Sunday, July 28, 2013

The Great Aztec Debate on Paracast

Well, the great Aztec debate is over and the winner is… Yeah, you’d think that but it was probably Scott Ramsey. After all, he had immersed himself in the case for twenty years and was able to divert the conversation into other arenas without doing much damage to his own point of view. You can listen to the show here:

 Take, for example, this investigation that was apparently launched by the Air Force Office of Special Investigation into a claim that someone had offered for sale pictures of the Aztec flying saucer in late 1948. This was clearly a hoax of some kind because the man offering the pictures, a fellow named Cline, apparently didn’t exist and was never found. The Army CID and then the AFOSI were involved which seems to lend some credibility to the tale, but the reality is, while the military was involved, there was nothing to suggest that the pictures ever existed and that it seems to have been some sort of con. Just because Aztec and pictures were mentioned it doesn’t actually prove that something happened near Aztec.

Ramsey wrote, “A skeptic might suggest that the photo sting might have been part of a con game attempting to capitalize on Scully’s best-selling book, but the other interesting part of history is that Scully’s book was published, not yet on the booksellers’ shelves when this “sting” took place. If this were some crazy marketing scheme by Scully, he would surely have made reference to the Aztec photos in his book, but no such reference is found in the book to photographs other than the Dr. Gee comments about them.”

There are several flaws here, the first of which is that the publication date is not the date the books land in the bookstores. They’re usually there earlier than the publication date and are often for sale prior to that date.

But what is overlooked here, and which I didn’t think of while in the debate, is that Denver, where all this took place, was where Silas Newton, in March 1950, had made his famous UFO speech at the University of Denver. Newton was talking about a crash and mentioned specifically that one had fallen within 500 miles of Denver.

In fact, according to newspapers and other documents, there had been a lot of discussion of the UFO crash in the Four Corners area of New Mexico since the beginning of 1950. In Scully’s book (page 20 of the old hardback), Scully wrote:

In fact the night the Denver Post was exposing Scientist X and the Farmington citizens were exposing Operation Hush-Hush, I was dining in Hollywood with the man all Denver was hunting for. He had just talked to George Koehler in Denver by long distance. Koehler had worked for him and had married his nurse. The Farmington report had set Denver in an uproar, Koehler told him.

“Do you remember my telling you,” Scientist X said as he hung up, “that the first flying saucer was found on a ranch twelve miles from Aztec?”

I remembered when he reminded me but I had forgotten. “Yes,” I said, “I remember now.”

“Well, he said, “Farmington is only twenty-eight miles from that ranch…”

The point here is that the name of Aztec and details of the crash were being bandied about many months before Scully’s book came out, and many in the Denver area were aware of the case. So, a hoax, appearing in Denver in the weeks after the official publication date of Scully’s book isn’t all that impossible… in fact, had it been any other city besides Denver, that whole episode might have greater importance.

Had I known that this would become an important point in the debate, I would have been ready for it. Scott chose the ground for the battle and I moved to meet him, rather than retreating for an advantage. My mistake.

So, let’s talk about the conman, Silas Newton. Scott said that I had said that when Newton died 140 claims were filed against his estate. This figure came from Jerry Clark in his UFO Encyclopedia and he cited Bill Moore as the source. Scott said that he had only been able to document one of these claims which, to me, is one too many (though claims filed against an estate are not all that rare). The suggestion was that the information came from Moore and therefore was unreliable because Moore, in 1989 had committed UFOlogcial suicide admitting to various and somewhat unethical activities. Moore was unreliable. We can ignore what Moore said for that reason and I just wasn’t going to defend Moore as a researcher, given what I knew about him.

But the information about Newton being a conman runs far beyond what Moore had said in 1989. According to J. P. Cahn, Newton had a long history of engaging in shady activities. In 1931, he was arrested for conspiracy and was later arrested for larceny, false stock statements, and interstate transportation of stolen property. He seemed to have a long arrest record, but in many of the cases had the charges dismissed when Newton made restitution.

Not exactly a sterling reputation… and one that didn’t seem to end until his death. So, the information is that there had been 140 claims against his estate, but nearly all of them dropped when it was learned that he had about $16,000.00 in assets. I suppose the single case that was left, at least according to Scott, was the one that wasn’t dropped.

We talked about the case in Denver in which Newton and GeBauer were on trial for fraud. They lost the trial but the debate seemed to center on whether this was a criminal trial or a civil trial, but in the end the distinction isn’t great… meaning that the judgment went against them. They lost and were forced to pay restitution and to prove what a sterling character Newton was, he never did make restitution.

So the real point wasn’t how many people attempted to have Newton pay them after Newton died, but that he had a long history of con games.

I asked Scott if he had ever interviewed Manuel Sandoval, a part-time police officer from Cuba, New Mexico who had been on the scene. Scott readily admitted that he hadn’t and that was clear from the book. I have been back through this book (having not read it for about two years) and I still say that it seems that he had interviewed Sandoval, given the way the chapters are written. Scott said it’s clear that the information came from Sandoval’s best friend but if you read the information starting on page 3, it seems that he is quoting Sandoval… and he does again later in the book. This point might have been a little too subtle, and Scott argued that it wasn’t true.

We talked about the information that came from Donald Bass, known as Sam, which came by way of Virgil Riggs. I noted that there was no confirmation that Bass had been killed by a hit and run driver in Vietnam as alleged. Scott said that the database I used suggested there might be omissions in it, but there is little room for error. I did check others, but cited only the one. Scott had no information to refute this only that the one database might have been incomplete.

Here’s the problem. Scott wrote that he had Bass’ service number but apparently has not checked with the Records Center in St. Louis. I sent him the information on how to access that information but have not heard back. If Bass had been killed in Vietnam, the St. Louis Records Center would be the final authority on it because it would be noted in his record. Given that Scott has a service number for the guy, we can get information about him. This point should be checked.

This is a minor point, but what I was suggesting was that some of the avenues, some of the easy ones had not been followed. It would only take a short letter and a stamp to get the information, but that hasn’t been done. Instead Scott just said the database might have been incomplete, which doesn’t really advance his position or validate the claim.

And while it seemed that the debate went Scott’s way most of the time, I believe there was one knockout punch I delivered. I asked if Scott had any documentation for the Aztec crash that preceded Scully’s reports on it. A newspaper clipping, a diary, a letter, anything with a date that preceded Scully, but he said he didn’t have anything like that.

That might be the real game changer. Something, anything, that can be shown to have been written before Scully released the information, would go a long way to validate the Aztec crash. At this point there are no newspaper articles, no magazine reports, and no government documents to show this.

There were some other points that were made, but not much of substance. I mentioned that the man who was sheriff in 1947 had said it didn’t happen. Scott countered that he had talked to the family and well, maybe that wasn’t quite true… I’ll stick with what Coral Lorenzen had to say when she talked to the sheriff in the mid-1970s.

I mean that’s sort of where it all ended. Scott believes there was a crash and I do not. He is required to prove his case and I am not. He is the one making the claims of the crash so the burden of proof is on him. I don’t believe he met that burden, but I do remember the Mogul debate that took place in Roswell in 1997 between Karl Pflock and me. Those who believed Mogul thought Karl had won and those who did not believed I had won. I don’t know if either one of us swayed an opinion and it was the same thing here. I don’t think either of us swayed an opinion.


Sarge said...

Kevin, This is off topic, but have you given any thought to a reader questions post?
A chance for the followers to post a few questions on your writings and career.


Unknown said...

Hi Kevin,

I listened to the "debate" and I think you did the best that you could. Scott is as slippery as an eel, and can spin his way out of a tight corner when in conversation if people are easily distracted by the chaff he throws up (like O'Brien and Steinberg), but when you look at his claims in detail and pin them down on paper it's clear that they just don't hold water. The Fred Reed letter is just one egregious example of where Scott just can't see the forest for the trees.

Aztec was a scam then. It's still a scam now.


Unknown said...

P.S. An example of Scott's diversionary chaff can clearly be seen when he corrects you on the pronunciation of Leo Gebauer's name, which threw you a bit off guard and neatly deflected things away from the point you were trying to make. It was petty stuff.

Interestingly enough, I would refer folks to the Atec: 1948 film, at 5:39 - 40, to see how Scott pronounced Gebauer's name.


Bob Koford said...
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Sapient said...

Paul puts it very well. I didn't see any of the topics Ramsey got heated about (so and so's name, a year correction, etc.) as having any bearing on this case. He lists details, but in the end they're all people's stories with no evidence, other than a concrete slab, which could mean anything. I thought you did perfectly well. Cheers, Kevin Henderson.

Daniel Transit said...

I disagree that 'Paul puts it very well'. In my opinion, he puts it badly and the way he puts it comes from a poisonous attitude towards anyone that so much as has an open mind on this issue.

According to Paul, anyone that doesn't go along with his absolute rejection of the main people concerned, is simply a "UFO believer."

Thus, if you don't go along with him, you are either a lot less smart and rational than he is ("believer"), or a lot less moral and empathetic than he is ("scam artist").

He reduces all of us that don't 100% agree with him to a less human level than he is. This is the way he is playing this game.

Decent people can sense this and might be put off from making positive contributions to a discussion on this matter - why subject themselves to being dehumanized in this way, when they can communicate elsewhere and be respected.

I recommend reading 'Behind The Flying Saucers'; 'UFO Crash At Aztec', and 'The Aztec Incident'. There is plenty of intriguing information in those three books - you don't have to "believe" anything to enjoy them.

KRandle said...

Daniel -

I fear you misread Paul on this one. He spent a great deal of time with Scott Ramsey looking at the evidence for the Aztec crash case. He speaks from his experiences with that and not out of some sort of attitude that there cannot be alien visitation therefore there is not, but from one who has looked at the evidence. And, ironically, his uncle is Stan Friedman so I think he has been treated to more of the pro side of the UFO coin than the other.

And while it might be intriguing to read the three books you listed, please note that each contains a great deal of misinformation, leaps of logic, and more than a few misstated facts.

On this one, I side with Paul... on many others we disagree.

KRandle said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

Thank you, Kevin. For the record, I don't rule out the possibility of extraterrestrial visitation to Earth at some point, although as the years go on I think it less and less likely.

But on Aztec I have no doubt, for reasons I have made clear over the years. But the proof of even-handedness is in the pudding, and I don't think anyone could watch the film I did about Aztec several years ago and not come away thinking that Scott and his fellow believers had been fairly treated.


Sapient said...

Paul Kimball's film is extremely useful. You actually get to see the notorious concrete slab. I think it's a curiosity worth noting, but cannot imagine how this slab, and not a shred of the alleged spaceship, proves any validity of the Aztec case. The film doesn't grind any ideological axe. In fact, it's pretty generous to Mr. Ramsey. In his post, all Kimball is noticing is very common techniques of evasion in an argument. Anyone who performs in public or argues in public can only utter a hearty "amen".

Unknown said...

The thing about the notorious concrete slab (and the affiliated metal rod) is that the film was shot in March, 2004, at which point Scott said the "lab tests" on the concrete and metal would be done soon... within a year. Well, here we are almost a decade later, and still no results... which is no surprise. But it does make one wonder what, exactly, they spent the supposed $500,000 on.


Dennis Pharr said...

Kevin - I'm sure I'm missing some key information regarding the person named "Cline" attempting to sell pictures of the crashed UFO at Aztec. But, it seems to me that the key question here is not whether the pictures existed - the question instead should be - why was the Army CID and AFOSI interested in the issue at all?

Even if it was an attempted con-job and the pictures were fake (if they existed at all), why would the Army CID or Air Force care? What was their motivation for launching an official investigation?

Wouldn't it simply be another run-of-the-mill fraud case perhaps even unworthy of the time and attention of the local District Attorney?

Again, isn't the key question - why were the Army CID and Air Force OSI interested?

Bob Koford said...


From documents I read many years ago, the story unfolded like this:

One LD McLaughlin, not Cline, was drunk at a bar, and phoned Army Intel claiming he had photos of a disk, and he was threatening to make them public.

In a later memo, someone identified as "Cline" went to meet McLaughlin at the bar to purchase the photos.
This is where the trail goes cold.

I discussed the identity of this McLaughlin character with a researcher, and suggested it could have been, secretly, Robert McLaughlin...but he was apparently away, out at sea, at the time.

I searched for him myself, with what time I could afford, and came up with one good lead. I made contact with this fellow, but it didn't pan out.

Whoever this "Cline" person was, he cannot be located or identified.


Robert Sheaffer said...

I think that the Scully comment about the "Farmington report" refers to the widely-publicized mass-sighting there, and not to any supposed crash. "Scientist X" is making the claim that the Farmington saucers were scouting the area near where one of their own had gone down, presumably looking for it.

KRandle said...

Robert -

I think you need to reread the section. Clearly he is refering to the mass sighting, but he then references the site where one was found. The point here is that the name of Aztec, associated with a downed saucer was well known before the October photo hoax.

Lawrence said...

Stan Friedman is Paul Kimball's uncle?! WTF? Had no idea.

Anyhooow to the topic at hand - the only people who are going to be convinced by Ramsey, are those already convinced of an Aztec crash ie true believers. If only Kevin R was as skeptical of Roswell as he is of Aztec. Ah well, you have to take what you can get I suppose.

I gotta say though (since nobody else is) that believing in a Roswell ET crash whilst dismissing (rightly) Aztec is kinda exasperating. Maybe it's best just to have a sense of humour about it all.

Gene Steinberg said...

While I don't always agree with Paul, he makes some good comments about Aztec. He has clearly done his research. But he didn't have to throw those silly cracks about me and Chris O'Brien and our conduct during that Paracast debate. This was a debate between two people, Ramsey and Randle. So we let them have their say, and simply kept the discussion flowing. Interrupting at every point where someone tried to distract us would have worked against the format of this episode.

At the end of the day, Kevin has it right: There is no paper trail before the Scully book that proves Aztec ever occurred. More to the point, I wonder what would happen if someone just invented a a new UFO event, allegedly occurring 60 years ago near a small town in rural America. Would going back to the place where it allegedly occurred bring some vague memories of such an event? We've been polluted with UFO lore for decades, and there have been real sightings in many locales.

Just a thought.


Unknown said...


I sorry I missed your debate with Scott. If I remember correctly, Frank Warren promised you that Scott Ramsey would provide a rebuttal to my critique of "The Aztec Incident" in which I proved that several of his conclusions were wrong(See Aztec in Perspective by Monte Shriver posted on this site Feb 5,8 and 11). I believe that both Frank Warren and Dr. Frank Thayer also told me Scott would rebut all the errors I found in "The Aztec Incident". To date I have seen no such rebuttal. I am not only from Aztec but the only person of record who knew and interviewed Jack Dunning (son of Harold Dunning) and he told me that no such event happened in Hart Canyon.
Another life long friend of Jack's, Gerald W., told me that in all the years he hunted with Jack Dunning in Hart Canyon was the so-called Disc ever mentioned. On May 8,2013 I presented my work "IT's About Time" to the San Juan County Historical Society with over 50 "Old Timers" in attendance and I have yet to hear from anyone that grew up in Aztec (as I did)say that they ever heard anythng about a disc landing in Hart Canyon. So Mr. Ramsey, I'm still waiting for your rebuttal to the factual errors I pointed out in your book "The Aztec Incident".