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MUFON's Hanger 1: Two Critical Reviews

Christopher O'Brien

Back in the Saddle Aginn
Staff member
[Hey, whadda ya expect? Its called entertainment let's get real: the shows are just filler between commercials and the ufo subject IQ of the average potential viewer may be as high as the mid double digits. —chris]

By Robert Sheaffer

MUFON, the largest UFO organization in the United States, presents itself as being dedicated to the scientific investigation of UFOs. Its website describes "MUFON's Use of the Scientific Method":

"In the reporting and investigation of UFO sightings, MUFON strives to use the scientific method....In order to augment scientific research into the study of the UFO phenomenon, MUFON created a Science Review Board (SRB) in 2012. The SRB consists of 8-9 scientists with backgrounds in electrical engineering, physics, chemistry, geology, biology, computer science, and astronomy."

MUFON has just debuted a TV series on the cable channel H2 (History Channel #2, placing it in the august company of shows like Ancient Aliens and The UFO Hunters), and in it the Scientific Method is nowhere to be seen. The series is called Hangar 1 the UFO Files, where "Hangar 1" is supposed to be the place MUFON's supposedly vast collection of UFO data (or UFO stories) is kept. Since MUFON does not exactly own buildings or anything, and its headquarters keep moving as its directors change, some folks are quite skeptical that there even is such a place as "Hangar 1" (think of that huge storage building at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark.)


And what exactly does MUFON serve up from its precious archives? Some of the most preposterous, unsubstantiated stories in the UFO literature. I was going to write up a long review of all of the nonsense in just the first episode of this clunker, but there is no need to. UFO blogger Jason Colavito has described the absurdities and fabrications quite nicely. Some highlights:

Seriously: This is the absolute worst H2 “documentary” I have yet seen. It actually makes America Unearthed look responsible and Ancient Aliens seem accurate. Hangar 1 S01E01 “Presidential Encounters” opens with a note that the “following incidents are taken from real case files.” This reminds me of the opening the Texas Chain Saw Massacre, which claimed to be based on true events; however, I have no doubt that “these are actual UFO investigations” as the next slide informs us. That doesn’t make them true, of course... It seems, too, that this show has its own catchphrase: “MUFON files suggest…” This is almost as good as “ancient astronaut theorists believe…” from Ancient Aliens, but not quite...

The dateline is February 20, 1954: Palm Springs, California. Dwight Eisenhower vacations in Palm Springs “for no reason,” according to MUFON official John Ventre. Apparently MUFON official is this show’s version of “ancient astronaut theorist” on Ancient Aliens. A UFO historian tells us that Eisenhower “disappeared” for twelve hours during which time he allegedly met with aliens at Edwards Air Force Base. Dwight Equitz does not believe the official story, given out the next morning, that the president had emergency dental surgery even though the dentist himself made an appearance. Equitz has a self-satisfied smirk when he reports that the Air Force base was shut down to outsiders during Eisenhower’s trip to Palm Springs. He does not present the obvious: that it was shut down because of the President’s trip, perhaps as a secure retreat zone for the presidential party, or to house the presidential aircraft. Instead, he insinuates that the shutdown was to allow for aliens to land...

Here’s the MAJESTIC-12 language attributed to “Chapter 5: Extraterrestrial Biological Entities” of the Group Special Operations Manual dated April 1954, reformatted on this show to fabricate a “1 March 1954” memo, by computer, in Times New Roman. I quote from Stanton Friedman’s Top Secret/Majic, an unimpeachably pro-UFO source: “Any encounter with entities known to be of extraterrestrial origin is to be considered to be a matter of national security and therefore classified TOP SECRET. Under no circumstances is the general public or public press to learn of the existence of these entities. The official government policy is that such creatures do not exist, and that no agency of the federal government is not engaged in any study of extraterrestrials or their artifacts. Any deviation from this sated policy is absolutely forbidden.” This is the same text Hangar 1 uses, but they excerpt only some sentences from the MJ-12 manual in crafting their own fake memo. The whole thing we see on screen appears to be a complete fabrication from this passage of the fictional MJ-12 documents, and no one on this show acknowledges or addresses the deception involved in creating this fake document as an “illustration.” I’m sure as far as the show is concerned, it’s just another “reconstruction” like reenactments featured during the show, but they present it as though it were true, quote from the fake document as real, and give a fake date not supported by the “actual” files in the MUFON archive.

Read that carefully: MUFON has fabricated documents to look like genuine secret government UFO documents, and presented them in Hangar 1 as if they were authentic, with no explanation or disclaimer. If that isn't downright dishonesty, I don't know what else to call it.

Curt Collins' take on Hangar 1:
In a sense this is nothing new. When the notorious Gulf Breeze UFO hoax photos first surfaced in 1987, MUFON's director Walt Andrus embraced them wholeheartedly, resulting in the resignation of some of MUFON's best-known investigators. Andrus was so protective of that hoax that when some of MUFON's most respected investigators checked it out it first-hand and declared it a hoax, Andrus' reaction was to fire the investigators, and keep the hoax (see my book Psychic Vibrations, p. 60, also see "Gulf Breeze" in index). And the reason was obvious: these dramatic but hokey photos were enormously popular with MUFON's subscribers, who wanted to see more "red meat" in UFOlogy. And propelled by the momentum of the Gulf Breeze hoax, MUFON grew significantly.

Unfortunately, given the success of such trashy cable TV shows like Ancient Aliens, Hangar 1 probably will be a commercial success. It gives viewers what they want - exciting stories about alien encounters that sound credible because they are presented in an extremely biased and inaccurate way. And it probably will be successful in bringing new members to MUFON, who will demand more UFOlogical "read meat" lest their attention wander. So look for plenty more such absurdities to follow. Such is the dynamic at work in "Retail UFOlogy": Numerous, uncritical followers gather around a person or organization that gives them the UFOlogical "red meat" that they crave. (See, for example, Steven Greer, or Whitley Strieber.) More cautious organizations, for example, MUFON under James Carrion, do not excite and retain their followers nearly as well, and tend to lose membership. They don't want to hear about caveats and uncertainty. But when the organization follows the spotlight and ignores proper skepticism, it defines itself as fringe, "crackpot" organizations, and is laughed at by anyone who understands science.

What is really interesting is that the people who seem to be the most upset about the absurdities of Hangar 1 are not skeptics, who expect pro-UFO organizations to act irresponsibly, but instead the group I call skeptical believers: those who believe that some UFO incidents might represent genuine mysteries beyond science, but who recognize that the great bulk of UFOlogy consists of error, exaggeration, and humbug. And the "skeptical believer" is just as ready to denounce humbug as is any skeptic. After all, the only way to convince science that the UFO phenomenon is worth studying would be to toss aside all of the accumulated humbug, and accentuate the (hopefully) solid cases. So when MUFON gives itself over to humbug without reservation, it destroys all hope of presenting a convincing pro-UFO case to the skeptical scientific world. So much for the "scientific method!" In a very real sense, the skeptical believers, along with skeptics, are allies who can be characterized as realists - those who care very much what the facts are about UFO cases and try to stick to the facts as best possible - as opposed to unrealists who are ready to embrace any absurd UFO tale if it is exciting, and ignore all facts to the contrary.

There are still some fine investigators in MUFON, who do not make claims beyond what the data will allow, and who are ready to denounce hoaxes and humbug wherever encountered. People like these cannot possibly be happy about MUFON's plunge into tabloid sensationalism, and can scarcely afford to have their names associated with such trash.

And finally, we learn from John Ventre, a MUFON state director and one of the "stars" of Hangar 1, that the missing Malaysia Airlines Flight 370 was abducted by extraterrestrials. What is MUFON coming to? REST OF ARTICLE HERE:
[Hey, whadda ya expect? Its called entertainment let's get real: the shows are just filler between commercials and the ufo subject IQ of the average potential viewer may be as high as the mid double digits. —chris]

When, H2 launches a companion program to "Ancient Aliens," it's as you say, I don't expect much. But, when the show carries a MUFON seal of approval, then I'm expecting something a little better, more along of documented, scientifically investigated cases.

Instead, we're getting unsourced crap that's no different from "Unsealed Alien Files." Worse, even! They are pretending this comes from genuine sources.
[Hey, whadda ya expect? Its called entertainment let's get real: the shows are just filler between commercials and the ufo subject IQ of the average potential viewer may be as high as the mid double digits. —chris]

Yup ... Looks like More UFO Nonsense, but I'll probably tune into an episode or two anyway. Why don't they ever hire us to do it right :D ? ( don't answer that :eek: )
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Is this really the only Hangar 1 thread? I came here specifically because I expected to find a lot of discussion on the show so a thread with four posts is a bit disappointing.

I actually just watched the first episode tonight. The thing is, I'm not going to catch all the inaccuracies that other people are talking about. Even though I've been interested in the UFO subject since I was a kid (I'm 32 now . . . a member of that elusive "young" crew of UFOlogy enthusiasts that Gene and Chris constantly wonder about) and have read books on the subject, watched documentaries, talked to people, etc I simply have not devoted the kind of time to the subject that would be required to be like, "Okay . . . that's wrong . . . that too . . . oh, and that's inaccurate for sure . . ."

What I can say is that, coming from the position of NOT being able to pinpoint these things, I enjoyed the first episode. I at least thought it was well put together and--on the surface at least--they made an interesting case for certain things. I also think some facts simply have to be true (like half of all government UFO files that have been released through FOIA being released during the Carter administration, which was interesting).

I do want to comment on two things, though:

As an ex-member of MUFON, the whole Hangar 1 thing threw me for a loop from the beginning. I knew from my time with the organization that never was there any mention or any sort of Hangar 1, so it seemed obvious to me that this was a dramatization. And as soon as I saw the supposed Hangar 1 in the intro I knew it was BS. BUT I really don't fault them for it. If they want to use "Hangar 1" as a euphemism for their collection of data, then I consider it a pretty harmless lie.

The fabrication of government documents though, without letting the audience in on the fact that they are fabrications, is not excusable and I really would expect better from MUFON.

I do want to say one thing, though. I have noticed a troubling trend of members of the UFOlogical community seemingly WANTING to hate any show like this right out of the gate before it even airs. The snide comments and negative attitudes are pretty much automatic, whereas I'm always like, "Oh cool, a new UFO show."

Personally, I have enjoyed MOST of these kinds of shows. I genuinely miss UFO Hunters and thought it was a solid show on the topic (the Code Red episode remains a favorite) and, hell, even though it ran off the rails long ago, I have probably watched 85% of Ancient Aliens and have had fun with most of the series.

The one show that I did NOT like--in fact, actively disliked--was Chasing UFOs. That was just garbage.

I guess it seems to me that most people here are looking for 100% accuracy and that's just not going to happen, if for no other reason than because people make mistakes. I think we'd all agree that James Fox is one of the good guys. Out of the Blue and I Know What I Saw are both awesome. But I have seen people try to discredit his entire work because he had one of his facts jumbled up or because he used presumably-real UFO footage that has supposedly been debunked.

I guess the real question here is whether or not MUFON is colluding with History to intentionally deceive people or if they feel that they're being honest with their product.
Huh. Another show which I hope doesn't make it overseas.

I'm still wondering about what (I think) Gene said that MUFON started six months after Project Blue Book ended. And I seem to remember that there's supposed to have been CIA involvement from the get-go. So maybe disinformation has always been its main purpose? Or maybe someone just said they couldn't reject the money.

I always wondered how they managed to get a foothold here in Europe, too (we have MUFON CES and I think it's quite well established) . Even here in Germany, despite the public largely believeing it's all nonsense and make-believe.
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I will not be bothering to watch Hangar 1.

There's really no evidence that MUFON is or has been infiltrated by disinfo agents or any government agents for that matter.

As to the show, I notice they mention it once or twice in the newsletter as a passing reference. Sounds like something they aren't very proud of to me.
I will not be bothering to watch Hangar 1.

It sounds like you've at least watched a couple of episodes though, right? Also, let me ask you this, is there any UFO show that you WOULD get enthusiastic about? Because as I said in my earlier post, it almost seems to me like members of the UFOlogical community take a certain snide, elitist pride in actively hating hating anything that comes on TV about the subject.

As to the show, I notice they mention it once or twice in the newsletter as a passing reference. Sounds like something they aren't very proud of to me.

I dunno, I'm still on their mailing list and got a an e-mail from them "inviting" me to the show's TV premiere. They seemed pretty jazzed about it.
If we take the story of President Eisenhower being secreted off to Edwards Air Force Base to meet extraterrestrials as solid proof then the ufo field is in sadder shape than we imagined.

The so-called ufo experts interviewed are obviously doing this for the money. MUFON has been around for nearly 45 years. Is this the best they can offer? There must be some recent cases worth telling viewers about. Try to not insult our intelligence with statements like, "we're not really sure, but."
"MUFON has been around for nearly 45 years. Is this the best they can offer?" LMAO, DaveM! Daffy Duck going nuts reference appreciated. I remember the 'duck when he was wild, before they lobotomized him in the 50's.

And why would MUFON store this information in a hanger of any kind?

[Edit... just watched a clip, couldn't believe it. If only Moseley (Journal Subscriber) was here to watch it. What a huge hanger building that is... think of all the Gulf Breeze stuff crammed into the multi-storied walls...]
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Mein Gott, Aurora, Texas, is one of their prized cases from the "Hanger 1" Files? How low can this thing sink? I'm finding out...

I love all the staged shots of busy researchers in the huge dusty library of MUFON H.Q... if only! It's probably more like some 286 PC from 20 years ago in someone's closet!
I missed that, thanks for the tip, Frank!

The whole thing is... to be polite... disingenuous, right? The "Hanger", the "experts" (I don't recognize anyone, except for Leslie K.), the busy bees working day and night on the X-files in the basement... Not a single witness interviewed? They rented a warehouse or a set, I'll give them that.
Having never seen the show, I am sure it follows the typical UFO style shows of years past. With all the criticism directed toward it, how is it any different than the "guests" of the paracast? Derrel Sims anyone?
Sound the Hypocrisy alarm.
I love the excuse the following week that Derrel had a bad interview. (Duh, you think) But in typical fashion certain friends of the show are given a BS pass.
So how is the paracast any different from all the BS seen on any UFO show?
So how is the paracast any different from all the BS seen on any UFO show?

Your comparison is a but faulty but you have a point. The Paracast does promote some BS just by covering on the show, but it's not generally presented as anything but the guest's claims, and usually challenging questions are asked. The TV shows seldom provide any sort of balance, they just state the material as fact and support it with dramatic re-enactments of things that may have never happened.

Some of the TV shows open with a disclaimer stating that the material is speculative and ask the viewer to decide for himself. Instead of a disclaimer, "Hangar 1" opens with statements proclaiming the program is based on actual MUFON case files that they have investigated. That is false. Worse, they present stories from discredited sources, support them with phony graphics of newspapers and government documents, and have a professional actor playing the role of a UFO researcher to "sincerely" describe whatever case is in the script.

MUFON is starring in a reality TV show with very little reality in it. It could be worse, but it couldn't be much worse.
Instead of a disclaimer, "Hangar 1" opens with statements proclaiming the program is based on actual MUFON case files that they have investigated. That is false.

I was wondering about this myself, but how do you know that MUFON has not investigated these cases? Most of these cases are well-known. I would assume that several of MUFON's investigators would have looked into them over time.

Worse, they present stories from discredited sources

Like who?

. . . and have a professional actor playing the role of a UFO researcher to "sincerely" describe whatever case is in the script.

Oh, is that right?
I have to admit I have enjoyed some episodes of a program called "Close Encounters" -could not finish watching one episode of Hangar 1.
as already stated, all the material/data mufon is sitting on- I would expect a better program.