Condon Report

The Condon Report was a final 1,465-page document arising from the study headed by Edward Condon into the phenomenon of unidentified flying objects based primarily on data collected by Project Blue Book. It was delivered to the US Air Force in November 1968 and released in January 1969. In it, Condon wrote:


Our general conclusion is that nothing has come from the study of UFOs in the past 21 years that has added to scientific knowledge. Careful consideration of the record as it is available to us leads us to conclude that further extensive study of UFOs probably cannot be justified ...


The Report attracted widespread criticism, not least from some parts of the scientific community, which felt that, whether or not the extraterrestrial hypothesis was valid, the Condon study had been too quick to dismiss certain well-documented UFO cases for which there was no obvious explanation. The American Institute for Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA) had formed a subcommittee on UFOs in 1967 which, following the release of the Condon Report, issued its first public statement:


The Committee has made a careful examination of the present state of the UFO issue and has concluded that the controversy cannot be resolved without further study in a quantitative scientific manner and that it deserves the attention of the engineering and scientific community.


In December 1969, at its annual meeting in Boston, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) held a symposium, organized by a committee including Carl Sagan, Philip Morrison, and Thornton Page, to allow a more open and thorough airing of scientific views than it was felt the Condon report had achieved.



1. Sturrock, Peter, A. "An Analysis of the Condon Report on the Colorado UFO Project," Journal of Scientific Exploration, 1, No. 1, 75-100 (1987).


The "Condon Report," presenting the findings of the Colorado Project on a scientific study of unidentified flying objects, has been and remains the most influential public document concerning the scientific status of this problem. Hence, all current scientific work on the UFO problem must make reference to the Condon Report. For this reason, it remains important to understand the contents of this report, the work on which the report is based, and the relationship of the "Summary of the Study" and "Conclusions and Recommendations" to the body of the report. The present analysis of this report contains an overview, an analysis of evidence by categories, and a discussion of scientific methodology. The overview shows that most case studies were conducted by junior staff; the senior staff took little part, and the director took no part, in these investigations. The analysis of evidence by categories shows that there are substantial and significant differences between the findings of the project staff and those that the director attributes to the project. Although both the director and the staff are cautious in stating questions, the staff tend to emphasize challenging cases and unanswered questions, whereas the director emphasizes the difficulty of further study and the probability that there is no scientific knowledge to be gained.


Concerning methodology, it appears that the project was unable to identify current challenging cases that warranted truly exhaustive investigations. Nor did the project develop a uniform and systematic procedure for cataloging the large number of older cases with which they were provided. In drawing conclusions from the study of such a problem, the nature and scope of which are fraught with so much uncertainty, it would have been prudent to avoid theory-dependent arguments.