by James E. McDonald , Ph.D.
Summary: James McDonald's
ideas reached even the United Nations, where Secretary-General U
Thant was particularly, but unofficially,
very interested in UFOs.
The following is an excerpt from
McDonald's statement on the international scientific aspects of the
problem of UFOs, submitted to the Outer Space Affairs Group at the
United Nations on June 7, 1967.
This is followed by portions of his
letter to U Thant, and of other letters explaining U Thant's later
actions on the matter.
McDonald's ideas reached even the United Nations, where Secretary-General
U Thant was particularly, but unofficially, very interested in UFOs.
The following is an excerpt from McDonald's
statement on the international scientific aspects of the problem of UFOs,
submitted to the Outer Space Affairs Group at the United Nations on
June 7, 1967.
This is followed by portions of his letter to U
Thant, and of other letters explaining U Thant's later actions on the
Statement on International Scientific Aspects of
the Problem of the Unidentified Flying Objects
submitted on June 7, 1967
to the Outer Space Affairs Group
United Nations Organization
Regardless of what ultimate explanation is found for the UFO phenomena,
the present scientific neglect and ridicule must be replaced by
scientific concern and intensive study. My recommendation to the
Outer Space Affairs Group is that it seek all possible means of
securing worldwide attention to this problem. The first need is for
erasing the ridicule that is quite clearly suppressing open reporting of
sightings of unconventional objects in the air and on the ground. ...
Secondly, the existence of an
already-available sensing system in the form of radar facilities must be
recognized as exceedingly fortunate. At present, most radar sightings of
UFOs are not getting into scientific hands, largely because most radar
equipment is operated by military groups who, in almost all countries of
the world, tend to ignore inexplicable high-speed radar target reports
or else to withhold them from scientific attention.
A wide range of electromagnetic disturbances accompanying close passage
or hovering of the UFOs is now on record throughout the world -- despite
this record not yet being admitted into what one would ordinarily call
the "scientific record".
Disturbance of internal-combustion engines
coincident with close passage of disc-like or cylindrical unconventional
objects is on record in at least several hundred instances. Often the
disturbances are accompanied by broad-spectrum electromagnetic noise
picked up on radio devices. In many instances compasses, both on ships
and in aircraft, have been disturbed. Magnetometers and even watches
have been affected.
All these reports point to some kind of
electromagnetic noise or electromagnetic side-effects that
offer promise for design of new sensing devices, which will only be
developed when competent engineers and physicists take seriously the
rapidly growing body of reports of close-range, low-altitude sightings.
There is curious evidence, still too inadequately studied to warrant any
firm conclusions, that unconventional objects apparently rather similar
in nature to those that have been reported in our global airspace in the
past two decades have been seen prior to the 1947 epoch of marked rise
in sightings. ...
The UFO phenomenon may be at least a
half-century old, if not longer. ...
The frequency of sightings increased by
perhaps two or three orders of magnitude in 1946-47 - for reasons we do
not now understand in the slightest degree.
Letter to Secretary-General U Thant
dated June 5, 1967
I wish to thank you again for making it possible for me to meet with the
U.N. Outer Space Affairs Group. ... I wish to offer whatever personal
assistance or counsel you or your colleagues might be able to draw from
my own personal experience in studying the problem.
The U.N. has both responsibilities and
obligations to accelerate serious scientific study of the UFO problem
throughout the world. It appears conceivable that something in the
nature of a global surveillance by UFOs has been underway in recent
If this view is correct, then our present
ignorance of the purpose and plan of such surveillance must be speedily
replaced by maximal understanding of what is going on.
Letter to Richard Barnet, Institute for
Washington, D.C., dated April 27, 1968
... In June of last year, action on information indicating that U Thant
was keenly interested in the UFO problem, I requested and received an
opportunity to speak to the U.N. Outer Space Affairs Group.
Unfortunately, what did look like an
auspicious beginning was scotched when Drew Pearson (almost
certainly without ill intent) cited my appearance there, quoted U Thant
as feeling UFOs stood second in international scientific importance only
to Vietnam, and thereby left open the impression that U Thant was more
interested in UFOs than in the then boiling Arab-Israeli crisis.
So U Thant issued an overstrong denial, and
that temporarily closed off the channel.
dated February 10, 1971
... I was talking to Tom Malone, and he mentioned having had
fifteen minutes with U Thant last week, along with some visiting Russian
astronomers. Tom laughed at the fact that, as soon as the conversation
opened, U Thant turned to Ambarzumian, a world-noted Armenian
astronomer, and, as his first question, asked the Russian what he really
thought about the UFO problem.
Ambarzumian made short shrift of that topic,
Tom indicated, but U Thant was not that easily put off and came through
with a fairly clear conviction that there has got to be something to the
problem. However, as I have long suspected, he rested much of his
conviction on Buddhist faith and lore*
rather than on investigatory material.
Nevertheless, it shows that U Thant
is still a member of the silent majority.
addition] Presumably I must concede the possibility that such lore is
based on ancient UFO sightings, but I'm disinclined to such concessions.