Skeptophilia (skep-to-fil-i-a) (n.) - the love of logical thought, skepticism, and thinking critically. Being an exploration of the applications of skeptical thinking to the world at large, with periodic excursions into linguistics, music, politics, cryptozoology, and why people keep seeing the face of Jesus on grilled cheese sandwiches.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Roswell redux

Today, I'm going to present you with the same UFO story, told two different ways.  Sort of Rashomon for the flying saucer crowd.

Recently, the FBI declassified certain documents, which are now available online.  Amongst these documents were some memos from New Mexico in the 1940s and 1950s, pertaining to the Roswell Incident, which remains one of the most perplexing alien coverup stories in history.  The London Daily Mail did a feature article on the newly released documents yesterday (which you can read in its entirety here).

Everyone has seen the photos and videos, of tiny alien bodies laid out on the autopsy tables; and most of you are probably familiar with the eyewitness testimony of hovering spacecraft and nighttime retrieval of metallic debris from the hill country near Roswell.  But these new memos add a depth of credibility to the story.  Here are a few excerpts:

From Guy Hottel, special agent in charge of the Washington Field Office, dated March 22, 1950:

"An investigator for the Air Force has stated that three so-called flying saucers had been recovered in New Mexico.  They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50 feet in diameter.  Each was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in metallic cloth of very fine texture...  According to Mr. (blacked out), informant, the saucers were found in New Mexico due to the fact that the government has a very high-powered radar set-up in that area and it is believed that the radar interferes with the controling mechanism of the saucers."

This information is remarkably similar to, and therefore corroborates, the more famous Roswell Incident of 1947, in which a twenty-foot wide disc "hexagonal in shape" was recovered, along with the bodies of several aliens.

Okay, let's do this all again, okay?

There once were two con men named Silas Newton and Leo Gebauer.  Newton and Gebauer had been involved in hoaxes involving aliens before; they claimed that they had a machine, made using "alien metals and technology," which could find oil and gas deposits.  They had a sizeable number of monetary contributions for further Research and Development before a reporter for the San Francisco Chronicle, J. P. Cahn, tested some of the alien metal and found out it was aluminum.  (Although to be fair, being that aluminum is one of the commonest metallic elements, it's to be supposed that there'd be aluminum on alien worlds, too.)  The pair were tried, and fined, for fraud over the whole affair.

So it's not like Newton and Gebauer are the most credible of sources.  But they are apparently the source of the whole 1950 New Mexico alien thing, hard though that may be to fathom.  Here's the sequence, which reads a little like the "begats" part of the bible:

Guy Hottel, of the memo quoted above, was informed by a retired Air Force man, who had picked up the story from the Wyandotte Echo.  The editor of the Echo had gotten the story via a line of transmission through newspaper reporters from five different states; the Echo had picked it up from a fellow named Rudy Fick, who had obtained it from a pair named Jack Murphy and I. J. van Horn.  Murphy and van Horn, in turn, got it from a guy named Morley Davies, who got it from George Koehler, who got it from... you guessed it... Silas Newton.  (I am indebted to The Skeptic's Dictionary for piecing this whole thing together; if you'd like to read the complete history of the so-called "Aztec Incident," go here.)

So, it's no wonder that the memo from Hottel sounds so offhand.  Me, if I was sending a memo to the director of the FBI that proved that there were aliens on Earth, I'd sound a little more excited.  In fact, Hottel ends the memo with a yawn:  "No futher evaluation was attempted by (blacked out) concerning the above."  Sounds a little like he was just tired of the whole thing, doesn't he?  It certainly doesn't come across as a guy warning his boss that the Earth is about to be turned into a big sound stage right out of Independence Day.

And, interestingly, the "hexagonal disc" in the 1947 incident was said, in the FBI memo, to be "suspended from a ballon [sic] by a cable."  Not the way that you'd usually think of aliens traveling through interstellar space, is it, given that balloons don't work that well in a vacuum?  But remarkably consistent with the FBI's official story, that the "flying saucers" and "metallic debris" were the results of the crash of a weather balloon array in the New Mexico desert.

So, anyway, that's today's breaking news about something that probably didn't happen sixty years ago.  Not that I think anything I can say will put the whole thing to rest; as I've observed before, nothing much can stand in the way of a Conspiracy Theory.

1 comment:

  1. Every mention I've seen of this today besides yours could be accurately paraphrased as "OMGWTFALIENZR4REALZ!!!"