Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Vetting the UFO Field

Almost from the point that civilian UFO investigations began, there has been an expressed desire to find evidence of alien visitation. The mere fact that these organizations were looking toward the extraterrestrial does not negate the research they have done. Often scientists have an opinion of how an experiment will conclude, which is one of the reasons for double blind tests. But the gathering of information can be done without the bias of the investigators getting in the way of collecting the data. It is only when data are ignored that the problem arises.

Sort of the corollary to this is the lack of vetting of the witnesses and the information. In the world today it is very easy to check the claimed credentials or backgrounds of witnesses. And too often when the checks fail to produce the verification, then the government is blamed for destroying records to make the witnesses look bad… not creditable.

There are dozens of examples of this. Take Robert Willingham who claimed to have been at the scene of a UFO crash in 1948… or rather in the first, published version of his tale he claimed that. Later it became 1950, which he blamed on a UFO researcher, probably justifiably, and finally in the middle of the 1950s, which he said was the correct date. He claimed to be an Air Force fighter pilot and a retired colonel. Neither of those claims could be verified by military records.

What many people don’t understand is that when someone claims a military career, there is vast documentation for it, from the DD 214, which is a document given to everyone when he or she leaves active duty, to copies of orders, copies of awards and decorations, travel vouchers, photographs and a hundred other pieces of paper to prove the point. Those who are fudging their military service will simply not have those documents, and an investigator will not be able to verify the claim.

When I attempted to verify the validity of the few documents Willingham had supplied, I was unable to do it. In fact, I learned that these documents had been submitted to various authorities for verification by others investigating Willingham’s claims. They were told, and I was told, that the documents had been forged. Rather than accepting this evidence, the investigators accused me of “circling the wagons” and refusing to listen. They didn’t seem to understand that the facts were on my side, but they’d rather believe the guy talking about the UFO crash than the evidence of his fabrication of that event.

This is simply one example of someone who has been caught in embellishing a military career, and thrusting himself into the center of a UFO case… I say himself rather than theirselves, because the vast majority of those doing this are male.

This isn’t limited to witnesses either. Take, as an example, the Spitzbergen Island UFO crash in 1952. This has been proven to be a hoax time and again. The original story was evidentially traced to a newspaper article in Germany and that was about a Soviet-made craft that had crashed. This evolved into a UFO, but it is clear that it never happened, and even if it had, it was a Soviet-made device and not something extraterrestrial.

But here were are in 2013, this case from 1952, is still defended and still used in various reports of UFO crashes. It is used as evidence that the US government is hiding UFO information, but the case is a hoax. It proves nothing about what the US government might be doing or that alien creatures have visited Earth. The origins seem to have been lost to most of those doing research. Once they have what they consider the basic facts, they no longer pursue the information to its ultimate conclusion.

In fact, as mentioned in an earlier post, it is all too often assumed that other researchers have done the original research. I was looking for any UFO reports published in 1947, prior to Kenneth Arnold, that mentioned disk-shaped craft. One that was cited in some of the most credible UFO publications, was of a UFO sighting from Cedar Rapids, Iowa on June 23, 1947. As noted in that earlier post, it was a sighting actually made in Illinois allegedly on the same day as the Arnold sighting but it was not reported until after Arnold.

The point here is that we wish to elevate UFO research from the swamp we find it in to something that is respected, but we never reject a sighting or witness, even when the evidence is stacked against them. There are those who still endorse the Santilli alien autopsy hoax in the face of overwhelming evidence that Santilli and his friends created it… even though Santilli has said that part of it is a hoax… even though the men involved in creating the alien bodies have demonstrated how it was done… even though the cameraman was never identified, there are those that still argue for its authenticity. How do we make any progress with that sort of attitude?

Oh, it’s not limited to the alien side of the fence. Philip Klass made up solutions and attacked those whose opinions differed from his. We’ve already demonstrated this more than once, but there are those who accept what he claimed without question. Oh, don’t get me wrong, he did solve some sightings and he did provide some good information, but there were times that he was way outside the box but no one dragged him back into it. The skeptics continue to defend some of his practices even when it is demonstrated that he had missed the boat.

Charles Moore, he of Mogul fame, is given a pass by those who believe a balloon fell at Roswell. Evidence that he was less than candid on some of what he claimed is ignored because his solution does away with an alien craft. Never mind that Dr. Crary’s diary tells us there was no full array launch, and never mind that he does describe exactly what was sent aloft (a cluster of balloons with a sonobuoy and not a full array) they will insist that the cluster was Flight No. 4. They simply will not look at the documentation against it. In fact, one skeptic denigrated the 50 year old diary. Let’s ignore the written word from the time if it does not conform to our world view.

There are times when you just have to sit on information. We need a chance to validate it before making it public which is sort of an ancillary point here. Premature release can jeopardize research that is underway. We need the chance to complete the work before commenting on it publically.  If we can’t validate it, well, then, we should make that public as well but not until we are sure of the facts. All the information about a specific event should eventually be published, but sometimes it is just too early. Sometimes you need to wait until you know everything about a case. Once you have found the truth, then you should make all the facts public.

We need to raise the quality of our research, regardless of the side we fall on, and we need to accept conclusions that are based on the evidence available and not our opinions of how things should be. We can no longer argue about those cases that are solved and we can no longer accept the solution if it does not fit the facts. We need to elevate our standards and we must follow the evidence. If we can reach that level, then we have made it about halfway to solving the problem.


Daniel Transit said...

Re: Records going missing

The entry for Moody abduction, written by Jim Lorenzen, in 'The Encyclopedia Of UFOS' by Ronald Story, includes this -

'..An interesting sidelight of the Moody case is the fact that his records at William Beaumont Army Hospital disappeared from the files. Doctors and medics at the hospital remember treating him but cannot provide any clue as to what happened to the records...'

KRandle said...

Daniel -

I would never use the term "going missing," when a simple missing would do...

Yes, there are times that records do disappear or are lost, but there are so many other ways to prove the point. Yes, records are wrong, but there are other documents that can be used to prove a claim...

With Willingham, as the example, there are no records for his claimed military service other than a short period at the very end of World War II... there are no records to support his claim of being an Air Force officer, a fighter pilot, or having served for 20 or more years in the military. He attempted to pass off his CAP records as some sort of Air Force Reserve service but it was not.

And you are talking of specific records in a specific location, not the records showing his military service.

But, if we are going to do this correctly, we must vet that information from Lorenzen. Has anyone else checked to verify it?

Finally, I was told that the records for the medics at the Roswell Army Air Field were missing. Another researcher was able to find them them as a way of validating various claims of people as having been with the medical unit... not to mention the information in the Unit History and the Yearbook for 1947.

Anthony Mugan said...

Very much agree with the points raised by Kevin. The tricky question is how to come up with a 'cleaned' data set that all serious researchers, of all perspectives, can agree on in terms of a core body of data that defines the question we are attempting to resolve. It then becomes a debate around analysis and interpretation of that data set.
It is hard to see what group of set of institutions could do this, even in terms of a commonly agreed set of case data as we do not have a recognised academic framework as for most subjects.
Sounds almost like a commission of highly regarded figures from both sides of the debate...sorting out the Middle East may be easier!

cda said...

Re claims of military service, another area of falsehood is academic qualifications. People claim to be at various universities & institutions and obtained doctorates, degrees and diplomas.

These can usually be checked fairly quickly. But even then there can be problems such as similarities of name or dates.

An example in the UK is the politician, and current member of House of Lords, who claimed to be educated at Wellington College (a well-known English Independent Public School). It turned out that his 'Wellington College' was an unknown school in some remote area which happened to have the same name.

ilfakiro said...

hi kevin,
I've really appreciated your post, all in all it's seems to me a confitmation of Rich Reynolds's posts on aztec/roswell new evidence!

Kurt Peters said...


KRandle said...

Ilfakiro -

I would not draw that conclusion from the limited information that I have provided here. I would conclude that we all need to improve our research techniques and our critical thinking.

Gilles Fernandez said...

Dream Team or Rich Reynolds have New Evidence(s) ? Prooving an ET crash in 1947?

I suppose it will be (or is already) send to the National Academy of Science of your Country?

I'm with you, Roswell DreamTeam! ;)


Steve Sawyer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said...

My comments are in reference to a blog from two years ago, but they tie into the question of verifying military service. I don't know if this is a dead issue now, but it concerns Phil Imbrogno. I can't speak to his alleged assignments with the Army, but I know for fact that he was an Air Force corpsman and that he served in Vietnam. I have known Phil for over forty years; I met him while we were both stationed at Wilford Hall Medical Center at Lackland AFB, shortly after his return from Vietnam.
I won't comment on any of the controversy regarding Phil, for I am not well versed on that subject. I just wanted to set the record straight as best I can regarding his military service.
Wallace Rowe

Unknown said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
KRandle said...

Wallace -

The issue was his claim to have served as a medic not only with the Army but with the Special Forces. The Special Forces has its own medics, trained in many of the various techniques of serving in that particular role. I can conceive of no situation in which an Air Force medic would be on assignment to the Army Special Forces and Phil himself said that it wouldn't be reflected in his records. So, the issue was not whether he was a medic, but that he was a medic with the Army Special Forces and that he has no evidence to support the claim.

Unknown said...

Thank you for responding, Kevin. I don't disagree with you; I was only attesting to Phil's having served. I've read comments elsewhere questioning whether he had served at all; I can vouch for the fact that he did. As far as his service with the Special Forces, I just don't know.
I only learned of all the controversy surrounding Phil recently; obviously, he hadn't mentioned it to me. I was very sorry to learn this; Phil is the only friend from my service days with whom I've stayed in contact.
On a personal level, he has been nothing but a friend; on more than one occasion, he has helped me out when I've been in dire circumstances. I realise this has nothing to do with Phil's credentials scandal; I only wanted to point out that, to me, he has been a good person.
Wallace Rowe

Terry the Censor said...

Kevin, maybe you'll have to put out a book like "The UFOs that Never Where" by Randles, Roberts and Clark, a selection of "solved" UK cases.

Pick cases that are solved or are useless owing to lack of evidence. This concept could be expanded to include the bad evidence that should be expunged from open cases.

Maybe the US market wouldn't tolerate such a thing. Or it could be organised like a UFO encyclopedia and libraries would at least buy it.