UFO news this week saw a flash from the past as Slate published an article about the FBI’s final treatment of the “Top Secret Majestic 12 Documents.” For those who don’t keep up with UFO research news, Majestic 12, also known as “MJ-12” or “Majik,” was an alleged top secret cabal formed within the U. S. government during the Truman administration. It was alleged to be responsible for the cover-up of information about the Roswell UFO incident.
The Majestic 12 documents, alleged to be from a top secret briefing for then incoming President-elect Dwight D. Eisenhower, entered the UFO news cycle in 1984 according to a succinct history by UFO Evidence. Since then the documents have been a source of controversy, not just between those who push the government for news about UFO disclosure and the government, but also within the UFO research community. In debunking the documents, the FBI simply wrote the word “BOGUS” across the documents which are contained in the National Archives.
It certainly isn’t news that the official position on anything related to UFO disclosure is to claim it is bogus. Officials have also been known to present mundane explanations for otherwise incredible events. But there are three good reasons that the FBI, even if it believes the documents are bogus, should not have made a public gesture so blatant.
First, in the era before the internet, the documents represented almost a consensus about the most important unanswered questions surrounding the UFO phenomena.
Younger readers may not remember a time before the internet, but older readers can attest that the spread of information in those days took years in some instances. An obscure UFO sighting can be found in the news every day in the internet age. Before the internet, that news would have to pass through the filters of print media, television, organizational newsletters, and word of mouth. So, in those days, if a reliable UFO researcher landed a story in the local news, and then got lucky enough to have that story reach a wire service, he may have been read by a wide audience in national newspapers. Otherwise, that researcher would need to rely on their findings spreading by word of mouth.
One could take the government’s position on the UFO phenomena and still argue that the FBI was irresponsible. Those documents summarized many of the top questions in the UFO research news of that time. Declaring the documents bogus is an outright dismissal of those concerns. By stamping these documents bogus, the FBI is saying that the concerns of an entire community are bogus, and by extension, so is the field of UFO research.
That leads us to the second reason, which is that UFOs are real.
What does real UFO mean? UFO means unidentified flying objects. Every day someone, somewhere on earth, sees something in the sky that they cannot identify. Almost all of these UFO cases can be explained by natural phenomena, or through flight and other official records, meteorological study, or empirical science. A very small few UFO cases cannot be explained, or at least explained well enough to close those cases.
About the time that modern UFO research was in its infancy, the news was filled with terror from the skies. Nuclear weapons were a genuine threat. The U. S. military was testing new weapons and aircraft in those skies, and most likely did not appreciate the scrutiny of UFO hunters scanning the skies. In the more open-minded internet era, the skies seem less deadly, and people have cameras fixed on them readily.
The documents that the FBI published with their bogus note scribbled on them have swirled in the internet ether since the earliest days of the web. This was an opportunity to publish a brief rebuttal of the documents and to let that stand. UFOs aren’t going to be out of the news, nor will UFO researchers stop hunting for more information. Which leads to the third good reason the FBI was irresponsible.
Finally, what if the FBI and government aren’t hiding anything, but contact happens?
If one thinks for a moment, this one reason stands out above the others. Contact does not have to take the form of a UFO taking up anchorage off the moon. What if, as Arthur C. Clarke posited in the book Fountains of Paradise, contact came in the form of a deep space probe launched from some other planet hundreds, or thousands, of years ago? What if contact is a short burst of prime numbers?
In an age where science is always in the news for exploring the most fantastic possibilities in physics, biology, and other fields, it is an intellectually arrogant position to outright deny the unexplained. Taking a public position that proponents of UFO research are spending time on bogus pursuits could preclude natural allies at that moment of extraterrestrial contact. The FBI could have printed a two sentence rebuttal that stated the documents were not real, but that they could understand people’s interest that was driven by misinformation.
Instead, the FBI chose to act on a seemingly global institutional belief that denial of UFO research in the most extreme terms would be the most appropriate route. Terence McKenna, who many will recall was an influential ethnographer and philosopher, used to say that he refused to believe in anything because that belief would preclude the opposite from being true. If there is such a thing as a global institutional belief on the best way to handle the UFO news that continues to arrive, it might be time for decision makers to revisit it. An adversarial position with the UFO research community, a community that could be helpful, might be worsened if contact happens.
[Featured Image by Bill Pugliano/Getty Images]