Sunday, September 11, 2011

Philip Klass and His Letter Writing Campaigns

Lance objected to my word “routinely,” when I suggested that Philip Klass routinely contacted employers of UFO witnesses and investigators. Christopher Allen suggested that if I listed five examples, then that might cover the point.

What I should have said originally is that Klass (seen here) routinely caused trouble for the witnesses, researchers, investigators and believers in UFOs by writing letters to their families, friends and employers and that he harassed them periodically when they didn’t respond to him as he thought they should.

Here’s what we can prove.

Klass, using his power as an editor of Aviation Week (meaning he wrote his letters in the McDonald case on the magazine’s letterhead, suggesting the inquiry was not from Philip Klass private citizen, but from Philip Klass on the staff of the magazine) contacted the Office of Naval Research about Dr. James McDonald. He wanted to know if McDonald had been doing UFO research while on grant research in Australia.

The answer was yes, but the ONR knew about it and had tacitly approved what McDonald had been doing. Klass was not satisfied, though I don’t know why, or who he thought he was to object. He had raised what we all might agree was a legitimate concern about the misuse of government money for UFO research. ONR launched an internal audit and determined that what McDonald had done was not outside the rather wide scope of his research grant.

Klass, continued writing letters (no Lance, not one everyday), but enough to cause concern in the ONR. While the thinking at ONR is not known, it is known that the military, as well as others in Washington, D.C., respond quickly to inquiries from Aviation Week. Klass might claim that he was a private citizen concerned with taxpayer money, but he used the club of the magazine to get what he wanted. ONR decided not to continue funding McDonald’s research. We can guess why they made that decision, but it would only be a guess.

It is not clear if Klass’ superiors knew what he was doing or if they would have approved had they known in the beginning. By the time the question was raised about the legitimacy of Klass’ use of Aviation Week letterhead, the wagons were circled and other editors suggested they knew and approved of Klass’ action. Kind of the same circumstance that we find with McDonald and his superiors at ONR.

The point here is that Klass did contact McDonald’s superiors and slung allegations about the legitimacy of McDonald’s research. You can suggest that all Klass wanted to know was if McDonald had been conducting UFO research in violation of his grant, but once that question was answered, Klass should have moved on. Instead he continued to write letters. Obviously he had another agenda.

Had this been the only example of this sort of thing, then it could be overlooked. Maybe Klass had gone too far in his questioning and maybe he wrapped himself in the mantle of Aviation Week, but McDonald had used ONR funds to pursue his UFO research. When ONR didn’t complain, or rather announced that they found nothing improper, that should have been the end of it. Of course it wasn’t.

Klass did this again after Dr. Bob Jacobs wrote an article for the January 1989 issue of The MUFON Journal. In it, Jacobs said that he was a former Air Force officer and that he had been involved in a UFO sighting, which, I guess is now called The Big Sur UFO Filming. Jacobs said that the UFO was alien and that the Air Force had ordered him not to talk about what he had seen and what had been filmed. He wrote that he had been told, “Lieutenant Jacobs, this never happened.”

In his article, Jacobs referenced a paper, Preliminary Report on Image Orthicon Photography written by Kingston A. George. Klass, though he had all the information necessary, wanted Jacobs to send him a copy of the paper. Klass offered to pay for it but Jacobs didn’t like the tone of the letter. To him it seemed that Klass was ordering him to send the paper.

Jacobs refused, and Klass, apparently went ballistic. He wrote a two page report in his Skeptics UFO Newsletter (SUN) about Jacobs and the Big Sur sighting, suggesting somewhat unkindly that the whole thing was bogus.

Klass wrote, “JOURNALISM PROFESSOR (AND FORMER USAF OFFICER) ‘MANUFACTURED TALL UFO TALE, THEN ACCUSES THE GOVERNMENT OF COVERING IT UP.” (Those who have seen the SUN Newsletter know that Klass was in the habit of capitalizing, underscoring and using boldface type to emphasize his remarks, sometimes using all three at once.)

Jacobs suggested that he had cited his source properly, given Klass the name of it, the author and the date, and that was all he was required to do to properly source the document. Klass then wrote to Jacobs’ boss at the University of Maine in an attempt to discredit him.

Klass wrote:

Dear Prof. Craig:

I am writing to bring to your attention what seems to be to be unbecoming conduct on the part of a journalist and member of your faculty. One should expect a faculty member to serve as a role model for students in demonstrating the ethics and responsibilities of their profession. I refer to Dr. Bob Jacobs.

According to that letter, Klass introduced himself and then said he had become interested in Jacob’s claim that he had photographed a UFO. He wrote that he had offered to pay for the report mentioned earlier and that Jacobs had refused to send the document.

Klass then wrote:

I understand why Jacobs is reluctant to release this report. Based on my research, I’m confident the report would reveal that his ‘UFO tale’ is a cock-and-bull story.

If Jacobs were a young journalist working for the National Enquirer, or one of its even less scrupulous clones, I might be more tolerant of his behavior. But when a professor of journalism, who publicly accuses the USAF and the U.S. Government of ‘cover-up,’ resorts to intentional distortion of the facts to mislead his readers and then to cover-up, I am deeply distressed.

I hope you share my feelings.
It was signed by Klass.

This is akin to the tactic he used against McDonald and the ONR. But the University of Maine had no fear of Aviation Week or a UFO hobbyist (as Klass described himself in the letter) from Washington, D.C. Jacobs did not lose his job.

To read all of the article by Dr. Bob Jacobs, see:

But that’s not all.

When Stan Friedman (seen here in "lecture" mode) began to contemplate a move to Canada, Klass decided that he needed to save Canada from the foibles of Friedman. He wrote a letter that Richard Dolan found in Canadian archives in 2005.

According to Dolan:

The letter was dated August 15, 1980, and addressed to Dr. A. G. McNamara of the Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics. It was unsolicited, and is a straightforward character smear of Stanton Friedman, who was at the time in the process of moving to Canada. According to Klass, Friedman was a “full-time UFO lecturer (of the ‘snake-oil salesman’ variety).” He was moving to Canada "to become its chief UFO Guru." Friedman was ‘quite a showman’ whose lectures were ‘so filled with half-truths and falsehoods that it would take me several hours to offer a rebuttal. And like wrestling with an octopus, when you manage to pin down one leg, the other seven are still thrashing about.
The letter disparages Friedman’s professional credentials as a nuclear physicist, twice refers to Friedman’s "mountainous ego," and calls him "something of an outcast" within the UFO "movement." All in all, a nasty and underhanded little letter. Better yet, Klass enclosed a "White Paper" he prepared on Friedman "that illustrates the man’s modus-operandi and his distortion of facts." (This White Paper was not included in the material I saw at the archives.)

But why send the letter at all? Klass said he wanted to warn the good people at NRC that Friedman would now in all likelihood be directing his focus on them.
"I can assure you," Klass wrote, "that you and your associates will be publicly accused of a UFO Coverup (or ‘Cosmic Coverup,’ as he is prone to say) that ‘dwarfs the Watergate scandal.’" Also, "to alert you to deal cautiously with him knowing he is inclined to distort the facts and exploit any ambiguity in your statements."
The final statement is illustrative. "Please treat this letter in confidence, sharing it with appropriate associates as you see fit."

Dolan concluded, “In other words, tell as many people as you can, but behind Friedman’s back, please.”

For those who wish to read Dolan’s complete analysis of this incident, see:

But that’s not all.

In a similar vein, as I joined the Air Force Reserve as an intelligence officer, Klass was in communication with the man assigned to do the background investigation. I know this because the man happened to live across the street from my father and told him I was being investigated for a security clearance. All I know was that Klass thought that it ironic that as a UFO investigator I had written magazine articles that suggested the Air Force was engaged in a cover-up of UFOs. He suggested they read those stories before deciding if I was worthy of the trust of the Air Force. After all, I had already demonstrated that I thought little of the Air Force and if trusted with its secrets, might I not leak them into the public arena.

I do know that the investigator did obtain some of the stories I had written about the Air Force, including one about the opening of the Project Blue Book files while I was still in Air Force ROTC. That story, and the others, did not seem to worry the Air Force. I was both commissioned and then granted a top secret security clearance (I'm standing on a building at the Baghdad International Airport in 2004).

Klass, in a move that I never understood, mentioned that I drew a number of unnamed benefits based on my military service. We exchanged a series of letters over this with Klass harping on these benefits. I told him repeatedly that after using the G.I. Bill for college and to buy my first house, I knew of no other benefits to which I was entitled. At that point I had not completed twenty years of military service (active duty and reserve and National Guard). Since then I have retired from the military with more than twenty years and do receive various benefits.

He didn’t like my answer and kept asking the question. However, when I asked about his military service he responded, sarcastically, about his long military record. Yes, it was all tongue in cheek and I understood that, but if he expected a serious answer from me, shouldn’t he supply a serious answer to my question? He did avoid service during WW II and Korea and was probably considered too old for Vietnam, though the Army didn’t think I was too old for Iraq.

But that’s not all.

J. Allen Hynek, who had once been an Air Force consultant to Project Blue Book, learned that Klass called McGraw-Hill about Hynek’s UFO book. According to Allan Hendry, Klass wanted to know why McGraw-Hill had a “UFO nut” on its payroll and suggested that McGraw-Hill fire him.

And when he wasn’t attempting to interfere in the private lives by attacking our livelihoods or our plans to move, he was busy assassinating the characters of those who disagreed with him or who claimed UFO sightings. The Travis Walton case proves the point with Klass’ continued assaults on Walton’s integrity and his prying into Walton’s past.

Let’s be clear on this. Background checks are important and necessary. When Robert Willingham claimed to be a retired Air Force colonel, it was necessary to learn if that is the truth. If Willingham was not an Air Force officer, then his story of the Del Rio UFO crash collapses. But my investigation was limited to the public sources available, and not a search through his entire background to find any dirt that I could. The issue was Willingham’s military service and not what he might have done as a teenager.

And, if a witness has a long history of deceit, is known for his tall tales or practical jokes, then it is necessary to learn that. But there becomes a point where that sort of investigation can become intrusive and borders on harassment. Klass was unaware of the line, or maybe he knew where it was, but simply didn’t care.

While he should get credit for learning about the first lie detector test taken by Walton, the one Walton failed, getting into Walton’s juvenile record is going a step too far. I’m not sure that a juvenile indiscretion, a one time thing, should become part of a UFO investigation, especially if the circumstances are as Walton laid them out in one of his long responses to Klass. A very well written and intelligent response appears in the 1996 updated edition of Fire in the Sky.

Walton is an extreme case, with Klass spending years attacking not only Walton but the fellows with him and his family. I think that dragging his family into it is another step too far. Call the case a hoax, suggest that it is not grounded in reality, but do you really need to attack the family as well.

Klass (back to the camera in Roswell, New Mexico) attacked Minnesota police officer Val Johnson, after Johnson said his police car was damaged, and he was burned, by a UFO. Klass called the case a hoax, which was calling Johnson a liar, in national publications and various other forums. Fortunately, Johnson’s boss, and the others in the area didn’t buy Klass’ assessment, which had been based on Klass’ opinion that there are no UFOs and therefore Johnson must be lying.

In another case, that of Australian Frederick Valentich, who disappeared in a small aircraft after reporting that he was under aerial assault by some undefined UFO, Klass told Don Ecker that Valentich was a drug smuggler. There is no evidence of this, other than Valentich seemed to have had four life preservers on his light plane. I’m not sure how Klass determined this, or if it was true, but the smear was there.

For more information about this see the Wikipedia entry about Klass and see:

In fact, we can look at case after case in which Klass had decided that the witnesses were lying. He claimed he could prove them to be a hoax, but his proof often fell short. He just didn’t have the information to prove a case a hoax, but since there were no UFOs, then, in some cases, that was the only possible answer.

To some, labeling a case a hoax is not a big deal. But the bottom line is this, especially when the case has received national, or international, publicity, labeling it a hoax is calling the witness, or witnesses, liars. If there is evidence that the case is a hoax, then yes, it should be labeled as such and we all, skeptic, debunker, researcher or enthusiast, should spread that solution far and wide.

But when there is no evidence of a hoax, but the only available answer left to explain a case in the mundane is hoax, then it should not be labeled as such. Klass had no evidence that Val Johnson had wrecked his police car on purpose and made up the story of the UFO, but Klass labeled it a hoax anyway.

A quick search in almost any reference will revel Klass’ investigations and his conclusions. Anyone will be able to see that Klass attacked not only the case, but the witness, or the investigator involved. His attitude seemed to be that if you can’t attack the case, then attack the witnesses.

Such conduct can be seen in the University of Nebraska seminar about UFOs to be held in 1983. According to Jerry Clark:

On August 23, 1983, an administrator at the University of Nebraska at Lincoln took a strange phone call from a man who had a complaint which he expressed at some length. When he finally got offf the phone, the administrator summarized the conversation in a memo to another university official:

“Mr. Phillip [sic] Klass ... is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal [CSICOP]. This committee has a much different view of unexplained phenomena than those groups we are working with as sponsors of "this conference [titled Exploring Unexplained Phenomena]. He was, in fact, quite adament [sic] in his position regarding the credibility of the conference presenters. Further, Mr. Klass has a personal feeling that the nature of this conference seriously questions the integrity of the United States Government. He feels that there is no scientific evidence to support the claims of the presenters and indicated that these organizations, by publicly questioning the government, lend support to the Communist movement."
On November 23 Klass wrote the administrator, who was startled to see large chunks of Klass' words from their three-month-old conversation quoted verbatim -- indicating, the administrator correctly surmised, that Klass had taped the two without informing him he was doing so. Klass said that since a "copy of your memo was 'leaked' to outsiders," he wanted to "clarify and expand upon statements" he had made. He said "we" -- presumably meaning himself and CSICOP -- did not seek to "prevent conferences or meetings by those who want to propose UFOs" but that he had some trouble with the university's sponsorship of a conference on the subject. What, he asked, would the university do "if the American Nazi Party came in and said they [sic] wanted to hold a conference?"
"I emphasize to you that I am not, repeat not, suggesting that any of the people or any of the organizations are in any way affiliated with Communist Fronts or with the Soviet Union. But as a patriotic American, I very much resent the charge of 'coverup', of lying, of falsehoods, charged against not one Administration, not two, but eight Administrations going back to a man from Missouri named Truman, a man named Dwight Eisenhower. Because if this charge is true -- Cosmic Watergate -- then all of these Presidents were implicated, and all of their Administrations.... [In making this charge, ufologists] seek what the Soviet Union does -- to convey to the public that our Government can not be trusted, that it lies, that it falsifies. Now I'm not so naive -- remembering Watergate -- to say that never has happened in history. But from my firsthand experience (i.e., 17 years in the field of UFOlogy), I know this charge is completely false. And I resent it as an American citizen."
Remarkably, Klass distributed copies of this letter to others, including me, on the evident belief that it would exonerate him, in other words demonstrate that when read in context his sentiments would sound rational. He would even charge that the administrator's paraphrase had been "inaccurate," when if anything it made Klass' charge sound marginally less nutty. As I wrote Klass on December 6, "In the past, when your critics have accused you of engaging in McCarthyism, they were using the term in a metaphorical sense. Now, it seems, they will be able to use it in the most literal sense."
For those who wish more information and to read all of Jerry Clark’s thoughts on this, see:


Phil Klass, of course, didn’t see it all quite this way. In an interview conducted by his friend, Gary Posner, he gave his own version of the events. Klass told Posner:

To the best of my aging recollection, I have never attempted to get any organization to cancel a pro-UFO conference or any of its selected speakers. But I know what you're referring to. Back in 1983 I received a phone call from a faculty member of the University of Nebraska at Lincoln, who was embarrassed because the school was sponsoring a conference on the alleged "Cosmic Watergate Government UFO Coverup," and no skeptical speakers were on the agenda. So I decided to write a short article "needling" the university. But before doing so I needed to interview an appropriate official. So I called Prof. Robert Mortenson, the school's director of conferences, who expressed surprise to hear that no skeptics had been invited. He told me that he appreciated my concern, and that if they were to sponsor a UFO conference the next year, there should be a better effort made to balance the presentation. At one point during that telecon I did say that, although I am not suggesting that any of the people or organizations involved in the conference are in any way affiliated with communist fronts or the Soviet Union, nevertheless, their reckless "Watergate-type coverup" charges against eight administrations, going all the way back to President Truman, serve, not unlike communist propaganda, to foment distrust and suspicion of the integrity of our government. I also very distinctly remember telling Mortenson, "Let me emphasize to you that I am not, repeat not, suggesting that you cancel or terminate this conference." Again, that was in 1983. A newspaper article the following year quoted Mortenson as saying that the university had decided not to hold another UFO conference that year because the ones in 1982 and 1983 had lost money.
This was, of course, the excuse given for not holding another conference, though it came after the conference host demanded to know why the series had been cancelled.

Klass continued his version, saying:

...[F]ollowing our conversation, Mortenson wrote a brief memo about it to an assistant chancellor. But he misquoted me as having said that conferences like this "lend support to the Communist movement," which carries quite a different connotation -- I had been very, very deliberate in my choice of words to insure that I would not be misunderstood. Anyway, who leaked the memo I don't know. But photocopies of it were distributed at the conference. And the next issue of the MUFON UFO Journal said that I had tried to "scuttle" the conference because it, and others like it, were "aiding the Communist cause." In the same issue, MUFON's director, Walt Andrus, quoted the memo verbatim and even indicated that he had in his possession copies of Mortenson's original handwritten notes that he had jotted down during our conversation. So, armed with all that, one of my most vehement critics began to hurl the charge of "McCarthyism" against me -- even though I had earlier provided him with a verbatim quote of what I had actually said. Mortenson later denied in a letter to me that either he or his deputy had given his notes to Andrus, but he did say that copies of his memo had been sent to the program coordinator and the "file" for informational purposes. But as for exactly what I did say in that conversation, it is just as I told you. When I picked up the phone to call Mortenson, I was planning to write an article, but I never did because he sounded so gratified to learn from me that the panel was so biased, and even asked me if CSICOP would provide speakers for the next year's conference. And because I had planned an article, to assure accuracy I tape recorded that call and, fortunately, I still have that tape.
For those who wish to read all of Posner’s interview with Klass, see:

For all of this, I had a fairly cordial relation with Philip Klass over the years. We once went sailing on the Potomac and got stuck, momentarily, on a sandbar. In later years Klass didn’t remember this, but I did, probably because it is the only time that I went sailing.

We would speak at conventions, and as I have told others, on the last occasion that I saw him, I had to assist him up a couple of stairs to the elevators and then onto his hotel room. His health wasn’t as good as it had been in the past.

And for all the trouble he caused, he was not the worst of the lot. That distinction belongs to Kal Korff, who in today’s world attempts to market himself as a colonel and who has threatened to sue anyone who looks at him sideways. He is a vicious man filled with rage and makes up the most outrageous claims. When challenged with evidence, he quietly changes these claims, but never apologizes.

Of the two, I much prefer Klass who seemed to be a gentleman outside the UFO arena. Korff is just nasty. How you feel about all this is, I suppose, a matter of perspective.


Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

First off, let me say that I appreciate the effort that went into this piece.

While I don't think you proved the point that I objected to, I do see where you are coming from. I see how skeptics and believers (if you will allow me to use that word, knowing that it isn't precise or accurate) talk over each other instead of to each other.

On the issue of the UFO conference (and the letter to the scientists in Canada), I am totally in agreement with what Klass did and might do the same thing myself. I have no objection to a private conference (indeed supporting and slightly helping the late Kenny Young with one he gave here several years ago) but would definitely call or write in protest if I heard of a local one at a public institution, especially if a certain blowhard physicist was to be speaking.

I have heard the Don Ecker/Valentich claim before but I don't know the way Klass worded it or exactly how it unfolded. I think I asked Don if he had a tape of this but I don't believe he responded.

You report it as an outright fact with no supporting evidence or quotes. This is pretty egregious. Can you supply a quote. Did Klass just outright say, "He was a drug smuggler"? Does that sound reasonable ?

In summary, I think you do some of the things you accuse Klass of: writing things as fact that have shades of meaning obscured by your black and white dogmatic simplifications.

Let me also say that I think I do that sometimes as well.

Here you have collected a list of things that Klass did that you don't agree with. Some of them I don't agree with either.

But I could put together a list of things you have done that I don't agree with as well (it would include a list of some of the more spectacularly horrible witnesses that you uncritically supported for instance). I might start my list by saying, "Kevin Randle routinely finds fraudulent witnesses and supports them despite their ridiculous stories."

But such a list wouldn't be fair to you and wouldn't accurately sum up your work.

By the way, on the Korff issue, I think we are dealing with a mental problem here. I don't think anyone takes that stuff seriously.


Typed on iPad so don't be surprised if I have to clarify some of the above.

cda said...

Klass also had a dig at Ed Walters of Gulf Breeze. Walters had committed some felony (I forget what) as a teenager or in his early 20s. Hence we can assume his famous UFO pics were likely fakes.

This sort of logic is permissible in some instances, but not in others. Certainly it is relevant if, say, he had faked other similar things in his past or told wild tales, but is probably not relevant in the case of his Gulf Breeze photos. These must either stand or fall on their own.

Another example, from Brazil, is Barauna's fake underwater photos in his past. This IS relevant when considering his Trindade pics. It would not be relevant if, say, he had instead been convicted of drink-driving in the past.

Lance said...

I believe the Ed Walters felony included forgery which is certainly relevant.

The Ed Walters case is perhaps the best example of how completely disingenuous prominent believers can be. It shows what Klass (and Jerry Black, an honest researcher/believer) were up against.

Rarely is it possible for skeptics to show such obvious fraud: a model was found with the hoaxer's writing upon it; a teen witness described in detail the process of the fraud; evidence surfaced of previous camera tricks by the hoaxer.

And yet "respected" UFO zealots, like the ever unreliable Bruce Maccabee, spoke up in support of the ridiculous photos. This should have ended Maccabee's UFO career. Instead he still enjoys prominence among the low company of UFO buffs.

Maccabee was also recently shown to be just as spectacularly unreliable in the Battle of LA photos and in a supremely silly "analysis" he did of a supposed Bigfoot photo (virtually everyone agrees that the photo shows an owl despite Maccabee's impotent attempts to show otherwise).

I suppose that Maccabee does provide one unintentional service to those interested in these topics as a sort of litmus test: if Maccabee endorses it, it is almost certainly fraudulent or prosaic.

The Walters case was so completely discredited that one might think UFO believers would set it aside. Instead you still hear the case brought up as an example of a UFO classic.

Much of the focus has shifted from the Walters photos (which appear to be just what they are: double exposures that only an idiot would be fooled by) to the light in the sky reports that surfaced after the case became famous and watching parties formed all along the beach. A reporter attended one of these parties and was appalled at how the believers quickly identified one of the lights in the sky as a UFO. It was a planet.

So seeing Klass among these fools, felons, frauds and fakers, it's hard from my perspective to see him as being the problem.

Heal thyself?


KRandle said...

Lance -

I must say that I'm not surprised by your response. I knew that you would "spin" the various cases and then suggest you'd do the same thing... but of course, you haven't.

I believe it was proper for Klass to question ONR about the use of taxpayer money on UFO research. I'm not sure that you can justify the use of Aviation Week as the club, but then, apparently, Klass' bosses didn't care.

However, once ONR reported that they found nothing wrong in McDonald's use of funds, that should have been the end of it. Klass continued until he got the result he wanted which wasn't necessarily the right one.

Why on Earth would you send a letter to the Canadian scientists and make the claims that Klass did? There was no justification for it, other than Klass disagreed with Friedman.

And while I agree that Klass did nothing wrong in contacting the university about their UFO conference, and his question about the lack of a skeptical viewpoint was proper, to compare those attending the way he did and make the claims he did, is outrageous.

Please note, however, that I did provide a link to the interview where Klass "spins" the incident to his own point of view. I did that in the interest of fairness, something that Klass sometimes forgot to do.

The Valentich quote is on tape, video tape, recorded by Russ Estes. I did provide the source of the quote and the name of one of those who made it.

At least I'm not writing this stuff behind his back while cautioning those who read it to keep it to themselves.

I notice the nice little debating trick... shift the topic. I did not talk about Ed Walters or Bruce Maccabee. While I do not believe Walters, and I know of the model, and more importantly, Walters trick photography with the Polaroid cameras, Bruce is entitled to his opinion. He is not attacking anyone's background, he is not writing letters behind their back, he is studying a case that he once (and I use the qualification because I don't know his current opinion) supported. But all this is irrelevant to the discussion.

Oh, BTW, you "believe" that the Walters felony conviction included forgery... but you didn't bother to check?


I find that I agree with what you have said. A history of trick photography in a photographic case is relevant to the discussion. But there are lines that shouldn't be crossed and Klass sometimes crossed them.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

"The Valentich quote is on tape, video tape, recorded by Russ Estes. I did provide the source of the quote and the name of one of those who made it. "

Yes, yes you provided everything EXCEPT the actual quote or a link to the quote. You linked to Don's self-congratulatory account of the debate not the debate itself. It appears to be a real problem if you don't understand this basic idea.

I've learned that whenever someone paraphrases something (like when you paraphrased the supposed Roswell nun diary entry, still love to hear that actual entry!) to be wary.

I wasn't intentionally changing the topic, I was just expanding upon Christopher's comment. I don't see this as a debate, Kevin. I see it as a discussion. Who the hell is listening to us anyway? Its a sad fact that no one will talk to us skeptics except believers (or, God forbid, other skeptics!).

Walters conviction? I tried to look it up on the webs but couldn't find anything definitive. Klass said it included forgery and I suppose I can look into my records if you are saying that this is not true. Are you?


KRandle said...

Lance -

Russ had the quote on tape. I do not have the tape.

I am not saying the forgery conviction isn't there. I'm just wondering about the source, which I haven't been able to find and apparently, at this point, neither have you.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

Maybe the Valentich thing is just as you presented it and Klass just outright said "He was a drug smuggler." I would be shocked if this was true.

As we have seen, one side makes an accusation (for instance, Klass said that "the mayor of Socrroro hoaxed the Socorro sighting"). When in reality, Klass merely suggested this as a possibility in the same way that UFO buffs weave possibilities all the time.

I would like to hear the actual quote (which apparently you don't know either) about the Valentich thing. For instance, was Klass speculating as to why Valentich might have down something or did he really say it outright.

How about a nice bet? I'll bet you a milk shake that he didn't make the accusation as you stated it without qualification.

I'll look into the Ed Walters convictions and get back to you. I think the source is Klass.


Lance said...

In reference to the Ed Walters convictions:

Moseley, Saucer Smear:

"Klass also outed the fact that Ed Walters of Gulf Breeze UFO fame served time in prison in his youth, for forgery and/or car theft."

Ed himself:

"When I told the MUFON investigator about two and a half years ago about my police record I had no idea Phil and the debunkers would try to throw it in my face. After all I was only an 18 year old kid. When it became clear that my police record was going to be an issue. I applied for a pardon in September of 1989. After a 6 month investigation into my background and character, the governor signed my pardon."

Sarasota Herald Tribune 4/30/1990 Page 47:

Walters "served 18 months in prison for forgery in Duval County and Auto Theft in Alachua County during the late 1960's."

Good enough?


Lou Sheehan said...

Mr. Randle -- I have two questions about chapter 15 in your book "Lost Gold & Buried Treasure." Is there an appropriate way to contact you (I assume by e-mail) about my questions? -- Lou Sheehan

KRandle said...

Lance -

Yes, those sources are good enough... and completely irrelevant. Why? Because Walters was a teenager, I still don't know what the forgery was (bad check?), and there was no need to bring this up.


Because there were the stories of Walters faking the ghost pictures using a Polaroid camera, there was the Tommy Smith story, and finally, there was the model found in Walters' old house. No need to bring up his teenage indiscretions because the other information was sufficient.

I don't think Phil Klass would buy your excuse for his solution of the Socorro case. Back to Posner's interview.

Klass said: And I found out that Socorro's mayor owned the "landing site" property and the town's only bank, and earlier had sought approval to build a new road to the UFO site for the benefit of tourists. So, when I wrote UFOs: Identified, I was confident enough to suggest that this case might be a hoax. And by the time my second UFO book, UFOs Explained, was published, I did unequivocally characterize the case as a hoax, as I've done subsequently regarding a number of other highly suspicious cases.

Skeptic (Posner): But the Socorro "tourist trap" was never built.

Klass: Yes, but the plan had been initiated. On the first anniversary of the "landing," a newspaper article quoted a city official as saying outright that they intended to use it as a tourist attraction, and it reported that the road to the site had recently been upgraded. It also mentioned that a movie about UFOs had recently shot some scenes in Socorro. Perhaps when members of the City Council learned the truth, they opted not to proceed any further with the plans.

And now for the cheap shot about the nuns...

I told you Don Schmitt provided the data and I had no reason to doubt its authenticity. I reported what I had been told.

With the Russ Estes comment, however, I have seen the tape. Back in the mid-1990s, I spent a great deal of time with Russ and we watched many of the interviews he had conducted. Klass said that Valentich was a drug smuggler because of the four life belts. The tape exists and I know where it is... though it will be difficult to access and I don't plan on wasting time attempting it.

On another tape, which is completely irrelevant here, I heard Larry Warren say that he wasn't at the base during the first two days of the Bendwaters sightings because he was on leave in Germany.

Lance said...

Hi Kevin,

I am going to agree with you on the Socorro issue.
I think Klass was wrong on this. I see your point and accept it.

On Walters you say that there was no reason to bring up the forgery charge and I suggest that that isn't your call to make. Indeed, I hear all the time from people who suggest that the Walters case was not a hoax. This is a small bit of evidence that does show the kind of person Walters was. An 18 month sentence isn't a youthful indiscretion and I wonder why you feel the need to defend the lying hoaxing felon, Ed Walters?

On the non-existent nun entry: "I had no reason to doubt its authenticity". Ok. That same trusting attitude (as long as the source supports your version of things) has led us to the Rogue's Gallery of witnesses that you have promoted who subsequently have imploded one by one. If that approach works for you, fine.

I mention the above only because you now have repeatedly spoken of a quote WITHOUT presenting that quote.

Put some quote marks around it and I will look into it myself.

I was able to support what I said about Walters (as you requested after the crack about me not knowing the answer for sure--reflecting on the nun thing, does anyone else here see irony?) and you THEN somewhat arbitrarily decide that (because I was right?) that now the information is irrelevant. I wonder what the result would have been if I had been wrong? Rather poor form!


KRandle said...

Lance -

It's not that you were right about Walters, but that other information, readily available, got us to that point. Had we had nothing else, then this felony conviction becomes relevant. I don't see the need to dig this up now that we have other, better, newer reasons to reject Walters.

I'm not defending him, just suggesting that we don't need to publicize this. It might not be across the line, but it's damn close... especially when "After a 6month investigation into my background and character, the governor signed my pardon."

If we're going to talk of his felony conviction, then the pardon is relevant too. But I don't think we need to. We can reject the case based on the evidence found about the case and not on the character flaws of Walters.

The difference, as I see it, is that unlike Willingham, in which his military background (or claims of a military background) are relevant, the background of Walters, as a teenager is not. What is relevant is his hoaxing of the ghost photographs and the model found in his house.

And while you talk of the rogue's gallery of imploding witnesses, I do not reject testimony because I know there are no alien craft and therefore anything that suggests otherwise is a hoax. If you go back, you'll find out that I have been instrumental in exposing many of these people with evidence and not opinion as others have. And if you go back to the Klass interview (which I don't think you've bothered to read), you'll see Klass make a similar claim as he started his serious UFO work.

And if you go back and read some of my earlier work... about cattle mutilations, for example, you'll see that I got to the right answer quickly... but I didn't have people lying to me about it.

But, hey, I got into the field, I talked to the people in person, watched them as they told their stories, and exposed those who I could prove were lying. And yes, I got fooled, but then, I'm not the only one.

And if you don't like the Valentich quote, then ignore it. There is much other evidence of Klass attempting to smear those he didn't like... or in his role of Keeper of the Flame. I am not going to quote something until I have that quote at hand and I don't have the time to waste on it now, considering the evidence is in California and I am not. But the point remains, I have seen Klass discussing this on video tape and know what he said.

Lance said...

Thanks Kevin,

Fair enough.

We don't totally agree but I think we both have presented our cases.

If you do happen to come across that interview, I would like to see it or hear about it. Klass came to some bad conclusions sometimes. My milkshake bet still stands...I can't imagine that he said Valentich was a drug smuggler without any qualifications or evidence at all. If he did, I will be quick to denounce this (and I will buy you that milk shake!).


Steve said...

I found a link to this posting on the Coast AM site and I'm glad I took the time to read the whole thing. I personally believe Klass was among those who too often gave skepticism a bad name. In my own book, Fringe-ology, I argue that both believers and skeptics are prone to confirmation bias and to disregard the other side's evidence merely because of who it is that's making the presentation.

In my own research, I have certainly found the vast majority of skeptics and believers to be sincere, well-meaning people who happen to disagree. So when Kevin writes that the two sides often talk past one another, I believe he is entirely right. And I think one thing we need to do is stop seeing these disagreements in moral terms. Klass's dogged pursuit of McDonald, past the point where any real ethical failing might have been ferreted out, suggests to me that he, likely for emotional reasons, couldn't be bothered to merely debate the data. He wanted to debate the man. He wanted to find some flaw in him that would undercut all his claims. And often when we want to see something, we do. In this respect, Klass was very much a true believer, and I wonder to what extent this held him back from finding the truth. —Best, Steve V.

Anonymous said...

Was Klass aware that the Socorro "hoax" he investigated was not on the 1964 site Zamora reported? Did he know he was referring to a site developed by the Socorro Chamber of Commerce at the other end of the gully, a quarter mile away?

Did Klass investigate the Zamora site? Did he do a walk-through with anyone involved in the case in 1964?

The evidence is that Klass was writing about the Chamber site and did not know it was not the Zamora site. I am unaware of any involvement of Zamora with the Chamber site. If Zamora was not involved in it, then there could be no evidence Zamora was part of whatever "hoax" Klass thought he exposed.

If the above is true, then, Kevin, you have in Klass' Socorro analysis, the very epitome of "sloppy investigation".



Lance said...

I know that Klass did go to Socorro and spent two full days there interviewing the principals. His account suggests that he did visits the "real" site.

I think that the confusion about the sites might not be any indication of sloppiness but just a matter of how the town confused them later in their bid to bring in tourists. They called it the Landing site and Klass (not being in town) had no reason to doubt them?

I don't think we know the answer here but if it makes you feel better to blame Klass, have at it.

His account brings up many other problems with the case that are glossed over by the believers.

I enjoyed Steve's comments above and mostly agree. Unfortunately, these comments might also give credence to the old believer chestnut that skeptics will do ANYTHING to disprove the paranormal.

Many believers think that a skeptic would actually turn away from incontrovertible evidence. Never mind that they can't point to any of the stuff. This argument is completely specious and just as unproven as any other paranormal claim.


KRandle said...

Lance -

Since you don't like the attribution of the Valentich quote, I'll give you another that has nothing to do with Valentich.

From his SUN Newsletter of November 1993, on page 3, Klass wrote, "Kevin Randle has contracted to author a new book which will be a compendium of crashed-saucer tales dating back to the 'Mysterious Airships' of the 1890s and also include the 1908Tunguska incident in Siberia. Publication in soft-cover is expected in the fall of 1984[sic]. Randle recently told a friend that he received 'a great deal of money' from the publisher."

While it is clear that he meant 1994 as the publication date and that is a mere typo, his allegation that I had received a great deal of money is untrue... as it is untrue that I told a friend that. I suppose he was implying that I was in the research for the money and was bragging to friends about that.

However, I don't provide details of my financial arrangements to others, I did not receive a great deal of money for the book... and, please note the unsourced quote... something akin to the "highly placed sources" that the news media love to use.

I will note that while in Roswell recently, I did say I was rich. This was because a man I didn't really know was providing all sorts of unsolicited advice on how to make money publishing books... from a man who had never written a book yet... so I told him I didn't care because I was rich. That ended the conversation because what would he say to that?

Anyway, I though you all might be interested in a quote from Klass that was inaccurate, unsourced, and untrue... to add to the collection we have.

Anonymous said...

Lance: "I know that Klass did go to Socorro and spent two full days there interviewing the principals. His account suggests that he did visits the "real" site."

In which of his books can I find his interviews and which also suggests he visited Zamora's site?

The issue for me is claiming there was a "hoax" -- not just here, but in any case.

"Hoax" is a cute term, but in theorizing or insinuating (your choice) Zamora's story was a "hoax", Klass was saying Zamora committed a federal crime, whether Klass knew it or not.

"I don't think we know the answer here but if it makes you feel better to blame Klass, have at it."

I've said Klass was right about the city fathers' desire to benefit from the Zamora story. I can even quote chapter and verse from the PBB report that implies what would become the Chamber site was owned by the least it is enough evidence to make a visit the county courthouse worth the effort, if one is so inspired to do so.

But he had nothing at all to associate Zamora with the "hoax", no matter he "did unequivocally characterize the case as a hoax"



Lance said...

Hi Don,.

Klass' account is given in his first book, UFO's Identified, (which I don't have) and in UFO's Explained.

Email me ( and I will send you further info.

Klass describes the site in the second book but I suppose he could have been doing that from photographs. It is not specifically mentioned that he went there.

Again (as I have said several times) Klass doesn't directly accuse Zamora or the Mayor of a hoax--he doesn't get into that.

He later said the case was a hoax (which I agree that he did not prove) but again he doesn't directly accuse anyone. I don't think his evidence was strong enough to support this.

Thanks for your thoughts about the "landing site". I note that Kevin's (and Dr. Rudiak's) account of this was sadly unequivocal.


SteveVolk said...

Just a quick follow-up, Lance, about the idea that skeptics will do "anything" to explain away a paranormal claim.

The point I make, repeatedly, in Fringe-ology, is that skeptics are loathe to leave anything in the unexplained category; and I do think there are lots of examples of skeptics who will stretch credulity by claiming some naturalistic phenomenon could explain a particular event and then say they've "debunked" the case.

As a quick example from my own book, James McGaha's explanation of the Stephenville Lights simply doesn't hold up very well against the eyewitness accounts. That doesn't mean people saw an ET spacecraft. It does mean that flares seem a highly unlikely explanation. And I think McGaha would do himself and everyone else a lot of good if he were to admit it when he has advanced a possibility rather than an explanation.

There is a similar sort of thing going on right now with the whole Near Death Experience phenomenon. I won't get into it here but I have a post up about it at

—Best, Steve

Bob Koford said...

For what it is worth, my strongest memory of Mr. Klass came as a result of seeing him on a daytime "talk" show. It was several years ago, in San Francisco and I do not recall all of whom were there being interviewed. The theme was alien abductions.

After hearing from several of the guests, Mr. Klass was asked about what he thought. He made some type of cold remark that I recall was "fairly" harsh. It caused a stir. Some arguing began, and it began to grow hot. What I found interesting, and why I bring it up here, is that when confronted by the abduction "vicitms" about his remarks, and how unfair he was, and how we should be doing something about it, his countenance suddenly changed. It was an very abrupt change. He suddenly sat up straight in his chair and rattled off a denouement similar to this:

"Fine! I agree! Lets do something about it. We should push for our government to create an official group to do something. If this is really going on then we should stop talking about it and lets do something!!!"

That isn't an exact quote, but I remember how scared he seemed to appear, suddenly, and how fervently he seemed, as compared to just moments before when he had been so calm with his denunciations of the whole thing.

Could it be that his whole cold and unfair persona was fed by his fear that it could indeed be real, and he just didn't know how to deal with it?


cda said...

Klass certainly never feared that abductions may be real! It is just that his attitude when confronted by abductees (as opposed to confronting pro-abduction writers such as Hopkins and Jacobs) would naturally be different.

You would hardly expect Klass to admit to an abductee that the latter had fabricated his or her story. He might suggest, as politely as possible, that such persons had a fantasy prone personality, but that is as far as he would go. I am positive that if, say, facing Linda Napolitano, he would never go as far as to call her a faker (even if he suspected she was).

His book "UFO Abductions, a Dangerous Game" explains his whole attitude to abductions, abductionists and the abductees themselves.

Lance said...

Hi Steve,

You are probably right and there is good reason for reflection by skeptics upon this. Honestly, I don't think that most are like that but I could be wrong.

On the other hand, perhaps the believers might benefit from the same advice. I have heard Kevin in person present the Roswell case as proven: "We have a crashed spacecraft. We have alien bodies..etc etc."

The reality is quite different and it is sometimes maddening (to a skeptic) to hear things presented like that.

As you see above, I can readily admit that Klass didn't debunk Socorro. But the fact that a case cannot be readily debunked does not mean that one should then weigh the chances that the event was paranormal as equal to the chance that it was prosaic.

Maybe it is in that idea that skeptics and believers diverge so vigorously.



David Rudiak said...

Don is quite right that Zamora falsely making the UFO claim would indeed be a crime, starting with filing a false police report, with his own police department, the state police, and the FBI.

It seems entirely besides the point that there was later an attempt to possibly attract tourists to a "landing site" that had nothing to do with the true Zamora landing site, land that wasn't owned by the mayor. How does this in any way implicate Zamora as being part of a hoax with the mayor? Yet that didn't stop Klass from insinuating that Zamora was in cahoots with the mayor in a hoax.

The only real connection I know of between Zamora, the mayor, and the sighting was Zamora initially thinking that the bright light he saw in the sky might have been caused by an explosion of the mayor's dynamite shack, which is why Zamora sped off in that direction to begin with. The dynamite shack was about 350 feet from what turned out to be Zamora's landing site.

Such "theorizing" also doesn't deal with the basic facts of the case, such as how do you pull off such a hoax, when half a dozen fellow police officers were swarming over the site within minutes of Zamora and then Chavez calling for backup? This is why Hynek said a hoax would have required Chavez, the Socorro police department, and the FBI agent to all be in on the hoax.

You can be all Kutesy with semantics as to whether "theorizing" or "wondering" a fraud is the same as "insinuating" or "suggesting" a fraud. It doesn't really matter since it all amounts to rather serious defamation, basically accusing somebody of a criminal act based on zero evidence. You better have a lot more to go on than "theories" before you publicly accuse somebody of that.

Too bad nobody ever took Klass to court for libel.

Lance said...

"Too bad nobody ever took Klass to court for libel."

Sure but they would have lost.

Dr. Rudiak's legal knowledge of what you can say without fear of losing a lawsuit does not match reality. Klass knew much better (being an actual high level journalist) what he could say or could not say. Dr. Rudiak is just plain wrong.

I again say that I don't' agree that Klass' premise was proven. It was only slightly supported by the evidence.


Anonymous said...

The Socorro incident is about ten years past the time of my interest in UFO reports, so this is the first time I've read the files, and have only made one pass of PBB Socorro files. One thing I look for is a "dog in the night time".

Despite the good quality detail of Zamora's recollection, he was not in a normal state of mind. He was very shaken by the event.

The Socorro "dog" is the absence of LaPaz. I don't know why he wasn't called in to reconstruct the event with Zamora.

I understand that LaPaz and Zamora had worked together, I assume, on finding meteroites and the search for green fireballs, and that LaPaz had a good opinion of Zamora as an observer.



cda said...

Zamora had worked with LaPaz? You mean Zamora had an interest in meteorites, green fireballs, maybe UFOs, BEFORE his sighting?

This is interesting, as I have never heard that Zamora had any such leanings until I read your posting.

It reinforces my earlier view that we need to know much more about Zamora's personal life, past experiences and other interests than has been disclosed.

Has any research been done into these?

Anonymous said...

CDA: "Zamora had worked with LaPaz?"

I've only browsed through the PBB and news stories, but I am certain Kevin or David Rudiak can quote chapter and verse. What I understand is that Zamora was one of LaPaz' informants in the field, and had been for many years. As Hynek would say, LaPaz "calibrated" Zamora. Also, during the Socorro news cycle, LaPaz was quoted about Zamora. In PBB files, Hynek reports his conversations with LaPaz about Socorro.

"Has any research been done into these?"

Y'know, I wonder about that, too.



Anonymous said...

I should clarify, if it wasn't clear, CDA, that I do not know whether the story about La Paz and Zamora are accurate except that La Paz was quoted at the time (quoting the AP 4/30/64:

Zamora's reliability as a witness was supported by Dr Lincoln LaPaz of the University of New Mexico who has an international reputation for running down reports on fireballs and meteorites.

"I would first point out that we are not personally involved in the investigation of these unintentified flying objects," LaPaz said. "But I do want to say that I have had contacts with Mr. Zamora for 16 years in my work and he is a thoroughly dependable observer."




Anonymous said...

"You mean Zamora had an interest in meteorites, green fireballs, maybe UFOs, BEFORE his sighting?"

Whoa! You are showing your skeptical proclivity there. "Maybe UFOs"??

LaPaz hated having UFOs associated with his work. The subject embarrassed him. I figure the last thing he would have chatted about with an informant was UFOs.



KRandle said...

Here's the quote from the Blue Book files... it's in the first of Hynek's reports on his investigation.

He said that he had called LaPaz on the phone but LaPaz was unable to join him in the Socorro investigation.

Hynek wrote, "...but he told me that a number of years before he had worked with Zamora on a field trip in search of a fallen meteorite. He gave Zamora a very clean bill of health and said that he was a completely reliable person."

I wouldn't know if they discussed the green fireballs, if they discussed UFOs, or if they had all that much contact. This is all that LaPaz through Hynek has to say.

Arinn Dembo said...

@Lance: If this does not prove the point to your satisfaction, sir, it is because you are impervious to proof. Articles like this and the responses of so-called "Skeptics" to the irrefutable evidence that their "heroes" are in fact nothing more and never anything less than Witch Hunters are always enlightening...if somewhat pathetic.

"Philip Klass did things you didn't agree with"? Are you insane? These are things which no decent human being could agree with. These acts were completely reprehensible and completely outside ANY sane boundaries of civilized OR scientific debate. Seriously, how DARE you suggest otherwise? What the bloody hell is wrong with you people? Who the HELL died and made you God, gave you the right to harass people's employers, their families, to try and sneak around destroying lives and careers, because they are challenging your oh-so-precious prejudices by seeking facts and making sound arguments?

Further comment: I very strongly object to your characterization of the opponents of the modern Skeptical Church as "Believers". People who are willing to investigate, to seek proof, to discuss ideas are not "Believers", sir. We used to call them "scientists" or "intellectuals". But the only synonym for "scientist" or "intellectual" nowadays is "Fortean". At one point it might even have been possible to use the word "Skeptic", but that any more.

Articles like this and your absolutely weak and worthless non-reponse to them are the reason that "Skeptic" has become an insult. As a scientist and an intellectual, I would sooner be grouped with the torturers of the Holy Inquisition than with your movement. The Inquisition could at least claim that they honestly believed that the harassment and pain they inflicted on their victims was sanctioned by God.

Praytell, what do YOUR churchmen use as an excuse?

Lance said...

"Praytell, what do YOUR churchmen use as an excuse?"


Stay classy.


Sir Mildred said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sir Mildred said...

Can someone explain to me why the explanation of him having four life belts on his plane is somehow evidence FOR him being a smuggler (unless he was smuggling people). The plane was a four seater and if he was carrying four people that wouldn't leave much room or weight for anything else.