Leading UFO Expert Dies at 84

Stanton Friedman dies

Stanton Friedman was a highly respected believer in extraterrestrial visitors.

By S.T. Patrick

Stanton Friedman, one of the foremost UFOlogists in the world, died in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada on May 13. Friedman was a giant in the field of UFOlogy and entered the field as a working nuclear physicist, having graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Chicago. As an academician and scientist in a field known for eccentrics, Friedman worked to bring legitimacy to the study of unidentified flying objects.

Friedman’s rise in national popularity coincided with that of Art Bell’s radio program “Coast to Coast AM.” Friedman was a frequent guest of Bell and quickly became a listener favorite. There was a wave of attention being paid to UFOs in the mid- to late-1990s. Friedman rode that wave by publishing what are now considered two of the seminal books in the field: Top Secret/MAJIC (1996) and Crash at Corona: The Definitive Story of the Roswell Incident (1997). Friedman was the leading civilian investigator on the 1947 UFO crash near Roswell, N.M. and spent a career studying the case, unearthing supporting documentation and interviewing key witnesses.

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Top Secret/MAJIC concerns Friedman’s experience with and the history of the Majestic-12 documents, which Friedman and fellow UFOlogists Jaime Shandera and Bill Moore first received in 1984. The eight pages of documents purported to show how the government covered up the Roswell investigation. To do so and to deal with similar future events, President Harry Truman had authorized the creation of a top-secret committee of 12. Debate over the validity of the documents and the existence of Majestic-12 has raged since the story was made public.

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Like Art Bell, former CNN host Larry King had a keen interest in UFOs. When King would organize his highly rated UFO specials, Friedman was one of the first calls King’s staff made. While Friedman had a calm, pleasant demeanor that made him a favorite of conference organizers worldwide, he was not above dissenting against some of the most consequential stories and personalities in the field. Along with KLAS-TV reporter George Knapp, Bob Lazar is the man most responsible for making “Area 51” a household name. Lazar claims to have back-engineered alien craft during a brief stint at the even-more-secret S-4 facility outside Area 51.

While Knapp has always garnered a well-earned degree of credibility, Friedman believed Lazar was a “fraud,” and said so often. Friedman intensely questioned Lazar’s reported educational and scientific backgrounds as the basis of his critique, and he wasn’t alone. Lazar’s story remains one of the lightning rods in UFOlogy, a notoriously fractured community.

Friedman was also very critical of SETI, an organization that monitors electromagnetic radiation for transmissions from outer space. SETI’s position is that extraterrestrials do exist, but that they are “out there” and have not been to Earth. Friedman termed SETI the “Silly Effort To Investigate.”

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According to a 20th Century Fox survey, 47% of Americans believe in aliens and 39% believe they have visited Earth. A similar poll taken in 2015 by Ipsos reported that 45% of Americans believed in UFOs. Friedman was a leading proponent of the idea that nearly half of Americans believe is a reality.

Friend and co-author Kathleen Marden said of Friedman: “He went further than most researchers in that he did on-site investigations. He went to actual physical archives to do his research. He was an outstanding researcher, highly intelligent, and had a great sense of humor.” As reported in the first issue of Deep Truth Journal, Friedman officially retired last year. Yet, his daughter told newspapers that he kept taking engagements because “he loved talking about UFOs.” Friedman has appeared more than any speaker at the conferences of the Mutual UFO Network. Fittingly, he died of a heart attack at Toronto Pearson Airport, returning home from a speaking engagement in Ohio. Friedman was 84.

S.T. Patrick holds degrees in both journalism and social studies education. He spent 10 years as an educator and now hosts the “Midnight Writer News Show.” His email is [email protected]. He is also an occasional contributor to TBR history magazine and the current managing editor of Deep Truth Journal (DTJ), a new conspiracy-focused publication available from the AFP Online Store.