The Never-Ending Search for UFOs and Extraterrestrial Intelligence - Washington Post

Here's a mainstream science reporter's short appraisal of three important new books: Mark O'Connell's biography of J. Allen Hynek The Close Encounters Man: How One Man Made the World Believe in UFOs, Sarah Scoles' Making Contact: Jill Tarter and the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence, and Jim Al-Khalili's Aliens: The World's Leading Scientists on the Search for Extraterrestrial Life. Reviewer Sarah Kaplan is upfront about her bias against UFO belief, and overall is fair and respectful to the Hynek book, although she's not completely accurate that Carl Sagan "was unwilling to believe that extraterrestrials might have visited Earth" and her list of reasons for the Air Force closing Project Blue Book is somewhat deficient. She makes a good case for purchasing the book about SETI researcher Jill Tarter and the Neanderthalian challenges females still face in science and engineering. Kaplan's description of the Jim Al-Khalili collection of essays makes clear the range and fascination of its topics. And Kaplan illuminates the connectedness Al-Khalili's Aliens has with the other two works, for "The world in which this book was published is one that Hynek and Tarter helped make." A very worthwhile review. (WM)

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