Debunkers At It Again

The following was written by Stanton Friedman on February 3, 2009. It is part of The Stanton Friedman Collection as archived here on The Black Vault.

Debunkers At It Again

By Stanton T. Friedman

I hated wasting the money to buy the January/February 2009 issue of the Skeptical Inquirer (Vol. 33, Issue 1) which has for years been trying to debunk all sorts of so-called paranormal phenomena. But the cover said: Special Issue “The New UFO Interest: Scientific Appraisals.” This is an excellent example of false advertising since the appraisals are anything but scientific. SI is published by what is now labeled “The Committee for Skeptical Inquiry” (CSI Lite??). 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, and so don’t really need to investigate. Proclamation is more their style. Deception is the name of the game. For example, inside the front cover is a very impressive list of about 75 scientists, writers, philosophers, etc., including three Nobel Prize winners. Also included on the list is Bill Nye, “The Science Guy,” whose purpose is to Deny… judging by his Larry King appearances. Unfortunately, most of the highly credentialed people aren’t the ones who write the articles or “investigate.” The dirty work in the trenches is normally done by the debunkers in residence. The primary tools are those of the propagandists such as very selective choice of data, positive and negative name calling, and misrepresentation.

Listed under Investigative Files is an article “Return to Roswell” by Dr. Joseph Nickell. Joe’s three degrees are in English and he spent a lot of time as a magician. Not much science there. Of course the stock-in-trade of magicians is intentional deception with another sterling example being the Amazing Randi. Joe’s been attacking Roswell for over a decade. At the 50th Anniversary celebration in Roswell, I was being interviewed there, and he was in California. We couldn’t see each other, but could hear. He explained Roswell by saying the press release was put out by the PR person from the base to attract attention to himself! Joe didn’t even know Walter Haut’s name. I pointed out that I had known Walter from almost twenty years and that the notion that the PR person for the most elite military organization in the world, the 509th Bomb Group, would put out such a press release without his boss’s blessing was completely absurd. Of course in SI Joe never mentions the 509th or that it had dropped the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945 and set off two more at Operation Crossroads in the Pacific in 1946. It is of some interest that Walter Haut was chosen to drop the instrument package during one of those tests, that he had flown over twenty bombing missions as a bombardier over Japan during WW2 and was quite close to Colonel Blanchard, 509th Commander. Some inexperience!

Col. William Blanchard – U.S. AIR FORCE

Apparently Joe had learned nothing from our exchange and stated “On July 8, 1947, an unauthorized press release from an eager but relatively inexperienced public information officer at New Mexico’s Roswell Army Air Field propelled the Roswell Incident into history.” It has been known for thirty years that Blanchard ordered (authorized) Walter to put out the release. Walter after years in the far east during WW2 was hardly just wet behind the ears. Joe even goes on to claim Kenneth Arnold’s sighting two weeks earlier may well have been nothing more than mirage effects caused by a temperature inversion. That is as sensible as saying the moon may be made of green cheese. This crazy notion was thoroughly destroyed by Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a physicist. But why let the facts get in the way?

Nickell goes on to say the young officer was reprimanded. He provides no evidence. I and others have asked both Walter and his wife and both denied there was any reprimand. Why would there have been, since Blanchard had ordered the release? Nickell then moves right over to the baseless Project Mogul explanation which has been thoroughly destroyed by Brad Sparks and Dr. David Rudiak and Dr. Jesse Marcel Jr. (Ref.1) despite the assertions of Dr. Charles Moore who worked on the program.

Nickell describes in some detail tests run by Engineer Robert Galganski with the Discovery TV Channel crew and Nickell in attendance. They put up a half size Mogul Balloon Train carrying some radar reflectors and then shot down the balloons showing that the area covered by the debris was much smaller than described by Major Jesse Marcel. Joe was there and doesn’t really buy the test because he notes that Jesse’s estimate, 3/4 of a mile long by hundreds of feet wide, was much greater than described by Rancher Mack Brazel in the July 9 Roswell Daily Record article. He quotes that article at length, but somehow never mentions that Brazel was sure what he had found wasn’t balloons. He also fails to mention that testimony from Brazel’s son Bill, neighbor Loretta Proctor, and others all saying that Brazel was brought back into town on July 9 and given a new story to tell the press. Also not noted is that if all there had been was the “bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick and the another rubber bundle 18-20 inches long and 8 inches thick with a total weight of maybe 5 pounds,” it would easily have fit in Brazel’s small truck and there would have been no reason for Marcel and Counter Intelligence Corps Captain Sheridan Cavitt to follow Brazel the long way back to the ranch on July 6 as they did. Joe, of course, never mentions that the July 8 article, carried all over in Evening papers from Chicago West, said the wreckage was found “last week.” The phony July 9 explanation says “found June 14” — hardly last week from July 8.

Joe also notes that though the news story died almost immediately, “but the event continued as the subject of folklore and fakelore [much provided by Roswell Debunkers]… there emerged amateurishly forged government conspiracy documents.” He has a note saying “The ‘MJ-12 Documents’ fooled arch Roswell-conspiracy writer Stanton T. Friedman who has continued to tout the bogus documents (Friedman 1996).” WRONG, Joe. I have done far more detailed investigation (not Nickell-style proclamations) to show that the great majority of the MJ-12 documents are indeed fakes — but that the four major ones are solid. As I recall Joe claimed the “Eisenhower Briefing Document” was an obvious fraud because of the comma in the date “18 November, 1952.” As it happens that was one of many date formats in use at the time. I found seven original documents which were used as a basis for phony emulations and was able to dispose of the other objections to the four good ones in Ref. 2, 2005, and a number of papers — none noted by Nickell, of course. Ref. 3 by myself and Don Berliner is also not noted.

Robert Sheaffer also contributed a “historical” overview: “Ufology 2009: A Six Decade Perspective.” Sheaffer clearly shows his disdain for UFO abductions and the rest of the UFO scene, and for the facts as well. Speaking of Betty and Barney Hill: “Under hypnosis, they each told a UFO Abduction story that largely matched Betty’s nightmares (which Barney had heard her repeat many times).” The comment is nonsense. Barney read Betty’s dreams once, and the notes were put in a drawer. There was no repetition and the comparative analysis of what they said under hypnosis and what was in the dreams is detailed by Betty’s niece Kathleen Marden, in our book Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experiences (Ref. 4) — also not referenced. Sheaffer theorizes a “New Age” vs. “Science Fiction” ufology. Both are junk science and consistently ignore Occam’s razor (all things being equal, the simplest solution is the best).” By far the simplest solution to the UFO problem is that the best cases (Multiple witness radar visual, landings etc.) involve alien spacecraft. Debunking ufology of the SI variety ignores science all together. He also claims “The FBI investigated the documents [MJ-12] and quickly concluded that the documents were “completely bogus.”

Not so. The FBI on its website carries the USAF Colonel Weaver’s set with his hand written comment “BOGUS.” They accepted his word. Sheaffer also claims one document was typed on a typewriter that was not manufactured until “fifteen years after the date on the document.” This, too, is nonsense as noted in Ref. 2 on page 227 which quotes forensic document examiner James Black that the typeface preceded the document date by seven years.

Dr. David Morrison, a NASA senior scientist, chimes in in SI with “UFOS and Aliens in Space.” He says “If UFOs are alien spacecraft visiting Earth, then it seems reasonable that evidence of alien civilizations might be seen by astronomers or the radio signals from alien spacecraft might be picked up by the sensitive receivers we use to communicate with our own spacecraft.” Frankly this is absurd. Astronomers (some of whom have indeed seen UFOs) aren’t looking for signals from alien spacecraft which are very likely using techniques about which we are ignorant. Maybe secret NSA listening devices pick up alien signals, but then the NSA doesn’t release info about what signals it receives. They did release 156 pages of UFO related intercepts. All but one or two sentences per page are redacted (whited out). Another astronomer, Andrew Fraknoi, has a brief piece bemoaning the lack of sightings by even amateur astronomers. There is no mention, of course, of Stanford astrophysicist Dr. Peter Sturrock’s discussion of astronomer UFO sightings as noted in Ref. 5.

Retired air force major and pilot, James McGaha, also an avid astronomer, with his own observatory, lists fourteen areas of astronomical knowledge needed to be a good UFO observer. He, too, has appeared on Larry King attacking “unqualified observers.” One hardly needs to be very astronomically knowledgeable to describe the silent slow flight at low altitude of the huge “Phoenix lights” taking four minutes to fly right overhead blotting out the stars as it did so. I can enjoy and benefit from eating various foods without being an expert on the digestion process. He and I tangled in a spirited formal university debate as can be seen in Ref. 6.

Another SI anti-Roswell article is “Roswell Update: Fading Star?” by Dave Thomas, a scientist in New Mexico and President of “New Mexicans for Science and Reason.” Dave has certainly demonstrated his lack of knowledge of both the Roswell and Aztec UFO crash retrieval cases. I am looking forward to a soon-to-be-published book by Scott and Suzanne Ramsey about the Aztec case. Unlike Thomas, they did an enormous amount of serious research.

There are a few other articles as well. Suffice to say that the Skeptical Inquirer provides many examples of the intellectual bankruptcy of the pseudoscience of anti-ufology.


1. Marcel, Jesse Jr. and Marcel, Linda, The Roswell Legacy: The Untold Story of the First Military Officer at the 1947 Crash Site, 2008, New Page Books Div. of Career Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ. Foreword by Stanton T. Friedman
2. Friedman, Stanton T, TOP SECRET/MAJIC, Marlowe and Company, NY, 2nd Edition 2005, 282 pp. Foreword by Whitley Strieber

3. Berliner, Don and Friedman, Stanton T., Crash at Corona: The Definitive Study of the Roswell Incident, 2nd Edition, Marlowe and Co. NY 1997

4. Marden, Kathleen and Friedman, Stanton T., Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience, New Page Books Division of Career Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ 2008, 320 pp., 2008. Foreword by Dr. Bruce Maccabee

5. Friedman, Stanton T., Flying Saucers and Science, 2008, 320 pp., New Page Books Div., Career Press, Franklin Lakes, NJ. Forewords by Dr. Edgar Mitchell and Dr. Bruce Maccabee

6. Are Flying Saucers Real? DVD 2 hrs. Debate between James McGaha and Stanton T. Friedman, Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, January 24, 2004

The post Debunkers At It Again first appeared on The Black Vault Case Files.

The post Debunkers At It Again appeared first on The Black Vault Case Files.