UFO skeptic Philip J. Klass

UFO

MYSTERY WIRE — Millions of Americans believe that the government isn’t telling us the truth about UFOs. Tens of thousands of people believe that they have seen UFOs or had strange encounters.

Many of these experiences can be explained in much more mundane and yet fewer exciting terms. That was a role UFO researcher Philip Glass was known for along with his overall skepticism regarding UFOs.

Klass is also well known for making an offer in 1966 that stood until his death in 2005. As of 1974, the text below was the offer:

Klass agrees to pay to the second party the sum of $10,000 within thirty days after any of the following occur:

(A) Any crashed spacecraft, or major piece of a spacecraft is found to be clearly of extraterrestrial origin by the United States National Academy of Sciences, or
(B) The National Academy of Sciences announces that it has examined other evidence which conclusively proves that Earth has been visited by extraterrestrial spacecraft in the 20th century, or
(C) A bona fide extraterrestrial visitor, born on a celestial body other than the Earth, appears live before the General Assembly of the United Nations or on a national television program.

The party accepting this offer pays Klass $100 per year, for a maximum of ten years, each year none of these things occur.

Klass is also remembered for writing the following “last will and testament” that was originally published in James Moseley’s newsletter Saucer Smear on October 10, 1983.

THE LAST WILL AND TESTAMENT OF PHILIP J. KLASS

To UFOlogists who publicly criticize me, … or who even think unkind thoughts about me in private, I do hereby leave and bequeath: THE UFO CURSE:

No matter how long you live, you will never know any more about UFOs than you know today. You will never know any more about what UFOs really are, or where they come from. You will never know any more about what the U.S. Government really knows about UFOs than you know today. As you lie on your own death-bed you will be as mystified about UFOs as you are today. And you will remember this curse.

Philip Klass (1977)

During his life, Klass was known to strongly and publicly disagree with people who claimed to have seen a UFO or even investigated and reported on stories of UFO sightings. His actions appeared to have caught the attention of the FBI after “Klass was offended by an article written by Dr. J. Allen Hynek that had appeared in the FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin.”

In 2006, the year after Klass’s death, the public learned the FBI kept a file on Klass. Portions of the FBI file on Klass were obtained by The Computer UFO Network (CUFON) researcher Michael Ravnitzky. You can read through the document below.

George Knapp had the opportunity on March 30, 1989 to interview Klass during the 5 o’clock evening newscast on KLAS-TV in Las Vegas, NV. You can watch the interview below the following comments from George Knapp about his longtime working relationship with Klass.

“I had done a couple of UFO related interviews for On the Record, our interview show, but was still months away from taking a deep dive into the subject. Sort of out of nowhere, Phil Klass called me and said he would be in Las Vegas for a few days, would I like to interview him about UFOs?   I said yes, that we would slot him into our nightly interview segment on the 5 p.m. news. And that’s what we did. 
“It occurred to me later, when I knew more about him and his role in the UFO debate, that he showed up in Las Vegas because we had given a platform to a few pro-UFO researchers. Klass took it on himself to come to Las Vegas to try and stomp out the public’s increasing interest in the UFO mystery. I always wondered if he did this entirely on his own or whether he was working for someone else.
“In late 1989, when we uncorked the “Best Evidence” multi-part series, I included a segment about Klass, his status as the premier debunker of the subject, and the longstanding suspicion in UFO circles that he was some sort of operative whose job was to throw cold water on any UFO case or witnesses that popped up.
“When Klass saw the stories we had aired, he exploded. He wrote letters to my employer, demanding that I be sanctioned or fired for my reporting on UFOs. Obviously, that didn’t happen, and for the next several years, I had very little contact with him. Eventually though, I came to realize that Klass did play an important role in the overall topic. He had done some fairly reprehensible things in trying to debunk or discredit particular UFO witnesses or cases, and he certainly deserved the scorn and ire of the overall UFO community. That said, he also made UFO researchers do a more thorough job.  Knowing that whatever they wrote or said would be put thru the Phil Klass meat grinder, principal researchers went to extra lengths to document their claims. They were better because of the Klass effect.
“Eventually, Phil and I came to a more amicable relationship. I would write to him from time to time and he would write to me, often to ask pretty good questions about witnesses I had interviewed or stories I wrote. I have saved most of that correspondence and was very interested to read the FOIA files released after his death.  Many of the suspicions held by UFO folks about Klass and his role as chief debunker were confirmed by the FOIA files though I don’t think they ever found a smoking gun to prove he was acting as a paid agent of AFOSI or CIA.  
Regardless, Phil Klass was a major figure in the history of UFO research. Somewhere in my piles of stuff, I still have a Phil Klass dartboard purchased at a UFO convention.”

George Knapp

George Knapp
Mr. Glass Good to have you here. We’ve been looking forward to the interview. You’ve been called as we mentioned earlier, the Sherlock Holmes of UFOs, you were a senior editor for Aviation Week and Space Technology. You’ve written four books on the subject, this is the latest, UFOs Abductions A Dangerous Game. You make a point of explaining UFO sightings. What’s your general feeling, though about UFOs?

Philip Klass
Well, George, having spent so many years with Aviation Week magazine, which many of your viewers may be familiar with, particularly being so close to Nellis. There is no more exciting story that I could write or aviation we could publish and to say at last we’ve come across one UFO report that cannot be explained in prosaic terms. Maybe this is an alien spaceship, biggest story of all time. Yet, in more than 22 years as a hobby of investigating famous mysterious UFO cases, reports, I have never found one that cannot be explained in prosaic earthly terms. And in fact, I’ll be discussing examples of those at my upcoming lecture tomorrow night and Saturday, sponsored by the library here showing that even experienced airline pilots, military pilots can be grossly in error in what they think they’ve seen.

George Knapp
What about the general concept though, do you buy the idea that’s that’s a possibility, or you’re just taking it as a scientist one at a time, they haven’t proven it yet?

Philip Klass
First off, I would hope that somewhere in the vast universe, that there is other intelligent life, because we know that someday our sun will die. And with it all life on this earth will perish. But if one of your television cameras fails to work, and you took it to your maintenance department, and the man threw up his hands and said, Oh, evil spirits, you’d fire him. You want him to look for an explanation within known theory to get out his scopes, his instruments and make measurements to see if there’s a defective transistor or capacitor,

George Knapp
You say you’ve been doing this 22 years as an amateur…

Philip Klass
As a hobby.

George Knapp
As a hobby as a hobby, right. Many people believe that the government has hidden evidence of this stuff, of UFOs. Even the Air Force and its Project Bluebook, as I understand it, had certain sightings that it could not explain.

Philip Klass
Well, first off, let’s talk about government secrecy in the early 50s, when the Air Force suspected that this might be a Soviet ploy, maybe to saturate our air defense channels, so they could launch a surprise bombing attack. Yes, there was a degree of secrecy. In certain cases, there might be sightings on radar. And we didn’t want the Russians to know we had a radar here or a radar there. But today 99.9% of all UFO government documents are available in the National Archives. What about that tiny fraction? Well, some of them are intercepts of Soviet encoded messages. We don’t want to release those and let the Soviets know we’ve decoded their messages.

George Knapp
Very quickly if you ever worked for the government, in any capacity?

Philip Klass
Never, never been paid a penny, except when my dear mother died and I got a Social Security benefit.

George Knapp
Okay. You’ll have lectures Friday and Saturday at the Spring Valley library, the numbers in the phone book. Thanks very much for being here.

Philip Klass
Thank you, George.

George Knapp
We’ll be right back.

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