UFO Conjecture(s)

Thursday, August 19, 2010

UFO hoax exposures: too little, too late?


The rush to expose long-time, classic UFO events as hoaxes is in full swing.

Kevin Randle’s blog is thrashing about with the (in)famous 1958 Trindade Island photos that once were considered by almost all UFO researchers as authentic.

The Heflin photos have been declared fraudulent.


Roswell is on the cusp of hoax, seen as a misidentified balloon crash by many, and exacerbated by the UFO old-timers who’ve committed themselves to the Roswell extraterrestrial myth and can’t accept their long-time duncery.


The next UFO episode that will be labeled a hoax is Brentwaters, the 1980 Rendlesham UFO incident.


A new book about George Adamski -- George Adamski: A Herald for the Space Brothers – is trying to resurrect and revise the stature of the ultimate UFO hoaxer.


The Socorro/Zamora sighting of 1964 is rife with the patina of hoax. [See Anthony Bragalia’s pieces about the sighting at this blog and others.]


But UFOs, themselves, are a phenomenal fact. The evidence is overwhelming, and some of us have experienced the phenomenon, first-hand, so we know that it is a real phenomenon, even though we have no idea as to what they are or what they represent.

But the orgy to disclose the plethora of UFO sightings and episodes that are now known to be frauds undermines any attempts by legitimate societal agencies (media, science, academia) to look into the phenomenon.

What serious construct would take on a topic that is rife with fraud or hoaxes? The effort to separate the wheat from the chaff is daunting.

Jerome Clark, who usually gets the rubric as the noted UFO historian, has all but recused himself from the subject, unresting his laurels once in a while only at the UFO gathering place for ufology’s has-beens and quidnuncs: UFO UpDates.


Kevin Randle is trying mightily to re-connect with sanity by his recent blogified mea cupals for all those UFO and flying saucer accounts he once extolled as authentic but now prove to be fake.


The “art” of ufology is under attack, by members within it own ranks, joined by the ongoing and overwhelming feeling of serious phenomenal investigators who have always felt that UFOs are a matter for psychiatrists and those who fill their boring, unpro- ductive lives with fantasy and a need to garner attention to themselves.

Some UFO events need further investigation. But the surging efforts of some well-known ufologists to separate themselves from sightings they once touted as real and a proof for extraterrestrial visitation will only muddy the UFO waters again.

And what true UFO aficionado wants that?


  • I thought you guys believed Roswell was an ET occurrence?

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • Some of the RRRGroup does and some do not.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • I've been saying this very thing for years. The problem isn't the hoaxers nor those who believe there are real inexplicable aerial phenomena present. The problem is the unbridled willingness to believe (it's tantamount to faith) on the part of a great many people in the middle, between those two camps listed above. Their ignorance and exuberance are the foundation upon which so many have built money making enterprises. If everyone took the rational stance that any given UFO video, photo, etc.. is a hoax until proved otherwise, we wouldn't have to worry about the press making a joke of it all. If we policed ourselves better.... If we took ourselves seriously and the work seriously, hoaxers would have a hard time gathering up an audience. But they're feeding on the Weekly World News crowd, which many UFOlogists also deem ripe for the picking.

    By Blogger Cullan Hudson, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • C:

    You always hit the nail right on its head.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • There have been hoaxes for centuries. You just have to expect them at some level. Here's a more recent one that should have left some people pretty embarrassed.


    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • Frank,

    You are a fount of arcane info.



    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • Yes, the cases exposed as hoaxes do indeed deter the scientific fraternity from taking any serious interest in ufology (or any other fringe subject). I still like to think there is a core residue of well attested unexplained UFO cases, but have to concede that very few survive the filtering process.

    Modern computer graphics and animations render all UFO photos/videos made in recent years suspect. For an amateur to fake a film in the early UFO days would be quite an achievement. Nowadays it would be a lot easier.

    There is one certainty in all this. It is that there will always be people refusing to accept a proven fraud if it conflicts with their own personal convictions. You have only to look at the Turin Shroud case to see this. Likewise there are some who, while accepting Piltdown Man was a forgery, use it to bolster their faith in creationism.

    There are also the tiresome 'have it both ways' types who while conceding that the MJ-12 papers are phony, insist they contain information that "could well be true". Certain people say the same can be said of the alien autopsy film. And so on. A hoax is never a hoax - it may still contain a hidden message. Got it?

    By Blogger cda, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • Ah, Christopher:

    A jab or two from you....

    There are always other things inside hoaxes and events that may be worthwhile, even if those things don't pertain to the hoax or event themselves.

    Such as the psychological or sociological truths that help explain human frailties.

    Your note about the Piltdown forgery and creationism is an example.

    MJ-12 as a fraudulent endeavor does lead to what some will do to further a "hidden" cause they hope to exploit.

    Roswell, Socorro, et cetera, all have hidden truths of some kind in them, maybe even a UFO truth.

    As an habitue of a country from which Sherlock Holmes derives, I'd think you would be amenable to the idea that a hoax might contain something worthwhile, no matter how seemingly minuscule that something might be.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • I think anyone who wants to engage in even the most rudimentary UFO research should be required to watch Orson Welles' "F For Fake" once a year.

    By Blogger Frank Stalter, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • Frank:

    I agree. Welles was a real genius and a just one smart guy.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Thursday, August 19, 2010  

  • "The Heflin photos have been declared fraudulent."

    I don't agree with this 100%, but definitely with the general flow of your argument.

    By Blogger Bob Koford, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • Bob:

    Ann Druffel/Woods et al. have a nice "exegesis" of the Heflin photos online and Tony Bragalia may be doing a piece for us that also puts the nail in the coffin of Heflin's alleged sighting.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • I'm a little bit confused. I guess I'll see on the next article.

    quoted from: http://www.anndruffel.com/articles/ufo/goodbyerexheflin.htm

    "Our reanalysis of the Heflin UFO photos in 2000 has led to the following conclusions:

    1 The photos are totally consistent with Heflin’s written and verbal testimony regarding the sighting.

    2 The photos depict a solid unidentified craft which is moving through the air, leaving a trail.

    3 William Spaulding’s hoax conclusion in the mid-1970s was derived from faulty data.

    4 The smoke-ring photo is linked by computer-enhancement data to the other three, by cloud and trail data which were previously unavailable.

    5 There is evidence that for 28 years, three of the original four photos were in the hands of unknown persons who took good care of them while possibly accessing data from them. Why they were returned to Heflin under totally inexplicable circumstances remains an unsolved mystery."


    "We thank Rex Heflin for his friendship and his good-humored objective attitude during our 40
    years of investigation of his incomparable photos. We thank him for his willingness to give his photos to science with no thought of any benefit for himself"

    By Blogger Bob Koford, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • Bob:

    I'm under the impression that there is a recent retraction of the Druffel acceptance and analysis of Helfin's photos, and have the PDF somewhere here.

    I'll dig it out and respond.

    Tony Bragalia may also deign to complete his Heflin piece which zeroes in on the railroad car wheel explanation for Heflin's photos.

    You think, apparently, that Heflin's photos are authentic, and they are good.

    I've always accepted them as real but questioned how the object remained in situ for so long, since Polaroid pictures took a while to be snapped.

    This is the same problem I have with the Trent photos -- that object was in place a little too long to my liking.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • Given the extent to which the hoaxers and their gullible victims have muddied the waters, short of an actual landing, I'm not sure that *any* photograph (or even artifact) would serve as sufficiently strong evidence for a genuine event. Even witness testimony is a shaky proposition, imho, other than to serve as some kind of guiding light.

    If the community wants to move forward, then it's going to have to embrace a direction of research and investigation along the lines of Bragalias Battelle work (not to say he's correct, but his methodology is the prototype for what I'm talking about). Which is to say, build as strong a case as possible by tracing the activities of various people and groups by means of 100% verifiable data and publications, avoiding sloppiness, and searching the historical record to identify technological and other anomalies.

    It isn't glamorous, and is hard and exacting work, but it's the only way to do what's needed in the field to advance forward.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • Bob Koford:

    I found the Druffel PDF, which is the 2000 re-analysis of Heflin's photos.

    If is pro-Heflin as you point out, but appended to my copy of the Druffel/Wood analysis are three analyses which decimate the Druffel/Wood/Kelson evaluation.

    I thought that Druffel et al. had rescinded their acceptance of Heflin's photos as genuine but that's not what their 2000 report shows.

    Their pending, promised later evaluation I have yet to find here.

    I can provide the links to you for the anti-Heflin material if you like; just contact me at rrrgroup via juno.com. (Use the @ where the via is.)

    The toy train wheel surmise is a good one, and rather conclusive as you'll see or have seen.


    By Blogger RRRGroup, at Friday, August 20, 2010  

  • You are on the wrong side of history, friends.

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wednesday, September 15, 2010  

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