Saturday, October 2, 2010

Book Review--Top Secret/MAJIC

by Stanton Friedman
Marlowe & Co.

A roll of film was dropped into the mailbox of UFO researcher, Jaime Shandera.  When
developed, the pictures showed documents that appeared to verify the existence of Majestic-12...a secret government organization established in 1947 by President Truman.  Its purpose: to conceal the fact that extraterrestrial life has been visiting Earth for years and to study the technology and even the bodies of aliens recovered from crashed spacecraft.  While these documents are called hoaxes by many debunkers, scientist and author Stanton Friedman offers this book as a detailed account of his painstaking research into the so-called "Majestic documents" and argues for their authenticity.  

There is perhaps no one in the field of Ufology that I respect more than Stanton Friedman.  He is a nuclear physicist who spent years working for the government on projects such as nuclear aircraft engines.  He is level-headed and he applies the scientific method to UFO research.  If something is cockamamie and off the wall, he is the first to call it as such.  
For this reason alone, I am prepared to hear what he has to say about the purported Majestic 12 documents and almost ready to concur as to their veracity.  Almost.
In his book, Friedman begins with an analysis of the documents themselves as well as biographical research into who the men of Majestic-12 (supposedly) were and why they would have been excellent candidates for such an enterprise.  The breadth and depth of this information demonstrates that if the documents are indeed forgeries, then they were a herculean undertaking on the part of the hoaxer(s).  While this in itself is not dissuasive to the hoax theory, it does give one pause to wonder.
By citing papers found at the library archives of these men as well as documents
obtained through the Freedom Of Information Act (FOIA), Friedman is able to create a compelling case that President Truman did indeed assemble a collective of twelve men who were scientific or military intelligence experts and that their charge was management of alien contact.
Friedman devotes a fair amount of space to countering allegations of fraud and forgery from the skeptical community.  These charges seem to fall into one of a few different areas.  The skeptics are quick to point out discrepancies in the format and the typeset of the documents, claiming them contrary to government texts of the time.  Friedman is able to cite numerous examples that show how formats were often disregard in governmental/military correspondence.  There are also claims that a few of these officials never met on the days that certain memos and documents allege that they do.  Friedman is quick to point out that many meetings of federal officials occur off the schedule.  Finally, there is the tired old cry of "how could anything involving thousands of people be kept so secret?"  Friedman, himself a former employee of once classified defense projects, interviews former members of the Manhattan Project, the World War II effort to build the first atomic bomb and (officially) the most top secret work our nation has ever undertaken.  These men all say the same thing:  of course it can be kept secret.  We did it.  The key is to compartmentalize, compartmentalize, compartmentalize.
There are times when the book gets tedious.  Friedman is forced the spend a few necessary pages on how FOIA works and what the exceptions are.  His refutes to the skeptics often turn into pissing contests with notorious UFO critic, Phillip Klass.  There is also a chapter devoted to the "alien autopsy" video of 1996, something that has largely been proven to be faked.  Why this is tacked on to a book about Majestic 12 is something I can't explain.
Despite all of this, I believe that Friedman is on to something.  As always, his research methods are sound and when he cites data it is virtually incontestable.  Therefore, I'm ready to say with 75% certainty that the MJ-12 documents are the real deal.  Why only 75%?  Well, despite Friedman's extraordinary efforts, I suppose I'm just...cautious.

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