UFO Investigator Stanton Friedman Vs. The Internet: A Lesson in How Not to Promote Your Product to Anyone Ever

UFO Investigator Stanton Friedman Vs. The Internet: A Lesson in How Not to Promote Your Product to Anyone Ever

“UFO Physicist” Stanton Friedman

Earlier this week, Stanton Friedman, widely known throughout UFOlogy circles as one of the leading experts on unidentified spacecraft and their inhabitants, popped up on popular social news website reddit.com. He started an AMA (or Ask Me Anything) thread with the intent of addressing any questions the curious few might have about what it’s like being what he calls a “UFO physicist”. As you can probably imagine from the fact that I’m even writing about it, this engagement did not go as planned.

Now, before we continue on the journey into Friedman’s internet nightmare, we need to explain what exactly reddit is for the few that aren’t familiar with it.

According to Alexa, Reddit is ranked as the 46th most popular website in the United States. It boasts an active user base that consists of over 8 million people, made up of mostly of college level males, all of them contributing to the ultimate purpose of the website: rating content. The whole idea behind reddit is about submitting new, unique content to the website, be it in the form of news, videos, images, even jokes. That content is then voted on by the users, who can choose to upvote or downvote your submission. A link with a higher number of upvotes is usually pushed to the front page for millions to read, while particularly poor posts end up “buried” in a mountain of downvotes, banished to the recesses of reddit, only to be read by a few.

To help your chances of the content being upvoted, you can always submit your content to “subreddits”, individual sections of the website dedicated to particular interests. Like videogames? There’s a subbreddit for that. Consider yourself a skeptic? There’s a subreddit for that. Do you enjoy seeing brighly colored, anthropomorphic animals having sex with one another? There’s even a subreddit for that.. but I don’t suggest you visit. You get the idea.


This particular model has led to its fair share of problems, but ultimately it’s proven to be an effective way to deliver fresh (or long forgotten) content to the people who want to see it most.

So where does Friedman come in? Tuesday afternoon there was a post in the UFO subreddit inviting the readers to come ask questions to Stanton Friedman. The post was titled I am Stanton Friedman, Nuclear Physicist, and world renowned expert on UFO phenomena.

From the post:

I am a flying saucer physicist and lecturer. Since 1967 I have appeared before the UN twice, testified before Congress, and lectured about the UFO phenomenon at more than 600 colleges and 100 professional groups in the United States, Canada, and 18 other countries. The US government told us that Apollo 17 had to be the last Apollo mission because there was no budget for an Apollo 18. What you might not know is that both Apollo 18 and Apollo 19 were paid for and astronauts trained. Was Apollo 18 secretly launched? I worked on several top secret programs and can address this and other issues relating to black budgets and hidden programs.

Off to a good start. People are interested, lots of questions start rolling in. The first, and arguably most logical question to be asked is simply, “if you had a paragraph to provide a convincing argument that flying saucers exist, what would you say?” The response was.. not what anyone expected.

Read the first chapter of my 2008 book “Flying Saucers and Science ” which reviews 6 large scale scientific studies which fewer than 2% of the attendees at my more than 700 lectures have read…

Ok. Maybe the question is more complex than can be answered in a single paragraph. We can give that one to him. What about a question regarding the nature of government cover ups?

Chapter 4 (26 pages) covers the cosmic watergate . There are many TOP SECRET UMBRA CIA UFO Documents on which one can read several words.. everything else is blacked out.

Hmm.. that doesn’t really help much. Well, maybe for the sake of people without immediate access to his books, he could provide a quick summary of the information. Surely that can’t be too much to ask.. in an “Ask Me Anything” thread..

You expect me to condense a 25 page chapter into 2 paragraphs? How ridiculous.

As you can imagine, things did not end up going very well from this point out. What had initially been a thread that began with plenty of upvotes, it was buried at zero within the next four hours.

Have a question? Well if you want the answer then you had better buy the book. Unless of course you want to know if Stanton Friedman watches The Simpsons, how many hecklers he’s dealt with over the years, and whether or not there is an alien base on the dark side of the moon (answers being no, 11, and ‘”could be, not enough data'” accordingly).

But the weirdest part about the AMA (aside from hardly answering a single relevant question) were how many times he was mentioning the cancelled Apollo 18 mission. A bizarre amount of references to the unplanned space flight were seemingly peppered into responses at random, but it wasn’t until one redditor made a connection that the pieces fell into place:

Turns out the entire thread was part of a viral marketing campaign put forth by the advertising team behind the big budget “found footage” movie Apollo 18 (apparently about space ghosts on the dark side of the moon.. and not the hilarious ones). The AMA was later amended by Friedman to admit this fact, though he insists that he wasn’t being paid for his time and hadn’t even seen the movie (worst marketing team ever, or best?). This did little to quell the internet shit storm that he had created. The damage was done. No longer was he fielding questions about UFO conspiracies and the theoretical technology behind interstellar travel, but instead was barraged with questions like:

There’s plenty more where these came from. Within a short time span, people who might have initially been keen on the idea of picking up one of Friedman’s books or heading down to the local cineplex for a screening of Apollo 18 were left with a bad taste in their mouths regarding both. Any of the thousands of interested parties who poked their heads into the thread didn’t see answers to questions about alien life. Instead, they were met with the discoveries of hundreds of angry internet sleuths digging up the fact that Friendman does not, in fact, have a PhD and hasn’t worked in nuclear physics since the 70’s. When you’re selling books based on appeals to credentials, this is not the kind of thing you want your potential buyers to see.

Coincidentally, two days after this appeared, the owner of the Ask Me Anything subreddit announced that because of threads very much like this one, he was shutting it down effective immediately (he eventually reneged on the decision).

There is a lesson to be learned here for UFO Physicists, marketing teams, and anyone touting extraordinary claims.  If you want people to buy your books, watch your movies, or believe your stories of the incredible, you better give them a good reason to, and more importantly, you had better not treat them like they’re stupid.

As copinglemon said:


To read the entire saga (albeit without the deleted posts and after edits) check out the official AMA thread. Not a redditor yet? Do yourself a favor and drop by the /r/paranormal subreddit and get started. It only takes a few seconds and you might run across a few of the WF? Gang while you’re there.


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  1. Greg Newkirk

    08/27/2011 at 4:28 AM

    Can I just say how amused I am that the one link in this post that I specifically said I don’t recommend clicking is now the single most clicked link of the past 48 hours?

    • Ken Summers

      08/27/2011 at 3:23 PM

      You really think people can resist clicking on something so tempting? It’s begging for a glimpse!

      I might have to sign up for that site. But not for furry-on-furry action.


  2. Syuk

    08/27/2011 at 6:54 AM

    right in the IAMA he stated – in the blurb at the top, before anyone called him out I believe:

    EDIT: This is a sponsored IAmA as part of a promotion by Apollo 18

  3. saucycemetery

    08/28/2011 at 2:34 PM

    Best comment from the reddit thread:

    “It’s like watching Colonel Sanders try to sell chicken to teenagers by rapping about it”

  4. Dana Newkirk

    08/28/2011 at 2:40 PM

    I was going to say something until I realized I’d rather just make fun of this guys eyebrows….

    This guys eyebrows…amiright?

    • robyn

      07/10/2013 at 5:58 AM

      you just made me spit out my coffee

  5. Scott L.

    08/28/2011 at 6:53 PM

    Well, check another person of my list of people I found somewhat interesting with a sliver of integrity. 🙂 Great article Greg! 🙂

    • Greg Newkirk

      08/28/2011 at 9:32 PM

      Someone has to be the jerk. I guess it’s me.

  6. lou

    08/30/2011 at 1:00 PM

    Oh man………..I should do an AMA. I love it when chaos ensues.

  7. Some Guy on the Innernets

    08/30/2011 at 1:53 PM

    You guys do realize Stan is something like 80 years old, don’t you? I would not expect the post-adolescent males on reddit to know that, or figure it out, or know that he constantly corrects people who call him Dr. Friedman, but I would expect someone writing an article such as this to know a bit about the guy. How many people his age *are* net savvy? Not many.

    The fact that everyone assumes he has a PhD is something of a running chuckle in ufology. When he was working as a physicist (rocket scientist, actually) a master’s degree was pretty much standard education, and a master’s meant a bit more back then. He has never claimed education beyond what he has, and in fact he has outed some flakes in ufology who have made such claims about themselves. Some “sleuthing” it took to find out Friedman’s education details! Way to ferret out the truth, boys. Y’all are just burnin’ up the Google, I bet.

    Beyond the elementary business of who Stan is, he has come to be something like ufology’s weird old uncle and does some strange things now and then. Those of us who have been following ufology for more than 20 minute realize he has forgotten more than we will know about the subject. I have no idea what’s going on with him and the Apollo 18 nonsense. I’m certainly not going to waste my time watching it.

    Also, expecting anyone to “explain” ufology in a few sentences, or give a short, ADD approved “proof” that it’s worth studying are setting themselves up for disappointment. Stan was right: more people need to read books, his included. It’s amazing what you can learn doing that.

    • Greg Newkirk

      08/30/2011 at 2:28 PM

      He’s a ufologist, supposedly serious about his work, who is viral marketing a horror film about moon-ghosts… and you’re getting angry that people made fun of him on the internet.

    • Mia

      09/04/2011 at 2:26 AM

      I guess one could attribute these missteps to lack of internet savvy, but i have to respectfully disagree. Mr. Friedman refused to offer any reasonable dialogue, to answer straight-forward questions with straight-forward answers. His approach was dismissive, ego-driven, and frankly, obtuse. No one is going to respond well to that, whether it is on the internet or in some other communication forum.

      Aside from that, his offering of his “expert” opinions and then withholding of same was simply rude… at any age.

      • Henry

        07/10/2013 at 6:36 AM

        He is not withholding anything. He has nothing but a firm belief in nearly every unfounded conspiracy theory out there. He maintains his stance on cases and facts that have been soundly debunked over the years and he is, as this article clearly illustrates, hopelessly out of date in his own field of “research” trying in vain to remain relevant.

        It reminds me of when Prince tried to return to the pop music scene after his hiatus over contract disputes for his own name.

  8. Some Guy on the Innernets

    08/30/2011 at 2:54 PM


    Please. Just trying to provide some context, since it was lacking in the piece.

    You are welcome.

    • Greg Newkirk

      08/30/2011 at 3:01 PM

      I think moon-ghosts is a good amount of context.

    • thecakeisalie

      08/30/2011 at 3:06 PM

      I think the entire point of the article was that Mr. Dr. Friedman UFO PhD never gave any context to begin with. Which is exactly why his AMA bombed in the first place.

      • Some Guy on the Innernets

        08/30/2011 at 3:16 PM

        Stan Friedman M.S. should certainly have known better than to have gotten involved in such a flaky mess, but my point is that it’s hardly surprising he didn’t know what he was getting into. What he got was inevitable, right or wrong.

        If you see an old guy screw up and get on the wrong bus, is it okay to make fun if him? I guess it is in the Internet. At least Greg has figured out if he’s going to be dishing up criticism, he needs to take his share. Thanks for not deleting my messages. That, too, is rampant in cyberspace.

        • Greg Newkirk

          08/30/2011 at 3:37 PM

          I don’t want anyone to figure that I was just making fun of an old guy on the internet. That’s not the case at all. Friedman is no doubt considered an expert in his field, but at the same time, his Q&A session really made him come off as a jerk who was more interested in selling his own books (and a Hollywood movie) than answering any kind of legitimate questions. I realize there is the argument that he couldn’t possibly sum up however many years of research in a paragraph, but here’s the thing: he didn’t even bother to try. It would seem that it would be in his best interests to at least attempt to sum something up in some sort of fashion before saying “if you need more info than this, you should check out this chapter in my book.” Instead, he pretty much just called everyone stupid for asking for an explanation.

          I’m totally fine with taking my lumps. If I’ve been unfair, I’ve no problem being called out on it. In this instance, I really don’t think I was unfair to the guy at all. He was, frankly, rude to the people who was trying to sell things to. If he was a salesman, he’d have been fired. But instead, he’s a spokesman of sorts.. and from the looks of it, the only people who are going to listen to his pitch are the people who already bought the product.

          • Henry

            02/04/2013 at 5:18 PM

            Freidman may be an “expert” in his field, but I am not certain what qualifies anyone to be an expert in a field that consists of anecdotal, often second or third hand evidence besides being able to add another voice to the same stories.
            I see him getting his name attached to whatever UFO event a documentary is being made about as an expert and rehashing the same old gov’t conspiracy story.
            I have yet to see him speak on stories he has affirmed as worthy of study that have been proven hoaxes, or mis-identifications. A scientist should show a little discrimination.

  9. Some Guy on the Innernets

    08/30/2011 at 4:07 PM

    Here is Billy Cox reporting on a (kind of) similar situation. It’s pretty funny, and the comments are funny too, most of them.


    As one commenter put it, the moon really does bring out the loonies.

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  11. GHJ

    08/31/2011 at 5:02 AM

    You seriously found that amusing? I looked at the thread. It looks to me like they jumped on him from the start; a bunch of dickheads attacking some old dude who didn’t fully understand what he did to deserve that level of viciousness. Yeah, really hilarious.

    • yoi'mmaletyoufinishbut..

      08/31/2011 at 11:16 AM

      my favorite part about this article is all the butthurt ufo knobs crying because one of their experts made himself look like a jackass corporate whore

      truth hurts

    • Some Guy on the Innernets

      08/31/2011 at 6:37 PM

      I especially like the video clip of Buzz decking some weasel half his age. Never get tired of that!

  12. Duncan Roads

    09/02/2011 at 5:32 PM

    Well written piece, very informative, concise and clear.



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  14. Stephen

    09/09/2011 at 12:28 PM

    All very Bob Lazar! The guy tells people to go watch the flying saucers on a Wednesday night at the public road nearest to Papoose Lake. Plenty of people do just that and report success.

    But according to Stan Bob Lazar is a fraud! just how he arrives at that opinion after so many witnessed the saucer that Bob said they’d see is beyond my reasoning!

    I have much respect for what Stan has fdone for ufology in the past but the Bob Lazar issue is Stans nemisis.
    poor old Stan is jelous they didn’t ask him to work on the saucer and got Bob Lazar instead.

    If only this age group (my father’s born 1935) could get over themselves, get out of their own way and drop the ego trip and the extremely high opinion of themselves that others do not share, then they might just learn something before they meet their maker.
    Something about these silly old barstards, old school types that remind me so much of the Catholic Church wallopers back when that refused to look through Galileos telescope! They ‘knew’ there was nothing to see so needn’t waste their precious time on such ridiculousness!

  15. Christopher Allan

    09/12/2011 at 5:04 AM

    I have read most of Friedman’s papers and two of his books. The one thing I have noticed is that each & every one has his name followed by the description ‘Nuclear Physicist’. He has a habit of putting it there, I believe, to impress on readers his credentials, and to instill into new readers the idea that if a nuclear physicist says something about UFOs then he knows what he is talking about (whereas those qualified in, say, psychology, history, folklore or the social sciences do not).

    Friedman’s main contention has always been that the US government knows all about ETs visiting earth and has done so since 1947. Why 1947? Because UFOs made their debut that year and it was also the year of the (in)famous Roswell saucer ‘crash’. And what do other governments know? Ask him and see!

  16. CitznFish

    09/14/2011 at 2:08 PM

    I used to respect Stanton Friedman. Now not so much. Way to destroy years of credibility Stanton. 🙁

  17. Gary

    11/27/2011 at 9:19 PM

    Stanton was simply trying to market his own books. The old fart thought he could entice the internet venue into further “intrigue and curiosity,” which in turn might get him a few thousand book sales. However, his pompous attitude served him well this time around!

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  19. Henry

    02/04/2013 at 5:10 PM

    I wonder if Friedman attended classes with Bob Lazar?

  20. butch

    03/19/2013 at 10:44 AM

    man i laughed my ass off at this article!! fuckin hilarious. and if anyone has opened theirselves up for discussion on an issue they claim to be an expert in, and then give little to no answers to questions asked, well they get whatever is said……………..and how the fuck do magnets work!

  21. Eric

    07/10/2013 at 2:19 PM

    I just want to say I wish I could not know that there is something going on…saw my first UFO along with countless others at a drive in between movies… at around 6:30pm-7:00pm everyone was all talking and engaging with each other till it happened…6 orange-red disks flying in in V formation and immediately about three F-14s followed after them. after that a few cars left and the rest of us all there were unnaturally silent. Then one time going to my bands practice room we all got out of the car and my bassist said something like “what the hell?”…all 5 of us saw a large rectangle with a white light at each corner..this was at night at around 10:30pm..we watched it just silently go over us and then just faded away…and then to my last time was with a few friends during the day we all were talking about how this one particular cloud looked a bit odd…after that we later noticed it dissipated but we noticed a “something” remaining there for a few minutes..looked like a division symbol in mathematics..you know the dot-line-dot…was there for not even 3 minutes the just brightly sparked and poof..gone. just wanted to tell my story..I personally could care less if anyone believes it..I know it to be true. slanche.

  22. james

    10/16/2013 at 8:10 AM

    i think poor old stan went a little off the rockers when his atomic rockets got axed.

    i met stan once back in the 90s, he had me and a former soviet pilot look at some photos. got mad as hell when the Russian and myself said they were not “spacecraft”.

    i think he is a little “left of center” for a true investigator. old age sure ain’t helping either. i know as i am not young anymore either.

  23. Dr. Don R. Mueller

    12/28/2014 at 3:39 PM

    Stanton Friedman has made too much of a “career” out of investigating UFOs to the point where he is far less the UFO researcher and far more the UFO celebrity. Friedman’s observations and opinions in this “field of study” have become diluted by fame and fortune and as such should be taken with the proverbial grain of salt.

  24. Alberto

    08/21/2016 at 4:34 PM

    I am amazed at some of the responses to Friedman saying “read my books”.I would have no problem doing that,as I do not have to buy his book,but perhaps borrow it at my local library.So,the suggestion he is promoting his book is ,to me,ludicrous.The whole subject of UFOs is an intriguing one,and I can understand that Friedman,every now and then, refer us to his book,as the documents on UFOs are so numerous and full of details,which make it really imposible to answer questions about them in a few paragraphs.In any case,I would love to see some credible explanations from the goverment and skeptics about these phenomena,rather than opinions not founded on anything but “beliefs” that what happened was “not possible”.”.

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