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Re: UFOs & Fairies? - Rudiak

From: David Rudiak <DRudiak.nul>
Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 19:26:23 -0800
Fwd Date: Sun, 29 Feb 2004 10:13:26 -0500
Subject: Re: UFOs & Fairies? - Rudiak

UFOs & Fairies? (& Little Green Men)

>From: Jerome Clark <jkclark.nul>
>To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <ufoupdates.nul>
>Date: Sat, 28 Feb 2004 13:36:05 -0600
>Subject: Re: UFOs & Fairies? - Clark

>In my opinion Vallee's writings on the alleged correlation
>between fairies and UFO occupants are close to worthless.

>I also have written on the subject, showing there are
>correlations but not in any simplistic, one-to-one sense. The
>question is not so much whether supernatural entities exist -
>an unanswerable one - as whether we can experience them, and
>how all of this relates to the issues ufologists confront (e.g.,
>are experiences necessarily events?). I refer anyone who's
>interested to the introductory essay to my book Unexplained!
>(1999) and to the chapters "Fairies" and "Merfolk." My "From
>Mermaids to Little Gray Men: The Prehistory of the UFO Abduction
>Phenomenon," in The Anomalist 8 (Spring 2000): 11-31, continues
>the discussion.

A side-bar on the possible connections between fairies and
aliens concerns the the origins of the term "Little Green Men."
We delved into this back in December, 2001, two of my posts on
possible comic book origins below:



Now here's some more. The New York Times now has its clipping
files in electronic form dating back to 1851. This enables
keyword searches for old articles (about ten thousand times
faster than trying to find them by going through the Times
Index). This doesn't solve the question of the origins of
"little green men" applied to aliens, but does provide some
further insight. Here's what I found when I searched the phrase
"little green men:"

The earliest use of "Little Green Man/Men" in the New York Times
dates to Dec. 6, 1902, in a book review of a children's fairy

"There are more wonderful adventures in the story of 'The Gift
of the Magic Staff,' by Fannie E. Ostrander ...(Fleming H.
Revell Company). Paul is the boy who, because he is a nice sort
of boy who does the best he can under any circumstances, is
given the magic staff by the Little Green Man, cuts steps in the
fog, climbs up to visit the cloudland fairies, and does many
other unusual things."

[Note that this "little green man" predates previously given
"earliest" LGM attributed to Kipling's 'Puck of Pook's Hill'
(dated 1906)].

The next NYT reference dates to June 12, 1950, and refers to a
1927 novel by Robert Nathan that Disney was planning to make
into an animated feature (but apparently later dropped):

"'The Woodcutter's House,' a fantasy by Robert Nathan, will be
Walt Disney's next project, combining live action with
animation. ...According to Disney's present plans, the only
animated character in the picure will be Nathan's Little Green
Man, who is the confidant of the woodland animals in the

These "little green men" stem from fairy tales and folklore. The
first NYT reference that may be connected to sci-fi and aliens
comes next year, announcing a sci-fi/mystery novel called "The
Case of the Little Green Men" (Phoenix books) by Mack Reynolds.
The book review by Anthony Boucher on Sept. 23, 1951 describes
it this way:

"This first novel by a rising writer of science-fantasy shorts
turns a bewildered private detective loose in the strange world
of science fiction..., gathered in an anonymous city for the
1952 National Science Fiction Convention."

This suggests that the term "little green men was already part
of the sci-fi genre going back to at least 1951. However, the
first crystal clear reference to LGM from outer space in the NYT
dates to Dec. 4, 1955 in another review of a book called
"Martians, Go Home," by Fredric Brown (E. P. Dutton & Co.), a
sci-fi satire:

"Just as science fiction had so often predicted, they finally
landed on earth (in 1964). The Martians, that is. And, still
true to prophecy, they were little green men. From there on out,
however, any resemblance of the real thing to the prophesied was
purely coincidental, for the extra-terrestrials were 'churlish,
detestable, execrable, fiendish, insolent, impudent, jerring,
jabbering *** kill-joys.' They were a crew of leering peeping-
Toms who stuck their noses into every human activity from making
laws to making love, and their gibes from the sidelines were
hardly conducive to the success of either activity."

Note how the "little green men" part is described as being "true
to prophecy," another indication that the term LGM referring to
aliens well predates this.

The last 50's reference is in a commentary (May 19, 1959) by
Robert Moses on the arts called "Needed: New Medicis for New Art
Centers." Deep in the article Moses bemoans the lack of arts in
American culture:

"In music, if you talk Beethoven's Fifth, barrel organ stuff
from Puccini or the Rimsky-Korsakoff ballets to teenagers, you
will find that their vote is for "The Little Green Men from
Mars" and "Take Me to Your Leader, Cha, Cha, Cha."

The search engine came up with 7 LGM hits from the 1950s and 15
for the 1960s (as far as I searched). The 1960's LGM all seemed
to be used in a humorous or derogatory fashion. E.g., referring
to the Ranger 7 photographic moon mission, on Aug. 1, 1964 they
quoted JPL director William H. Pickering, "Well, if you mean
were there any little green men, the answer is 'no.'" Then to
hammer it home, they also made Pickering's comment their
"Quotation of the Day."

Another example of sneering use of "LGM" came with announcement
of the AF sponsoring a "scientific" study of UFOs in 1966, what
became the infamously biased Condon Commission. Announcing the
planned study on August 21, 1966:

"The Air Force plans to have one of the nation's leading
universities ...coordinate an intensive scientific study of
U.F.O. sightings and publish detailed reports. An Air Force
scientist said: 'We still think the chances of finding evidence
of little green men is rather small, but we want to show we have
a completely open mind on the subject.'"

The Wall Street Journal also now has historical clippings in
electronic form and can be searched. The earliest use of "little
green men" came in the 1960s (four instances). The first dates
to Dec. 21, 1960, a rather interesting article about how contact
with aliens could conceivably happen any day and how NASA was

"...[NASA] thinks we'd better get ready to discover that we
earthlings aren't alone. Any time now, earth could discover
'intelligent life' in other parts of the universe, warned NASA
in a rather gloomy report the other day. But we'd better watch
out. We might stumble onto a superior race that would cause our
own civilization to crumble. This is the standard sort of
science fiction pessimisim, which assumes the hostility of the
little green men with the wiggly antennae. We're inclined to be
more hopeful..." Then the WSJ does what it usually does--reduce
everything to money. They add that unlike many humans, the
aliens wouldn't expect a handout.

Two other references involve UFO debunkery and have to do with
the Condon Commission:

(May 3, 1968) "Congressional UFOing. If you are a flying saucer,
tremble. Rep. J. Edward Roush has just called called for a
Congressional investigation. Congressman Roush, it seems, isn't
satisfied with a study of unidentified flying objects conducted
by the University of Colorado under Air Force auspices... Now,
UFOs are hard to investigate. First you have to identify them.
Various suggestions include little green men, mass
hallucinations, the planets Jupiter, Venus and Mars, and a type
of lightening that comes in balls and floats (the Germans have a
word for it, kugelblitz). Personally, every UFO we have seen has
defied identification by the clever tactic of turning into an
airplane just when it got close enough for a good look. So it's
understandable that the Air Force stuy has had its problems.
Somehow, though, we doubt that typical Congressional
investigating methods would do much better. Marsh gas is
allergic to klieg lights. And how do you subpoena a kugelblitz,
let alone a little green man?"

(Jan. 15, 1969) "A Sound Conclusion. Controversy has already
enveloped a new report debunking suggestions that unidentified
flying objects are likely to be spaceships from other planets.
...One thing has always puzzled us, though. If someone did prove
UFOs were peopled with little green men, what are we supposed to
do about it? If flying saucers are manifestations of a superior
intelligence, presumably it will make itself known to us when it
deems us ready. In the meantime, frankly, we have enough other
things to worry about. The latest report, done ...at a cost of
$500,000, says further investigation of UFOs isn't worth a lot
more trouble and public expense. Whether it's science or history
or just common sense, that strikes us as a sound conclusion."

Interestingly, the latter commentary doesn't totally dismiss the
idea that UFOs are real. Instead the logic is that there is
nothing that could be done about them anyway, so why bother
spending any more tax dollars? (Back to arguing the bottom
line.) Being good capitalists, no doubt the WSJ would prefer the
government give the money to them instead.

Independently I found another LGM use in the Austin Statesman,
Nov. 9, 1957, (on the heels of the Nov. 1957 UFO flap) by
syndicated Washington columnist Frederick Othman:

"New Flying Saucer Epidemic On. All over this land again are
flying saucers... No little green men have climbed out of these
celestial vehicles so far, but in another couple of days I
wouldn't be surprised..."

The upshot of this search is that use of "little green men" was
obviously well-engrained in the venacular in the 1950s and seems
to have a connection to science fiction dating back to at least
1951. A search of sci-fi literature prior to this would probably
turn up earlier instances.

David Rudiak

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