Tuesday, December 27, 2016

The Roswell Slides - The Gift that Keeps On Giving

Not all that long ago I asked a general question about the effect of the Roswell Slides on UFOlogy as a whole. Seems that most of those responding on line suggested that the impact was little, especially outside the UFO community. Most seemed to believe that those who did not hold much interest in UFOs were unaware of the whole sorry fiasco.

But that came from those inside the UFO community. Those outside, or those who had an interest but didn’t consider themselves part of our community, had a much different take on it. To them, it was a disaster that changed their opinions. In the last couple of weeks I have had occasion to speak with some of those people and by some, I mean four and by speak I mean both on the telephone and through email.

One man called me, apologized for the intrusion, and then said that he had been interested in UFOs for decades; that interest beginning as a teenager. He said that it seemed to him that in the last year or so, many of the classic cases had been explained and that the mystery seemed to have been solved. He brought up the Roswell Slides as what he thought of as almost the last straw. The will to believe had been so strong in some that they had missed the red flags waving all over the landscape according to what he said.

Another, who emailed me, said that for her the destruction of the slides so quickly once independent researchers had the opportunity to review the data had proved that much of the information being printed in books and magazines or used in documentaries about UFOs was next to useless. The slide investigators had overlooked the information that disconfirmed their belief structure (which, I think, is a problem that we all face). We sometimes look at information that provides a clear alternative view and then find all sorts of reasons to ignore it.

There was a guy who wanted to know what to believe and what books to read because he was so unhappy with how the whole Roswell Slides investigation had progressed. Oh, he understood that the investigators had wanted to proceed without interference and speculation until they had some answers. But, once the information had leaked, they should have been more forthcoming, especially now that we had the answers to the questions. He thought it ridiculous that some still clung to the idea there was something alien on the slides and that further damaged his reliance on UFO researchers.

The point here is that no matter how we attempt to dress it up, the Roswell Slides was the final straw for some who had suffered through MJ-12, the Alien Autopsy, and the collapse of so many of the Roswell witnesses who had claimed to have been involved deeply, regardless of their positions in the military at the time. I, myself, was fooled by several who seemed to have the proper credentials, who supplied robust stories, and who turned out to have been inventing their tales (and their confirming documentation which is not a phenomenon restricted to UFOs) and claiming higher ranks than they held.

The Roswell Slides, which didn’t receive any real reporting by the mainstream media (because of all the other nonsense about UFOs that has been “leaked” over the years) did considerable damage to the Roswell case in particular and UFO research in general. People who had not studied the Air Force report or understand some of the content of it will tell you that it explained Roswell completely and that is that. They won’t have read the report, can’t tell you what was in it, but they remember the Air Force explained Roswell at a press conference that was carried by the cable news channels and in many newspapers. And that is all they remember no matter what else is said or done. The Roswell Slides underscored that point of view, another case of great claims destroyed by proper research and that is the damage that has been done. At one point we had many people interested in learning about Roswell and it seemed that we had evidence to support the alien answer, but the Air Force had better PR than we did.  We are left with a negative image of UFO research and researchers by those slides which did not show an alien creature but an unfortunate child. Under those circumstances, what would you think?


Unknown said...

Too many a "researcher" have been too focused on being The One to break UFOs wide open and finally prove what everyone wants to be true. Time and time again it fails. This little adventure is going the way of Vaudeville, which most think it is with some justification, anyway.

Paul Young said...

I still believe the "Roswell Slides" are so little known about by the general public, as to be more or less off their radar.
This has just been an internal hiccup within the UFO community...Don and Tom are now completely discredited...but I honestly don't see how this effects things concerning the big picture.
Hoaxes have run hand in hand with the truly puzzling cases from the very beginning.

There have been some repercussions though, mainly between the more careful/intellectual ETH proponents and the barking mad ones who STILL give credence to the "mummified child is possibly an alien" theory. I'm sad to hear that one of my favourite "careful/intellectual" researchers and an occasional contributor to this blog, Isaac Koi, is withdrawing from the field after a spat with the head bangers.

albert said...

Don't forget the money. Plying a trade in the UFO game has caught out many a charlatan.

It's awfully difficult to determine the veracity of digital media, no matter what the subject. The sad thing about the UFO community is that well-known characters have known backgrounds, and have established some credibility in the field. When these folks lose perspective, make emotional judgments, or even lie, then it's no wonder that the casual observer becomes disillusioned.

The fact is, -all- areas of life are subject to this phenomenon. Look at the 'fake news' brouhaha, AKA the propaganda wars. Even the NYT and the WAPO are guilty. Folks need to stop relying on the media as the last word on everything. "Social media" and "reality TV" are the worst offenders. We must constantly recalibrate our BS detectors just to survive. I don't follow 'social media', and view reality TV as entertainment. And I haven't missed anything.

Reputations have been ruined. When things like the Not Roswell Slides happen, it's time to write 'em off, and move on.

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Jeremy Vaeni said...


Were you able to find out why any of the people who duped you with credentials, paperwork, and what must have been well-crafted and memorized stories went through the trouble in the first place? I've often wondered why anyone would go to those lengths if there's no money in it and the "fame" is so short-lived. Any clue what motivated them?

TheDimov said...

I think the whole saga may turn out to be a positive for ufology though. Tom and Don have shown the world that what you once could get away with you cant anymore - with the internet, snake oil salesman cant get away so easily with what they once could. So I think perhaps - or I hope anyway - integrity will be the catchword for ufo researchers, and they will do their homework more diligently, and the search for the Truth will become the primary focus, and not the lining of one's pockets which has unfortunately been all too easy for too long in this field.

purrlgurrl said...

I actually read the Air Force reports. I believed them. End of story.

KRandle said...

purrlgurrl -

Does that include the testimony used to support their POV that had been discredited before their report... Quoting Ragsdale to prove he saw dummies when it is clear that Ragsdale saw nothing at all? Or the use of affidavits with sections removed? I think of the Sally Tadolini affidavit where they quote one paragraph but leave out the next in which what she said is clarified that reverses the Air Force point? Or Cavitt saying he recognized the material as a balloon immediately but no one asked the follow up question which was "Did you bother to communicate this rather important bit of intelligence to Colonel Blanchard or did you just keep it to yourself? And remember, I asked Cavitt about going out on balloon recoveries when I interviewed him in 1990 and he said they didn't bother with that because they were too busy with security clearances at the time. Just a few problems with the Air Force report that suggests they might not have been quite as candid in their investigations as they might have been.