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The Brookings Report or Proposed Studies on the Implications of Peaceful Space Activities for Human Affairs, was commissioned by NASA and created by the Brookings Institution; it was submitted to the House of Representatives in the 87th United States Congress on April 18, 1961. [1] Some conspiracy theorists point to a small section of the report and claim that it advocated a government cover-up of evidence of extraterrestrial life.

Description

The Brookings report discusses a number of topics related to space travel, but is perhaps most frequently cited for its conclusions regarding extraterrestrial life.

"While face-to-face meetings with it (extraterrestrial life) will not occur within the next 20 years; artifacts left at some point in time by these life forms might possibly be discovered through our space activities on the moon, Mars, or Venus." - The Implications of a Discovery of Extraterrestrial Life, page 215 [1]

The relevant portion notes that while direct contact with extraterrestrials is unlikely,

"Evidences of its existence might also be found in artifacts left on the moon or other planets. The consequences for attitudes and values are unpredictable, but would vary profoundly in different cultures and between groups within complex societies; a crucial factor would be the nature of the communication between us and the other beings. Whether or not earth would be inspired to an all-out space effort by such a discovery is moot: societies sure of their own place in the universe have disintegrated when confronted by a superior society, and others have survived even though changed. Clearly, the better we can come to understand the factors involved in responding to such crises the better prepared we may be." [2]

While not directly suggesting a cover up of evidence, the Brookings Report does suggest that contact with extraterrestrials (or strong evidence of their reality) could have a somewhat disruptive effect on humanity, and briefly mentions the possibility of withholding such evidence from the public.[3]

Some ufologists and conspiracy theorists[4] have suggested that the Brookings Reports' conclusions offers a motive for government officials to suppress evidence of extraterrestrial life, should it ever be discovered. This perhaps more sensationalistic interpretation of the Brookings Report may have been influenced by contemporary mass media coverage; a 1960 New York Times story on the subject had a headline reading "Mankind is Warned to Prepare For Discovery of Life in Space: Brookings Institution Report Says Earth's Civilization Might Topple if Faced by a Race of Superior Beings" [5]

The Brookings Report briefly considers the possibility of keeping some information from the public, but does not explicitly recommend any specific cover-up.

In his article "The Brookings Report Re-examined," Keith Woodard writes that the Brookings Report "did raise the possibility of withholding information, but took no position on its advisability. 'Questions one might wish to answer by such studies,' intoned the report, 'would include: how might such information, under what circumstances, be presented to or withheld from the public for what ends? What might be the role of the discovering scientists and other decision makers regarding release of the fact of discovery?' Those two sentences comprise the report's entire commentary on the subject of covering up the truth." [3]

The passage often quoted regarding humanity’s reaction to the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligent life was a paragraph in the portion of the study that dealt with the support for space related activities by the public. That section investigated the influence of space activities on different groups of people, and the influence of those people on space activities. It dealt more with the uncertainty of "how new ideas disseminate through societies" [6], than the reaction of societies to extraterrestrials. In addition, the Brookings Report proposed that the discovery of intelligent ET life may serve to bring humanity together.

References

  • A transcription of the full document - [1]
  • Brooking Report some scanned GIF images [2]
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