Steven Greer Claims U.S. Intelligence Blackmailed Carl Sagan into Debunking UFOs
UFO disclosure advocate Dr. Steven Greer’s recent documentary Unacknowledged is now on Netflix. In the documentary, Greer adopts the claims put forward by Donald Zygutis in 2016 that Carl Sagan was on the receiving end of a government effort to force him to become a debunker: “After he was threatened by the intelligence community, and blackmailed, he then began to debunk the issue.” It seems fairly clear that the claim was lifted from Zygutis, but it’s interesting to see the way a bad idea with zero evidence in its favor.
If anything, Sagan was actually the target of Soviet efforts to convince him to promote UFO and ancient astronaut issues. While in the 1950s, the Soviets largely dismissed UFOs as a product of American “war psychosis,” these subjects were a known subject of Soviet propaganda in the 1960s (see, for example, articles the Soviets wrote about ancient astronauts in magazines for Western consumption, and the sheer volume of material in early ancient astronaut books attributed to Soviet sources), and Sagan himself even seemed to recognize that the Soviet government had something going on behind the scenes. The Soviets, for example, facilitated his partnership with Iosif Shklovskii, whose ancient astronaut speculations Sagan added to and enhanced for his English edition of Shklovskii’s book Intelligent Life in the Universe.
That book came out in 1966. The next year, Robert Low, the project coordinator for the University of Colorado’s Air Force-sponsored study of UFOs, better known as the Condon Commission, outlined the Russian involvement in a letter of December 8, 1967 to J. Thomas Ratchford, then working for the Air Force Office of Scientific Research:
When you get a chance, I would appreciate it if you would let Art Lundahl know that I have been in contact with Carl Sagan about the establishment of the UFO commission in the USSR. While Sagan is very interested in the UFO problem and in what we’re doing and also in the recent developments in Russia, he felt reluctant to contact Shklovskii. His reasoning is that, since the Soviet investigation is being conducted by the military, it would be difficult for Shklovskii to say anything whatever about it without compromising himself. Hence, Sagan felt nervous about even asking him to comment on the matter.
The American effort to reach out to the Soviets in investigating UFOs—which, for the Condon Committee included ancient astronauts—coincided with the Soviet Union’s big push to deliver ancient astronaut propaganda to the West. Sputnik, the USSR’s magazine for Western readers, ran articles about ancient astronauts that very same year, and provided them to UFO Contact magazine for American publication.
That’s not to say that the American intelligence services weren’t involved in monitoring Sagan. There is a small grain of truth to the story, according to no less an authority than Sagan himself.
In a famous incident that occurred in 1961, Air Force Intelligence became concerned about Sagan’s close ties to Soviet scientists and sent an agent, whom Sagan called “Igor Rogovin,” who was under cover with the Library of Congress, to spy on him when he met in Los Angeles with Alexander Alexandrovich Imshenetsky, who was then studying exobiology—potential space microbes. The Air Force arranged the meeting and evidently had taken an interest in Soviet efforts to find extraterrestrial life.
Rogovin—a fake name—pretended to be the Soviets’ translator, even though the Soviets were fluent in English, and inserted himself into every conversation, dominating the dialogue. When the Soviets went to use the restroom at the airport, Rogovin asked Sagan to provide him with intelligence, mistaking Sagan for a fellow spy. Sagan was suspicious. He mistook Rogovin for a CIA agent and called the CIA’s San Francisco office, and the agency briefly mistook him for a Soviet spy in a comedy of errors, and the Air Force dispatched Rogovin again in 1963 to spy on Sagan and Imshenetsky at a Committee on Space Research meeting in Florence, this time with his face masked behind a beard.
Sagan himself told the story in 1973 in Carl Sagan’s Cosmic Connection, but what he did not explore in significant detail was that both the American government and the Soviet government were using UFOs and ancient astronauts as another playing field in the Cold War, and Sagan expressed his shock and outrage that the American spy agencies attempted to manipulate young scientists into engaging in spy games to gain insight into Soviet space plans, or to prevent Americans from sharing their own information with the Soviets. “That American intelligence agencies would attempt to use comparatively innocent young scientists (I was twenty-seven and politically unsophisticated) to carry out such a purpose is appalling,” he wrote. “At least it appalls me.”
This was not the last time that Sagan got caught up in intelligence matters. Sergei Tretyakov, a Soviet spy, claimed that around 1980, the KGB had used the connections between Sagan and Russia to feed Sagan false information about nuclear winter as part of a plot to exaggerate the effect of nuclear war to deter American aggression. Sagan was a leading anti-nuclear advocate at the time, but so far as I know, no one has confirmed Tretyakov’s allegations, made in a 2008 book, and there are many who consider it either an exaggeration, a lie, or CIA disinformation.
From his first meeting with a Soviet scientist to his partnership with Shklovskii and his attendance at Soviet-sponsored extraterrestrial life conferences, Sagan’s close working relationship with the Soviets kept him in the sights of America’s many intelligence services. It was this grain of truth that allowed the conspiracy that the U.S. government “turned” Sagan from believer to debunker to blossom.
1/2/2018 11:04:23 am
In the ever-present paranoia that was the Cold War era, it doesn't come as any surprise that Sagan would have unwittingly got caught up in the Spy vrs. Spy vrs. Spy UFO intelligence games between Russia and the U.S.<P>
1/2/2018 02:06:32 pm
"There's a big difference between acknowledging the existence of UFO's ( Unidentified Flying Objects) and believing in Alien Spaceships landings and Ancient Aliens populating the earth."
THE REAL DR GREER
1/3/2018 06:13:38 am
I am indeed 'keeping it tight'.
1/2/2018 01:13:35 pm
Here's what I find irritating about the claim being made: Sagan came to the conclusion there was something valid about the extraterrestrial claims of his day ON HIS OWN. Later in life, Sagan reversed his position, again, ON HIS OWN. Zygutis and his ilk can't accept that, so they create conspiracy theories about government coercion.
1/2/2018 01:56:39 pm
In fairness, Only Me, I've never changed my mind about anything unless the government told me to.
1/2/2018 04:26:45 pm
That's what they want you to think. Ha. No, just kidding. Sagan was not some mysterious spectral guru with cosmic knowledge. He was a scientist who happened to fancy fantasy also. This does not mean he has been force fed stories and changed his mind accordingly. Hive these guys read Sagan's books? They lean more toward a love of scifi and aliens than to some conspiracy by then G men forcing him to recant some of his stuff. If there was one, how come he made a story about 'Contact', among others, 'the series Cosmos', about what it would be like if aliens actually contacted us?
1/3/2018 02:55:05 am
Yes, thank you! All things considered, time and space make for some pretty big hurdles to overcome in the vastness of the cosmos and Carl Sagan knew that. Throw in our infinitely small plant/solar system into this vast universe and it is extremely unlikely that intelligent life could find us, that is unless they were looking for "us" in particular. And even then what are the odds that anyone out there could find us? It would probably be like trying to identify one atom out of hundreds of billions of atoms in a complex molecule!
1/2/2018 04:31:18 pm
Jason: I need to expose the untruth you are spreading that Carl Sagan changed his mind about ancient aliens. In one of the last books he wrote, The Demon-Haunted World, published in 1995, just a year before his death, he wrote:
1/2/2018 04:49:03 pm
So Sagan said we should do archaeology and consider "ironclad evidence". When you have ironclad evidence we can consider it under Sagan's Law.
1/2/2018 07:17:34 pm
What, exactly, is there to apologize for? You seem to have trouble with shades of gray and gradations of possibility. Sagan believed that it was unlikely that aliens visited the ancient Earth and influenced culture, but we should keep our eyes out for evidence just in case. This is hardly different from my own frequent refrain that ancient astronauts are possible, but that no one has provided any evidence in support of their existence. But you also know darned well that the sentence you excerpt from Sagan comes in the middle of a page about the human tendency to overlook or dismiss rational explanations, and the sentence itself is listed among the "mistakes" of famous scientists--in this case, he massages the truth a bit to make it sound like he was always more skeptical of ancient astronauts than he was early on.
1/2/2018 07:53:37 pm
Jason: Your response was apology enough, Thank you. I'm glad that you agree that it is possible that Earth has been visited by extraterrestrials, and that we should keep an eye out for evidence, just in case. You are wrong, however, in stating that no one has provided any hard evidence. The Newton Bible Code is empirical evidence waiting to be forensically tested by cryptanalysis. Furthermore, it conforms to Sagan's model of ancient alienism. You seem to agree with me that my claim cannot be debunked to a scientific certainty through the humanities, as you have so admirably tried to do.
1/2/2018 11:31:22 pm
Hi Don,, I was wondering if you could explain to me why all pseudo nutbars cannot figure out what the word "forensic" means ?
1/3/2018 01:13:30 pm
"The Newton Bible Code is empirical evidence waiting to be forensically tested by cryptanalysis."
1/3/2018 01:59:56 pm
"The Newton Bible Code is empirical evidence waiting to be forensically tested by cryptanalysis."
1/3/2018 03:07:04 am
There is no ironclad evidence of ancient aliens. What is passed as evidence is NOT. Sagan was emphasizing this in his book, he was open to the idea if evidence came to light. If anything he was trying to let people know that HE never claimed that aliens had been here! He was trying to let people know that he believed it was possible, but that no proof had ever arisen to support such a claim, and that people had taken his statements that he (Carl) had made as being "mainstream scientist" supporting the "Ancient Alien Theory". People who decry the "mainstream" today sure were happy to have Carls "mainstream support" (even though it was not).
1/3/2018 03:13:05 am
JIM - Nobody can look dumber than Pulitzer!
1/3/2018 12:19:04 am
Jason - I think I'll pass on Jim's comment as not worth the effort. I am, however, mad as hell at you for linking my research in with the Greer documentary. I wasted 2 hours watching what is a crock of s - - - when I could have been doing something more constructive, like trimming my toenails. Your attempt to discredit my research by associating it with Jim's "pseudo nutbars" is unbecoming of a man who claims to adhere to the lofty ideals of an honest skeptic. You're better than that!
1/3/2018 12:41:51 am
Glad to be of service Don. Hopefully in the future, as a writer, you will be more careful in your choice of words.
1/3/2018 03:36:13 am
You know Mr Zygutis that the last man to claim to have 100% proof, verified, non-deniable facts to support his claim to this community was J Hutton Pulitzer. I don't know if you know who he is, but he pretty much a disaster of an individual. In the end he was thoroughly "proven wrong". I won't go into the details (they are many), but this challenge of yours to disprove the Newton Bible Code as you call it probably won't end well for you. Not here.
1/3/2018 05:05:01 am
I didn't link your ideas to Greer, Don. Greer did that by using your main idea as a point in his documentary. Get made a Greer for appropriating your claim, not me for reporting it.
1/3/2018 04:14:08 am
If you want to know where Greer, Zygutis et.al. got their ideas from, watch the last episode of the 1990s TV series 'Dark Skies' which has a scene where an actor (badly) portraying Sagan agrees to act as a stooge for an agency covering up alien visitation.
1/3/2018 06:06:05 am
Hey, say that again and I'll knock you out with one punch,coz I am tough.
1/3/2018 06:04:29 am
How dare you doubt the great Dr Greer!
RICHARD. C. HOAGLAND
1/3/2018 06:09:17 am
I knew Sagan really well.. Blah Blah Blah
1/3/2018 03:42:25 pm
Jason - Those who follow your blog appear to be the kind who shoot first and ask questions later. If they actually read my statements they would realize that I am on your side and their side - not on the side of pseudoscience and irrationalism. I appreciate their passion for truth and their determination to face down bullshit - but in attacking me they are barking up the wrong tree.
1/3/2018 05:59:58 pm
Don,,,,," The skeptics are wrong. The Smoking Gun is real, it has been found, and is now ready to be tested at the highest levels. What many have said would be the greatest scientific discovery in human history if it ever happened is now an accomplished fact."
1/3/2018 07:21:38 pm
Dear Brother Donald Zygutis,
1/4/2018 06:53:59 am
1/4/2018 10:27:23 am
Thanks, RobZ! As for the source you ask about, in all modesty, I must confess: “The Devil made me do it!”
1/4/2018 08:34:17 am
Even Satan knows that diddling children is not celibacy. His greatness won't allow such ilk into his club when they expire.
1/4/2018 03:43:54 pm
1/4/2018 04:40:27 pm
Where are you institutionalized?
1/4/2018 06:02:42 pm
Bread wine and oil ?
1/4/2018 09:42:18 pm
What do you expect from a guy who got a degree from a college where the primary prerequisite for admission is believing that Jesus had magic powers...
1/4/2018 04:57:11 pm
"my goal of having the grain, wine, and oil sequences tested by cryptanalysis."
1/4/2018 05:11:22 pm
Dear Brother Donald,
1/4/2018 05:22:49 pm
Of course, it’s only fair that I subject Jason Colavito to the same cryptanalysis and this yielded two notable results, both attesting to Jason’s sunny disposition in 2 different aspects of his life.
An Over-Educated Grunt
1/6/2018 11:38:13 am
Unsurprisingly, he also hates neckerchiefs.
1/7/2018 03:15:38 pm
I remember back in the 90s when I could still stand to listen to Art Bell's show Greer came on to explain that for a substantial sum he could teach people to go out into the Nevada desert and teach anyone how to "vector in UFOs with a flashlight". Must not have been a huge money maker for him though. I think he was charging $600 for the lessons.
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