Wednesday, July 29, 2015

The Rendle-Sham Case: Phony and Phonier

The supposed Rendlesham Forest UFO landing case (sometimes referred to as "the British Roswell") involved the supposed landing (or at least Close Encounter - the story is inconsistent) of a UFO in Rendlesham Forest, Suffolk, UK in December, 1980. Just like the story of the fish that got away gets bigger with each telling, the more time that passes, the more exciting the Rendle-sham case becomes. Practically each year, one of the supposed witnesses invents a new and dramatic claim to 'prove' that the case is real.
The so-called "Science Channel" imagines the Rendle-sham UFO

British skeptic Ian Ridpath has long stayed on top of this case. Here is his summary of it:

 Although the overall case is complex, the main aspects can be summarized as follows:
1.  Security guards saw bright lights apparently descending into Rendlesham Forest around 3 a.m on 1980 December 26. A bright fireball burned up over southern England at the same time.
2.  The guards went out into the forest and saw a flashing light between the trees, which they followed until they realized it was coming from a lighthouse (Orford Ness).
3.  After daybreak, indentations in the ground and marks on the trees were found in a clearing. Local police and a forester identified these as rabbit scrapings and cuts made by foresters.
4.  Two nights later the deputy base commander, Lt Col Charles Halt, investigated the area. He took radiation readings, which were background levels. He also saw a flashing light in the direction of Orford Ness but was unable to identify it.
5.  Col Halt reported seeing starlike objects that twinkled and hovered for hours, like stars. The brightest of these, which at times appeared to send down beams of light, was in the direction of Sirius, the brightest star in the sky.
At its most basic, the case comes down to the misinterpretation of a series of nocturnal lights – a fireball, a lighthouse, and some stars. Such misidentifications are standard fare for UFOlogy. It is only the concatenation of three different stimuli that makes it exceptional.
The BBC reported on July 13 that Col Halt is now claiming,
"I have confirmation that (Bentwaters radar operators)... saw the object go across their 60 mile (96km) scope in two or three seconds, thousands of miles an hour, he came back across their scope again, stopped near the water tower, they watched it and observed it go into the forest where we were," said Col Halt.
"At Wattisham, they picked up what they called a 'bogie' and lost it near Rendlesham Forest.
"Whatever was there was clearly under intelligent control."
Halt does not name the supposed radar operators, and does not say how he obtained this information. He claimed that the operators said nothing about this until after their retirement, for fear of being "decertified" for reporting a UFO. Even if this unlikely claim were true, it does not correspond to what the supposed witnesses are reporting. A UFO allegedly whizzing by at thousands of miles an hour does not match the UFO(s) allegedly seen hovering for hours above the forest, and even landing there.

Col. Halt claiming more "proof" for his alleged UFO encounter in 1980
Lee Speigel wrote in the Huffington Post on July 21 that Halt says this new information will 'blow the lid off' the Rendlesham Forest sightings.
We previously reported how Halt accused the U.S. government of covering up UFO information, and he believes there's a top secret agency that's in charge of anything to do with possible extraterrestrial visits to Earth.

"There is a contract civilian agency, that is fed information, that is controlling everything. It's made up of either former military, high-level government agencies or high-ranking, very knowledgeable scientists. I can almost guarantee you. That's the way we do it. And disinformation is the biggest thing," Halt told HuffPost on Friday.
The Daily Express of London reported on July 14 that Halt said:
• Rendlesham Forest was mobbed with US military personnel "hunting UFOs" at the time

• A "UFO exploded " before his eyes and another "shot down a laser beam" from 3,000 feet above

• The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) later hid documents relating to Rendlesham

• US personnel who "lost 40 minutes" during the sighting have been denied access to medical files

Speaking at a UFO conference in Woodbridge, Suffolk, he said: "There is no doubt in my mind we are not alone and there are some people (in power) who know this, but even Mr (Barack) Obama won't get through to them."
 This is not the first time that Halt has 'jazzed up' his account of the Rendle-sham incidents. Ridpath describes Halt's "iffy affidavit," written in 2010,  as a "disastrous attempt to rewrite the facts of the case," suggesting that "this product of his 30-year-old memory differs so substantively from what he said and wrote at the time that it would be destroyed in a court of law."


What are other "top witnesses" from Rendle-sham reporting?

Airman Larry Warren claimed to have seen a light in the forest that "blew up," then re-assembled itself, and alien beings came scampering out of it. He says they resembled "children in snowsuits." By his account, many other Air Force personnel saw these creatures, but nobody else has reported them.

Larry Warren's description of alien beings scampering out of the Rendle-sham saucer (from 1985 CNN special on Rendlesham).

Another supposed witness, John Burroughs, has implied while supposedly under hypnosis that he and Sgt. Penniston were abducted by beings onto the UFO for about 45 minutes, and brought back to a different place. Supposedly base personnel saw them being lifted up to the object, and worried that they would never be returned.
 
John Burroughs ham-acting his supposed UFO encounter under "hypnosis." Hilarious!
Sgt. Jim Penniston (ret.), however, relates a completely different UFO yarn, in spite of supposedly sharing in Burrough's UFO abduction. He claims that he touched the landed UFO, and received a message from it in the form of a "binary code," which he subsequently wrote down. However, he did not tell anyone about it for thirty years.

Part of Penniston's telepathically-received  'UFO Binary Code,' miraculously turning up in his notebook thirty years after the fact. It reveals the UFO to have been sent by Time Travelers from the year 8100.
 Penniston now says that the binary data from the Rendle-sham UFO was sent by Time Travelers, which makes sense since aliens would hardly be expected to encode their messages using ASCII, the American Standard Code for Information Interchange. But time travelers from a future earth might possibly still be using ASCII 6,000 years from now (and probably Microsoft Windows as well). When Penniston was interviewed on a 2011 podcast by Angela Joiner, his story got all tangled up under her questioning.  (Hat tip to Danny Miller.) Penniston got confused whether he knew what the code meant as it was being transmitted. He  finally decided that he knew what six pages of it meant, but he thought that the rest of it "didn't mean nothin ." [If you have the patience to wade through over 200 comments on this posting, you'll see a spirited debate between two individuals who worked with Penniston on his "codes," raising substantial doubt about how many pages of  "codes" there are, and whether they were all written down in the same  year.]




If you can describe any of these "witnesses" as "credible," then you are much better at "believing things" than me.

Finally,

The Rendlesham Forest now has its own "UFO Trail." A UFO encounter is a terrible thing to waste.

Friday, July 24, 2015

The Amazing Meeting 2015 (and a bunch of other meetings)


It has been almost two months since my last Blog posting, which is a bit unusual. But I have been going a lot of places, especially conferences and meetings. Let's take a look at some of them.

In the first week of June I went up to Oakland to attend the one-day conference Skepti-Cal on June 6, sponsored by the Bay Area Skeptics. 

Since the late Bob Steiner and I were the founders of that group back in 1982, I figured I should check out how they're doing. Actually, they are doing quite well, even without us!

Bay Area Skeptic Sheldon Helms appropriately brought his brain to Skeptical-Cal, for intelligent discussions.
It was held in the Asian Cultural Center in Oakland, CA.

Waiting for the sessions to begin
Hailey Sheaffer, born June 7.

Actually, that's not the only reason I was in Oakland the first week in June. My son Ken's second child was due the last week in May. They live in nearby Alameda. A perfect plan, I thought. The baby will be a week or two old, I'll visit with them, and attend Skepti-cal. Small problem. The baby was stubborn, and was almost two weeks late. I was afraid that I'd have to go back home before the baby was born! But the baby came the morning after Skepti-Cal, so I got to see my newest granddaughter a few times before my flight home. And that delayed schedule also gave us the chance beforehand to be surprised by the giant purple Sea Slugs washing up on the beaches in Alameda and vicinity. I thought it was some kind of gross jellyfish, but my son quickly figured it out. These are gruesome-looking things. One person actually called emergency services, saying that a human organ had washed up on the beach!

Giant purple sea slug.







On June 28, I attended the annual Awards Ceremony of the Independent Investigations Group in the Steve Allen Theater in Hollywood. This parody of the Oscars gives awards for good (and bad) treatment of paranormal claims in the media. Dr. Oz was awarded the Truly Terrible Television Award.






Speaking at Westercon about the Roswell Slides

The next weekend, July 4, was the Westercon science fiction convention, this year in San Diego. I was invited to give a talk, so I spoke about the Roswell Slides fiasco. 

The weekend after that was - of course - Comic-Con. Nothing in San Diego is normal during that week. There are tons of Comic-Con photos on-line, so I'll only post a few.



Damien and Godzilla offer Salvation, competing with the Jesus people


After a brief rest, I drove up to Las Vegas for The Amazing Meeting with the Amazing Randi. I presented a workshop, along with James McGaha, on "Evaluating UFO Claims in the Media." This was the only UFO-related item on the schedule. One of our main points was: the UFO "documentaries" you see on cable TV are intended as entertainment, not as factual programming. Exaggeration and/or fabrication are the general rule. For example: Hangar 1.

The audience at our UFO workshop


James McGaha and I chatting with The Amazing One

There were so many old friends, and new friends, it would take forever to tell it all. In brief, I did meet and chat with a large number of skeptics, including (in no particular order) James Alcock, Matt Crowley, Jay Diamond, Taner Edis, Tim Farley, Susan Gerbic, Andrew Hanford, Heather Henderson, Sheldon Helms, Sharon Hill, Ray Hyman, Barry Karr, Linda Lawrence, James McGaha, David Glueck, Kitty Mervine, Massimo Polidoro, Spoony Quine, Ben Radford, James Randi, Dave Richards, Richard Saunders, Jamy Ian Swiss, James Underdown, Mick West, and many others whose names have blurred together in my mind - so if I left you out, please excuse me.

Much was said about the new documentary movie about Randi's life, An Honest Liar. Frank Warren wrote a nice review of it on The UFO Chronicles. I purchased the Blu-Ray DVD of that movie, on sale at The Amazing Meeting. It has considerable bonus materials. I was very happy to see that, in the Blu-Ray bonus segment titled "Popoff Exposure: Undercover Plant," Bay Area Skeptics Don Henvick and the late Bob Steiner are featured, and credited, for their roles in Randi's sting of the Fake Healer Peter Popoff.

Most interestingly, Col. John Alexander contacted me just before TAM, asking if I'd be attending. He lives in Las Vegas, and we had met before. I said I was, so we arranged for him to come by to talk with me, James McGaha, and briefly a few others. We had a nice chat. We agreed about the fiasco of the Roswell Slides and such. Ultimately, John (who is still active in the Society for Scientific Exploration) was advocating for the supposed healing powers of John of God in Brazil. He felt that, since the "healer" was not attempting to collect money in any way, this suggests his powers are  genuine. Alexander also was promoting the supposed paranormal ability of a tribe in a remote part of West Africa to handle and even hold in their mouth an extremely hot, glowing metal rod. I pointed out to Alexander that right here at TAM, there was a million dollars to be had by demonstrating such a claim. "That challenge can't be won," he insisted. I have heard this before from parapsychologists: they insist that Randi's challenge is rigged, and is unwinnable. (They have to maintain this, otherwise they have no excuse for not taking the challenge.) It's obvious that these critics know nothing about how Randi's challenge operates, or else they deliberately misrepresent it. Randi does not tell the "psychic" what to do: instead, the "psychic" tells him what they claim to be able to do. The discussion then moves to, "How can this be demonstrated, while ruling out error or fraud?" At this point  magician Jamy Ian Swiss (seen in An Honest Liar) walked by. I brought him over to meet Col. Alexander. I explained that Alexander claimed to know of a tribe in Africa capable of performing paranormal feats of fire-proofing. Swiss invited him to submit a claim. Alexander said, "That challenge cannot be won." Swiss replied, "OK, this conversation is over," and walked off.

Randi and Deyvi - they're married now - are presented with a special memorial wine bottle
The Long and the Short of it: Ray Hyman, James Alcock, Massimo Polidoro

This guy has a bunch of skeptical tattoos. The text reads, "An Honest Liar."


Randi is retiring. What happens next year? We'll have to wait and see.



Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Betty Hill’s Last Hurrah – A Secret UFO Symposium in New Hampshire

This article is reprinted from my Psychic Vibrations column in the Skeptical Inquirer, September/October, 2007. I am reprinting it because it describes an important piece of UFO history that is not otherwise available on-line. It contains some updates and revisions. It also gives me an opportunity to share some great photos of UFO history.


Betty Hill’s Last Hurrah –
A Secret UFO Symposium in New Hampshire

One of the most curious events to come out of the Great Internet Stock Bubble was the so-called “Encounters at Indian Head” project, whose very existence has been kept unknown to the public until just now [2007]. The symposium was prepared under a shroud of secrecy that was amazingly effective, given the decades-long inability of most top UFOlogists to behave responsibly about anything. Organized by the late Karl Pflock, author of Roswell – Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe (Prometheus, 2000) and the British Fortean author Peter Brookesmith, the event was funded by Joe Firmage, the Silicon Valley then-multimillionaire who seems determined do whatever it takes to bring the public into an even higher state of extraterrestrial awareness.
Betty Hill chats with Eddie Bullard (left) and Hilary Evans. On the right is "junior," sculpted by Marjorie Fish.

In September of 2000, I traveled from California to New Hampshire to participate in the secret “stealth” UFO symposium. The subject was the alleged 1961 UFO abduction of Betty and Barney Hill, the first such incident reported in the U.S., made famous by John Fuller’s 1966 book The Interrupted Journey, then even more so by the 1975 NBC-TV movie, The UFO Incident.   Firmage was covering all our expenses, and even paid us for the rights to the papers we were writing, which would be published as a book. The purpose of the symposium was, simply, to find out what really happened to Betty and Barney Hill. The plan was that nobody would find out about even the existence of the symposium until the book containing its published proceedings appeared ‘out of the blue,’ presumably creating a sensation. The symposium came off exactly as planned, a tribute to the skills of the late Karl Pflock.
Marcello Truzzi (left), Karl Pflock, Greg Sandow. Seated: Kathleen Marden.

The event was held at the Indian Head Resort, just a stone’s throw from the spot where Betty and Barney allegedly saw the UFO cross the road and hover right in front of their car. The setting and accommodations were unarguably splendid, the company surprisingly congenial. UFOlogists have a reputation for feuding like Hatfields and McCoys, even those who are in general agreement. Probably the high level of the discussion was due to the organizers’ careful decision to exclude those UFOlogists who have a reputation for insufferable behavior, whatever their knowledge of the subject. Bravo, Karl. The pre-symposium secrecy ensured that we would not be troubled by the press, the curious, or by certain UFOlogists well known for being pushy and obnoxious.

However, the insistence in the nondisclosure agreement for post-event secrecy was more difficult to understand. In January 2001 Pflock announced the “suspension” of the Indian Head project to its participants. The ongoing internet stock collapse undoubtedly cut into Firmage’s discretionary spending, with the once high-flying company he founded, U.S. Web (later merged with CKS and March First) now bankrupt and liquidated. Still, Firmage paid every cent promised to the participants. With Karl’s death on June 5 2006, I presumed that the project was defunct, and that the non-disclosure requirement might last indefinitely. But Karl’s widow, Mary Martinek, completed the editing, and the result is the volume “Encounters at Indian Head”, published by Anomalist Books .
Karl Pflock gave Betty Hill this T-shirt.

The Grande Dame of UFOlogy, the late Betty Hill herself, was present to guide us through a re-enactment of the entire “abduction” scenario, assisted by her niece Kathy Marden, who knew the story almost as well as Betty did. I’d met Betty several times before. She regaled us with stories about her literally hundreds of UFO sightings occurring after her initial UFO “abduction.” She claims that she organized an entire “Invisible College” of scientists from top laboratories who went out with her to observe and study these UFOs, who gathered reams of documentation and data on the UFOs, then apparently flushed it all down the toilet, as it was their intention to merely study the UFOs, and not publish anything about them. Several of the more na├»ve participants spoke of how listening to Mrs. Hill had made it more difficult for them to accept the reality of her accounts, as if Mrs. Hill’s wild stories had not been well-known in UFOlogy for at least twenty-five years. It was the way she told of greeting the extraterrestrials with a jovial “Hi, Guys!” that stuck in the throat of several of the participants. Not a single participant in the symposium was willing to describe the Betty Hill we heard first-hand as a credible witness; nonetheless, a number of them still were inclined to accept her story of alien abduction, including Karl Pflock. The organizers had wisely chosen to send Betty Hill away before we began the actual discussions, as they realized it would be impossible for us to objectively discuss the mental state of a kindly but delusional old lady who was sitting in our midst.

Most of the symposium participants were well known in the UFO and Fortean worlds. Peter Brookesmith of Fortean Times magazine, clearly the junior partner as co-organizer, showed himself to be a no-nonsense fellow who also took the partying aspect of the conference very seriously. The good times quaffing with Peter, Karl, and Karl’s wife Mary were memorable. Another Brit in attendance was Hilary Evans, whose writings sometimes seemed to me a bit woozy but who in person seemed sensible enough. Two participants were present only virtually. Walter N. Webb, who began a first-hand investigation of the Hill case a month after it occurred in 1961, and Martin Kottmeyer, who writes amazingly perceptive papers without ever leaving his farm in central Illinois, participated from a distance.
Our Field Trip to the "Close Encounter" site, just south of Indian Head
Looking south from the "Close Encounter" site. The freeway had not yet been built in 1961.
 In addition to the conference sessions, we took a Field Trip. First we took the short drive to where the UFO Close Encounter allegedly occurred, just south of the hotel. According to Betty, the Close Encounter site is on the east side of Rt. 3, just north of the present Rt. 93 freeway interchange (exit 33). She showed us where Barney left the car in the middle of the road with the engine running, while he grabbed binoculars from the trunk to get a good look at the aliens. Betty also guided us to the alleged “capture site”, a small, sandy clearing in the woods just off Mill Brook Rd., which goes off NH State Route 175 to the east near Thornton. However, Barney and Betty Hill much earlier had indicated a “capture site” in a different location. [GPS trekkers will want to know that the "capture site" Betty took us to was at 43 deg 54.529’ N, 71 deg 39.852’ W., elevation 662 ft.] One driver, seeing the small crowd in the woods, stopped to ask if there was a moose on the loose (tourists often travel these back roads seeking Moose Encounters); I replied “no,” but didn’t have the inclination to explain that we were chasing UFOs. Someone else did, and the driver sped away.

We're following the leader, the leader, the leader: Betty Hill guides us to the alleged Capture Site.
You can learn a lot about a UFO case by visiting the site that you can’t learn by reading. Driving from the “Close Encounter” site to the “capture” site, I was surprised to see how many quaint little New England towns lie between them. While driving frantically, allegedly being pursued by the UFO at close range, the Hills must have driven through the towns of North Woodstock, then Woodstock, West Thornton, and then Thornton. The speed limit in (and around) these towns is 30 MPH. Even granting that these sleepy little towns, which look like they’ve come out of Norman Rockwell portraits of New England life, would be quiet around midnight, it seems impossible that nobody at all would have noticed a car madly speeding down Rt. 3, screeching around corners, running stop signs and traffic signals, with a low-level UFO in close pursuit. This is related to another great puzzle, to wit: why is it that we never receive reports of UFOs coming in menacingly close, but following someone else’s car? 

Examining Betty's "Capture Site": no sign of any UFOs.
We even had an evening screening of relevant science fiction films, including the very episode of Outer Limits that is suggested by Kottmeyer to have inspired Barney Hill’s description of the aliens’ “wrap-around eyes.” There was much discussion of the possible influence of the films on the Hills’ account. Firmage sat by himself watching the films, saying nothing. He spent much of his time during the symposium sessions glued to the phone in the hotel lobby, no doubt negotiating major business deals back in Silicon Valley. His participation was slight. I did have a chance to speak with him for a few minutes during the first evening session. He confidently expounded about how one dissident physicist or another had come up with a theory showing that it is possible to do the things that UFOs allegedly do: travel faster than light, defy gravity, etc. For him, this settled the matter: such things were possible, and we should drop our present-day prejudices. He seemed not to appreciate the objection that the great majority of physicists were unconvinced by unsupported speculative theories, or else he seemed not to care. Firmage is an impressive, dynamic speaker, but not such a good listener.
Getting down to business: from left, Pflock, Evans, Bullard, Truzzi, Firmage, Stacy.

Ultimately, no agreement was reached concerning whether the Hills’ story was real or imagined. Each participant (except for Greg Sandow) expounds his viewpoint at length in a chapter in the book.  Eddie Bullard, Greg Sandow, Walter Webb, and Karl Pflock argued that the Hills’ abduction account should probably be taken literally. I argued strongly for the opposite, as did Peter Brookesmith. Martin Kottmeyer and Hilary Evans agreed that the explanation was more likely to be psychological than physical. Dennis Stacy, a former editor of the MUFON Journal and the publisher of the symposium volume, limited himself to carefully chronicling and recounting the incident. However, in private conversation he confessed to difficulties with accepting the Hills’ account. Sociologist Marcello Truzzi pronounced it impossible to come to any conclusion whatsoever. [Truzzi was a co-founder of CSICOP in 1976, with Paul Kurtz. In hindsight it's obvious that their planned cooperation was doomed to fail.]
Joe Firmage expostulates his theories about UFOs. From left: Stacy, Hill,Sandow, Bullard, Evans, Brookesmith, Firmage, Pflock.

It was clear that the participants who had not previously met Betty Hill were dismayed and/or disappointed after hearing her ramble on glibly about things that could not possibly be true. However, there were rationalizations aplenty as to why we should believe her claims made in 1961, but not afterwards. I also felt that co-organizer Karl Pflock, and sponsor Joe Firmage, had expected some sort of pro-Hills consensus to emerge from the discussions when all of the “facts” supporting it were martialled – and were rather disappointed when it did not. I found it puzzling that the book's progress accelerated after Karl's death, especially since the book was virtually completed by 2001, before he fell ill. When Betty's own statements raised doubts even among those inclined to believe her story, Pflock probably came to view the symposium as a tactical mistake. I suspected that Karl in essence sat on the project because he was disappointed how it turned out, although Peter Brookesmith assures me that this was not the case, and cites difficulties in getting the book published. I spoke with Pflock on the phone several times after the conference, and each time he was downplaying the book, and the idea of getting it published. He did not seem  enthusiastic or eager in any way to see it published. At least, that was my impression.

One of the “evidences” in favor of the alleged abduction has long been Betty’s statement that her husband Barney, after having his genitals examined by aliens, developed a ring of warts around his groin. The pro-abductionists seemed genuinely startled to be told (after Betty had safely departed) that this symptom is evidence, not of alien activity, but of a common venereal disease.
The "Encounters at Indian Head" symposium patricipants: from left, Marcello Truzzi, Peter Brookesmith, Greg Sandow, Dennis Stacy, Karl Pflock, Eddie Bullard, Robert Sheaffer, Hilary Evans. Not present: Walter Webb, Martin Kottmeyer.
Almost seven years separated the symposium and its public revelation. It has now been fifteen years, and four of the participants have passed away: Marcello Truzzi, Karl Pflock, Hilary Evans,  and Betty Hill. You can’t do this symposium again. As for Joe Firmage, he seems to have disappeared from the UFO scene completely. Whether he was able to hang on to any of the huge fortune he once had is unclear. He no longer operates his old website firmage.org, which used to contain earth-shaking ideas concerning UFOs, the future,  and New Physics, his new website is somewhat toned-down by comparison.  Firmage seems to have resurfaced, perhaps briefly, with the "9-11 Truther" crowd. Recent reports concerning Firmage's current activities do not sound good.

Friday, May 8, 2015

"Roswell Slides" BUSTED! - "MUMMIFIED BODY OF TWO YEAR OLD BOY"


Even as the excitement has been building over the unveiling of the so-called "Roswell Slides" in Mexico City on May 5, a group calling itself the Roswell Slides Research Group has been quietly investigating them. This was, of course, difficult to do, given that the slides had never been released, and never publicly shown. Only a very low-resolution version of each slide had leaked out, enough to fuel speculation about it but without enough detail to really investigate.
Now that a high(er)-resolution copy of the slide has been obtained, the group has used the de-blurring program Smart Deblur, which has cleared up the photo's blur amazingly well, enabling us to read much, even most, of the text. We now know exactly what the top line of the placard says:


"MUMMIFIED BODY OF TWO YEAR OLD BOY"
There is now no doubt whatsoever that the "Roswell alien" is, in fact, the mummy of a child, exactly as many researchers suggested. Of course, Jaime Maussan, who orchestrated the Mexico City extravaganza, insisted that it could not be a mummy, and far too many people believed him. Here is an animated GIF version to help you read the letters: 


Curt Collins, one of the members of the Roswell Slides Research Group, released this information on behalf of the team today on his Blog Blue Blurry Lines. His reading of the text on the placard is:
          MUMMIFIED BODY OF TWO YEAR OLD BOY
          At the time of burial the body was clothed in a xxx-xxx cotton
          shirt. Burial wrappings consisted of these small cotton blankets.
          Last line: Xxxxxed by the X.I. Xxxxxx, San Francisco, California.
Researcher Ted Molczan suggests that the first word on the last line is "Donated," and the word before "San Francisco" is "Museum," which is very likely correct. Speaking of the Roswell Slides Research Group, Molczan makes the observation, "You folks solved in no more than 2-3 days what the promoters claimed not to have been able to solve in 3 years!" 
The Smart Deblur program has been available at least since 2012, so there is no reason that the "Roswell Slides" promoters could not have done the same thing long ago. They, after all, had the high-resolution scans all along. But one suspects that the promoters did not want to find out what really was on the slides - that would have destroyed its presumed commercial value. Proving, beyond a shadow of any doubt, that everyone on the team promoting the "Roswell Slides" is either a scoundrel, a fool, or both.

The supposed "Roswell alien," with its incriminating placard - that was apparently deliberately blanked out in this
image that was shown in Mexico City!
Shortly after the deciphered placard was posted by Curt Collins, and people began asking exactly where did it come from - was it authentic? - the slides owner Adam Dew posted an image of the blurred placard on his site. Apparently he was trying to "come clean" about the placard that Maussan had blanked out, to minimize the damage to his own reputation.

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

The Great "Roswell Slides" Extravaganza - Social Media Pans It!


I was unwilling to drop any money into the coffers of the scoundrels hyping the bogus "Roswell Slides" in Mexico City. Jaime Maussan, promoter of the event, is notorious for his promotion of bogus photos and videos of UFOs, alien creatures, and other absurdities, such as a photo of a flying horse. The website for the Mexican UFO research group Alcione.org (in Spanish) lists "more than 40 frauds" that Maussan has promoted. However, being curious to see what was happening, I followed the event on Twitter, #RoswellSlides. It occurred to me that the best way to describe the event would be to simply share some of the comments being made by those watching it.


One of the slides, from Twitter. Probably the sign reads something like, "Dead alien from Zeta Reticuli.
Don't tell anyone about this! It's Top Secret!"

 @SpatzieLover posted many good comments and photos describing the show. Former Apollo astronaut Edgar Mitchell, a promised speaker, was a no-show. He appeared via video link, saying that his age of 84 made it difficult to travel.
  • Former Astronaut Edgar Mitchell saying we don't know what beings or plants are in the universe
  • Our planet is just one grain of sand on a huge beach
  • Edgar seeing the images says "They're certainly not human - looks like what the little greys look like" [as if he would know for certain what little grays look like]
She also had a good summary of what the ninety-year old military veteran Eleazar N. Benavides said (referred to as "Pfc. Benjamin" in Schmitt and Carey's book Witness to Roswell, incorrectly described by slides owner Adam Dew as a Lieutenant), who supposedly saw a real alien at Roswell in 1947:
  • "They didn't resemble none of us...they appear quite strange" Details of #ETs from vet.  Short & hairless.   
  • Discussing arms/elbows/face being unusual. He tried not to look hard, concerned for future
  • Confirms this is what he saw in 1947. Says photo looks like after #ET deceased for a while
  • One's he saw were plumper, "a little more body" had more fat/tissue than this deceased one [as if we didn't know that a recent corpse would be plumper than a dessicated body whose head fell off]

@DinodeAlmeida:
  • "Events" like this are likely on top of the list of reasons why there is no open contact by any intelligent alien species
Paul Kimball (@paulkimballfilm) posted this photo of slides promoters Donald Schmitt and Tom Carey, with the
comment, "Two con men hard at work simply repeating the same tall tales they have been telling for decades."

@DanPHodges posted this photo, with the comment
"Dolan not doing his credability any good by sharing a stage with known liars."
@JohnELTenney:
  • Maybe I've just been doing this a long time, I feel safe in saying these are some of the worst real alien photos I've seen
@cristiancontini:
  • #roswellslides A photo of a child mummy, an #epicfail NOT a smoking gun. Shame on ufologists that was on THIS.
@MartynScotton:
  • i feel so sorry for anybody that payed good money to see #Roswellslides can't believe @RichDolan was a part of this joke.
The celebrated Nick Pope, @nickpopemod, tried to emphasise the humor of the situation:
  • Underwhelmed by #roswellslides - having seen dead aliens when I ran the MoD's UFO project, I can tell you that's not what they look like :-) 
  • As the most junior member of Majestic 12 I always get the jobs that none of my fellow conspirators want, like debunking the #roswellslides
Comparing the Roswell Slides to the supposed alien humanoid body in Steven Greer's much-hyped movie Sirius, @cultofwedgeuk wrote:
Referring to a notorious purveyor of hoax UFO videos on YouTube, Puxley, @Holographic_Me, wrote:
  • I've seen better on thirdphase...#RoswellSlides  
XENO REPORT @XenoNexxus
  • #Roswellslides look like Mexican Taxidermy
@DanPHodges  also posted this photo, with the comment, "Some dickhead with a beret talking rubbish."
This is J.J. Hurtak, who has nothing whatsoever to do with the Roswell Slides, but spoke anyway.



@SpatzieLover:  "Last slide shown at event was the second slide."
Not everyone was dismissive of the program. Michael Salla of Exopolitics.org, notorious even among UFOlogists for his willingness to accept wild claims, wrote that "The photos may finally be smoking gun evidence that an interplanetary spaceship crashed in July 1947 near Roswell, New Mexico, and U.S. military officials have orchestrated a high level national security cover-up ever since." (Salla recently was among the very few UFOlogists who took seriously President Obama's joking comments that space aliens control the USA.) But the volume of negative, snarky comments on Twitter and elsewhere about the Roswell Slides greatly outnumbered the few from those who found it convincing. Considering the overall level of credulous belief among UFOlogists who nonetheless refuse to takes these slides seriously, and the fact that well-known UFOlogists and Roswell promoters like Kevin Randle and Stanton Friedman are among the naysayers, Jaime Maussan's UFO Slides extravaganza must be judged an #EPICFAIL. Friedman was quite correct when he stated, "I could find no convincing information that there is any connection between the slides and Roswell." Many sincere UFO proponents are bewailing the negative effect that this fiasco will have on the public's perception of "serious" UFO research, comparing it to the much-hyped 1988 TV program UFO Cover-up Live, now remembered chiefly for its "revelation" that the aliens love strawberry ice cream. If there is any silver lining to the whole fiasco, it is Maussan's admission that "I lost about $100 thousand in the event, even though we had six thousand people in the auditorium and a few thousand watching on the Internet." Hopefully that should discourage copy-cat Roswell exploiters.

Summarizing the event on Facebook, Shepherd Johnson wrote, "From what I've gathered on social media, Astronaut Mitchell was a no show, Hellyer took astronaut's place, Dolan was there but didn't speak, auditorium at 40% capacity, mostly CGI renderings of aliens, might have missed it but it looked like only one slide, glitches in the online streaming, people on twitter mostly mocking the event."

Friday, May 1, 2015

Guest Post: The "Roswell Slides" depict Alien MATILDA by George Wingfield

To follow up on my previous Blog posting, I am posting this guest article by George Wingfield. The opinions are his, not necessarily mine. Comments are welcome.

Robert Sheaffer




The "Roswell Slides" depict Alien MATILDA

by George Wingfield

Most people will have probably have lost interest in the highly dubious “Roswell Slides” story by now so I hesitate to trouble any of you with it further. However, since Jaime Maussan’s “UFO Special Event” is still a week away, it’s worth looking at what it has been possible to establish during the past month:
(1) The so-called “Roswell Slides” discovery is a carefully prepared scam.

(2) They have nothing to do with Roswell or any supposed flying saucer crash there in 1947. The alleged Roswell connection has been deliberately devised to attract and deceive UFO/alien believers who would probably not have bothered with yet another of Maussan’s fake aliens from Mexico.

(3) Veteran UFO/Alien fraudster Jaime Maussan and the man who first revealed the existence of the Roswell Slides, Adam Dew, are quite aware of the slides’ real origin.

(4) The supposed story of their origin involving Hilda Ray, finding the slides in a house clearance in AZ, etc., is completely false apart from the fact that some of the slides are marked "HILDA RAY" which is a sly reference to RAY Santilli's fake alien "HILDA".

(5) This scam is entirely similar to Ray Santilli's "Alien Autopsy" scam of 1995 and the fake alien and the photographic slides were produced by the same people.

(6) The special effects alien dummy was prepared and photographed by London based circlemakers.org (Rob Irving, John Lundberg and Rod Dickinson) that made alien dummy HILDA for Santilli's Alien Autopsy film in the UK twenty years ago.

(7) The slides have been specially prepared using old 1940s-style cardboard sleeves to hold the transparency film so as to deceive UFO researchers that they originate from 1947. It is unlikely they will ever be released now as one could soon see they are fakes.

(8) The "UFO Special Event" in Mexico City to be hosted by Jaime Maussan on May 5, 2015, exactly twenty years to the day after Santilli unveiled his "Alien Autopsy" scam in 1995, has been planned to give maximum publicity to the fraudulent claim that this is the ultimate proof of a genuine alien. Maussan will play the same role as Santilli did.

(9) The prime creator of this new "Roswell” alien dummy, John Lundberg, was director of the 2013 documentary film Mirage Men. He sees the production of the slides and the Mexico City event as an act of "ostension". That is, the displaying of a supposedly genuine alien body (or photos, or replicas of an alien) to UFO/alien believers whose faith will be reinforced since they are meant to be unaware it is a scam.

(10) John Lundberg has declined to answer questions about the Roswell Slides or admit that he and his friends created this new hoax. He has also declined a recent invitation to appear on The Paracast which would have allowed hosts Gene Steinberg and Christopher O'Brien to question him about his involvement.

It would be difficult to appreciate the extent and the deviousness of the Roswell Slides deception without being familiar with Ray Santilli’s Alien Autopsy hoax of 1995 and the people who were behind that. That scam is believed to have netted Santilli a million dollars or so from the sale of copies of the film footage to TV channels, program makers, film-makers and researchers worldwide such was the interest and the demand from those who believed it to be genuine. With each copy of the Alien Autopsy footage sold, Santilli provided a disclaimer saying that he could not guarantee the material was genuine and that he had to include the disclaimer for legal reasons. He did, of course, know full well the film footage was faked and he should have been charged with fraud anyway.

I researched the Alien Autopsy scam at the time and was able to reveal the names of the three chief hoaxers who had created the special effects alien dummy and taken part in filming its supposed autopsy. My report on this can still be found on the internet at:-


I have never had any reason to withdraw what I wrote there twenty years ago and from that time on Santilli’s dummy alien became known as Alien HILDA (Hoaxed Irving-Lundberg-Dickinson Alien). Although there is no doubt that the Alien Autopsy film was an elaborate hoax there are still UFO/Alien believers who like to think it was genuine.

John Lundberg, the most prominent of these three hoaxers, was the director of the 2013 film documentary Mirage Men whose central character was the arch-deceptionmonger of US ufology Richard Doty. Everyone who is interested in the UFO subject should see this film which reveals just how much of modern UFO mythology has been shaped by the campaign of disinformation and deception woven by Doty and others based at Kirtland AFB, New Mexico, during the 1980s. Lundberg has always been fascinated –if not obsessed— by such deception and disinformation which is one of the reasons that he made this film. With the Roswell Slides he is attempting to supply more of the same.

These three hoaxers started out by making crop circles in England during the early 1990s. Although they admitted they were circlemakers they never admitted making any specific formation. They justified what they did by saying it was art –crop art— but denied the deception dimension of what they were doing. One could say that their work was more like that of an illusionist, or magician, than that of a regular artist. From these beginnings they went on to fake UFO photographs and even contrived UFO fly-bys using things similar to Chinese lanterns to deceive Steven Greer and his CSETI people who went out on skywatches in Wiltshire, England, during 1992. From crop circlemaking (or, maybe one should say, circlefaking) and UFOfaking, these three progressed to alienfaking in 1995 with the production of alien dummy HILDA for Ray Santilli.

Their circlemaking activities and their circlemakers.org website led by degrees to lucrative contracts to make crop circles for a whole variety of customers such as UK newspapers, TV channels, film-makers, companies and corporations who wanted their logos --or maybe some publicity ad-- imprinted in the wheatfields of England and then photographed from the air. The team of three, sometimes with additional helpers, made crop circles to order in the UK, the USA, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and other countries often charging many thousands of dollars a time plus expenses.

One of their best known crop circles in recent years was made for a computer electronics manufacturer in December 2013. John Lundberg and Rob Irving were commissioned to make a huge elaborate crop circle near Chualar, CA, for Nvidia who wanted to publicize their ultrafast Tegra microchip. The chip was announced a week later at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. Lundberg and Irving’s giant crop circle resembled a vast replica of the microchip. With most commissions Circlemakers.org doesn’t reveal its authorship of the crop circles which they produce but sometimes it is disclosed and also the fact that a large elaborate circle like the Nvidia one can cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If the crop circle side of the business is the most lucrative one then alienfaking commissions are the most secretive. Apart from the Alien Autopsy and the Roswell Slides no other such productions are publicly known nor what is charged for such productions. One can be certain that these alienfakers watch the reactions of their target audience closely on blogsites and websites dealing with such matters. Acceptance by members of the UFO community is important since everything depends on belief.

John Lundberg popped up recently on one of The Paracast forums dealing with the “Roswell Slides” which he had joined with a view to checking the reactions of those who are fascinated anything to do with Roswell. On the forum he called himself ‘Ostension’ which is probably a term that is lost on many people.

Having lived years ago in staunchly Catholic Ireland I am very aware that "ostension" is the displaying of the sacrament at the altar during the mass so that it could receive the adoration of the communicants who have come up from the congregation. In these secular days some may be unaware that the sacrament is the bread (or communion wafer) and the wine that communicants receive during the mass. Transubstantiation is the supposed change whereby, according to the teaching of the Catholic Church, the bread and wine used as the communion sacrament become --in actual reality -- the body and the blood of Christ.
Not that many people, even Catholics, actually believe this today, but the parallel here to the displaying of a "genuine" alien body --or at least a supposed photographic slide of one-- at a meeting of UFO True Believers in Mexico City is not lost on some of us. That's a real piece of what Lundberg would call Perception Management for you. If such ostension actually works, one can assume that it will fill the coffers of that celebrated UFO high priest Jaime Maussan.

There is no other definition of ostension in the dictionary but John Lundberg defines it in the following terms on his Wikipedia page:

"Entire legend plots can be reduced to an allusive action. If a narrative is widely known individuals may become involved in real life activities based on all or part of that narrative. This is ostension in action; when legend alters or shapes the behavior of people. Real events patterned on an urban legend, fact mirroring fiction. In a nutshell? To folklorists, ostension is the real-life occurrence of events described by a legend. Legends we live."
Ostension is apparently John Lundberg’s justification for creating the Alien Autopsy and now the so-called Roswell Slides. There’s money in it too but to simple folk like me this is simply an attempt at mass deception that is entirely similar to the deception practiced by Richard Doty and his colleagues with regard to the UFO subject back in the 1980s. So those of us who are interested in the UFO subject should be acutely aware that there are people out there who are seeking to manipulate our belief systems by various forgeries, fakery and deception.

Finally I think this new alien dummy, successor to the infamous HILDA, needs a new name which really should be MATILDA. That, if you hadn’t already guessed, stands for Maussan’s Maussan’s Absurd Trick: Irving-Lundberg-Dickinson Alien.

MATILDA is particularly appropriate since that was the name of the little girl in Hilaire Belloc’s Cautionary Tales (1907) who told such dreadful lies:
Matilda told such Dreadful Lies,
It made one gasp and stretch one’s Eyes,

Her Aunt, who from her Earliest Youth, 
Had kept a Strict Regard for Truth, 
Attempted to believe Matilda: The effort very nearly killed her …….. 

(for the rest of this cautionary poem and its sad ending see http://www.poetry-archive.com/b/matilda.html )

Maybe one day a real extraterrestrial alien will catch up with Maussan, Dew, Lundberg and Irving and if that ever happens one wonders if they’d know what to do. Perhaps they would suffer a similar fate to the wretched Matilda who everyone had ceased to believe?
George Wingfield
April 30, 2015

Are the "Roswell Slides" a 20th Anniversary Commemoration of the Santilli "Alien Autopsy" Hoax?


Is it possible that the now-famous Roswell Slides, set to be publicly unveiled very soon on Cinco de Mayo in Mexico City, are a hoax intended to commemorate the twentieth anniversary of the infamous Ray Santilli Alien Autopsy hoax, possibly even by the same people who created the Santilli alien? The slides are to be publicly revealed in a big shindig in Mexico City on May 5, sponsored by the Mexican UFO fabulist Jaime Maussan, who has a long history of promoting bogus photos of UFOs and supposed alien creatures. This is the exact twentieth anniversary of when the Santilli hoax video was first publicly shown, a fact that has not gone unnoticed.

The 1995 "Alien Autopsy" video of Ray Santilli, now an admitted hoax, but one that made large sums of
money for its perpetrators.

After I met and spoke with Adam Dew, the apparent owner and chief promoter of the "Roswell Slides," at the International UFO Congress in Arizona this February, my belief was that the slides were genuinely found in an old house, and probably showed some mummy on exhibit somewhere. In this scenario, Dew recognized the opportunity to promote them as showing a possible "Roswell alien." He contacted Roswell authors Donald Schmitt and Tom Carey, and the rest was history.
Adam Dew at the 2015 International UFO Congress

This "innocent scenario" is beginning to look increasingly unlikely. On April 29 , the French skeptic Gilles Fernandez wrote a Blog entry titled "What if? The Roswell Slides Saga as a Social Experiment or a Hoax of some sort?" In it he pointed out some obvious problems in the scenario we are given by Dew and the other slide promoters. One of the slides in the collection, supposedly in a slide frame that was only used in the 1940s, shows an automobile that was not manufactured until 1958. And the photos, also from the 1940s that are supposed to show Bernard and Hilda Ray, show individuals who are obviously decades older than the Rays would have been at that time. Some slides in the collection are compared to genuine 1940s Kodachrome slides, and the differences are obvious. Fernandez asks whether it is possible that "the set of the 400 slides was put together from various sources, maybe even from eBuyers or physical markets, and a story was concocted, and the two slides were inserted?"

UFO researcher George Wingfield has even stronger reservations. Back in 1995, he wrote a piece in the British publication Flying Saucer Review accusing three men of hoaxing the yet-unconfessed Santilli alien autopsy video:  John Lundberg, Robert Irving, and, and Rod Dickinson, based on their involvement with Ray Santilli, their experience in producing special effects, and their reputation as Crop Circle makers. In that Flying Saucer review article Wingfield wrote that "The alien is, of course, called HILDA, which, in case you hadn't guessed, stands for Hoaxed Irving-Lundberg-Dickinson Alien." In 1995, RAY Santilli's hoaxed alien is satirically named HILDA - and now we have HILDA RAY. It seems as if the hoaxers may have signed their work, as an inside joke.
 
the “Roswell Alien Slides” were produced in a similar manner and supplied to targeted individuals likely to take the bait. If that’s right, the #1 suspects are John Lundberg and Rob Irving. Both of them were in California in December 2013 where they were commissioned to make a huge elaborate crop circle near Chualar, CA, for Nvidia who wanted to publicize their ultrafast Tegra microchip.
Wingfield concluded, 
Apart from their work behind and in front of the camera, Lundberg and Dickinson were the experts who made foam latex dummies for a TV series on UK's Channel 4 back then called "Crapston Villas". If Lundberg and Irving have been up to their tricks again on this 20th anniversary of Santilli’s alien autopsy hoax, it seems very likely they may have been the creators of the “Roswell Alien Slides”.
John Lundberg is now well-known as one of the Crop Circle makers at circlemakers.org. He is also the director of the documentary film Mirage Men. Based on the book of the same name by Mark Pilkington, it is a look at the purported role of government-sponsored disinformation in shaping the UFO phenomenon. I wrote to Lundberg asking for his comments on this. He might have replied something like, "I had nothing to do with either the Santilli Alien, or the Roswell Slides." Instead, he chose to reply in poetic and evasive terms, which I read as acknowledging that he was involved in those matters, but was unwilling to say so publicly. But one never knows what is to be taken seriously when dealing with Mirage Men.

If the Roswell Slides are indeed a hoax as is here suggested, it is certainly the most elaborate and sophisticated hoax since, well, the Santilli Alien Autopsy of twenty years ago. It almost feels like an act of art vandalism to betray their secrets.