Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Dr. Bruce Maccabee (1942-2024)

Word has just come in of the passing of the optical physicist and UFO researcher Bruce Maccabee at the age of 82. Bruce was very well-known in UFOlogy for his detailed analysis of  many UFO cases, including the McMinnville UFO photos, Kenneth Arnold's sighting, the Phoenix Lights, the Gulf Breeze photos of Ed Walters, the New Zealand films, etc. He worked with all of the major UFO organizations: NICAP, MUFON, FUFOR. He also found time to hang out with, and argue with, the likes of Phil Klass and myself. You can read all about Bruce's investigations on his Website.

Dr. Bruce Maccabee

I knew Maccabee from the time when we both lived in Silver Spring, Maryland (about 1975-1980). He was a sincere fellow who was convinced, for reasons that are hard to understand, of the authenticity of certain very dubious UFO cases, and he would boldly set forth his arguments. We were both interested in astronomy, and sometimes we would drive outside the suburban sprawl to set up our telescopes under darker skies. 

Somehow Maccabee got his hands on the original negatives of the McMinnville UFO photos (apparently the news organization had them in its files from when they were first published, until Maccabee inquired about them - about 25 years later! The negatives have since been returned to a Trent family member.)  Bruce invited me to spend an afternoon with him in a rented photographic darkroom, where we ran print after print from the original negatives, at different magnifications, exposures, etc. I have made high-resolution scans from those prints, and made them available to researchers. Maccabee argued strongly that the object was large, and far from the camera, while skeptics like myself argue that it was a small object, suspended by strings from the telephone wires above it. The late Joel Carpenter made a convincing argument that Trent's UFO was in fact an old truck mirror, hanging from strings thrown over the overhead wires.

The Trent photos as a stereo pair, by "Blue Shift" on ATS. The "UFO" is seen to be small, and relatively close.

Maccabee's UFO photo analyses seemed fairly reasonable, up to a point. That point was passed when he got involved with Ed Walters, the perpetrator of a series of UFO photos from Gulf Breeze, Florida. These photos were so obviously bogus, and Ed's stories so preposterous, that no serious person could possibly believe them. But Bruce disagreed. The Tampa Bay Times wrote a review of the book by Ed Walters and his wife, The Gulf Breeze Sightings (Feb. 25, 1990):

One's first reaction to the pictures is that they must have been faked. (A colleague of mine commented, "I'd search the guy's house for Chinese lanterns.") [RS: you can't make this up. Exactly this has happened, and a 'Chinese Lantern' was indeed found!]. Yet they have been endorsed as authentic by Bruce S. Maccabee, a government research physicist, whose report is contained in the book. Maccabee, after investigating the sites and the cameras as well as the photos, concluded that there was no evidence of a hoax.

"Having studied these sightings "every which way' for more than a year," Maccabee writes, "I have concluded that they are proof of the existence of UFOs. But what is proof for one person is not necessarily proof for another. What would convince you? You have to make up your own mind.

"The investigation is not yet complete. Ed was abducted on Dec. 17, 1987, and again on May 1, 1988. The investigation into what happened during these and previous abductions is ongoing."

One of Ed Walters' UFO photos from Gulf Breeze, Florida.  


I can't get into all of the details about the Gulf Breeze photos and sightings here. Tim Printy gives us an excellent overview of what is wrong with the Ed Walters story.  There has also been controversy over payments to Maccabee from Walters' publishers for his favorable photo analysis, suggesting to some that Maccabee's endorsement was 'bought.' I don't think this is the case, because first of all the amount was not exactly life-changing, and secondly, Maccabee gave every indication of being sincerely convinced of Mr. Ed's veracity.

Bruce's wife Jan Maccabee apparently had a "weird experience" of something like a 'predator' while hunting in the forest.

she became aware that a weird visual “effect” was moving rightward across her field of view at an apparent distance of maybe fifteen to twenty feet.  She described it as if looking through "saran wrap."  Perhaps a more apt comparison would be like looking at a mirage above a hot road.  She compared this distortion of the scene as being somewhat like the effect of the invisible creature in the PREDATOR movie! 

I never met Jan, because she and Bruce didn't get together until after I was already in California. This posting has since been removed from Bruce's website. It is discussed on Reddit here. 

Even more bizarre, in 2022 a video was posted (also since removed) of Bruce Maccabee (apparently assisted by his wife) offering to sell an original copy of the Patterson Bigfoot film

Daniel Perez reported in the March 2023 edition of Bigfoot Times that 80 year old Dr. Bruce Maccabee in Ohio is selling a first generation copy that he acquired from Eric Beckjord. In this article, Daniel says that according to Patricia Patterson, she lent Eric the film to make copies but he returned one of those copies to her instead of the original. Sounds like the ownership of it is going to be the subject of a legal dispute. Asking price, $16 million.

The film reportedly showed never-before-seen details at the end, apparently involving a "littlefoot". The voice of the man I heard on the video promoting it was nothing like the feisty Bruce Maccabee I used to know. He sounded hesitant and mentally confused, which is not uncommon for an 80-year-old man. Perhaps somebody saved a copy of the video so we can see it?  I knew Beckjord, who died in 2008. I am not aware of him  claiming to possess the original Patterson Bigfoot film (a film he studied to death and practically worshiped), but frankly this shenanigan does indeed sound like something that Beckjord would do. And I do remember Beckjord turning up in Silver Spring, talking with Bruce and Phil and I. So I don't know what the end of that story is, and who removed the video promoting it.

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Disclosure Warriors Uncover a Vast UFO Coverup Conspiracy: Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia!

We have just recently witnessed one of the funniest episodes of UFOlogical stupidity in recent memory: Some of UFO's top Disclosure Warriors dramatically announce they have uncovered a "secret cabal" manipulating Wikipedia articles about UFOs. Matt Ford of the Good Trouble Show posted this dramatic announcement on TwitX on January 21:

TODAY 530pm Pacific. @RobHeatherly1
joins us as he exposes the Secret Cabal of debunker Wikipedia Editors run by a non-profit 501(c)3 targeting Wikipedia pages on UFOs with a written statement by @LueElizondo



So there we have it - these Disclosure Warriors, including the esteemed Lue Elizondo himself, dramatically announce to official Washington, and  to the world, that they have uncovered a major "Cabal"  covering up UFO truth! So dramatic!!! Elizondo claims to have headed up the Pentagon's AATIP UFO investigation program, which unfortunately never had any budget. He later worked with Tom DeLonge, who promised to build spacecraft that would go "To The Stars." Here is what Lue had to say about GSoW:

Guerrilla Wikipedians must be good saucer pilots, since they are "wreckless."

The only problem is: this is a "Cabal" that was never "secret" in the first place! Guerrilla Skeptics on Wikipedia (GSoW), headed up by skeptic Susan Gerbic, has been around since 2010. I wrote about it in this Blog in 2012, and again in 2013. It was the subject of a major article in Wired magazine in 2018, among other places. So anyone who thinks they have uncovered a "Wikipedia secret cabal" has the investigative skills not of a Sherlock Holmes, but of a Mr. Magoo. Here is a video from 2020 of Susan explaining what GSoW is all about
Disclosure: Technically I am a member of GSoW, although I have not participated in it very much. I did add some info to a few pages, and I have uploaded a number of my photos to Wikimedia Commons that might have relevance to UFO history.


Susan Gerbic, with her camera as always, making friends with the Dinosaur in the Creation Museum in Santee, California in 2012.
These UFO warriors seem to think that the skeptical Wikipedians are just arbitrarily changing article texts, and creating misleading articles. What they don't seem to understand is that Wikipedia has rules. You need to have citations, you also need to avoid copyright infringements, self-promotion, etc:
To maintain the highest standards possible, Wikipedia has a strict inclusion policy that demands verifiability. This is best established by attributing each statement in Wikipedia to a reliable, published source (but see Rules 7 and 8 on excessive self-citing).... All articles in Wikipedia should be impartial in tone and content. When writing, do state facts and facts about notable opinions, but do not offer your opinion as fact. Many newcomers to Wikipedia gravitate to articles on controversial issues about which people hold strong opposing viewpoints.

There is a "talk" page for many articles, to discuss or debate the application of these rules to the contents of that page. These sometimes turn into big debates for controversial articles, so if you have a problem with something you read in a Wikipedia article and want to change it, you'd better be able to solidly back up your claim. Given many UFOlogists' propensity for making exciting but unfounded claims, it is frankly no surprise that the articles they write would run afoul of Wikipedia rules, and end up removed or re-written.
Meanwhile, for any UFOlogist who believes that GSoW has been inaccurate or unfair in what it wrote in a Wikipedia article - then challenge them on the article's Talk page. If you can make a good case that they are not correct, it will get changed, and the change will remain. Plus, you can brag to all your friends about how you defeated the nasty Debunkers on Wikipedia.  But I don't see this happening, and I think we can figure out why. 😉


Monday, January 8, 2024

The Strange Life and Death (?) of Al Seckel (Part 2)

(Continued from Part 1)

Seckel was enjoying a lot of success posturing as an “expert,” or at least as a “collector,” of illusions, primarily visual. He spoke before many audiences, wrote (or plagiarized) articles and books, and traveled across the globe to share his presentations. Many of the illusions Seckel presented were invented by the magician Jerry Andrus (1918 – 2007). Andrus was a well-known and well-loved figure in the skeptic community, as well as with magicians, and often spoke at skeptic conferences. I learned that, following Andrus' death, Seckel's Eye Wonder wanted to buy the rights to all of Andrus' illusions and other works. I recommended against it.

In 2004 Seckel was invited to give a TED talk on visual illusions. His Bio calls him an “expert on illusions.” It notes,

"A previous version of this biography described Seckel as a "cognitive neuroscientist," which was not accurate".

However, Seckel’s 2010 TEDxSCS talk “[Y]Our Mind's Eye” describes him as “Cognitive neuroscientist Al Seckel, formerly of the California Institute of Technology.”

Denice Lewis, 1988



After two divorces, in June, 2004 Seckel married Denice D. Lewis, who was reportedly "Europe's highest paid catwalk model" for over a decade. They move into a custom home in Malibu that rented for $13,500 a month. She files for divorce just four months later. (Probably he told her “I’m a scientist” and “I’m rich,” both of which were false.)     

Seckel successfully postures not only as an “expert” on illusions, but also as a futurist and visionary, giving many talks. His financial status was always rather dodgy, but he somehow managed to keep borrowing enough from Peter to pay Paul.  


Al Seckel and Isabel Maxwell speak at the
World Economic Forum (WEF), 2011

In 2007 Seckel married Isabel Maxwell, daughter of the late billionaire fraudster Robert Maxwell, and sister to Ghislaine Maxwell. She had many connections in the world of high tech.

In January, 2011 Seckel organized a “Mindshift Conference” on Jeffrey Epstein’s infamous private island. The participants were Murray Gell-Mann, Christof Koch, Catherine Mohr, Gerald Sussman, Frances Arnold, Leonard Mlodinow, Paul Kirkaas, Brock Pierce, Ron Reisman, Pablos Holman, Dan Dubno, and Reichart Von Wolfsheild. Isabel was there with him.

"Jeffrey Epstein and Al Seckel have assembled a diverse and eclectic intimate group of exceptional thinkers and achievers to discuss various topics...."

Sometime around 2010, Seckel and Isabel moved permanently to France, living for a while in a Chateau that was owned by a friend, and moving around to other places. Seckel and Isabel  repeatedly use the excuse that they are "destitute" to avoid traveling to the US for court depositions and hearings involving their bankruptcy filings and other ongoing court cases.

Al Seckel & family join Stephen Hawking
for a Zero-G flight.

Seckel had been suing skeptic Tom McIver for "libel," i.e., revealing some of Seckel's frauds and impostures. In 2013 McIver contacted journalist Mark Oppenheimer, who had interviewed Seckel a few times previously concerning atheism, humanism, etc., and had attended some of Seckel's parties. In 2000 the interview was for an article on atheist history. Seckel was one of the early officers of Atheists United in Los Angeles, which is still active today. Seckel was with that group when it broke off from the atheist group founded by Madelyn Murray O’Hair, who was very much a control freak.

McIver suggested that Oppenheimer interview Seckel again, to look into the many accusations of financial impropriety. Seckel apparently did not like the questions that Oppenhiemer was asking, and the article's October, 2014 publication was cancelled because of legal threats from Seckel. Seckel realized that Oppenheimer would not be writing a puff piece (like most journalists nowadays do), and cut off all contact with him.

The Article that Ended Seckel's Career as a Con-Man, and Perhaps his Life. (July 20, 2015)

Finally, On July 20, 2015: Tablet online magazine publishes Mark Oppenheimer's article on Seckel, "The Illusionist."  Tom McIver describes the significance of this article:

Article focuses on Seckel’s obsession with befriending, socializing with, and gaining the confidence of celebrities and powerful and influential people in science, academia, entertainment, media, and the entrepreneurial world, often hosting them at his eclectic parties.  Among his guests not mentioned elsewhere on this timeline: biologist David Baltimore (Nobelist, Caltech president), billionaire Elon Musk (PayPal, Tesla Motors, SpaceX), actress Sharon Stone, and musician Slash.  Mentions that Gell-Mann, Koch, and Shimojo no longer endorse Seckel, and that Pearce Williams' wife was pleased he has been exposed as owing money to them.  Also mentions that it is "remarkably easy to find people who believe Seckel took their money," naming several. Quotes Gerald Sussman as saying "I don't feel good about it" when asked if he'd given money to Seckel, implying he had.  Mentions that Seckel now trying to sell Robert Maxwell's papers, without success.  Includes quote from Denice Lewis that their divorce was never finalized (and Seckel denying they had been officially married). Notes that Seckel's attorney in Seckel v. McIver (Nicholas Hornberger) admitted that Seckel never paid his legal fees.

After publication of the Oppenheimer article, Seckel’s career as a wheeler and dealer among the rich and famous would be over. After reading this account of one person after another complaining that Seckel had cheated them of significant sums of money, no serious person would ever again enter into a business deal with Al Seckel.

The Oppenheimer article dropped an even bigger bombshell – Denice Lewis told him that she and Seckel were still legally married! Their divorce was never finalized. Therefore, Seckel’s marriage to Isabel Maxwell was never valid, a fact she apparently did not know until then. You can imagine how she reacted to this!

The world didn’t hear much about Seckel for a while after this. Then suddenly on Sept. 19, 2015, a memorial website appears for Seckel, saying

Al Paul Seckel, who died at the age of 57 near his home in France, is best known for helping to make optical illusions a household name throughout the world.

No time or place of death, or cause of death, is given in this anonymous announcement. Who wrote it? Isabel? Possibly even Seckel himself? Seckel’s alleged death was noted in various internet postings, but not in any actual news reports. As time passed, the paucity of details on the fate of Al Seckel became widely noted and remarked upon. No death certificate was ever presented, even to this day (and many people tried to find it). It was widely speculated that Seckel did not die but went into hiding, perhaps with the assistance of Epstein’s circle. But apart from rumors, there was no evidence whether Seckel was alive, or dead.

Then, finally on April 14, 2022 the Daily Mail headline blared,

EXCLUSIVE: 'A hand and a foot were missing, probably eaten by wild boars.' Mysterious death of Ghislaine Maxwell's con-man brother-in-law is finally declared a suicide SEVEN YEARS after he jumped to his death from a 100-ft. cliff in France
Al Seckel's disappearance in 2015 has finally been solved – he flung himself off a high cliff outside a picturesque French village
Seckel claimed to be the husband of Ghislaine Maxwell's older sister Isabel, but in fact he had not divorced his third wife
It was originally believed that he might have faked his own death when a major expose about how he conned buyers of rare books was about to be published
His body lay unnoticed for weeks before it was finally found on July 1, 2015
'It was the smell of putrefaction that eventually led to the corpse,' former deputy mayor Roland Garreau told
 'A hand and a foot were missing, probably eaten by wild boars or foxes,' Garreau told

PUBLISHED: 10:52 EDT, 14 April 2022 | UPDATED: 10:52 EDT, 14 April 2022

Seckel eaten by pigs? Maybe I do believe in Karma.
But this is the only news source to offer any information about Seckel’s fate. The article contains what it calls Seckel’s “death certificate,” but it actually appears to be a statement from the Mayor’s office, partially handwritten, based on a police report. It is not a formal certificate as is found in vital records.

At present I would say that the “preponderance of evidence” suggests that Seckel probably did die in France in 2015, but I wouldn’t say that it is established “beyond a reasonable doubt.” On the one hand, it is entirely reasonable to think that a person who has just suffered a devastating , irreparable setback might become suicidal.On the other hand, remember that Seckel's reported death was inexplicably kept secret for two months, then reported anonymously. There is also the lack of a formal death certificate. When dealing with the likes of Jeffrey Epstein, Al Seckel, and the Maxwells, it is reasonable to believe that somebody might have gone to a lot of trouble to deceive you.

During the 2021 trial in New York City which found Ghislaine Maxwell guilty of sex trafficking and other charges, Ghislaine's sister Isabel was seen, faithfully attending every session and supporting her sister in every way.

I’m wondering when we will see a Netflix documentary series about Seckel, maybe “The Great Illusionist?”
Isabel Maxwell arrives at her sister's trial, 2021.


[Much of the material used in this report is drawn from Tom McIver’s exhaustive "Seckel" compendium]

Friday, January 5, 2024

The Strange Life and Death (?) of Al Seckel (Part 1)

This article veers just a bit from our usual dose of UFOlogy to talk about a man who was both a skeptical activist and a con-man, whose exploits sound like the script of an implausible movie – except it all really happened. Al Seckel was (or perhaps still is?) a very strange and interesting character. He founded the Southern California Skeptics in 1985, as a local affiliate of CSICOP (Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal, now just “CSI”). He claimed to be a “physicist,” sometimes a “cognitive neuroscientist,” but never completed even a year of college. He claimed to be a graduate student working on a PhD in physics (and History of Science) at Cal Tech in Pasadena, but had actually just been ‘hanging around’ there (during which time he became friends with the famous physicist Richard Feynman, and arranged lectures for the Southern California Skeptics at Cal Tech). Soon accusations of financial improprieties were swirling around Seckel, although CSICOP didn’t pay much attention, and reflexively defended ‘their guy’ from attacks. The attacks mostly came from critics of CSICOP - Erik Beckjord, James Moseley, George Hansen - but in this case the critics were correct. When Seckel’s deceptions finally led to the collapse of the Southern California Skeptics, he disappeared from sight (supposedly because he was dying of leukemia, or else cancer). Seckel did actually have leukemia, although his illness didn’t occur until after SCS had already collapsed. He later made a complete recovery.

Seckel surfaced again a few years later as a TED talker and a famous scholar of optical illusions, writing (and sometimes plagiarizing) books and articles, again claiming bogus degrees and affiliations. He rubbed shoulders with many famous people, and after two divorces Seckel (somehow!) married supermodel Denice D. Lewis, who previously had dated George Hamilton, Dodi Fayed, and Pierce Brosnan, among others. (The marriage only lasted a few months.) Later Seckel married Isabel Maxwell, the daughter of the billionaire media mogul (and disgraced fraudster) Robert Maxwell, who has a more famous sister named Ghislaine. Seckel became an associate of the notorious sex offender Jeffrey Epstein, in 2011 organizing a science-related conference on Epstein’s (in)famous private island (although no sexual improprieties have been alleged concerning this conference). About 2011 Seckel and Isabel moved from California to France, apparently to better escape creditors and avoid testifying for their pending bankruptcy. Then in September, 2015, Isabel publicly announces that her husband Al Seckel was dead, having fallen off a cliff in France two months earlier. (Why she would wait two months to announce his death has never been explained.) However, no documentary evidence of Seckel’s reported death was then produced – although we may have something like that now.

From Jeffrey Epstein's Website

And that, in a nutshell, is the crazy story of Al Seckel. Skeptic Tom McIver, who had been sued and harassed by Seckel’s lawyers for exposing Seckel’s frauds, maintains a complete chronology of Seckel-related events at, from which much of this information is taken.

I first met Al Seckel at the 1984 CSICOP Conference, held at Stanford University. He was then an enthusiastic young man of twenty-six, claiming to be a graduate student in “physics” and “history of science” at Cal Tech. He sought me out because I had been a co-founder of the Bay Area Skeptics (along with magician Bob Steiner) just two years earlier. Seckel explained that he was in the process of founding a similar group in Southern California, and wanted to discuss our experiences, and get my advice. Soon afterward, he invited me to come down to Pasadena (I was then living in San Jose) to deliver the very first lecture for Southern California Skeptics, held at Baxter Auditorium on the Cal Tech campus in Pasadena. To motivate me, Seckel told me that his friend Richard Feynman was very interested in hearing what I had to say about UFOs! I certainly could not turn down such an opportunity. My talk was well-received, but there was no sign of Feynman. Oh, something came up, Feynman couldn’t make it, Seckel said.

The flyer Seckel made to promote my inaugural talk for the Southern California Skeptics

On a later trip that I made to Los Angeles, I visited Seckel in his home, in Pasadena or thereabouts. It looked ordinary from the outside. However, the inside was filled with a dazzling assortment of valuable antiques. Not 1920s furniture, or anything like that. Instead, furniture pieces that were apparently hundreds of years old, looking like they were imported from castles and estates in Europe. I had not seen anything like that before (or since!). Seckel explained that he was an antiques broker, buying and selling such pieces for clients. Of course I was impressed.  Later it turned out that Seckel was embroiled in many lawsuits concerning ownership of these valuable antiques.

I was among the many people plagiarized by Seckel. I wrote an account of a "clever dog" tested by the Bay Area Skeptics, published in their July, 1987 newsletter.  "Clever animals" - a horse, or a dog - can supposedly do arithmetic and answer questions far beyond the mental ability of any animal. But invariably, they can only perform when in sight of their trainer, as we found was the case with the Clever Dog Sunny. Seckel called me, saying he wanted to use that story in the newspaper column he was than writing for the Los Angeles Times. I agreed, but I had no idea that he was going to write me out of the story completely, presenting it as his own (which was impossible, since he was not there). Seckel also appears to have appropriated a story from James "The Amazing" Randi, published without attribution. I also understand that Seckel swindled Randi out of a sum of money, although I never inquired about the details.

One of Seckel's articles in CSICOP's Skeptical Inquirer. He claimed credit for organizing this statement of Nobel Laureates. 

For several years Southern California Skeptics (SCS) seemed to be a big success story, and CSICOP gladly trumpeted Seckel’s apparent successes. Seckel publicly debated creationist Duane Gish, and claimed to have soundly boxed his ears. He claimed to be the inventor (later, claimed co-inventor) of the Darwin Fish (like the Christian fish symbol, but sprouting legs). But soon problems became evident. In December, 1987 the State of California revoked SCS’s nonprofit status because Seckel had failed to file the required financial forms. Nonetheless, Seckel continued to represent SCS as a “nonprofit” organization for years. SCS’s checks bounced, and money disappeared. Pat Linse (1947-2021) was a volunteer with SCS, later working as an artist and editor for Skeptic magazine. She warned CSICOP about Seckel’s shenanigans, but was largely ignored. After SCS had collapsed in 1990, two years later Michael Shermer founded the Skeptics Society, based at that time in Pasadena, and bringing in many of the same people who had been part of SCS, even continuing the monthly lectures in Baxter Hall originally organized by Seckel. However, by this time Seckel had moved on from skeptics’ organizations, finding bigger fish to fry. Seckel had nothing to do with Skeptic magazine or with Shermer, who has always run the Skeptics Society as a proper organization.

Soon, Seckel had re-branded himself as the “world’s leading authority on visual and other types of sensory illusions”, claiming, at various times, academic affiliations with Cal Tech, or Harvard. He founded IllusionWorks, and later EyeWonder publishing. During his career as an expert on visual illusions, Seckel wrote (or plagiarized) many articles and books, gave many lectures, and rubbed shoulders with the rich and famous, including Murray Gell-Mann, Marvin Minsky, Nathan Myhrvold, Larry Page, Arno Penzias, Steve Wozniak, Stephen Hawking, Matt Groening, Mike Farrell, Arianna Huffington, Paul MacCready, Burt Rutan, Craig Venter, Richard Branson, Robin Williams, Sergey Brin, Peter Diamandis, James Cameron, among others.

Famous guests at a party in Seckel's home

About this gathering in his home, Seckel wrote,
This was one of the great intellectual gatherings that I held in my home in Pasadena in the 80s. In the back row (starting from the left) was the distinguished microbiologist Dr. Elie Shneour, then Manny Delbruck (wife of Max Delbruck, the "father of molecular biology") and noted comedian and former late night television host Steve Allen. Bottom: Legendary engineer Paul Macready, myself, Nobel Laureate Francis Crick (co-discoverer of the structure of DNA) and my friend John Edwards.

I knew Elie Shneour (1925-2015) from skeptic meetings in San Diego and elsewhere. He was obviously a very brilliant man. Yet he defended Seckel’s reputation until his death. And he was not the only one – several other skeptics have somehow continued to defended Seckel’s reputation. The Dean of UFO skeptics, Philip J. Klass, defended Seckel almost reflexively, until finally admitting in 1994 that Seckel had lied about his academic background. Michael Shermer had written to Klass, "If I never hear from him or about him again it will be too soon. I have never met anyone who can evoke such venom from so many people. A week does not go by that someone doesn't tell me another horrible Seckel story."

Seckel leased a Ferrari (but ended up owing $70,000, which was never paid). He rented expensive houses in Pasadena, Malibu and elsewhere, and ending up owing $100,000 for the one in Malibu. The list of people suing Seckel for non-payment was quite long. One of Seckel’s biggest legal battles was with Ensign Consulting Ltd., in which an investment fund claims it was conned by a self-described "master illusionist" who persuaded it to invest in rare books and art—including a portrait of Sir Isaac Newton—and then absconded with more than $543,000 and a bunch of the loot.