Thursday, January 22, 2015

Project Blue Book Files and John Greenewald


(Blogger’s Note: John Greenewald has posted the following at various sites and I thought it interesting enough to post here. He gave permission and provides his perspective on the situation as it has developed over the last few days. I think John is getting some unfair bad publicity out of this and thought all along that the problem were the reporters who know nothing about UFOs, care little about UFOs and are happy to wallow in their ignorance.)

John wrote:

Just wanted to set the record straight. ,

First off, I never, EVER, made it appear these documents were newly declassified. The media created that, and many outlets copied each other. Many of the stories you see, I was never even interviewed for, yet I am quoted extensively.

Second, I went out of my way to say these documents have been available, even in some places online, during the course of the interviews I did do.  But, I converted them to a comprehensive and user friendly database, that quite simply was a format that was not available anywhere else and this was the first time the public could get unrestricted access to them. IE: it was free, required no registration, was searchable, and you could download them all with a few clicks in PDF format.

Third, I gave credit to the investigator who compiled the 130,000 jpeg images, which he then started circulating for someone to figure out how to convert them to a better format about 8 months ago.  For a couple months, no one did anything with them (but circulated a torrent file), and although I offered to help store the files on the web, I felt I wasn’t smart enough to convert them to something that was web-friendly.  After about 3 months, and I noticed no one cared or was able to take the project to the next level, with the full knowledge of the one who compiled the data, I built the entire database. Converted 130,000 jpeg images (which are just about as useless as microfilm, but at least they were digitized) to a us3r friendly format.

Here was the full process

  • -          I created the scripts to convert the 130,000 jpegs into more than 10,000 .pdfs

  • -      I then created acrobat action scripts to OCR (text recognition) 10,000 pdfs  and at the same time, created filters to pass the images through to make them more readable to the human eye then their existing format

  • -     I then programmed the entire site in HTML 5, built the indexes broken down by decade, and uploaded the 220GB of material to my server

  • -   I then created a massive search engine that mined the 10,000 pdfs and created a searchable index which is what you see today

   The original compiler wanted no credit but to that of a nickname which is what I’ve given out and posted on my page as the top, #1, credit.

There have been a select FEW that are going around claiming quite a bit, and attacking me personally.  What the media says, or reports on, is out of my control but I have done everything to the best of my ability to circulate the proper information, nothing but the facts, and give credit to where credit is due.

At the end of the day, the media and the hundreds of thousands of people a day who are now hitting the archive obviously were not aware these records were available, so even though some of the news stories became factually incorrect, who cares?  Regardless of that fact we can easily set them straight on, the mass media attention, much of which is very good press, is all fantastic for this field. 

Those that are beating a dead horse, are simply wasting time.

Sincerely,

 John Greenewald, Jr.

The Black Vault
http://www.theblackvault.com  Government Secrets

16 comments:

Curt Collins said...

I'm one of the "FEW," but don't consider my dissenting opinions a personal attack. This Greenewald statement:

"At the end of the day, the media and the hundreds of thousands of people a day who are now hitting the archive obviously were not aware these records were available, so even though some of the news stories became factually incorrect, who cares?"

Well, everyone shoud care. The truth matters. Doesn't it?

cda said...

I think Greenewald meant "hundreds of thousands of hits a day", meaning many people made multiple 'hits'. Even then this figure seems rather high, but as Greenewald says, if the figure is factually incorrect, who cares?

And yes, I agree, the declassification took place 38 or so years ago.

David Rudiak said...

The Project Blue Book files have been available online the last decade, first at bluebookarchive.org, more recently at fold3.com/title_461/project_blue_book_ufo_investigations/. In both cases, one could download files one page at a time, a tedious process.

However, I think John Greenewald has made a very valuable contribution in grouping entire case files into pdf files, such that you can download the entire BB case file at one time. Also grouping by decade makes it easier to locate files. (fold3 also has orders by date and location, but case files are sometimes not complete or scattered. bluebookarchive is very scattered in its organization.)

Haven't yet compared image quality or his search function vs. bluebookarchive or fold3, but just having a complete case in one pdf file is more than enough.

As for the news medias handling of this, the usual level of ignorance and historical inaccuracy. Wikipedia seems to be their primary reference source. Even found a photo in the Daily Mail's story that I originally posted to Wikipedia from my website for their Kenneth Arnold article. (8 Arnold-like UFOs photographed over Tulsa, OK, July 12, 1947--dug that out of a microfilm archive in Oklahoma 10 years ago.) A slight nod was given to Wikipedia, but didn't bother to cite the original source for Wikipedia. Research isn't even ankle deep these days.

Steve Sawyer said...

"But, I converted them to a comprehensive and user friendly database, that quite simply was a format that was not available anywhere else and this was the first time the public could get unrestricted access to them. IE: it was free, required no registration, was searchable, and you could download them all with a few clicks in PDF format."

It may appear to be "splitting hairs," but the fact remains that the italicized part of the excerpted statement by Greenwald above is really not entirely accurate, and I think that should be noted.

Will and Rebecca Wise's www.bluebookarchive.org has been available and online since 2005, and it has free and unrestricted access, does not require registration, is searchable, and you can download/copy any of the files there, in both .pdf format and directly. It is also in a more readily accessible and complete format.

In addition, Wise's site has many files that are less redacted, with additional resources, that Greenwald's site currently does not have.

So Greenwald's claim that his effort was "the first" to accomplish this goal is actually not, strictly speaking, true.

As Curt Collins notes above, everyone should care, because the truth, and accuracy, particularly in this field of endeavor, does indeed matter.

It's fine to have PBB files organized by cases, but they should also be available in a truly chronological order so that researchers can more coherently see the related administrative files in a linear manner to better understand the context of the cases consolidated by case and decade in Greenwald's version of the PBB files.

I would hope he eventually combines his format with the kind of format at Wise's site, for better "searchability," in both case and chrono formats.

Isaac Koi also has done a masterful job of making UFO-related government and other files available, and I'm really looking forward to his website, which is pending, becoming fully functional later this year.

See: http://www.isaackoi.com/ and https://www.facebook.com/isaac.koi

Steve Sawyer said...

Postscript:

David's comment, above mine, slipped in while I was composing my own -- sorry for the appearance of some redundancy as a result.

Also: I just realized John G's last name is spelled "Greenewald," not Greenwald.

I guess I've been following the Edward Snowden story, and Glenn Greenwald's coverage of it in both The Guardian and First Look Media online so closely over the past year and a half that I inadvertently overlooked the fact that the two last names were spelled slightly differently, which was my error, now corrected.

[As an aside, if you want to check out some real investigative journalism of importance and quality, regarding current political issues and the Snowden NSA revelations, see:]

http://www.theguardian.com/profile/glenn-greenwald

http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/the-nsa-files

https://firstlook.org/theintercept

Terry the Censor said...

> Wise's site has many files that are less redacted...

Mark O'Connell, a MUFON Wisconsin field investigator writing a book about Hynek, gives an example:

...a quick check of the Blue Book file for the 1966 Dexter-Hillsdale, Michigan UFO sightings showed that the "newly" archived document at The Black Vault was redacted, while the very same archived document at bluebookarchive.org was unredacted.

http://www.highstrangenessufo.com/2015/01/drunken-ufo-yahoos.html

KRandle said...

All -

Here's the thing about all this. The microfilms released through the National Archives were redacted... the officers didn't do a very good job and you could find the names in the files most of the time.

Hynek had copies of many of the Blue Book files that were provided to him, I suspect in his role as their consultant. When I copied some of the files at CUFOS I noticed they hadn't been redacted.

I suspect there are other copies of the files out there that haven't been redacted. Most of the time, it was only names, addresses and telephone numbers that had been redacted and as I pointed out, I have a list of the names for all the unidentified cases.

Steve Sawyer said...

I read somewhere online recently that bluebookarchive.org is in the process of scanning the first 10 rolls of the original Project Blue Book microfilm, as they located an unredacted version of those NARA records, and will be placing them online sometime soon to provide an even more complete online records repository -- does anyone here know any further details about this?

I've also heard that there are additional unredacted PBB microfilm rolls beyond the first 10 referred to above -- it would seem if this is true, a high-quality re-scan of all the PBB microfilm rolls that were not censored in .pdf / searchable format for online use would be even better than what's currently available via either the PBB archive site or Greenewald's version.

So, I was wondering if there is any version of the PBB files in completely unredacted format floating around that might be scanned for the most complete record of PBB files for online research -- anyone know if the PBB microfilms do or do not exist in completely unredacted form, and if so, how can whoever has those be connected up with either Wise and/or Greenewald for a re-scan?

It would also be very useful if the PBB Reports 1 through 12 and PBB Special Report # 14 (the PBB revision of Battelle's original Project Stork statistical / analytical study) were also online -- the Blue Book Archive shows them as available, but when you try to download them, they go to a 404 "page not found" error, indicating they were somehow removed from the BBA file server sometime in the past -- I've contacted Isaac Koi to request Rebecca Wise restore these files, but don't know if that will happen or when. Does anyone know?

Shepherd Johnson said...

The last word on this in the mainstream media is apparently from the Washington Post which corrects the previous inaccurate article printed in the Post and also accuses John Greenewald Jr. of spreading misinformation.

"4. Thousands of pages of new UFO documents were not just released online. Big news week for UFOs, huh? If you spent any time with a newspaper or cable news channel this week, you may have spotted headlines like these: “Air Force UFO Files Hit the Web,” “U.S. Air Force Releases Thousands of Pages of Declassified UFO files,” “Two decades of mysterious Air Force UFO files now available online.” (That last one’s from The Post. We are not immune!) But while the coverage of the Air Force’s “Project Blue Book” — a government investigation into UFOs — suggested that the files had been newly declassified and digitized, they’ve actually been online for years … and they’ve been declassified way longer than that, available for public perusal at the National Archives.

A spokesman for Fold3, an Ancestry.com subsidiary and one of several sites hosting the Blue Book files, confirmed to The Post that they’ve had the full document available online for free since 2007. It would appear that the misinformation springs from a site called the the Black Vault, which republished the files last week. As to the motives behind that site’s self-aggrandizing, well … we leave that to the conspiracy theorists among you. (H/T to reader Shepherd Johnson for sending this one in.)"

http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-intersect/wp/2015/01/23/what-was-fake-on-the-internet-this-week-40-pound-babies-topless-willow-smith-and-a-double-dose-of-ufos/

David Rudiak said...

I'm much more apt to believe John Greenewalds statement that things attributed to him were instead creations of the media, perhaps a combination of misunderstanding, general ignorance of the subject matter, or deliberate hype.

Remember the similar recent dumb mainstream media story that the CIA finally "confessed" that UFOs were actually explained by sightings of their spy planes. The CIA was publicly saying that back in 1997 when they released their whitewash UFO history by Gerald Haines, ''C.I.A.'s Role in the Study of U.F.O.'s. 1947-90.''

Just like Greenewald and the Blue Book files, the media treated this old news as new news.

Steve Sawyer said...

I tend to agree with David's take on this issue -- isn't it Journalism 101 for the media to do basic fact-checking and vet their stories prior to publishing them?

It would have taken minimal effort to do so in this case. They chose not to.

One simple Google search would have resolved this "controversy" by any of the mainstream media outlets that so amateurishly and breathlessly reported this story without determining the pre-existing and obvious facts. Most of the MSM articles simply recycled and reprinted the original articles that first appeared, in fact.

So the Washington Post has to take due responsibility for their own mistake in this case, and it seems a bit of "revisionist history" to gig Greenewald for their own failure to even try and find out, or blame the initial messenger.

The MSM nearly always get the UFO story wrong, it seems, probably and primarily because they don't take the subject seriously, which is their error and bias, inculcated for decades now by the USAF, CIA, Robertson Panel, et al. Simple as that.

Which raises some rather provocative questions about the responsibilities, agendas and honesty of our institutional governmental agencies and somewhat subserviant media outlets, does it not?

Heaven forbid truly serious and objective investigation and reporting on what Billy Cox calls the "great taboo" -- might raise some rather difficult if not impossible to answer questions, to say the least. And we just can't have that, can we? That's the real controversy, IMHO. It's just so much easier and comforting to simply ignore and dismiss, or ridicule, the subject.

See the paper by Wendt and Duvall for further pertinent reasons why this is so at:

"Soveignty and the UFO" -- http://ptx.sagepub.com/content/36/4/607.full.pdf+html
and: http://themonkeycage.org/2008/08/04/_but_you_wont_find_it_that_way/

In turn, did Greenewald neglect to inform the media, or hype the Black Vault putting another version of the PBB files online, as it were the first?

I suppose that's possible, too. But Greenewald says no, that's not what happened.

But if so, then that could have compounded the MSM's blithe and superficial coverage of the issue, but the MSM still should have checked first, and they didn't. That would seem to be the greater issue at hand in this tempest in a teapot.

Unfortunately, these are no longer the days of Woodward and Bernstein at the WaPo, especially since Jeff Bezos of Amazon bought them a few years back. Corporate consolidation of media outlets and diversity is not good for a genuinely informed public.

Shepherd Johnson said...

John Greenewald said on Coast to Coast that he "did not know where the original scans he used came from". This is out there and somebody has saved that clip to sound cloud. This is flat out false as he gives credit to the data mining software "Footnote Reaper" right on his "Project Blue Book" archive front page at the black vault.

Greenewald data mined Fold3 for the Blue Book scans, he freely admits to this, yet no where does he ever state that is where he obtained the scans. Instead he allowed the media to believe that he FOIAed the USAF or NARA for the scans and that his release was the first time ever these documents had been made public.

The Washington Post article I posted above got the story correct because the reporter Caitlin Dewey called Fold3 and interviewed them.

That Post article also says that Greenewald is the source of the misinformation. And that certainly looks to be the case.

Steve Sawyer said...

Didn't Greenewald also mention he got the PBB files from someone named "Xtraeme"?

David Rudiak said...

Here is Billy Cox's take on this story in his latest Devoid UFO blog, pretty much the same as mine--usual MSM fumbling of a UFO-related story, seemingly mostly from ignorance and/or incompetence:

http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/15113/at-least-nobody-got-killed/

David Rudiak said...

I wrote:

Remember the similar recent dumb mainstream media story that the CIA finally "confessed" that UFOs were actually explained by sightings of their spy planes. The CIA was publicly saying that back in 1997 when they released their whitewash UFO history by Gerald Haines, ''C.I.A.'s Role in the Study of U.F.O.'s. 1947-90.''

Just like Greenewald and the Blue Book files, the media treated this old news as new news.


I had already forgotten that spy plane CIA non-story fiasco was less than a month ago, as browsing through Billy Cox's blog reminded me. Cox's usual caustic comments and backstory:

http://devoid.blogs.heraldtribune.com/15049/npr-joins-the-comics/

MSM institutional memory and basic fact-checking seem to be mostly gone. I have more sympathy for the newspapers than the electronic press. Newspapers all over the country are struggling to stay in business and are understandably cutting some corners.

albert said...

@David,

>rant>
I have as much sympathy for the newspapers as I do for the record companies...none. Look how long it took the RCs to get into electronic distribution. Newspapers (which are now mainly propaganda and advertising) never realized that online advertising is better, faster, and cheaper than print ads, and other folks have beaten them to it.
.
'Cutting corners' is the alternative to cutting profits; the last thing you want to do when your business is going down the toilet is to cut profits.
.
You are absolutely correct about MSM 'fact checking', even in marginalized content like UFOs. Investigative journalism is discouraged, in fact, avoided, and I don't think it's a money issue. If you go high enough up 'the hill' (the thing that stuff flows down), MSM management and gov't management converge. I believe that MSMs marginalization of the UFO phenomenon originates directly with the gov/mil system.
.
Are the Unwashed Masses gradually detecting the MSMs problems? Everyone complains about the ads on TV 'news', but even the UM must see that the 'we're right and the rest of the world is wrong' point of view is flawed. Folks get sick of BS eventually.
.
There's a new generation of 'news' consumers. They get it online, not on TV. They want news facts, not editorializing. They might even pay for real, factual, well-researched, and unbiased news coverage.

>/rant>
.
See you around on Devoid and ADP.
.
I gotta go...