What does "genuine UFO" mean in the Condon Committee report


Active Member
Just an inquiry about the semantical nature of a quote

Essentially within the Condon Committee report it was, the report was that at least one genuine UFO is highly likely

Notably in Case 02 in Section IV, Chapter 2 the report said of the 1956 Lakenheath-Bentwaters incident: "In conclusion, although conventional or natural explanations certainly cannot be ruled out, the probability of such seems low in this case and the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appears to be fairly high."
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(From Wikipedia)

Because UFOs have become synonymous with aliens, what I'm asking is did the Condon think that there was a high likelihood that an alien spacecraft was involved?


Senior Member.
If you read the full conclusion from your wiki links on that case, it sounds to me as if multiple things could have been happening that night. if your line is referring to the light the Tower (air traffic control) saw fly over, allegedly confirmed by another pilot at 5000 feet* then that would be just an unidentified object that appeared to be flying.

*this report seems based on a 12 year old memory. and it says stuff like "visual sightings" by the interceptor? but then has the interceptor say things like " Number one also made a remark at this time to number two, that he had his radar locked on whatever it was for just a few seconds so there was something there that was solid." which to me implies he didnt actually see it. ???


In view of the multiple radar sightings involved in this case, any conventional explanation for the occurrences reported would seem to require some sort of radar anomalous propagation. As pointed out in Chapter 7, the evidence for anomalous propagation in this case is rather uncertain. The temporary disappearance of the target as it appeared to overfly the ....[C] GCA is quite suggestive of anomalous propagation. The generally clear weather was conducive


to the formation of the atmospheric stratification that causes anomalous propagation, although it by no means follows that such formation would have actually occurred. In this connection, the apparent near-coincidence between the appearance of broken clouds (0330 GMT) and the disappearance of the radar targets (0330 GMT) could be significant.

On the other side must be balanced the generally continuous and consistent movements of the radar tracks reported by . . .[A], which are not at all typical of radar false targets caused by anomalous propagation. In addition, some of the maneuvers reported in the radar controller's letter to have been executed by the UFO are extremely unlikely to be duplicated by a false target, in particular stopping and assuming a new path after following the intercepting aircraft for some time. The comments of the Air Force officer who prepared the UFO message reproduced earlier are also significant.

In an early Air Force investigation it was suggested that the visual sightings might have been caused by the Perseid meteors. However, as Air Force Consultant Dr. Hynek pointed out:

It seems highly unlikely, for instance, that the Perseid meteors could have been the cause of the sightings, especially in view of the statement of observers that shooting stars were exceptionally numerous that evening, thus implying that they were able to distinguish the two phenomena. Further, if any credence can be given to the maneuvers of the objects as sighted visually and by radar, the meteor hypothesis must be ruled out.
Dr. Hynek also remarked:

The statement that radars reported these facts to occur at later hours than the ground observers' needs clarification inasmuch as it


contradicts other portions of the report which indicate that at least at certain times visual and radar sightings were simultaneous.
In retrospect it appears that what the statement in question may have been meant to imply was that the radars continued to report target(s) after visual contact had been lost; the statement does not necessarily imply that no simultaneous radar-visual sightings occurred.

In conclusion, although conventional or natural explanations certainly cannot be ruled out, the probability of such seems low in this case and the probability that at least one genuine UFO was involved appears to be fairly high.

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Senior Member.
From the Condon report:
2. Definition of an UFO
An unidentified flying object (UFO, pronounced OOFO) is here defined as the stimulus for a report made by one or more individuals of something seen in the sky (or an object thought to be capable of flight but when landed on the earth) which the observer could not identify as having an ordinary natural origin, and which seemed to him sufficiently puzzling that he undertook to make a report of it to police, to government officials, to the press, or perhaps to a representative of a private organization devoted to the study of such objects.

With that language, and given the quote, I would take a "genuine UFO" to be an object that does not have an "ordinary natural origin" or a "conventional or natural explanation". (The case study is at https://files.ncas.org/condon/text/case02.htm in the report.)

Back to the original question (emphasis mine):
Section II
Summary of the Study
9. Extra-terrestrial Hypothesis

The idea that some UFOs may be spacecraft sent to Earth from another civilization, residing on another planet of the solar system, or on a planet associated with a more distant star than the Sun, is called the Extra-terrestrial Hypothesis (ETH). Some few persons profess to hold a stronger level of belief in the actuality of UFOs being visitors from outer space, controlled by intelligent beings, rather than merely of the possibility, not yet fully established as an observational fact. We shall call this level of belief ETA, for extraterrestrial actuality.


In the cases which we studied, there was only one in which the observer claimed to have had contact with a visitor from outer space. On the basis of our experience with that one, and our own unwillingness to believe the literal truth of the Villas-Boas incident, or the one from Truckee, Calif. reported by Prof. James Harder (see Section V, Chapter 2), we found that no direct evidence whatever of a convincing nature now exists for the claim that any UFOs represent spacecraft visiting Earth from another civilization.

Some persons are temperamentally ready, even eager, to accept ETA without clear observational evidence. One lady remarked, "It would be so wonderfully exciting if it were true!" It certainly would be exciting, but that does not make it true. When confronted with a proposition of such great import, responsible scientists adopt a cautiously critical attitude toward whatever evidence is adduced to support it. Persons without scientific training, often confuse this with basic Opposition to the idea, with a biased desire or hope, or even of willingness to distort the evidence in order to conclude that ETA is not true.

The scientists' caution in such a situation does not represent opposition to the idea. It represents a determination not to accept the proposition as true in the absence of evidence that clearly, unambiguously and with certainty establishes its truth or falsity.

Scientifically it is not necessary -- it is not even desirable -- to adopt a position about the truth or falsity of ETA in order to investigate the question. There is a widespread misconception that scientific inquiry represents some kind of debate in which the truth is adjudged to be on the side of the team that has scored the most points. Scientists investigate an undecided proposition by seeking to find ways to get decisive observational material. Sometimes the ways to get such data are difficult to conceive, difficult to carry out, and so indirect that the rest of the scientific world remains uncertain of the probative value of the results for a long time. Progress in science can be painfully slow -- at other times it can be sudden and dramatic. The question of ETA would be settled in a few minutes if a flying saucer were to land on the lawn of a hotel where a convention of the American Physical Society was in progress, and its occupants were to emerge and present a special paper to the assembled physicists, revealing where they came from, and the technology of how their craft operates. Searching questions from the audience would follow.

In saying that thus far no convincing evidence exists for the truth of ETA, no prediction is made about the future. If evidence appears soon after this report is published, that will not alter the truth of the statement that we do not now have such evidence. If new evidence appears later, this report can be appropriately revised in a second printing.

My interpretation of that is that Condon thought that none of the explanations they were given in this case was likely to be correct; but that he reserved judgment on whether alien spacecraft were involved or not.


Senior Member.
With that language, and given the quote, I would take a "genuine UFO" to be an object that does not have an "ordinary natural origin" or a "conventional or natural explanation". (The case study is at https://files.ncas.org/condon/text/case02.htm in the report.)

i'm only quoting you here to highlight this area of disagreement to @ParanoidSkeptic2 . I agree with the rest of your comment, but not this statement.

@ParanoidSkeptic2 to me the "genuine ufo" means it is an object...distinct from the other natural phenomenon that may have been occurring and sighted on the same night and tied to the object. (ie radar glitches, atmosphere stuff, meteor showers etc).
Like how Fravor's sighting is distinct from the Tic-Tac video footage online and radar glitches that were observed, even though the ET believers tried to tie them together because they happened on the same day and allegedly the Tic-Tac vid shows the object shooting off the way Fravor described his sighting,etc. (this video acceleration was of course disproven)

This happens with hauntings too. You hear weird house settling noises that sound like footsteps, and then that closet door that never did stay shut is noticed to be open even though you know you shut it. then as you walk down the hall there is a flash of something in the mirror, even though that flash always happens because the mirror reflects a cabinet glass in the kitchen and as you move the dark wood of the cabinet appears like a person moving. You tie all these occurrences together ..and conclude GHOST!...on this particular night because the footstep noises scared you. but none of them are ghosts and none of them are actually tied together. (Hopefully my analogy here, didnt confuse you more).

Ultimately Paranoid2, Condon did not believe in E.T ufos. If he felt one case was a genuine ET ufo, he wouldnt have said this:

page 8 : Section I Conclusions and Recommendations Edward U. Condon
The subject of UFOs has been widely misrepresented to the public by a small number of individuals who have given sensationalized presentations in writings and public lectures. So far as we can judge, not many people have been misled by such irresponsible behavior, but whatever effect there has been has been bad.

A related problem to which we wish to direct public attention is the miseducation in our schools which arises from the fact that many children are being allowed, if not actively encouraged, to devote their science study time to the reading of UFO books and magazine articles of the type referred to in the preceding paragraph.

We feel that children are educationally harmed by absorbing unsound and erroneous material as if it were scientifically well founded. Such study is harmful not merely because of the erroneous nature of the material itself, but also because such study retards the development of a critical faculty with regard to scientific evidence, which to some degree ought to be part of the education of every American.

Therefore we strongly recommend that teachers refrain from giving students credit for school work based on their reading of the presently available UFO books and magazine articles. Teachers who find their students strongly motivated in this direction should attempt to channel their interests in the direction of serious study of astronomy and meteorology, and in the direction of critical analysis of arguments for fantastic propositions that are being supported by appeals to fallacious reasoning or false data.
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