Saturday, March 19, 2005

The Ufological Mess

Given what I have read here recently, and given the Peter Jennings Special, it seems to me that ufology, as we call it, is in a mess. We agree on almost nothing, we get caught up in personal fights that don’t advance the cause, and we spend half our time defending ourselves from assaults by our friends and foes. Worse still, we never seem to learn our lessons. We make the same mistakes over and over and then blame the government for being too clever forus.

Take the recent debate between Michael Salla and Paul Kimball that has appeared on UFO Updates (See UFO Updates, Latest 100 Messages). While I find it refreshing because it hasn’t descended into name calling, it does demonstrate part of the problem. Here, I fall on the side of Kimball (See www.redstarfilms). His opinions and information more closely follows my line of thinking about Lazar and other matters than does that of Salla.

Let’s look at this. At one point Salla uses the SOM 1-01 as proof that Bob Lazar might be an authentic witness (Yes, I know proof is too strong a word here, but it makes a point.) Kimball suggests that using MJ-12 documents to bolster a point makes the argument weak since there is controversy around the authenticity of MJ-12 generally and the SOM 1-01 specifically.

Salla points out that Robert Woods believes the document to be authentic… but doesn’t mention that the man who received it, Don Berliner, believes it to be a hoax. In fact, a careful review of the SOM 1-01 by several prominent UFO researchers including Mark Rodeghier, and a review by former military men who worked with classified documents, also believe it to be a hoax. The anachronisms also suggest hoax. Reasonable people, I believe, can differ on their opinions about this. The one question that has not been satisfactorily answered is provenance. Just where did this document originate?
Yes, I know that Stan Friedman has suggested it came from Wisconsin based on the postal code used, and that there is a suggestion that they know the name of the man who sent it, based on the use of a postal meter, but that doesn't answer the question of provenance. It suggests there might be some valuable clues in that direction.

We can ask the same, important question of the original MJ-12 documents. We know that Bill Moore “retyped” the AquariusTelex because, according to him, the original was such a poor copy that he needed to do that for clarity. The problem is that we don’t have an original to compare with the retyped version so we have a document that is without provenance and that even Moore now suggests is a hoax. Few researchers accept the Aquarius Telex as authentic.

When we move to the Eisenhower Briefing document and theTruman memo that accompanies it we are left with the sameproblem. There is no provenance. Worse still is that Stan Friedman submitted those documents to a questioned document expert, Peter Tytell, who, after review, said that they were not authentic. He bases this in part on Truman’s signature, which he believes proves that document a fraud. It is placed improperly, it is an exact match for another signature and it shows signs of having been altered. (Robert and Ryan Wood's claims not withstanding. They have not answered these questions).

There are other reasons to argue the point such as the misspellings and the lack of any mention of the Plains of San Agustin as reasons to believe the document a fraud (if you accept the Plains crash as authentic. Isn't it interesting that there are some who accept both the Plains crash and the Eisenhower Briefing?)

But most important here is a tale told to me by Stan… Bill Moore had told him in the early 1980’s that he, Moore, had run upagainst a brick wall and was thinking about creating a document to see what would shake free. At the same time Moore was working on a novel about a secret government investigation (along withtwo others, Pratt and Dody) which is the first incarnation of MJ-12. Later, the first of the documents arrived at the home of one of Moore’s friends. This alone should raise all sorts of questions…

Here, again, I can see where reasonable people might disagree with a point. The arguments suggesting fraud, to me, outweigh those arguing authenticity. But I believe those suggesting the documents are real are sincere in their beliefs. I just think they are wrong, just as they believe I’m wrong.

This is the same sort of argument we find in the so-called whistle-blowers’ testimony being offered by Salla among others. Many of us suggest that these people have not been carefully vetted so that we end up with people telling wild tales to all who will listen. In response, we hear that there isn’t time or resources to investigate all the claims properly. Their testimony is offered because it is believed and they seem to be sincere.

But is that really enough? And, if one of the whistle-blowers is found to be a fake, doesn’t that really diminish, if not destroy, the testimony of others? If I can point to several of these people and suggest they are making it up, and present evidence that their claims are not true, doesn’t that really hurt the whole cause? Isn’t defense of those frauds damaging to all?

Salla mentioned Robert Dean and Cliff Stone as well as Bob Lazar. Here I side with Stan on Lazar. Too many questions about his background and too many holes in it. And I do not understand how claiming to be a physicist translates into proof of a Master’sDegree as Salla suggested in one of his Update posts.

As another aside, I interviewed a man for an article in the newspaper recently. He told me that he was an engineer. Later, he asked if this article would appear in his hometown and I said it would. At that point he changed from an engineer to an engineering technician. I had no reason to doubt his original claim and have no reason to doubt his amended claim. The point is that such a claim, printed in the newspaper doesn’t make it true. How many times have we seen people lose their jobs over claims, such as these, that could not be substantiated, yet here, with Lazar, we make up excuses for him.

For those who believe that Cliff Stone has any credibility, please read the article he wrote for UFO magazine (American version, Vol. 13, No. 6 1998) in which he made so many ridiculous claims about his Vietnam service that it’s difficult to believe anything he says now. Even with that out there, and with his service records available suggesting he has been less than truthful, we still hear of him as one of the whistle-blowers.

Which sort of leads to “dueling” witnesses. Stan and I disagreed over the importance of the tales told by Gerald Anderson and Frank Kaufmann about their Roswell experiences. I believed Anderson, at first, but then found so many holes in what he said and the evidence he offered that it was clear to me that Anderson was lying. He faked a telephone bill to make me look bad, his diary was in disagreement with that of Ruth Barnett (for which we did have provenance), and he made claims about his background that were found to be untrue. He changed his story, moved the crash site around the Plains, and could offer nothing in the way of corroboration that was independent. Stan, I think, still believes some of Anderson’s nonsense.

On the other hand, Stan did not believe Frank Kaufmann, while I did. We finally learned that Kaufmann was no more reliable than Anderson and while Kaufmann didn’t admit to lying, in so many words, it is obvious that he was.

So, the united front we could have maintained was divided by individuals who knew nothing other than how to spin a good tale. We should have been more careful in our review of the testimonies, but we all got caught up in what Karl Pflock labeled as a will to believe. We ignored red flags and argued for the authenticity of ourwitness and against that of the other. In the end, we both were wrong and neither witness was of value… (as an aside, since people have now started debating the definition of witness, shouldn’t both of these names be removed from a list of “witnesses”?)

The point here is that we should be searching for common ground. Instead we argue over the reliability of witnesses we know have lied to us. Worst still, we have found a number of researchers who lied about themselves and their colleagues but we still invite them to speak and listen to what they have to say. How many lies do these people get before we realize that they have not been honest with us and that continued support of them hurts our overall credibility.

So maybe we can search for some common ground here. Maybe we should stop attempting the defend the indefensible and concede that sometimes we make mistakes.



Paul Kimball said...


Exactly! As my dad always told me, there is such a thing as "guilt by association," in the real world at least, if not in the law. Everytime we give any credence to someone like Lazar or (shudder) Cooper, we move further from the mainstream. That's why exopolitics is such a cancer on ufology, at least as it is presently constituted.

Good to see the blog up and running!!

Best regards,

Paul Kimball

Kyle said...

Kevin and Paul -

It is rare to see one's own thoughts so clearly and cogently expressed.

Salla sabotages his own thesis by his use of testimony like that of Lazar and Cooper. Complete agreement there.

Paul, you should also be commended for the civility displayed in the thread...same for Salla.

You guys were gentlemen. It is something I've posted on before at is possible to argue without anger, and assert without ridicule.

At least for some... :)