REGINA — The foremost expert on flying saucers paid a visit to the province that posted an all-time record for UFO sightings last year.
Nuclear physicist and renowned UFO researcher Stanton Friedman brought his lecture Flying Saucers ARE Real to Moose Jaw and Regina on the weekend.
Friedman is not interested in all UFO sightings — simple reports of lights in the sky don’t really rate — only the minority that quite clearly defy any other explanation.
Friedman has passed his 72 years on Earth without ever having seen a UFO. But he has seen enough documents and photographs and talked to enough people willing to share their close encounters that he believes even without first-hand experience. He insists he’s interested in “real science,” not science fiction.
In an interview, Friedman recalled how someone recently scoffed at him about the implausibility of alien visits.
“All new discoveries are unlikely, or they would have been discovered before,” said the physicist, who points to nuclear fission and fusion as examples of the once inconceivable becoming reality.
“Absence of evidence is not evidence for absence,” added Friedman, who has little patience with “nasty, noisy negativists” who haven’t read the material he has.
Friedman speaks not with the blind faith of a zealot, but the careful conviction of a scientist who bases his opinion on 49 years of research. He relies, primarily, on what he calls “five large-scale scientific studies.” While he now resides in New Brunswick, the New Jersey-born Friedman’s interest was sparked in 1958.
He was working on nuclear airplanes for General Electric when he needed one more book to fill out a mail order. That’s how he ended up reading a report on unidentified flying objects by U.S. air force Capt. Edward J. Ruppelt.
“It intrigued me. It didn’t convince me.” Friedman dug a little deeper, including taking a look at Project Blue Book, a 1955 study by the U.S. air force detailing UFO sightings. “It shook me up,” he said.
His quest to learn more took him to Roswell, N. M., where he became the first civilian to document the controversial site where some believe an alien spacecraft crashed in July 1947.
While Friedman is eager to speak about his convictions and theories — having done hundreds of lectures across Canada and the U.S. and 16 other countries since first going public in 1967 — he still finds most people are not. Often he’ll ask his audiences who has seen a flying saucer, and about 10 per cent of the hands in the room will go up. When he asks how many reported their sighting, 90 per cent of the hands go down. “They’d think I was some kind of a nut,” is the usual explanation given, Friedman said.
Clearly, some people in this province have overcome their reluctance. The Winnipeg-based Ufology Research Institute recently reported its third-largest number of UFO sightings last year at 736. Saskatchewan placed third among the provinces, with a record 98 sightings.
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