Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Review: David Clarke’s How UFOs Conquered the World

David Clarke’s How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth

David Clarke has a PhD in Folklore. His use of the word “myth” in the the subtitle may scare away some readers, but consider,
"To qualify as myth a story does not need to be true or false, but it must express a conviction held tenaciously by its adherents." 
Tenaciously held? Yes, definitely.

Clarke’s approach is a departure from most UFO books. He’s done a neat trick of arranging the material in such a way that a reader new to the topic can absorb the essential history of UFOs during the course of the narrative. He covers UFO lore in an organic way, introducing it in conversation with non-sequential chunks of it, as it relates to his analysis, personal experience, or the topic at hand. 

Like many UFO buffs, Clarke was indoctrinated into the topic via pop culture entertainment, and developed a lifelong fascination. As an adult, Clarke worked to get the Ministry of Defence to release UFO documents, and once that began, he joined them in the role of external consultant to facilitate the disclosure. His unique relationship to the MOD’s documents are just part of it, though. Just as valuable are his interviews and personal relationships with significant UFO witnesses and researchers, something which allowed him to obtain first-hand testimony.

The book explores the spectrum of UFO philosophies, and the chapter “Angels or Demons?” provides one of the most memorable quotes, one from Father Paul Inglesby: “I once had a huge collection of UFO literature, but I burnt the lot. I decided the whole subject was polluted by evil. You should do the same.” 
Later in the same chapter, Clarke talks about meeting one of his big influences, author John Keel, who revealed that his groundbreaking concepts on the secrets of UFOs were a “literary device.”

Extraterrestrial proponents frequently say that if skeptics would just open their eyes to examine the evidence that they’d come to accept the reality of alien visitation. Clarke has done all that and more, but the ETers are not going to be entirely happy with  his conclusions. However, his examination provides something of interest whether you are skeptical about alien visitation by UFOs or a complete believer. The book will likely challenge your beliefs and understanding at some point. Even if he's wrong about whether ETs are here, his discussion of our ideas about them is valid.

Clarke's book is an interesting examination of the way we use UFOs as a mirror of sorts, on which we project our own beliefs and expectations about the universe around us. By reading it,  the reader will be challenged, and you’ll be introduced to some new ideas, and chances are you'll come away able to put aside some old notions and be encouraged to investigate new possibilities.

How UFOs Conquered the World: The History of a Modern Myth is hardcover, 320 pages from Aurum Press. It contains a glossary, notes and references, bibliography, an index and a color photo section. Ask for it in your local bookstore.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Dr. Richard O’Connor on Putting Away the Roswell Slides

Dr. Richard O’Connor was a guest on an episode of The MUFON UFO Radio show on KGRA 
guest-hosted by Erica Lukes. The topic was the controversy over the Roswell Slides. 

KGRA's MUFON show, courtesy of Race Hobbs. Click to listen.

Dr. Richard O’Connor had written a letter to Linda Moulton Howe shortly after the placard was read, where he said although he had personally confirmed the deblurring of the Slides placard, he felt it did not accurately describe the body in the pictures. He went on to describe features that looked unusual.
On May 24, Jaime Maussan interviewed Dr. O’Connor by Skype where he discussed his views on the body in the Slides. The full interview was posted on YouTubeWhitley Strieber’s Unknown Country used the video as part of this article, “Doctors Agree: Roswell Slides Show a Nonhuman Body

Although Dr. O’Connor did not participate in the BeWitness event, but he became associated with it after the fact. This was in large part due to him being one of the few people discussing the case that was knowledgeable in medicine and spoke English.  

Getting back to the KGRA show, Dr.  O’Connor was the first guest. He recapped his analysis, but stressed that it was made from (what amounts to) a single picture, a blurry image shot through glass, taken at an angle to the body.

The interviewer mentioned the consequences of the  NPS material released due to the FOIA request by Shepherd Johnson, to which Dr. O’Connor replied, 
“Yeah, I’ve just, over the past 48 hours more or less, been looking at that, and it seems to me like it's drawing us toward the conclusion that in fact is this photograph probably does represent a native American child. There were some, a couple of photographs in the last pages of that set of documents, one of them in particular on page 176, and in my opinion it really does show a different photograph of what is very likely the same child.”

Tom Carey on life after the Slides

Maussan interviewing Carey prior to BeWitness 

Tom Carey had been on another KGRA show June 2 with Don Schmitt, and at that time he was challenging the reading of the placard, and all that it meant. On this show, Tom Carey appeared to have absorbed and accepted, or is in the process of accepting the facts. He was not asked about whether he’s changed his mind on the Slides, but in the discussion it sounds like he's come to the realization that the Slides are not "what we believed we had..." He talks about things in the past tense. 

In talking about the material gathered for the BeWitness presentation, “that was our conclusion... what we knew up to that point..” Of the placard being read he says, “a day or two later, this bombshell hits about it being a mummified two-year-old boy. Well, talk about a right cross, or a left hook. He also seems to feel betrayed by two of the people who he’d asked to help with the placard have since “joined our critics.” Of the critics, he said he’d have worked with them, “had they been civil. In the opening, he mentioned having plenty to keep him busy, a new book coming out with Don Schmitt, and another one planned beyond that, but first up is their appearance at the annual Roswell Festival. Perhaps he’s putting the Slides behind him, returning to fundamental Roswell research.

Jaime Maussan from BeWitness

To finish discussing the show, I should mention that Jamie Maussan was the featured guest, and the last hour was devoted solely to him. He maintains that the Slides are genuine and the other photos do not seem to match it, and even if they do, the body is abnormal, possibly the that of an alien being, one of the “Sky People” of native American legend. He rejects the new evidence, and continues to defend the Slides.

Call with Dr. Richard O'Connor, Wednesday, June 17 

After the show, I was interested in finding more about about Dr. O’Connor’s change of position on the topic. I found his information at the Jesse A. Marcel Library and sent him a note, and to my surprise he invited me to call him instead. I found Dr. O’Connor to friendly, knowledgable, and  was impressed with his candor and swift willingness to revise his conclusions in the face of more information and evidence.

Dr. Richard O’Connor

He told me that looking at a photograph is fraught with pitfalls, and mentioned the fact that the quality of the Slides photograph was not very good, the details were not clear due to the blurry photograph, which was taken at an angle from the body (and possibly distorted by the glass in the case). 

There were some characteristics that he still didn't quite understand, like the condition of the chest cavity, but it occurred to him that the terraced cliffs of Montezuma Castle must have caused the deaths of a number of children from falling off the ledges. He wondered if that could have accounted for the injuries to the child's body, particularly the damage to the head and the fractured femur. I pointed out the the shallow grave may have accounted for some of this, particularly the loss of the lower leg. (I thought later that the excavation by amateur archeologists could also be a factor.) 

The cliff dwellings of Montezuma Castle

He stated that after he looked photo in the National Park Service FOIA documents, that the  “there’s no way that’s not the same being,” and that the body in the Slides was a Native American child,  the “only conclusion.” He thinks that this absolutely proves that the Slides had nothing to do with Roswell and that that the matter is closed. 

“there’s no way that’s not the same being”

He thinks the lesson is to be learned from this, that if you have some extraordinary evidence, that putting it out for an open-source examination was the way to get results In this instance, it didn't take long for many people working together to determine the truth, and that by sharing information it's a more efficient means of reaching the truth.

As for the Slides and the BeWitness show, he personally does not feel it was a scam, and that the people involved were sincerely acting on the information they had available to them at the time.  We discussed how the limitations imposed by the Slidebox Media non-disclosure agreement had prevented the sharing of the information. He said by holding back the information, it hindered the discovery of the truth.

He went on to say that the Maussan had made a good presentation in other respects than the Slides, and felt there was value to the discussion of the historical Roswell case and presentation of witness statements.  About the Roswell Slides, he also said the evidence shows it was an archaeological finding. Unless there’s a body can be examined, the case is completed. Otherwise, it is just speculation from a photograph alone. He won't say a negative word against Maussan or anyone involved, but can't figure why Jaime is hanging on in the face of overwhelming evidence.

Facing the Future

Dr. O’Connor thinks this is finished, but that he’s still optimistic about the study of UFOs and the Roswell case. O’Connor worked alongside Jesse Marcel Junior for a great number of years and was convinced by the experiences that he shared, as well as the testimony of other witnesses. He’s sure of the reality of the Roswell event  and that UFOs are visitors from outside our planet, and that they are worthy of study.

He’d like the reputation of the UFO topic to improve so that more scientists would be attracted and become involved. He also thinks that the average person is unaware of the genuine nature of things, and that with better education on the topic, support could be given to properly fund the scientific investigation of UFOs. He’s convinced that would to some conclusions and developments to help answer the questions and provide some understanding.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Shepherd Johnson finds documents that finish the Roswell Slides

Shepherd Johnson contacted me on May 12, and the conversation centered on finding documentation on the mummified child's body depicted in the "Roswell Slides." After finding that National Park Service had both documents and photographs, Shepherd decided to file a Freedom of Information Act request for the records.

He filed his FOIA May 13, and there's a record of it online. Shepherd Johnson's request for this is on the NPS FOIA log on page 47. There's no listing for another such request.

As a result of this FOIA, a 186 page document was released, which details the discovery of the mummified child, it's display and the transfer between different museums. Oh yes, there are a few photographs.

With the information Shepherd Johnson's FOIA request produced, José Antonio Caravaca composed this finale to the Slides saga.


(original article in Spanish) by José Antonio Caravaca 

Following the publication of a new picture of the Mesa Verde mummy,  obtained by the Mexican Forensic Jorge Peredo, the events surrounding Roswell slides have rushed towards a final clarification. If the evidence presented by Peredo no longer represented, in itself, a strong and convincing evidence that the body of the slide was not an alien being, but the mummy of an Indian Child, researcher Shepherd Johnson  has found a US "National Park Service" document that confirms beyond reasonable doubt the thesis of the mummy. 
Discovered by Jorge Peredo image in Picasa web album.

The file, 186 pages, collected in great detail the excavations and studies Montezuma Castle (New Mexico) and the discovery of the mummy of a child (73, 6 cm). A photograph in black and white appears, unfortunately famous mummy, which was taken in 1939 during archaeological surveys (p. 176) in the same document. The body was discovered in 1896 in the castle ruins by Mr. SL Palmer, as it appeared on the plate slides read by our international research group Roswell Slides Research Group  (RSRG).  Just a note discovered in the wake of our sensational find, and originally published in "MESA VERDE NOTES" in September 1938 (Volume VIII, Number 1) was collected as the son of the discoverer of the mummy returned the body to the US government: "A splendid mummy was received by the Museum Park recently when Mr. SL Palmer Jr. of San Francisco returned one his father had taken out of the ruins in 1894. The mummy is that of a child of two years and is in a excellent condition. At the time of burial of the body was dressed in a cotton shirt over three small cotton blankets. These fragments are still on the mummy "...

Interior Department document of the United States that collects all the information about the mummy found in Montezuma Castle.
Detail of the mummy
Body image of the "Roswell slides"

Place of discovery of the mummy in 1896.
Burial detail with mummy.

The image contained in the documents Shepherd requested clearly shows that all the fantastic claims of those involved in the investigation of so-called "Roswell Slides," which aimed to provide final evidence of  the Roswell UFO crash, showing this body as if one of the alien pilots secretly recovered by the US military, has been plagued by mistakes, follies and misunderstandings large and of a deep caliber. From the beginning the investigation undertaken by Tom Carey, Don Schmitt, Anthony Bragalia and finally, Jaime Maussan, have proven ineffective and clearly evidence of a vast and almost endless incompetence worthy of study ...

Rest in peace ...

Special thanks to all my friends and colleagues at Roswell Slides Research Group:  
Curt Collins (USA), Gilles Fernandez (France), Nab Lator (France), Isaac Koi (Great Britain), Roger Glassel (Sweden), Paul Kimball (Canada) Tim Printy (USA), Tim Hebert (USA), Lance Moody (USA), S. Miles Lewis (USA), Jeff Ritzmann (USA) and Chris Rutkowski (Canada). We have also enlisted the help of other scholars as Aaron J, Gulyas, Irna France, Fin Handley and Alejandro Espino. Including the collaboration of the researcher Nick Redfern.


Prohibited total or partial reproduction of the material contained in this blog without permission of the author. Owned by Jose Antonio Caravaca.


The Eisenhower Connection

Slide of General Dwight D. Eisenhower
One of the Roswell Slides story’s key “data points” had been the Rays’ friendship with the Eisenhowers. Supposedly, Hilda Blair Ray was good friends with Mamie Eisenhower, the wife of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (who became elected President of the USA in 1953). In the narrative of the Slides, that alleged friendship somehow allowed the Rays access to a secret restricted facility where the US Government was storing the remains of a crash victim from the 1947 UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico. Among the Ray's slide collection there were pictures of celebrities, and there were two of General Eisenhower from a WW II victory celebration train tour stop in Kansas in 1946. There were no photos in the Rays' collection picturing them with the Eisenhowers.

Shepherd Johnson sent an inquiry to the Eisenhower Presidential Library asking, "The individual who now owns the slides is claiming that the people who took the slides were Bernard and Hilda Ray of Midland, Texas and that the Rays were friends of President Eisenhower. Have you ever come across the names Bernard and Hilda Ray in any of President Eisenhower's archival material?"

On May 20, 2015, he received a reply from the Eisenhower Presidential Library stating, “We have not found any mention of the Rays in either the papers of Dwight or Mamie Eisenhower. It is does not appear that the couples knew each other.” Once again, the promoters of the Roswell Slides had it all wrong.

The response from the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in full:
"Dear Mr. Johnson,
Thank you for your inquiry as to whether the Eisenhowers were friends with Bernard and Hilda Ray of Midland, Texas. We have not found any mention of the Rays in either the papers of Dwight or Mamie Eisenhower. It is does not appear that the couples knew each other.
Dwight Eisenhower did have a friend named John A. McDermott, who lived in Midland, Texas and was in the oil business. We do not know of any evidence that Eisenhower ever visited Midland. However, it is not necessarily possible to rule out a train stop. Also, we do not have much information about the Eisenhower's day-by-day activities prior to the early 1950s.
As for the photograph, our Audio/Visual archivist says it is likely a post-war one, perhaps a homecoming welcome photograph of some sort. She can not identify the location and circumstances as it is not from our photograph collection. The man and woman standing with the General and Mamie are his brother, Milton, and his wife, Helen.
Again, thank you for contacting us and if we can be of any further assistance please contact me again.
Kevin Bailey
Reference Archivist
Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library
Abilene, Kansas"

Friday, June 12, 2015

The Smoking Gun: RIP to the Roswell Slides

I'm trying to get out of the Roswell Slides business, but as long as the promoters keep pushing the false claims and making accusations there's some unfinished business.

Most of it is silly, but there are a few points to clear up.

The placard was handwritten in cursive script, how can it deblur into text? 

Tom Carey on the placard from the March 22, 2015 Contacto show with Jaime Maussan: 
“It’s handwritten, it's not typed like it would be in a museum; you know, a museum would have a professional display placard identifying what it is that’s there in the background behind it. This is hand written as though it was written- with just- put together fairly quickly, perhaps for a limited viewing. It's not in the museum, it’s in a indoor location- where we don't know, but it's obviously to us, for a limited viewing, that’s temporary construction.And on the plaque, there is writing, and we have been actively researching, trying to quote unquote “read” what's on the placard for three years and we’ve only recently come into contact with some experts in this sort of thing. We tried reading it on her own, we’ve used several outside people, some of whom, one of whom had done some work on the famous Ramey memo from General Ramey in 1947 and we are now able to read a few of the words, based on what the experts are telling us, and the debunkers who have been debunking this are going to be disappointed, I can tell you that."

Well, that's a curious claim, but let's focus on the "handwriting" for now.

Dr. David Rudiak was one of the experts recruited by Carey and Schmitt to decipher the placard. After Nab Lator deblurred the placard and the RSRG published the results, Rudiak was one of many who was able to duplicate the process:
  "...the motion blur, which was 'boomerang-shaped', jerked horizontally right then diagonally upward to the right (or vice versa). This probably resulted in the printed text having a hand-written script-like appearance. 
Dr. David Rudiak on SmartDeblur of the placard

Why did previous attempts fail but the RSRG and others succeed? 

David Rudiak (in the same statement from above) explains:  
I think the failure to deblur the image previously had nothing to do with the scans provided and had everything to do with the blur being complex in nature (both simple focus and two directions of motion blur), which most deblurring software cannot handle (at least the deblurring software I tried). E.g., to handle motion blur, most packages require you hand-set the direction of blur, which wasn't known here, plus having two directions to deal with. 
It might have helped had we been provided the high resolution scans of the entire slide, which showed the nature of the motion blur.” 
A demonstration by Fin Handley of the "handwriting" to text.

The New News: Laying the story to rest

Below are two stories by RSRG team member S. Miles Lewis, first an excellent history of the whole Slides story (well, except for the missing pieces that still remain hidden).

The (NOT) Roswell Slides Saga…

And finally, the Smoking Gun

The second story is new and important. It covers the recent discovery of an independent photo of the child mummy, one photographed in 1956 at the Montezuma Castle museum in Arizona.
Believe it or not, it's another slide.

Breaking News on the (NOT) Roswell “Alien” Slides

Wait, what about all the claims of anomalies in the body in the photos?

First, I'd note that the people making these claims have not examined the body, not even the slides themselves, only digital copies. The best evidence presented for the case that the photos depict an alien, are the same pictures that include details of the museum where it was displayed, and the label that was placed on the body by people who actually saw and handled the body.  They can be considered the real experts, and they were confident enough put their testimony in writing: