Monday, June 12, 2017

UFOs: Reframing the Roswell Slides Fiasco

UFOs: Reframing the Debate is the new book edited by Robbie Graham. It's a collection of essays, sort of an estimate of the situation from many voices. "Critical but constructive, this challenging volume represents a range of differing (even conflicting) alternative viewpoints on UFOs and related phenomena." More details on the contributing authors and content can be found at 

Robbie Graham asked me to contribute by sharing the story of the Roswell Slides Research Group's work. I was reluctant to revisit the episode, but was persuaded by the value of putting it under the microscope as a case study. Robbie recently posted on Facebook about the essay and the illustration that introduces it:

This original artwork from 'UFOs: Reframing the Debate' was created by the brilliant Red Pill Junkie (aka Miguel Romero). It illustrates a tremendously valuable essay in the book, titled 'What's Wrong with This Picture?', written by Curt Collins.

Collins was one of several members of the Roswell Slides Research Group (RSRG), which, in 2015, successfully debunked those now infamous slides which purported to show the image of a deceased alien entity. Collins' essay in the book is the definitive accounting of how the RSRG operated in tackling one of the greatest ufological blunders (or hoaxes, depending on your perspective) of the 21st Century.
The essay is intricate in its detail and reads like a true-life detective story of how a handful of researchers, separated in some cases by thousands of miles but united in cyberspace, took it upon themselves to expose as fraudulent the claims of dubious UFO personalities screaming from the hilltops that they had found the smoking-gun for Roswell, and that UFO Disclosure was now just a step away.
The reader can make up their own mind as to what motivated the Slides’ promoters, but, for me, this was less a conscious hoax, and more a case of blind belief. The promoters wanted so desperately for the “evidence” to fit their firmly-established perspective on Roswell and UFOs more broadly, that they fooled themselves completely, seeing only what they wanted to see. And they fooled a great many UFO enthusiasts and researchers in the process. When the truth was exposed—that the Slides showed not an alien body, but something entirely down to Earth—it felt to many like the final nail in the coffin for popular ufology. Certainly, it can be said that the Slides debacle represents everything that’s wrong with “ufology” today.
In 'UFOs: Reframing the Debate,' Collins presents the RSRG investigation as a potential model for future UFO research and investigation—an example of how researchers can work together to solve definitively certain cases and prevent the spread of misinformation in the field. Collins reflects on the strengths and weaknesses of his group’s methodology and observes:
“Groups can be great tools, but they have their limitations. Each of us must remain objective, seek the best evidence and ask challenging questions, whether as part of a team or as individuals."

I'm honored to be included, and thank Robbie for the nice introduction, and Miguel for the great illustration. I would like to add that my goal in writing it was to reveal previously unknown details, both about the events and the investigation. Even those already familiar with the Slides saga will learn something new things about how and why the events unfolded and the aftermath. As part of the Reframing book, I hope it will help inspire readers to think about ways to bring about some positive changes in the collective efforts to understand the phenomenon of UFOs.

What's Wrong with This Picture? Bonus Features

The book did not allow for the inclusion of case photographs, but the key images related to the slides can be shown here.

The leaked slide from the Kodachrome trailer.

The image was adjusted into proportion by Narrenschiffer.

Carey showed this "forensic drawing" by Schmitt during
BeWitness, saying it was a close match for the body in the Slides.

Slide 11

Slide 9

Nablator used SmartDeblur to reveal the placard text.

Photo from National Park Service documents.

Jorge Peredo located a 1956 photo taken by Frank Hadl.

The show goes on: Jaime Maussan lecture from 
March 15, 2017 at the University of Colorado.

Endnotes for What's Wrong with This Picture?

Here are the sources cited in the essay, saving the effort of typing those many long URLs:

1. Michelle Basch, "UFO experts say ‘we are not alone’," WTOP, Nov. 13, 2014

2. Jaime Maussan, BeWitness Press Conference, Conferencia de Prensa Jaime Maussan beWITNESS / Sé Testigo Auditorio Nacional, February 4, 2015

3. Narrenschiffer, Der Ufo-Absturz bei Roswell, 08.02.2015 at 21:30, Allmystery, Feb. 8, 2015

4. “Roswell Slides Today's Update,” A Different Perspective, Feb. 10, 2015

5. David Hunt, “A Child’s Mummy,” AnthroNotes Volume 33, No. Spring 2012.

6. WGN News, “Vivian Maier Meets the X-Files: Has Chicago Man Uncovered Secret Alien Pics?” Feb. 18, 2015

7. Paul Kimball,  “The ‘Roswell Slides’ Witness,” The Other Side of Truth, Feb. 27, 2015

8. Rich Reynolds, “The [New] Roswell Slides Group,” UFO Conjecture(s), March 2, 2015

9. José Antonio Caravaca, “¿Es Esta la Momia, El Famoso 'Extraterrestre’ de las Diapositivas de Roswell?¿,” Esos Misteriosos Objetos Celestes y sus Tripulantes, March 25, 2015

10. Gilles Fernandez, “The Roswell Slides Saga: Some Claims vs. Facts,” Sceptiques vs. les Soucoupes Volantes, March 25, 2015

11. “12am Roswell Slides” The Conspiracy Show with Richard Syrett, April 12, 2015

12. Tim Printy, SUNlite, Vol. 7, no. 3, May/June 2015

13. BeWitness Part 1 and 2, The Face of Roswell, May 19, 2015

14. Curt Collins, “The Placard of the Roswell Slides: The Final Curtain,” Blue Blurry Lines, May 8, 2015

15. Slidebox Media, “Real Placard,” Kodachrome: Documentary about the Roswell Slides 1947, May 9, 2015 (original screenshot archived at)

16. Rich Reynolds, “The Roswell Team's placard scans and the new Anti-Slider's placard scan,” UFO Conjecture(s), May 8, 2015 (archived at)

17. Press Release, The ‘Roswell Slides’ Research Group, May 8, 2015

18. Isaac Koi,”Roswell Slides Solve the mystery in 1.5 minutes,” Above Top Secret

19. Nab Lator, “Analysis of the ‘Roswell Slides’ (FAQ),” Nabbed, May 18, 2015

20. Anthony Bragalia, “The ‘Roswell Alien Slides’ and My apology to a Dead Child of the Mesa Verde,” A Different Perspective, May 10, 2015

21. Tom Carey and Don Schmitt, “Statement,” Blue Blurry Lines, May 12, 2015

22. Curt Collins, “Shepherd Johnson finds documents that finish the Roswell Slides,” Blue Blurry Lines, June 13, 2015

23. Jorge Peredo, post on Facebook, June 9, 2015

24. “Jaime Maussan Video Evidence That UFOs are real,” (at 57m,23s) YouTube channel, Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Aug. 27, 2015, published, Jan. 6, 2016

25. “Interview with Tom Carey & Don Schmitt,” Podcast UFO, July 20, 2016

Further Resources

BeWitness, May 5, 2015
Red Pill Junkie's article, "The Roswell Slides: Chronicle of a Mummy Foretold" is perhaps the only piece by a member of the audience, and describes the experience of being there in Mexico City to see "the changing of history,"

S. Miles Lewis' "The (NOT) Roswell Slides Saga…" at the Anomaly Archives prompted to write, 
"When the history of the Roswell Slides is written, this page will be a primary resource.”