The UFO book that seems to be gathering interest and momentum at the moment is ‘UFOs TODAY – 70 Years of Lies, Misinformation and Government Cover-Up’ so I have taken this opportunity to interview the book’s author, Irena Scott PhD. 2017 will see the 70th anniversary of flying saucers and debate has raged on ever since and there seems no sign of it stopping anytime soon.
PM: Please tell us something about your background. Who is Irena Scott PhD?
I have a PhD, have had a professorship and have worked in scientific research for most of my life. My life began on an Ohio farm. We lived under quite primitive conditions, such as farming with horses. This background enables me to consider things from both a heartland farmer and a scientific viewpoint. Despite our lack of books and media, I became interested in astronomy at a very young age. I worked my way through college with an astronomy major, but found that I couldn’t be employed in that field because it was male-only in those days (which also enabled me to see scientists as less logical than normally presented). So, I went into one of the closest fields that females were allowed in, satellite photography. I worked at the Aerospace Center in St. Louis, Missouri, where they sent me to six months of cartography school, which was equal to a master’s degree. I later transferred to the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) in Washington D.C. in the field of photointerpretation and photogrammetry. Here I received some of the highest clearances in the government and learned not only about this field, but also government secrecy and cover-up, and now think the government has much more ability to cover-up than people expect.
Later I married and moved to Nevada, because my husband had a position there after a previous position that included working in Area 51. I began working for the University of Nevada, earned free tuition, and later transferred and received a PhD from the University of Missouri School of Veterinary Medicine in physiology (a combination of chemistry and biology). After doing post-doctoral research at Cornell University, I became an Assistant Professor at St. Bonaventure University. Other positions included research and teaching at The Ohio State University, the University of Missouri, and at Battelle Memorial Institute (Battelle). I have also been a volunteer astronomer at the former Ohio State University Radio Observatory, been stationed at Wright Patterson Air Force Base (WPAFB), and have taken flying lessons.
I have a variety of publications including books, research published in scientific journals, and in newspapers and magazines–such as having been a correspondent for Popular Mechanics magazine with byline articles and photographs in the science and technology sections. My listings as a scientist include: Who’s Who in the World, Who’s Who in the Midwest, and Who’s Who in Frontier Science and Technology. One of my recent books, Uncle: My Journey with John Purdue published by the Purdue University Press, is on a historical subject.
In the 1990s, I joined several UFO groups. I served on the MUFON Board of Directors (1993 to 2000), was a MUFON consultant in physiology and astronomy and a field investigator for both MUFON and the Center for UFO Studies. I co-edited eight MUFON symposium proceedings, have been a State Section Director for Ohio MUFON, was a founding member of the Mid-Ohio Research Associates (MORA) and its journal editor, and have published UFO material in books and magazines–including scientific journals. As an investigator, I conducted many studies and in these I met numerous fascinating people with amazing accounts.
PM: How and when did you first become interested in the UFO phenomenon?
I have always slightly paid attention to the subject because of a number of events that happened in my family from an early time. For one example, an aunt in West Virginia would write letters to my mother describing UFO events. Some events happened even before we had heard of UFOs–in one case, an aunt in West Virginia talked about small glowing objects that sometimes flew through their house. However my parents were conservative, Middle–American, farmers and did not allow us to even speak about the subject, thus, any interest was repressed. This made me a little sensitive to the idea of government cover-up, also.
I was also quite fortunate in the places I lived – such as Ohio, Nevada, and Washington DC – have been heavily involved in the UFO scene. For example, in Ohio are WPAFB and Battelle where the best-known studies took place. The DIA has been important in UFO study and some think that is the agency that began to investigate UFOs after Project Blue Book was closed.
PM: Have you ever had a personal UFO sighting at all?
Several events have drawn my attention. For one, I sometimes visited people who lived in the Davis Mountains in Texas that overlooked Marfa, which is known for the Marfa Lights. One night I saw and videotaped for about half an hour a large bright light over the town of Marfa that would turn on and off. Later I called the airport and they had nothing to report, but they would have been closed that late at night.
In another instance, while living in Missouri, my Mother in Ohio called to ask if I had just heard a strange sound. I thought this was quite odd and asked if my parents had just developed dementia. Later when I moved back to Ohio, I found information about this October 11, 1973 event. Not only had there been a strange noise, but a sudden wave of UFO reports happening at the same time. With the help of the State of Ohio seismologist Mike Hansen, I studied the noise. It was extremely widespread and much larger than a sonic boom or similar event. I was able to publish information about this sound in a peer-reviewed scientific journal (“Investigation of a Sound Heard over a Wide Area,” Ohio Journal Science 87(2), 1987: 11). I still don’t know what caused the sound. I also wondered why my parents had the strange mental reaction to it and wondered if others did.
PM: Has being an academic helped you in your research of the UFO phenomenon?
Yes, for example a Battelle co-worker and I were the first to show smoking gun evidence that UFO materials research may have taken place there. I also make some smoking gun discoveries while working in other places, for example at the DIA and at WPAFB. Being in the scientific field has made this possible. I worked in several of the institutions that were the most involved in UFO research, the DIA, Battelle, and WPAFB.
Being an academic has helped me in other ways. For example, I have been able to publish pieces about UFOs in scientific journals, and think this helps to establish the credibility of UFO study. I’ve spent much time interviewing not only witnesses, but people at random. In one case, after a sighting had been reported in the newspapers, I began to interview other people in that general location and published the results, “Survey of Unidentified Aerial Phenomenon Reports in Delaware County, Ohio.” Ohio Journal of Science 87.1 (1987): 24-26. One impressive result was that there appeared to be many more possible sightings than reports. Unfortunately, because of the difficulty of reporting these events, UFOlogy has been slow to advance and is still the subject of ridicule.
In addition, having training in statistics and experimental methods, I am able to evaluate the scientific experiments that have been done. It has helped me in interviewing witnesses, because I can ask questions that might be useful in scientific understanding. It makes me more aware of what might be called hard evidence and how to collect it, also.
PM: Could you explain how your new book UFOs TODAY first came about.
I joined several UFO groups in the 1990s and began to investigate sightings. I also became an editor of such publications as the MUFON symposium proceedings, and a local publication, the Ohio UFO Notebook. My field investigations gave me more of a perspective on UFOlogy than I would have from simply reading books. I discovered that the sightings that contained the most detail, often did not necessarily match the general idea of flying saucers as disc shaped craft. There were all kinds of unusual sightings, which along with my childhood exposure to the subject, made me think that the phenomena is much more complex than generally presented. I reported on many of these odd instances, thus, I already had them written up. Later the idea of writing a book struck me.
PM: Whilst compiling your research for your new book is there any one piece of evidence that for you really stands out?
Some of the most amazing to me have been ones that included interaction and ones such as lengthy events where authorities were notified, came, and even took part in the sightings. The authorities were often as mystified as the observers. For example, one sighting near Logan, Ohio, was of objects above a cornfield. These would blink on and off and move around. They were interactive with people. One followed a car. Authorities were notified, the event was reported on newscasts and TV, and police and other people came out to watch. Airplanes began to fly over in a grid pattern, although no one knew where they came from–the agency didn’t contact anyone. The objects remained interactive and one flew up to an airplane. A second sighting occurred the very night after another investigator and I had interviewed the witnesses.
Others have been abduction events, such as several that were linked with the October 11, 1973, sound that I investigated.
PM: What do you say to those that remain skeptical with regards to the UFO subject?
The term UFO carries considerable baggage. People generally link it with little green or gray men in space ships, or even the Loch Ness Monster. People ask each other whether they believe in it. This is because in general the idea is associated with alien visitation; people are asking whether they believe UFOs come from space. However the phenomena actually consists of many credible empirical observations such as of balls of light that can change to different forms; objects that appear and disappear, go through walls, merge and separate; and groups of lights that come together to form humanoid appearing entities. Others include objects of incredible size and speed, poltergeist-like activity, large and small UFOs, magnetic and radiation effects, abduction phenomena, thought control, and telepathy, for a few. Because of this, the phenomenon often doesn’t fit the profile of pilots and space ships, but of something vastly different from us. Such observations suggest that this data also might be investigated using different paradigms than our nuts and bolts ideas of space ships, such as by using quantum mechanical theories, or the idea that the phenomena might not be molecular as we are, or other ideas. I think new ways and different paradigms of science are needed to study it.
Another reason for the skepticism is that government has deliberately created it. Not only does it cover up, but it appears to use brainwashing techniques that produce skepticism rather than scientific examination. For example, there is some evidence that in even the very earliest reports some form of cover-up may have been active. The government has manipulated the results scientific studies, such as the one done by Battelle, to show that they found noting when in fact they did. In other cases it has set up panels that purported to scientifically examine the subject, but instead used them to debunk the phenomena, such as those of Robertson and Condon. It has actively set up debunking campaigns to plant outlandish UFO claims in the media to make UFO reports sound ridiculous. The Condon Report summary cautioned teachers to discourage any interest of pupils in UFOs, because such study would be harmful to their development. So if UFOs do not exist, how would an interest in them harm pupils and why should pupils be brainwashed? Why expend large amounts of money to lie and cover-up the phenomena, if it doesn’t exist. Such activities would certainly help the UFO phenomena by causing people to not take it seriously, thus helping it to hide its activities. In addition, UFO phenomena may be quite complex, thus one even wonders exactly what governments are covering up.
PM: In your opinion, how do we keep moving forward with UFO research?
I think numerous observations indicate this important phenomenon is much more complex that just space ships. I think it would be well to have statisticians go over the best UFO event data with the best developments in statistics to see what treads, or even significant results, can be found. I also think that as knowledge of people’s family trees and genetic studies are improving that one might search to see if there are any genetic similarities in people having sightings. Also people may not really understand what the phenomena is and that it might be much more complex that space ships from other worlds. Thus, I think that examining it for proof that we have visitors from space, or studying the propulsion systems and that sort of thing may not be as valuable as thought. For example, in both scientific experiments and in many reports there are mental aspects that are very difficult to understand. I think people need ways to study this element. I also think that people are interpreting the phenomena using Newtonian physics ideas, but need to study the possibility that the quantum theory elements may be involved in the phenomena. Other methods might be those of Dr. Harley Rutledge, who set up a study area with observing stations in an area of many sightings. His design may have resulted in the best scientific study ever done. He was even able to examine interactive behavior. Moreover, numerous reports have shown that the phenomenon is interactive, or even seems to put on a show, but witnesses in general are not directly contacted. This should also be studied.
One of the most controversial aspects of this book has of course been the testimony of former US Deputy Sheriff Charles Forgus (deceased). He claims that he was a witness to the UFO crash at Roswell in 1947. There is no way this can be verified of course and his testimony is simply being put into the public domain for further scrutiny. In my opinion the author is to be congratulated on treating such possibly controversial testimony in an open and honest way. Obviously efforts are continuing to try and obtain more information about Charles Forgus and his testimony with a variety of researchers involved and organizations on both sides of the Atlantic. It will be interesting to see what they uncover.