|Jim Penniston (left) and John |
There are many sides to the Roswell case but what might be most disappointing and more evidence of a decline in UFO research is how contentious the debate has become among those investigating the case. The real problem is not the skeptics or the debunkers, but those who supposedly support the theory it was extraterrestrial in origin. Rather than consolidate the evidence and work for an ultimate solution whatever that solution might be, they argue over trivia, are unwilling to entertain another’s explanation and work to destroy the credibility of the witnesses they don’t like for whatever reason. A united front could provide a path to convincing evidence. Instead, the arguments lead to claims of poor investigation and a presentation of contradictory evidence that inhibits proper research and annoys just about everyone else.
Roswell isn’t the only case that suffers from these multiple viewpoints. The Rendlesham landing of December 1980 has the same problems. There were rumors about the case that began when Art Wallace (a pseudonym for Larry Warren) began to talk about the events. Later others came forward including John Burroughs and Jim Penniston who apparently approached closer to the landed object than anyone else. There was even a letter written by then Lieutenant Colonel Charles Halt confirming some sort of unusual event had taken place during those nights in the forest.
Eventually Warren would team with Peter Robbins to write Left at East Gate about Warren’s experiences during some of the event. Others would investigate the case, learn the names of other service members who were involved and gather additional evidence. Skeptics provided what they thought of as logical explanations for the events, suggesting that the airmen had been fooled by a number of manmade and natural objects.
Burroughs and Penniston would team with Nick Pope who at one time worked for the British government investigating UFOs and write Encounter in Rendlesham Forest. Although they discuss Warren’s involvement in that book, or maybe alleged involvement, they don’t give it much weight. They do, however, credit him with being among the first if not the first to tell the tale.
So there is a point of contention between the two camps, with one side supporting Warren and suggesting that the other side is, shall we say, less than accurate. The other side points to the problems, briefly, with Warren’s account and his ever changing tale. It does little or nothing to provide a clear picture of what happened. In fact, Robbins was inspired to write a long rebuttal to Pope’s book and post it free online. It can be downloaded here:
I suppose, in fairness, I should mention this is not a new problem. APRO fought with NICAP in the 1950s and 1960s and later with MUFON. Each pushed its own agenda and the truth sometimes got lost in the process. This infighting, which has been lamented in the past, seems to have become worse in the age of the Internet and the truth suffers. Or, in other words, Ufology is in decline.