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The Close Encounters Man - Mark O'Connell - <span class="date-display-single">11/04/2017 - 12:00pm</span>

The Close Encounters Man

11/04/2017 - 12:00pm

Discovery Building - DeLuca Forum

One man can arguably be credited with bringing our fascination with alien life into modern times, and that man is Dr. J. Allen Hynek. The Close Encounters Man is the definitive biography of an often misunderstood and misrepresented figure in UFOlogy. Responsible for (among many other things) coining the phrase “close encounters of the third kind,” Dr. Hynek is a controversial figure on both sides of the UFO debate, to say the least. He enthusiastically debunked UFO reports on behalf of the Air Force for years. Then, he recanted. His agonizing transformation from skepticism to true believer is one of the great misunderstood and misreported stories of science.


In his brilliant biography of this iconic figure, Mark O’Connell chronicles the events of Dr. Hynek’s life in never before seen detail—and in so doing, he lays out a uniquely compelling case for the existence and study of UFOs. Having been granted unprecedented access to Hynek’s personal and professional files, O’Connell is admirably nonpartisan in his delivery of the facts, examining every aspect of Hynek’s backstory—from his upbringing, to his work as a scientist, to his greatest regrets—in order to fully explain what led Hynek to go from being the first astronomer to be recruited by the U.S. Air Force in order to debunk UFO sightings, only to eventually believe in them and help establish their scientific validity. O’Connell lays out the fruits of his extensive research with a narrative flair, and reveals many shocking truths about Hynek and the study of UFOs, including details of a feud with noted astrophysicist Carl Sagan, specifics of Hynek’s involvement with Steven Spielberg, and the origins of the term “unidentified flying object”


Presented in partnership with the Wisconsin Science Festival.

Mark O'Connell

About Presenter Mark O'Connell


Mark O’Connell broke into the television business writing several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.  Mark has had feature film projects optioned and/or in development with Disney, DreamWorks Animation, Barcelona Films, Endless Entertainment Group and Al Ruddy Productions. Looking for a way to explore new media markets and experiences, Mark started the UFO blog High Strangeness. Taking an off-center approach to the phenomenon, High Strangeness dared to embrace the weirdness and brought a new, often comedic sensibility to the rather self-serious field of UFOlogy. He made his reality TV debut in 2015 in “Mysteries at the Monument” on The Travel Channel, discussing the ties between Devil’s Tower in Wyoming, the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the UFO work of Dr. Hynek. He lives in Wisconsin with his wife, Monica, and teaches screenwriting at DePaul University in Chicago. 


The Close Encounters Man

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