This article was originally published on August 4, 2018. This was one of the last few interviews ufologist Stanton Friedman aka Stan gave and the first and only interview he gave to an Indian publication. He passed on May 13 in Toronto at the age of 84. We are republishing this interview as a tribute to his work and life.
This article was also featured by Sky Watcher News Channel in their official publication.
We have grown up watching an endless number of movies that show Unidentified Flying Objects and Extra-Terrestrials. We live most of our lives believing that we are the only life that exists in the universe and think that aliens are only figments of sci-fi. But what if all that you know so far is not true? What if it was entirely possible for flying saucers to exist on this planet?
There is a branch of science, termed as ‘ufology’ which is the study of UFOs. For those who do not know, ufologists study the physical evidence, reports of UFO sightings and a lot more associated with UFOs that visit Earth.
Stanton Friedman, an 84-year-old retired professional ufologist and nuclear physicist has dedicated decades of his life in researching UFOs. He is most known for his investigation during the Roswell incident in Mexico.
In his career spanning 14 years and more as a nuclear physicist, Friedman worked with various top aerospace companies like General Electric, Westinghouse etc. in the United States. When his program with McDonell Douglas got cancelled, he began his career as a professional ufologist. He continues to remain a member of American Nuclear Society and American Physical Society.
In an interview with Cocktail Zindagi, Friedman talks about flying saucers, aliens and ufology.
He once said, “Flying saucers are, by definition, unidentified flying objects, but very few unidentified flying objects are flying saucers. I am interested in the latter, not the former.”
Over the period of time, several flying objects have been the cause of intrigue among the people and governments. However not all UFOs are alien spaceships or as Friedman says, flying saucers. Asking him to tell us more about this interesting line of thought, he explains with metaphors, “If I am looking at nuclear fission I look at the few percents of isotopes which are fissionable. The fact that most aren’t is irrelevant. Most drugs don’t cure any disease. If you are sick you want the ones that do.”
His interest in flying saucers began in 1958. Something very simple piqued his interest in the subject, “I needed one more book so I wouldn’t have to pay shipping charges. So I picked “The Report on UFOs” by Edward Ruppelt – lucky first choice. I then read 10 more books on the subject. I also found a copy of ‘Blue Book Special Report No. 14’ at the University of California, Berkeley. Haven’t stopped researching since!”
In the 1960s and 1970s, he investigated several cases. He heard about the famous Roswell incident in 1978. Friedman was the first civilian investigator to document the Roswell site.
For those who don’t know the Roswell incident, in mid-1947 a UFO crashed at a ranch in Roswell, Mexico. This UFO was later termed as a ‘United States Army Air Forces weather balloon’. On June 14, 1947, a foreman, William Brazel noticed debris clusters some 50kms north of Roswell. He didn’t pay much heed to it for the next few weeks but returned to the site with his family on July 4 to pick up the debris. He later heard reports about flying saucer sightings and wondered if the debris he had picked up was from that. On July 8, RAAF officer Walter Haut issued a press release stating that he had recovered a flying disc. A lot of buzz happened about the incident across the world. But after the United States called the flying disc, a weather balloon, the interest waned.
However, in 1978, Friedman and other researchers began studying the incident. They spoke to several witnesses in connection with the 1947 incident. They also obtained several documents in relation to the crash through the Freedom of Information Act. They concluded that at least one spacecraft had indeed crashed at the site.
We asked Friedman that what made him believe in flying saucers and he says the evidence. Furthermore, we asked him about what does he have to say to the people who do not believe in the UFOs to which he answers, “In my lectures, I review 5 large scale scientific studies and ask after each one how many have read it. Invariably, the people haven’t looked at the evidence. Opinions without the study of evidence are almost worthless. Fewer than 5% of the people have read any of the evidence associated with the UFOs.”
Has he ever seen a flying saucer?
“No, I haven’t. But I have never seen a neutron or gamma-ray either. Both are real.”
So is love! But if UFOs are real, why have the governments kept the information classified? He tells us, “In my books, I have talked about the ‘Cosmic Watergate’ in detail. I have given twenty reasons for the cover-up by the government. Some of the reasons why the information is kept classified are, fear of panic, fear of loss of power, religious difficulties, protection of new technology etc.”
To better understand this, here is an excerpt from one of the lectures by the ufologist taken from his website:
“What if an announcement were made, by highly trusted individuals around the world, such as the Queen and the Pope, saying that indeed SOME UFOs are ET spacecraft? Here are some things I believe would happen:
(1) Church attendance would increase.
(2) Mental hospital admissions would increase.
(3) The stock market would go down; uncertainty is always the enemy.
(4) Based on my more than 600 college lectures, the younger generation, which, unlike me, was never alive when there wasn’t a space program, would push for a new view of ourselves as EARTHLINGS instead of as Americans, Canadians, Greeks, Peruvians, etc. Many would think that would be great. But I know of no government on Earth that wants its citizens to owe their primary allegiance to the planet (where it belongs) instead of to individual national governments. Nationalism is the only game in town. I believe that alien visitors — they may be our landlords, for all we know — think of us as earthlings even though, because of our military traffic, they would be well aware of different ruling groups in different places.”
The ‘Majestic 12’ documents find mention every now and then when discussions and debates are done about aliens and flying saucers. While not all believe the existence of the ‘Majestic 12’, it is said to be the code name of a secret committee of scientists, military leaders and government officials formed in 1947 by former U.S. President Harry Truman to conduct investigations of alien spacecraft. In 1984, when some of the ‘Majestic 12’ documents were leaked, the FBI called them as bogus.
Friedman has studied the Majestic 12 documents. “I began my Majestic 12 research in 1984. I have visited twenty archives to study the documents and reported my findings in the detail in my book, ‘Top Secret/Majic: Operation Majestic-12 and the United States’. I found overwhelming evidence and that three of those documents were genuine.”
Friedman has no idea whether the aliens who visit the planet stay, go back to their planet to return to nearby mother ships. But he thinks that there are several reasons why the UFOs visit the planet.
Coming to the question about ‘Why?’, here is an interesting answer writes on his website, “Answers to this question depend very much on one’s picture of the local galactic neighbourhood and of the situation on our planet. The SETI cultists seem to think we are the Crown of Creation and that there may be “as many” as 50,000 civilizations in our Milky Way Galaxy, which has a few hundred billion stars. It is almost 100,000 light years across which, according to Frank Drake, means there may be another civilization “only” 1000 light years away.
This would, of course, make us very special as one of the elite civilizations. I think that there are probably many advanced civilizations within our local neighbourhood on planets around some of the 2300 stars within 54 light years, especially the 46 that are very similar to the sun. The driving fact here is that we have only had a fancy technology for perhaps 100 years. But the earth is about 4.5 billion years old and has been suitable for life for well over a billion years.
Just down the street, 39.4 light years away, we find a pair of sun-like stars, Zeta 1 and Zeta 2 Reticuli. These are only a 1/8 of a light year apart from each other but are a billion years older than the sun. In other words, there has been a great deal of time for other civilizations to establish themselves. Having an easily observable neighbour nearby would provide far more incentive for the development of interstellar travel than we have out here in the boondocks. My view is, per a fine analogy from physicist Beatriz Gabo Rivera, that we are like the gorillas in a nature preserve in Africa who know nothing about what is going on outside the preserve.
I think aliens have been traipsing around the neighbourhood for a very long time indeed. I think it is hilarious that Dr. Seth Shostak, one of the noisier SETI guys, says there is nobody at ZR 1 or ZR 2, because they were listened to by a Southern Radio Observatory 10 years ago. One would think he knows what equipment and frequency alien communicators way ahead of us would use, and that they are trying to attract our attention, which is totally absurd.
Answers also depend greatly on how difficult it is to travel within the neighbourhood. If one is a SETI cultist noting (as on the terrible Peter Jennings, Feb. 24, 2005, TV mockumentary) that our fastest spacecraft is the Voyager probe and that it would take 70,000 years to get to the nearest star, trips would be very uncommon indeed. A much more realistic approach is to note that Voyager hasn’t had a propulsion system on it since it left Earth. It is coasting, helped by some cosmic freeloading. Can we estimate the time it takes to cross the ocean by throwing a bottle in? Can we tell how long it would take to fly from New York to Los Angeles by putting a feather in the air? It took Charles Lindberg 33 hours to cross the Atlantic. The Concorde did it in just a few hours. The space station goes around the entire earth in 90 minutes. Electromagnetic signals take 1/7 of a second to circumscribe the earth.
Remember, we have just started on our technological kick. Think back to 1900. Note no TV or radio or microwaves or nuclear power plants or satellites or DNA testing or lasers or computers or airplanes or rockets or nuclear weapons or transplanted organs. I am convinced that, unless we stupidly destroy ourselves, there will be a time when star travel is not considered any more far out than crossing the Atlantic on a 747 is today. I recently flew nonstop from Newark, New Jersey, to Hong Kong, China, in less than 17 hours. Nuclear submarines circumnavigate the globe without surfacing. Obviously, there are those who think star travel is impossible. If that were true, which it isn’t, obviously nobody could be coming here from the stars.”
Friedman has lectured in over 19 countries but India is not one among them. He has also appeared in several documentaries and hundreds of TV and radio programs including the famous Larry King show in 2007 and twice in 2008.
The reasons he lists for the aliens to visit Earth are as simple as it would be for us to visit a place. Some of the reasons he states are:
“I. Specimen gatherers for ET zoos and aquariums. We are still finding new specimens.
II. Visitors checking on old colonies established by their ancestors. Perhaps there were many different ones which might explain why we have black, brown, red, yellow and white races.
III. Mining engineers similar to those who went to California and the Klondike and Australia for gold, or to Texas and the Middle East for oil. As it happens, the earth is the densest planet in the solar system, so would be expected to have more of the rare but very important very heavy metals such as gold, uranium, rhenium, platinum, tungsten, osmium, etc. These are all much denser than lead. We know from studying star spectra that they are rare. They also have very special properties.”
Read more here.
Yet another famous UFO phenomenon was the Betty and Barney Hill incident. A couple, Betty and Barney Hill claimed that they were abducted by the aliens in September 1961. After the abduction, Betty drew a star map that she had seen in her recurring dreams. In her dreams, she was being questioned by the aliens and when she asked one of them where they were from, the alien had pointed to a star map. When Betty redrew the star map, it was from the viewpoint of the star system of ‘Zeta Reticuli’.
Friedman has written a book, ‘True Stories Of Alien Abductions’ on the incident along with Kathleen Marden who is Betty Hill’s niece, supporting the star map that Betty drew, “I was the first to publish the star map after extensive investigation and discussions with the editor of ‘Astronomy’ magazine. Kathy accepted the map after much investigation.”
Friedman has never experienced ridicule for practising a unique profession. On asking him about who inspires him in life, he says, “The people who seek the truth before expressing their opinions inspire me.” He says his books are one of the ways through which people can begin educating themselves about the UFO phenomenon on Earth.
Why does he think that debunkers and people do not believe in life outside of Earth? Does some of it stem out of the same ignorant, flawed and arrogance-backed belief that ancient humans had, that the Earth was the centre of the universe?
He answers, “Yes. Ignorance is bliss for most people. Flight was rejected as impossible until we flew. Space travel was considered impossible until we did it. Conclusions shouldn’t be derived from data not unsupported claims.”
Friedman was recently honoured at the annual 23rd UFO Festival in Roswell, New Mexico as he retired after the festival. Talking about his time at the festival, he says, “I have been at all but one of the 15+ Roswell Festival events. My talks are well received, comments are very favourable and the crowds are great. I get a chance to talk to many people and sign loads of books. They love me in Roswell. This year’s festival had about 12,000 attendees. Last year, the festival had 223,000 visitors.”
“I just turned 84. Maybe I’ll write another book, have some fun. It is about time!”, Friedman shares his post-retirement plans as he signs off. He now lives in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada.
Connect with the ufologist and know more about his life by visiting his website: stantonfriedman.com.