Friday, December 30, 2011

Brad Meltzer's Decoded

Those of you who have been reading the comments about the Fact or Faked: The Paranormal Files know that there has been some criticism about the same old, tired voices being interviewed on various TV shows (not that I’m particularly tired). Some viewers have liked the interjection of new blood into game and appreciate the new points of view.

While I agree with the philosophy, I will also note that there is a problem with these new voices. They often do not know the subject well enough to make intelligent comments about it... Or, they seemed surprised by the information they discover, never knowing that it has been circulating for years among those of us who study the field.

My latest case in point is Brad Meltzer’s Decoded on History (please note that History removed the “channel” from it’s name a while back). They decided to look into UFOs and seemed stunned to find that the reports come from more than the guys in bib overalls who quit school in the eighth grade (please note that this stereotype is suggested by the intellectuals who are too sophisticated to believe aliens have visited Earth.)

Here’s where I’m coming from. They go to Roswell and interview Julie (seen here), the daughter of Walter Haut, the PIO who issued the press release about finding the “flying saucer.” Of course, this is second-hand testimony, and Julie clearly believes what she is saying about what her father mentioned to her. But they don’t discuss the affidavit that Haut signed, and if they had asked some of us, we could have supplied video and audio tape of Haut himself talking about the things that Meltzer’s crew was getting second hand.

Meltzer mentions that while we all know something fell at Roswell, what we might not know was that just two weeks earlier, Kenneth Arnold had made the first sighting of a formation of objects. Well, sorry, but anyone who has paid any attention to UFOs, knows about Arnold’s sighting, knows when it took place, and even knows that the term “flying saucer” was coined at that time.

So, they talk about the Roswell (Main Street looking south toward the museum seen here) case but give us nothing new about it. Two people who were not involved describe the events in the briefest terms. If there was anything good about it, they rejected the balloon theory and didn’t even mention Project Mogul, that was, essentially, the balloon answer dressed in new clothes (I mention this with the fear that it will start another debate where everyone can copy and paste everything that they have said before, but this time I might just delete those comments).

Meltzer also talks about Project Blue Book, but says nothing about Sign, Grudge or Moon Dust (and for my skeptical friends, we do know that Moon Dust had a UFO component based on documentation). I don’t know if he didn’t know about them, or didn’t want to confuse the issue by talking about them.

They finally trot out to Area 51, mention the Extraterrestrial Highway (I bet the Air Force was thrilled when Nevada did that) and show the bullet-riddled sign announcing the route. But they drive toward the base, see the base security on the ridge watching them, and start climbing, on foot, toward the Air Force (or is it Wachenhut?) vehicle. When it moves toward them, they scramble back to their car and beat feet for Las Vegas.

They find a guy who was in security at Area 51 and he explains that he had access to everything on the base because of his security clearance... with the exception of one hangar. One weekend, on a fluke, he got a look inside, but he wouldn’t say what he had seen. It could have been anything or nothing. It was a good story, but it didn’t advance our knowledge at all. We know nothing now that we didn’t already know.

Oh, we’re treated to the Janet aircraft on the corner of McCarran, and we’re told that employees at the base fly out there everyday. But we already knew that, too.

We see John Lear and we learn about Bob Lazar, but there is nothing new there either. Meltzer does suggest that Lazar is surrounded in controversy, but then, we already knew that.

In the end, they sit around and we listen to them talk about the number of stars and the number of galaxies, and the size of the universe. But then, we’ve heard these discussions too and that aren’t particularly insightful. What we need is someone to tell us how to short circuit those vast distances.

Yes, I enjoy the show, but this one disappointed. It was a bunch of new people coming into the UFO arena, but they hadn’t done their homework (or they assumed that most people were as ignorant as they when it came to UFOs). They did suggest there are some strange things out there, but again, I believe that even my skeptical friends will agree that there is something strange out there.

In the end, it was a way to see where we stand in our search and we know that we’re way down the road from Meltzer and crew. Too bad they didn’t take time to learn a little more before they leaped into this one.

18 comments:

Autumnforest said...

That was a fantastic post! I am in agreement. In fact, even though I wanted to support Ben Hansen with Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files, I eventually had to ditch the show. They often went to investigate things that had already been settled some time ago and were no longer valid. I found it adolescent and ridiculous. I'm not surprised this show also gave a watery version of Roswell. It is a very hard thing gathering that info now with so many involved long gone. I run into the same thing with my WWII father's history. I ended up getting his military records. It might be interesting to see if the relatives of these players all got their "witness" relatives' records, what they might verify about time and place and location of these people and such and if they were subsequently medically tested or relocated right after that date.

cda said...

These shows are for the masses, not for the minority that know the subject in depth. Hence you, and the rest of us types, learned nothing new, but the great majority of watchers did.

One other thing: I don't want to sound too pedantic, but Julie was third-hand, not second-hand. This is because Walter Haut was second- hand not first-hand. You cannot call anyone first-hand unless they saw the actual debris. Yes I know Haut changed his story in his final years, but unless he saw the craft, wreckage or bodies he is not a first-hand witness. His original affidavit is clear on this point.

He never even saw the debris field.

Nick Redfern said...

CDA:

Yep! I have done enough TV to know that, for the most part, TV companies are not in the business of investigating or solving Roswell (or indeed any UFO-related or Fortean-related event). Nor are many of them interested in doing so.

Rather they are in the business of making shows they are contracted to make by a network that pays them money for doing so. It's a job and nothing else.

So, they do what they can with the budget available, which is: they interview a few witnesses, get some panoramic on-site shots, use some old stock-footage, interview believers and doubters in the research field, make a few sarcastic comments about UFO believers, then they splice it all together, hand it over to the relevant TV channel, and get paid.

Job well done.
Well, occasionally...
Very occasionally...

Blake THE REAPER Ratliff said...

While I agree with you a 100% DECODED is not about aliens it's about mysteries, so I think BRAD MELTZER did a fantastic job educating people who thought aliens were lilttle green men or even worse NOT REAL I've studied this subject matter extinsivley for the past 4 and a half years and I KNOW THERE IS SOMETHING ELSE OUT THERE THE POSSIABILITY OF THERE NOT BEING ANYTHING ELSE BUT US HERE IN THIS HUGE UNIVERSE IS INPLOSSIABLE!

Blake THE REAPER Ratliff said...

I know 4 and a half years is nothing comparred to a lot of you so if there is anything new and exciting or something a lil older i might have overlooked send me a link IM ALWAYS EXCITED TO LEARN SOMETHING!!!!

Gilles. F. said...

Greetings Kevin Randle,
Mogul flight #4 is... (joking);)

I have "always" found "curious" Walter Haut and Glenn Dennis co-founded this second Roswell's Museum, now directed by Haut's daughter,if I'm correct (?).
It was in approximately 1992 if I'm correct again that this (second) Roswell's Museum was co-founded by them two.

One of them (Glenn Dennis) seems now to have becomed regarding one your recent blog article as, how to say, a not really credible witness (with cordiality). A little like F. Kaufmann (He used the pseudo McKenzie too), J. Ragsdale, G. Anderson?
This second Museum created is in a timeline where Mister Walter Haut changed or switched "sudently" to a sensationnalist version of the "case".
I cant give an exact date when Glenn Dennis appears in the Roswell narrative (myth for me) too (1989?). Well...

Dear Kevin Randle, just curious cause you are a dreamteam head replying time to time for the modest "skeptic" I'm (and my bad english) :

How do you feel, think, meta-analyze this second museum co-creation by Glenn Dennis and Walter Haut? What's your regard? How do you feel this museum was co-founded by Glenn Dennis and Walter Haut? Their motivations? Etc. Your regard in short and frankly...

Respect,

Gilles Fernandez

Paul Kimball said...

Nick,

We nasty TV producers have the exact same feelings about authors who churn out book after book on the same subject, and never solve anything. ;-)

Paul

Nick Redfern said...

Paul:

LOL, point taken! But, even though my books have never proved anything, I do try and solve things.

I actually don't place you in the same category as so many other shows I've done, as each and everything I have done with you for your productions, HAS been investigative, which is refreshing but (in my experiences) rare.

I cannot even begin to tell you the number of shows I've done where the relevant company says something like "Can you come out to Roswell? We'll be there for 2 days, and doing a segment on the crash for this or that show."

That was my point - you can't do an investigation of a 64-year-old event in 2 days!

So, it inevitably becomes just a case of the company doing what I said - a few head and shoulders interviews, some new on-site footage, mixed in with USAF old B&W stock footage of White Sands, a weather balloon, a V2 rocket, or similar.

Same when I've done shows on Bigfoot - the idea of a TV company going into the woods for 1 night and hoping to find Bigfoot is ludicrous.

They know that, so they just do what they consider the next best thing - jerky camera movements in the woods, night-vision equipment capturing startled faces of investigators, always ensure someone says "What the hell was that?" and then go home!

I don't claim to be anything special, but in my books I do try and solve the mystery behind what I'm writing about.

I cannot tell you how many shows I've done where the crew have no intention of solving anything, and just want to get what is needed to make a 1-hour show etc.

Paul Kimball said...

No worries, Nick. I agree with you that most of my producer "colleagues" are money-grubbing SOBs. Indeed, I would probably place the percentage higher than you do.

You can't really do an investigative UFO film, unless you camp out somewhere and monitor the sky. That's why I eventually switched to ghosts - at least with that you can Scooby Doo it in a haunted house for a night, and see if anything happens!

Paul

Terry the Censor said...

Paul is not saying Scooby Doo is an investigative model (I hope).

Paul Kimball said...

Terry,

Actually, all joking aside, the Scooby Doo model, i.e. direct personal experience, is one that is available for "ghost hunters", but not for "UFO hunters".

So yes, I think the "ghost hunters" have one up on "UFO hunters".

Paul

binnh said...

I very much agree with you. What we need is something akin to a masters level UFO series where details and developments in the field can be covered without having to return to the basics over and over again. Beginners may be lost at times but maybe it would also give them the motivation to do more research on their own so they could understand what was being discussed. I firmly believe that. Dumbing down a TV show, a lecture, a course of study doesn't motivate people to learn, it just bores them.

Michael said...

Notice the anti-Catholic sentiments of this show? That chic researcher can't even hide her contempt - so much for being unbiased.... let alone scientific.

Why not decode the "Muslim Conspiracy" instead of trying to shove the BS of "All American Muslim" down our throats.

Steve the Skeptic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Steve M said...

Terry / Paul

Scooby Doo is an excellent model for a paranormal investigator. After all he has a case solved rate of a 100%

KRandle said...

Everyone -

My point here was that some of the basic information was inaccurate and there is no reason for that. He mentioned Project Blue Book but never said a word about Sign or Grudge, or Moon Dust for that matter.

Yes, the show is for the masses who are not as well versed in the subject as we are here, but still, they could make sure they get the basics right... and they certainly didn't need to drive out toward Area 51 and then flee when the base security started driving down the hill.

And, yes, I do watch all the episodes, so they have me hooked anyway.

Legzmilner said...

What I don't understand is that people either don't read their Bibles or they don't believe in what it says; about the dead, that they are not in heaven or hell, they don't come back to visit, they don't know anything, but are alssep and what is messing with us is demons, who knows that we want something like this to happen; to explain what is going on in the "great beyond"; and we to leave them alone and that the demons are aliens in a way and they are the only ones who are coming around, pretending to be from the universe. Why would God allow other aliens to come to a planet that has sin in it and contaminate their planets?

Tud said...

I am disappointed in this programme for the reasons stated by others - a pity because the formula is good but there is an agenda. I notice on the Houdini episode the continual emphasis on Spiritualists being con men/women out to make money and anyone who has investigated this will know that this is not a true reflection of spirit mediums. Is there a roman catholic agenda here?