When Menzel's studies were dismissed by Stephen Hawkins

Published: 26th October 2016 04:00 AM  |   Last Updated: 25th October 2016 10:17 PM   |  A+A-

Since the beginning of the UFO phenomenon, influential members of the American mainstream scientific community have played a major role in the UFO cover-up program. Donald Menzel (1901-76), a pioneering Harvard astronomer, was one among them. He fiercely opposed the phenomenon, writing three popular books debunking UFOs. His reputation influenced the mainstream scientific and academic approach towards the subject. He refused to look at the evidence of the UFOs even when it was available objectively. Instead, he firmly stated that all UFO sightings have natural explanations. 

Donald Menzel

It was nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman who first exposed to the world that Donald Menzel had lead a double life, which not even Menzel’s wife knew. For more than 30 years, Menzel had been a prominent, classified consultant for the US intelligence agencies. During World War II, he worked as a cryptologist for the American navy. No wonder he wrote many books debunking the phenomenon because that’s exactly what his paymasters would have wanted him to do.  

The work of Menzel was later carried on by Cornell University’s astronomer Carl Sagan (1934-1996). On one side, Sagan was a firm believer in the Mediocre Earth theory. He stated that the Earth is not the only inhabited planet, and perhaps within our Milky Way galaxy there might be million other advanced civilizations. At the same time, Sagan refused to believe that this intelligent life has somehow reached our world, which the UFO phenomenon testified. He is well-known for a statement he made about the phenomenon in his books — ‘Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence’.

Stanton Friedman, who was Sagan’s at the University of Chicago, challenged him on this statement. In an open letter addressed to Sagan that appeared on the MUFON UFO Journal on May, 1989, he pointed out the 681 unknowns of Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14, which clearly contradicted Sagan’s statements about the availability of evidence.

UFO researchers like Friedman and Dr James McDonald have criticised Menzel and Sagan for making irresponsible, unscientific statements like these that misled both the public and the scientific community for decades. Even today, many scientists quote their statements to masquerade their ignorance and laziness to do some real research about the phenomenon. Now it appears Menzel’s place has been taken by Prof. Stephen Hawkins.

Many members of my WhatsApp ‘UFO’ group have asked me about Hawkins’ views. In a TED talk titled ‘Asking Big Questions about the Universe’, Hawkins said, “I am discounting reports of UFOs. Why would they appear only to cranks and weirdos?”

This is exactly the same attitude that Menzel and Sagan exhibited — first, they refused to look at the evidence, and then they dismissed anyone who said they saw a UFO. Obviously it appears that Hawkins, who studied black holes thousands of light years away, objectively had not shown the same objectivity in studying the eight scientific reports about UFOs since 1948 produced by scientists who are in no way inferior to him.

Since the 1940s, hundreds of Air Force pilots have reported UFO encounters supported by radar evidences. Are they all weirdos? What about the commanders of nuclear missile bases in America, Russia and Britain who have reported UFOs violating their air space. Are they weirdos too? 
Hawkins says that black holes can destroy everything in their path, but there is something that even black holes can’t destroy — truth. That our world is being visited by crafts not made by the hands of man. That is why ancient Indian seers wrote Satyameva Jayate.

 (The writer is the Director of INSETS: Indian Society for  Extraterrestrial Studies and also the author of ‘Accidental Apocalypse’)


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp