Engineering:They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers

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Short description: 1956 book by Gray Barker
They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers
Book Cover - They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers 1956.jpg
Cover of a later edition
AuthorGray Barker
PublishedApril 1956
PublisherUniversity Books
Media typeHardcover

They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers is a 1956 book by paranormal author Gray Barker. It was the first book to allege that "Men in Black" were covering up the existence of flying saucers.[1]


Main page: Unsolved:UFO conspiracy theories

In the summer of 1947, pilot Kenneth Arnold reported seeing objects that would come to be called Flying saucers; Arnold's report triggered a wave of copycat sightings. By 1949, authors like Frank Scully and Donald Keyhoe were suggesting that the Air Force knew more about the Saucers than they were publicly revealing.[1]

In 1952, amateur UFO researcher Albert K. Bender founded the International Flying Saucer Bureau, the first major civilian UFO club.[2] Gray Barker was a member. In October 1953, the group published the final issue of its newsletter, announcing the disbanding of the organization. The final issue reported that "The mystery of the flying saucers is no longer a mystery. The source is already known, but any information about this is being withheld by orders from a higher source."[2]

In April 1956, University Books of New York City published They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers, Barker's dramatized account of his involvement with the IFSB.[3]


The book famously claimed Bender and other UFO investigators had been "silenced" by strange men in black suits.[1][4]

The work begins with Barker's initial interest in saucers during his 1952 investigation of the "Flatwoods Monster" and his subsequent saucer investigations in Brush Creek, California.[5]

Barker describes his interest in the Shaver Mystery and the magazines of Raymond Palmer, which ultimately led him to correspond with Albert K. Bender and join Bender's "International Flying Saucer Bureau.[6] According to the narrative, Bender receives a metal sample allegedly from a UFO, after which he is visited by three men, each wearing black, who confiscate back issues of the group's newsletter. Bender recalls that one of the men told Barker his research was pointless, claiming "In our government we have the smartest men in the country. They can't find a defense for it. How can you do anything about it?" Before they depart, one of the men warns Bender: "I suppose you know you are on your honor as an American. If I hear another word out of your office you're in trouble".[7]

Barker recounts the 1947 tale of the Maury Island incident, where an alleged saucer witness claimed to have been warned not to discuss the incident by a man in a black suit.[8][1] Barker speculates saucers may be linked to Antarctica or poltergeists.[9] Barker lists others he believes have been "shushed", some in other countries.[10]


They Knew Too Much About Flying Saucers briefly made the best-seller lists in 1956.[11]

Conspiracism scholar Michael Barkun writes that the book's 'Men in Black' "quickly became a staple of UFO folklore".[12] Historian Aaron Gulyas, describing the book as "one of the few saucer books I can read over and over again", noted that "during the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s, UFO conspiracy theorists would incorporate the MIB into their increasingly complex and paranoid visions."[2][13] Folklore historian Curtis Peebles suggests that Barker's tale of the Men in Black may have been inspired by "contactee" George Adamski's story of an encounter with FBI agents.[1]

According to the Skeptical Inquirer article "Gray Barker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker", there may have been "a grain of truth" to Barker's writings on the Men in Black, in that government agencies did attempt to discourage public interest in UFOs during the 1950s. However, Barker is thought to have greatly embellished the facts of the situation. In the same Skeptical Inquirer article, Sherwood revealed that, in the late 1960s, he and Barker collaborated on a brief fictional notice alluding to the Men in Black, which was published as fact first in Raymond A. Palmer's Flying Saucers magazine and some of Barker's own publications. In the story, Sherwood (writing as "Dr. Richard H. Pratt") claimed he was ordered to silence by the "blackmen" after learning that UFOs were time-travelling vehicles. Barker later wrote to Sherwood, "Evidently the fans swallowed this one with a gulp."[14]

In 1962, Bender himself authored an account of the events, Flying Saucers and the Three Men, which described the "Men in Black" as supernatural, floating about the floor and emitting bluish light.[15][16] The Knew Too Much About Flying Saucer influenced 1990s popular culture, most notably The X-Files and Men in Black films.[17][18] One author would liken The X-Files to a "spinoff of the gospel according to Barker".[19]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Peebles, Curtis (January 8, 1995). Watch the Skies!: A Chronicle of the Flying Saucer Myth. Berkley Books. ISBN 9780425151174. 
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Gulyas, Aaron John (February 22, 2016). Conspiracy Theories: The Roots, Themes and Propagation of Paranoid Political and Cultural Narratives. McFarland. ISBN 9781476623498. 
  3. Gulyas, Aaron John (May 11, 2013). Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s. McFarland. ISBN 9781476601687. 
  4. Barker, Gray (January 8, 1956). "They Knew Too Much about Flying Saucers". University Books. 
  5. Barker (1956), ch. 2-3
  6. Barker (1956), ch. 4
  7. Barker (1956), ch. 8
  8. Barker (1956), ch. 9
  9. Barker (1956), ch. 13-14
  10. Vankin, Jonathan; Whalen, John (January 8, 2004). The 80 Greatest Conspiracies of All Time: History's Biggest Mysteries, Coverups, and Cabals. Citadel Press. ISBN 9780806525310. 
  11. "Gray Barker, the Men in Black, and North Carolina Amendment One". February 13, 2012. 
  12. Barkun, Michael (January 8, 2003). A Culture of Conspiracy: Apocalyptic Visions in Contemporary America. University of California Press. ISBN 9780520248120. 
  13. Gulyas, Aaron John (January 23, 2014). The Chaos Conundrum: Essays on UFOs, Ghosts & Other High Strangeness in Our Non-Rational and Atemporal World. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9780991697595. 
  14. John C. Sherwood. "Gray Barker: My Friend, the Myth-Maker" . Skeptical Inquirer. May/June 1998. Retrieved on June 19, 2008.
  15. Gulyas, Aaron John (January 23, 2014). The Chaos Conundrum: Essays on UFOs, Ghosts & Other High Strangeness in Our Non-Rational and Atemporal World. Andrews UK Limited. ISBN 9780991697595. 
  16. Gulyas, Aaron John (May 6, 2013). Extraterrestrials and the American Zeitgeist: Alien Contact Tales Since the 1950s. McFarland. ISBN 9780786471164. 
  17. Gulyas, Aaron (June 11, 2015). The Paranormal and the Paranoid: Conspiratorial Science Fiction Television. Rowman & Littlefield. ISBN 9781442251144. 
  18. McConnachie, James; Tudge, Robin (February 1, 2013). Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories, The (3rd). Rough Guides UK. ISBN 9781409324546. 
  19. Halperin, David J. (March 24, 2020). Intimate Alien: The Hidden Story of the UFO. Stanford University Press. ISBN 9781503612129. 

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