Tuesday, May 14, 2019
In Remembrance: Stanton Friedman, 1934-2019
It is with deep sadness that I post about the passing of Stan Friedman. A few people have confirmed that Stan passed away while in Toronto on May 13, 2019.
I first met Stan when he visited Winnipeg in about 1976, during the Charlie Redstar UFO furore. He gave a lecture about UFOs at the University of Manitoba and received a standing ovation. After his talk, we met and exchanged info. Ever since then, we had kept in touch and got together or at least spoke on the phone every year.
Stan stayed with me sometimes when he came to Winnipeg, choosing to sleep on my couch rather than in a nondescript motel room, but mostly to save money.
He was a mentor, a rebel, a challenger, and most of all, a friend.
He had a remarkable career in physics, although he never received his doctorate. In his own words:
I worked my way through five years of college as a busboy in the Catskill Mountains and then as a Union waiter at Windermere East Hotel on the South side of Chicago within walking distance of the University of Chicago. I was anxious to join the real world which I had done in industry where a PhD was not required. First, the General Electric Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Department, near Cincinnati, then Aerojet General Nucleonics near San Francisco on compact nuclear reactors and fusion for space applications, then General Motors Allison Division in Indianapolis on portable nuclear reactors for space systems and the Westinghouse Astronuclear Labs on fission rocket reactors for space applications. I must have set a record for working on cancelled programs.
A very young Stan Friedman visiting Rutgers in 1950.
But of course, he is best known as the "Flying Saucer Physicist."
As a scientist. I have always felt that one wasn’t entitled to a scientific opinion if one hasn’t read the relevant literature. Often over the years In my “Flying Saucers ARE Real” lectures, I discussed five large scale scientific studies and then asked my audiences how many had read each of them. Typically fewer than two per cent had read any. Included were the biggest study ever done for the US Air Force, Project Blue Book Special Report 14, The Congressional Hearings on July 29,1968 (with statements from 12 scientists including Allen Hynek, myself, and Carl Sagan), Allen’s book UFOs: A Scientific Inquiry, Edward Condon’s The Scientific Study of UFOs, and MacDonald's Congressional paper.I had the opportunity on several occasions to sit and talk with him about all things ufological. He agreed to let me record our conversations. Some of these were at UFO and paranormal conferences, where we sat in either his or my hotel room while Donna or someone else filmed us.
The following are links to our informal discussions:
At Minnesota Paracon, I sat down with Stanton Friedman and asked him if there was any question he had never been asked, but wished someone had asked. He replied that no one ever asked him why astronomers are generally down about UFOs and ufology. He explained that astronomers are generally uninformed about ufology and can be arrogant in their dismissiveness. [NB: I'm an astronomer]
I caught up with Stanton Friedman at Minnesota Paracon 2014. He has some words of advice for UFO buffs.
At Minnesota Paracon 2014, I caught up with "the Grandfather of Ufology," Stanton Friedman. It's been only a month or two since his heart attack, and he's 80 years old, so I asked him how that's changed his approach to his UFO research. His answer: he's going to be retiring!
Me and Stan in 2001 when I visited him in his home in Fredericton while filming an episode for the the documentary series Magnificent Obsessions. (Full episode here, my visit to Stan at his home starts at about 17:25)
We were on stage together at the Telus World of Science Expo in Edmonton in 2007.
Donna Lobchuk helping Stan at his table at Telus in 2007.
I may have deliberately set up this photo with me between Stan and Kevin Randle (and Frank) at MUFON 2009 in Denver.
Stan in a typical pose behind his book table, at MUFON 2009.
Travis Walton, me, Donna, and Stan having dinner at Minnesota Paracon.
Stan, Raymond Szymanski and Kathleen Marden at World UFO Congress in 2016.
Donna with Stan at Minnesota Paracon in 2013.
In 2014, his daughter Melissa asked me to do a short video wishing him a happy 80th birthday. I got some friends to help me. Apparently, even Michael Shermer made one.
He will be missed.
Update: CBC reports that Stan died doing what he liked doing; he was returning from a speaking engagement in Columbus, Ohio, and passed suddenly in the Pearson International Airport in Toronto.
Update 2: Paul Kimball's film about Stan is viewable here.
Sunday, May 05, 2019
How many see UFOs? How many report them?
I had posted the latest Canadian UFO Survey results, and was surprised when someone questioned that only ten percent of all witnesses report their experiences.
(Not that he had offered any alternative, just that he doubted the value was correct.)
I realized that most people in ufology these days have likely never seen poll data on UFOs, so I went looking for results from Gallup, Decima, and others.
Of course, I've posted about such things many times, but hey, no one listens to me.
In 2012, I noted:
And them in 1997, MUFON published an article concerning the Ufology Research poll of Canadians about UFOs.
(Yes, there was a time when MUFON liked me.)
So, there are some stats to back up that about ten per cent of the population believe they have seen UFOs, and that only a small percentage of UFO witnesses report them, as one might expect given the climate of ridicule that is still evident.
And one this that came out of that early study was the note that about the same number of people were as likely to report their UFO experience to a UFO group as to not report it at all. But they would rather report it to a government agency.
Maybe the US Navy will be getting some UFO reports, after all.
I would love to do a more rigorous set of polls on this, with cooperation from many UFO groups so that we can get a better sample size and hopefully more refined results.
But that's not likely to happen.
Labels: UFO poll reports witnesses data
Thursday, May 02, 2019
The 2018 Canadian UFO Survey
Tuesday, April 09, 2019
The Tectonic Strain Theory of UFOs
Going back a few decades, one of the proposed theories to explain UFOs was "earth energy." The late Michael Persinger was one of its advocates, and he wrote literally dozens of papers on why UFOs and seismic events were related, and published them in several scientific journals.
[In other words, scientific papers on UFOs have been published quite often over the years, and are nothing new.]
The trouble with Persinger's Tectonic Strain Theory of UFOs (TST), as it was known, was that it took someone with a knowledge of geology and psychology, and with an interest in UFOs, to understand it. Such people were few and far between. But as luck would have it, that was exactly my expertise while doing my undergrad work at university. I even had a geology prof who was curious about UFOs and was willing to entertain discussions about the phenomenon.
When started taking a close look at what Persinger was proposing, I found it seriously lacking. What he was suggesting made even less sense than assuming UFOs were alien spaceships, since it distorted geophysical principles. In fact, I managed to track down Persinger's PhD thesis advisor (who, by amazing synchronicity, was teaching at my university!), who when shown Persinger's published papers, was thoroughly appalled. In fact, he encouraged me to publish a rebuttal in the same scientific journals. And I did, becoming one of the few ufologists to publish papers about UFOs in peer-reviewed scientific journals.
As part of one of my geophysics courses, I needed to do an undergraduate thesis. I decided to do it on the TST, and spent the better part of a year researching and collecting data and others' works relevant to the issue. The result was a long, detailed, and sometimes equation-heavy analysis that explained why the TST didn't make any sense.
I managed to recover my original text, piecing it together from ancient floppy disks and computers, and am able to make it available for anyone who is interested in reading it through. The mathematical characters didn't translate well, and the figures had to be recreated, but it's relatively perusable.
To read the entire thing (good luck!), it's here.