The CUFONSM Interview
Michael D. Swords, Ph.D

The CUFON SYSOP met Dr. Swords at the MUFON International UFO Symposium in Seattle, Washington July 1995.  Dr. Swords' excellent presentation of the inside story of the Condon Committee sparked our discussion.  We subsequently provided Dr. Swords with a CIA document relating to the Condon Committee's visit to the CIA Photo Interpretation Center.  An agreeable series of correspondence followed. 

Dr. Swords was kind enough to complete the CUFON Interview which you will find below.  His full, well thought out responses to the questions are greatly appreciated. 

... Jim Klotz  CUFON SYSOP



1. State of UFOlogy today/Goals today?

"UFOlogy": a serious, objective, scholarly study of the UFO phenomenon. 

There is essentially no UFOlogy today, and rarely has there ever been.  There is much pseudo-UFOlogy (lacking in objectivity or any sense of the history of the subject or the scope of previous research and other relevant disciplines), and even more UFOria (sort of a wide-eyed gee whiz fooling around with "wonders"). 

The few UFOlogists who are active (persons such as Mark Rodeghier, Stuart Appelle, Eddie Bullard, and a handful of others) find themselves isolated in an intellectual desert filled with UFOric persons who are constantly jumping beyond the evidence, and insisting upon concrete answers to questions such as those later in this "interview".  Not that this interview "insists" in this way).

The few UFOlogists who do exist should come together as a separate research community and remove themselves as much as possible from the greater carnival which continuously defeats their attempts to achieve credibility. 

2. Future of UFOlogy?

How would anyone know how to answer this?

Negatively speculating, one could easily imagine a "future" like our past: no unity, no team-research, no sense of any history or anything being established, the disappearance of solid work as if it had never been done, the collapsing of FUFOR, CUFOS as key members die or move on, the disaggregation of MUFON, & the continued prejudicial ignorance of the academic community. 

Positively speculating, one could (maybe) easily imagine a coming together of a serious research community, which would publish careful research in journals uncluttered by embarrassing "contributions", which would issue occasional "white papers" commenting professionally & responsibly on issues of importance, which would produce solid academic symposia & workshops, & which would be recognized by the more serious media as an authoritative voice of reason worth consulting on this important subject. 

You may guess which way it is likely to go.

3. What can a single individual do? 

A.  Decide to be an honest seeker-of-the-truth rather than an emotionally driven questor for concepts which "feel profoundly meaningful" to one's personal hopes and desires. 

B.  Read the few scholarly books available which present the history & most incisive, rational thinking in the field; and keep up with the most scholarly journal literature. 

C.  Find, if possible, one of the few scholars, & learn & help & make a personal effort to actually contribute something rather than just talk. 

D.  Don't expect an abduction under each bed, nor a true UFO hiding in every black helicopter. 

E.  If something serious, like CUFOS or BAE, still exists, make a commitment to joining its circle actively. 

F.  Try to resist the temptation that you have found the final answer, & that no one else makes any sense. 

4. Advice for newcomers? 

This isn't easy.  Aristotle told Alexander the Great that "there was no Royal [easy] road to Mathematics".  The same is true for UFOs.  There are a few essential books:

        Jacobs,    The UFO Controversy in America;
        Ruppelt,   The Report on Unidentified Flying Objects;
        Hynek,     The UFO Experience;
        NICAP,   The UFO Evidence.

Others recommended:

       Keyhoe's 1st 2 books;
       Vallee's 1st 2 books;
       Hall's Uninvited Guests;
       Michel's 2 Books;
       Clarke's Encyclopedia;
       Greenwood & Fawcett's Clear Intent;
       the 2 volumes of CUFOS scientific symposia;
       a collection of the papers of James McDonald;
       Bullard's large papers on CE4's etc.;
       The Journal of UFO Studies;
       Gotlib's BAE;
       Paul McCarthy's thesis on James McDonald;
       Alan Hendry's UFO Handbook;
       Symposium on Unidentified Flying Objects by 1968 House of Representatives;
       Rodeghier's catalog of E-M effects;
       Phillips' catalog of landing traces 

... and then one can begin to read about individual cases (inc. Roswell & Abductions) & try to place them in an intellectual, critical, & phenomenological context. 

It also wouldn't hurt to find a scholar-researcher to regularly talk to and ground oneself. 

5. What do hard-core UFO sightings represent? 

I think it represents a core of unexplained reports.

If one insists on applying hypotheses to it, then I think that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis remains a viable one for dealing with the phenomena sufficiently (just as angels, demons, fairy folk, a capricious 
God, an extradimensional Gamester et al, do).  And, I think the ETH, because it in no way stretches the current scientific paradigm beyond what is already admitted ontologically, remains the simplest (& therefore tentatively best supported) hypothesis available.  It is not a proven hypothesis.  It is also, despite insistent claims by certain "experts" and debunkers, in no way disproven, nor even, in my opinion, damaged. 

However, I do not insist that it is true, nor feel in any way the need to "believe" in it. 

6. Meaning for mankind?

It represents a set of anomalous experiences, or perhaps merely a series of them, which we have not explained, nor, given our variety of inappropriate ways of responding to it, seem likely to. 

If it turned out to be ET, the phenomena could represent anything from the end of the species to the end of the species-driven advancement, to nothing, to an unexpected glimpse or leap forward.  All = guess. 

If it turned out to be paranormality, interdimensionality, GOD, Satan, or mass human delusion, you may follow your own creativity to whatever (in all due respect, groundless) invention that one wishes. 

No one, it seems, is willing to set these inappropriate fun-and-games questions aside until there is actually some concrete data with which to at least partially restrict the full spectrum of guesswork.  This is an unpopular position, I realize, but it is the only one consistent with UFOlogy rather than UFOria.

7. Government cover-up? 

There was always an appropriate government cover-up of UFO information.  UFOs were an intelligence problem possibly relating to National Security, and so of course were information restricted.  Once UFOs were seen as potentially usable by the USSR in psychological warfare (1952-3), then the Pentagon and The CIA (Robertson Panel) naturally further affirmed a policy of spin-doctoring and info-restricting.  Even today if odd returns appear on our most secure detectors, we the public do not have rights over and above national security issues therein. 

What the question really wants to know, though, is stuff like Roswell, Area 51, MJ-12 et al.  Well, who knows?  Roswell continues to look like a story which builds rather than disintegrates - the others go nowhere so far.  But if Roswell is real, then the question is answered.  If so, however, only a very few persons would likely know of it, not "the government" in any large sense. 

8. Hardware/alien bodies in Government hands? 

If Roswell was real, yes.  (Unless "somebody" came and took them back). 

If Roswell was not real, no.  I am aware of no other crash retrieval case which seems to have any concreteness to it whatever. 

Was Roswell real? (i.e. ET): I don't know.  There is no proof of this no matter how much good work my friends Kevin Randle, Don Schmitt, Mark Rodeghier, Tom Carey, Kent Jeffrey et. al. have done (which in their case is a lot).  No "odd U.S. technology" explanation has come anywhere near dealing with the multiple witness details of Brazel's ranch site.  With all due respect, the Mogul hypothesis is so weak (on many fonts) as to make one wonder why it was proposed and why the USAF was so foolish as to have supported it. 

9. Most important aspect of UFOlogy today? 

The attitudes which everyone inside it and out bring to the subject.  The phenomena involved (inc. Roswell, Abductions) might be penetrated to some little extent (in a credible and universalizable way) if these huge burdens of destructive attitudes could be swept away.  As it stands, with little or no team research, with people hoarding "their" cases and their primary data, with people insisting on only their version of the truth, with people not caring about facts if they don't feel good, with shallow pop-corn media, with who cares academia blocking professional presentation of information, and with disinformation and blood-letting in-fighting abounding ... who can be optimistic about turning ourselves into a community of truth-seekers in an extremely complex and difficult field wherein no one can stand alone? 

Biographical information supplied by Dr. Swords

Michael D. Swords
Professor of Natural Sciences
Western Michigan University


Former editor of the Journal of UFO Studies;
MUFON Consultant in History, and
Board Member of the Center for UFO Studies,
2457 W. Peterson,
Chicago, Il 60659



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