Raymond Palmer’s Flying Saucers & the Stymie Factor - Revisited
by Alan Steinfeld
Is it our fate that the truth shall forever evade our conscious awareness or are we at the threshold of awakening to the greater secrets of the cosmos? Is this our collective moment for coming into harmony with the rest of the manifest universe? Are we ready to meet whatever is out there? Or is it our fate to be eternally grasping at straws hoping our efforts will lead us out of ignorance?
This article celebrates 75 years of FATE bringing to the public a deeper awareness about the true fate of this planet and its human inhabitants. It is also a tribute to the knowledge and foresight of FATE’s co-founder and first publisher, Raymond A. Palmer. One researcher still active in the field which began with Palmer’s investigations, Dr. James J. Hurtak, said: “Ray Palmer was the best and most trusted investigator of his day. His emanant research was vital for setting the tone for serious UFO studies from the 1940s through the 1970s.” Years before the historic Kenneth Arnold sighting Palmer was already speculating about the presence of alien spacecrafts in our skies as part of his fiction publication, AMAZING STORIES. One of his biographers said Palmer “pretty much started the whole UFO craze.”
Palmer’s quotes, highlighted in blue below, are taken directly from his final public appearance at the Chicago UFO convention on June 25th, 1977, where he focused on his last book Flying Saucers & the Stymie Factor. The lecture was a culmination of a life dedicated to everything other-worldly. He died a few weeks later with many projects still in the works. His five-decade career began with his first story, “The Time Ray of Jandra,” published in the June 1930 issue of Wonder Stories. After establishing other magazines in a similar pulp format FATE was founded 1948. He also began a string of occult periodicals such as FLYING SAUCERS, SEARCH and MYSTIC. As well as making available to the public important paranormal books such as OAHSPE, THE SMOKY GOD, and A JOURNEY TO THE EARTH’S INTERIOR.
Dave Truesdale, in the Introduction to the Stymie Factor remarks how central Palmer was in establishing the budding UFO field. He writes: “I say, as have others, that if there is any one person responsible for promoting the existence of “flying saucers,” or UFOs as they are more widely and generically known today, it is Raymond A. Palmer.” He goes on to say that without RAP there might be no awareness of the UFO mystery today. Not shy about bragging what other admirers liked to share Palmer would say about himself that “for most of his life he claimed to be the true pioneer in the saga of UFOs.”
However, I was unaware of his influence when I curated the collection of essays for my latest book on UFOs called Making Contact: Preparing for the New Realities of Extraterrestrial Existence. After learning more about his work, I can say that the scope of RAP’s impact on sizing up the phenomena was key in setting the tone for sincere and intelligent investigation into the UFO phenomena. With that level of respect, I am in tremendous agreement with much of what Ray put forth in his 5 decades of scholarship. However, in the second part of the article I will highlight how I think the contemporary field of UFOlogy has gone beyond much of Palmer’s original considerations. To begin, I want to point out how astute Palmer was in his initial analysis of what is still an inexplicable and speculative field. For instance, one of the issues Palmer raised in his Stymie Factor speech was: “The flying saucers cannot be a multitude of things — they have to be a singular thing, although they may possess many facets. We have been looking at the facets, and have both failed and refused to see the thing in its entirety.” This statement explains precisely why I chose to take a collaborative approach in Making Contact. The book is a multiplicity of opinions concerning the “contact” question. With original essays from people, I consider the top in the UFO field - Linda Moulton Howe, Grant Cameron, Nick Pope, Whitley Strieber, a previously unpublished essay by Professor John Mack and a few other notables. The collection offers the reader an overview of the “facets” that have been studied in order to synthesized their onw understanding of the subject. One of the most veteran investigators in the field, Linda Moulton Howe’s personal essay in book admits that even after forty years of research the phenomena is like “a house of mirrors with a quicksand sliding floor.” This is because as we have learned from Palmer’s time and onwards - no one person or organization has been able to coherently explain the multiple facets of that these mysterious crafts reveal.