Palmer, Raymond (Arthur) (1910–1977)
Eccentric editor in the 1940s of Amazing Stories, then the world's
oldest and worst science fiction pulp. The magazine was facing extinction
when, in an effort to boost sales, Palmer began running crazy stories, by
Richard Shaver, of beings who lived underground
and controlled people on the surface by means of invisible rays. These outlandish
accounts he presented not as fiction but as unadulterated fact and many
readers, it seems, were prepared to take them seriously. Amazing's
circulation soared to over a quarter of a million, testimony to the widespread
paranoia and culture of mistrust that had infected the nation at this time
(see Cold War, linked to UFO reports). From
aliens under the ground, Palmer progressed to aliens in the sky. His stories
hammered away at three main themes: aliens who abduct unsuspecting citizens
(see alien abduction), inexplicable
memory losses, and mysterious men from the government who were really alien
agents. These same ideas also pervaded Amazing's "readers' letters"
– not surprisingly, since many of them were written by Palmer himself.
By taking advantage of the national post-War mood of insecurity, and by
repeating his bizarre claims often enough, Palmer contributed to an undercurrent
of suspicion which, by the start of the saucer
flap in 1947, made it easier for people to accept the possibility of
clandestine alien activity.