Canadian Stanton Friedman is a superstar in the UFO world, a man who can walk into a conference about aliens and be recognized the way that golf fans recognize Tiger Woods prowling the fairways of the Masters.

Roswell, Area 51, UFOs, aliens — the New Brunswick resident can cite fine details about each.

A nuclear physicist by training, Friedman keeps busy writing books, doing interviews and attending numerous conferences (he's lectured in 18 countries so far), as well as appearing in documentaries, all geared to one of the great mysteries of the human experience: do aliens exist and have they visited Earth?

Friedman will quickly tell you they have, and he will quickly tell you it is being covered up on a grand scale. Doubters beware: he will also tell you he has not lost a debate yet about the existence of extraterrestrial life.

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The bio

  • A nuclear physicist who lives in Fredericton.
  • Became interested in UFOs in 1958.
  • Has published more than 90 UFO papers and appeared on hundreds of radio and TV programs including Larry King Live.
  • Credited with bringing 1947 Roswell, N.M., incident back to forefront in the 1970s.
  • Has provided written testimony to U.S. congressional hearings, appeared twice at the UN.
  • Inducted into Roswell's UFO Hall of Fame for his long-term investigative efforts.

"I have had only 11 hecklers of whom two were drunk. In addition, I have appeared on hundreds of TV and radio shows, been involved in five books, numerous documentaries and won several debates, and lost none," Friedman responded in an emailed answer to questions from CBCNews.ca.

One of the main lecturers this year at the annual UFO conference in Roswell, which starts July 1, he clearly doesn't shrink from defending his great quest, more than 40 years in the making, as you can see in this interview with CBCNews.ca.

Do you remember the moment, or moments, that you looked at the skies and thought, 'There's life out there?' 

There were no epiphany moment. I read a lot of science-fiction stories when I was young and pretty much assumed there was other life out there. I read my first serious book, The Report On UFOs by air force captain Edward J. Ruppelt, former head of United States Air Force project Blue Book, in 1958.

I was a 24-year-old nuclear physicist working at the General Electric Aircraft Nuclear Propulsion Department in Cincinnati. The USAF was co-sponsor with the Atomic Energy Commission and we spent $100 million that year and employed 3,500 people of which 1,100 were engineers or scientists. In the next three years I read about a dozen other books, some of which were trash.

Then, to my surprise, in about 1961, at the library of the University of California, Berkeley, I found a copy of a privately published version of the largest study ever done for the U.S. government — Project Blue Book Special Report No. 14.

It hadn't been mentioned in any of the books I had read and had over 200 charts, tables, graphs and maps about the more than 3,200 UFO cases studied.

Most astonishing was the widely distributed press release of Oct. 25, 1955, in which the secretary of the air force, Donald Quarles, flat out lied when he said: "Even the unknown three per cent could have been identified as conventional phenomena or illusions if more complete observational data had been available."

In reality, 21.5 per cent of the cases couldn't be explained, completely separate from the 9.3 per cent listed as "insufficient Information." Thus began my crusade in the early 1960s.

How do people react to you in a social setting when they find out what you do?

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The big events, places

Roswell, N.M.: In 1947, something crashed in the desert. The U.S. military said it was a surveillance balloon, but there are many others who believe that what crashed was an alien spacecraft. The Roswell Army Air Field issued a press release saying a flying disc had been recovered near a ranch. They later said it was a balloon.

Area 51: A remote military base in Nevada where some believe technology from alien ships is being tested, and where aliens have been held for testing. The U.S. military confirms the location of Area 51 but will say nothing more about it.

No, I don't get taken to be a nut. Many people have seen me on TV and heard me on radio. Some have even read one of my books. Most people agree with me once they hear the evidence.

Fewer than two per cent have read any of the five large-scale scientific studies on which I focus. I raise the objections of the debunkers and then demolish them. It is a complete myth that most people, especially professionals, think the subject is nonsense.

I have spoken to many professional groups. There is an entire chapter in my 2008 book Flying Saucers and Science about the actual opinion poll results.

Despite the false claims of a small group of nasty, noisy negativists, most people accept ET reality even though they think most others don't. I check my audiences and find at the end of my lecture that about 10 per cent of the attendees have had a sighting. But 90 per cent didn't report it because of a fear of ridicule.

I am trying to lift the laughter curtain.

What will happen to the Earth when we discover for certain that aliens exist? And will the aliens be friendly or will they do harm to us?

I have no idea how the world will respond. I believe it will depend entirely on how the information is presented.

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Cars coming from the A27 highway take the Houten exit and ride their vehicles around a UFO landing pad on the outskirts of Houten, central Netherlands. (Reuters)

If we are told the visitors are evil and plan to destroy us, that would give a very different reaction from what would happen if we find out they are here primarily to make sure that we don't go out there until we learn to behave in a civilized fashion.

Clearly, from an alien viewpoint, we are a primitive society whose major activity is tribal warfare. In the Second World War, we earthlings killed 50 million of our own kind and destroyed 1,700 cities. This year we will spend $1 trillion on things military, while more than 25,000 children die needlessly of preventable disease or starvation every day.

Roswell, Area 51 and other U.S. locations play a big role in what you and others are investigating. Are there any Canadian connections to the UFO mystery?

I am the original civilian investigator of the Roswell incident and will once again be there in early July for the annual festival.

Area 51 is not a primary focus at all despite a new book with an outlandish explanation for Roswell.

[The book suggests the Russians were behind UFO sightings.]

There is real evidence from all over the world including more than 4,000 physical trace cases from more than 70 countries. The Mutual UFO Network receives more than 300 reports per month.

Some interesting (Canadian) cases include the Shag Harbor, N.S., crash, in October 1967. I will be there in early August for their conference. The Stephen Michalak case of Falcon Lake, Man., was an excellent case. Chris Rutkowski of Winnipeg collects reports from all over the country.

Seek and ye shall find.

When people doubt that there are aliens and doubt they have visited here, what do they say is needed to convince them?

There aren't many doubters. The four primary rules for the debunkers are: (A) Don't bother me with the facts, my mind is made up. (B) What the public doesn't know, I won't tell them. (C) If one can't attack the data, attack the people. (D) Do one's research by proclamation, because investigation is too much trouble. All together the attitude is to put down what one is not up on.

I deal with such silly objections as governments can't keep secrets, or one can't get here from there in Flying Saucers and Science and also in Science Was Wrong, co-authored by Kathleen Marden. We also wrote Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience. Marden is Betty's niece. Again, the skeptics haven't done their homework. Their disbelief is primarily a result of ignorance of the evidence.

There are some who insist that religion teaches there are no aliens. I refer them to Dr. Barry Downing's excellent book The Bible and Flying Saucers.

It seems more people believe these days that life is out there in the stars. Are they getting sucked in by the hype of popular  movies or is it something more?

I think most people have come to realize that we live in an enormous universe, which is not only huge but billions of years old and there seems to be nothing special about Earth that would lead us to believe our situation is unique.

It is easy to forget that it was less than 90 years ago that we realized that there is more than one galaxy. It is less than 20 years since we discovered many exoplanets.

The Kepler spacecraft in just a short part of its life seems to have found more than 1,200 exoplanets in a relatively tiny portion of the heavens. Many more will follow. We didn't realize until less than 75 years ago that nuclear fusion provides 10 million times as much energy per reaction as does chemical combustion. I worked on a study of fusion rockets.

We are slowly beginning to realize that technological progress comes from doing things differently in an unpredictable way and the future is not an extrapolation of the past.

Until Copernicus, we thought we were at the centre of the universe and all the heavenly bodies including the sun revolved around the Earth. Now we know the sun isn't in the centre either, and we are clearly not the big shots we would like to think we are.

People aren't being sucked in by science fiction, but a growing awareness of our relative unimportance in the larger scheme of things.

Some say the world will change more than we can understand if aliens reveal themselves to us. Do you think this is true? How might things change?

Again I can't predict how people will react since it will depend upon how information about alien reality is presented and what facts are given.

It is easy to forget that from the viewpoint of many governments of alien visitation, there is a strong national security concern. Namely how can we duplicate the alien technology for military benefit and not permit our "enemies" to know what we have learned.

I talk about this in my paper to be presented at the 42nd annual Mutual UFO Network symposium in Irvine, Calif., on July 31.

'It is time for a wake-up call. We are not alone.'

—Stanton Friedman, UFO hunter

The biggest problem is with nationalism. No government wants its citizens to owe their allegiance to the planet instead of that individual government.

People in power want to stay in power. Governments have a past history of often not taking courageous steps for the benefit of their people, but rather looking out for themselves first. The wave of unrest in the Middle East suggests some things are changing and more freedom is being sought.

One more thing that certainly needs to change is for the press to do its job and dig out the facts. One of a dozen PhD theses about UFOs (By Dr. Herbert Strentz) has some strong comments to make about the inadequacy of the press efforts. For example, how could the New York Times blindly accept the crazy notion that crash test dummies dropped in New Mexico were the explanation for bodies supposedly seen in Roswell in 1947.

In fact, none were dropped until at least six years later and all were the size and weight of pilots (175 pounds and six feet tall) and were in pilot uniforms. Witnesses talked of short skinny guys with big heads. Hardly the same thing.

It is time for a wake-up call. We are not alone.