New Information on the Condon Committee
Edward Condon
Thursday, September 11, 2008

Reposted from UFO UpDates with permission:

(c) 2008 by Brad Sparks

Two stunning new revelations have emerged from the collection of 1,200 pages of files copied by MUFON's Project Pandora from the files of the late Roy Craig, a physical chemist who was a key investigator for the University of Colorado's UFO study. One, it turns out that late in the study a project scientist wrote a memo admitting that more than 50% of their cases had turned out to be unexplained. Two, proof has now been found that project director Edward Condon had not in fact read his own report before writing up the report's "Conclusions and Recommendations," the opening chapter in the front of the report.

MUFON Director of Research Robert Powell and MUFON historical consultant Michael Swords traveled to Texas A&M University earlier this year to examine the Craig files and copy what they could. Powell kindly made the files available, which will eventually be posted online by MUFON. A more detailed report will be made by Swords who has investigated the history and internal workings of the controversial Colorado UFO project.

The "Colorado Project," as it is best termed (often called the "Condon Committee") was a US Air Force funded $525,000+ contract study of UFO's conducted from 1966 to 1968. The release of its thousand-page final report in January 1969, usually called the Condon Report, was a devastating blow to serious UFO research because of its scorchingly harsh anti-UFO conclusions rendered by the project's chief scientist Condon. The Condon Report was endorsed by the National Academy of Science and set back scientific UFO research for decades by making the very subject disreputable.

Condon declared that no scientific progress had ever been made by UFO studies and that none could be expected in the future. He recommended that the AF close down its UFO study, a long-standing PR nightmare, called Project Blue Book. It has been known for some time from internal documents that the AF in fact apparently set up the project in order specifically to "scientifically justify" (my phraseology) its closure of Blue Book (AF Directorate of S&T Lt. Col. Robert Hippler letter to Condon, Jan. 16, 1967).

The most telling criticism of the Condon Report, universally pointed out almost from day one by Hynek, McDonald, the AIAA, Sturrock, Jacobs, Friedman, Maccabee, Swords, and many others, has been that Condon's "Conclusions and Recommendations" bore no relationship to the actual contents of the report (written by other staff members) and its UFO case investigations. Many commented that it seemed as if Condon had not even read "his" own report, since he completely glossed over the disturbingly large numbers of unexplained UFO cases that his own project had documented and had admitted could not be solved.

Now we have documentation proving it. Craig's notes of his all-day meeting with Condon and other project staff on Sept. 13, 1968, begin with Condon presenting his draft "Conclusions and Recommendations" chapter. Condon had not read the rest of the report because he wrote this Conclusions chapter before the rest of the report had even been written.

Craig's notes (p. 1) state concerning the draft "Conclusions and Recommendations" that Condon distributed to the group: "EUC [Condon] produced a draft of this section, written 1 to 3 mo [months] previously, written without benefit of prior reading of the other sections of the report which were by now nearing completion."

Condon said he would consider altering his draft, as if that would exculpate or exonerate him from having written the Conclusions before even reading the then unfinished report. However, all indications are from Craig's notes that Condon's caustic anti-UFO conclusions remained unchanged and are those we are painfully familiar with from the published report. It will require in-depth line by line analysis to see if there were any subtle changes as a result of this project staff meeting and other inputs. It would be very helpful if Condon's original draft could be found, perhaps in the Condon papers at the APS Library in Philadelphia, where the Colorado Project files have been preserved.

The other bombshell also dates from the same time period near the end of the Colorado Project as the final report was being written up. Project investigator and physicist at NCAR (National Center for Atmospheric Research), Joseph Rush, wrote a confidential 3-page memo to Condon on Sept. 5, 1968. In it he revealed that he had begun his study fairly open-minded about UFO's but as a result of the project's work had grown skeptical. Rush commented to Condon that this skepticism was ironic because so many of their UFO investigations had resulted in unexplained cases, specifically stating (p. 1) that:

"This may seem an anomalous conclusion, since more of the C-cases [CU Project investigations] are unexplained than explained."

Thus, Rush admits that the Project had more than 50% unexplained UFO cases after investigation by the Colorado Project. This is a stunning statistic. Again, from day one numerous scientific critics have pointed out that Condon Report had about 30% to 34% of its cases remaining unexplained. This has been rightly regarded as a profound contradiction to Condon's Conclusions which disclose no awareness of such a high percentage. It has been wondered whether the Project was even consciously aware of the high percentage of unknowns or were oblivious to it, and whether or not the staff discussed it among themselves and/or with Condon. Now we know. They did. And the situation was much worse than we imagined, since the percentage evidently exceeded 50% unexplained.

(An important resource in identifying the cases the Colorado Project could not explain is the "Sightings, unexplained" list in the Index to the Bantam Books edition of the Condon Report, p. 961. The Project hired not one but two professional indexers, Victoria Siegfried Barker and Margaret C. Shipler, who were full-fledged members of the Project staff, thus the index of unexplained sightings is an official list and not a product of an outside publisher, which might have been discounted as unofficial.)

Thus, when Condon wrote his Conclusions in the Summer of 1968 he was apparently unaware of the high percentage of unknowns that his project had left him with, because he had no report to read yet in which this pattern could be seen, and because Rush had not yet told him about the 50%+ unexplained rate (though admittedly we do not know if other project staff members might have previously informed Condon of the problematic statistic on the UFO unknowns).

However, we now can establish that Condon was made aware of this high unexplained rate in Sept 1968 (by physicist Rush) and did nothing to incorporate that challenging fact in any revised draft of his Conclusions. This conscious and willful suppression of contrary evidence certainly reflects badly on the scientific ethics and integrity of the Condon Report, as has often been declared based more on inference. Now we have direct evidence.

Still more disturbing is this fact we now must consider: When the Final Report was finalized a few weeks later, in October 1968, somehow this 50%+ unexplained percentage had been reduced to about 34%. How was that possible? All Project investigations had ended months earlier in 1968 so the drastic reduction of unknowns could not have come about by new or continued investigations. Only days remained before the contract would end and the final report submitted to the AF -- one contract extension had already been granted in order to allow time to write the report so another extension was out of the question.

The only way the numbers of unexplained UFO cases could have been reduced is if more than a dozen unexplained reports in the draft Condon Report were arbitrarily rewritten to make them into explained IFO's, by blatant doctoring of the case write-ups. Ideally what we need to pin down the details of this shocking manipulation of the Condon Report case evaluations is to find the original drafts of each case (in the Condon papers in Philadelphia) and compare the UFO vs. IFO conclusions as rendered in the published edition. This will be an enormous task due to the sheer volume of the Colorado Project files and the expense of travel, lodging and photocopying in Philadelphia, and is not likely to be done any time in the near future, regrettably.

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