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on July 14, 2016
Klass was one of the great debunkers of UFO sightings. Unfortunately, there is a lot of money in UFOs, the Bermuda Triangle, ancient aliens, and other crackpot theories, so those books seem to hang about forever. The debunking books disappear from the catalogs very quickly. I think the publishers recognize that selling the other books is harmful, and salve their consciences by bringing out the debunkers just enough to say they are publishing all sides, but not long enough to cut into the sales of the crackpot books.
One of the things that is hard to do is to say that some of the reports are flat out lies, generated by someone who wants attention or, in the case of Roswell, wants to generate a tourist industry.
The theory of relativity says it is impossible for matter to exceed or reach the speed of light. This is not just a barrier, Once you get to around 90% of the speed of light, the cost in energy for a small amount of additional acceleration becomes very steep. Particle accelerators accelerate subatomic particles to near light speed, but suck up huge amounts of energy to do so. The cost of even a relatively small UFO would be exorbitant, and it would still take years to get to and from Alpha Centauri, the nearest star besides the sun. The idea that fleets of them visit on a regular basis to study our least sophisticated specimens without any governmental or academic contacts is just not feasible. Even if there is some hole in Einstein's theory, there is no reason to believe it would be cheap enough to send fleets around the galaxy, and there is no sign that his theory is imminent danger.
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on September 21, 2016
Still reading- had to get a hard copy- no kindle available. Older book by a brilliant investigator, but clearly shows the who, where, how (and a good bit of the why) this hoax came about. I consider it a "must-read", a designation I don't give easily. I had a copy years ago but when I changed countries, a lot of items were sacrificed- but it's back on my shelf as a ready reference when I run into someone who tries to claim that such things are real. This sits proudly in my library next to James Randi's books and quite a few others (Simon Singh, Richard Dawkins, Dan Dennett, Christopher Hitchens (RIP)). Critical and vital to those G.W. Bush's friends so disparagingly termed the "reality-based community". (A title I strive to earn.)
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on May 24, 2016
Philip Klass is a very polarizing figure in the UFO community. Many Pro-UFO Types HATE this man. Sadly, he has not been the best skeptic but here we have a good book generalizing the UFO Movement and famous cases within. If you wish to be a fair surveyor of the UFO Phenomenon, you must include Skeptics like Philip Klass and Robert Sheaffer among the books in your Library.
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on January 7, 2003
Philip Klass (1919-2005) was for many decades the "arch-debunker" of the UFO phenomenon. By day he worked as an editor of "Aviation Week" magazine, but in his free time he "investigated" dozens of previously unsolved UFO cases. As the chairman of the UFO subcommittee of CSICOP, the leading anti-UFO organization in America, Klass became a bonafide hero to his admirers, a "lone voice of reason and science" in the UFO wilderness. He took positive delight in debunking all UFO incidents, criticizing UFO witnesses and researchers as con artists or fantasy-prone people whose judgments were unreliable, and generally arguing that the entire UFO mystery was nonsense. To Klass, there are no unexplained UFO cases - the unsolved cases simply haven't been adequately investigated by UFO "skeptics" such as himself.

Unfortunately for his admirers, such as the posters listed below, Klass was just as extreme, narrow-minded, and flawed in his UFO "research" as those "true believer" ufologists he so loves to critique. While I would freely admit that many ufologists are indeed "true believers" who treat the subject more as a religion than a science, it is also true that Klass's explanations for UFOs are themselves often implausible or run contrary to the known evidence. One famous example is the 1964 UFO case in Socorro, N.M. in which Lonnie Zamora, a respected local policeman, was chasing a speeder when he said he saw a bright flash and heard a loud roar coming from over a nearby hill. When Zamora crossed the hill, he saw a large egg-shaped object with a strange symbol on it, and two men in some kind of spacesuits outside the craft. When they saw him they boarded the craft and it took off, rocking Zamora's patrol car and burning nearby bushes. This case was thoroughly investigated by the staff of Project Blue Book (the Air Force's official group which investigated UFO reports from 1948-1969). Despite Blue Book's strong anti-UFO bias (they debunked sightings as much as Klass), even they admitted that Zamora was an honest witness, that he had seen something strange, and listed the case as "unsolved".

Klass, however, offered two different explanations for the event - his first explanation was that Zamora had seen some kind of "plasma ball" caused by nearby power lines. However, that theory was shot down by scientists who stated that plasma of the type Klass described was simply impossible to create in such conditions. Undaunted, Klass then claimed that Zamora had lied and that the entire event was a hoax. His proof? That a man who lived only a thousand feet from the UFO landing site hadn't heard any strange noises, so no UFO could have landed. What Klass doesn't mention (and he was notorious for conveniently leaving out any contradictory evidence) is that the man was hard of hearing, he lived next to a busy highway, and that there were strong wind gusts blowing away from the man's house which could easily have drowned out the noise. Klass also claimed that Zamora was put up to the hoax by Socorro's mayor, who owned the land where the UFO sighting took place. Klass claimed that the mayor planned to turn the landing site into a tourist attraction to bring business into the isolated little desert town. However, Klass was wrong - the mayor didn't even own the land as Klass had claimed, and Klass never offered any evidence that the mayor or Zamora hoaxed the event. Additionally, no such tourist trap as Klass described was ever built in Socorro. The UFO landing site remains almost exactly as it was 46 years ago - nothing but desert shrub and cactus, and the rough gravel road leading by the site is still undeveloped. Klass also ignores the fact that there were other witnesses who reported seeing a large, unusual object flying in the desert near Socorro on the day of Lonnie Zamora's sighting, and that the Air Force officer who first arrived at the scene just a few hours after Zamora reported his sighting was later interviewed and stated that he was convinced that Zamora was an honest witness who had seen "something well outside his experience", and that he had seen the burned bushes and physical damage caused by the object. It is more logical to assume that Klass simply made up his "explanation" out of thin air than to believe he has really solved the Socorro case, especially given his near-total lack of evidence. In addition to Klass, other UFO debunkers have also offered numerous explanations for the Socorro UFO landing, including that Zamora saw a hot-air balloon (James Easton); that he saw a "dust devil" (Donald Menzel); and that Zamora saw an early version of the moon lunar lander (US Air Force). However, none of these debunkers have offered any evidence for their theories either. In fact, one could say that the wide variety of "explanations" is actually evidence that the debunkers have no idea of what really happened to Lonnie Zamora at Socorro.

The Socorro UFO incident is only one of numerous cases in which Mr. Klass offers "explanations" that were as poorly researched and biased as those of the UFO "true believers" whose work he loved to ridicule. In fact, Klass actually did very little field research, and he rarely did interviews with the UFO witnesses. Instead, Klass's research was usually of the "armchair investigator" variety, and much of it was done over the phone from his office in Washington. In short, my problem with Mr. Klass is that he is no different from the people he criticizes - he simply goes to the other extreme. Hopefully, someday the UFO mystery will be examined by experts who will take a fresh and objective approach to the phenomenon. Until then, however, the debate over UFOs will continue to be defined by the two current extremes - those who approach UFO cases with a preconceived belief that UFOs are alien spacecraft, and whose "research" not surprisingly indicates that this belief is true; and those debunkers such as Mr. Klass who approach UFO cases with the preconceived belief that "UFOs can't exist, therefore they don't", and then arrange their "evidence" to prove that point. I have given this book three stars because Mr. Klass does do a credible job of proving that some of the UFO cases he describes do have a mundane, conventional explanation. But, in my opinion, anyone who believes that Mr. Klass is a lonely voice of honesty, reason and open-minded skepticism in the UFO field hasn't seriously examined the evidence. I would recommend that those who read this book also read the works of some "serious ufologists" (and although rare, they DO exist). Among these are Dr. J. Allen Hynek's "The UFO Experience" and "The Hynek UFO Report", Jerome Clark's "UFO Encyclopedia", and Leslie Kean's "UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record."
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on October 1, 2016
Philip Klass (1919-2005) was for many decades the "arch-debunker" of the UFO phenomenon. By day he worked as an editor of "Aviation Week" magazine, but in his free time he "investigated" dozens of previously unsolved UFO cases. As the chairman of the UFO subcommittee of CSICOP, the leading anti-UFO organization in America, Klass became a bonafide hero to his admirers, a "lone voice of reason and science" in the UFO wilderness. He took positive delight in debunking all UFO incidents, criticizing UFO witnesses and researchers as con artists or fantasy-prone people whose judgments were unreliable, and generally arguing that the entire UFO mystery was nonsense. To Klass, there are no unexplained UFO cases - the unsolved cases simply haven't been adequately investigated by UFO "skeptics" such as himself.

Unfortunately for his admirers, such as the posters listed below, Klass was just as extreme, narrow-minded, and flawed in his UFO "research" as those "true believer" ufologists he so loves to critique. While I would freely admit that many ufologists are indeed "true believers" who treat the subject more as a religion than a science, it is also true that Klass's explanations for UFOs are themselves often implausible or run contrary to the known evidence. One famous example is the 1964 UFO case in Socorro, N.M. in which Lonnie Zamora, a respected local policeman, was chasing a speeder when he said he saw a bright flash and heard a loud roar coming from over a nearby hill. When Zamora crossed the hill, he saw a large egg-shaped object with a strange symbol on it, and two men in some kind of spacesuits outside the craft. When they saw him they boarded the craft and it took off, rocking Zamora's patrol car and burning nearby bushes. This case was thoroughly investigated by the staff of Project Blue Book (the Air Force's official group which investigated UFO reports from 1948-1969). Despite Blue Book's strong anti-UFO bias (they debunked sightings as much as Klass), even they admitted that Zamora was an honest witness, that he had seen something strange, and listed the case as "unsolved".

Klass, however, offered two different explanations for the event - his first explanation was that Zamora had seen some kind of "plasma ball" caused by nearby power lines. However, that theory was shot down by scientists who stated that plasma of the type Klass described was simply impossible to create in such conditions. Undaunted, Klass then claimed that Zamora had lied and that the entire event was a hoax. His proof? That a man who lived only a thousand feet from the UFO landing site hadn't heard any strange noises, so no UFO could have landed. What Klass doesn't mention (and he was notorious for conveniently leaving out any contradictory evidence) is that the man was hard of hearing, he lived next to a busy highway, and that there were strong wind gusts blowing away from the man's house which could easily have drowned out the noise. Klass also claimed that Zamora was put up to the hoax by Socorro's mayor, who owned the land where the UFO sighting took place. Klass claimed that the mayor planned to turn the landing site into a tourist attraction to bring business into the isolated little desert town. However, Klass was wrong - the mayor didn't even own the land as Klass had claimed, and Klass never offered any evidence that the mayor or Zamora hoaxed the event. Additionally, no such tourist trap as Klass described was ever built in Socorro. The UFO landing site remains almost exactly as it was 46 years ago - nothing but desert shrub and cactus, and the rough gravel road leading by the site is still undeveloped. Klass also ignores the fact that there were other witnesses who reported seeing a large, unusual object flying in the desert near Socorro on the day of Lonnie Zamora's sighting, and that the Air Force officer who first arrived at the scene just a few hours after Zamora reported his sighting was later interviewed and stated that he was convinced that Zamora was an honest witness who had seen "something well outside his experience", and that he had seen the burned bushes and physical damage caused by the object. It is more logical to assume that Klass simply made up his "explanation" out of thin air than to believe he has really solved the Socorro case, especially given his near-total lack of evidence. In addition to Klass, other UFO debunkers have also offered numerous explanations for the Socorro UFO landing, including that Zamora saw a hot-air balloon (James Easton); that he saw a "dust devil" (Donald Menzel); and that Zamora saw an early version of the moon lunar lander (US Air Force). However, none of these debunkers have offered any evidence for their theories either. In fact, one could say that the wide variety of "explanations" is actually evidence that the debunkers have no idea of what really happened to Lonnie Zamora at Socorro.

The Socorro UFO incident is only one of numerous cases in which Mr. Klass offers "explanations" that were as poorly researched and biased as those of the UFO "true believers" whose work he loved to ridicule. In fact, Klass actually did very little field research, and he rarely did interviews with the UFO witnesses. Instead, Klass's research was usually of the "armchair investigator" variety, and much of it was done over the phone from his office in Washington. In short, my problem with Mr. Klass is that he is no different from the people he criticizes - he simply goes to the other extreme. Hopefully, someday the UFO mystery will be examined by experts who will take a fresh and objective approach to the phenomenon. Until then, however, the debate over UFOs will continue to be defined by the two current extremes - those who approach UFO cases with a preconceived belief that UFOs are alien spacecraft, and whose "research" not surprisingly indicates that this belief is true; and those debunkers such as Mr. Klass who approach UFO cases with the preconceived belief that "UFOs can't exist, therefore they don't", and then arrange their "evidence" to prove that point. I have given this book three stars because Mr. Klass does do a credible job of proving that some of the UFO cases he describes do have a mundane, conventional explanation. But, in my opinion, anyone who believes that Mr. Klass is a lonely voice of honesty, reason and open-minded skepticism in the UFO field hasn't seriously examined the evidence. I would recommend that those who read this book also read the works of some "serious ufologists" (and although rare, they DO exist). Among these are Dr. J. Allen Hynek's "The UFO Experience" and "The Hynek UFO Report", Jerome Clark's "UFO Encyclopedia", and Leslie Kean's "UFOs: Generals, Pilots, and Government Officials Go on the Record."
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on April 24, 2015
I regard myself as agnostic on the subject of UFOs. I have no firm personal convictions on them one way or the other. I'm happy to read decently-written books the topic - pro, con, agnostic - and this book is pretty good, worth reading to gain insight into a particular point of view.

That said, I want to add something. I was a reporter for a daily newspaper in Minnesota in 1979 and had a chance to meet and interview State Trooper Val Johnson in early September, a few days after the incident on the outskirts of Stephen, Minnesota, in Marshall County (see "Val Johnson Incident" in Wikipedia). I also briefly met his family before Trooper Johnson and I drove out to the site. On that day, as today, I was basically neutral about UFOs - probably edging a bit toward skeptical on the scale of things. I was, after all, a journalist, trained to a certain skepticism. Johnson impressed me as honest and credible. If I were on trial for something, I'd want Johnson testifying on my behalf. Klass believes that Johnson made the whole thing up and damaged his own car. Having met Johnson and assessed him and his family, I find the thought of Johnson standing out there beating up his squad car to be unlikely. I don't know what happened out on the lonely country road, but the Klass theory, in my opinion, is silly.
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A very interesting and entertaining read. Klass's style of writing is very engaging, and the material is sufficiently interesting that it is hard to stop reading explanations of possible UFOs. Klass is clearly a skeptic, and he makes this clear throughout the book. He also gives very convincing accounts. As he says, prosaic explanations are available for all of the cases he knows (and certainly, all the ones he portrays here). This seems to be generally the case, and I am unaware of cases where absolutely no prosaic explanation is available (I'd be happy to be pointed towards cases that have none). The book is a bit old, and seems to have too strong of a belief that polygraphs are good lie-detectors, but otherwise an interesting read to see some of the explanations for some UFOs.
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on August 27, 2015
Klass was the so-called “leading" Ufology debunker who, it has finally come out, was in the pay of the CIA.

How many of the reviews here are from the same line of "debunkers"? As Mark Passio points out: They write what they're paid to say, they use ridicule, they call it fringe. Pay enough of them to "debunk" and most of us just slink off. They are psychologically ill. They write what they don't believe.

Take a look instead at the phenomenal works out there: Graham Hancock's "Fingerprints of the Gods", "Lost Knowledge of the Ancients", "Knowledge of the Lost Civilizations"; "Forgotten Civilization" by Schoch; "Cataclysm" by Allan & Delair; books by Michael Cremo, Lloyd Pye, Michael Tellinger; the "Origins and Oracles" DVDs of Michael Tsarion; Icke's DVD about Credo Mutwa "The Reptilian Agenda"; the DVDs and books by L.A. Marzuli on the Nephilim and on the Watchers; Rey Smith's "Nephilim - the Truth" DVDs; the early series of "Ancient Aliens" by Tsoukalos.

Why are debunkers paid to cast doubt? The open-minded can look for books and DVDs by Stewart Swerdlow and David Icke, "Freedom" by Veronica Chapman and "The End of All Evil" by John Locke. Check out youtube for "The Law - stand up and reclaim your rights" by MrAstrotheology as well as some of what Max Igan has to say. Frank O'Collins of Ucadia has thousands of free webpages providing little-known information.

Anyway, who do you choose to believe? These UFO "debunkers", paid to write fairy tales or John Podesta, law professor and former US presidential adviser, who revealed that the main regret of the last year of his service at the White House was "not securing the disclosure of the UFO files"?
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on May 23, 1999
Philip Klass is fighting a battle he can never win. For all the claims to the contrary, UFOlogy is less an exercise in science or journalism than it is purely one of entertainment. After all, even the staunchest promoter of the "extraterrestrial hypothesis" must in the end admit that not a shred of real physical evidence exists to support it. UFOlogy is perhaps unique among disciplines in being based entirely on nothing more than personal testimony.
In this book, Klass delves into some of the more notable UFO cases of the 1970's--the Delphos sighting, which supposedly involved "unexplainable" traces from a UFO on the ground; the Coyne/Mansfield Army helicopter incident; the Travis Walton abduction claim; the New Zealand sighting that resulted in several minutes of filmed UFO footage. Klass painstakingly outlines the details of each case, notes the inevitable inconsistencies and discrepancies that undermine the interpretation of each as something otherworldly, and proposes and defends more reasonable mundane explanations. Almost without exception, his UFOlogist counterparts are clearly revealed for the (at minimum) highly credulous and (all too often) blatantly deceptive mythmongers they are. Klass also reviews the declassified CIA documents that some UFOlogists had used to claim that the government was hiding its own knowledge of UFOs, and makes it quite obvious that such a claim could only result from a hyperactive imagination or from willful deception.
Klass is not without foibles of his own. Some of his arguments are ad hoc, and one can occasionally find flaws in his logic. Still, it is difficult to come away from a reading of "UFOs: The Public Deceived" and not appreciate how outlandish the UFOlogist claims are by comparison--unless, of course, one has a fundamentalist's faith in the opposite view. The writing is straightforward and the book easy to read. Overall, a fine effort. Still, since UFOlogy has none of the attributes one might assign to a rational enterprise, what Klass is doing is essentially like arguing that "Titanic" was a terrible film. Which of the millions of believers are going to listen?
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on January 31, 2015
Leaves out a myriad of credible witnesses, ground evidence, even government employees, from ultra high security, to Air Force Pilots, radar towers (government). IT has come out recently that he had actually been paid by the CIA to give misinformation and discredit other UFOlogists... such as Donald E. McDonald.
He had a personal vendetta with McDonald and thru letters, and connections etc, he got McDonald removed from funding from a significant Naval contract and other organizations. McDonald finally committed suicide at the age of 51 - in large part thru Klass’s constant adversarial nature.
If the idiom, “Putting your head into the sand.” this would my description of this book. It’s laughable as is his other books are.
Really pathetic honestly. Borrow it from the library if you interested. I wouldn’t spend (and didn’t) one cent for his books.
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