Let me put it to you straight. For 35 years, I have been exploring and investigating UFOs and UFOlogy (both the serious endeavor and the silly speculative fare that fills popular culture) and…well, UFOs are real: They fly, they evince technologies we don’t understand and they have been around for years.

Above all, despite voluminous and overwhelming evidence to support those assertions, to raise this subject as worthy of historical and scientific investigation is to invite ridicule, the shaking of pitying heads, derision and hostility and embarrassed silence.

Still, I persist in believing, as Francis Bacon said in 1620, that if something deserves to exist, it deserves to be known, not rejected out of hand with prejudice. The scientific method, principles of historical analysis and an open mind ask that much.

No subject has been more marginalized and maligned than this topic. By “unidentified flying objects” I mean not the many things commonly mistaken for them — balloons, Venus, sprites, ball lightning, secret craft, etc. — I mean anomalous vehicles that for decades have been well-documented by credible observers (“Credible people have seen incredible things,” said Gen. John Samford, U.S. Air Force chief of intelligence in 1953), to which our government responded with the formulation and execution of policies in light of genuine national security concerns.

I was recently privileged to be included as contributing editor and writer on a team that produced the book, “UFOs and Government: An Historical Inquiry” over five years. The research/writing team was led by Michael Swords, a professor of natural science (now retired) at Western Michigan University and Robert Powell, a nanotechnologist formerly with AMD. The book is regarded as an “exception” to the dreary field by Choice, the journal that recommends works for inclusion in university collections. Choice suggested that all university libraries should have it (to date, 45 have it in their collections, including four in the University of Wisconsin system, as well as many Wisconsin public libraries).

The almost-600 page book is well-grounded with nearly 1,000 citations from government documents and other primary sources so it is “bullet proof.” There is virtually nothing speculative in it. We document the response of governments from the 1940s forward to events they took quite seriously — and which readers, judging on the evidence and data, will take seriously as well.

Out of the closet on UFOs.

Richard Thieme of Fox Point is a writer and professional speaker (www.thiemeworks.com). In addition to “UFOs and Government: A Historical Inquiry,” he has written “Islands in the Clickstream (2004)” and “Mind Games (2010)” and contributed chapters to several books.

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National UFO Center