- Note - Our special thanks to Jim Hickman for permission
to post Dr. Hynek's wonderful, final article.
- J. Allen Hynek's Last Word on The Roots of Complacency
- Astronomer-Ufologist J. Allen Hynek, In a Previously
Unpublished Essay, Denounces All Those Who Obscure the Truth About UFOs
- Introduction by Dr. Willy Smith
- Toward the end of his life, Dr. J. Allen Hynek was a
frequent visitor to my home, the last of such visits taking place from
August 20 to August 31, 1985, when he finally left to have his first surgery
on September 5, 1985. After that his health declined rapidly and unfortunately
he died on April 27, 1986. During his visits, Dr. Hynek did quite a bit
of work using my computer, which was quite similar to his own at home.
At that time, his interest was centered on the Hudson Valley sightings.
Time marched on, and after Dr. Hynek passed away, the work was completed
by Bob Pratt and published in book form in 1987, under the title NIGHT
SIEGE. [Note: Philip J. Imbrogno is credited as co-author of Night Siege,
along with J. Allen Hynek and Bob Pratt.]
- One day, revising my diskettes, I found a file labeled
"Imbrogno" which I did not recognize. When I opened it, it was
a paper intended to be the Preface of the book, that undoubtedly by error
Allen had saved on one of my diskettes (on August 30, 1985, just the day
before he left my home). It is a remarkable piece, and once you read it
it will be easy to understand why it was not used as initially intended.
I think the time has come to release it through INTERNET, so everyone will
see what Dr. Hynek's thoughts about these remarkable sightings really were.
I strongly suggest that you compare "THE ROOTS OF COMPLACENCY"
(as Hynek himself titled it) with the version that appeared in NIGHT SIEGE.
- Dr. Willy Smith Unicat Project June 1999
- The Roots of Complacency by Dr. J. Allen Hynek
- Something truly astonishing happened.... Not far from
New York City, along the Hudson Valley, as hundreds of astonished people
looked up, many driving along the Taconic Parkway, they saw something no
one had ever seen before. Some called it a "Space-ship from outer
space" (for want of anything better) but it was generally described
by numbers of competent, professional persons as startlingly brilliant
lights, in the form of a "V", or Boomerang, silent, slowly-moving,
and very large close-by object. It has often popularly been called the
"Westchester (County) Boomerang".
- The world has never known about this, even though the
event happened not once but several times, and over the course of several
years. To all intents and purposes, this was a non-event. The media across
the world has remained dumb. Local papers, radios and TV's, it is true,
did momentarily carry spots along with the daily news, but there the news
- How is it possible that in the United States, where even
trivial events are often flashed across the world, only one TV and radio
network carried an account of this utterly astounding event? Far, far lesser
stories are spewed forth across the world! Could it possibly be that the
whole thing just never happened? No: many times there was good, but extremely
local, media coverage; many hundreds have personally attesteds to us, and
to many others, that the "Westchester Boomerang" was most undeniably,
very truly real to them. Furthermore, many witnesses at a given time, were
geographically separate, and unknown to each other. Cars along the Taconic
Parkway, a well traveled highway, stopped, and passengers looked in amazement,
many frightened and bewildered at the spectacle.
- Police department "blotters" proved that many
calls came to several local police stations, and we have tape recordings
of a number of the police involved. The Boomerang was undeniably real;
it was not a chimera! Yes, something astonishing transpired, but was no
one "minding the store", was everyone asleep at the switch? What
about law enforcement agencies (whose duty is certainly to alert and assist
when something amazing is afoot; what about civilian and military personnel?
- When hundreds of largely professional, affluent people,
in suburban areas, are astonished, awestruck, and many frightened by what
they could only regard as a very bizarre event, would this not at least
warrant and bring forth some comment from the nation's media? And what
about law officers, government officials and... what of the FAA which supposedly
monitors the airwaves over which the "Boomerang" repeatedly flew,
and thus constituted a serious hazards, especially over the Taconic Parkway?
And what of scientists, to whom these events should have been of breathtaking
scientific concern? But nothing... except, oh yes, a writer so inept at
his task that not once did he check, even briefly, the voluminous tapes
and other material amassed by the present authors: a remarkable example
of investigative reporting. His conclusion: the Boomerang was caused by
nothing more than a flight of small planes flying in formation, a totally
untenable conclusion in view of the facts.
- It would appear that we really have TWO astounding stories,
rather than just one... different but related... and equally incomprehensible:
the story of the low-flying luminous Boomerang (in itself which could rank
high in the annals of science fiction... if it were science fiction!) and
the second, a totally unaccountable dereliction of duty (and there seems
to be no other word for it), a complete indifference to accountability.
- It was a malady which appeared to plunge all who encountered
it, EXCEPT the witnesses, into a deadly stupor. Such a malady, or perhaps
a virulent virus of apathy and indifference to duty, could immobilize cities
and a whole country. Of course, we don't know what the Boomerang was really
about, for the Police and other law enforcement officers were derelict
and failed in their duty to assist the many who called [in] fear and danger,
as well as in awe and wonder.
- The FAA utterly failed to be concerned for air safety,
flight rules, navigation lights, when told that some utterly strange and
possibly menacing object was cruising close over streets and houses. the
Military was derelict by not attending to public safety and matters of
National Defense (the country could have been subtly invaded!) the Scientists
failed to uphold their "Hippocratic" oath of science: they were
derelict in following the quest [of] an outstanding mystery. the media,
well, where were they? Truly derelict. Always avid news hounds, rushing
to their typewriters or microphones to rush the news to the world (good,
bad and trivial), but where were they? Hardly any of the 50 States heard
the Boomerang story. Why? Utterly indifferent and apathetic? If so, why?
Of the two stories, that of the Boomerang if by far the more directly told.
Bizarre and fantastic though it may be (and is) it merely needs competent
retelling. The facts are on record. From the hundreds of cassette tapes
in the thousands of statements made by witnesses, the Boomerang is a matter
of record. But the second story, well, that is another matter.
- This story is not at all directly told. Here there are
no cassette tapes, no clear cut descriptions, and no policeman, no scientist,
no military man, no media person, no FAA has recorded why they were derelict.
We can only infer, as one might infer from the pages of history. We can
only deduce and play detective. And we must try, for this second story,
more truly a puzzle, could be of utmost importance to finding out how we,
as humans, act under stress, trauma, and fear...for the Boomerang had all
of these! The puzzle has far more parts than the tale of the Boomerang.
It is, indeed, a part of a continuing story of mankind's pioneering search
for adventure and meaning, but repeatedly dashed and frustrated by those
who cannot look to the heights of the pioneer: by the "it will never
fly" or "it can't be done" mentalities. These who always
must say that "since it can't be done, there is no need to even think
about it or even talk about it. Therein lies the spawning ground of indifference,
of apathy, and [of] dereliction of duty. All those who didn't follow through
on the Boomerang event were not willfully derelict: they were merely the
thousands of "it will never fly" and "it can't be done"
and so there is no need to think about it. The corollary is: "Since
it can't be done, whomever said it had been done, were simply deluded...
they must have been mistaken, and so no need to look into it further".
It is the failure to seek for the light of the tunnel because there couldn't
be a light.
- Intellectual adventure is sterile when there is continual
inability to seek answer to challenges, to seek ways out of the tunnel
of indifference. In the story of the Boomerang, the FAA, the media, scientists,
politicians, the military.... all may momentarily touch upon the mystery,
but suddenly it appeared that apathy saps further energy to incentive,
and in its stead is a great desire [for] nothing... it becomes a hotbed
of inertia... a great desire to do nothing, fobbing it all off in the guise
of a handy solution, like "planes in formation". It is not as
from a seeming direct desire to be in duty, but it is more as though the
call for duty has vanished, or as though some bad fairy had administered
a sleeping potion, an apathy draught. How else might one hold that otherwise
responsible law enforcement, FAA, military, the media etc. would renege
on their duties?
- There is a more realistic answer than calling upon some
bad fairy (though it would certainly fit the facts) and that is that it
all lies in our human (mental) nature. A psychologist would express it
more professionally, but it simply amounts to the fact that the human mind
has definite limits for acceptance and accountability. In the history of
science this syndrome has been seen many times and in many ages. For instance,
how often has it occurred that totally revolutionary ideas, so novel at
first as to be utterly neglected or discarded... a form of apathy and total
indifference. As a homely analogy, one might say that such a totally novel
idea "overheats the mental human circuits" and the fuse blows
(or the circuit-breaker cuts out) as a protective device for the mind.
The time is not yet right for the age and the new idea might just as well
not have been there in the first place. Mankind was not yet able to handle
- Thus when mankind is presented with a totally bizarre,
shocking, traumatic event (the Boomerang?), a mental circuit cuts out.
Instead of a challenge for action, there is a dead battery. This is, of
course, well known in individual cases of amnesia in, for example, "shell
shock": could it be that a collective amnesia or apathy can come into
play? If so, might it be possible that collectively people can react traumatically,
as to the Westchester Boomerang, to a collective amnesia, whether they
are policemen, media people, the FAA etc.?
- Whatever be the case, the effect is real. Many instances
in history.... and the Boomerang is its most recent and spectacular example...
when the breaking point of the collective mind occurs, it must openly disregard
patent evidence of the senses: it can no longer encompass them within their
normal borders. The Holocaust perpetrated by Hitler in WW II is another
sample: people simply refused to accept, and were indifferent to the evidence,
because their minds couldn't bring themselves to accept that such a Holocaust
could possibly be, despite ample evidence. It was also a "mental circuit
breaker", a general apathy and a will to indifference.
- The Boomerang and the Holocaust are but striking samples
of what happens when the collective mind willfully disregards evidence,
when "it can't take it". The entire modern UFO syndrome is another:
here we have utterly ample evidence of the global nature of the UFO phenomenon.
[In] thousands of instances and over many countries, the evidence for the
UFO phenomenon is clear, but those in position of policy and authority
(FAA, educators, scientists etc) are deaf or purposely obtuse. Apathy goes
hand in hand with the ability to accept even the most inane answers, anything
whatever, just to stave off the necessity to think. So we cannot at the
moment expect to do [but] little about the wealth of material collected
on the Westchester Boomerang (or for the much more abundant wealth of UFO
material). The circuits are closed; apathy holds sway. But history has
shown that in time the information and questions dam breaks, sometimes
cataclysmically, and later, why, lo and behold, the pundits by a complete
irrational turn of fact, will say, "Oh, we knew this all the time!"