UFO Conjectures

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Roswell’s Witnesses [REDUX]


A New Yorker piece in the January 25th, 2010 issue by Daniel Mendelsohn about literary memoirs [Page 68 ff.] should be essential reading for those who think that the Roswell witnesses provide proof of an alien space craft crash near their town in 1947.


Discounting Freud’s remarks about the mendacity of memoirs, Mendelsohn provides this about memory (and the recounting of past events):

“…[people] always manage to turn…memories into good stories – even if those stories aren’t quite true. Anyone who writes a memoir doesn’t need psychology experiments to tell him that memories can be partial, or self-serving, or faulty.”

Mendelsohn goes on to relate instances where events he was privy to were added to and re-constructed by others who inserted themselves into the events, believing that they were actually involved. (Not quite Freud’s mendacity but just as errant when it comes to truth.)

Many Roswell “witnesses” have been caught lying outright about their participation in the 1947 incident. Others, now old and subject to natural mental diminution and senility or dementia, have created scenarios in which they are an integral part.


UFO tyro Joseph Capp [UFO Media matters] is a Roswell witness crusader who extols witness accounts as if they were handed down by the hand of God, ignoring the reams of material by psychologists, law enforcement, and neurologists that indicate witness accounts are some of the most flawed elements in event reconstruction.

All people, and especially older people, are also flummoxed by the Smiley Blanton Syndrome, which is where separate events are amalgamated into one event, with elements and remembrances intertwined in such a way as to create a new “reality.”


In Roswell, something happened that was strange, even convoluted, exacerbated by a few persons, Mac Brazel, Walter Haut, and Jesse Marcel Sr., who were almost hysterical during the 1947 period, followed by a gaggle of UFO investigators who were just (and many still are) as hysterical many years afterwards.


We think several things happened near Roswell in July 1947: a missile launch that went astray perhaps, a Mogul experiment that ended up in the mix, a (possible) flying disk accident, and/or a “secret” military event that was brief but significant.


Any two of those possibilities would provide gist for the Smiley Blanton Syndrome, and evoke faulty memories years later by those who were involved or at the edge of any of the events.

In the rush to augment or prove their extraterrestrial inclinations, many UFO researchers, all with limited qualifications to be called “researcher” on the face of it, have tried to use witness testimony to bolster their ET predilections.

But as many true experts on memory and witness testimony, such as Daniel Mendelsohn, “prove” with actual scientific data and experiments that people deliberately or by natural mental deficiencies mis-remember past events, ufologists and wannabes (such as Capp, Rudiak, Randle, et al.) continue to proffer Roswell witness testimony as proof positive that something foreign to this Earth crashed in the New Mexico desert in 1947.


And those ufologists wonder why they are scoffed at or seen as loonies. They are in a state of denial far worse than that of the witnesses they exploit.

It’s beyond sad; it’s insane…..


  • I hope you don't mind if I comment.

    The one thing that I feel we have to be careful of here is that it this argument isn't taken too far the other way...that is, obviously not all eyewitness, or witness testimonies are worthless, otherwise we would have no justice system. I mean, you could say this about anyone...any witness, really. Couldn't you?

    When is the witness considered useless? Is it when they say something you don't want to hear?

    What is the fool-proof way to distiguish between a witness, and one of these delusional persons?

    By Blogger Bob Koford, at Wednesday, January 27, 2010  

  • Bob:

    You are right, of course.

    One shouldn't throw out ALL witness testimony, but there are caveats.

    It takes a qualified "researcher" to make sure that witnesses are telling the truth, and are not lying or delusional.

    As Mendelsohn outlined in his New Yorker piece, there are ways and mechanisms to determine when a memoir (or memory) is true and when it is not.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Wednesday, January 27, 2010  

  • To Bob Koford:

    "What is the foolproof way to distinguish between a witness and one of these delusional persons"?

    There is no foolproof way. Most of these witnesses are not delusional, although a few are. They are suffering from confused memories and confabulation. None (yes none) of them was interviewed at all until 1978, and the majority were not until the 80s or 90s. Few were first-hand, many had not been there or anywhere near there; they only knew of the event from either relatives, friends or read it in a book or saw it on a TV documentary. Many were inclined towards conspiracy theory, suggestibility from interviewers, perhaps wanted fame through publicity, maybe even a bit of cash. None of them had any idea whatever what a real ET would look like (neither of course do you or I) and so on.

    You have to realise that for a scientific discovery of this kind a far higher standard of proof is required than is the case for something of lesser significance. This would be perhaps mankind's greatest event of all time, or very close to it.

    Also, remember that the very first interviews (of Marcel, Haut and some of the civilians) were done by a very pro-ET believer (Friedman) who undoubtedly supplied these people with his early UFO research papers to bolster the case for ETH. And don't forget the film where Friedman was a consultant "UFOS ARE REAL" in which Marcel & others featured. They only appeared in this film because they went along with Stan's thesis that Roswell was ET. Hence a chance for some publicity, etc.

    No there is no foolproof way of separating the fact from the fiction. That is the precise problem with Roswell.

    I'll finish now, as I have gone over these negative aspects before, several times.

    By Blogger cda, at Wednesday, January 27, 2010  

  • Now I might be mis-remembering this . . . but I first got interested in UFOs in the early 70s and don't remember a word about any Roswell or alien crash. Lots of famous UFO accounts that are still recounted today, but no Roswell.

    The news accounts of the day happened . . . but the story seemed to have vanished until around 1980 (?). There's something very odd about that, because Roswell, regardless of what actually happened, is a hell of a story.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Wednesday, January 27, 2010  

  • In my view, the Roswell story became the last refuge of the ETH's inability to show evidence about ETs. By "passing the buck" to the government to bring evidence (that it supposedly has), many ETH ufologists simply stopped to be ufologists.

    And then, they were not even able to bring any significant evidence about the alleged human conspiracy about supposedly hiding ET secrets. So, the last refuge of the conspiracy theory's incompetence is now in the exopolitics, essentially based on channeling and mediumnistic "messages" from ETs. We are now back to the Adamski's days, accompanied with a very serious decline in ufological research. In a way, it is the history of ufology playing backward.

    By Blogger Eric Ouellet, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • Eric:

    You are so right.

    The UFO scene (and ufology) have become a morass of idiocy, filled with some of the most retarded members of the human race, extant.

    It's devolution as you suggest.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • "In my view, the Roswell story became the last refuge of the ETH's inability to show evidence about ETs. By "passing the buck" to the government to bring evidence (that it supposedly has), many ETH ufologists simply stopped to be ufologists."

    This really dates back at least to Donald Keyhoe in the 50s. The fact that the Roswell story stayed underscrutinized from the initial publicity of 1947 until around 1980 would argue in favor of some government suppression.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • Frank S:

    You remember that there were real reporters out there (in the 40s and 50s) who would have pursued the Roswell story if they was something to pursue, government suppression notwithstanding: Gabriel Heater, Walter Winchell, Drew Pearson, Dorothy Kilgallen, et al.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • Richie:

    My point is that debunkers would have pumped up the Roswell story if it hadn't been well buried . . . . . "Even the USAF gets carried away, of course regular folks will too when something strange happens."

    Of course, the government doesn't want to make the USAF look bad to make a point, but surely someone on the outside who wanted to debunk UFOs would have used it.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • Frankie Boy:

    Of course something unusual happened near Roswell, but if it were as the Roswell mythos now has it, I can't imagine everyone in Roswell keeping their mouths shut, and even being almost tepid when the matter resurfaced in later years.

    Was there no one who would have gone "crazy" to get the ET story out in 1947 (or thereabouts).

    Were the Roswellians so complacent about little alien buggers, allegedly seen by all those latter-day witnesses that the event became subliminal for them?

    It doesn't make sense.

    Could the government or military suppress everything and everyone?

    That is totally unrealistic, and out of sync with other historical episodes going all the way back to the Egyptian period.

    Some rebellious individual will always stick with it; that is, pursue the truth of what they have seen or experienced, even under the threat of death.

    No, Frank, the government/military couldn't have buried a Roswellian extraterrestrial crash, completely.

    Westerners, like those in 1947 Roswell, were a hardy lot. And if some of them saw little ET bodies or an alien aircraft, they would have made one hell of a stink about it.

    They didn't, so I'm guessing that the real story is how the balloon incident became the Roswell ET incident.

    That's grist for sociologists, not ufologists (who are the dumbest and most gullible group of people on the face of the Earth).


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • "Could the government or military suppress everything and everyone?"

    I'm sure there have been a lot of band wagon jumpers regarding Roswell post 1980. It's the complete silence of the 1947-1980 period I find so curious.

    I really don't think it would be that difficult logistically to clean up a big wreck and a few dead bodies no one can identify in the desert and keeping it quiet. At least not compared to this mishap.


    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • Frank Stalter wrote: "It is the complete silence of the 1947-80 time period I find so curious".
    Yes, but this silence argues very strongly against an ET event taking place, not for the cover-up of such an event.

    There is no real mystery about the 33-year silence. In Feb. 1978 Stan Friedman met someone at a Baton Rouge (I think) radio station. This was a chance encounter as he was due to give a lecture in the city. This person knew Jesse Marcel, who had told him that he (Marcel) had once handled pieces of a flying saucer. Marcel did NOT say he had handled pieces of an ET craft, but in the UFO climate of the late 70s it was assumed that Marcel meant that he had. Friedman then asked if he could contact Marcel (who, when interviewed, could not remember the date of the event). Friedman then interviewed Marcel, by phone at first, then eventually met him face to face (with Bill Moore) and the ET tale took off from there.

    This is the story as told by Friedman himself in his book "Crash at Corona". This story was NOT told in the first Roswell book "The Roswell Incident", which it certainly should have been. Perhaps Berlitz didn't want this story in the book, I don't know. I should add that it took a full 12 months before Moore & Friedman could really get anywhere after that initial phone interview, because they had no dates to go on. They had to research in newspaper archives to find any mention of the story (with Marcel's name) before they could do any proper investigation.

    The obvious conclusion is that in 1947 Marcel did not think the story was important enough for him to retain any press reports, photographs or anything else. In 1947 it was, to him, a non-event. Thus the complete silence for 3 decades.

    By Blogger cda, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • "This person knew Jesse Marcel, who had told him that he (Marcel) had once handled pieces of a flying saucer. Marcel did NOT say he had handled pieces of an ET craft, but in the UFO climate of the late 70s it was assumed that Marcel meant that he had."

    The USAF had changed the language from the more sensational "flying saucer" a media-created paraphrase of Ken Arnold's description of his sighting, to something less dramatic "UFO."

    Marcel calling what he saw a piece of a flying saucer is no big deal. Some people still call copy machines "Xerox machines." The language changed, that's all.

    "I should add that it took a full 12 months before Moore & Friedman could really get anywhere after that initial phone interview, because they had no dates to go on. They had to research in newspaper archives to find any mention of the story (with Marcel's name) before they could do any proper investigation."

    What Marcel told them did check out, as far as it could. He was at Roswell, something did crash there, he is pictured in newspaper accounts from the day handling crash debris.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Friday, January 29, 2010  

  • I was posted to a NATO base in the 70's and worked with many senior officers. An army colonel told me about Roswell long before it was a "media story star". Before I relay what he said, let me respond to the article. It's true memories become distorted with passing time. However,I have personally found that when it they involve traumatic or extraordinary events as these vets lived through during WWII, even minute obscure details (a smell, a feeling, etc.) stay with them like a scar and do not fade. When it comes to secrecy and loyalty, the WWII generation (including civilians) were very obedient to authority. Anyone who had a career in the military knows that if you were found out to divulge any senstive information it was "your ass". Anyone today who questions this fact does not know they're - as that colonel used to say "ass from page 8".

    Here is what the colonel told me. We had been discussing a ufo incident that had been in the news and he began to tell me about Roswell. He was an intelligence officer stationed stateside after the war and knew everything that went on regarding the A-bomb tests and the V-1 rockets, etc. He found out about Roswell through a another officer who had been posted to a top secret project in a location he would not even tell the colonel. That officer told him that the AAF, along with some German aircraft specialists, had been working on advanced flying wing prototypes similar to what the Horton brothers and Northrup had tested during the war. I had no idea who these people were, though I had heard of the flying wing before. They had a small isolated base that no one knew about. Even White Sands and similar projects were not privy to this research - it was that secret, because not only were they engaging in experiments dealing with material and designs that were almost invisible to radar (sound familiar?), they were also using animals and even human "volunteers" in these experiments. This was a very small project and they used as few personell as possible to maintain the secrecy. If anyone doubts projects like this cannot be kept secret, all I need to say is "ULTRA". That secret was kept until the 1970's - and a HUGE number of people knew about it.
    One of the flying wings (which looked much more advanced than previous types (they were going for a more rounded aerodynamic design than the angular flying wings we use now) malfunctioned and attempted a controlled crash landing. It was on the ground long enough to leave a lot of debris and they were able to get it airborne again but it eventually crashed. Now the colonel never mentioned strange foil, but he did say that not only did the AAF create the balloon cover story (they reported the flying disk initially because they thought they really had one), but after the project's secrecy got blown they had to create another story to divert attention, so they created the "crashed alien spacecraft" story. It still works apparently. The bodies and wreckage witnesses saw at the base and during transport were probably part of the cover up. I always remember that he told me the best way to divert attention from the secret with disinformation was to use the very story people believed in. I thought about this in recent years. If some of these witnesses really were privy to the truth, then what they said regarding "aliens" and a "crashed spacecraft" was actually part of the coverup - and if it was it worked.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, June 11, 2010  

  • We received, from our main contributor, this rebuttal to the comment (above):

    - The guy who wrote the comments to the blog article is a fraud. Re-read his comments carefully and you will find 2 major internal inconsistencies in his account.

    - What's definitive is that the Hortens requested passage to the US after the war and offered their services to the US government. The government rejected them. I have the letter and rejection.

    - The Hortens then wrote the head of Northrop (a client of mine btw) and offered the same thing. Northrop had no interest whatsoever.

    - The real story of the "mysterious" Horten work is detailed most soberingly here: http://www.century-of-flight.net/new%20site/frames/horten%20frame.htm

    - Why does the commenter make no mention of midgets or POW Japanese, like Nick does?

    - Time and again I tell people: The real advances in aero-engineering gained by us from the Germans were in rocket science and engineering. The commenter would do well to read my article "The Nazi UFO Lie" to discover the real impetus for of all of these "secret German scientist" scenarios ...

    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Sunday, June 13, 2010  

  • When I initially left my comment on June 11 about what an Army colonel had told me about Roswell while I was stationed on a NATO base in the 1970's, I was only passing on what I remember he had told me. I was not even going to come back to this site to see if anyone responded to my comments. I only did so because I had told my wife I had wrote it and she wanted to see what I had written. She was disgusted (and I was mad) that I was accused of being a fraud. After I quickly calmed down, I told her I didn't care what anyone who read the post thought. I am not a "ufo expert". The whole ufo subject is interesting to me - but not to the point that I would waste my time researching the subject. I actually have a life and would not waste it on something thousands of others actually spend a LOT of their life investigating.

    I've never read any books on Roswell or have seen any movies or documentaries on it. I don't really care, because I believed what I was told, and since this was some post war government experiment that got screwed up and if it left a lot of people believing it was an alien flying saucer or a weather balloon or whatever, fine.
    I don't know who the RRRGroup is - I was reading the New Yorker piece about memories - and started reading about the reference to Roswell.
    This RRRGroup asks why I didn't mention "midgets or Japanese POWs"? What has that got to to with what I was talking about?? Are you referring to my mention of human volunteers and animal experiments? That colonel never said anything to me about midgets or POW's.

    The Hortens? I didn't know who they were until the colonel told me. Even since then I had forgotten the name until I had heard it mentioned on a tv ad about some WWII documentary - which I had not the time nor the desire to watch. The only reason I also mentioned Northrup was that a friend of mine is a sci-fi movie fan and one of his favorite films shows the Northrop flying wing in it and any time he discusses the movie or sees it he'll talk about this great "Northrup wing wing" scene. I don't know anything about the "the Hortons being rejected by the government after the war" or "Northrop rejecting them".
    The colonel had told me he was told there were Germans and American military working on that secret project, that here were only a handful of them and they were experimenting with designs SIMILAR to what Northrup and the Germans had researched - not the SAME - and that no one, not even the projects going on at places like White Sands knew about it. It was compartmentalized for security, like so many other defense plans I was privy to when I was at the NATO base that involved biochemical and nuclear projects. When you are posted to these type of assignments, you get to understand the "need to know" mentality.

    For the record, I am not a fraud. I may not be a professional journalist or investigator or blogger, but I am not a fraud. I did not post my story to intentionally deceive or for some personal "gain" -though I don't know what I would "gain". I am not even a good writer - which must be pretty evident by now.
    I will not reveal my identity because I have no reason to. What information I will now end this post with is only to give a little further "proof" of background. The NATO base I was stationed at was called AFSOUTH in Naples, Italy. I worked in the Plans and Policy Division. I had a Top Secret clearance, because it was a requirement for working in that division. Our base was staffed with military from the US, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Great Britain. Adm. Stansfield Turner was the CINC when I was there, until President Carter asked him to be head of the CIA.

    That's it. I'm not going to come back to this website to see an responses to my post. So take my story or leave it. I just want to emphasize what I said about the New Yorker article - memories don't get fuzzy with age if they are significant enough.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, June 17, 2010  

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