Tuesday, May 27, 2008

This and That

Stephen Hawking

Not all that long ago, Stephen Hawking made some remarks about UFOs and those who saw them. I’d like to say a couple of words in his defense. Yes, I listened to his statement about UFOs only appearing to cranks and weirdos. Yes, it was an ignorant statement proving that he knows next to nothing about UFOs or our history.

What he demonstrates is the perception of the field from those on the outside. They haven’t read the literature, talked with the witnesses or examined the evidence. All they know is what they have read in the newspaper or see on the evening news. They don’t watch the documentaries, some of which are good and all too often bad. They only know of the smoke thrown up by the debunkers, knowing that the McMinnville pictures are faked, for example, because some debunker said so.
They just don’t know.

And of all this, who is the real enemy? It’s us. We continue to support cases when the evidence is conclusive that the case is faked... Maury Island springs to mind. The alien autopsy, which has been admitted to be a hoax by nearly everyone involved and we still hear reasons why it isn’t.

Remember the contactees... those men and women who claimed to have flown to Venus and Mars and planets far outside our solar system. Some of them are still out there and I met one not long ago who was talking about some kind of interplanetary meeting he had attended on Saturn. The contactees grab some headlines and there are a few of us who still support their stories. How does that make all of us look?

Now we have Stephen Greer calling down UFOs with his flashlight and we have exopolitics talking about the various alien races visiting us. If we suggest to them that some of that "testimony" might not be accurate, then we are attacked rather than the facts examined. We know that some of those "witnesses" are making it up, but no one really challenges them. But suggest that all is not right and the hate email begins to roll in.

We share program venues with people we know are among the weirdos and cranks and by doing so, elevate their credibility and reduce our own. We never seem to realize that the outside world isn’t as aware of the nuances as we are inside so we continue to shoot ourselves in the foot.

All this was one of the reasons that I insisted we expose Frank Kaufmann as soon as we had the proof. We needed to do that because we knew his testimony could no longer be trusted. But, how many others are still telling their stories with the support of many of us even though we know that they are less than candid?

So, rather than attacking Hawking because he made a comment we don’t like, maybe we should ask ourselves why he would say such a thing. Maybe we should attempt to clean our own house so that the perception out there isn’t that everyone who sees a UFO is a nut and a crank... and let’s remember that Jimmy Carter saw Venus which pretty much tells us that anyone can make a mistake but that doesn’t make him or her a crank.

The Great Audit

Some of you might remember that more than a year ago it was announced that KPMG was going to audit my Roswell books, looking for errors. That audit was supposed to end prior to the anniversary celebration in Roswell, or in other words, in July of last year.

You might remember that it was announced in August 2007 that I was now in big trouble because the audit was going to begin. I wrote to both the KPMG office in Prague and to the European headquarters in London offering my assistance. I mean, if they were going to audit my work, even if this was supposed to be a "secret" I thought I could help them out. The secret was known to me so there was no reason to maintain it now that I knew.

I am pleased to announce that there have been no negative results to either of these audits.

This doesn’t mean that there weren’t mistakes. All we have to do is point to Frank Kaufmann to realize a mistake. But then, there was nothing malicious or deceitful here. Kaufmann told his story, provided documentation and was vouched for by members of the city of Roswell who knew him. There was no reason to reject his testimony out of hand. Even CBS News believed him (well, that’s not exactly a ringing endorsement but they were supposed to be unbiased and they believed him).

What worked for me here was that I forced the Kaufmann issue as soon as I knew the truth about him. Rather than sit on it, I insisted that we release the information. I will point out that others found the proof... that is, Mark Rodegheir, Don Schmitt and Mark Chesney were responsible for uncovering the truth and neither the KPMG auditors or members of the skeptical community did that. True, the skeptics said that Kaufmann couldn’t be trusted but they based that on their belief that there was no crash at Roswell rather than on finding evidence that proved the story bogus.

In fact, it can be noted that some of the criticisms of my Roswell books are invalid. With tapes, notes and other documentation, I am able to demonstrate that I had fabricated nothing, merely reported, accurately, what I had been told by various witnesses. In fact, in cases where the witness later accused me of misquoting them, I was able to prove that such was not the case.

Take the interviews conducted by Don Schmitt and me of Brigadier General Arthur Exon. He told us, and he told others, that he had flown over the crash sites in New Mexico and that he talked to colleagues at Wright Field (later Wright-Patterson Air Force Base) about the debris and the bodies of the flight crew killed. Some researchers said that we had misquoted Exon.

Well, I sent him a copy of the book UFO Crash at Roswell and a copy of his taped interview and asked him what I had misquoted. He wrote back saying, "The quotes were accurate," I had just given them more emphasis than he believed they deserved. He didn’t retract a thing but confirmed their accuracy and if he didn’t like the emphasis, well, tough.

Or take J. Bond Johnson who photographed Roger Ramey in his office. I reported what Johnson told me and later Johnson reappeared with a new story. But I had everything on tape and I sent copies to him asking him to point out the misquotes. The best he could do was point out that I’d left out an unimportant word in the transcript. Oh, he continued to say that I had misquoted him, but everyone who heard the tapes had to admit that I reported exactly what Johnson had told me. (As an aside here, I will point out that Johnson supporters often asked me pointed questions about what Johnson said, only to fall silent once they had copies of the tapes. Once I supplied those, they had no more questions for me, but they never acknowledged what the tapes said.)

The question that needs to be asked here is if a mistake can be considered deceitful or is it just a mistake? A good case on point would be the discussion we just had on Lydia Sleppy. Skeptics said that no one could interrupt a transmission on the teletype machine so her story was rejected. But as we read both some of her testimony and her affidavit, we discovered that there was a mechanism to interrupt a transmission. Does this mean that those who failed to notice this were deceitful? No, it means they made a mistake.

What all this means, simply, is that there is no evidence that I fabricated anything, that I misrepresented anything and that if the information turned out to be inaccurate, it qualified as a mistake rather than the more grandiose FALSE CLAIM. There certainly wasn’t any fraud on my part.

So, I now close the book on this episode and move on to other, more important issues.


Paul Kimball said...

So, was there ever actually an "audit" by KPMG?

cda said...

You say KPMG were "looking for errors"? The whole 'Roswell was ET' thesis has been a comedy of errors since 1980. But I presume this is not what KPMG were looking for, is it?

Cullan Hudson said...

You have a very good point, a sort of separating the wheat from the chaff, thinning the herd approach. This I like. I think there are too many UFO culturalists who cannot view the evidence objectively. If, through research, I determined that the entire thing was one great big hoax, it wouldn't bother me much. I'd just turn on the TV and catch Scrubs. I'm just not emotionally invested in it. It doesn't serve a NEED in me. However, for those who do, it is necessary to create a culture around it and guard that society jealously. To make matters worse, the media doesn't want to talk to staid, logical researchers and scientists. They want to report the weird, the sensational, and the sexy. Rational doesn't make for good copy.

starman said...

I wouldn't say the media favors UFOlogy over mainstream science. The tabloids aren't the whole media.

Btw I'm not sure we can dismiss Carter's sighting as Venus. He said it approached, receded and changed color. Carter denied it was Venus, saying that as an amateur astronomer he wouldn't have made that mistake. Even ordinary people tend not to make it. Back in May 1991, I was going for an evening walk when I heard a neighbor, old Mrs. Atkinson, say: "It's not moving, it could be just a star." She was obviously looking at Venus, then in the northwest, and wasn't overly impressed.