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An Analysis of the Condon Report
on the Colorado UFO Project

P.A. STURROCK

Center for Space Science and Astrophysics,
Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305-4025

 

Abstract--The "Condon Report," presenting the findings of the Colorado Project on a scientific study of unidentified flying objects, has been and remains the most influential public document concerning the scientific status of this problem. Hence, all current scientific work on the UFO problem must make reference to the Condon Report. For this reason, it remains important to understand the contents of this report, the work on which the report is based, and the relationship of the "Summary of the Study" and "Conclusions and Recommendations" to the body of the report. The present analysis of this report contains an overview, an analysis of evidence by categories, and a discussion of scientific methodology. The overview shows that most case studies were conducted by junior staff; the senior staff took little part, and the director took no part, in these investigations. The analysis of evidence by categories shows that there are substantial and significant differences between the findings of the project staff and those that the director attributes to the project. Although both the director and the staff are cautious in stating conclusions, the staff tend to emphasize challenging cases and unanswered questions, whereas the director emphasizes the difficulty of further study and the probability that there is no scientific knowledge to be gained.

Concerning methodology, it appears that the project was unable to identify current challenging cases that warranted truly exhaustive investigation. Nor did the project develop a uniform and systematic procedure for cataloging the large number of older cases with which they were provided. In drawing conclusions from the study of such a problem, the nature and scope of which are fraught with so much uncertainty, it would have been prudent to avoid theory-dependent arguments.

Introduction

The "UFO phenomenon," which is here taken to comprise those events that lead to reports of "unidentified flying objects," is of widespread public interest but elicits comparatively little interest from most scientists, who--to


An early version of this article was read by a number of people, some of whom were kind enough to send me their comments on that version. I acknowledge with gratitude comments received from T. Bloecher, S. J. Colby, H. R. Crane, D. M. Dennison, E. R. Hilgard, R. J. Low, H. M. Johnson, H. Mark, D. R. Saunders, F. E. Roach and 0. G. Villard. A draft of the final version was read most carefully by Associate Editor David Jacobs and by an anonymous referee, both of whom made valuable suggestions that resulted in notable improvements in the article. However, there may well remain errors of fact or of perception, and I hope that readers will draw my attention to such further errors as they may detect.

 

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