Friday, April 24, 2009

Anthropomorphic Dummies and the Roswel UFO Crash

Since Tony opened the door again, let’s run through it. We have the Air Force’s second final report on Roswell cleverly titled Roswell — Case Closed which suggests those reporting bodies were fooled by anthropomorphic dummies dropped as tests some ten years later. When first offered, even the colonel holding the press conference seemed to have his tongue planted in his cheek. The reporters didn’t seem to be buying the explanation then and everyone seemed to be having a laugh at this ridiculous suggestion.

Fast forward ten years and now it seems that all those skeptics who didn’t buy the Air Force answer (which is not to say they bought the extraterrestrial answer either) seem to have slipped into the Air Force camp quietly. Now, we are treated to the idea that human memory is fickle and that this "time compression" explanation that was laughed at then, makes sense now.

Well, I’m not going to argue that point because people do confuse events, people do confabulate and some of them just tell lies to thrust themselves into the public spotlight. We don’t have to look far to find them. People claim high military rank to bolster their credibility. They claim to have participated in events that they did not. They claim all sorts of things. And sometimes they just get confused about a sequence of events or the time frame for them with no malice in mind.

But with the Air Force final report, we don’t have to worry about time compression and confusion because we’re stuck with lies. Oh, not from the Air Force officers interviewed because they related what they were doing while working on various projects accurately. We can argue interpretation here, but again that’s not the point. If you want to read a fascinating history of the Air Force Project High Dive, this is the place to do it.

No, I’m going to argue about the witnesses to alien bodies quoted to support the Air Force idea of these people seeing anthropomorphic dummies.

Here’s the rub, of those cited in the report, Gerald Anderson, Glenn Dennis, and Jim Ragsdale, none was involved. Each told an interesting story, but those stories have been discredited. And of those three, Dennis was only relating what had supposedly been told to him by a nurse. He hadn’t seen the bodies himself, just the drawing the nurse made which seems to reflect the Martians from the 1953 War of the Worlds movie, at least in part.

The final two quoted, Vern Maltais and Alice Knight were reporting, accurately I’m sure, what Barney Barnett told them about seeing the alien creatures. It’s clear, however, that Barnett’s tale had little or nothing to do with the 1947 UFO crash. They could only tell us what Barnett had told them.

So, the question becomes, why would the Air Force give any credence to these reports? Why not just say that the stories told were without foundation and let it go at that? Why come out with this idea that anthropomorphic dummies, which looked like what they were and not alien creatures, stand? And finally, how good can your conclusions be if you’ve built your foundation on a phony base?

Here is the conundrum for the Air Force. They wanted to attack the idea that there were bodies so they took testimony from civilians who claimed involvement but who, by the time the Air Force started looking at this, had been exposed.

To make it worse, if possible, they explained Frank Kaufmann’s illustration of what the craft looked like by publishing a picture of "tethered ‘Vee’ balloon" that was taken in 1965, or nearly twenty years after the fact. The problem here is that Kaufmann was making up most of what he said about the construction of the craft so their explanation fails on that point.

The question then is, how does the testimony of those people support the idea of anthropomorphic dummies? If we conclude that these people were in error, in the case of Maltais and Knight, or were inventing their involvement as did Anderson, Dennis and Ragsdale, then isn’t the argument for anthropomorphic dummies eliminated?

And doesn’t all this argue that the Air Force didn’t care for the truth as long as they could confuse the issue in the minds of those who haven’t been paying close attention and keeping score at home? They can say, "Well these people really saw anthropomorphic dummies," when the fact is, they didn’t see anything at all. Any descriptions they offered, if it matched the dummies was purely coincidental. That doesn’t help their case.

Finally, the Air Force stayed away from attacking the testimony of any of the high ranking officers. They were just left out of the mix. I suspect they didn’t want to be calling an Air Force general and a bunch of colonels liars. Use the civilians but don’t mention the Air Force officers.

True, Edwin Easley didn’t describe for me alien bodies but he did say things to family members. Patrick Saunders didn’t mention bodies but did talk of hiding information and suggested aliens to his family. Arthur Exon talked of alien bodies based on information he received from those he knew and trusted.

All this is, of course, now second hand, but the Air Force said nothing about any of these men, didn’t quote anything they said, and pretended they didn’t exist. I’m willing to bet the Air Force might have been afraid that if they attacked the reputations of these men there might have been trouble. Suppose they sued the Air Force for publicly damaging their reputations. Such a court fight would be big news, if only for the topic, and the Air Force would have been required to prove the men were lying... which opens the door to subpoenas and court testimony. That could have gotten ugly in minutes.

Or, they just didn’t want to suggest that they would promote men to high rank who believed they had seen alien bodies or who supported the idea of alien visitation.

Anyway you look at it, the Air Force could have found itself with a nasty, public fight as it tried to prove the men liars or worse and the men demanding information through discovery. The Air Force would have been forced to produce documents or produce evidence that the men were lying. Either way, the Air Force loses.

With the anthropomorphic dummies, the Air Force supplies an answer for questions about alien bodies and they don’t have to go after the Air Force officers. The civilians just made a mistake about the bodies (though Ragsdale talked about 15 bodies, Anderson talked about one of the creatures walking around, and Dennis merely reproduced what the nurse had told him about the bodies... though I don’t believe the Air Force mentioned multiple anthropomorphic bodies being dropped which would render their explanation inadequate, but I digress). And, as an added bonus, they don’t have to label anyone a liar who might turn around and sue them. They were just mistaken in their interpretation of what they had seen. Neat.

Anyone who thinks through this is going to realize that the Air Force explanation is a crock... and if this explanation can’t be believed, then what is the Air Force hiding. If the truth is that nothing extraterrestrial fell at Roswell, then why would the Air Force care what we all think? Why not just ignore the problem because it doesn’t impact them at all... unless there is more to it than meets the eye.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

The Roswell Report, Ray Madson, and Project High Dive

In a posting to hosted by the RRR Group and written by Tony Bragalia it was claimed that the "Lt. Colonel who was a major contributor to the Air Force’s official 1997 study that concluded the Roswell ET crash of 1947 is a ‘myth’ – now states that the Air Force’s Roswell report is itself a lie."

According to Bragalia, Lt. Col. Raymond Madson told him that he, Madson, had been the Project Officer for Project High Dive at Holloman Air Force Base from 1956 to 1960 and that he was responsible for dropping the anthropomorphic dummies that lead the Air Force to conclude that these dummies were responsible for the tales of alien bodies recovered in 1947. Madson now says that Captain James McAndrew, who was one of those responsible for the Air Force report, was less than candid in what he said about Madson’s testimony.

In fact, according to Bragalia, Madson said that "the report he signed for McAndrew (which appears in the report) was accurate, but that – in the context of the overall Air Force report – it is misleading. Madson feels that he was ‘used for purposes’ and that his intent was misrepresented – he did not ‘buy into’ the idea of his ‘Air Force dummies as aliens.’ Madson adds that the dummies had tags on them with instructions for getting a $25 reward for their return."

There is some interesting information in that paragraph including that there was a reward for the return of the dummies. But what caught my eye was Madson’s belief that McAndrew had used him. That there had been some manipulation of the data so that the Air Force could reach the conclusion that it wanted.

Bragalia said that Madson confirmed that, saying, "McAndrew was on a mission... and was assigned to carry out a directive... Was McAndrew on a mission to uncover the truth about Roswell?... No, he was on a mission."

Madson, in fact, according to what Bragalia published on the UFOcon blog, believes that what fell at Roswell was extraterrestrial. Madson said that he had an uneasy feeling about the whole investigation and wondered why the Air Force felt compelled to do it.

Ironically, that is the same thing that the late UFO debunker Philip Klass wondered. Why would the Air Force give any legitimacy to claims that something from another world fell at Roswell if there was nothing to the story? Why would the Air Force even care?

But here’s the thing. Bragalia, through Madson, has raised a couple of questions that haven’t been discussed for a number of years. These revolve around the whole Air Force investigation of Roswell. And here is where I can interject some personal experience.

McAndrew called me on a number of occasions. He never seemed to be looking for information, though I told him what Edwin Easley, the Roswell provost marshal had told me. I said I would send copies of the tapes and the transcripts but he was uninterested. I suggested he talk with Brigadier General Arthur Exon, a retired Air Force officer who had some very interesting things to say. I thought he should talk to Patrick Saunders who had been the adjutant at Roswell in 1947, but he never did.

Instead he tried to get me to flip. He said that he could understand my making a buck on Roswell but I could tell him the truth. I didn’t really believe that little green men had been killed in a crash there, did I? He told me repeatedly that no one would think less of me if I told the truth about my motives in the Roswell investigation. I tried to make it clear to him that my conclusions were based on the interviews I had conducted with those involved and that I could put him in touch with many of them. He was not interested.

Can we deduce the Air Force motive, beyond what my impressions were and what Tony Bragalia just discovered in his interview with Madson. Of course. Just take a look at who was interviewed. The Air Force could have talked to a number of high-ranking officers who had been in Roswell in July 1947 and others who had been at Wright Field at the same time. They declined to do so.

They interviewed Sheridan Cavitt who was clearly on the record as saying nothing had happened in Roswell. In fact, he was on the record denying that he had been in Roswell at the right time, then that he had been assigned to the base but hadn’t arrived, and finally, according to what he told the Air Force, he had not only been there but had gone out to recover the balloon.

In fact, Cavitt’s interview with Colonel Richard Weaver is published in the first final report. Weaver visited Cavitt at his home (as did I) and asked him about the trip out to the Foster ranch with Mack Brazel. Cavitt told Weaver that he recognized the debris as a balloon as soon as he saw it. He didn’t explain why he told neither Colonel William Blanchard, the commanding officer in Roswell, nor Major Jesse Marcel, the air intelligence officer, that the wreckage was a balloon. Instead he allowed the "misidentification" to go forward until Brigadier General Ramey launched the weather balloon story.

Weaver, it would seem, if he cared for the truth, would have either asked why Cavitt had not explained the situation to Marcel or Blanchard, or why he hadn’t made the proper identification to them. Even after telling Weaver that he knew it was a balloon, Cavitt still told me that he hadn’t been out to the ranch and he didn’t know why both Marcel and Bill Rickett, Cavitt’s NCOIC in 1947, would say he was there. So, which story by Cavitt was true.

Had the Air Force been interested in learning the truth, rather than interviewing only those people who worked on Project Mogul, and of course, Lt. Col. Madson and many of his crew about dropping anthropomorphic dummies some ten years later, they would have interviewed some of the surviving members of Blanchard’s staff, but they avoided that. Instead the took short exerpts from tapes from the Fund for UFO Research and they used information from witnesses whose stories were suspect.

Those "witnesses" statements he did use were chopped up or from witnesses who had been exposed by UFO researchers including Gerald Anderson, Jim Ragsdale and Glenn Dennis. All three were exposed in my 1997 book, The Randle Report (published about the same time as McAndrew’s report). That didn’t stop McAndrew however.

As I say, I offered to send McAndrew copies of audio and video tapes of the military officers. I offered to send transcripts of those interviews. I offered to supply telephone numbers and addresses, though McAndrew, with the resources available to him wouldn’t have needed that help. But instead, McAndrew just attempted to get me to say that I had been in this for the money. That it wasn’t true.

So, while Bragalia’s interview with Madson is interesting, while it is important because of what it says about the Air Force investigation, it gets us no closer to a final, proven answer. It underscores the mission of the Air Force in their Roswell investigation, which was to bury the case under a pile of irrelevant and inaccurate information. Now there are millions who believe that the Roswell case is explained as a balloon based on the Air Force "investigation."

Tony has exposed just one more flaw in that investigation. He showed how McAndrew manipulated the information to reach the conclusions that he was required to reach. I know the direction of the investigation because I had many conversations with McAndrew and the tone was always the same. I could tell him that I was only in it for the money and he could respect that... but he knew there was nothing to claims of aliens in Roswell.

We now have more ammunition. We can cite Lt. Col. Madson as someone who should know the score and he tells us that his words were manipulated by the Air Force. We have other evidence of that. What we can say is that the Air Force Roswell report clears up nothing. It just adds to the confusion and I wouldn’t be surprised if that was the whole purpose.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Morristown UFO Hoax

Okay, I don’t get it. What were these clowns trying to prove anyway? They seem outraged that in this day of science, people would believe that "an elderly obese man deliver[s] presents to every child on Earth in one evening?" They don’t seem to understand that those who believe this are children under the age of seven whose "critical thinking" skills have not developed and who still engage in what is know as magical thinking. This seems to be the level of thought of Chris Russo and Joe Rudy, the two geniuses who came up with the idea to test the world of UFOs.

And I’m not sure what their point was in bringing in Santa Claus. Are there any adults... any children over the age of eight... who believe in Santa as reality.

They wrote, "...60 years later, despite the fact that there still is no evidence, the UFO myth is as strong today as ever, fed by cable channel shows that prop up UFO ‘experts’ who claim to be authorities on the subject that’s on a par with astrology and palm reading. These charlatans make a career by perpetuating the E.T. fairy tale and exploiting credulous people who want nothing more than a good conspiracy theory to believe in."

Their mission? According to them, "It is in this context that we set out on a mission to help people think rationally and question the credibility of so-called UFO ‘professionals. We brainstormed the idea of producing a spaceship hoax to fool people, bring the charlatans out of the woodwork to drum up the controversy, and then expose it was nothing more than a prank to show everyone how unreliable eyewitness accounts are, along with the investigators of UFOs."

So, how well did they do? The first persons to be interviewed after the first "light" show were the Hurley family who had taken video tape. The father, Paul, worked at the airport and had a pilot’s license and said he had about five hundred hours of flight time. He was not a commercial pilot, meaning an airline pilot, nor was he a military pilot. He said the lights were not aircraft and he was right about that.

He said that there were "five red lights," in what he said was a "strange pattern." I’m not sure why he said it was a strange pattern, but that really doesn’t mean much. He would later say, under questioning by others, that he had seen no smoke and that one light seemed to drop out (burn out?) and two others seemed to take off to south at a fast pace.

The second witness was presented by the news media by way of his 911 call to the police, said, "I walked out of my house, it’s like these parachutes with these, uh, or balloons with these five lights flying over right now."

Seems to me that he hit the nail right on the head. No media types there to attempt to create the mystery for their broadcast. Just a witness seeing the five lights in the sky and suggesting balloons.

The local police, who offered a statement to KDTV said that the best guess was a prank with road side flares attached to helium balloons. Seems to me that the police nailed that as well.

On the compilation of video clips made by the perpetrators to prove their point, the second was of a breathless reporter who was all set to believe in aliens and flying saucers and who seemed to know very little about it. Unfortunately, she worked for a FOX affiliate so the interviews she conducted were used by FOX News on several of their reports. It was the reporter, in talking to witnesses, who often introduced the idea of UFOs, meaning alien craft rather than lights in the night sky.

But what she didn’t seem to get, nor did either Russo or Rudy, was that the descriptions offered by the witnesses were often accurate. It was the interpretation put on those observations by the media and others that took it from what we’d call nocturnal lights into the realm of alien spacecraft.

She talked to a witness who said the lights didn’t seem to be moving at all and another who suggested they had a purpose but added they could have been anything... and then said, "A UFO? Why not?" suggesting here that it was the reporter who asked if it was a UFO and not a spontaneous utterance by the witness.

That reporter then interviewed a little girl with a sucker (and yes, I wanted to use that term here) who said, "Aliens?" in obvious response to a question. But it was never established if she had seen anything or if she just happened to be standing around with her lollipop.

There was another witness who said that he thought the lights had streaked down toward New York but it’s not clear if this was the result of the balloons and flares drifting in that direction and giving the impression they were getting lower, or if he actually thought he saw something like that. He did say that one winked out. He said, "It just sort of went blip and disappeared," which, of course, is the description of a flare burning out.

Now we get two witnesses who tell us the best stuff. The first said the lights "zipped over the car." He said, "They literally flew over the car." When it was suggested these were flares he said, "No way. They zipped over our car."

He also said he wanted "...someone tell me what it was because I cannot tell you what it was."

His friend, in the car with him, as they had gone out to find something to eat, said, "They seemed to ascend and descend almost in a sequence – they’d rise up and dip down."

Here is the first time that we’re treated to a description of something other than lights drifting in the sky. We have them zipping over a car which would suggest that the lights were close. The witnesses were identified as Chris Russo and Joe Rudy... you figure it out.

In one of the news reports, they quote from a police report that identifies the objects, the lights, as flares and helium balloons. Once again, that explanation is right on target.

FOX News goes back to the Hurley’s and interviews them again. They repeat that they saw five lights slowly drifting across the sky. They said they were not aircraft, which we know is true. Paul Hurley did said that the lights drifted out of sight but also said, "a couple of them appeared to take off," and that one of them "appeared to drop out of the sky." He did qualify his statements by suggesting from his perspective, and at night, it was hard to tell but that "One of the two... seemed to take off to the south at a very fast pace." That, of course, was incorrect.

One of those interviewed said that if it was a hoax, it was a real good one. He also said that it seemed as if the lights were communicating, whatever that means.

Another of the 911 calls was also reported with the caller demanding to know what the red dots in the sky were. The 911 operator said that he was inside so he didn’t know.

Now were treated to Russo and Rudy, finding an ad in the local newspaper in which a Ford dealer is exploiting the UFOs for some kind of sale. These two head to the dealership and apparently are unable to convince any of the people there to go on camera, but they leave it running, pointing at the ground (or floor) and record the thoughts of the sales force. BTW, is this sort of recording legal in New Jersey? Remember, they just left the camera running, recording the "witnesses" after they were not allowed to film.

So, we have a show room filled with aliens, an ad campaign designed to take advantage of the publicity generated by the news media who believes that UFO means alien spacecraft, and the two guys who launched the balloons and flares. Those unidentified witnesses in the show room seemed to believe that the lights couldn’t be flares because they were in a tight pattern, whatever that means and that flares would fall into someone’s backyard. They believed the lights were moving against the wind, but we don’t really know this but we do know that the winds aloft are often radically different than the winds at ground level so such a comment, without benefit of the proper weather data means very little. And, the tired old, we know they weren’t flares because we didn’t see any smoke, nonsense. Well, they were flares and you didn’t see any smoke.

The perpetrators of this hoax seem to believe they proved their point because the news media talked of UFOs and some of them made the leap from UFOs to alien spacecraft, but the witnesses were reluctant to do that. Instead, they were fairly accurate with their descriptions of what they had seen. Cindy Hurley talked of lights in the sky and even explained the twinkling on the video tape as the filming of the lights through the trees so it looked as if the lights were twinkling. Her descriptions were accurate and correct.

Of the UFO "experts" consulted, Peter Davenport from his reporting center in Washington, after watching the tape said that the lights were definitely not aircraft, and, of course, he was correct. On the tape he offered no speculation of what the lights might be.

Another was Marc D’Antonio who was alerted in January by MUFON’s Richard Lang, who works with one of MUFON’s STAR teams. These teams are set up to respond quickly to a UFO sighting that might provide some form of physical evidence. D’Antonio reported that he noticed, immediately, that the lights seemed to operate independently and that there was a "flame-based light source... By flame-based I mean a flying light created by a Chinese Lantern or a flare."

D’Antonio also said, "Whether this event was due to Chinese Lanterns, as I thought they could be, or flares, didn’t matter actually... It was clear to me after viewing the video that this is not a UFO, but was a man-made hoax."

And, of course, he was dead bang on. It was flares and it was a man-made hoax.

I will note that the MUFON STAR team did exactly what it was designed to do. Got into the area, did their science by looking at all the data and in the end, came to the correct conclusion. The media didn’t have much to say about this.

Bill Birnes, of UFO Hunters and UFO magazine talked to the witnesses and got some of the same responses. He didn’t believe that these lights were flares, as identified almost immediately by the police, and, offered that his experts and their experimentation had proven the flare explanation as implausible. He was, of course, wrong on that.

So, what have we learned? Well, the news media loves a mystery and even with the police telling them exactly what was seen, suggested something else. But, they did mention the flare explanation in each of their stories.

The majority of the witnesses were accurate in reporting what they saw and one of them who called 911 even said that it was balloons. The only ones to really take this and run with it were Russo and Rudy who said that their car had been buzzed... and let’s not forget the people in the show room who had some interesting observations but in the end, basically reported the lights accurately and misinterpreted what they saw.

It also seems to me that when those conducting the "experiment" interject themselves into the experiment, they have tainted it, especially when they add information that is inaccurate and untrue. When they go into the car dealer to interview the employees, their bias is apparent and they believe they accomplished their mission with their surreptitiously recorded conversations, but we are not treated to everything said so we don’t know what those conducting the experiment might have said to get the quotes they used. We’ve all seen comments taken out of context and reporters badgering witnesses to get them to say what they want to hear. While we don’t know that the bias of the two men contaminated these interviews, we don’t know otherwise either and given their attitudes, I wouldn’t be surprised to learn that they lead the conversations right where they wanted them to go.

In the end, I don’t think this experiment proved anything about the gullibility of the witnesses... or even the news media. The witnesses explained what they had seen, which was an accurate representation and the news media, for the most part, didn’t go too far overboard. It was reported early on and often that one solution was flares on a balloon and flares on a balloon is the final answer.

As for the critical thinking skills of the two men, I think they need to revisit that. The experiment was flawed, their interjection of themselves into the middle of it contaminated the results, and they proved nothing other than people will speculate about what they saw. But I didn’t see anyone claiming it was an alien spacecraft, visitors from another world, that the things landed or abducted anyone, or that anything approached the ground... except for the two guys who created the hoax and several members of the news media who ridiculed the idea of aliens or induced people to say something about aliens.

In the end, the solution was suggested early and if Bill Birnes got it wrong, that is no reason to smear the rest of us. We all make mistakes, and if Birnes interviewed these two guys, or more likely, reviewed what they had told the media in what can only be called a bald-faced lie, then anything they said about him is irrelevant. After all, if the objects buzzed a car, then they probably weren’t flares and balloons.

I just don’t see how they made any sort of statement about the gullibility of people. There were lights in the sky, they did move along and they did, eventually, disappear. No one talked of a spacecraft, except in the context that these lights were UFOs. So what did they prove? Sometimes the media just doesn’t get it as they attempt to make a story interesting and mysterious and often the witnesses are accurate in their observations. Maybe they are wrong in their interpretation, but they get the basic facts right. And two "twenty-somethings" who launched the balloons? They need to learn how to perform a proper experiment and how not to jump to the wrong conclusions.

Nice going, guys.