close Encounters"
One of the wonderful approaches Dr. McDonald took was going right to the source: the witnesses. McDonald took witness testimony at face value, regarded testimony as both specific and as an organic whole, and then built his explanation around the entirety of that testimony. Our young UFO researchers would do well to stop cherry-picking testimony and adopt an attitude of empathy for the witness. I hope we can find a scientist with the credentials and the fire in his heart to look at UFO reality with eyes unclouded.
And McDonald understood something else largely forgotten today. Science is here to help us not to devalue us.
McDonald certainly knew what UFO witnesses face when just trying to find some explanation for their experience. McDonald’s core method is best illustrated when he revisits Newhouse, a famous case initially considered unexplainable.
In Newhouse, the main witness, a Navy photographer, took 16mm film of the event. The images became the center of controversy when the original investigation refuted familiar explanations, like birds, jets, balloons. Another important conclusion found these objects to be “a light source (themselves) rather than reflected light…” Interesting, too, how the expert who came to that conclusion was the same man who would later discover Russian atomic missiles hidden in Cuba…but, to hear the debunkers of the day spin it, even that amazing achievement didn’t qualify him to analyze UFO cases.
Later, as McDonald reviews the case, we can see how his logical, organic method is to listen to the witness first. McDonald goes back to the people who experienced the event and highlights their original story. And it’s this central fact that proves how the debunkers --and even contemporary ufology stars like Kevin Randles-- find it too easy to forget the flesh and blood of this story, preferring instead to nit pick what the evidence, the technical revelations of the 16mm film ‘might’ mean. McDonald’s method demands we look at what the witnesses say, and at what the captured images show, instead of trying to make direct testimony and images fit belief systems or accepted theory.
In this famous case a Navy photographer --who was, after all, you debunkers out there, just the “trained observer” you guys keep screaming about-- along with his wife and two children witnessed a group of UFOs fly over their heads. They filmed the objects.
One object stopped in the sky, then returned in the same path. It was explained away as birds by debunkers.
Here in this excerpt from a letter, McDonald reflects on his conversation with the Newhouse Family:
“I had a long telephone discussion with Delbert Clement Newhouse (Naval Photographer) last night. He was the one in El Cajon; the other one, amusingly enough, is his son. His son recently retired from Naval Aviation duty and now flies with United Airlines. We covered a lot of relevant points…
Shortly after I identified myself and we got down to brass tacks, Newhouse asked his wife to get on an extension phone, so I had the double benefit of getting comments from both of them as we went over details of that July 2, 1952 incident.”
Kudos to the women of ufology, by the way, like Mrs. Trent, Mrs. Hill, and Mrs. Newhouse, for keeping it honest.
“As you will recall, one of the key points that I wanted to check with Newhouse concerned the description given by Ruppelt (and repeated in Baker's analysis as reproduced in the 1968 Congressional hearings), namely, that they appeared to be silvery-gray, "gunmetal", and like two pie pans face-to-face. Both Newhouse and his wife fully confirmed that, Newhouse comparing the shape to a discus in his comments to me. Mrs. Newhouse pointed out that they occasionally tipped, so that their round projected area, as seen in the “initial portions of the sighting” when they were nearly overhead, was replaced occasionally by a side-view exhibiting their discoid shape. There was not the slightest equivocation or any element of uncertainty as either of them discussed that very important point”.
This is how McDonald researched his sighting by building a hypothesis around the entirety of what the witness said. Not via the lazy path where witness testimony is sliced, diced and cherry-picked according to the flavor-of-the-month theory.
Now here’s another remarkable moment in UFO history, where a respected scientist documents witness testimony, making sure we understand that science must value the citizens’ powers of observation and understanding of their surroundings, including their definitive statements that local flora and fauna are not what’s being reported:
“…latter parts of our conversation, that his son and daughter had gotten fairly good views of the objects, too. The son was then 14, the daughter, 12. He said that, in the minds of all four of them, there was not the slightest suspicion that what they had seen were gulls. This, he emphasized, was because, when first seen, the shapes were very distinct and bore no relation at all to sea gulls. He made further remarks to the effect that he supposes that others who have gotten good looks at UFOs must have about the same feeling he does”.
After the constant attacks and the breakup of his marriage, Dr. James McDonald put a gun to his head.
Pure science for science sake was killed that day, and I still wait for it’s resurrection.
UFO Media Matters