Hoaxes in ufology have been there from the beginning. In the United States during the turn of the nineteenth into the twentieth century, a genuine UFO wave washed over the nation. Very soon, however, a few enterprising newspaper reporters concocted UFO hoaxes. In those days, adherence to the facts was not quite the goal that it is today in newspaper reporting. A good story sold more papers.
In the 1950s, many hoaxes were perpetrated — mostly by teenage boys with a camera and a good throwing arm. These might more properly be termed pranks, however. This seems to have died down in the later years perhaps because reporting of UFO events died off in the large, mainstream dailies after the Condon Committee report concluded that there was no merit to UFO study by scientists.
A more sinister kind of hoaxing has taken hold in America, however, especially in the 1980s and 1990s. It seems to involve the intelligence establishment of the United States. A serious semi-officially acknowledged elaborate hoax, on-going over years, was played on an Albuquerque, New Mexico, engineer/businessman, Paul Bennewitz. (For the cruel Bennewitz hoax, see Greg Bishop's Project Beta.) Probably, the intelligence establishment is responsible for many hoaxes within ufology down through the years. This is an important chapter of UFO history that is at best only partially written.
So, hoaxes do happen. But how often do they happen? Answer: not very often. As a gauge of this, we can look to our government's own United States Air Force Project Blue Book, which was the public relations "investigation" of UFOs that the air force carried on from 1952 to 1969. Project Blue Book sorted their UFO events into various categories and "hoaxes" was not large enough to warrant one. Hoaxes went into the "Other" category. Ufologists figure that no more than one or two percent of reported UFO events are hoaxes.
Some Oregon Hoaxes
See what you think of these two hoax cases investigated in Oregon in the 1990s. One is a bona fide proved hoax and the other might be a hoax or might be something else. [Sorry! We haven't written these up yet!]