Thank you Mr. Friedman for answering some questions for our readers. It is a privilege to be able to pick your mind on the study of UFOs.
Billy: Being a nuclear physicist, how did you first become interested in the study of UFOs?
Friedman: In 1958 while working as a young nuclear physicist for the General Electric Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Department in Cincinnati, Ohio, I was ordering books from a mail order place and needed one more book so I wouldn't have to pay shipping costs. There was "The Report on UFOs," by USAF Captain Edward Ruppelt, marked down from $2.95 to $1.00 which would have been shipping costs.
He had been head of Project Blue Book in the early 1950s, and the USAF was co sponsor of our ANP program. I thought he ought to know what he was talking about. Turns out it was a very good first book. It intrigued me, but didn't convince me. I read about 15 more books some of which were junk. Then at the University of California, Berkeley, Library I found Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14, a privately published volume which hadn't been mentioned in any of the books. Biggest study ever done. Chock full of data establishing some UFOs were alien spacecraft. I talk of it in detail in my "Flying Saucers and Science"
Billy: In your book, you list three categories relating to UFO reports, those that are eventually identified as "known" objects, those that do not have insufficient date to make a determination, and those that can be classified as legitimate unknown flying objects. Project Blue Book and other governmental UFO research groups determined the legitimacy of a report by the social class of the reporter, according to J. Allen Hynek. Do you also subscribe to this theory?
Friedman: No, I don't. I knew Allen and never heard him express this view either. They were bound and determined to show there was nothing to UFOs and lied a great deal about their evidence. On my web site www.stantonfriedman.com there is a paper "Government UFO Lies"
Billy: Do you believe that Blue Book, and other study groups originally set out to misinform the American public, or did they decide this after seeing that there was sufficient evidence to show that UFOs could have an extraterrestrial source?
Friedman: There has clearly been an official policy to minimize the evidence and even to lie about it. There has been a Cosmic Watergate involving many agencies such as the CIA, NSA, NRO, etc as discussed in my book.
Billy: It is obvious to me, and many others who study UFOs, that the American government is covering up UFO related information. Obviously, the fewer people who guard these secrets the better. Do you feel that there is a small group of scientists and researchers who are privy to this information, and they answer to no one, not even the President?
Friedman: I think that a highly classified group like Operation Majestic 12 indeed is privy to the secrets and not talking about them as described in my book "TOP SECRET/MAJIC." I update the MJ-12 story in "Flying Saucers and Science." Remember that intelligence agencies such as the NSA, NRO, CIA, etc go on forever. Presidents come and go.
Billy: In your book, you refer to SETI as a cult. Can you explain that to us?
Friedman: Cults have charismatic leadership, strong dogma, strong resistance to outside ideas, and a enlarged notion of their own importance. They make claims rather than review evidence. They are looking for signals produced by an advanced civilization and constantly say there is no evidence for UFOs. They never refer to the large scale scientific studies that I discuss in "Flying Saucers and Science."
Maybe they should learn sign language since they have absolutely no idea how advanced civilizations would communicate or why they would send signals to a primitive society whose major activity is tribal warfare. That's us.
Billy: We often hear rumors that SETI has already received a signal from an extraterrestrial civilization. Are these only rumors, or is this a possibility? Do you have any "insider" information for us?
Friedman: I have seen no evidence whatsoever that SETI groups have actually received a meaningful signal from another civilization. Frankly, I would be surprised if they do. I expect advanced civilizations have communication techniques way beyond what we know. I don't use a slide rule any more. We are assuming that aliens are stuck at our level of technology. Silly assumption.
Billy: There is a policy to be followed by SETI should they receive a signal from an extraterrestrial source. Do you believe that it would be followed should contact be made, or would this be kept from the peoples of the world?
Friedman: I think the radio astronomers would follow their procedures to avoid looking silly. Impact would be minimal. Especially if, as they expect, it would be from hundreds of light years away. The civilization may have already disappeared. Hard to have a meaningful conversation.
So far as I know, no civilization on Earth has authorized radio astronomers to speak for them. That is why we have foreign affairs specialists. As described in the book, I think announcements should be international, carefully done, and include conferences on the political, religious, economic implications.