Thursday, September 6, 2012

Smithsonian-Affiliated "National Atomic Testing Museum" Promises UFO "Secrets" Revealed

The National Atomic Testing Museum is a relatively new, and seemingly professional, museum a few miles east of the Las Vegas Strip on Flamingo Road. I visited it about two years ago, and was very impressed by its powerful and relevant exhibits on the subject of atomic testing and the Cold War.

Now that museum, which is an affiliate of the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC, is getting heavily into claims about Area 51 and UFOs. It has a special exhibition on "Area 51," which requires a separate admission ticket. I did not see this exhibit, but I understand that it depicts ongoing classified projects, which would seem to place the museum in the same business as Wikileaks. Whether a Smithsonian-affiliated museum ought to be doing this is a serious moral and legal question. I thought that the Area 51 exhibit restricted itself to aerospace-related matters, but Lee Speigel writes in the Huffington Post, "Among the many items displayed are materials presented as "Authentic Alien Artifact" -- samples of small objects originating from an alleged UFO crash in Russia." So if you want to see an "Authentic Alien Artifact," the National Atomic Testing Museum claims to have one.

Lee Speigel's photo of an "Authentic Alien Artifact."
Not satisfied with that absurdity, the National Atomic Testing Museum is now getting into full-fledged promotion of UFO claims. On September 22, they are sponsoring an "Area 51 Special Lecture - Military UFOs: Secrets Revealed." There is nothing whatever skeptical about this panel.

The entrance to the National Atomic Testing Museum
One of the speakers is Nick Pope, who for years has been warning about an "alien invasion." Most recently, just before the London Olympics Pope warned, "The government must - and has planned - for the worst-case scenario: alien attack and alien invasion. Space shuttles, lasers and directed-energy weapons are all committed via the Alien Invasion War Plan to defence against any alien ships in orbit," he said, apparently unaware that America's Space Shuttle orbiters have been dispersed to various museums, and the rest of the  system scrapped.

Another speaker is Col. Charles Halt (USAF Retired), who was the deputy base commander of  the Bentwaters U.S. Air Force Base in England, and a major witness to the supposed Rendlesham "UFO landing"  in December, 1980. As noted by the British skeptic Ian Ridpath, the tale told by Col. Halt about this incident has "improved" dramatically over the years. In 1980, he claimed only to have witnessed "starlike" objects in the sky. By 2010, his account had expanded so that the objects zoomed up over his head and sent down a laser-like beam at his feet. The audience at Las Vegas will surely hear the new and improved version of Col. Halt's tale, with no hint of any reasons to question it. As Ridpath wrote in reference to a posting by Dr. David Clarke,
Halt’s superior officer at the time of the events, Col Conrad, has been scathing of his claims, saying: “He should be ashamed and embarrassed by his allegation that his country and England both conspired to deceive their citizens over this issue. He knows better.”

Former intelligence officer Col. John Alexander (U.S. Army Retired), is also speaking. He probably organized this lecture event. Alexander is a bit unusual among UFO proponents in that he absolutely does not believe that the U.S. Government is covering up any "UFO secrets," or is engaged in any "UFO conspiracy." So that rules out belief in the Roswell Crash (which got him jeered while speaking at the MUFON Symposium last year). Yet Alexander apparently believes in a British UFO cover-up, as he is a strong proponent of Col. Halt and the other supposed witnesses at Rendlesham. James McGaha and I each told Alexander personally about Col. Halt's changing UFO claims, and asked how could he continue to have confidence in Halt's story? But Alexander does not seem troubled by Halt's inconsistency in the least, or by the dressing-down of Col. Halt by his superior officer, Col. Conrad; why give up on a UFO story as good as this one??!!!

Also speaking are retired Air Force Cols. William Coleman and Robert Friend. Col. Friend was the director of  the U.S. Air Force's Project Blue Book. Coleman, an Air Force public information spokesman, was the producer of the former NBC-TV program "Project UFO," which ran two seasons (1978 and 1979). The show was so bad that, as I wrote in Psychic Vibrations (SI Fall 1979; book, p. 15):
Edward Winters, one of the stars of the series, explained how the writers for Project UFO got their material: “As I understand the story, the Air Force finally got tired of looking at us, because they said, ‘Anything your writers can dream up, we can find … There are over 12,000 cases in the Blue Book report.’ So instead of finding it first and then writing about it, they let the writers write it and then they go find one like it!” 
If either of these gentlemen, Col. Friend or Col. Coleman, ever actually had any "UFO secrets," they should have appeared in the Blue Book files. Or at least in Project UFO.

James McGaha contacted the Director of the National Atomic Testing Museum, Allan Palmer, to get an explanation of why such sensationalist material was being presented under the auspices of the museum, but received no clear explanation. His attempts to get a comment on this matter from the Smithsonian has thus far been likewise unsuccessful.

For whatever reason, we are now seeing once-respected names dragging themselves through the swamp of UFO and alien claims. First the National Geographic, embracing UFO claims as if there were no tomorrow, with Chasing UFOs merely the most egregious example. Now even a Smithsonian-affiliated museum is shamelessly promoting entirely uncritical UFO claims. What will be next: Bigfoot exhibits? Astrological displays? Are museums to be the next venue for tabloid entertainment? If America's museums are willing to shed all scholarly rigor and self-respect to bring more visitors through the doors, then it will be a sorry day for science education in America.

(March 22, 2014: Another Blog posting on this same subject: More Museum Shenanigans.)


  1. Robert Scheaffer: "If America's museums are willing to shed all scholarly rigor and self-respect to bring more visitors through the doors, then it will be a sorry day for science education in America."

    I believe that this may be the driving force given the current state of our economy. UFOs are good cottage industry fodder and people will spend their hard earned money for that fantasy.

    Question that needs to be asked: "will the so-called alien artifacts actually be genuine and only coming from Russia?" I have a hard time suppressing a chuckle on that one.

  2. This fragment from a UFO that supposedly crashed in Russia: The Huffington Post says this has been on display since March. Has anyone seen this object and what did they think of it? Also, what is such an object doing in the US anyway; surely it was, or should be, on display in Russia? Did anyone see it there?

    Maybe everything to do with UFO crashes is back to front and the real Roswell debris is displayed at the Russian equivalent of this museum. This would explain why US investigators have turned up no hardware in 65 years; they have been looking in the wrong place all the time.

  3. According to Billy Cox, Coleman has something earth-shattering to say. I am not sure if the guy really is on the level. The story about him having leukemia (from being at an a-bomb test) and then receiving a miracle cure by drinking a bottle of red nasty liquid, makes me skeptical concerning what he might say.

    Read it about his miracle cure for yourself:

    1. Robert Sheaffer "likes" this comment.

      Interesting. I think that the "leukemia cure" claim pretty much invalidates Coleman as a 'credible source.'

    2. It makes you wonder about his a-bomb test story as well. He probably was there but I am not so sure he did what he stated and what they saw. Did he really see a dummy burst into flames and march towards ground zero after the test? These are things that may need to be checked.

    3. Someone might also inquire whether he can produce any medical records documenting a leukemia diagnosis and the subsequent resolution of this condition. The appearance of cancer was prompt (3 years after the test) so perhaps he was seen by a military physician. Whether or not that was the case, because he apparently received services from professional providers, records were kept and may still be available.

      Finding the documents may reveal if his leukemia diagnosis was presumptive or confirmed. If he actually had mononucleosis, a cure would represent no medical miracle at all. And he did not have to drink any red crap to get it.

      How about if he just provides the name and location of the doctor who cured him? Hard to imagine that any doctor with such remarkable cancer curative power would not have drawn some attention over the years. I conjecture such a person would end up with a very large and successful practice.

      By the way, did he buy any insurance back in '58?


    This user likes to write about UFOs, and mentions the COMETA report, a "study" on UFOs confirming their existence.

    When I read this post, it really, really angered me. I used to love this site and it sickens me to see it degraded by razy UFO enthusiasts citing shoddy work. Rip this one, Rob.

    (btw, I know your policy says that you don't like answering to Anonymous, but for some reason, Google doesn't publish my name :/)

    1. Scratch that, it appears you have already debunked those :P Silly me.

      Btw, don't UFOs defy physics? I mean, literally. I've never seen a bird shaped like a saucer that could fly. If these so-alled aliens are smarter than we are, they at least should know physics.

    2. You can always sign your name at the bottom.

  5. The UFO panel was last night. Lee Speigel was there to report on it, he hasn't yet published his article. In the meantime, a Reddit poster named "Dute" writes the following:

    "One person asked why ET started visiting so soon after the first a-bombs. John Alexander said that's simply false and recommended Jacques Vallee's book Wonders in the Sky on pre-modern sightings and said ~"we have stories of contact going back millenia". He made a similar reply when a woman asked if anyone on the panel believed in abduction reports Note Alexander said "story". Alexander also reiterated his common point that the ETH is too simplistic. He mentioned other theories like the time travller hypothesis and interdimensional hypothesis. But Alexander's big point is that prior UFO investigations jave been so lacking that we can't even ask the right questions yet. He thinks we need far better scientific data before attempting a macroanalysis.
    Bob Coleman emphatically recommended the audience open their bibles and read about Ezekiel's wheel of fire for a good report of alien contact. He also gave a somewhat confusing reply about how humans have manipulative intelligence and the different types of stars that scientists think could allow for such intelligence to evolve. I wasn't quite sure what his point was because he talkes about how long it would take to travel between habitable stars with a ramjet.
    Nick Pope said that the UK MOD never ruled out the ETH and mentionened a memo - my internet sucks and Vegas is insane so I haven't dug it up yet - that speculated about why ETs might visit us if they do exist. The reasons included sceintific observation and tourism. This got a huge laugh but his point was that if ETs do exist, they are not likely interested in our technology. He talked about attending the 2010 Royal Society conferences on the detection of ET life. And he made the very good point that while we cannot prove the ETH, unlike say the interdimensional hypothesis the ETH is consistent with the laws of physics as they are currently understood.
    Col Halt was emphatic that his experience was real (he'a related it in many interviews before). He said the large glowing "football" or "eye" he observed personally was moving horizontally and weaving between trees, thus "obviously under intelligent control".
    Col Friend didnt comment on the ETH. His main point was that witnessess shouldnt be ridiculed if we want to find out what they actually saw in reality."

  6. I guess Coleman did not describe his miracle cure or some other blockbuster news. I thought he was going to do that. Instead, he went into "chariots of the gods" stuff?

  7. Tim, I think not, but I'm not sure. Probably the museum will sell a DVD of this panel, so we'll know exactly what he said. They sell DVDs of earlier lectures.

    Lee Speigel has just published his Huffington Post article about the Museum UFO panel here: .

    Some longer notes have posted to the Reddit page by "dute,"
    too long to copy here. Go to and search on the phrase "Col Friend was first." We can't use the permalink because his notes extend over several comments.

  8. We have stories of more than just contact long ago. I guess it must be looked at how the Europeans saw the natives of North and South America. I suppose.

    I just like to think that a space traveling civilization would be more enlightened, but then again: take that guy with the crazy hair that does the ancient aliens shows (don't make me butcher his long awesome Greek name), he talked about the ancient tales of slavery and gold mining.

    And I suddently got a vision of the trade federation for the Star Wars movies. They weren't acting as they were supposed to, and they hurt others, but they got their gold.

    I wonder if we had a Jedis.

    Anyway, I get the impression that it was an exciting day in Vegas, but I still feel a little victimized by the hype.

    Greasta blog. I really enjoyed it. I wrote about this too, and my blog just burst with site visitors for a couple days. DId you experience something similar?

  9. Your facts are incorrect concerning Nick Pope. Yes he made that comment about alien invasion but he was promoting a video game.

    1. Ethan,

      Yes, that's the excuse Nick Pope used in June this year to try to justify his ridiculous "alien invasion" comments. But he made similar comments about alien invaders in November, 2006, and also in October, 2012:

      And those times he can't use the 'video game' excuse.

  10. I came upon this old thread and wanted to add my two cents. Take the side of the believer, as an exercise if you will, and examine the evidence. The fact is that I have seen the most convoluted web of lies and conspiracy over petty things, and if there is a cover-up of this magnitude then the depths of obfuscation would know no bounds. Also of you really want to find a smoking gun you're going to have to do something illegal lol. I was a hardcore skeptic turned believer. But that's a story for another time.

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