Sunday, December 16, 2012

Geezers vs Youngsters

Back when I was in graduate school and preparing to write my dissertation, I learned that the first thing you did to prepare was make a search of the literature… well, the second thing, after you have figured out what you wanted to research. You looked to see what others had done before you, if someone had already accomplished what you wanted to, and how you might improve on both your idea and what had gone before.
 
 Apparently in UFO research, this is not the case.
I don’t know how many times we must revisit cases that seem to have been solved, that seem to have nothing to do with UFOs, or that are hoaxes. Every five years or so another crop of interested people show up and we begin all over again… and somehow the blame is pushed on the “Geezers.” We just haven’t made the case, whatever the case might be.
 
Take the Allende Letters, that group of correspondence between Carlos Allende or Carl Allen and Morris K. Jessup. Allende/Allen wrote about Jessup’s UFO books. Allende/Allen suggested a knowledge that was based on inside information and personal observation. Part of it was the so-called Philadelphia Experiment in which it is claimed that the US Navy teleported a ship in 1943. Ignore the fact that no documentation has ever surfaced to prove it. Ignore the fact that the allegedly teleported ship’s logs place it elsewhere at the time. Ignore the fact that there is nothing to support this claim except Allende’s allegation.
 
Allende/Allen arrived in Tucson, Arizona in the 1970s, apparently on his way to Mexico for cancer treatment. While in Tucson he met with Jim Lorenzen, then the International Director of APRO and signed a statement that the whole Philadelphia Experiment, the letters, and everything else associated with it was a hoax. Allende/Allen said he made it up because Jessup’s writing frightened him and he didn’t want Jessup to write anything more.
 
To me, that admission, by Allende/Allen ends the discussion. It is a hoax. It is an admitted hoax. They guy who started it said it was a hoax. What more do we need?
 
Remember, that was in the 1970s. I even did a magazine article about this in the 1970s. Robert Goerman, a UFO researcher interested in the Allende Letters found Allende’s family who told him, Goerman, that Allende was slightly unhinged… bright but unhinged. There was nothing to the story he told…
 
But then the youngsters enter the field, bringing their “fresh” perspective to it, and we begin again to hear about the value of the Allende Letters. We hear there might be something to them. We hear how they might be the key to solving the UFO mystery… and away we go again, covering the same ground because Allende/Allen’s admission of hoax was forced by the CIA and should therefore be ignored.
 
Or take the latest of the Aztec “re-investigations.” We have a new book that suggests that there might be something to the Aztec UFO crash. Once again, this is a case that should have been relegated to a footnote a long time ago. It is clear that Aztec is a hoax started by a con man, Silas Newton, who is probably laughing his ass off in his grave because there are still people who believe it.
 
Newton told the story to Frank Scully who made fun of it in his newspaper column in 1948, but a couple of years later Scully seemed to have changed his mind and suddenly began to believe the tale. He wrote a book about it that became a bestseller… and then J. P. Cahn wrote an expose about it that should have put the whole thing to rest… but didn’t.
 
In the 1970s Robert Spencer Carr said that he had found five witnesses to the Aztec crash and the case was revitalized… but even the reinvestigation failed to find much in the way of evidence. Carr relied on unidentified witnesses and rumor and we don’t know who his witnesses were or why he accepted what they said. There was nothing new… until the 1980s when William Steinman began his new investigation, “proving” there was something to the crash tale. Of course, Steinman offered little evidence of anything other than he is a fan of garage sales and that he had been to Aztec annoying the locals with his less than gracious manner.
 
But even with all these investigations and the failure to find anything substantial, Aztec is back. We’re told that the proof is now incontrovertible, but it is weak at best. Though we’re told to ignore Newton and his con man buddy Leo GeBauer, they are still tied to the case. We are treated to links between alleged witnesses and the event, but when we look deeper, we find the links broken. There is simply nothing there that hasn’t been discussed before, yet we’re supposed to roll over and accept this new data as if it is proof.
 
I could go on in this vein. We have arguments that maybe the contactees had something important to say, but in reality, they merely cluttered the UFO field with their nonsense making it easier to hide the truth, whatever that truth might be. We hear about great air wars between the aliens and our Air Force, but the evidence doesn’t hold up to scrutiny. We have phenomenon, such as crop circles linked to UFOs, but that really should be another field of research…(get it? Field?).
 
True, there are some things that do need to be reexamined. The Majorie Fish Star Map that was based on Betty Hill’s memory needs new work now that we have better information. Some of the stars she used are not where we had thought them to be and she excluded red dwarves because she didn’t think there was anything interesting to be found near them, not to mention there are so many of them. Fish’s work was great when she did it, but it is now badly out of date. Maybe a youngster who plays with computers could do the work in minutes rather than the months it took Fish.
 
The point is that we geezers have something to add, if only it is to direct the youngsters into areas that should be explored. We don’t really need to study the Allende Letters again. We have all we need to know about Aztec, and if Scott Ramsey really spent a half a million dollars on his research, I can think of better areas that he could have explored with that kind of money.
 
So rather than dismiss us all as failures, maybe some should look to what we have learned. It just might save someone a half million dollar mistake; years of research that will go nowhere, or help focus the spotlight on areas that could provide a breakthrough or two.
 
And rather than pit the geezers against the youngsters as some are attempting, maybe we should all work together. Why does it have to be an either or propostion?

15 comments:

Don said...

"We don’t really need to study the Allende Letters again. We have all we need to know about Aztec..."

...about whether or not what is known about them provides evidence for spaceships or not.

On the old cases I am interested in, I can find no research at all having been done beyond whatever is accepted as a 'case closed' (such as Carr on Newton, GeBauer, and Scully).

These accounts that 'close' a case, are usually anecdotal and undocumented, but they make good stories. When I read them and ask basic questions, looking for the facts as to who, what, when, where, those facts are not forthcoming. I assume because they would not prove one way or the other whether the object in question was a spaceship or not.

The youngsters are not well served, and I do not blame them reopening closed cases, although, they too have a way too narrow a beam of focus, just like the geezers.

Regards,

Don

cda said...

"...and if Scott Ramsey really spent a half a million dollars on his research, I can think of better areas that he could have explored with that kind of money."

Like what?

I hope you are not suggesting it could have been better spent on Roswell.

But this idea of people, organisations or governments spending, or wasting, money on useless things pops up everywhere in our world. If an individual has the money he is entitled to spend it on things that take his interest or fancy.

Maybe spending ANY money on researching paranormal subjects is deemed a waste of money. Certainly mainstream science says so. Teleportation is, I think, the word to describe disappearing ships like the one in THE PHILADELPHIA EXPERIMENT. Anti-gravity is another.

I guess there are a few people who have spent time and money researching both of these.

How much money has been spent on Roswell since 1978, I wonder. Yes, I include USAF expenditure as well.

KRandle said...

Don -

I fear I have lost your point. Are you suggesting that there is something to the Aztec case beyond the "anecdotal and undocumented" testimony to suggest there is? Newton and GeBauer were convicted of fraud in Denver (which has nothing to do with the Aztec case, other than it was Newton who told the Aztec story first) but it says something about the character of the witnesses. What facts are not forthcoming in the Aztec case?

If the youngsters wish to look at some of these old cases, more power to them, but before we "reopen" them, let's make sure that there is something there beyond the smoke and mirrors. If you wish to learn how not to investigate, read Scott's book.

CDA -

I, and many of those who visit here, are monumentally uninterested in your opinions. You are exposed as one who KNOWS there is no alien visitation and therefore anything that suggests otherwise is immediately rejected. You have no interest in evidence, no interest in learning anything new, and there is absolutely nothing that I, or anyone else, could provide to cause you to take an unbiased look.

cda said...

I take your response to indicate that Scott Ramsey could indeed have spent his half a million dollars more wisely in assisting your own team in an exercise that science is "monumentally uninterested" in.

You sound embittered that he chose to pursue another case instead.

KRandle said...

CDA -

As usual you understand nothing. I thought Scott might have bought a nice house, a new car, vacations to places other than New Mexico. Your speculations are without merit.

Don said...

Correction. I wrote "such as Carr on Newton, GeBauer, and Scully". Instead I meant Cahn, not Carr.

Kevin, what I mean is if one has a focus on one thing only, one tends to miss everything else that does not appear to have anything to do with what one is focused on.

Newton and GeBauer can be ignored by advocates because there is no route through them to ET (they were con artists). However, skeptics like Newton and GeBauer because they are a route to no-ET (they were con artists), and most ET advocates concede the point. Not being on either team, the two being con artists is merely a biographical detail to me (What? If they were gentlemen of gravitas and probity, we should give more credence to their story of little men from Venus?).

Here's a fact, the doodlebug is described independently twice (MAXW-PBB7-1060 and Cahn's Flying Saucer Swindlers, per the trial). There is no apples and oranges about them. They are as alike as an apple and a lump of coal.

Since it doesn't immediately refer to ET, one way or another, nobody is interested. And worse, it points to a weakness in the documents both advocates and skeptics accept as gospel -- Cahn's two articles.

At their trial, Newton and GeBauer disclaimed any knowledge of the purported doodlebug in evidence. I believe they had witnesses in support of that. What if the one in evidence wasn't their device?

So, I've been following that trace, and it has led to some other interesting facts. None of them are evidence of ET or no-ET, but it is evidence of something going on regarding the saucers. Aztec, NM hasn't appeared, though.

Regards,

Don

Anthony Mugan said...

Kevin

Completely agree with your article. Unfortunately, as a subject that lies outside the current paradigm,ufology lacks rigorous peer review mechanisms for publication (apart from a few exceptions such as the Journal for Scientific Exploration)and anyone can put up anything on the internet. This is quite characteristic of the 'pre-paradigm' stage as described by Kuhn in his seminal work 'The Structure of Scientific Revolution'. Suspect we just have to live with it and focus on putting together a solid core of data and theory for the future.

Also think you are right to highlight the Fish star map as something worthy of revisiting. It certainly needs a specialist and is beyond my own area of expertise to do properly but I suspect it may well come out quite interestingly when done properly.

DEII 99 said...

Your point on the Hill's map was first pointed out in an article Goodbye Zeta Reticuli by Brett Holman published in the November 2008 Fortean Times. Unfortunately, it is not on line.

KRandle said...

Don -

I understand your point now and would say this... Cahn was important in exposing the flaws in the Aztec crash.

Robert Spencer Carr, in the mid-1970s, claimed he had talked to five witnesses who told him the crash was true but he refused to identify them and therefore, his claim is without merit. Coral Lorenzen of APRO, talked to the man who had been sheriff in Aztec in 1948 and who said it didn't happen. She talked to the sheriff's brother, who later became sheriff and he said it didn't happen.

Mike McClelland wrote an article for Official UFO, and he quoted the editor of the Aztec newspaper in 1948 and he said it didn't happen.

William Steinman quoted Harold Dunning (whom he did not identify other than by the man's initials) and he said it didn't happen, though Steinman suggested, without any evidence that Dunning was bought off or threatened by the CIA.

Ramsey brings two new names to the case, but both are dead and one was contaminated prior to Raamsey entering the picture. Both of the corroborating witnesses are unavailable, so again, we don't have much in the way of evidence.

If you trace the original story back, you arrive at Newton... and Scully, who, in his first newspaper column about it, doesn't seem to take it seriously.

So, the point is that we geezers have looked at this case for a very long time and we find nothing to support it that can be verified, corroborated or tested. And the changing nature of the first-hand reports argues against authenticity.

Don said...

Kevin: "I understand your point now and would say this... Cahn was important in exposing the flaws in the Aztec crash."

We ought not to need Cahn or anyone to enlighten us that the story of a crashed saucer full of perfect little men from Venus was found in Aztec has flaws. (I haven't followed recent Aztec storylines closely, but I assume the little men are now Greys, and I assume other 'upgrades' have been made).

What Cahn didn't do was prove the Aztec tale was the come on and closer of a doodlebug scam. In this scam, what makes the deal is a proof of concept demonstration: the doodlebug locates something. So, for me, the subject worth researching is how and why a saucer tale got appended to a perfectly normal doodlebug scam.

I think the Colorado trial, just like Aztec, is a distraction, and other venues are far more intriguing.

Robert Spencer Carr's bio is interesting.

Regards,

Don

Terry the Censor said...

Psychologist Stuart Sutherland writes in his book "Irrationality" that people have two big interrelated problems:

1) when a person forms a belief, they resist changing it, even when confronted with superior arguments and new evidence (people will distort these arguments and misrepresent the evidence in such a way as to protect the belief)

2) people try to confirm but not disconfirm their belief (they accumulate but do not test their evidence)

I would add a third:

3) when people do change a belief, they tend to keep it to themselves for fear of giving "comfort to the enemy." On a personal level, this may be a matter of pride: not wanting to hear "I told you so." For those who have published their beliefs, admitting doubt on even small isolated matters threatens the validity of the larger belief system.

I have to wonder if these tendencies explain why discredited or unsubstantiated UFO claims never die, and why geezers get some of the blame.

UFO claims get a lot of uncritical coverage at first; there is a tendency to consider the assertion to be literal and true until proven otherwise; when a UFO is identified or the claim is shown to be without foundation, this either gets very little play or believers subject the explanation to severe criticism they would never apply to the claim itself (some believer eventually escaping into the pure denialism of conspiracy theory).

None of that is novel. But here is where the geezers come in: experienced researchers have come to know which cases are bad, what kinds of evidence are unusable or just plain false, but they rarely show any interest (never mind zeal) in making sure the broader UFO community is properly educated and permanenttly settled about these issues. The consumers of UFO products (and so conference organizers) don't want to hear it. The experienced researcher doesn't want to be ostracized or called a government shill. And no UFO proponent wants their doubts and disclaimers to be used by the diabolical deniers! (Michael Swords recently brought up but refused to discuss his doubts about alien abduction for fear his words would be used by skeptics. He stated so explicitly.)

That's why I like this blog: Mr. Randle regularly expresses warranted doubt about UFO evidence. I blame the geezers for not providing the same, for not showing strong leadership when it comes to epistemic values.

paul thompson said...

Well said, Terry. For me, the famous Carl Sagan still says it all: Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. End of story.

David Rudiak said...

These irrational belief arguments cut both ways. UFO skeptics/debunkers can also cling to discredited "explanations" despite overwhelming evidence or logical arguments to the contrary.

Anthony Mugan said...

Terry

Whilst I agree with much of what you say I suspect that the criticism of the 'geezers' for not estalishing a settled position on many aspects of the UFO phenomenon is asking for something that hasn't actually been possible to achieve to date. A 'settled position' implies inclusion in the dominant paradigm which has not been achieved. In that stage of development immature paradigms compete for dominance within a given 'pre-scientific' field.
Whilst the 'exceptional evidence' criteria suggests it is ultimately possible for new ideas (i.e. radically new) to break through on their own merit in practice this generally requires a crisis in the existing paradigm, which at the moment might be summarised as there are probably lots of microbial life out there and perhaps a few civilisations, but far too widely seperated for contact to be at all likely at sub-light velocities. Breaking that paradigm would need evidence of contact so blatant and widespread that it couldn't be rationalised away and I'm not anticipating that anytime soon.

Perhaps the best that can be achieved is for a subset of researchers to approach the topic objectively and rigorously, preparing a a particular 'school' of thought within the wider field for when or if the current dominant paradigm hits the buffers.

Bob Koford said...

Hello Kevin, and Happy Holidays to all.

(Allende letters...hahaha)

I don't have access to my old HDD that had all the Blue Book data I had already catagorized and filed, so I will have to go from memory. I apologize for any missed or slightly incorrect information.

First of all, the reason for my own re-looking at the Mexico incident (that you mentioned in a previous article) came from my own research into Aztec. Though small bits of the facts differ, here-and-there, the general story of the crash predates all of the charactors you have mentioned. As I have metioned previously, the science fiction author Wilkie Connor told of his contacts in the military, and their story about a saucer crash landing in Mexico. Most of the details emerged a week, or so, later, slightly altered. These were the stories written in the famous newspaper articles we all know about(Kansas City Star, Wyandotte Echo, etc.)

The stories are just too close for me to ignore.

Secondly, the doodle-bug story is also told by someone else. This person had family ties to important people in the government, and military. He wrote a story called, "The Invasion Of Planet Earth", or something similar, which he mailed to the UFO Program in Dayton. (I will revisit the archives to find the documents this evening) He presents different tales regarding his connections to the saucer story, in general. For instance, he saw a saucer while hiking on his families land, in the twenties, In another story he tells of meeting a "Nordic" stranger on a train. There, he is told of a device (doodle-bug) which could be used to find oil. It is obvious he thinks this stranger might not be from around these parts.

Anyway, these are just two other items that are not mentioned, by anyone, but that seem (to me) to be connected. I had always wished for a time I could devote to exploring this more.

Thanks for your work, and years of devotion.

Best Regards to you all,
Bob.