Wednesday, December 27, 2023

Mysteries Uncovered - A Semi-review of a Book


In this episode of why I’m beginning to dislike Ufology, I have planned something of a rant against all the negative comments directed at me. These are challenges to my military background, my education, and that I write science fiction, though Stan Friedman once accused me of writing romances. But rather than do that, I’m going to mention a book I stumbled onto that sort of underscores the trouble with the UFO field.

Mysteries Uncovered, with the subtitle of True Stories of the Paranormal and Unexplained by Emily G. Thompson, caught my attention because in the promotional material, it mentioned the Roswell case. Well, here was a writer who had never actually been to Roswell or who had never interviewed any of the witnesses, but who was providing us with an analysis of the case. Naturally, I had to see what she had to say.

The book is loaded with analyses of many of the things that catch our attention here beginning with the Lost Colony of Roanoke and the Mary Celeste and several UFO related topics. Yes, I turned immediately to the chapter cleverly entitled, The Roswell Incident.

On the first page of that entry, after a brief synopsis of the case, there is a quote from Dr. Robert A. Baker, a hardcore skeptic. He said “It’s a modern myth, a kind of religion. There is a common human need for salvation, and it’s always coming from above.”

That didn’t bode well for the entry, but the text wasn’t quite that bad. However, in the first sentence, she told us about Mac Brazel, not realizing that it’s been a couple of decades since it was discovered by Tom Carey that he was actually Mack Brazel. This suggested that she hadn’t done the in-depth research that would have provided that small nugget of information.

She provides some descriptions that are attributed to Mack Brazel, but he never said anything like that to anyone. She wrote, “The wreckage consisted of metal, some of which was dull and some of with was shiny and thin, resembling tinfoil. There was also something that looked like transparent plastic string or wire, and thin sticks shaped like I-beams, made from a material that Brazel was unable to identify.”

It was Bill Brazel who told Don Schmitt and me about those items. She missed the important point. Bill told us that when you shined a light in one end of that plastic string it came out the other. He said that it resembled monofilament fishing line but he was talking about fiber optics.

She wrote about the size of what we have been calling the debris field. She wrote that he, meaning Mack, estimated that the wreckage covered an area of three-quarters of a mile long and 200 to three hundred feet wide. “It appeared as though some kind of machine had exploded in midair and wreckage from it had rained down of the earth.”

But we know the size of the debris field is based on descriptions from both Bill Brazel and Jesse Marcel, Sr, the Air Intelligence Officer of the military unit stationed at Roswell. The description was not provided by Mack Brazel.

And all this is in just the first paragraph.

After some discussion of other, irrelevant sightings in New Mexico, she reported that Brazel drove into Roswell to talk to Chaves County Sheriff George Wilcox. She wrote that Brazel might receive a reward for the discovery.

On the July 4 weekend, there were reports of various organizations each offering a thousand-dollar reward for proof about the flying saucers. But, according to the newspaper reports, that information wasn’t available to Brazel until after he made the trek to Roswell and there has been no evidence presented that Brazel knew about that money. The reason for the trip, was, allegedly to sell some wool, but the real reason was he wanted to know who was responsible for all that debris and who was going to clean up the mess.

Yes, I could continue to pick apart this entry, but what is the real point? Instead, I’ll move to the discussion of Project Mogul, the culprit blamed for the wreckage. She reported, accurately, that the Air Force launched an investigation after several members of Congress asked for that investigation in the mid-1990s. But then wrote, “… the debris found near Corona was related to Project Mogul, a top-secret program aimed at using balloons to spy on Soviet nuclear tests. They claimed that the wreckage was part of a 600-ft balloon train…”

This really isn’t her fault but the balloon arrays launched in New Mexico had been reduced to 400 feet and contained common weather balloons and no rawin radar reflectors early in the New Mexico launches. She wrote, based on the Air Force report, “They claimed that this was peculiar material found at the crash site that neither Major Marcel or [sic] Brazel could identify.”

But they should have been able to identify it. There was nothing special, nothing classified about the balloon arrays being launched in New Mexico. They were standard, off the shelf neoprene weather balloons and rawin radar reflectors. A farmer in Circleville, Ohio, Sherman Campbell, found a weather balloon and radar reflector in one of this fields on that July 4 weekend, and knew exactly what it was.  He took it to the local sheriff, who also knew what it was. Even if Brazel hadn’t recognized it, Marcel should have.

While I hesitate to get back into the arguments about Project Mogul, there are other points to be made. Thompson quoted Charles Moore, who worked on what he was quick to point out to me that this was the New York University balloon project. She wrote, “Moore claimed that the balloons were equipped with corner reflectors [rawin radar targets] that were put together with balsa wood and coated with synthetic resin glue similar to that made by Elmer, to strengthen them.”

But Moore told me, when I visited him in Socorro, New Mexico, that the make-up of Flight No. 4, the culprit in this discussion, was the same as that as what was termed “the first successful flight,” Flight No. 5. However, the diagram of Flight No. 5, as published in the Air Force report had no radar reflectors on it and none were used on any flight in New Mexico until much later in the process.

The configuration of Flight #5. Charles Moore told me that Flight #4 was configured in the same way. Notice there are NO rawin targets on the flight Also notice the other components which were not among they types of debris described by the witnesses.

Charles Moore reviewing winds aloft data that I provided for him as we attempted to determine the flight path of Flight #4. Photo by Kevin Randle, taken in Socorro, New Mexico in the early 1990s. It was during our discussions that Moore supplied information about the activities in 1947.

Thompson then discussed the Alien Autopsy that surfaced about that time, meaning 1995. It has very little to do with the Roswell case and is an admitted hoax. Nearly everyone involved in the hoax have come forward and there are photographs of them putting together the “alien” creature that appears in the film.

To keep this from getting away, meaning too long, Thompson provided us with the Glenn Dennis tale of the nurse who saw the alien bodies. Dennis said that she had told him about seeing the aliens in the base hospital and within days she had been transferred out of Roswell. He had written to her once, but the letter came back marked, “Deceased.” Dennis said that she, with four other nurses, had been killed in an aircraft accident. But there is no record of any such aircraft accident that took the lives of five Army nurses at the time.

Thompson wrote, “The nurse was never identified.” However, Dennis, reluctantly, gave researchers the name of the nurse. In fact, her name, Naomi Self or Selff, was well known among those who were involved in research on the Roswell case. But no one could verify that there was ever a nurse by that name in the Army, let alone stationed in Roswell. The search expanded to the local hospitals with the same results. Told that there was no nurse named Naomi Self, Dennis then said that he hadn’t given anyone the right name, but then gave another one, which was a major change in his story.

The real point is that the Dennis testimony about the nurse was discredited more than a quarter century ago. That information has been published repeatedly. I covered in The Randle Report: UFOs in the 1990s, published in 1997. I wrote then, “But others, such as Glenn Dennis, who has been considered one of the important witnesses, have begun to collapse. There is little that can be said except that we have found nothing to confirm that his nurse exists or existed. And when challenged on these points, be begins to change the tale.”

In her book, Thompson discusses other UFO events such as the Flatwood monster, Barney and Betty Hill and the Rendlesham Forest encounter. I had thought about reviewing those segments here as well, but this is getting longer than I intended. I will only note here that she reports on the testimony of Larry Warren who claimed involvement in the Rendlesham Forest events, but that testimony has been discredited. Colonel Charles Halt noted that he didn’t remember Warren being there at all, and that contrary to Warren’s statements, he did not approach the object in the woods. Thompson does acknowledge this controversy.

Peter Robbins, who co-authored the book, Left at East Gate with Larry Warren, has since repudiated Warren’s involvement the case. You can read Peter’s long entries about his reasons for this here:

and here:

Those entries were written by Peter and were posted to this blog with his permission. Thompson does write about the controversy with Warren’s statements, but the account might have been stronger if she had left Warren out of the discussion or reduced him to a footnote. There were others, such as Jim Penniston and John Burroughs, not to mention Charles Halt, who were clearly there.

Again, this criticism is a little bit nitpicky, but when dealing with a case where there is so much information, testimony and legitimate players, it does seem to be a waste to mention Warren at all.

I guess I must say that I was disappointed in the quality of the reporting on the Roswell case, but then it is quite complex and there have been dozens of books written about it. I have contributed five of them, and, of course, mentioned the case in dozens of magazine articles and appeared in a dozen or more documentaries and television programs dealing with the crash. And if you look at my earlier work, you’ll find errors in it that are the result of publishing preliminary data. However, it just seems that a solid report on Roswell can be written. I saw that she didn’t reference any of the skeptical books about the case and mentioned Witness to Roswell by Tom Carey and Don Schmitt twice in the bibliography of the Roswell case.

The real problem is that I know the mistakes made in the segments that deal with UFO related events and I must wonder is there are similar problems with the other segments. Would someone well versed in the Lost Colony of Roanoke be able to find significant errors in the reporting? Or in the section about Amelia Earhart?

If this was a real review, then I would note that the book is 373 pages long and is available from Amazon both as an ebook and in a print version. There is no index but there are footnotes which are not quite as comprehensive as I would like. It just strikes me that this was a book written with no real passion for the subjects mentioned.

Although I rarely mention books that I do not like, the Roswell information was too far off the mark to allow it to pass. Unfortunately, this is not a book that I would recommend.


Bob Koford said...

Dear Kevin,

First, I hope you are feeling ok.

[Cincinnati Enquirer, 9 July 1947] "Brazel, whose ranch is 30 miles from the nearest telephone and has no radio, knew nothing of the flying discs when he found the broken remains of the weather device scattered over a square mile of his land..."

My question has been: How could ANY known "weather device" of the time, or even the well known at the time MOGUL device, be found in pieces that were scattered over "a square mile"?
Seems to me this a mixture of what Mack said combined with the July 8 balloon and radar reflector bundle shown to the press at 8th AF HQ, either innocently, or on purpose. Just my opinion. Thanks for the heads up about this book.

William G. Pullin said...

Thanks for your measured comments Kevin. As you well know, the UFO subculture is chock full of nonsensical content, and unfortunately, inaccurate information that leads many an uninformed person astray. This aforementioned book is just another ridiculous example. Hope you're doing ok, sending you well wishes. All the best!

Thomas T. said...

Hi Kevin. Everybody who can count to 3 and has some basic human intuition left can tell that you're the real deal and that your credits will be spotless. Why bother with the haters? Just let them look for the flying spagetthi monster.
Sincerely whishing you good health.
From your Swiss fan, Thomas

Sky70 said...

As for the Roswell UFO Crash (or is it the Corona UFO Crash?) the main witlessness was found to be liars/story tellers on that event. Ufologists used a lot of their secondhand hearsay for their books, speeches, etc. As a person interested in Ufology, I need more evidence to become a believer on this event. And there are so many other UFO events where it's all hearsay, and not one lick of hard-core evidence to show the world.

KRandle said...


Friedman called his book Crash at Corona, because UFO Crash at Roswell had already been published. However, the debris field is closer to Corona but still about twenty miles away (by road). The impact site where the bodies were found is much closer to Roswell. So, I guess you can take your pick.

Actually, the main witnesses, mainly military officers who had first hand knowledge have not been found to be liars. Testimony from reliable sources is a form of evidence. Scientists and skeptics have called this anecdotal. Had it been by scientists it would be known as scientific observation... all a matter of semantics.

If you desire to see the bodies (or high quality photographs from a vetted source) or wreckage that demonstrates a technology not found here, well, I have to join you in that crusade.

But when you say not one lick, you dismiss a wife variety of credible evidence from photographs and movie footage, radar traces, landing traces, burn marks and the like. And then there are the EM Effects which had been reported hundreds of times. Some of that evidence is quite compelling.

And finally, you have to look at the attempts to suppress the information... Levelland springs to mind, as does the Rhodes case to mention just two.

Just thought I would mention it.

Capt Steve said...

The problem with books like Thompson's, that cover multiple mystery topics at once, is that these books are really just compendiums of others' research.

I could easily bang out a book about (for example) Loch Ness without ever even visiting the area, simply by searching for monster sightings online, then rewriting them in my own words. But if the sources I use aren't properly vetted I'd write book that would (rightly) be frowned upon by serious researchers.

Paul Young said...

Sky70...The only proven "liars/story tellers" are Dennis and Kaufmann. If you consider them to be the main witnesses then it would seem you know nowt about the event.

Sky70 said...

To Paul Young: No, they are not the main story tellers, but the main joker was Lt. Walter G. Haut, who gave us Dennis & Kaufmann, and they laugh all the way to their graves.

Paul Young said...

@ Sky70
Of course, if you enjoy a good session of "liars/story tellers" then I'd highly recommend "The Roswell Report : Case Closed"

Entertaining and hilarious.

Thems the guys who wrote Roswell off as a misidentification of a crashed balloon.
Of course, you have to suspend credibility for a moment and believe an Army Intelligence Officer (Marcel) couldn't tell a balloon and it's array from a flying saucer ... or that the Counter-Intelligence Officer who accompanied him to the Foster Ranch (Cavitt) didn't pull him aside and gently explain to him that it was a balloon, not a spaceship,...despite them being there together for hours.

And of course that other comedic part of the report that explained the bodies found were simply parachute test dummies.

Now that's a work of "Liars and storytellers" at their best

Paolo Martinuz said...

I have been interested in the Roswell accident since the mid-1980s and have been studying it in detail since 2006. In addition to professional research there are hundreds of books on Roswell that I call rubbish. Since Kevin mentioned Professor Charles Moore, if I remember correctly in Col. Richard Weaver's never-ending interview with Moore included in The Roswell Report: Fact vs. Fiction in the New Mexico Desert, Moore never mentioned raw targets and only later wrote about them. And if I remember correctly, there is no mention of raw targets in the diary of geophysicist Albert Crary, who was also present at the Mogul launches that time.

KRandle said...

Paolo -

The diagram for the first successful flight in New Mexico, had no rawin targets. Moore told me that the make up of Flight No. 4 was the same as Flight No. 5. Rawins were not part of the arrays in New Mexico until later. It was only later that Moore began talking about the rawin tagets because they were needed for the explanation. There is a rawin target in the photographs taken in Ramey's office.