Robert Sheaffer's Books

Bad UFOs
Bad UFOs                                   Critical Thinking About UFO Claims

                                                                by  Robert Sheaffer

What explains the human fascination with UFOs? The first reported sighting of what was then called "flying saucers" was by private pilot Kenneth Arnold on June 24, 1947. Within a few weeks, an entire "wave" of saucer sightings swept across the U.S., and soon across the world. And within a few years this had expanded to give us UFO crashes, the Men In Black, UFO bases, military and intelligence agency conspiracies, NASA conspiracies, alien abductions, crop circles, alien autopsies, alien-human hybrids, cattle mutilations, and the list just continues to grow.
Do the "saucers" (later renamed "UFOs") represent visitors from some other planet, or possibly even something more bizarre? How have they evaded unambiguous detection for about seventy years? Is this because the methods of science cannot capture them? Or do reports of UFOs have much in common with reports of ghosts, witches, Bigfoot, and other creatures that are widely discussed and widely believed, but exist only in the imaginations of those who pursue them?

Bad UFOs discusses some of the most famous and controversial UFO cases of all time, from a rational and scientific perspective:

    the Betty and Barney Hill ‘UFO abduction’ account
    the Phoenix Lights
    the Roswell ‘UFO crash,’ and the recent ‘Roswell Slides’
    the supposed ‘UFO landing’ in Rendlesham Forest
    Travis Walton’s ‘UFO abduction’ claim
    UFOs seen using Night Vision equipment
    Steven Greer’s Disclosure Project, and ET Contact Protocols

Enter the Discount Code Y8ZHYK6Y to get 10% off the list price! 

At Last – A Skeptical Book that’s not just Informative, but FUN to read!
Psychic Vibrations
Skeptical Giggles from the Skeptical Inquirer
By Robert Sheaffer - Illustrations by Rob Pudim
And enter discount code SPK8R6GT using that link to get 25% off!
Lots of Healthy Laughs... I repeatedly scribbled out phrases and
notes... I highly recommend that you invest in a copy.”
- James “The Amazing” Randi, SWIFT Blog
Psychic Vibrations is now available as an E-Book from JREF, the James Randi Educational Foundation. 

UFO SIGHTINGS - The Evidence

Prometheus Books, Amherst, NY, cloth, 1998, $25.95. ISBN 1-57392-213-7.

"should be ranked among the very best books on the UFO subject." James W. Moseley, veteran UFOlogist and publisher of Saucer Smear.

Engaging and entertaining, this book is the most up-to-date overview of the UFO phenomenon. UFO Sightings is unique because it gives the reader a broad perspective of the world of UFOlogy, dealing with most major cases and trends, while offering references and a commentary to provide a clear perspective. Incidents and photographs are scrutinized within a framework of objective science. Based in part upon material previously published in The UFO Verdict, old cases are brought up-to-date and new cases are incorporated to provide a lively and comprehensive overview of the contemporary UFO scene, strongly supported by references to primary sources and readily-available, fully-comprehensive references. UFO SIGHTINGS is an invaluable source for skeptical inquirers.

Reviews of The UFO Verdict

From Sky and Telescope Magazine, Nov., 1981
by Ronald A. Schorn

The author has produced a useful, informative, interesting, and well-written work. Furthermore, he has created that rarity of rarities - a book about UFOs that's a lot of fun to read. Most treatments of the subject, whether pro or con, are filled with detail, take themselves much too seriously, and are utterly dull and boring.

Sheaffer is a free-lance writer who has done quite a bit of UFO investigating on his own. He is a good writer, and to judge by what is in this book, he knows his astronomy as well. Rather than bewilder the reader with hundreds of unrelated items, he takes a small number of the most celebrated UFO flaps and discusses them thoroughly.

One's interest is seized as early as page 4, where former President Jimmy Carter's 1969 UFO sighting is taken up. Just about everybody knows Carter saw a UFO, but few seem to know the sequel to the story. It took Sheaffer a lot of effort, but he finally tracked down evidence establishing the correct date of the incident. That done, it was easy to show that Venus was at the same altitude and in the same direction as the UFO at the time and date the observation was made. This incident illustrates an important point: not everyone who files a UFO report is obscure and unreliable. In fact, witnesses are usually sober, reliable, and sincere, and often have some standing in the community...

The UFO "movement" has had a long, complex, raucous history, and the author threads his way neatly through the tangle of acronyms that litter the organizational UFO scene. Here is probably the most useful summary in print of a neglected side of a complex phenomenon....

Sheaffer has coined the interesting term "jealous phenomenon" to cover the whimsical behavior of UFO's, ESP, and similar oddities. This "jealousy" is the critical difference between UFO's and legitimate, albeit poorly understood, scientific phenomena. Your typical unidentified flying object is very choosy about when and where it will appear. Apparently, its behavior is governed by an overriding concern for human thoughts and emotions - it is determined to thwart all human attempts to verify its existence......

All in all, Sheaffer sees UFOlogy as a powerful social movement which, fundamentally, is a reaction against science and reason. He blends this view with specific cases and general background in this dandy work, always providing references so the reader can check up on him. If you're only going to have one book on UFO's, this is the one....

The Making of the Messiah

Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1991, Cloth, $24.95. ISBN 0-87975-691-8


Book Confronts Christianity with New Challenge

A new work published by Prometheus Books confronts Christianity with its greatest challenge in many a year. "The Making of the Messiah" by Robert Sheaffer differs from conventional works of Freethinkers by suggesting a radically different picture of the rise of Christianity. The book describes, to use Nietzsche's phrase, "The Birth of Christianity from the Spirit of Resentment." It tells why Christianity could only develop as it did, emerging from the envious anger of the lower classes. It shows how Christian writers altered historical facts to make the new religion "sell" better among those seething with resentment against Roman power and wealth. By looking at the chronological evolution of Christian writings and doctrine, exactly as skeptics investigate contemporary accounts of UFO abductions or psychic wonders, it is possible to infer the kinds of objections that the infant Church must have been struggling to meet, and from these long-suppressed objections deduce probable historical fact. This new perspective radically impacts Biblical criticism, in a manner that Humanists and Freethinkers will wholeheartedly applaud.

"The Making of the Messiah" presents a compelling argument that Jesus was never "crucified" by the Romans, or anyone else. The familiar Gospel account of Jesus' death is termed the "cruci- fiction story." Biblical scholars generally acknowledge that the confusing and contradictory Gospel accounts of Jesus' two trials make absolutely no sense from the perspective of either Roman or Jewish law. Resolving this dilemma, the book presents compelling evidence that Jesus was indeed condemned by the Sanhedrin as stated in Mark 14:64, stoned to death, and hanged on a tree until sundown: the inescapable penalty under the Mosaic law for blasphemers and heretics. All of the ancient Rabbinical texts mentioning Jesus' death are totally consistent in recalling that he was "slain and hanged on a tree." There are even a few passages remaining in the oldest books of the New Testament proclaiming Jesus to have been slain and "hanged on a tree" - for example, Acts 5:30 and Galatians 3:13. These passages are NOT metaphor: they describe the punishment Jesus MUST have suffered if found guilty of the charges he faced! (See Deuteronomy 13:10; 21:22.) How did the cruci-fiction story arise? Several decades after Jesus' execution, when the infant Church sought to recruit converts among the Gentiles, the tale of a Jewish prophet "slain and hanged on a tree" probably failed to excite or inflame the listener. But when the story was changed to have Jesus "crucified" by the Romans, the tale electrified the resentful throughout the vast Empire.

Another subject covered in great detail is Jesus' supposed "Virgin Birth." In recent years even many liberal Christians have been willing to question this highly-dubious claim. They quietly assume that Jesus must have been the natural son of Joseph. What they do not seem to realize is that it is absolutely clear (see Matthew 1:19) that Joseph knew the child was not his, and that he believed Mary to be guilty of adultery. This is abundantly confirmed by a number of other ancient texts, both Christian and Jewish. Therefore, unless Mary's pregnancy is of supernatural origin, she is an adulteress. Tracing the development of Christianity's various accounts of Jesus' origin, it becomes obvious that the "Virgin Birth" fable, which was not taught until nearly a century after Jesus was born, was invented as a "cover story" to mask the shameful reality of Jesus' illegitimate birth. The gospels of Mark and John say nothing whatever about Jesus' birth; the authors of those gospels must have assumed that the reader already knew of Jesus' illegitimacy, which intrudes upon the text in several places. The genealogies of Jesus given in Matthew and Luke differ because the former was obviously compiled by someone hostile to the new religion. It lists among Jesus' ancestors some of the most notorious disinherited kings and fallen women of the Davidic line. The problem was fixed in Luke, whose genealogy contains only respectable names. Because bastard children were treated extremely harshly under the Mosaic law, it is not surprising that Jesus chafed at the restrictions The Law placed upon him, claiming the inspiration of a "higher law" from above. Jesus' experience of being "despised and rejected" owing to an accident of birth shaped the very fabric of early Christianity, and drew together under that religion's banner all who chafed at living under The Law.

What set Jesus apart from other Messianic pretenders was the claim that he arose from the dead. The evidence offered in support of this claim is scrutinized in detail. When these accounts are examined in chronological order of composition, in light of long-suppressed Roman-era criticisms, a clear pattern emerges. The earliest accounts make the least-convincing claims of an actual, physical resurrection. Paul sees a vision of a risen Jesus, which is worthless as "evidence" for anything. As time progresses, Christianity's claims that people had sighted an actual, physical risen Jesus become more definite. Many ancient manuscripts of the earliest gospel, Mark, contain absolutely no sightings of a risen Jesus, whose resurrection is merely inferred because his body was not where it had been left. Mark 16:9-20, which describes such sightings, was written years later, to answer objections that nobody actually SAW Jesus after his supposed resurrection. The only reasonable conclusion to be drawn is that the supposed resurrection never occurred.

Robert Sheaffer is the author of "Resentment Against Achievement" (Prometheus, 1988). Laissez Faire Books hails it as "a modern classic," comparing it to the works of H. L. Mencken, Friedrich Nietzsche, and Ayn Rand. Success Magazine writes that "the book crackles with ideas that others have failed to perceive, or have been too timid to express." Sheaffer's first book was "The UFO Verdict" (Prometheus, 1981), a highly-skeptical analysis of UFO mania, about which Sky and Telescope magazine said, "if you're only going to have one book on UFOs, this is the one." He is a regular columnist for The Skeptical Inquirer.

Resentment Against Achievement

Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1988, Cloth, $27.95. ISBN 0-87975-447-8.

From SUCCESS Magazine, November, 1988, p. 4:
Editor's Note by Scott DaGarmo

Resentment Against Achievement - A Motivational Tour de Force
"Wealth is crime enough to him that's poor."
-Sir John Denham (1615-1669)

Those who hate achievement have made their mark throughout history.
Angry mobs inflamed by envy destroyed the magnificent works of ancient civilization. In their insane riots, these madmen even dismembered the statues we still treasure for their beauty, despite their missing limbs.
Today we see the hatred of achievement in slashed tires, vandalized classrooms, and sabotaged office machines.
We see it in a hostile suspicion toward "greedy capitalists," who are depicted as exploiters rather than what they really are - the creators of jobs and wealth.
We see it in a surly animosity toward managers and owners, who are reviled as enemies despite the fact that they would like nothing better than to inspire the resentful with a desire to achieve. Instead of seeing employers as powerful economic allies, the resentful scorn their values, then blame "the system" on their not being able to find work.
We see it among intellectuals, who seethe with jealousy at the sight of individuals less educated than they making bigger incomes.
We see it in lower-class toughs, whose poverty is "an inevitable consequence of the achievement-hating values they preserve and (forcibly) transmit."
All this and more makes up the thesis of a new book by Robert Sheaffer entitled "Resentment Against Achievement". Subtitled "Understanding the Assault Upon Ability," the book crackles with ideas that others have failed to perceive, or have been too timid to express.
The rhetoric of resentment is highly polished, and achievers are often left speechless in its onslaught. Within this book is a reply to virtually every defense made for the resentful. For example, says the author, people do not steal because they are poor. (A fatuous notion when you note that what is stolen today are not loaves of bread and beans but luxury items like jewelry and stereos that are fenced for drugs.) Rather, they are poor because they steal. Sheaffer makes a rational - rather than moralistic - case that the "upper-class" values of honesty, reliability, self-discipline, and respect for property are integral to success for anyone.
Similarly, Sheaffer asserts that what is needed in education is nothing less than an assault on lower-class culture. Sheaffer is not talking about genocide, but about a "benign cultural imperialism" allied at recruiting lower-class members into the upper classes by teaching them how to succeed.
Don't mistake Sheaffer for a bigoted arch-conservative. He is a libertarian, with a powerful belief in individual liberties, free trade, and open opportunity. He has articulated a philosophy for a complex, urban, high-tech, competitive, entrepreneurial society - a philosophy that affirms a new-age morality based on accomplishment.
This book will offend those with rigidly conventional religious views, and I suggest they do not read it. On the other hand, those who thrive on the elixir of fresh insights will be delighted as the author excoriates religion for romanticizing, and hence perpetuating, economic incompetence. Sheaffer urges the impoverished to break away from a slave morality that encourages passivity, and embrace a new morality based on the pride of achievement.
Today, you don't need to be born wealthy to be perceived as a member of the higher classes, says Sheaffer. "Those who adopt higher-class values and ethics will find themselves gradually accumulating so much money that no one will doubt their status any longer."
He urges everyone to experience the joy of being achievers, those fortunate people who "create because of an inner fire urging them onward."
For all its harsh denunciation of the resentful, this book is a positive call to action not to harm people but to help them succeed. Some will see this work as mainly political. But the author has also written a valuable tour de force of motivation with a message for us all:
Harboring resentment is self-destructive. It keeps you from succeeding.

All the above books are still in print. They can be ordered from your local bookstore, or directly from Prometheus Books at 1-800-421-0351

Or, you can FAX your order to Prometheus at 716-691-0137

They can also be ordered on-line from AMAZON.COM

Books To Which I have Contributed Papers

On February 2, 1999, on the 94th anniversary of Ayn Rand's birth, Penn State Press will release a major anthology, co-edited by Mimi Reisel Gladstein and Chris Matthew Sciabarra, entitled:

Feminist Interpretations of Ayn Rand

I contributed a chapter on "Rereading Rand on Gender in the Light of Paglia." Other contributors to the volume include Nathaniel Branden, Barbara Branden, Camille Paglia, and Joan Kennedy Taylor.

The UFO Invasion

Edited by Kendrick Frazier, Barry Karr, and Joe Nickell. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1997

An outstanding collection of papers, many of them reprinted from The Skeptical Inquirer, containing up-to-date and reliable information on many famous UFO claims such as The Roswell Incident, Alien Abductions, and Government Coverups, written by authors like Philip J. Klass, Joe Nickell, James Oberg, Gene Emery, Robert A. Baker, etc. I contributed an article on the Gulf Breeze UFO Photos.

The Encyclopedia of the Paranormal

Edited by Gordon Stein. Prometheus Books, Buffalo, NY, 1996

I contributed the articles The Philadelphia Experiment and Unidentified Flying Objects. In fact, I wrote everything that begins with the letter "U".

Funk & Wagnalls New Encyclopedia

Norma H. Dickey, Editor-in-chief. Funk & Wagnalls, Inc., 1984.

I contributed the article Unidentified Flying Objects, in Vol. 27, on p. 159.

Extraterrestrials - Where Are They?

Edited by Ben Zuckerman and Michael H. Hart.
Cambridge University Press, 1995 (second edition)

I contributed the paper An Examination of Claims that Extraterrestrial Visitors to Earth Are Being Observed. Other contributors to the volume, taken from papers presented to a Conference at the University of Maryland, include Freeman Dyson (Jim Oberg and I had lunch with him), Sebastian von Hoerner, Ronald Bracewell, Jill Tarter, and the late Cyril Ponnamperuma.

Alien Discussions -

Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference Held at MIT

Edited by Andrea Pritchard et. al. Cambridge, Ma: North Cambridge Press, 1994

This was the now-famous conference organized by John Mack, Budd Hopkins, David E. Pritchard, and David Jacobs. I contributed the paper A Skeptical Perspective on UFO Abductions, on p. 382. When C. D. B. Bryan wrote up his account of this conference, Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, so beloved of pro-abduction UFOlogists, he somehow forgot to mention my paper, as well as several others he apparently didn't like.

Major Articles I Have Written

Feminism, the Noble Lie

Free Inquiry, Spring, 1995.

Truth Abducted

Book review, Scientific American, November, 1995.

Psychic Vibrations

is my regular column in The Skeptical Inquirer

Go to The Debunker's Domain

Go to Robert's Home Page