J. Allen Hynek

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Allen Hynek Jacques Vallee 1.jpg

The astronomer J. Allen Hynek (1910 – 1986) originated the term "Close Encounters" and the classification system for close encounters of different kinds that would later include abduction:

  • Close Encounters of The First Kind are witnessed only with no other impact on the environment.
  • Close Encounters Of The Second Kind leave physical evidence.
  • Close Encounters Of The Third Kind witness actual occupants in or around the craft. (C.D.B. Bryan. Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: A Reporter's Notebook on Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T., (NY: Penguin, 1995).)

Not so close encounters--from further than the length of a football field--were categorized as "nocturnal lights" or "daylight discs." This distinction between unexplained phenomena from a distance and up close becomes quite critical. The fact that the line is blurred can be seen in the newspaper article ("Close Encounter Still up in Air for UFO Expert") where Hynek specifically distinguishes between a "nocturnal light" and a "UFO" sighting--the second, he is indicating, is the one the will cost you everything (if you are a scientist of great repute and responsibility) if you report it with no one to back up your claim.

J. Allen Hynek was a scientific consultant on the government panels investigating the UFO phenomenon, Project Blue Book and its predecessors, Projects Sign and Grudge.,from their start in1947 to conclusion in 1970, He began as a skeptic but the weight of evidence, with a small preponderance of truly unexplained phenomena made him an informed and observant witness. The need to categorize the types of encounter is important for clarifying what we speak of when we say "UFO"--as seen below, the term "UFO" no longer means unidentified flying object without implying the object is manned by an extraterrestrial. A scientist would not make that presumption without some kind of evidence. This is seen below in an attempt to ridicule his testimony, a clear attempt to misunderstand his intention and his truly scientific and categorical mind.

J. Allen Hynek Quotes

"Ridicule is not part of the scientific method, and people should not be taught that it is. The steady flow of reports, often made in concert by reliable observers, raises questions of scientific obligation and responsibility. Is there ... any residue that is worthy of scientific attention? Or, if there isn't, does not an obligation exist to say so to the public—not in words of open ridicule but seriously, to keep faith with the trust the public places in science and scientists?" (The UFO Book: Encyclopedia of the Extraterrestrial. p. 305)

"Despite the seeming inanity of the subject, I felt that I would be derelict in my scientific responsibility to the Air Force if I did not point out that the whole UFO phenomenon might have aspects to it worthy of scientific attention. " (Hearings on Unidentified Flying Objects, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives, Eighty-ninth Congress, Second Session, 1966)

"When one gets reports from scientists, engineers and technicians whose credibility by all common standards is high and whose moral caliber seems to preclude a hoax, one can do no less than hear them out, in all seriousness. " (Hynek, J. Allen, "The UFO Gap," Playboy, v. 14, no. 12, De 1967)

"There exists a phenomenon... that is worthy of systematic rigorous study... The body of data point to an aspect or domain of the natural world not yet explored by science... When the long awaited solution to the UFO problem comes, I believe that it will prove to be not merely the next small step in the march of science but a mighty and totally unexpected quantum jump. " (Hynek, J. Allen. The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, 1972)


Hynek is quoted as saying he would never report a UFO if he ever saw one--alluding to the censure of ridicule among scientists and the public at large--immediately getting a laugh from the pundits who wished to point out to him the time he did report a UFO. In this article, however, Hynek states how he has seen "nocturnal lights" (including, presumably, those he reported); he is clarifying a distinction between unexplained phenomena and phenomena that is explained by extraterrestrials--the problem here being the term "UFO" becoming equivalent to "extraterrestrial."("Close Encounter Still up in Air for UFO Expert". Toronto Globe and Mail, Ju 5 ,1982)


  • with Jacques Vallée. The Edge of Reality, 1975

External links