Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Richard Dolan - Ufology's Alan Bullock, or another Jim Marrs?


Richard Dolan is listed as one of Fate magazine’s “Top 100” Ufologists of 2005, which makes sense, as one can hardly attend a UFO-related conference these days without seeing Dolan’s name on the speakers list. He has, in just a couple of years, appeared in a number of documentaries (including two of mine), been interviewed on radio and television, and written a number of articles for various publications about the UFO phenomenon. It is hard to argue with his inclusion on the Fate list, especially as said list includes Dr. Steven Greer, which is the equivalent of putting Benedict Arnold on a list of famous American military leaders, or, in keeping with this week’s Star Wars theme, including Darth Vader on a list of famous Jedi Knights.

To what does Dolan owe this relatively newfound status within the UFO research field? His credentials as a historian of the UFO phenomenon, and, in particular, his 2000 book, UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Cover-Up 1941 – 1973 (Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 2002), which was revised in 2002 (the edition to which I am referring).

His training as a historian is solid – he has an undergraduate degree in history from Alfred University, a small liberal arts college in New York, and a Masters degree in history from the University of Rochester, where he also lives and works. However, historians are ultimately judged not by their academic credentials (although these are, as I have argued elsewhere, an important first step), but by what they do with their training (ie. the research and writing they undertake).

So – how does Dolan rate as a historian, as judged by UFOs and the National Security State?

Not very highly, alas.

Every historian, at some point or another, will speculate about something. History is never so tidy as to offer easy answers to all of one’s questions. For example, in the area in which I specialised while taking Legal History at law school (the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials), the question of how much Albert Speer actually knew about the Holocaust remains open to debate, sixty years later, despite the fact that Speer wrote extensively on the War and his role in the Nazi regime, and despite the fact that there a number of excellent biographies about Speer (my answer was that he knew exactly what was going on, and should have been hanged in 1946, instead of being sentenced to 20 years at Spandau).

The key, however, is to make sure your speculation is grounded in evidence – that you can offer something to back it up beyond just saying “well, it could have happened.” A historian might not be able to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, but he should be able to show that it was more likely than not that a certain thing happened.

With this in mind, an objective read of UFOs and the National Security State, on which Dolan’s reputation in the UFO field as a serious researcher is largely based, shows it to be nothing more than conspiracy theory masquerading as a serious historical study.

Take, for example, Dolan’s conclusions about the death of Captain Edward Ruppelt, which can be found at pp. 236 – 237. Dolan writes:

“We are to believe that his ‘exposure’ to the Contactees prompted him publicly to insult Keyhoe, a man whom Ruppelt knew despised the Contactees… The key lies in Ruppelt’s ‘continuing association’ with Blue Book and air force personnel. No doubt, that was a crucial factor… In the context of Ruppelt’s recent stance toward the air force on UFOs, his rapid and total conversion, and his death at such a young age, matters ought to look suspicious, particularly in light of the capabilities that existed within the American national security apparatus by this time. Whether he was actually killed, or whether he died from the stress brought on by what he had gone through (the belief of [Frank] Edwards and Keyhoe), there seems little reason to doubt that Ruppelt was coerced.” [emphasis in original]

Little reason to doubt?

The fact is that Ruppelt died of his second heart attack, showing that he already had significant health problems. Heart disease is not confined to senior citizens; it can, and in this case clearly did, strike men and women still in the prime of life (a subject I know something about, having been put on cholesterol and blood pressure medication in my mid 30s). Also, Dolan rejects, with no foundation, the testimony of the person who perhaps knew Ruppelt best – his wife, who told researchers that his change of mind had nothing to do with pressure from the government.

Most important, Dolan's speculation indicates that he is unaware of Brad Sparks' extensive research into Ruppelt. I asked Brad (who is also on the Fate Top 100 list, and deservedly so) to comment on Ruppelt. Here is his reply (edited slightly for brevity):

"Dolan claims Ruppelt’s pro-UFO phase was from 1954 to 1957 and then he went “sour.” The first thing I was shocked at when I got hold of Ruppelt’s private papers in 1979, including his extensive 1955 notes and draft manuscript for his 1956 book, was how virulently ANTI-UFO Ruppelt was in his private thoughts written in his own hand in this purportedly pro-UFO period of 1954-7, and remarks meant to be seen by no one except his ghostwriter / co-author, Long Beach newspaper reporter Jim Phelan. Ruppelt sounded just like Donald Menzel, whom he intensely disliked. On one paper Ruppelt in handwriting wrote “kook” in the margin to describe Keyhoe. As I understand it, it was Phelan who edited Ruppelt’s book into appearing to be pro-UFO by deleting his more negative comments and putting a spin on other comments, thus turning it into a popular bestseller. If you read very, very carefully in his book where Ruppelt quotes himself arguing with other AF officers, you will see his anti-UFO hostility or skepticism come through. That was his real viewpoint without the spin. His private papers go on and on about various incidents where IFO’s supposedly fooled him and others and how this just proves there is nothing to UFO’s – and this is entirely separate from his acid commentary on contactees, whom he reveled in when he could easily have just ignored them all. No one was holding a gun to Ruppelt’s head to go attend the Giant Rock contactee conference in the desert. This propensity to indulge in contactee hoakum is very much like Edward Condon, who wasted a lot of time entertaining himself with contactees and kooks. The contactees didn’t “sour” Ruppelt - he sought them out. When Ruppelt was Chief of BB, when strong unexplained UFO cases occurred, he would be forced to take a more neutral position, less anti-UFO and very occasionally but only TEMPORARILY slightly pro-UFO. Just as soon as the case was behind him and the pressure was off, Ruppelt reflexively returned to his hardened anti-UFO posture. Same thing with the 1957 UFO flap. Ruppelt was grudgingly forced into a slightly more favorable public and private position under the weight of the unexplained UFO incidents and even tried to posture himself as offering to return to the AF to head up BB again – his personal ambition was always of greater importance to him than the actual outcome of the UFO investigation. For example, he was most upset when the Eisenhower military budget cuts ruined his plan to quadruple the size of BB, a plan the CIA Robertson Panel approved of, after it was too late to do anything about it in any case. He was also upset when his personal authority at BB was undercut and obstructed by his coverup boss, Col Donald Bower. That’s the unvarnished truth, whether the UFO enthusiast amateur likes to hear it or not."

It gets worse, however. Not satisfied with speculating about Ruppelt’s untimely demise, Dolan turns his attention, at the end of the book, to the sad death of Dr. James McDonald. McDonald, one of the most important figures in the history of ufology, shot himself in June, 1971. As Dolan notes, most UFO researchers agree that he committed suicide, a conclusion that makes eminent sense when one considers that this was McDonald’s second attempt at killing himself - the first came a couple of months earlier, when McDonald succeeded only in blinding himself, which happens more often than one might suspect when a person tries to shoot themselves in the head (for example, immediately after the July, 1944, coup attempt against Hitler, General Ludwig Beck, one of the coup leaders, and a man of undoubted courage who knew how to handle a gun, tried to shoot himself in the head, but only wounded himself – a sergeant had to deliver the coup de grace).

This explanation, however, is not enough for Dolan, who writes, at pp. 381 - 382:

“Let us look at the other possibility. We know that many intelligence agencies were skilled in ‘creating suicides.’ But, one might ask, wasn’t McDonald’s mental condition already deteriorating? Jerome Clark stated that McDonald was ready to ‘crack’ in the aftermath of the SST [PK note - House Committee on Appropriations hearings regarding the supersonic transport, where McDonald, an eminent scientist, was ridiculed for his work and views on the UFO phenomenon]. But what caused this? Embarrassment at the SST hearings? His marriage [PK note – which was in trouble]. Perhaps, one supposes, but both of these explanations feel flimsy. Without exception, those who knew McDonald described him as possessing great integrity and courage. Was he really the type of person to commit suicide?”

To Dolan, the answer seems to be “no,” despite all the evidence that indicates “yes.” He goes on to speculate how the U.S. government could have done this, by using electromagnetic technology to alter his mood, without, again, offering any evidence whatsoever that this was done. Then, he reaches his conclusion:

“Thus, we ask, could McDonald have been the victim of a program using technology such as described above? The answer is yes. Whether or not he was may never be answered… No one is in a position to state whether McDonald’s suicide was real or not. Both scenarios are possible.”

Let me be blunt – with reasoning like that, Dolan would have flunked any history course I ever attended. The fact that something is “possible” does not make it worthy of consideration. Virtually anything is “possible.” The question that the historian must ask is whether, based on the evidence, it is probable.

In the case of Dolan’s speculation about both Ruppelt and McDonald (two of the most egregious examples in his book, but not the only ones by a long shot), he betrays his training as a historian in favour of Jim Marr-esque conspiracy theory. He even acknowledges the difference, sort of, as he begins the speculation about McDonald:

“The reader who has made it this far, and through several unproven conspiracy theories will, it is hoped, endure one more?”

This is a line that has no place in a serious historical study.

That Dolan is considered one of the Top 100 ufologists is not surprising, given where modern ufology seems to be headed (and that’s a shame, especially when researchers like Manitoba’s Chris Rutkowski didn’t make the list). But don’t confuse him with an objective historian, at least where the UFO phenomenon is concerned. He isn’t.

Paul Kimball

P.S. For those not familiar with Lord Bullock (1914 - 2004), to whom I refer in the title of this post, he was one of the 20th century's great historians, and the author of the landmark history of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich, Hitler: A Study In Tyranny. See Bullock's obituary at: http://www.guardian.co.uk/obituaries/story/0,3604,1137623,00.html

20 comments:

AJ said...

I found this line about Dolan in the FATE article interesting:

"He was intrigued by the fact that mainstream and academic culture continued to treat UFOs as amusement"

I think what a lot of UFOlogists probably find irritating is that academics are much, much more interested in and concerned with UFO beliefs than they are about actual UFOs. I know I am. Actually, one of the things I've started to look at recently is the issue of race and gender in UFOlogy.* What's with all the white guys? UFOlogists (local guys, no big names or anything)I've talked to about this just sort of stare at me blankly when I mention things like this.

*I've been preceeded in this topic by Brenda Denzler, whose The Lure of the Edge: Scientific Passions, Religious Beliefs, and the Pursuit of UFOs (2001, University of California Press) has a bit on the demography of the "UFO Community."

Anyway, thanks for the good overview of Dolan's book. Will you attempt to wade into the sequel when it's complete?

Paul Kimball said...

AJ:

Don't get me started on UFO demographics (hahaha).

As for Dolan's sequel, I'll most definitely be reading it and commenting, as it will hit the time period, and subjects, which interest me the most (particularly the MJ-12 fiasco).

Incidentally, none of this is personal - Dolan is a good guy, at least as far as I can tell from interviewing him. He's certainly friendly.

None of which makes him a good historian, alas.

Paul

Mac said...

I'm a Rich Dolann fan. I think his contribution can be appreciated so long as the reader realizes that he has a "conspiracy" bias. To Dolan's credit, he lets you know when he's speculating -- which shows considerably more integrity than many other authors on the subject.

Nevertheless, very good points.

Alfred Lehmberg said...

...a review of the stunning book by Richard M. Dolan,
"UFOs and the National Security State"
by Alfred Lehmberg

In a more perfect future world, an updated copy of a book that I am studying presently will be a much respected core text in the history classrooms of highly accredited colleges. Indeed, it could (and should) go into many different kinds of classrooms (from high school to graduate school) right now, as required reading, and certainly be a top-listed alternate for many other different kinds of classrooms.

A more than cogent work of captivating literacy, it does the -job- of a textbook... it catalogues, lists, and indexes like a textbook, informs like a text book, educates like a textbook... -improves- like a text book... but it -reads- more like a top drawer Stephen King novel! Oh, it's minus all the fictional whimsy and the interesting and inventive characterizations (while it keeps all the bizarre plot twists of a King novel!), of course... it has to be minus those things. It has a -special- responsibility. As much as it can rationally be determined... (?) every word -in- this book is, very likely, true.

Pause to reflect on that a moment. Let it squeegee an intuitional third eye on the courageous cognitive. Let it sink in. "Every word is likely true..."

With this book, Richard M. Dolan (a new minor god I have selected for -my- personal pantheon [g].) is right up there with what I've generally considered the Brahms, Bach, and Beethoven of classical Ufology (with a capital "U"). This small list includes my ufological taproots, E.J. Ruppelt, J.A. Hynek. and J. Vallee. Around these seminal three (and forgetting for a moment the illuminating instruction I've received from Mr. Dolan indicating a demonstrated need for a much -broader- and more -inclusive- roster reflecting a more -complete- pantheon... so as to include gallant -others- we've heard too little about!), are my -other-, very highly respected, ufological musicians: Friedman, Hall, Clark, Sturrock, Haines, Maccabee and Connors et significant al.

All of these intrepid researchers write, and write effectively, rationally, and relevantly, but none have reached out and rung my cognitive gong for a stunning academic connection, or remotely grabbed me by the stacking swivels of my intellectual sensibilities like Dolan's "UFOs and the National
Security State...", and -all- of the preceding researchers have rocked my WORLD to one degree or another... Lately, they are joined, prominently, by Mr. Dolan.

All the way through his -magnificent- manuscript one is compelled to take -continuous- astonished stock ... "Wait a minute!", the reader will -frequently- exclaim while on the -rich- literary journey! All indications -are-, you see, that what you are reading (!) is the way it "was" THEN, and the way it "is" NOW!

Let -that- sink in too! The universe really -is- stranger than we know! Nothing is as it appears! The *rabbit hole* is much, much deeper (and more convoluted) than we -ever- would have imagined!

Dolan informs us that the ufological deck was MARKED from the beginning, patient reader, forgetting for a moment the stealthy stacking, double and bottom dealing, or obvious missing cards manipulated from the shadows of our jealous culture! A bill of damaged ufological goods has been sold to us and continues to be sold TODAY, Dolan warns, and it is sold in a manner only more insidiously and sociopathically evolved than it was before! Mainstream historical materials were (and are!) of substandard issue, and a secondary slight of hand of shameless and self-serving duplicity festoons the imperatives of impious persons whose only claim to righteousness, power, and -control- is (and was) that they'd had the money... They'd -always- had the money...

Verily, Dolan reports that a pig in a ufological poke was proffered and shoved down the throat of a fearful, war weary, already sacrificing, and badly informed citizenry by a lapdog media (even then!). Additionally, at the same time, the beginnings of a coterie of insane and -unaccountable-
black-box agencies schemed and maneuvered (Hoover-like!) busily, secretly, unethically... illegally... resulting in our aggregate personal ignorance, contrived uninformed consent, and the incandescent hatred individual American citizens must endure, from much of the rest of the world, today!

...As the preceding world turns, its skies remain pregnant with unidentified (all but ignored and startlingly INCREDIBLE!) flying objects! Objects capable of the most astounding, other worldly, and flatly impossible aerodynamics achievable! From the very -beginning-, Dolan clearly demonstrates, and at the very -start- (of the modern flap in 1947), CREDIBLE people were giving CREDIBLE reports to CREDIBLE officials running CREDIBLE investigations, and these reports were, in turn, considered CREDIBLE by the even more elevated and -hyper- CREDIBLE!

What happened? Where did that "imperative of credibility" go, and go so abruptly and suspiciously? Dolan has more than a little rational insight into that!

Assiduously careful with the facts of ufological history (and history in general), and in a long and painstaking research effort, Dolan has produced a work so incisive, well-ordered, and reasonable that the well cultivated fog usually surrounding the subject of ufology lifts like a micro-waved cloud! Wary of the usual pitfalls, Dolan is -hugely- successful in providing facts that a reader can put on their -own- framework of ufological understanding (so that the reader is free to derive their -own- ufological conclusions)! *Answers* are not supplied so much as they are refreshingly replaced by rational discussion of the facts as they occur in time... but one can still derive all the answers one can handle, honored reader, rest assured! Dolan's just not going to insult your intelligence by dictating your conclusions. Dolan is a -real- historian!

Grabbing indiscriminately from Dolan's book, some of the discussion includes Dolan's very reasonable thinking on how and why UFOs are treated as a cultural joke, how and why *grand* underrated conspiracies are patently -real-, and he exposes the too conveniently and reflexively interpreted subversive -nature- of UFOs (probably the -real- problem, we'll come to find!). The mechanisms in place for the delegitimization of ufology are identified and iterated, and indications are exposed regarding ufological secrets that are merely -representative- of... even -more- astonishing secrets! Let THAT sink in!

Additionally, the unsettling suggestion that the aggregate secrecy furiously maintained, facilitated, and protected by a non-accountable and non-elected leadership is that these secrets are kept... likely NOT for the reader's benefit, and indeed to her eventual detriment! Verily!

From the book: Do stiff-walking skeptics reveal their pompous ignorance, prejudice, and presumptive conservativeness with the questions they ask... and refuse to ask? Have -many- more "quality" persons had encounter experiences with genuine UFOs than we know about? Was the Condon Committee infiltrated and torpedoed? Does ufology really -rate- a respectable History? How long has our government, -really-, been spying on its rank and file citizenry? What -must- have occurred at Roswell? What are the interests of our ephemerally covert intelligence communities regarding UFOs, then and now? Can Mr. Dolan provide citation for his incredible, far reaching, and illuminating report? Read the book. The preceding teasers don't even get past the first chapter! Read the book! Buckle up, but read the book!!

Read the book to hone a cutting edge for the inexorable future! Read the book to become more than a mere buff of the garden variety ufological! Read the book to begin a process of scraping the cultural scales of last century from eyes ready to enjoy a -new- clarity of unfettered human vision! Read the book and exercise a new freedom! Read the book to catapult us all to the very real STARS! Read the -book- to come refreshingly and positively alive!

It's a textbook. It's a riveting account! It's stranger than fiction, more informative than a quality self-help manual, and it is a genuine ufological secular bible masquerading as a hot page-turner! I could go and on, be more effusive yet (believe that!), but I pause with reluctance (and to the relief of some... I'm sure [g].) so the abused reader can visit the site below for an affordable (cheap at three -times- the price, friends and neighbors!) copy of their own. This book is off the -tall- end of the star scale, seriously! I -unabashedly- give it my highest possible recommendation!

http://keyholepublishing.com/buy.htm

Finally -- a book regarding the ufological FUTURE, written about the ufological PAST, and providing some REAL insight on the... -real-, remember (!)... ufological PRESENT! Real History folks, earning every inch of Apollo "14" astronaut Edgar Mitchell's -towering- endorsement on the thick book's (decidedly clever!)cover. "Thorough and Monumental," the justifiably elite moon-walker said...

With -all- respect to Doctor Mitchell... (?) That's reduced to stupefying understatement! Were even a sizable -minority- of (real) Americans (forgetting for a moment persons -anywhere-!) to read -this- book, the aggregate holistic sensibility of the entire -world- would take a quantum leap forward! This book is that important; this book has -that- imperative; this book is that current and relevant... ( the book should have been written back in 1949 and we would now inhabit a living ring of breathtaking construction in our own asteroid belt (!), and be reaching out to the promise of the ever beckoning stars)!

In closing? This writer's hyperbole circuit-breaker never popped, even if it -did- get a little warm! Believe it. Sincerely.

Read on.

"The Sociopathy of Conspiracy"
http://www.alienview.net/conspire.html

Paul Kimball said...

Alfred:

Uh huh... no surpises there.

Mac:

The problem with Dolan is that, because he has academic credentials, his unsubstantiated conspiracy theorising attains a veneer of credibility that it wouldn't have otherwise.

Worse, he doesn't always let you know when he's speculating - with the Mantell case, for example, which ufology has proved was a Skyhook balloon (ask Kevin Randle or Jerry Clark, for starters), Dolan states that this explantion might not be accurate. His source? Clifford Stone? Again, ask Kevin for a run down on Stone's (non) reliability. But nowhere does Dolan identify Stone as an EXTREMELY controversial (to put it mildly) "source."

There's much, much more (his uncritical treatment of Wilbert Smith, for example), Frank Scully and Aztec ("Scully may have been duped," Dolan writes. "May have??")...

Further, if you look carefully at the footnotes, it's apparent that Dolan did very little (or no) original research (the kind that guys like Brad Sparks have done for decades), but has simply relied on already published materials, or stuff available on the Internet. That might be fine if you're just bloggin away; it is less fine if you are writing what purports to be a definitive historical study.

If one wants to study the history of the UFO phenomenon, one would be better served to pick up a copy of Clark's Encyclopedia. As for a good, standard survey of the relationship between the UFO phenomenon and national security, that book still remains to be written.

Paul

Mac said...

I guess since I'm familiar enough with UFO baloney (the Skyhook incident, Aztec) that I assume everyone is...

Alfred Lehmberg said...

You're right of course, forgetting consistency will presage a measure of predictability, and despite the abundantly safe, blatantly convenient, shallowly irrational, ultimately complacent, and ridiculously prosaic interpretations of well conflicted others. It ~remains~ this world would be a ~whole~ lot better place with a few more "Dolans" and less of the type to which I allude... or any of his detractors.

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Paul Kimball said...

Alfred:

In a nutshell, without, I suspect, intending to, you may have summarized why nobody outside the narrow confines of ufology seems to take the study of the UFO phenomenon seriously.

I say "may" because, as usual, I'm not exactly sure what you mean. For example, I'm pretty sure that "shallowly irrational" and "abundantly safe" are mutually contradictory.

I do get that you like Dolan, however.

To each their own.

Paul Kimball

Alfred Lehmberg said...

You dissemble, Sir; I suspect you've always known exactly what I mean and if you sense the errant contradiction it's because you ~choose~ not to hold your mouth right (or left) in the consideration of it.

Additionally, it's more than a little presumptuous that you'd confuse my assessment of the work with appreciation of the man. I don't *know* the man, hardly, at all. And pushing 60? I've no one left to impress but myself, Mr. Kimball.

Moreover -- for all your, rather lugubrious, protestations to the contrary, it's largely pretty plain that you ~don't~ like Dolan.

Finally, "In a nutshell," no one outside the "narrow confines" takes UFOs seriously (...which is largely monkey paffle... and you know it; how many UFO docs have you produced, all by yourself in its regard?) because those alluded to use trick and treachery, fallacy, and cultivated insentience to keep a requisite seriousness at bay out of intellectual cowardice and too much appreciation of the status quo.

I trust this was clear enough and a demonstration that there is going to be very little that I do without intending to, Mr. Kimball. I'd leave that to persons who might be a little more filled with themselves than I am.

That said... no surprises from you either, Sir.

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Anonymous said...

Its ridiculous to dismiss the whole book becuase of a couple of speculations. Show me a history book that does not contain some unwarrented spectulation.

The value of this book is in its clear presentation of facts, and the speculations are also clearly identifiable so the reader can distinguish one from the other

Paul Kimball said...

Mr. Lehmberg:

When you call a person a "new minor god in my pantheon" you can see how a reader might be confused into thinking you like him as well as his book. Your "review" went beyond the book, and was as much about Dolan.

Par for the course for you, however, as I've noticed from your postings at Updates that you have difficulty distinguishing (or are unwilling to do so) between criticism of a person's work, and his or her person. Thus, eventually anyone who disagrees with you becomes a klasskurtzian pelicanist, or worse.

Just because I don't like Dolan's book doesn't mean I don't like Dolan. Jason Chow, a reviewer at the National Post, one of Canada's two national newspapers, once slammed a UFO film of mine (Do You Believe in Majic, in an article that took up at least 2/3 of the page, no less). "Visually boring," he said. I didn't take it personally, as I'm sure he didn't mean it that way. In fact, some (or much, depending upon who you ask) of his criticism was valid, and I learned from it.

As for the "monkey paffle" reamrk, do you really believe that the UFO phenomenon is taken seriously outside the narrow confines of ufology? Not according to what you wrote in your "review" above, where you gushed that "some of the discussion includes Dolan's very reasonable thinking on how and why UFOs are treated as a cultural joke."

So which is it? Monkey paffle, or a cultural joke?

Alas, you can't have it both ways. As you might say, "that dog won't hunt."

Paul Kimball

Paul Kimball said...

Anonymous:

I allow anonymous comments here (unlike a lot of bloggers) because not everyone has a blogger account, and I don't want any impediments to the free flow of information, or to a discussion. However, when someone is unwilling to even sign his or her name, it's difficult for me to muster much respect for their opinion. Just an FYI.

Having said that, I never said historians don't theorise (in fact, I said that they do). What I said was that there is a difference between establishing a theory that is grounded in solid evidence and research, and speculating without any evidentiary background. Dolan's sin, at least as a historian, is that he chose the latter path.

Paul Kimball

Alfred Lehmberg said...

PK: When you call a person a "new minor god in my pantheon" you can see how a reader might be confused into thinking you like him as well as his book. Your "review" went beyond the book, and was as much about Dolan.

Lehm: Bravo Mr. Kimball, rather predictably you leap on a little bit of hyperbole and fashion the obligatory purse from that sow's hairy ear. Your piqued assessment that my review was as much about Dolan as about his landmark book is just more of your usual, if overworked, feint and dodge... which may work reasonably well in small claims court, but here seems a little disingenuous and inordinately snarky. The officious derision proffered regarding the quotes around 'review' above was classic 'Kimball', too. Mine was a full review, Sir. It was written to convince a fence-sitter to give Dolan's book a try... just as your arrogantly overbearing piece was contrived to do the inverse of that. I'm betting that mine might get more people to read Dolan's book than yours would get those same persons to pass.

PK: Par for the course for you, however, as I've noticed from your postings at Updates that you have difficulty distinguishing (or are unwilling to do so) between criticism of a person's work, and his or her person. Thus, eventually anyone who disagrees with you becomes a klasskurtzian pelicanist, or worse.

Lehm: You may be right, Mr. Kimball! I'm not required to pretend a collegiality that is inappropriate, forced, or duplicitous... just as you are not required to pretend one with me... as you have succinctly demonstrated here in this thread. Besides, I think it's crystal clear that there are many times when it is obvious that the man ~is~ the work, and the work ~is~ the man. The separation you allude to is a convenient divestiture to facilitate your smirky conduct and insulting lack of manners, an obvious conventionalist's axe to grind, and rampant professional ego. Moreover, if you have eyes to see with and ears with which to hear... and do not? ...Would rather mire yourself in defeated conventional wisdoms and worship a discredited status quo? Then you are a self-made klasskurtzian pelicanist I had no hand in producing, Sir.

PK: Just because I don't like Dolan's book doesn't mean I don't like Dolan.

Lehm: Forgetting that won't be true just because you have proclaimed it, Mr. Kimball, we'll hold it in abeyance until the full import of ~your~ canted review has been appreciated by one and all.

PK: Jason Chow, a reviewer at the National Post, one of Canada's two national newspapers, once slammed a UFO film of mine (Do You Believe in Majic, in an article that took up at least 2/3 of the page, no less). "Visually boring," he said. I didn't take it personally, as I'm sure he didn't mean it that way. In fact, some (or much, depending upon who you ask) of his criticism was valid, and I learned from it.

Lehm: This is another statement made that won't be true merely because you have proclaimed it, Sir, besides which it seems a little too pat to be useful as an illustration. Why? Because it is hard to swallow that your (now self-discredited) "baby" was labeled "boring" by a major reviewer and you were blissfully unaffected by the slight... and was able to rationalize that Chow didn't mean it the way it was written. Astonishing. Artists don't behave this way usually. Maybe lawyers do.

PK: As for the "monkey paffle" reamrk, do you really believe that the UFO phenomenon is taken seriously outside the narrow confines of ufology?

Lehm: Of course! Any other thinking is ludicrous and self-serving even in the short run of this thread. Most persons think UFOs should indeed be taken seriously. Ask Mr. Friedman, I've heard him wax eloquently on the subject, many times. Besides, Mr. Kimball, just who was it you were producing your Docs for, if not that majority? Why does mainstream media trot them out for "Sweeps" week?

PK: Not according to what you wrote in your "review" above, where you gushed that "some of the discussion includes Dolan's very reasonable thinking on how and why UFOs are treated as a cultural joke."

Lehm: Nice try... but it does miss the broad side of the obligatory barn by the errant parsec. The majority I allude to is held in fearful abeyance by persons such as yourself, and it these latter persons, like yourself, seeming to work so passionately so as to keep the subject of UFOs treated as a cultural joke. Oh yes, and where it might me said that I ~can~ gush... that sincere gush will always trump a pompous, conflicted, and canted snarl.

PK: So which is it? Monkey paffle, or a cultural joke?

Lehm: Another fallacy! You invent an either/or out of whole cloth and then challenge me to pronounce upon it. You invented it, Sir. Provide your own response.

PK: Alas, you can't have it both ways. As you might say, "that dog won't hunt."

Lehm: Har! The dog hunted successfully, fed well, and then paused briefly to leave a little free fertilizer on your micro-managed lawn. It remains that Dolan produce a monumental piece of work that is ill served by your dismissive bloviation of a hack-job faux-review. But that's just my take on it.

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Paul Kimball said...

Mr. Lehmberg:

Do you get paid by the word? I mean, really - hasn't anyone ever told you that brevity is the source of wit?

Now, as to your latest ill-tempered broadside...

So... according to you, I am disingenuous. I am self-serving. I am a self-made klasskurtzian pelicanist. I am arrogantly overbearing.

Wowee.

I love you too.

Considering the source of those accusations, I'll wear them with pride.

As for the question of how an artist would behave or react, I think we both know, sir, that as much as you'd like to pretend you know the answer to that, the truth is that you don't have the faintest clue what an artist would or would not do, unless it's as an (unintentional) comedian, or clown.

I trust that's clear enough for you, sir.

Thanks for dropping by. Don't let the door hit you... well, I'm sure you know how that goes.

Paul Kimball

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Right... ever so glad we cleared this up... ta ta.

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Alfred Lehmberg said...

Richard Dolan is listed as one of Fate magazine's "Top 100"
Ufologists of 2005 (see
http://www.fatemag.com/2005_UFOSpecial_Top100.html), which makes sense, as one can hardly attend a UFO-related conference these days without seeing Dolan's name on the speakers list.

Lehmberg: It may make a damn sight better sense than you allow, Sir. Mr. Dolan has made a substantive contribution to a contentious study that you have failed to remotely match, Mr. Kimball. Your too airy dismissal that one can't swing a dead cat in ufology without hitting Mr. Dolan is more complement than you can allow. Is it true that those who ~won't~ do and haven't can only watch and comment on those who can do and have?

Kimball: He has, in just a couple of years, appeared in a number of documentaries (including two of mine), been interviewed on radio and television, and written a number of articles for various publications about the UFO phenomenon.

Lehmberg: Right! Highly consulted, and by your own admission. But the reader should be put on notice that these left handed complements (left handed because you employ the right-wing tactic of insulting the foundation of honorable accomplishments... like the neo-cons did with John Kerry and his Purple Hearts) are well recognized men of straw, lightly fashioned now to be easily demolished later. Better the reader should be directed to the contempt you hold for Fate magazine, other documentary makers, and conference producers.

Kimball: It is hard to argue with his inclusion on the Fate list, especially as said list includes Dr. Steven Greer, which is the equivalent of putting Benedict Arnold on a list of famous American military leaders, or, in keeping with this week's Star Wars theme, including Darth Vader on a list of famous Jedi Knights.

Lehmberg: Poorly slung, and so much insentient, monkey paffle. You intimate that this is an unclever thing and that the rational wouldn't remotely consider it, when it would be irrational and partisan (no surprise here) to keep Arnold and Vader off their respective lists. What are you trying to sell here? Scientifically, be it good, bad, or ugly or however you would contrive to spin it, Sir -- and I stand what ~I've~ communicated about Dr. Greer... he's a name on the list, and deserves to be there. As does Mr. Dolan, in spades, and for more efficacious reasons.

Kimball: To what does Dolan owe this relatively newfound status within the UFO research field? His credentials as a historian of the UFO phenomenon, and, in particular, his 2000 book, UFOs and the National Security State: Chronology of a Cover-Up 1941 - 1973 (Charlottesville, Virginia: Hampton Roads Publishing, Inc., 2002), which was revised in 2002 (the edition to which I am referring).

Lehmberg: At this point I take a moment to remind the reader that you take pains to avoid talking about Dr. Vallee's contribution to the new edition of "UFOs and the National Security State," employing the less than honorable debating technique of avoiding facts that won't support your agenda?

Kimball: His training as a historian is solid -

Lehmberg: That's absolutely right and should not be downgraded later to facilitate a crap-wash of canted conjecture masquerading as balanced discourse...

Kimball: ...he has an undergraduate degree in history from Alfred University, a small liberal arts college in New York, and a Masters degree in history from the University of Rochester, where he also lives and works.

Lehmberg: ...but like a deacon waving a very faint incense you do exactly that. I think it's about this point where I'm supposed to ask you if you have no shame.

Kimball: However, historians are ultimately judged not by their academic credentials (although these are, as I have argued elsewhere, an important first step), but by what they do with their training (ie. the research and writing they undertake).

Lehmberg: Har! Sounds like the soul of sage thinking, a portrait of even-handedness, and the very model of critical rationality until one remembers that it is only your personal appeal to an authority you've constructed for your own purposes... and that it ~might~ be that you won't be the best most nonpartisan person to pronounce on the literary quality of Dolan's book or even anything written by baldly maligned Jim Marrs.

Kimball: So - how does Dolan rate as a historian, as judged by UFOs and the National Security State? Not very highly, alas.

Lehmberg: Har! ...Because ~you~ say so? Because ~you~ have so intoned? Because you used the word "alas" (...Like the evil Emperor in Episode IV ) smirking a sarcastic sympathy you in no way feel?

Kimball: Every historian, at some point or another, will speculate about something. History is never so tidy as to offer easy answers to all of one's questions. For example, in the area in which I specialised while taking Legal History at law school (the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials), the question of how much Albert Speer actually knew about the Holocaust remains open to debate, sixty years later, despite the fact that Speer wrote extensively on the War and his role in the Nazi regime, and despite the fact that there a number of excellent biographies about Speer (my answer was that he knew exactly what was going on, and should have been hanged in 1946, instead of being sentenced to 20 years at Spandau).

Lehmberg: You try to introduce apples for oranges here and turn up the kliegs on your own immaterial accomplishments as you do so. I suspect this was a mechanism to do just that only. Your law degree, as it turns out, will be the same kind of red herring you bemoan elsewhere regarding the credibility of ufological whistle-blowers based on their military service... being a barrister will not, all by itself, improve your quality as a ufological commentator.

Kimball: The key, however, is to make sure your speculation is grounded in evidence - that you can offer something to back it up beyond just saying "well, it could have happened." A historian might not be able to prove something beyond a reasonable doubt, but he should be able to show that it was more likely than not that a certain thing happened.

Lehmberg: Still -- it does seem to be true that your are, largely, the only person to say that Dolan is essentially guilty of this academic infidelity. Less biased commentators with more gravitas, experience, and balance are not offended by Dolan's professional behavior... Could it be that this is only a devise to expand your own ufological reputation at the thoughtless expense of your ufological betters?

Kimball: With this in mind, an objective read of UFOs and the National Security State, on which Dolan's reputation in the UFO field as a serious researcher is largely based, shows it to be nothing more than conspiracy theory masquerading as a serious historical study.

Lehmberg: Some opinions ~are~ like anal pores, it seems. I would suggest that your reading is entirely subjective, Sir.

Kimball: Take, for example, Dolan's conclusions about the death of Captain Edward Ruppelt, which can be found at pp. 236 - 237. Dolan writes:

"We are to believe that his 'exposure' to the Contactees prompted him publicly to insult Keyhoe, a man whom Ruppelt knew despised the Contactees. The key lies in Ruppelt's 'continuing association' with Blue Book and air force personnel. No doubt, that was a crucial factor. In the context of Ruppelt's recent stance toward the air force on UFOs, his rapid and total conversion, and his death at such a young age, matters ought to look suspicious, particularly in light of the capabilities that existed within the American national security apparatus by this time. Whether he was actually killed, or whether he died from the stress brought on by what he had gone through (the belief of [Frank] Edwards and Keyhoe), there seems little reason to doubt that Ruppelt was coerced." [emphasis in original]

Kimball: Little reason to doubt?

Lehmberg: Of course, unless your political naiveté matches your historical one. We are not entirely blameless, Sir, with regard to closed institutions, duplicitous governments, and ubiquitous agencies without accountability. The hat of western civilization is not entirely white, Mr. Kimball. You're smart even if you are obtuse, so I can only wonder why you would pretend such stunned incredulity... that assassination, character or otherwise, might not be a stealthy tool of these aforementioned governments, institutions, or agencies. That said... maybe you're not keeping up with ~current~ events. White hats appear to be a thing of the past. An internet seems to show more and more that most hats are dark. Still -- even at the best? Doubt seems rational. Dolan's explication shows he might even be conservative in his rational speculations.

Kimball: The fact is that Ruppelt died of his second heart attack, showing that he already had significant health problems. Heart disease is not confined to senior citizens; it can, and in this case clearly did, strike men and women still in the prime of life (a subject I know something about, having been put on cholesterol and blood pressure medication in my mid 30s). Also, Dolan rejects, with no foundation, the testimony of the person who perhaps knew Ruppelt best - his wife, who told researchers that his change of mind had nothing to do with pressure from the government.

Lehmberg: ...Another straw man, Mr. Kimball. Another attempted silk purse from a sows ear. You took the least likely, if still plausible, case and bounteously used it to discredit the very rational idea. It remains entirely "possible," that Dolan's assessment may be as conservative as I have suggested before:
http://www.rense.com/general62/list.htm
http://www.rense.com/general62/lest.htm

Kimball: Most important, Dolan's speculation indicates that he is unaware of Brad Sparks' extensive research into Ruppelt. I asked Brad (who is also on the Fate Top 100 list, and deservedly so) to comment on Ruppelt. Here is his reply (edited slightly for brevity):

Lehmberg: "...Deservedly so..." Why pussy-foot? Just ~say~ you think Dolan has no place on the list.

"Dolan claims Ruppelt's pro-UFO phase was from 1954 to 1957 and then he went "sour." The first thing I was shocked at when I got hold of Ruppelt's private papers in 1979, including his extensive 1955 notes and draft manuscript for his 1956 book, was how virulently ANTI-UFO Ruppelt was in his private thoughts written in his own hand in this purportedly pro-UFO period of 1954-7, and remarks meant to be seen by no one except his ghostwriter / co-author, Long Beach newspaper reporter Jim Phelan. Ruppelt sounded just like Donald Menzel, whom he intensely disliked. On one paper Ruppelt in handwriting wrote "kook" in the margin to describe Keyhoe. As I understand it, it was Phelan who edited Ruppelt's book into appearing to be pro-UFO by deleting his more negative comments and putting a spin on other comments, thus turning it into a popular bestseller. If you read very, very carefully in his book where Ruppelt quotes himself arguing with other AF officers, you will see his anti-UFO hostility or skepticism come through. That was his real viewpoint without the spin. His private papers go on and on about various incidents where IFO's supposedly fooled him and others and how this just proves there is nothing to UFO's - and this is entirely separate from his acid commentary on contactees, whom he reveled in when he could easily have just ignored them all. No one was holding a gun to Ruppelt's head to go attend the Giant Rock contactee conference in the desert. This propensity to indulge in contactee hoakum is very much like Edward Condon, who wasted a lot of time entertaining himself with contactees and kooks. The contactees didn't "sour" Ruppelt - he sought them out. When Ruppelt was Chief of BB, when strong unexplained UFO cases occurred, he would be forced to take a more neutral position, less anti-UFO and very occasionally but only TEMPORARILY slightly pro-UFO. Just as soon as the case was behind him and the pressure was off, Ruppelt reflexively returned to his hardened anti-UFO posture. Same thing with the 1957 UFO flap. Ruppelt was grudgingly forced into a slightly more favorable public and private position under the weight of the unexplained UFO incidents and even tried to posture himself as offering to return to the AF to head up BB again - his personal ambition was always of greater importance to him than the actual outcome of the UFO investigation. For example, he was most upset when the Eisenhower military budget cuts ruined his plan to quadruple the size of BB, a plan the CIA Robertson Panel approved of, after it was too late to do anything about it in any case. He was also upset when his personal authority at BB was undercut and obstructed by his coverup boss, Col Donald Bower. That's the unvarnished truth, whether the UFO enthusiast amateur likes to hear it or not."

Lehmberg: With all respect to Mr. Sparks, other researchers have come to divergent conclusions... one such is "...Summer of Saucers -- 1952" by M.D. Hall and Wendy Connors, a book liberally dosed with Ruppelt's private writings. Regarding the three chapters unsatisfactorily cobbled to the end of Ruppelt's landmark book "The Report...," H&C write, -- "In those pages Ruppelt's objective and open minded attitudes on UFOs, which had so characterized his 1956 book, changed drastically. For instance, in the concluding sentence of his earlier manuscript he flatly stated, "Maybe Earth is being visited by interplanetary spaceships. Only time will tell. Perhaps that was just an [editor's] touch, but by 1959 when he was composing the additional chapters, Ruppelt appeared to become more doubtful of extraterrestrial origin. [He wrote,] 'No responsible scientist will argue with the fact other solar systems may be inhabited, and that some day we may meet those people. But it hasn't happened yet and until that day comes we are stuck with our space age myth -- the UFO.'" Moreover -- if one reads "very... very carefully" in Ruppelt's book there are all sorts of veiled references to events which prove to be discomfortingly contentious, for some, to this day. For instance, he writes, "Other assorted historians point out that normally the UFOs are peaceful, Goreman and Mantel just got too inquisitive, 'they' just weren't ready to be observed closely. If the air Force hadn't slapped down the security lid these writers might not have reached this conclusion. There have been other and more lurid 'duels with death'." What would you make of that, Mr. Kimball. This seems contrary to you, Sir, and more a support for Frank Feschino's "pitched battle with UFOs" conjectures. It remains that your table is far from cleared.

Kimball: It gets worse, however. Not satisfied with speculating about Ruppelt's untimely demise, Dolan turns his attention, at the end of the book, to the sad death of Dr. James McDonald. McDonald, one of the most important figures in the history of ufology, shot himself in June, 1971. As Dolan notes, most UFO researchers agree that he committed suicide, a conclusion that makes eminent sense when one considers that this was McDonald's second attempt at killing himself - the first came a couple of months earlier, when McDonald succeeded only in blinding himself, which happens more often than one might suspect when a person tries to shoot themselves in the head (for example, immediately after the July, 1944, coup attempt against Hitler, General Ludwig Beck, one of the coup leaders, and a man of undoubted courage who knew how to handle a gun, tried to shoot himself in the head, but only wounded himself - a sergeant had to deliver the coup de grace).

Lehmberg: Anne Druffel, "In Firestorm" is not entirely convinced that your prosaic explanation vis a vis McDonald is remotely locked up and relates these troubling inconsistencies in her book. It remains that the jury is far from in on the subject and your perhaps naive (perhaps something else?) conjectures are, at best, premature. At worst?

Kimball: This explanation, however, is not enough for Dolan, who writes, at pp. 381 - 382:

"Let us look at the other possibility. We know that many intelligence agencies were skilled in 'creating suicides.' But, one might ask, wasn't McDonald's mental condition already deteriorating? Jerome Clark stated that McDonald was ready to 'crack' in the aftermath of the SST [PK note - House Committee on Appropriations hearings regarding the supersonic transport, where McDonald, an eminent scientist, was ridiculed for his work and views on the UFO phenomenon]. But what caused this? Embarrassment at the SST hearings? His marriage [PK note - which was in trouble]. Perhaps, one supposes, but both of these explanations feel flimsy. Without exception, those who knew McDonald described him as possessing great integrity and courage. Was he really the type of person to commit suicide?"

Kimball: To Dolan, the answer seems to be "no," despite all the evidence that indicates "yes."

Lehmberg: ...And you, in turn, patently (and perhaps conveniently?) oblivious to all the evidence that indicates "no." ...And about which both Dolan and Druffel have written competently and compellingly...

Kimball: He goes on to speculate how the U.S. government could have done this, by using electromagnetic technology to alter his mood, without, again, offering any evidence whatsoever that this was done. Then, he reaches his conclusion:

"Thus, we ask, could McDonald have been the victim of a program using technology such as described above? The answer is yes. Whether or not he was may never be answered. No one is in a position to state whether McDonald's suicide was real or not. Both scenarios are possible."

Kimball: Let me be blunt - with reasoning like that, Dolan would have flunked any history course I ever attended. The fact that something is "possible" does not make it worthy of consideration. Virtually anything is "possible." The question that the historian must ask is whether, based on the evidence, it is probable.

Lehmberg: Let ~me~ be blunt. Dolan is far from having to leap ~your~ your errantly tedious hurdles , Mr. Kimball, and I suspect did well enough in college, performing adequately to superbly in those courses you proclaim, inexplicably, that he would have failed. Your conjecture won't hold much water given that he's satisfied the requirements for a an MS in History, that you'd airily refuse, now, to award him. That's ludicrous.

Kimball: In the case of Dolan's speculation about both Ruppelt and McDonald (two of the most egregious examples in his book, but not the only ones by a long shot), he betrays his training as a historian in favour of Jim Marr-esque conspiracy theory. He even acknowledges the difference, sort of, as he begins the speculation about McDonald:

"The reader who has made it this far, and through several unproven conspiracy theories will, it is hoped, endure one more?"

Kimball: This is a line that has no place in a serious historical study.

Lehmberg: Feh! Why? Because ~you~ say so? I think your idea of a "serious" study is one that compliments your conjectured fantasies and supports your narrow world view. There's a lot more going on than is dreamt of in your two-color, nicky new-guy, and obtuse ufological philosophy.

Kimball: That Dolan is considered one of the Top 100 ufologists is not surprising, given where modern ufology seems to be headed (and that's a shame, especially when researchers like Manitoba's Chris Rutkowski didn't make the list). But don't confuse him with an objective historian, at least where the UFO phenomenon is concerned. He isn't.

Lehmberg: Har! He's a parsec from you and you're still scraping his dust from an old two barreled carburetor. It remains that he has produced a definitive work on the subject with Volume II on the way, while you snap at his well armored anklets like an errant puppy clamoring for an attention you neither deserve or have coming to you. "But that's just my take on it."

alienview@adelphia.net -:|:-
www.AlienView.net

Paul Kimball said...

Alfie:

I thought you said you were leaving? And yet, here is all this (repetitive) prattle waiting for me when I turned on the computer today.

Well, I'll leave it up, because it says a lot more about you than me, and I do find it amusing, in a weirdly twisted sort of way. However, as we know (in oh so excrutiating detail) where you stand, all future comments will be deleted, so don't bother.

I'll leave it to Jerry Clark and Dick Hall - two ufologists with more 'gravitas' - to sum up Dolan's book:

"This is a book that ought to be read with a large saltshaker at hand." - Clark

www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2002/oct/m-29-023.shtml

"Although his UFO history is reasonably accurate, I would seriously dispute the 'scholarly' label when it comes to his conspiratorial view of Government secrecy." - Hall

www.virtuallystrange.net/ufo/updates/2002/oct/m29-010.shtml

I couldn't agree more.

Paul Kimball

RRRGroup said...

Now this is what a blog is supposed to be...

Rich Reynolds

Paul Kimball said...

Rich:

Not in my world it's not.

There must be something in the air up here that is turning we ordinary Canadians into monsters (oh, I know what it is - the overwhelming stench of Liberal corruption).

Anyhoo, decorum shall now return. I thought about deleting the posts after Lehmberg's original comments, but I've decided to keep them, except for the last three, so that, should I be tempted to get into this kind of useless, childish back and forth again, I can always return here and see what it looks like.

Time to call a cease fire, at least from me. This kind of crap is part of what's wrong with ufology.

Back to being a good Canadian...

Paulie

Bruce Duensing said...

Ufology as a social movement founded by former pulp fiction writers stands apart from discovering the nature of the phenomenon.

As if looking at the sky with a backwards pointed lens would reveal anything other than paranoiac nonsense based on the free floating anxiety and other maladies skating all around us.

I enjoyed the forensics of your post.

The stereotype of hard shelled craft carrying aimless and faceless technocrats certainly fits the mold of scientific materialism and in turn reflects where this movement originated which seems to be in the post atomic existentialism that has it's own chaotic path...

Goofy is a word that describes this movement as a understatement..It's a real slog to go through the psycho drama attached to it.