Saturday, February 25, 2006


I happened to catch the Unsolved Histories that dealt with UFOs. I now understand something about that program that I didn’t know for certain before. The experiments conducted are so much eyewash and have nothing to do with reality. All three of the experiments that were performed on that program were badly flawed and the results, while interesting, were virtually useless.

Taken in reverse order, I’ll look at the Mantell case, where a National Guard pilot died chasing a UFO, the Roswell case, which is, of course, the alleged crash of an alien ship, and finally the Arnold sighting which is credited with launching the modern UFO era.

For those interested in a complete examination of the circumstances surrounding the crash of Captain Thomas Mantell, all the relevant material is in a paper at For the Unsolved Histories experiment to be relevant, the producers should have reviewed everything that had been written about the case since January 1948. They avoided the eyewitness testimony of those on the ground, including the crew in the Godman Army Airfield Tower near Ft. Knox, Kentucky, the other pilots in the flight with Mantell, and dozens of others who reported the object in the afternoon sky.

For the experiment, and making it sound as if they were doing a scientific study, they used the services of a professional astronomer who would calculate the position of the sun in the sky to duplicate the condition from 1947. They also used information about a new type of balloon in 1947, known as a Skyhook, so they could create a model of the balloon with lighting that would be similar to that Mantell saw. They found one of the few working F-51 Mustangs, the type of fighter that Mantell have been flying. They were now ready for their experiment.

I would have believed the experiment relevant, except they were in California rather than Kentucky, they were in the middle of summer rather than winter, they were flying in the early morning rather than the middle of the afternoon, the Mustang they used was configured with a jump seat for a passenger when Mantell’s was not, and the sky was clear while the evidence shows that the sky was slightly obscured in 1948. And, of course, there was nothing in the sky for them to photograph. They had to add that to the tape later, to show us what Mantell might have seen.

While I thought it impressive that they reconstructed the Skyhook balloon on a small scale and duplicated the lighting conditions as best they could, all of this didn’t have to be done. If they had read the eyewitness statements, available in the Project Blue Book files, on-line at the NICAP web site, or on microfilm from the National Archives (Marked as RG 341, Records of the United States Air Force, Project Blue Book T-1206, Roll 2), they would have read descriptions that make it clear that the object was a balloon. It hung in the sky for hours, giving the witnesses a chance to study it, some of them using binoculars. When you read the descriptions, it’s quite clear that what Mantell saw was a balloon, probably 60,000 feet above him, made of a material that had a metallic sheen. A type of balloon that Mantell had never seen, and which fooled him. Nearly everyone who has studied the case now understands that Mantell chased a balloon. It was a conclusion reached without an elaborate looking experiment that was of little real value but that made good television.

Next they went after Roswell; suggesting that human memory is fallible and that people add and subtract from their memory over time. They suggested that memory might not be accurate, though the person relating the memory might believe that he or she is telling it exactly as it happened. So, is there something new in that?

Their experiment was to bring in some volunteers who would believe that they were going on a nature hike, but along the route, they would pass a crash site where there would be metallic debris and armed guards. Later, weeks later, they would be asked what they had seen and it would be compared to the videotape made from their helmet cameras.

Once again, there are problems with the experiment. First, the witnesses whose Roswell testimony is considered reliable all spent hours on the field and handled the debris. Second, armed men did not intimidate many of them, because they too, were soldiers. And finally, the implication of the experiment was that all memories are untrustworthy and that all people suffer from the same memory problems and that just isn’t true.

Their experiment was unnecessary if they were attempting to show that memories can, and the key word here is can, be altered over time. Psychologist Ulric Neisser conducted an experiment when the Challenger was destroyed in 1986. The day after the disaster he had the students in his freshman psychology class answer a short questionnaire about the explosion. These were simple questions about where they were when they heard and how they had learned about the disaster. He then filed those questionnaires away until the students were seniors. He then gave them all the same test with one additional question. He wanted to know how accurate they believed their memories to be.

According to the results, a quarter of the students didn’t have one memory that was accurate. In one case, for example, the student reported he had been home with his parents, but the truth was, he had been at college.

At the other end of the scale were those whose memories were completely accurate and that didn’t seem to be colored by the passage of time. So, what have we learned? That some people have memories that have been altered over time and others don’t. Some people remember an event accurately and some don’t. And that the experiment performed by the Unsolved Histories, while interesting, has nothing to do with the Roswell case, other than suggest that some witnesses, while honestly reporting what they remembered, might be in error. But there is no reason to believe that those talking with us today, or who have been interviewed in the past, were relating memories that have been altered, especially when those witnesses have their testimony corroborated by other witnesses and documentation.

Instead, Unsolved Histories trotted out the anthropomorphic dummies that the Air Force had used in ejection system tests in the 1950s and suggested that the Roswell witnesses might have been confused by the wreckage and dummies left by those experiments. They failed to mention that those experiments took place ten years later, only one experiment fell near Roswell, and that there is no evidence that a witness relating his or her experience about the alien craft had even been in a position to see the Air Force experiment. In fact, without being able to produce that evidence, this anthropomorphic dummy theory fails.

The Unsolved Histories crew again, should have reviewed the available literature. Maybe they would have then questioned some of the Air Force assertions. For example, Colonel Richard Weaver interviewed retired Lieutenant Colonel Sheridan Cavitt. In 1947, Cavitt was in the Army’s Counter-Intelligence Corps and was stationed in Roswell. Major Jesse Marcel said that Cavitt accompanied him out to the ranch where the debris had fallen. Marcel, of course, described metal that could not be dented with a sledge hammer, some parchment like material that could not be set on fire, and had loaded his car with debris to be taken to the Roswell Army Airfield. In later interviews he would explain that the material was something that had fallen to earth but that was something that had not been made on Earth.

When I interviewed Cavitt in the early 1990s, he told me that he had never been involved in the recovery of any balloon material which, unfortunately contradicts what he told the Air Force five or six years later. He was too busy in 1947 to worry about balloons. But when Weaver interviewed him, the story was different. Weaver asked, after Cavitt had described the scene that he and Marcel have found, "What did you think it was when you recovered it?"

Cavitt said, "I thought it was a weather balloon."

The next logical question, at least to my way of thinking, should have been, "Did you communicate this rather important bit of information to Marcel?"

Instead, Weaver asked, "Were you familiar with weather balloons at the time?"

Unsolved Histories didn’t bother with the testimony of Lewis Rickett, who worked with Cavitt in Roswell and whose story is completely at odds with him. Nor did they search for any of the documented and video taped interviews with Jesse Marcel, nor did they worry about finding any of those who had handled the debris to describe it. Instead they performed an experiment that was irrelevant but which looked good to those who don’t understand true scientific testing.

Finally, let’s look at the Kenneth Arnold sighting. Unsolved Histories found an aircraft like that flown by Arnold and they traced his course as he flew across Washington State in June 1947. Arnold said he saw a group of objects traveling at what he believed to be about the same altitude as he was flying and judged them to be about fifty miles away. He timed their flight between two points and calculated they were flying about 1800 miles an hour, or much faster than anything of that era.

During the experiment, Unsolved Histories determined, to their satisfaction, that Arnold couldn’t have made the observations as he claimed. The objects wouldn’t have been visible to him. They were suggesting that he had made a mistake and therefore there could be an explanation for his sighting. They came up with a reflection on the cockpit windows and the possibility of geese.

But here are the problems. If they had bothered with reading any of the material about Arnold, they would have known that he thought of reflections of some kind, and turned the aircraft to find out if that solution worked. He also thought of water on the windows and opened one to make sure that he wasn’t being fooled in that way.

As for the birds, if they were closer than he estimated, then they would have been flying slower. The problem is if they had been much closer he would have recognized them as birds. If they were farther away, then they would have been flying even faster, if he could have even see them.

And, they didn’t account for the sighting of Fred Johnson who told the Air Force that he had seen the objects about the same time as Arnold. Johnson even wrote that he had seen the objects through a telescope. So, there is independent corroboration for Arnold’s sighting, if Johnson is to be believed.

What we have in Unsolved Histories are producers who have the answers before they perform their experiments and experiments that are full of design flaws. Only the Arnold experiment adds anything to our knowledge of the case. In both the Roswell case and the Mantell tragedy, we have badly flawed experiments. A little on-line research could have saved them all some trouble, but then that wouldn’t have had the cloak of scientific investigation. And this ignores that the first step is to review the available literature so that you don’t duplicate the earlier investigation unless, of course, you are attempting to corroborate those results.

In the end, they solved nothing, though they drew conclusions. Had they bothered with the latest UFO research, they would have known that the Mantell sighting was solved long ago, that their information about the Roswell case was out of date, and that the Arnold sighting was not stand alone. They could have saved themselves some time and they could have attacked other sightings, maybe adding something to the research. In the end, they offered entertainment but not science.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Lovekin is a General... But...

Well, the answer is finally in. After writing to many people requesting information, after actually calling Stephen Lovekin at home (and learning to my horror that he was just out of the hospital), after emailing a relative who was defending him, I have learned the truth about Lovekin. It turns out that I was right… He was not a brigadier general on active duty with the Army, he was not a member and brigadier general in the North Carolina National Guard and he was not a brigadier general in the Army Reserve. He is, as I speculated, a brigadier general in the State Guard of North Carolina Association, a volunteer, civilian organization. For those wishing to the Disclosure Project evidence, click on the comments after the other Lovekin article for the links.

Yes, this seems to be splitting a fine hair here, but it is not. As I wrote, during World War II, when the National Guard in all states was activated, the states responded by creating the State Guard. It was an organization that took on the role of the National Guard while those soldiers were deployed. When the war ended and the National Guard soldiers were demobilized, these state guards were disbanded or allowed to disintegrate. Their charters, in many cases expired. In the 1990s, many of these organizations were revitalized, but often without the state recognition they once held.

With the information, supplied by Dr. Stephen Greer of the Disclosure Project, I learned about Lovekin’s military connection. I used Google to find the State Guard of North Carolina. It has a one page web site that explains in their mission statement, "The NCSGA (North Carolina State Guard Association) is deicated (sic) to provide an organized trained group of volunteers to help in times of emergency and as a manpower multiplier force for the CERT program in the State of North Carolina."

They also note, "We train to assist our local law enforcement, fire, and medicial (sic) teams. We have training with the Red Cross Emergency System, Mass Care, Housing, Comm First Aid, etc. We have volunteered and helped on the NC coast with hurricanes, in the mountains with floods and in our communities with search and rescue."

There is a link to another, more comprehensive web site for that organization. For those interested in more information Contact: Tom Griffith (Chief of Staff) 225 Edgeland Dr.PO Box 17171, Charlotte, NC 28277 Matthews, NC 28105 Phone: (704) 847-4855 Fax: Website: USAFreedom Corps: Citizen Corps.

This organization is somewhat similar to the Air Force’s Civil Air Patrol (CAP). All CAP members wear the Air Force uniform, but they are not members of the Air Force. The CAP is the official auxiliary and they perform a great service in search and rescue. But they are civilian volunteers who serve without pay and often with little recognition.

And so it is with the North Carolina State Guard Association. They perform service and are a benefit to the community, but they are an organization of civilian volunteers in a paramilitary organization who serve without pay.

So, the answer to the question in the original article, "Is Lovekin a Brigadier General," is yes. But it is a qualified yes, meaning that he holds a commission as a Brigadier General in an organization that has no official recognition.

If I was to complain about the way he is listed in the various articles and on various web sites, it would be about the claim of National Guard Reserve. As I have said, there is no such thing though both the National Guard and the Army Reserve are parts of the Reserve Component. In all official planning for the force structure the National Guard and the Army Reserve are featured. The North Carolina State Guard Association is not.

To correct the problem, all that needs to be done is to change the listing from National Guard Reserve to North Carolina State Guard Association. Those who wish to understand the significance of Lovekin’s commission can then find their way to the web sites. They will have the information necessary to understand what is going on.
But let’s go just a little bit further. I now understand why my search failed to find any reference to an officer named Lovekin in the Army Registry. When Lovekin said that he was assigned to the White House Signal Agency, he was not an officer. He was a specialist, meaning he was a low-ranking enlisted man. Given the timing, and Lovekin’s biography, it means he entered the Army shortly after he finished high school, served for a limited time, and then went to college. I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that he joined the Army for the GI Bill which would have helped pay for college.

Lest anyone think I am disparaging Lovekin’s course, let me point out that I served as a private on active duty, later as a specialist (E-5) before finishing flight school and receiving a promotion to Warrant Officer. One of my goals was to obtain the GI Bill to help pay for college. In fact, there are many who served in the military with the idea of receiving money for college. As I mentioned before, I have nothing against teenagers in the Army. I was one myself.

Where does that leave us? Well, Lovekin was a member of the White House Army Signal Agency, but as an enlisted man. He serves, or served, as a Brigadier General in North Carolina State Guard Association but has not held that rank in the Armed Forces of the United States. What this does is clarify his position and helps us understand and assign credibility to his claims of what he heard at the Eisenhower White House.

I’ll make one more quick comment. I laid out the information I have carefully. I showed that there were no official documents that showed Lovekin served as a general in any of the officially sanctioned military services. I suggested then that he might have been appointed a general in this loosely organized State Guard, which is the case. I had asked for help from those supporting Lovekin such as Dr. Michael Salla, who said he would find out and let me know. I wrote to Lovekin’s cousin, twice, asking for documentation and said I would post it immediately (I find that I don't have to do that because of the emails in the comments section... There are links there to the documentation). I received nothing. Instead, I’m attacked for wanting to get to the truth. This I knew would happen.

So, for those who want to believe, Lovekin is a general. For those who want the truth, the source of his commission is important. If the media were to check on this, what conclusion do you think they would draw? And it is those people who are disinterested that should drive the train, not the true believers or the hardcore debunkers.