Friday, April 15, 2011

Major Media Reports 60-year-old Eighth-hand Rumor as Proof of a Crashed UFO.

I was tempted to make a posting a few days back when the major media made such a big thing out of the 1950 memo written by FBI Agent Guy Hottel, repeating a yarn he'd been told. For example, see this piece from The Telegraph, The International Business Times, etc. But by the time I was ready to get started, several of my colleagues were already producing some excellent pieces so there was really nothing much I could add.

Ben Radford pointed out in his Livescience blog  that the FBI Memo was far from new, and that it had nothing to do with Roswell. Dave Thomas of the New Mexicans for Science and Reason sent around email to many active UFO skeptics and researchers, sharing what he had found so far, and requesting a copy of a report done by Bill Moore on the memo's origin. Dave has produced a really fine analysis telling the complete story of the Hottel memo's origin, and of others' attempts to exploit it. In my files I found this 1983 newspaper article showing how MUFON's Director, Walt Andrus, was shamelessly trying to exploit the Hottel Memo:

I also created a new web page about the Frank Scully / Silas Newton UFO Crash hoax at . On it, you will find a three-part MP3 recording of J.P. Cahn giving a talk to the Bay Area Skeptics in 1984. So far as I know, this is the only recoding of Cahn discussing his research into the Scully Crash hoax. You might enjoy hearing Cahn tell the story in his own words. He was a very entertaining speaker.

By the way, in his talk Cahn relates how he was contacted by UFOlogist William L. Moore, who was one of the first promoters of the Roswell Crashed Saucer story. Moore phoned his house and introduced himself on the telephone. Moore said "I'm an investigative reporter, and I've been looking for you for three years." Cahn questioned Moore's investigative skills, saying "you'd think he'd pick up a phone book," because Cahn had always been listed in the San Francisco White Pages.

The lesson of this whole fiasco is: the next time you hear the major news media reporting some major development supposedly proving the reality of extraterrestrial UFOs, remember how they sensationalized the sixty-year-old, eighth-hand information in the FBI memo. And remember that they're in the business of grabbing readers and customers first, and only secondarily of reporting the news in factual and actual manner.

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