In February (2009), Friedman wrote an article, “Debunkers at it Again,” reviewing our UFO special issue (http://www.theufochronicles.com/2009/02/debunkers-at-it-again.html). “In actuality, the active writers and “investigators” aren’t skeptics. They are Debunkers doing their best to pull the wool over the eyes of a curious public. They know the answers, so don’t really need to investigate. Proclamation is more their style. Deception is the name of the game.”
Friedman goes on to name names: He critiques Joe Nickell’s article “Return to Roswell ” by noting that Nickell is a former magician, and “of course the stock in trade of magicians is intentional deception with another sterling example being the Amazing Randi.” So by Friedman-logic, anyone who has ever practiced prestidigitation can never again be trusted in anything. He criticizes Nickell for raising “the baseless Project Mogul explanation” for Roswell, which cannot be correct, says Friedman, because it does not match the claims made in later years by alleged Roswell witnesses (although it does match quite well the account of Mac Brazel, the original witness, given in 1947).
He moves on to my critique of the Betty and Barney Hill case, where I note the resemblance of their “hypnosis UFO testimony” to Betty Hill’s post-incident dreams. I said, “Barney had heard her repeat [them] many times,” which he claims is “nonsense.” According to Friedman, “Barney read Betty’s dreams once, and the notes were put in a drawer,” and that settles that. He conveniently forgets the passages in John G. Fuller’s The Interrupted Journey, the first book about the incident, describing the long sessions Betty and Barney spent with several UFOlogists, “beginning at noon and running almost until midnight” (Chapter 3), in which all aspects of the incident were discussed again and again. He also forgets that Barney told Dr. Simon, the psychiatrist who interviewed and treated them both, that his wife had told him “a great many details of the dreams,” and that Dr. Simon had concluded that the dreams of Mrs. Hill “had assumed the quality of a fantasized experience” (Chapter 12).
Friedman next attacks Dr. David Morrison, NASA senior scientist, for the “absurd” suggestion that if intelligently-controlled UFOs were here, we might pick up radio transmissions from them, or from their home planets. “Maybe secret NSA listening devices pick up alien signals, but then the NSA doesn’t release info about what signals it receives,” said Friedman. He also attacks Dave Thomas, “a scientist in New Mexico and president of New Mexicans for Science and Reason”, saying “Dave has certainly demonstrated his lack of knowledge of both the Roswell and Aztec UFO crash retrieval cases.” Thomas has conducted in-depth interviews with Dr. Charles Moore, the chief scientist of Project Mogul, whose balloon caused the Roswell crash scare in 1947. The “Aztec crash” case that Friedman seems so keen on is taken from a 1950 book by Hollywood writer Frank Scully, Behind the Flying Saucers, exposed as a hoax more than fifty years ago by newspaperman J.P. Cahn. Friedman concludes with, “the Skeptical Inquirer provides many examples of the intellectual bankruptcy of the pseudoscience of anti-ufology.”
Friedman was still hot under the collar in May, when he followed this up with a second article titled the “Pseudo-Science of Anti-Ufology” (http://www.theufochronicles.com/2009/05/pseudo-science-of-anti-ufology.html ). He says that skeptics’ arguments “aren’t scientific, but rather represent research by proclamation rather than investigation.” Given that SI’s special issue on UFOs contained detailed investigative reports on the 1984 Minsk, USSR UFO sightings, the Big Sur UFO of 1964, an update on Roswell developments, and the Stephenville, Texas sightings of 2008, if this is mere “proclamation,” then I can’t imagine what “investigation” would look like. “Proclamations and attacks, often given the appearance of being scientific, have been launched at every aspect of the phenomena. Despite an enormous array of real evidence and data, we have been treated to false claims, false reasoning, bias and ignorance.” Of course, if Friedman or anyone else could produce even one piece of “real evidence and data,” the UFO debate would have been over long ago.
Friedman has long been obsessed with the little-known and even less-read Project Blue Book Special Report Number 14, a statistical analysis of UFO reports released by the Battelle Memorial Institute way back in 1955. However, he carefully picks and chooses the quotes that he uses from that report, implying it to be some hidden pro-UFO gem, deliberately ignored by skeptics. However, Friedman never reveals this quote from the Summary of BBSR14: "It is considered to be highly improbable that reports of unidentified aerial objects examined in this study represent observations of technological developments outside of the range of present-day scientific knowledge" (page viii), which means that the Report says exactly the opposite of what Friedman wants us to think it does. “Why isn’t BBSR 14 cited in the debunking books?” he pointedly asks. Probably because it is over fifty years old, and contains little that is interesting or relevant today, although Alan Hendry (not a “debunker” but a very skeptical UFOlogist) did spend several pages of his UFO Handbook (Doubleday, 1979) critiquing its approach. Hendry concluded, “If the Battelle group had had a real appreciation for how loose the data were, they never would have bothered with a statistical comparison to begin with” (p. 266). [For more on Blue Book Special Report 14, see my discussion of Jacques Vallee, J. Allen Hynek, and the "Pentacle Memorandum."]
Freidman concludes, “If one makes an appropriately objective and careful examination of the pro and anti-UFO arguments, one finds that the evidence is overwhelming that Earth is being visited by intelligently controlled vehicles of extraterrestrial origin and that only pseudo-scientific arguments of a vocal but small group of debunkers stand in the way of reaching that conclusion.” It’s truly remarkable what we, a small group of skeptics writing for SI and similar publications, have supposedly been able to accomplish. Even though the number of people we reach in our publications is far fewer than Friedman reaches on any one of his many appearances on TV and radio programs such as Larry King Live, Coast to Coast AM, etc., he claims that the only reason that Extraterrestrial Visitations have not been accepted by the mainstream of science and the media is because we noisy negativists keep chattering against them. The reality is, of course, that if his supposed “UFO evidence” were nearly as good as he claims it to be, then nothing would be able to stand in its way.
|Betty Hill's sketch of a "UFO star map"|
Fish excluded all variable stars and close binaries to include only supposedly habitable solar systems – but the new data reveals two of her stars as suspected variables, and two more as close binaries. So there go four of her 15 stars. And two more are much further away than earlier believed, removing them completely from the volume of space in question. Six stars of that supposedly exact-matching pattern, definitely gone, excluded by the very criteria that once included them using the forty-year-old data. Goodbye, Zeta Reticuli.
|Kathleen Marden, Stanton Friedman, and Robert Sheaffer at the MUFON Symposium 2011|
[There is a follow-up posting to this one, dated December 17, 2012: Friedman's Frenzy.]