There is no RationalWiki without you. We are a small non-profit with no staff – we are hundreds of volunteers who document pseudoscience and crankery around the world every day. We will never allow ads because we must remain independent. We cannot rely on big donors with corresponding big agendas. We are not the largest website around, but we believe we play an important role in defending truth and objectivity.
If everyone who saw this today donated $5, we would meet our goal for 2019.
| Fighting pseudoscience isn't free.|
We are 100% user-supported! Help and donate $5, $20 or whatever you can today with !
The Brookings Report
The Brookings Institution is a policy think tank in Washington DC, founded in 1916 as the Institute for Government Research. The institution must have produced thousands of reports in its lifetime, but the report that is so often misrepresented by NASA haters and conspiracy theorists is the 1960 paper Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs.
The report was commissioned by NASA in November 1959, not long after the agency's creation by the Eisenhower administration. NASA was interested in hearing the opinions of a wide range of intellectuals on long-term goals of the exploration of space, and the likely impact of NASA activities on human affairs in general.
Formally, the contract originated with John A. Johnson, Chairman of NASA's committee on long-range studies, pursuant to Section 102(c) of the Space Act of 1958. That section reads, in part:
- "The aeronautical and space activities of the United States shall be so conducted as to contribute materially to ... establishment of long-range studies of the potential benefits to be gained from ... the utilization of aeronautical and space activities for peaceful and scientific purposes."
The director of the study was Brookings staff member Donald N. Michael, under the general supervision of James M. Mitchell, director of Public Affairs. Monthly two-day conferences were held, involving some 200 eggheads from industry and academe. Another 50 or so were invited to review the draft. Seven specific Brookings staffers were cited as co-authors of record.
The report was submitted to NASA on 30 November 1960, read into the record of the Committee on Science and Astronautics of the US House of Representatives on 24 March 1961, and presented to the full House on 18 April.
In the most interesting section of the report, the authors contemplated the possibility that contact might be made with extraterrestrial intelligence, and they warned that this might not be an unmitigated cause for celebration.
"Anthropological files contain many examples of societies, sure of their place in the universe, which have disintegrated when they have had to associate with previously unfamiliar societies espousing different ideas and different life ways; others that survived such an experience usually did so by paying the price of changes in values and attitudes and behavior." (p. 183)
"It has been speculated that, of all groups, scientists and engineers might be the most devastated by the discovery of relatively superior creatures, since these professions are most clearly associated with the mastery of nature, rather than with the understanding and expression of man. Advanced understanding of nature might vitiate all our theories at the very least, if not also require a culture and perhaps a brain inaccessible to earth scientists." (p. 103)
However, they looked on the bright side as well:
"The knowledge that life existed in other parts of the universe might lead to a greater unity of men on earth, based on the 'oneness' of man or on the age-old assumption that any stranger is threatening. Much would depend on what, if anything, was communicated between man and the other beings" (p. 183)
Did Brookings tell NASA to STFU about ETs if evidence were ever found?
How did the rumor get started?
NASA haters repeat ad nauseam the mantra that NASA has already discovered evidence of extraterrestrial civilization, at least on the Moon and the planet Mars, and possibly elsewhere in the solar system. On poorly-designed web sites and in very poorly-researched books, they point to what are called "anomalies," and loudly accuse NASA of covering up the evidence. It does not seem to bother them that the "evidence" for a NASA cover-up is derived from NASA itself.
Historically, a question they found difficult to answer was "Why would NASA wish to suppress news that would cause its budget to increase dramatically, as the US Government pulled out all the stops to ensure that it would be the representative of world civilization in dealings with ET?" In 1993 the former museum curator Richard Hoagland came up with a plausible answer. Assisted by Don Ecker and Lee Clinton, he dug up the then-obscure Brookings Report and triumphantly pointed to the following passage:
"...two research areas can be recommended -- Continuing studies to determine [the public's] emotional and intellectual understanding and attitudes -- and successive alterations of them if any -- regarding the possibility and consequences of discovering intelligent extraterrestrial life. Historical and empirical studies of the behavior of peoples and their leaders when confronted with dramatic and unfamiliar events or social pressures. Such studies might help to provide programs for meeting and adjusting to the implications of such a discovery. Questions one might wish to answer by such studies would include: how might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends? What might be the role of the discovering scientists and other decision makers regarding release of the fact of discovery?"
Note that the text gives exactly equal weight to the expressions "presented to" and "withheld from." Note that this text merely recommends a research effort, and does not itself express any opinion on the matter. Note that no such research was ever in fact funded or carried out. Surely, a man would need to be very dishonest to cite this report as evidence that NASA was directed to cover up ET evidence.
"So here we had the proverbial smoking gun. Not only was NASA advised--almost from its inception--to withhold any data that supported the reality of Cydonia or any other discovery like it, they were told to do so for the good of human society as a whole." --Dark Mission 2nd edn, p. 163
Appearing in the cable TV show Ancient Aliens (S4E5, The NASA Connection), Mike Bara said this:
"The Brookings Report said very specifically, 'Don't tell anyone'"
"To really understand the official NASA non-disclosure policy, ... we must first remember an important historical point. NASA internal policy prohibits disclosure by command and control mechanisms engineered and implemented after the Brookings Institution 1960's report on "Peaceful Uses of Outer Space".[sic]
In that report, the Brookings Institution recommended prohibition of disclosure, with a warning against the revelation of the existence of extraterrestrial life to the people of America or the world. Brookings Institution thinkers feared social, economic and religious upheaval would result."
These quite incorrect opinions appear to find ready and uncritical acceptance in such arenas as overnight radio shows and amateur "internet radio". They have now become an embedded part of the credo of the woo community.
- TMA-1: The Martian Artifact -- A Sign of Intelligent Life on Mars
- On 20 January 2015, challenged about this question on Facebook, Morningstar stated "The fact is that the Brookings Report began to issue recommendations in 1960, but it was revised regularly through 1967. I use the 1967 Edition of the Brookings Report, not the 1960 edition." Further challenged to cite passages from the claimed "1967 edition" that justify his assertions, Mr. Morningstar exercised his right to remain silent.
- pdf of the Report
- 1996 re-issue in html format
- Page from Richard Hoagland's webshite on the report
- Mankind is Warned to Prepare For Discovery of Life in Space -- Transcribed from New York Times, 15 December 1960
- Woodard, Keith (30 November 1997). "Brookings Report Re-examined". virtuallystrange.net. Archived from the original on 28 October 2002. http://web.archive.org/web/20021028174130/http://www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/1997/nov/m30-005.shtml. Retrieved 16 November 2012.
- Communications, Technology, and Extraterrestrial Life: The Advice Brookings Gave NASA about the Space Program in 1960 --Brookings Now, 12 May 2014, by Fred Dews
- Above Top Secret forum thread on Brookings from April 2009
- Hoagland, Richard C.; Bara, Mike (2007). Dark Mission: The Secret History of NASA. Port Townsend: Feral House. ISBN 978-1-932-59526-0.