see flying saucers because others report seeing them.
But this "will to see" may have deeper roots, almost religious implications, for some people. Consciously or unconsciously, they want UFO's to be real and to
come from outer space. These individuals, frightened perhaps by threats of atomic destruction, or lesser fears -- who knows what -- act as if nothing that men can do can
save the earth. Instead, they seek salvation from outer space, on the forlorn premise that flying saucer men, by their very existence, are wiser and more advanced than
we. Such people may reason that a race of men capable of interplanetary travel have lived well into, or through, an atomic age. They have survived and they can tell us
their secret of survival. Maybe the threat of an atomic war unified their planet and allowed them to divert their war effort to one of social and technical
advancement. To such people a searchlight on a cloud or a bright star is an interplanetary spaceship.
If all the UFO reports that the Air Force has received in the past eight years could be put in this "psychological quirk" category, Project Blue Book would
never have been organized. It is another class of reports that causes the Air Force to remain interested in UFO's. This class of reports are called "Unknowns."
In determining the identity of a UFO, the project based its method of operation on a well-known psychological premise. This premise is that to get a reaction from one
of the senses there must be a stimulus. If you think you see a UFO you must have seen something. Pure hallucinations are extremely rare.
For anything flying in the air the stimulus could be anything that is normally seen in the air. Balloons, airplanes, and astronomical bodies are the commoner stimuli.
Birds and insects are common also, but usually are seen at such close range that they are nearly always recognized. Infrequently observed things, such as sundogs,
mirages, huge fireballs, and a host of other unusual flying objects, are also known stimuli.
On Project Blue Book our problem was to identify these stimuli. We had methods for checking the location, at any time, of every balloon launched anywhere in the United
States. To a certain degree the same was true for airplanes. The UFO observer's estimate of where the object was located in the sky helped us to identify astronomical
bodies. Huge files of UFO characteristics, along with up-to-the-minute weather data, and advice from specialists, permitted us to identify such things as sun-dogs,
paper caught in updrafts, huge meteors
This determination of the stimuli that triggered UFO sightings, while not an insurmountable task, was a long, tedious process. The identification of known