Thesis ID: CBB377150568

Reliable Witnesses, Crackpot Science: UFO Investigations in Cold War America, 1947-1977 (2019)


Dorsch, Kate (Author)
Lindee, Mary Susan (Advisor)

University of Pennsylvania
Lindee, Mary Susan
Publication date: 2019
Language: English

Publication Date: 2019
Physical Details: 243 pp.

This dissertation explores efforts to design and execute scientific studies of unidentified flying objects (UFOs) in the United States in the midst of the Cold War as a means of examining knowledge creation and the construction of scientific authority and credibility around controversial subjects. I begin by placing officially-sanctioned, federally-funded UFO studies in their appropriate context as a Cold War national security project, specifically a project of surveillance and observation, built on traditional arrangements within the military-industrial-academic complex. I then show how non-traditional elements of the investigations–the reliance on non-expert witnesses to report transient phenomena–created space for dissent, both within the scientific establishment and among the broader American public. By placing this dissent within the larger social and political instability of the mid-20th century, this dissertation highlights the deep ties between scientific knowledge production and the social value and valence of professional expertise, as well as the power of experiential expertise in challenging formal, hegemonic institutions.

Citation URI

This citation is part of the Isis database.

Similar Citations

Book Kalic, Sean N.; (2012)
US Presidents and the Militarization of Space, 1946--1967 (/p/isis/citation/CBB001212165/) unapi

Book Alex Roland; (2021)
Delta of Power: The Military-Industrial Complex (/p/isis/citation/CBB562475074/) unapi

Book Michael W. Hankins; (2021)
Flying Camelot: The F-15, the F-16, and the Weaponization of Fighter Pilot Nostalgia (/p/isis/citation/CBB534059302/) unapi

Essay Review Hecht, David K.; (2014)
The Perpetual Quest: Science and the Search for Authority (/p/isis/citation/CBB001566302/) unapi

Thesis Pettis, Roy C., Jr.; (2012)
When and How Presidents Use Scientific Expertise: Criteria for Success Derived from Selected Case Studies (/p/isis/citation/CBB001560846/) unapi

Book Greene, Benjamin P.; (2007)
Eisenhower, Science Advice, and the Nuclear Test-Ban Debate, 1945--1963 (/p/isis/citation/CBB000741904/) unapi

Book Ian G.R. West; (2016)
Predator Empire: Drone Warfare and Full Spectrum Dominance (/p/isis/citation/CBB940545246/) unapi

Book Roberto J. González; (2022)
War Virtually: The Quest to Automate Conflict, Militarize Data, and Predict the Future (/p/isis/citation/CBB827413331/) unapi

Book Gil Eyal; (2019)
The Crisis of Expertise (/p/isis/citation/CBB193528078/) unapi

Thesis David Merritt Johns; (2019)
Good Evidence, Bad Evidence: Science, Ethics, and the Politics of Making and Unmaking Public Health Policies (/p/isis/citation/CBB199543025/) unapi

Article Kerr, Anne; Cunningham-Burley, Sarah; Tutton, Richard; (2007)
Shifting Subject Positions: Experts and Lay People in Public Dialogue (/p/isis/citation/CBB000780233/) unapi

Article Hecht, David K.; (2011)
Constructing a Scientist: Expert Authority and Public Images of Rachel Carson (/p/isis/citation/CBB001220826/) unapi

Article Timothy K. Minella; (2016)
A Pattern for Improvement: Pattern Farms and Scientific Authority in Early Nineteenth-Century America (/p/isis/citation/CBB695597850/) unapi

Article McCormick, Sabrina; (2007)
Democratizing Science Movements: A New Framework for Mobilization and Contestation (/p/isis/citation/CBB000780240/) unapi

Article Matthew Hayes; Noah Morritt; (2020)
Michael W. Burke-Gaffney and the UFO Debate in Atlantic Canada, 1947-1969 (/p/isis/citation/CBB417665220/) unapi

Book Elisa Edwards; (2011)
Race, Aliens, and the U.S. Government in African American Science Fiction (/p/isis/citation/CBB525996602/) unapi

Book Mario Daniels; John Krige; (2022)
Knowledge Regulation and National Security in Postwar America (/p/isis/citation/CBB238236707/) unapi

Authors & Contributors
Hecht, David K.
Bayer, Ronald
Billings, Linda
Cunningham-Burley, Sarah
González, Roberto J.
Greene, Benjamin Patrick
Historical Studies in the Natural Sciences
Social Studies of Science
Agricultural History
Gender and History
Scientia Canadensis: Journal of the History of Canadian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Indiana University
Columbia University
Cornell University Press
Johns Hopkins University Press
LIT Verlag
Polity Press
Authority of science
Authorities; experts
National security
Science and politics
Cold War
Military technology
Carson, Rachel Louise
Mack, John Edward
Boyd, John Richard
Time Periods
20th century, late
21st century
20th century
19th century
United States
Harvard University
United States Air Force (USAF)
United States. President's Science Advisory Committee
United States. Department of Defense

Be the first to comment!

{{ comment.created_by.username }} on {{ comment.created_on | date:'medium' }}

Log in or register to comment