Interview with Mark Rodigher, Scientific Director of CUFOS (Center for UFO Studies)
MR: The Roswell case has been further strengthened. A living witness, a name you would recognize, has revealed more than he has ever said before. Confirming things like yes, there actually were alien bodies. Yes, the weather balloon story really was a cover-up because he was involved in it. Yes, there was a disc, and this is what it looked like. He was videotaped and hopefully the information will be released. There is no reason to believe this fellow who is now revealing more has really changed his story. No reason to believe he is doing it because he’s old or wants publicity, it’s more a matter of OK, fine, I am finally willing to go further.
(As to Kevin Randle’s report of his conversation with Easley), the one interview with Easley that was most critical, unfortunately, he didn’t tape, but I believe him because I was actually in the other room when he made the call. Easley said those things to Kevin – it fits with the rest of the testimony.
RT: What’s your background on all this?
MR: I started being interested as a kid of 8 or 9. I mixed UFOs up with the space program – I’m 47 now – and started reading George Adamski’s books which made sense at 8. I didn’t have a sighting. My serious interest began after high school. I read the Condon Project report, but when Hynek started the Center in Chicago, I said, this is my chance. First I had to convince him to let me volunteer, because he wasn’t interested in having a 20-year-old around at first. I started working at his house – filing cases away, looking at them and showing them to Allen, helping out with odd jobs, went out on a few local investigations on my own and probably did a terrible job. I started out at a lowly level and did not do too much, I was still in school.
Allen [Hynek] was very complicated, even more complicated than I realized when he was alive. He vacillated – maybe that’s not quite the right word, he moved back and forth between a position of pro-UFO and being neutral toward the subject. After the first year or two, he was never very skeptical, which he had been before when he was in what he called his “debunking mode.” He would make a public statement that was fairly positive and then he would make a public statement that was very non-committal. I think this was a defensive measure because of his public position, his position in science, he wasn’t willing to go too far out on a limb and have it chopped off after him, but he was very honest intellectually still in his own way so he couldn’t help himself from time and time making positive statements.
RT: In a magazine article, Gordon Cooper mentioned UFO experiences. Is there any evidence of a cover-up in relationship to Cooper’s sighting?
MR: Cooper’s report does not match what’s in the Blue Book files. I do not doubt what Cooper said, who was there. At that time NICAP was getting ready to publish one of the first issues of UFO investigator. This sighting was known, it was in the newspaper. An AP bulletin about a UFO crash in the Everglades – it was completely a hoax bulletin. A guy who worked for the US Army Signal Corps said he did it but would not say why he did it. NICAP was being set up to report a story that was completely bogus.
RT: What’s most compelling for you? What incident or collection of incidents?
MR: UFO cases have not been well investigated by almost anyone except James McDonald but there are two types of cases that do involve physical evidence. Vehicle interference cases and physical trace cases where there are marks on the ground, not angel hair or a broken branch. Vehicle interference cases where the witness is very close to the UFO, not just the car stopping. There are cases not quite as dramatic as those n the movie “Close Encounters” but where lots of stuff happens. A guy in Australia had a flashlight with a magnet on it and the flashlight became demagnetized and later worked just fine. We can’t explain that very easily. The physics that would explain it would mean there would have been other effects that he denied. Cases like that are very compelling, where the witness is unlikely unless they are completely lying to us, to be wrong in their perception. We know that lights in the sky can be anything and we tend to ignore them. Even when people say they have seen a disc, it can be the moon or something else. And when they say their car stopped, it could be from multiple causes. But when their car stops, there is a light in the field next to them, AND their flashlight becomes demagnetized … how could he be wrong? He tried to put it on the car and it fell right off, and he did it again, and it did it again. How could he be wrong about his perception?
There are situations like that where the UFO lands within a hundred feet of someone and they know that because it’s between them and a line of tree. In the court of law, their testimony would be believed. How could they be mistaken?
Those kind of cases are very compelling. Some of the most compelling are not the most famous cases, because they’re famous for all kinds of reasons. Even radar visual cases like the one in the late fifties in the UK – that was a case that was never well investigated, very sensational. Almost no radar visual cases were well investigated. Even the 1952 DC cases, where can we go to study the radar tapes? We can’t. Radar has lots of quirks to it and it’s not the same as someone standing there with a flashlight in their hand.
RT: Referenced the Cash-Landrum case and John Scheussler.
MR: Of course, that could be our technology, as you and I have discussed in the past.
RT: The invisible college and the way John said it was used to check out our current technology.
MR: I tend to agree but still, the fact that it was surrounded by all those helicopters. My problem is, how did they manage to get the helicopters there when the UFO was there – how could they know it was going to be there? It’s what the British would call a “one off” sighting for which I can not find any parallel in the UFO literature. I agree it’s a compelling case but it’s not one that I would throw out first because it’s so confusing too. Say you were trying to explain this – all the detail, the helicopters – still, the Sturrock panel of scientists was impressed and tended to believe that UFOs – while they tended to believe it was US technology – were real and have real effects.
RT: Schuessler felt strongly because of how the witnesses were treated –
MR: Yes, and the judge in the case, the military cover-up, all of that –
RT: He said he self-published so the book wouldn’t be changed –
MR: I think he was a little paranoid about that, but it is hard to get a UFO book published. Even Walter Webb, whose Buff Ledge book is the best abduction book ever in terms of the investigation of one case, could not get it published and this was at the height of the Whitley Streiber phenomenon, so we published it at the Center.
RT: What is your best hypothesis at this point as to the nature of the phenomena?
MR: It’s difficult to avoid the conclusion that some UFOs are non-terrestrial intelligently piloted vehicles. I don’t like to use the word “aliens” because the universe is so strange … non-terrestrial, yes, but whether they’re interdimensional, alien, or something more bizarre than that, I can’t tell. And I don’t even worry about that. But in some of these cases we’ve discussed, it’s hard to avoid the conclusion that there’s an intelligence behind it, there’s a real vehicle there, and it’s certainly not our technology. I’m willing to go that far but I can’t even come close to proving that to friends much less skeptics. But that’s a reasonable working hypothesis. The difficulty is, if you have a hypothesis in science, you want to be able to test it or it leads to other hypotheses that you can then test. It’s hard to test that or to develop other hypotheses to test based on that, because if that’s true, we’re dealing at least in part with an intelligence matter, not just science. Paul Hill and others can study the UFO propulsion mechanism and say, if this is happening, then that must be happening, but that doesn’t prove they’re extraterrestrial, it proves only that we can imagine a way to explain the observations. It’s a great book, and I don’t want to denigrate it, but it doesn’t really test the extraterrestrial hypothesis. It assumes there is a craft and asks what kind of physics could explain this, but it assumes the extraterrestrial hypothesis. With real science, of course, you don’t want to assume what you want to prove, you want to prove it.
RT: This moves into a different domain – how important is disinformation? Schuessler on SkyLab and how they could photograph a baseball in orbit in the 80s. That means ubiquitous surveillance of near-earth space. Therefore, somebody knows a lot about it. We’re still talking about gun camera photos while they –
MR: Sure, they’re doing real time measurements, probably, with wave-length bands etc. I am sure that, if there is a cover-up as we think, then there has to be that capability.
RT: So we can’t get more data because there is data, but it’s under wraps. Where is that data, who has it, and why is it treated that way?
MR: It’s treated that way because it’s the biggest secret of all time. The longer the cover-up lasts, the bigger a secret it is. As to who has it, that’s the door. I have no clues about any of that.
RT: Then how do you factor in disinformation?
MR: I was told recently by a pretty reliable source that the MJ-12 documents were a deception aimed, not just at the UFO community, but at the Russians, to waste their time in looking at something they could not avoid looking into, and two, it was designed to distract them from looking into stealth technology. The documents are well done, and that’s the key. Did Bill Moore do them on his own? Probably not.
There is disinformation, like this incident with NICAP and Kehoe. I see very little disinformation directed toward the Center but a little at Alan Hynek. Look at cases like the one in South Dakota and the Australian case – these are not disinformation cases, where the witnesses are just your honest, common person coming forward to say they saw it personally. Disinformation comes about in other ways. A military witness or documents show up or there’s a source dribbling information out to you or because the military is flying stealth aircraft and is happy to let people believe they’re seeing UFOs – if you’re careful it’s easy to separate that out from UFO phenomena, but the penumbra of crap going on around UFOlogy, that is definitely affected by disinformation as I have described it and it does get in the way of work in the field. MJ-12 documents have wasted the efforts of many people over the years trying to decide if they were real. Regardless of why they were constructed, they are disinformation in my view, and they were successful. That’s the point. Disinformation is like that, it’s not cases as such. That’s how I can separate them, but that doesn’t mean it’s always easy to tell at the time and it doesn’t mean you can’t get involved in a controversy.
I don’t think the Center has been a target for this kind of disinformation. I don’t think it would be successful. We don’t get documents here through the peephole, we don’t get secret phone calls, we don’t get any of that stuff. I think they’re smart enough to know who is going to more gullible, who’s on the lecture circuit, and so forth.
But despite all of that, we know there is a phenomena. It confuses the issue badly and causes years of grief and argument sin the field but nevertheless, we go on.
And then we have the abduction phenomena, which is a whole separate matter. Yet it’s still there. I don’t think it’s a part of disinformation. I think that area is so confusing and such a mess that nobody in intelligence would even worry about it, just let us go about our business. People are willing to say such bizarre things on their own, such as the military is abducting them.
RT: If you wanted to discredit them, you couldn’t do a better job. And you do create a cottage industry.
MR: Yes, but nobody is getting rich off it. Whitley Streiber has found out that you can’t keep publishing books on abductions.
RT: Because there’s little new to add unless you go out where Jacobs has gone, for example.
MR: I heard that Budd Hopkins is writing an autobiography now, not another book about abductions. This is one of the problems with the UFO field, that the field is not very cumulative and it really is a proto-science, it’s not a science as such. You can do science on aspects of UFOlogy but because it’s not cumulative it’s not a science like so many other things. We know more about adbuctees than we did ten years ago but we don’t know more about abductions.
As a community, as a scientist, as an investigator, as a citizen of the United States – what are we trying to accomplish here? I’m not sure what the answer to that question would be, I’m really not.
We know some things are covered up, but since we’re not on the inside and we’re not going to be, then we have to say: what’s our purpose here? you said maybe we shouldn’t do science on this. Despite the fact that I have a Ph. D. in sociology, I’m open to discussion on that.
RT: I’m saying that science ought to be concerned with the kinds of questions that can be asked and answered by science. But the other kinds of questions we’re asking are sidetracked when we try to fit them into the scientific domain. I have heard several times, “I’m a scientist, not a private investigator.” But we need both.
MR: I think there should be more about the government disinformation program, about how badly this has been treated by the government both openly and quietly behind the scenes. But how do you get that message out? But even then., say we could convince your senator that the government had done all of these crappy things – now what?
If it’s something like radiation testing, you can compensate the victims. If nuclear power plants are leaking radiation, you can shut them down. If you reach a conclusion, there’s something you can actually do. When you reach a conclusion that yes, there’s been a cover-up of the subject and it’s still ongoing and we don’t now what they know and we don’t know who they are – yes, they’ve screwed UFO investigators and hidden the truth from the American people – we have no idea who to subpoena. Or to what end.
RT: re: the effectiveness of compartmentalization, how it prevents people from knowing.
MR: Compartmentalization works only because they get the right kind of people and train them. You and I, indoctrinated into that system, might chafe under it after a few years and go out and write a book.
RT: But you talk to people who on their death bed continue to say, I swore I would not say anything.
MR: It’s different kind of person that you and I are, they’re the kind of person who go into the inside and can live like that, and those of us on the outside have a hard time even figuring out what those people are like on the inside because we’re not like them. We don’t keep secrets long if those secrets are damaging.
I believe that information can be contained but it’s a combination of things, including the psychology of the people involved, people like Gordon Liddy who are really strange human beings. They will keep secrets. And they will act ruthlessly, as you say.
All of us are being misled by our government or a faction within it, including the scientists – whether its SETI, which is a huge diversion, wasting their time, when we should be told about these aliens, we should be studying their traces, etc. Scandal is not a strong enough word. Stories like this are discounted by skeptics. If you tell it to people who are not skeptical, they’ll say, hm, that’s interesting. What else can you do? You have no names, you are not going to go break a door down somewhere.
The phenomena is less reported now. I have a hard time not relating that to the increase in our detection capabilities. It seems more than a coincidence that just when we’re getting really good at detection, the phenomena becomes more elusive. It’s not gone, and it also has changed in modus operandi. I predicted correctly in 1978 that there would be no more UFO flaps. I’m still right, 22 years later. We went through a period of flaps for whatever reason and now the phenomenon does not do flaps like that anymore. The last one in Europe was 1977-78 and the last one here was in 1973.
RT: So one of the areas where we should focus, at any rate, is not just the data but the people who might be able to tell us about the data and what’s going on.
MR: I’m always interested in looking at the area around the door.
RT: What questions should we be asked?
MR: Ask people, do they think it’s possible to find evidence that would convince the scientific community that UFOs are a serious subject? And what evidence would that be? And how likely are we to get that evidence? I’m very pessimistic knowing the history and sociology of science even setting aside notions of an active cover-up, what’s the chance of allocating resources that let us do something really seriously about UFOlogy. So the chances of succeeding in our lifetime, based on just research., unless we’re damn lucky and someone find the key thing, are very small. This is discouraging but nevertheless I plunge forward.