A day off work recently allowed me to read an updated version of a classic UFO book.
Frank Salisbury earned bachelor's and master's degrees in botany and biochemistry at the University of Utah. In 1955 he obtained his PhD at the California Institute of Technology. He spent time at Colorado State University; and Utah State University, including being department head of the Plant Science Department. Author, or co-author of sixteen books, he has worked on numerous projects. He retired in 1997.
One of the books which he wrote, in 1974, was titled "The Utah UFO Display." It told the story of a series of UFO sightings, in the Uintah Basin, in eastern Utah in the USA, from a scientific perspective. These sightings took place in the date range 1966-1968. At that time he was "...favourable to the possibility of extraterrestrial visitations." (p.14.)
However, by 1970 he writes "...it became more and more difficult for me to be truly scientific (i.e. objective) about UFOs." (p.15.) About 1980, he retired from UFO research. It wasn't until 2010 that he re-entered the field with an update to "The Utah UFO Display." It was published by Bonneville Books, Springvale, Utah. ISBN 978-1-59955-405-1. This post is not a review of the book, and not a look at the Unitah Basin sightings in detail.
This post is an examination of Salisbury's views on the cause of the UFO phenomenon, and how his current views have been arrived at.
In 1968 he explored details of dozens, of a variety of types of UFO sightings, many gathered by a junior high school teacher named Joseph Junior Hicks. His research included personally interviewing people who had reported sightings. Following this research "In 1974, I could not think of any reasonable explanation to account for the objects sighted in the Uintah Basin, except for extraterrestrial machines..." (p.82.)
Salisbury re-contacted Junior in 2009 and spent some time interviewing individuals, and collecting data about sightings between 1966 and 2009. He also spent some time looking into the "Skinwalker Ranch," and personally checking details contained in the book "The Hunt for the Skinwalker," written by Colm Kelleher and George Knapp. 2005. Paraview Pocket Books. New York.
Salisbury's review of Skinwalker:
Besides a series of "Deseret News" articles by Zack Van Eyck; Salisbury contacted Garth Myers, brother of Kenneth Myers who lived on the ranch for almost sixty years; had discussions with "Tom Gorman (pseudonym for the main witness), and checked accounts from Junior Hicks and some neighbours to the ranch.
What did Salisbury conclude after his research on the ranch and the unusual reports?
* He reports that "Junior Hicks has been visiting the ranch virtually from the time the witness family bought it, and he is thus able to confirm that he heard most of the accounts shortly after the events happened." (p.217.)
* Garth Myers - "...I can tell you unequivocally that up to 1992 there had never been and there never was any sign of that (UFOs and similar activity)" (p.218.) Gorman moved into the ranch in 1994.
* "...the skinwalker version of the ranch's history is badly distorted..." (p.222.)
* The Skinwalker statement that "...the greatest concentration of high strangeness has always taken place at what became the Gorman's 480 acre ranch" is not correct
* "...I assumed that Knapp had many in-depth interviews with the witness while writing the book...the witness didn't even know the book was being written about his family's experiences until skinwalker was published. And he had never met George Knapp...How's that for careful research!" (p.224.)
* "...the witness...said that many things in their book only resembled a true accounting of his experiences." (p.224.)
* "...I want to emphasis that much of Hunt for the Skinwalker is excellent.." (p.242.)
What are Salisbury's current views on UFOs?
Based on his research into the UFO sightings in the 1960's, 1970's, then from 2009; and his acceptance that there were some very unusual events at the Skinwalker ranch (despite some issues with the Skinwalker book), what are Salisbury's views today on the UFO phenomenon?
* "...the UFOs in the Uintah Basin wanted to be seen. They performed for their witnesses. They put on a display." (p.251.)
* "When we examine UFO accounts, however, we encounter events that just don't seem to fit within our understanding of natural laws." (p.253.)
* " I am very uncomfortable with the nuts-and-bolts hypothesis." (p.247.)
* "My long-held, totally unscientific gut feeling is that the intelligence behind the UFO enigma is on display; it wants to be seen by many people - who will only be believed by a few others. It wants to influence the thinking of many of us, but it wants no formal contacts nor tangible proof that would convince the skeptics. And its intelligence is great enough that it can control the situation so that we know only what it wants us to know." (p.232.)
* Speaking of Kelleher and Knapp's work in the "Hunt for the Skinwalker" Salisbury writes "They clearly lean toward the multi-dimension, parallel universe, wormhole/portal idea. And at this point, so do I..." (p.242.)
Three hypotheses are presented as potential explanations for the UFO phenomenon:
1. "the Debunker Hypothesis." The phenomenon can be explained in mundane terms. "But most of us closer to the UFO field can't accept this hypothesis." (p.246.)
2. "the Nuts-and Bolts hypothesis." The ETH. "...this is the idea that comes to the public mind when UFOs are mentioned." (p.247.) Two arguments against it are a. physical laws against interstellar travel and b. "The UFOs don't act like space explorers who have found a new world." (p.247.)
3. "the Star Gate Hypothesis." They come from a parallel universe or another dimension. From earlier comments, this is the one which Salisbury currently supports. "If there are portals or wormholes between alternate realities, all consistent with laws that we simply don't yet understand, it would explain many of the outlandish goings-on hat so many have witnesses. This is the conclusion of Kelleher and Knapp in Skinwalker. It is presently my conclusion..." (p.253-254.)
I really enjoyed reading this book and thinking about the ideas which it discusses. Salisbury appears an open minded scientist, following the evidence which he comes across. I also found his review of the Skinwalker saga of great interest. If you haven't yet read this 2010 book because you thought it was only a reprint of the 1974 book, then I would recommend you do so. There is much here to generate thought and debate.