Saturday, April 30, 2005


I'm curious.

These days, abductees describe aliens as... well, alien - little greys, for example. By all acounts, definitely not creatures you' want to meet.

However, in the good old days of the contactee movement (or with Billy Meier's Pleaidians), the extraterrestrials were / are human-like, and beautiful.

All things considered, then, I would much rather be "contacted" than "abducted."

Which leads to the inevitable question...

If I was contacted by an extraterrestrial, which human would I - or you, dear reader - want them to resemble?

The point of reference for this discussion is science fiction movies and television series.

For me, the answer is easy - Erin Gray, aka Colonel Wilma Deering in the Buck Rogers television series. I used to beg the folks at Space to stick it in their line-up, but I now own the Box DVD set, so I can watch Erin / Wilma whenever I want (Erin Gray is the only woman I know who could make "Wilma" sexy).

I had such a crush on her when I was younger. Technically she wasn't an alien on Buck Rogers(she played a human woman)... but so what? She was once possessed by a space vampire, which made her a sort of alien, and that's close enough for me!

Anyway, I'd be interested in hearing from other prospective "contactees" - which sci-fi character would you like to have take you on "a ride" to Venus?

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 28, 2005

The UFO Phenomenon: Where... Or When?

Most discussion these days within ufology centers on the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) as the explanation for the phenomenon. Where, they ask, are the UFOs from? "Why, another solar system," is the usual answer.

I agree that this is one possibility. But it is unproved, which means that other possibilities may be just as valid (including, of course, that all UFO sightings really do have terrestrial explanations).

One intriguing possibility, rarely mentioned these days by ufologists, is that UFOs may be time travelers.

In short, the question may be not where they come from, but when.

I can hear the chuckles now... "Kimball has been watching too much Star Trek, or Dr. Who" (it is true that I am a big fan of both shows, in all their varied incarnations). Time travel is silly. Can't be done.

Interestingly, pro-ETH ufologists bristle when those same comments are made about travel through space.

But many physicists will tell you today that time travel as a theory makes as much sense as interstellar travel (just as they'll also tell you that both are beyond our level of knowledge right now).

The late Carl Sagan, an ETH skeptic, did not rule out time travel as an explanation. See He stated "There's the possibility that [time travelers are] here and we do see them, but we call them something else - UFOs or ghosts or hobgoblins or fairies or something like that."

Michio Kaku, while not explicitly linking it with UFOs, has nevertheless written extensively about the possibililities of time travel. For a short introductory article, see

Stephen Hawking rejected time travel for years. These days, he's not so sure.

Then there's the philosophical implications behind the concept of time travel, which Joel Hunter of the University of Kentucky has speculated about. See

A couple of other sites worth checking out are: (Neil Johnson, physicist, Oxford University); and (a good, quick "primer" - time travel film in-joke intended - for non-scientists like me).

The concept of time travel raises as many interesting possibilities about the UFO phenomenon as does the idea of interstellar travel - perhaps even more. For example, for those worried about the future course of humanity, it provides hope. After all, if we make it far enough to master time travel, we should be doing okay otherwise (at the very least, we'll still be here... er, there...).

Even more interesting are the religious implications. Some ETH advocates (like Barry Downing) have posited the theory that the God of the Bible was really extraterrestrial in origin. But what if we are the God of the Bible. One of the central ideas behind God, after all, is that He is eternal - yesterday is today is tomorrow to Him. If we ever do master time travel, we become capable of the same thing. We become, perhaps, our own God - masters of the Eternal Now.

Now, that's probably all a bit much for ufology. But perhaps it shouldn't be.

After all, if we conclude that aliens more advanced than us could figure out how to get from there to here (as ETH proponents like Stan Friedman do), what's to say that, hundreds or thousands of years from now, WE couldn't figure out how to get from then to now?

Paul Kimball

Hillenkoetter to Menzel - "No MJ-12"

Here's a conundrum for the MJ-12 proponents - if Vice Admiral Roscoe Hillenkoetter (above) and Dr. Donald Menzel were members of MJ-12, or any other group designed for a similar purpose, why would Hillenkoetter write Menzel the following private letter on September 19, 1963 (as Hillenkoetter dated it)?

"Dear Dr. Menzel:

Please accept my deepest apologies for the delay in answering your letter of 2 August, as well as the acknowledgment of the receipt of your book. I was away for some time during the summer and the Navy Department forwarded your letter to my home where I was a long time receiving it.

Thank you very much for your book. To my mind, it was very well done and I enjoyed it and found it of great interest. I should say that you have effectively put to rest all surmises about flying saucers being from 'outer space.' You have done a thorough and praiseworthy job.

As I told you at the last 'Ends of the Earth', I resigned from NICAP about twenty months ago feeling that it had degenerated from an organization honestly trying to find out something definite about possible unknowns, into a body bickering about personalities. The Air Force, too, could have helped by not being so secretive.

At all events, you have done a fine job and I am very grateful you were so kind as to send me your book.

Again with kind thanks and the hope of seeing you at the next 'Ends of the Earth', please believe me.

Most cordially,


R. H. Hillenkoetter
Vice Admiral, U.S.N. (Ret.)"

A couple of questions in particular:

1. Hillenkoetter singled out the Air Force as being "so secretive" - why make this statement if he was "in" on the secret, either as one-time director of the CIA, or as a member of MJ-12?

2. Hillenkoetter, in giving his reason for leaving NICAP, stated that it was no longer interested in finding out the truth behind the "possible unknowns" - if he knew already the truth as a member of MJ-12, why would he care?

3. If Menzel and Hillenkoetter were both on MJ-12, wouldn't Menzel know Hillenkoetter's home address, and have sent the book there, rather than sending it to the Navy (Hillenkoetter was retired, after all) to forward on to Hillenkoetter?

Now, conspiracy types and MJ-12 stalwarts will no doubt look at this letter and conclude that it was all some sort of code - that this was just part of the elaborate cover-up.

But does this make sense, particularly when this was a private letter, that neither the author nor the recipient would have expected to see the light of day?

Of course not.

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 25, 2005

The Abduction Phenomenon and Hypnosis

There is perhaps no area of the UFO phenomenon more controversial than alleged alien abductions. This has been demonstrated recently in a number of intense threads at UFO Updates, including “UFO Couple Use Story to Spark Alien Abduction” (which begins at www.virtuallystrange,net/ufo/updates/2005/apr/m16-015.shtml)
and “Sakulich and the Betty & Barney Hill Case” (which begins at

My position on abductions has always been straightforward. If the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis (ETH) is valid, then it is reasonable to assume that abductions may be occurring, in a manner similar, perhaps, to the way that the European explorers used to take natives aboard their ships, or, in some cases, even back to Europe. If the ETH is not valid, then neither is the abduction phenomenon, at least as an alien-related event. In my opinion, Jerry Clark provided the most reasonable conclusion with respect to abductions when he wrote, with respect to the Hill case (the most famous of all abduction cases), “The resolution of the Hill case awaits the resolution of the UFO question itself. If UFOs do not exist, then Barney and Betty Hill did not meet with aliens. If UFOs do exist, they probably did. The evidence available to us from this incident alone provides no answers surer than these. In other words, no answers at all. For now, anyway.”

Thus, the “abduction phenomenon,” like the “UFO phenomenon,” remains unsolved (as the ETH remains unproved), and people on both sides of the issue should retain an open mind – I know I do.

What concerns me about the modern abduction phenomenon, however, is not the phenomenon itself, but rather its reliance on hypnosis as an investigative tool (although not all cases involve hypnosis, the majority certainly seem to, although exact figures are difficult to come by). Like most lawyers, I am extremely leery of any testimony obtained through hypnosis, which I regard as highly unreliable.

I’m not the only one. For example, legendary UFO researcher / author Jacques Vallee, when asked about John Mack’s work, stated that while he “respected [Mack’s] courage” he disagreed with his methods. “Usually scientists tell me that hypnosis is not the best way of helping these people. Nor is it the best way to recover memories.” (see interview at

Kevin Randle, Russ Estes and Dr. William Cone, in their landmark study The Abduction Enigma (New York: Tom Doherty Associates, 1999), examine the use of hypnosis by today’s leading abduction researchers (including Mack, Budd Hopkins, John Carpenter and Richard Boylan). They concur with Vallee. “Hypnotic regression,” they write, “is a poor tool for finding the truth, it allows the subject to confabulate amazing memories and act on those memories as if they were true, and its validity is now being questioned. In fact, in many states, a witness who has been hypnotized in an attempt to learn more of an event can no longer be called as a witness. Courts, and science, recognize how easy memories and events can be reconstructed or confabulated by a clever hypnotist. Even those whose motives are a search for the truth can, and do, lead the subject into memories that are not part of reality.” (p. 338)

As Randle et al note, the law treats hypnosis with extreme caution. For example, the Crown Prosecution Service in the United Kingdom states, “Information obtained under hypnosis should always be treated with extreme caution. There is a strong likelihood that evidence obtained under hypnosis will be unreliable and inadmissible in criminal proceedings.” They note that a person under hypnosis may be subject to “cueing,” which means, “explicit or implicit suggestion by the hypnotist; something said long before the session; something that the witness just happened to be thinking about; and a fantasy of the witness.” During hypnosis, the CPS states, “these can become fixed as facts in the mind of the subject. There is no reliable means of guarding against this happening.” [emphasis added] While hypnosis may be used in “exceptional circumstances” it is “highly desirable to look for corroboration of any evidence obtained under hypnosis before allowing a prosecution to proceed.” The problem with abductions, of course, is that there is no independent corroborative evidence available. For more information, see the CPS’s website at

Perhaps most interesting were the views of Betty Hill, the original “abductee.” In an interview with The Fortean Times about her 1995 book A Common Sense Approach to UFOs (see, she slammed modern abduction researchers and their reliance on hypnosis. The entire interview is a must read for anyone interested in the abduction phenomenon, or the Hill case; however, here are some pertinent excerpts.

“The reason I wrote this book was to try to get across to people that they should stay away from hypnosis. Don’t let anybody fool around in your brain. I mean, you have problems enough to live with yourself, without other people making their contribution.”

She was then asked about why there was a similarity among the stories told to each investigator, but the stories are different from investigator to investigator (a phenomenon Randle et al discuss in detail in The Abduction Enigma).

“Because the investigators are directing them to have those fantasies,” she said. “They’re suggesting them to them. They’re very, very destructive people.” [Note: Hill, of course, had memories supposedly recovered under hypnosis, but she distinguished the “medical hypnosis” she and her husband underwent from the less rigorous techniques used today by abduction researchers such as Budd Hopkins.]

For a general primer on the pros and cons of hypnosis, see "Key Concepts in Hypnosis" by Dr. Campbell Perry, Professor Emeritus of Psychology at Concordia University (Montreal), at

Does this mean that the entire abduction phenomenon is invalid, or that it is impossible that what lies behind it is extraterrestrial?


The conclusion that I proffer here is simple, and more limited in scope - that those abduction cases in which hypnosis is used as a tool to recover "lost," or "suppressed," memories, should be treated with extreme caution.

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 22, 2005

The Aztec Three

Artwork from the documentary Aztec 1948, by Halifax artist (and filmmaker) Jason Goodyear. From left to right, the credulous Frank Scully, an uneasy looking Leo Gebauer (aka Dr. Gee) and Silas Newton, plotting something nefarious, to be sure!

Thursday, April 21, 2005

Whither Ufology?

Tomorrow, the X-Conference kicks off in Washington. All of us interested in the UFO phenomenon should use this moment to ask: "whither ufology?"

Is it going to head down the Exo-politics road, following Michael Salla, Steven Greer, Steven Bassett, and all of their whistleblowers?

Is it going to head further down the Conspiracy of Silence / Cosmic Watergate path, which has always been an undercurrent to the study of the phenomenon, but which has, since Roswell, taken center stage?

Or is it going to head in a "new" direction - back to the actual study of the phenomenon, as pursued many years ago by the likes of Hynek and McDonald?

To judge by the speakers line-up at the X-Con, and most of the other UFO conferences out there, it seems that the future is going to be a combination of Exo-politics and conspiracy theory (the two do tend to go hand in hand).

But (insert moment when Rich Reynolds and others call me naive)...

Rather than being the New Paradigm, these are the dying gasps of the Cult of Conspiracy (and these aspects are cult-like, in the same way that the SETI folks are cult-like). Attendance at conferences is down, no matter how hard the conference organisers deny it. The days of the college lecture circuit for UFO speakers are largely over. The media, by and large, ignores the UFO phenomenon.


Not because of some grand government conspiracy. Nope - it's because most people are sick of Exopolitics and conspiracy theories. They've simply tuned out. As one broadcaster told me about Roswell - "oh God, not another Roswell film - it's been done to death."

Ufology made a tragic mistake in the late 1970s and early 1980s. Instead of continuing to look at the evidence of sightings, and trying to develop a coherent methodology for studying that evidence, it veered off (largely thanks to Roswell) into the conspiracy field. And that seemed to work, to an extent - for a while. But then people got tired of it.


Because it is a dead-end.

Here's the "other side of the truth" about Exo-politics and the government "cover-up."

Yes - the government has been less than forthcoming about the UFO phenomenon.

No - there's nothing we can do about it, no matter how many FOIA requests are filed.

The irony of the Exopolitics / Government "cover-up" group's position is that if the government is all pervasive, as Salla et al suggest, then the truth, at least as the government knows it, will remain buried.

What?? After 60 years they're suddenly going to succeed where everyone else failed??


If, on the other hand, there is no "cover-up," as I suspect is the case (this is different than saying that the government has been fully forthcoming about what it does and, more importantly, doesn't know), and the government has always been as confused about the UFO phenomenon as the rest of us, then the past twenty years have, to a great extent, been wasted.

Either way, there is no gold to be found in "them thar conspiracy hills." It is a road that has led to MJ-12, Alternative 3, Bill Cooper, Area 51, Bob Lazar, and Richard Dolan's "Death of the Republic." It is the fringe of the fringe, and it is, increasingly, irrelevant to people who want the "truth" about the UFO phenomenon.

The "gold" is, as it has always been, in the skies above us. This was the real message of the ABC Special Seeing is Believing.

Fortunately, more and more people are starting to realise that.

As a British pal of mine might say, "it's about bloody time."

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 18, 2005

Detecting Liars

A few weeks ago at UFO Updates, the question of whether or not Robert Sarbacher was being truthful in the 1980s when answering questions from various ufologists (Friedman, Clark, Maccabee, Steinman) was raised.

Jerry Clark suggested that people who hesitate, or have trouble remembering some details, are less likely to be liars, because that behaviour indicates that they simply cannot remember, and are trying to be truthful. Jerry wrote, "If Sarbacher was lying to me, he was certainly an odd liar. He must have answered a good half of my questions with 'I don't know.' My experience with liars has told me that they always know everything."

For Jerry's comments, see:

I countered with what any lawyer, judge, police officer, etc. knows - that, as a general rule, the opposite is true. These are people who make a living, to some degree or another, trying to determine whether or not a person is telling the truth; presumably, they have a bit more training, and experience at it, than Jerry does - just as Jerry has a greater knowledge of ufological history than most police detectives, or trial lawyers.

For my response, see:

This has great relevance for someone like Bob Lazar, for example, who can remember the details about his Area 51 story, but has consistently had trouble "remembering" when he received his alleged university degrees. Ditto, perhaps, Robert Sarbacher in his responses to UFO researchers in the 1980s, or even in 1950, when he met with Wilbert Smith.

Just recently, at the American Medical Association's 23rd Annual Science Reporters Conference, Dr. Maureen O'Sullivan, a psychology professor at the University of San Francisco, weighed in on the subject of lying and liars, and how to detect them. Dr. O'Sullivan conducts seminars for police officers and others on how to detect lying, and is an expert on the subject.

There are two categories of clues to a lie, thinking clues and emotional ones, she explained.

"Basic emotions are hard to conceal completely," O'Sullivan said. People may be afraid of being caught or happy that they are putting something over on another person, so some inappropriate emotion may flicker across their face.

O'Sullivan calls these "microexpressions" - changes that last less than a second. The people who are best at catching liars are able to notice them.

The thinking clues occur because it's harder to lie than tell the truth, she said [emphasis added - PAK]. To lie, people have to make something up. This can lead to hesitations in speech, slips of the tongue, lack of detail in what they are saying.

A group known as "superliars" is aware of those problems, she added, but may overcompensate by talking too fast.

"Anxiety by itself is not a sign of deception," she added, "there are other things you have to look for ... things that are inconsistent with what they're saying."

Look for shrugs: "is someone telling you something very positive and shrugs in the middle," she said. Watch body posture, hand gestures, eye flutters.

So, who is good at detecting these various clues and sorting out the liars?

O'Sullivan said FBI and CIA agents were only about average in lie-detecting ability, but a strong performing group was Secret Service agents who guard politicians and spend a lot of their time scanning crowds for nonverbal clues.

Interestingly, police officers tend to be above average in cases involving crimes but not in emotional situations, she said, while therapists were just the opposite.

Of course, the best way to detect a liar is to examine what they say against other, objective evidence (documents, accounts from other people, previous statements) to see if there are inconsistencies or other obvious problems with the information that they proffer as the truth. Lazar and Sarbacher both have these problems, as I have pointed out elsewhere. Ufologists who support Sarbacher, for example, have never explained why, if he was telling Wilbert Smith the truth in 1950, he would have stated that the "facts" reported in Behind the Flying Saucers were "substantially correct," when they were nothing of the sort, as most of these same ufologists have themselves pointed out over the years.

However, it is also important to look at how people say things, so long as you know what the signs are that one can normally look for to try and determine if a person is being truthful. This part of the equation is far from foolproof, but it is something that ufologists need to understand, and to keep in mind when interviewing people who claim to have some sort of knowledge relevant to the UFO phenomenon.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, April 16, 2005

The Media and the Early Days of the UFO Phenomenon - Part I

Today, the mainstream media, with some exceptions that prove the rule, tends either to ignore the UFO phenomenon, or to relegate it to the lifestyle or pop culture section of newspapers or television news broadcasts, as opposed to the news section itself, or perhaps the science or editorial sections.

Leaving aside the tricky question of why this is the case, let me simply observe that it was not always so.

In the early years of the UFO phenomenon, the media took it very seriously (which is different from saying that they necessarily accepted that UFOs were "flying saucers" from another planet). For example, "These Flying Saucers" appeared in the 14 April, 1950 issue of The Spectator, at pp. 489 - 490. This article by Robert Waithman asked some questions that are still pertinent today.

Excerpts follow:

"... Hundreds of reports have come in. They did not stop coming in when the Air Force announced that there were no Flying Saucers and that its project was being abandoned. They have not stopped coming in during the last week or so since the White House and the Defence Department put out the latest denials. And now we shall have to proceed with great caution; for these denials have implications which do not yet appear to have been fully examined in this country, and the implications are going to carry us very far, unless we watch out, and possibly whether we watch out or not...

The serious trouble, warning of which was conscientiously given several paragraphs ago, is now coming uncomfortably close. When the White House and the Department of Defense say that no Government department is making or Flying Saucers ('We are not denying this because of any development of secret weapons, but purely because we know of nothing to support these rumours,' said Mr. Charles Ross, the President's Press Secretary), it could amount to a piece of official prevarication - as it would be, for instance, if some private concern or some part of the aircraft industry were doing the work - and it could be a plain lie. But it seems easier to believe that it is neither. Since the President and the Department of Defense would be in serious difficulties with the electorate in the future if they were ever proved to have deliberately misled the people in this case, it is easier to believe that Flying Saucers are not being produced here and are almost certainly not being produced with American knowledge in Russia - or, for that matter, in Britain either.

The implications of this readjustment of belief are plain; and we shall have to go plunging on, with scarcely a pause to mop the beads of perspiration now gathering on the forehead. We shall have to start the easy-stage exercise again; and now we are down to two simple alternatives. One: there are no Flying Saucers, and all the reports are false. Two: there are Flying Saucers, and they come from another world in the infinite universe. Of course there are no Flying Saucers: they are tricks of the imagination or leg-pulls. Those who can should accept alternative one and drop into a dreamless and enviable sleep. Those who can't had better consider at least an outline of the argument for alternative two, which has cropped up here in several literate forms during the last few months.

It begins by asking whether anyone can dismiss from his mind altogether the possibility that a race of beings, one or more centuries further advanced along the scientific path than we, have found the answers to the questions we are now beginning to ask. We are talking about an earth satellite vehicle, rockets and radar experiments with the moon. Suppose they - the other beings - had got far beyond that? Suppose they had got to the point of sending remotely controlled or manned 'observer units' to and from the earth. Well? For at least two centuries there have been reports of unexplained objects in the skies. If they have lately become more frequent, it may be because the far-away beings have made recent progress, or because our atomic explosions and high-altitude rockets have attracted their attention. You see why it would have been better not to go on. The whole thing gets worse from this point. It is not onlt that - as anyone who looks back into the files can discover - the first official statements issued on the U.S. Air Force's 'Project Saucer,' which began in January, 1948, revealed much uncertainty and on one occasion went so far as to say that these phenomena were not a joke. It was much later that, without any adequate explanation of much of the material that had been gathered, the official line was changed to the present brusque 'all bunk' policy. The question whether the Air Force has come into possession of information which it isn't prepared to launch upon an over-excited world has not surprisingly occurred to a number of people here.

'Project Saucer' was resoundingly declared to have been closed last December. But it has been reported, apparently reliably, that Air Force intelligence officers have been flown to the site of airfields and airports where pilots have sighted 'unidentified flying bodies' within the last few weeks and have submitted the pilots to thorough interrogation. And it is not only that either. I know a man who says he is a friend of such a pilot. He says that when the Air Force men reached the airport they went over the pilot's plane with a Geiger counter, which is an instrument that detects any sign of radio-activity. The man I know demands to be told why, if they feel as certain about the non-existence of Flying Saucers as they're supposed to feel, they go on fiddling about with Geiger counters. I haven't been able to give him any really convincing answer."

Paul Kimball

Friday, April 15, 2005

William Steinman's Aztec "Investigation" Part IV - Witnesses Continued

In UFO Crash at Aztec, William Steinman describes his short trip to Aztec, New Mexico in July, 1982, where he conducted an "investigation" into the alleged crash of a flying saucer near Aztec in 1948. Unable to find any witnesses in Aztec itself, or near the supposed crash site (including the man who owned the land in 1948), Steinman wandered over to Blanco, which is a few miles to the east of Aztec. There he was directed by an "oldtimer" to "V.A.," who Steinman trumpets in his book as "AN EYEWITNESS AT LAST!"

V.A.'s story went as follows (UFO Crash at Aztec, pp. 259 - 259):

"V.A. told me that he had witnesses an incident involving a flying saucer, so close up that it left a vivid impression in mind ever after [Steinman's emphasis]. One morning, somewhere between 1948 and 1950, V.A. was out performing his usual chores for the day. Suddenly he heard a loud explosion, like a jet breaking the sound barrier. He looked in the direction of the sound, and saw a huge disc-shaped flying object with a dome on the top. This object appeared to be larger than his house, and was within 200 yards of him [Steinman's emphasis]. It appeared to be in trouble, skimming about 100 feet above the ground, and it wobbled as it flew."

Steinman continued:

"V.A. pointed to a cliff which jutted about 150 feet above the Animas River on the back side of the farm. 'That thing, or flying saucer, tried hard to clear that cliff; but it hit the very corner up there, shooting sparks and rocks every which direction. Finally it made a straight right angle turn in mid-air and headed straight north. That's the last I saw of it.' (Straight north was a bee-line for the Heart [sic] Canyon crash site.). V.A. proceeded to say, 'I ran into the house and I called the military in Albuquerque. I never heard from them about it.'"

Steinman's response to this story?

"Here we have testimony which could be one of the most vital pieces to the puzzle, and to solution of the Aztec flying saucer recovery story. I have to admit that V.A.'s testimony started, at that point, to make me a believer!"

One can only laugh at this point - for those who have been following this little saga, it should be clear that Steinman started his "investigation" as a "believer" of the first order.

If Steinman had been an objective searcher for the truth, he would have immediately noticed some major flaws in V.A.'s account.

First, there is the statement that what V.A. saw left "a vivid impression in his mind ever after." Apparently, however, that vivid impression did not include a recollection of the year in which the incident happened, as the best he could do was peg it at "somewher between 1948 and 1950." Now, if something like this happened to me, I would certainly be able to recall at least the year in which it happened, if not the precise date. Note that V.A. was very specific about details that he could invent, such as what he saw, but was much vaguer about details that Steinman should know, or could check, like the date / year of the incident. This is a clear sign that someone is being, shall we say, less than truthful.

Of course, it could have just been a faulty memory, as the Aztec proponents would no doubt reply. I find this unlikely, given the momentous nature of the event, but I will agree that if this was the only flaw in V.A.'s story, there would at least be room for doubt.

However, there is an even bigger problem. V.A. described a flying saucer clearly in trouble. According to him, there was "a loud explosion," "the disc appeared to be in trouble... and wobbled as it flew," and then, after it passed low over his house, it failed to clear the corner of a cliff, hitting the outcropping and "shooting sparks and rocks every which direction."

Unfortunately, this "saucer in trouble" bears no resemblance to the saucer described by Dr. Gee (aka Leo Gebauer) in Behind the Flying Saucers. Other than a single broken window, there were no marks on that ship. As Dr. Gee explained to Scully, "the outside surface showed no marking of any sort, except for a broken porthole." The alleged saucer had not been in trouble in the manner V.A. described it, but rather had "gently pancaked to earth like a slow motion of Sonja Heine imitating a dying swan" (Behind the Flying Saucers, p. 115). This is also what Scientist X (aka Silas Newton) claimed at his infamous University of Denver lecture, when he stated, "Thos connected with the research... believed that all three craft landed under the guidance of their own instruments and did not crash, despite the fact that their crews were dead. They may have landed on instruments or they may have been guided the whole distance. But they did not crash (Behind the Flying Saucers, p. 28).

So what's going on here? The answer, undoubtedly, is that V.A. had indeed heard some rumours of a flying saucer crash near Aztec, all of which can in one way or another be traced back to the Newton and Gebauer story, which would explain why he was uncertain about the year. When Steinman wandered by, V.A. had a little fun with him, taking the basic rumour and spinning his own version that placed him at the center of events.

If Steinman had really been interested in the truth, rather than being desperate to find someone who would corroborate what he already believed to be true, he would have seen the major problems with V.A.'s story immediately, and moved on. But, as we have seen, finding the truth was not the purpose of Steinman's "Aztec investigation" back in July, 1982.

To be concluded...

Paul Kimball

Blast From The Past, Vol. III - The NY Times on Behind the Flying Saucers

The NY Times review of Behind the Flying Saucers, from 10 September, 1952, at p. 39, by Sidney Shallett:

"Frank Scully, author of 'Fun in Bed' and other airy works, is identified in some biographical notes furnished me as a 'professional humorist.' As I advanced through this incredible volume, I kept waiting for the funny snapper. But this time Mr. Scully is in earnest (at least, I think he is).

Early in 1949 I wrote a couple of magazine articles on flying saucers. My conclusions were that there was no evidence to support theories that saucers were coming from Russia or other planets, though the door was left open to the possibility that some saucer-viewers might be observing still-secret United States experimental air projects. One of the delights of having written these articles is reading in books such as Scully's the purported 'inside story' of how I was caught up unwittingly in a sinister plot, launched by high officials, to keep the 'truth' from the American public.

Mr. Scully seems to believe (1) that flying saucers are real; (2) that they come from Venus or other planets and (3) that they are controlled by some sort of magnetic force. The saucers, we are told, can also disintegrate things. Scully explains the case of a Kentucky National Guard pilot, who climbed too high and crashed to his death while chasing what he thought was a flying saucer. Scully writes: 'The captain was proving a source of annoyance in his pursuit of a magnetically controlled flying saucer. A button was pushed and Mantell and his plane were no more.'

Scully also reports that three flying disks from other planets have landed in New Mexico and Arizona. Two of them, he says, contained sixteen dead men about 35 or 40 years old and 36 to 42 inches in height. The third, and smaller, disk contained only two little men. The Air Force grabbed all the evidence and the bodies, but the 'Pentagonic witch-hunters' have kept it a dead secret from the public. One of the bodies, however, Scully implies, was pickled and exhibited publicly in Chicago, without identification, just to find what people would say about it. All this information Scully got from a dear personal friend and a renowned 'geophysicist,' a 'Doctor Gee.'

It is remotely possible, of course, that Mr. Scully could have the inside track on what he calls 'one of the biggest stories in history.' More likely, his eccentric book will succeed only in stirring up confusion."

Alas, his "eccentric book" continues to stir up confusion, over five decades later, both in terms of the Aztec case in particular, and crashed flying saucer stories in general.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, April 14, 2005

Blast From The Past, Vol. II - Time Magazine's Review of Behind the Flying Saucers

Excerpts from Time Magazine, 25 September 1950, re: Behind the Flying Saucers.

"For several months the lists of bestselling books have offered multiple proof of man's incurable yearning for marvels. Near the top of the 'nonfiction' section stood Immanuel Velikovsky's scientifically preposterous Worlds in Collision (astromony based on hashed-up mythology). Close below was L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics (psychiatric home-treatment practiced as a sort of parlor game).

Last week both books were threatened by a new rival in the science-fantasy field. Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers was amazing its staid publisher with steadily mounting sales. Scully... is a Hollywood columnist for Variety, show business' smart-cracking trade sheet. On nearly every page of his solemn book is proof that he may not know much about science but that he is, as they say in show business, an 'operator.'

Author Scully short-circuits his critics in advance by an inverted appeal to 'military-security.' Flying Saucers are real, he states, and of non-earthly origin; at least three flying saucers have been captured in the southwest, along with their scorched crews of extraterrestrial midgets. But all the 'scientists' who examined the craft have been silenced, Author Scully says, by threats from the Government, egged on by the Air Force. 'You've got to believe me,' says Scully in effect, 'all informed denials are official lies.'

Scully got his start as a flying-saucer expert by association with talented Oilman Silas M. Newton of Denver, who, he says, locates oil deposits by their microwaves (microwaves do not penetrate rock). Through Newton, Scully met a mysterious 'Dr. Gee,' who does similar feets by detecting 'magnetic waves' (which do not exist) with a magnetron (a radio transmitter tube, not a detection device). Flying saucers, says Dr. Gee (quoted by Scully), travel among the planets by magnetism...

Measured for scientific credibility, Scully's science ranks below the comic books. Rival 'operators,' including Variety's Joe Laurie, Jr., who reviewed Behind the Flying Saucers, suspect that Scully may be kidding. In any case, his book's quick success is an interesting comment on the public's dazed state of mind toward recent scientific wonders. After accepting atomic energy, radar, etc., presumably the public could swallow anything. Why not believe Dr. Gee's saucer-borne midgets flying in from the depths of space?

The present-day effectiveness of 'military security' (e.g., during construction of the atomic bomb) has made the public suspicious of all official denials. What sort of new, fantastic wonders may be concealed behind the denials? Modern air engines (turbojets, ramjets, rockets) are powerful enough to make almost anything fly. Disc-shaped helicopters with ramjets on their rotor edges are not impossible. They are not midget-manned space ships but their test flights might have provided a base for flying saucer reports.

Theoretically, of course, invading space ships are not imposible. The point is that neither Scully nor any other purveyor of flying-saucer tales has yet produced evidence that they exist. There are no convincing photographs of them. Scully says he has handled metals they are made of (harder than diamond, with a melting point above 10,000 degrees), but no such miraculous stuff has yet been reported by any reputable laboratory.

Last week the Air Force, in a rather tired voice, denied once again that it has ever found any evidence of any space ships or that it is concealing any of its own. Once again, flying-saucer enthusiasts were unconvinced."

Against all logic, both Dianetics and Behind the Flying Saucers continue to have their adherents to this day.

Perhaps Tom Cruise is also an Aztec proponent. Given the story's Hollywood connections, it would only be fitting.

Paul Kimball

William Steinman's Aztec "Investigation" Part III - Witnesses Continued

On 17 September, 1982, William Steinman wrote to scientist Thomas Townsend Brown, whom he was convinced was "Dr. Gee." See his letter at

The interesting part is his brief description of his Aztec "investigation" of July 6 - 10, 1982. Steinman writes:

"I visited Aztec between July 6 and July 10th of this year on an investigative tour. I found the crash-site and 4 witnesses in town, one of which was Mr. Harold Dunning, the 1948 ranch owner." [emphasis added]


Harold Dunning is the "H.D." to whom Steinman refers in UFO Crash at Aztec. In "William Steinman's Aztec 'Investigation' Part II - Witnesses" yesterday, I quoted Steinman's version of his encounter with Dunning. Here it is again:

"I confronted H.D. with questions pertaining to the alleged incident. He snapped back in a very upset voice, 'I don't know anything about what you are talking about - now leave me alone!' I sensed a tenseness and a nervousness in his voice, almost as if he were at one time coerced and coached into answering in that way. [I] wrote several letters to H.D. over a period of 18 months following the interview. He didn't answer any of them; but his daughter-in-law did finally come through with an answer. In a letter dated October 15th, 1982, Mrs. B.D. stated, 'My father-in-law is tired of receiving letters from you. He was not told to shut up by the Army. He is old, almost blind, and doesn't want to be bothered about that subject anymore!!'" [emphasis added]

Now, you could pick twelve people off any street in any town in North America, form an ad hoc jury, and ask them if Mr. Dunning could, by any stretch of the imagination, be characterised as a "witness to the Aztec incident"when he specifically denied that he had any knowledge, and they would look at the above and answer "No!"

And yet here was Steinman "misleading" (the polite word) Thomas Townsend Brown about what he had "found" during the Aztec "investigation." In fact, he had only one "witness," a person whom I will discuss in Part IV - but it wasn't Dunning!

Why, oh why, does Steinman have ANY credibility within ufology??

Incidentally, you may ask about Thomas Townsend Brown's response. Well, you won't find it in UFO Crash at Aztec, but here it is for the record, from his letter to Steinman dated 29 September, 1982 (which can be found at

"Dear Mr. S...

Your interest in UFO's is commendable but I am wondering if it is a bit futile. I myself have no evidence, even in recent years, that valid encounters have ever actually taken place. The thought, however, persists that there may be something to the stories. Only time will tell. For my part, I have never personally ever seen anything to support the rumours.

You ask if I ever had any part in the alleged UFO investigations near Aztec, N.M. The answer is definitely NO, your Dr. Gee must be someone else, for I don't even know of such investigations and, even now, question their authenticity.

Sorry I can be of so little help to you.


T. Townsend Brown"

Of course, in the strange, twisted world of William Steinman, the above letter would constitute proof positive that TTB was in fact Dr. Gee.

To be continued...

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 13, 2005

Blast From The Past, Vol. 1 - The Saturday Review and Behind the Flying Saucers

There were a number of reviews for Frank Scully's Behind the Flying Saucers written in 1950; none, that I've been able to find, from any major news or literary publication, which were favourable.

My favourite was written by Roland Gelatt, and appeared in 23 September 1950 issue of The Saturday Review (pp. 20-21, 36). Here are some choice excerpts:

"Before going any further we should make it clear that Behind the Flying Saucers in and of itself isn't worth much fuss. But as a representative of a growing and singularly unfortunate reversion to medieval processes of thought this repetitious and sloppily assembled volume has considerable significance...

The gist of Frank Scully's information emanates from a supposedly eminent geophysicist, whom he never identifies, and from Silas M. Newton, described in the book as 'one of the great geophysicists of the oil industry,' who has 'made and spent millions...' Our curiousity peaked about Silas Newton, we checked with the American Petroleum Institute and learned that he is neither a member of the American Association of Petroleum Geologists nor of the Geological Society of America. According to our informant, Newton is not the figure in the oil industry that Scully would have us believe....

Despite the unprecedented shroud of secrecy enveloping these discoveries 'Dr. Gee' was allowed to take home souvenirs from the flying saucers. Replying to our request for pictorial evidence, Scully told SRL that 'no photographs of parts will be available to anybody under present tensions.' What a strange paradox! Evidently 'present tensions' allow the publication of a report that the earth is being explored by visitors from other planets but will not allow presentation of corroborating evidence...

The souvenirs included... a radio the size of a pack of cigarettes that had no tubes, no wires, and only one dial. 'Dr. Gee built a special antenna for it, about four inches high, and was able to catch a high C sort of note at fifteen minutes past every hour.' This radio bears examination... observe that it is heard fifteen minutes past every hour. Presumably the radio is tuned to Venus or some other body out in space. But earlier in the book we were told that the flying-saucer people operated on magnetic time, which is slower than earth time. It is odd, then, that this sound should be heard regularly at a quarter past the hour on our clock. A disturbing inconsistency - and aggravated at the end of the book when we discover that the radio has shrunk to 'one-inch square' and that it is used as a 'magnetic radio telephone' by 'Dr. Gee' and Mr. Newton, which implies that a microphone, not previously mentioned, exists. Contradictions of this order abound throughout Behind the Flying Saucers; to chronicle them all would be both tedious and pointless...

No one questions the fact that Frank Scully is entitled to his opinions. The trouble, however, is that he offers considerably more than opinion. If this book appeared as science-fiction, even if it appeared as speculative conjecture, there would be slim cause for objection. But Scully claims to present fact; he wants to set himself up as the supreme authority, to put all snipers out of court. SRL does not take the position that flying saucers are a myth. There have been enough descriptions from such steady observers as airline pilots to put us on our guard... We are prepared to admit that where there is smoke there may be flying saucers. What we take exception to is the irresponsibility of palming off random speculation as fact. What we deplore is the studied exploitation, a la Velikovsky, of a current hankering for superstition. To give substance to our disaproval we shall offer a reward. To the first man from another planet who walks into this office, with or without Frank Scully, SRL will present $100,000."

Fifty-five years ago there were people who saw Scully (who is described by today's Aztec proponents as the "Dan Rather of his day"), and his ridiculous book, for what they were. And yet, all these years later, there are still people (a small group, to be certain) who still don't get it, and who still claim that Scully was right.

And some folks wonder why I call the Aztec case "Ufology's Dracula?"

Paul Kimball

William Steinman's Aztec "Investigation" Part II - The "Witnesses"

Now that we have established how Steinman discovered the Aztec "crash site" let us take a look at how he found his "witnesses" back in 1982, and what they had to say [again, all references are to UFO Crash at Aztec]

First up was "Mr. W.M." who was a Deputy Sheriff in Aztec in 1948. Steinman's new friends the Meltons suggested that he might know something. According to Steinman:

"I went up and confronted Mr. W.M. at his farm, on 8 July 1982. There, I introduced myself and immediately asked the question: 'What can you tell me concerning the crash and recovery of a flying disc by the U.S. Military out in Hart Canyon in 1948?' W.M. got down off his tractor and straightening himself up, stated, very belligerently, 'Nothing happened out in hart Canyon in 1948!! Why do you people from so far away keep asking about that flying saucer crash?' I stated, 'We just want to get to the bottom of the story, one way or another. The public must know the truth.' He snapped back, 'I don't know anything about it.' About that time his wife came over and made the statement, 'W, remember, we were gone at that time, maybe that's why we don't know anything about it.' I saw that W.M. was pretty upset, and thanked him for his trouble." [p. 256, emphasis added]

Steinman then goes on to speculate about whether W.M. had actually seen anything, and was covering up. "Did he see something that resulted in his having to leave at that time - or did something happen nearby while he was gone that he may have come into knowledge of which had the same effect? Could it be that W.M. heard rumours of the incident and asked too many questions about it at the time. Was he told by somebody in no uncertain terms to mind his own business... W.M. refused to discuss any part of this, nor would he give any good reason." [p. 256 - 257]

Here we see Steinman demonstrating his investigatory and interview skills - he wanders onto a man's property without calling first, walks out into the field where the guy is on his tractor working, and "confronts" him with (leading) questions about a crashed flying saucer! And Steinman wondered why W.M. was upset?? He's lucky he wasn't shot!

How about this for "speculation?" W.M. didn't see a thing, or hear about anything, just as he said.

Undeterred, Steinman moved on to his next target - "Mr. H.D." an 83 year old man who, in 1948, had owned the land on which the flying saucer allegedly crashed. Here's Steinman's account of that "interview":

"I confronted H.D. with questions pertaining to the alleged incident. He snapped back in a very upset voice, 'I don't know anything about what you are talking about - now leave me alone!!' I sensed a tenseness and a nervousness in his voice, almost as if he were at one time coerced and coached into answering in that way." [p. 257]

Tense and nervous? An 83 year old man has some "confrontational" UFO believer wander on to his property with questions about a crashed flying saucer, and we should be surprised that he was "tense and nervous?" I'm surprised Steinman's sudden appearance didn't cause a heart attack!

Still, unable to take a simple "no" at face value, Steinman continued to harass H.D. over the next 18 months, peppering him with several letters asking for the "truth." Not surprisingly, H.D. didn't answer any of them, but, finally, his daughter-in-law did. She wrote, in no uncertain terms, "My father-in-law is tired of receiving letters from you. He was not told to shut up by the Army. He is old, almost blind, and doesn't want to be bothered about that subject any more!!" [p.257]

And to think that the military gets accused of harassing and threatening witnesses?

And yet, Steinman's conclusion was, "H.D. proved by his very actions and responses, that he had had a very frightening experience with the military over the incident, and he wanted no more of it."


Alas, the MIB / MJ-12 / AFOSI / CIA types have nothing on William Steinman, a UFO BELIEVER, par excellence, if ever there was one.

Steinman ran into others who stated that they had heard rumours, which no-one disputes were circulating throughout the area in the late 1940s, thanks to Silas Newton et al. One old-timer he came across, "F.G." when asked about the alleged recovery, simply "grinned and started talking about the weather," no doubt because he was amused by Steinman. I know I am, even today, reading about his "investigation."

Not having any luck in and around Aztec, Steinman headed off to nearby Blanco and Bloomfield in hopes of finding someone - anyone - who would corroborate the Aztec story.

Guess what? He finally found his "witness." At which point his "investigation" gets even more ridiculous (yes, it is possible).

To be continued...

Paul Kimball

The Theology of the Saucers

One topic that rarely, if ever, pops up in discussion amongst ufologists, who, like me, spend most of their time obsessed with proving and / or disproving their various theories about UFOs, is religion.

But the question of how a revelation that the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis was, in fact, true, would affect our religious beliefs - indeed, the very notion of our relationship (or, for many, non-relationship) to the Divine - has always fascinated me. One of my favourite books about the UFO phenomenon is Barry Downing's classic study The Bible and Flying Saucers. One of my favourite (and, alas, all too infrequent) topics of conversation with Stan Friedman is the ETH and religion, a subject that Stan has touched upon in some of his work.

Part of this has to do with my own cautious, always questioning religious belief system (I am a spiritual combination of Fox Mulder and Dana Scully - "I want to believe, but..."), part of it has to do with my family background (my grandfather was a Reformed Baptist minister, and some of my relatives are evangelicals), part of it has to do with my studies while pursuing a Master's Degree in history (my unfinished thesis was on 19th century Atlantic Canadian evangelicals) - and part of it simply has to do with the fact that most people on this planet have religious beliefs of one sort or another, which would undoubtedly be affected by an "ETH is true" revelation. How can ufology NOT consider the implications?

So, it was with interest that I discovered, while conducting some ufological research the other day, the following short article, which appeared in the Religion section of Time Magazine back on August 18, 1952 (at p. 62), titled "The Theology of Saucers" - here it is in its entirety:

"If a flying saucer swooped down to earth some day and disgorged a crew of bulbous-eyed Martians, Christian theologians might have to do some fast explaining. The Bible does not mention the existence of any inhabited worlds other than earth. Last week Father Francis J. Connell, C.Sc.R., dean of Catholic University's School of Sacred Theology, decided that the time had come to summarize his church's position on the question of invaders from outer space. 'It is well for Catholics to know,' he said, 'that the principles of their faith are entirely reconcilable with even the most astounding possibilities regarding life on other planets... Theologians have never dared to limit the omnipotence of God to the creation of the world we know.'

Theologically speaking, there are four principal classes into which outer-space dwellers might fall: 1) they might have received, like earthmen, a supernatural destiny from God, might even have lost it and been redeemed; 2) God could have created them with a natural but eternal destiny, i.e., like infants who die unbaptized, they could live a life of natural happiness after death, without beholding God face to face; 3) they might be rational beings who sinned against God but were never given the chance to regain grace, like evil angels of the Fall; or 4) they might have received supernatural gifts and kept them, leading the paradisiacal existence of Adam & Eve before they ate the forbidden fruit.

Father Connell added a practical point: 'If these supposed rational beings should possess the immortality of body once enjoyed by Adam & Eve, it would be foolish for our superjet or rocket pilots to try to shoot them. They would be unkillable.'"

This is fascinating stuff, written just after the great Saucer Flap of July, 1952. Most important, like Barry Downing's work, it reminds us that the religious (or "spiritual") aspect of ufology should not be completely forgotten in our rush to prove or disprove theories, and examine the evidence.

"The Theology of the Saucers" is another important piece of the search for the truth.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 12, 2005

William Steinman's Aztec "Investigation" Part I - The Crash Site

Before Scott Ramsey pulled the stake out of Ufology's Dracula (ie. the Aztec case) in the late 1990s, there was William Steinman, upon whose 1980s research much of Scott's current work is based. Steinman's book, UFO Crash at Aztec - co-written with Billy Meier advocate Wendelle Stevens - was a mish-mash of half-truths, conspiracy theories (most pretty wacky, even for ufology), faulty reads of evidence; you name it, and Steinman did it wrong. Nowhere can this be seen better than in his search for eyewitnesses to the Aztec "incident." [All references below are from UFO Crash at Aztec]

In July, 1982, he set out for what he called an "investigative tour" of Aztec and the surrounding area, hoping to dig out what he believed was the "truth" about the Aztec case. As he makes clear, he had done no advance research, no preparatory work - he just flew into Durango, hopped into a car, and headed for Aztec, not knowing who he was going to talk to (pp. 241 - 242).

His first stop when he got to town was the local newspaper, the Aztec Independent - Review, where he went through the issues up until July, 1948, finding nothing, and then placed a front page advertisement, asking for anybody who might have been a witness to contact him -apparently, he forgot to ask about George Bowra.

He puttered around a bit more, and then noticed a sign advertising a garage sale. Being an admitted "garage sale fanatic" he pulled over and started browsing. After about 15 minutes, he approached the owner, Vivian Melton, and asked her if she knew about the flying saucer crash. She said yes, and claimed to even know "exactly where it happened." Needless to say, Steinman was quite excited, particularly when her husband Harvey agreed to take him out to the site the next morning.

Now, at this point it is important to note that the Meltons had only moved to Aztec in 1970, so they could not have seen the alleged crash site back in 1948. They were told the story by someone else (more on that below). Also, Harvey, despite "knowing where the crash site was," having been there before, and having lived in Aztec for twelve years, still needed his neighbour Benson Leeper to show him where Hart Canyon Road was. Still, when they got out there, Harvey pointed out the "crash site" to Steinman, who wandered around taking pictures - this is the site that the Aztec proponents, including Scott Ramsey, claim as genuine to this day.

But where did this crash site information actually come from, originally? An Aztec resident? No.

The details of the alleged "Crash site" came from the mysterious "Ray Meier," a man who got off a bus in Aztec in 1975. He claimed he was a retired Marine major, and wanted someone with a 4 wheel drive to take him out to an area he claimed had been the site of a crashed saucer recovery in 1948. He eventually encountered the Meltons, who obligingly drove him out, along with Leeper, who was needed to locate Hart Canyon Road. They reached the site where Meier claimed the crash retrieval had taken place; he poked about for around an hour taking some photos, and then they left (p. 204 - 205). He spent the night with the Meltons (Vivian noted that he "acted very strange"), gave them some photos of hovering and landed flying saucers the next morning, and then left via Greyhound bus. The Meltons received a thank you letter from Meier about a month later, but when Steinman attempted to reach him at the return address a few years later, the mail was returned marked "Not at this address." (p. 205)

This is how William Steinman "discovered" the Aztec crash site. All roads trace back to the mysterious and "very strange" Major Meier, who stepped off a bus and made UFO history with his tall tales about a crash site (which was similar to the one described by Scully in Behind the Flying Saucers, although not exactly the same) and his flying saucer photos!

A final word on the Meltons - by the time that Steinman was ready to leave Aztec, they had moved from Aztec to Arizona. Steinman asks, breathlessly, "was it just coincidence that they happened to be moving out of the Aztec area right after the beginning of my active investigation there, after living in that place for almost 10 years, and they packed up only 3 days after my arrival... Very mysterious." (p. 259)

Considering that Steinman found them at a garage sale where they were undoubtedly off-loading stuff they didn't want to take with them on a move that had been planned before Steinman had come to town, it seems it was just a coincidence. Not that William Steinman would ever admit that!

So, was there really a "Major Meier?" Where are the photos he left with the Meltons? Surely they would have kept them, and shown them to Steinman - and yet he makes no mention of this. Did "Major Meier" even exist, or was this a joke played on Steinman by the Meltons and their neighbour Leeper? Is it a coincidence that "Major Meier" had the same last name as infamous contactee "Billy Meier," who is supported by UFO Crash at Aztec co-author Wendelle Stevens?

Valid questions, one and all - and ones that have never been answered by the Aztec proponents, who prefer to believe, rather than take a critical look at the evidence.

But, that wasn't the end of the Steinman investigation in Aztec... he still had to locate an "eyewitness."

To be continued.

Paul Kimball

And Still More on "Aztec & The Radar Bases"

For more information, here's a good website to check out:

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 11, 2005

More "Aztec & The Radar Bases"

Rich Reynolds, king of the RRR Group blog (, asked a very good question in a comment to my most recent post re: radar bases. He wrote:

"Paul: Where did the idea generate that radar installations, secret radar installations, were established to protect New Mexico's nuclear infrastructure? Frank Warren and Scott Ramsey couldn't have come to their belief that such facilities existed from nothing could they?"

No, they didn't just cook up the radar base idea out of thin air. It comes - as does everything else with Aztec - from good old Silas Newton, and the stories he spread around the southwest back in the late 1940s.

I explained most of this a little while ago at my blog "Aztec and the Radar Bases" ( In Behind the Flying Saucers, there is no reference to "radar bases" but rather to "tenescope observers" who, according to Dr. Gee (aka Leo Gebauer, see my blog "The Aztec Incident & The Mysterious Dr. Gee,, worked 24/7 watching the sky for "evidence of objects or ships" (Behind the Flying Saucers, p. 121); when they saw one, they supposedly alerted the Air Force immediately to any flying saucer which crashed or landed.

So, by the time Behind the Flying Saucers had come out, the radar bases were out, and the tenescopes were in, presumably because they were (a) more exotic sounding and (b) harder to refute, as one could always claim that they were so super secret, nobody knew about them (you hear that excuse a lot in ufology, alas).

But, the radar bases had been part of the original con story, before it got refined (as all good cons usually do). That these stories can all be traced back to Silas Newton is shown in my blog "Aztec and the Radar Bases," which refers to an AFOSI memo that shows this to be the case.

For good measure, however, here's another, even more outlandish, radar base story, from another AFOSI memo, written in January, 1950. Here is the relevant text of that memo:

"Following information furnished from newspaper article appearing in Wyandotte Ehco, Kansas City, 6 January 1950... Two weeks ago, [Rudy Fick], well know Kansas City auto dealer stopped in Denver returning from Ogden, Utah. While there he called on the Manager of the Ford Agency [Jack M. Murphy, who got his information from Morley Davies, who got it from George Koehler, who got it from Silas Newton]. Their conversation was interrupted by some engineers arriving for a meeting. One of these arrivals, a man named [Koehler] revealed some startling information. According to the story told by [Koehler], he "crashed the gate" at a radar station near the New Mexico and Arizona borders. While there he saw two of the highly secret "flying saucers". One was badly damaged, the other almost perfectly intact. They consisted of two parts, a cockpit or cabin about six feet diameter and a ring eighteen feet across and two feet thick surrounded the cabin. The cabin was constructed of a metal resembling aluminium, but the actual make of the metal has defied analysis. [Koehler] had a portion of this metal in his possession and gave it to the Ford man to send to the Dearborne Plant to analyze it. Each of the ships had a crew of two. In the damaged ship the bodies were charred; the other ship's occupants were in a perfect state of preservation although dead... According to the information given [Koehler] there are around fifty of these craft that have been found in the United States in a period of two years. Forty of these are in the U.S. Research Bureau in Los Angeles." [Emphasis added]

Needless to say, neither the AFOSI nor the editor of the Kansas City Star, to whom the story was also told, took this seriously. The AFOSI memo identified the informant as "Coulter" but this was simply an improper (phonetic) spelling of "Koehler" - who got the story from Newton.

So, again, all of the radar station stories can ultimately be traced back to one man - Silas Newton!

Incidentally, Koehler is an interesting, often overlooked, piece of the puzzle. He was the guy who arranged Newton's "Scientist X" lecture at the University of Denver, and was a close pal of Newton. How close? Koehler was married to Newton's former nurse, and the two were living in a Denver house rented by Newton, which was filled with Newton's golfing trophies.

Was Koehler in on the con? It's quite possible, given his close relationship with Newton, his propensity for spreading Newton's stories, and the fact that he skipped town shortly after the whole thing unraveled, moving to the West Coast. Or maybe he was just another of Newton's suckers.

Either way, can one take the claims noted above seriously? That there were super secret radar bases in 1947, but that Koehler could just "crash the gate," rummage around, and walk off with parts of a flying saucer? Or that fifty flying saucers had crashed within a two year period?

Of course not - unless the "will to believe" has won out over the pursuit of the truth.

Paul Kimball

Early Canadian - US Continental Radar Plan

The Canadian-United States Military Co-Operation Committee (MCC) devised this plan in 1946 for the air defense of North America. Each country was represented by the military and diplomatic members of the Permanent Joint Board on Defence, including representatives of the various armed services and, in Canada's case, the secretary of the Cabinet Defence Committee. The two civilian chairmen of the PJBD were exluded. The plan (not terribly well thought out at this stage, but still an important indicator of governmental thinking and policy) shows that US and Canadian concerns in the immediate postwar years were centered solely on Soviet attack.

Canadian member of the MCC E. W. Gill, secretary to the Cabinet Defence Committee and a staffer in the Privy Council Office, wrote:

"I have regarded the Committee as the drafting group whose members reflect the views of the chiefs of Staff in the drawing up of their plans. There is evidence that this consultation between planners and chiefs takes place on the U.S. side, but is entirely absent on the Canadian side. I think it is safe to say that at no time since the planning started have the planners... received any guidance from their chiefs as to how they should proceed on each phase of the plan. As a result, the planners have a free rein and are producing plans which must be "sold" to their superiors. The committee has thus become a pressure group in which the services combine to put up as strong a case as possible to their respective chiefs and Governments. In this rather doubtful role we are subject to the machinations of the U.S.... The obvious intention of the U.S. services [is] to use the plans... as a basis for securing appropriations from their government." [Memo from Gill to A.D.P. Heeney, Report on MCC Meeting at Trenton, 22 - 25 July 1947. Privy Council Office Records, Public Archives of Canada, RG 2/18, vol. 74]

The Canadian government concluded that the MCC proposals, with their JCS imprimatur, and without any disagreement from the State Department's representative on the MCC, reflected U.S. policy - despite the fact that it was absurd to think that the Truman administration, in the midst of demobilisation and still committed to rapidly reducing defence budgets, would suddenly reverse course and create Fortress America by 1950.

Why would the JCS go along with such a grandiose plan? According to historian Joseph Jockel, "Mostly because they were not paying much attention. The entire military establishment in Washington was in turmoil as it coped with demobilization and internecine struggle. There was no overall strategic plan." General Guy Henry, the senior US Army member of the PJBD, later complained that "It took considerable work on my part to obtain actual concrete comments... from the Commanding General of AAF and the Plans and Operations Division of the War Department." As Jockel correctly notes, the "AAF Air Defense Command was making the same complaints about plans and pleas it was submitting to Washington."

Of particular relevance to the Aztec case (and Roswell, too) are two points:

1. The disarray in military thinking about continental air defense in the late 1940s; and
2. The fact that, in those plans which were drafted in 1946 to 1949, no specific thought was given to the defense of American atomic energy installations; rather, the concern was with creating a de facto "picket line" around the continent, which could detect Soviet attacks.

This runs contrary to the claims of Aztec proponents that there were Top Secret radar bases in place as early as 1946 to protect AEC installations in New Mexico.

See Joseph Jockel, No Boundaries Upstairs: Canada, the United States, and the Origins of North American Air Defence, 1945 - 1958 (Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 1987), perhaps the best study out there of the subject. Posted by Hello

Oral History Association

Any ufologist serious about oral history should begin their preparation with the website of the Oral History Association at:

The website contains much of what an oral historian or researcher needs to know before heading out into the field, in a format that is easy to read and understand. For example:

"Technique and Adaptive Skills

1. In what ways does the interview show that the interviewer has used skills appropriate to: the interviewee's condition (health, memory, metal alertness, ability to communicate, time schedule, etc.) and the interview location and conditions (disruptions and interruptions, equipment problems, extraneous participants, background noises, etc.)?

2. What evidence is there that the interviewer has: thoroughly explored pertinent lines of thought? followed up on significant clues? Made an effort to identify sources of information? Employed critical challenges when needed? Thoroughly explored the potential of the visual environment, if videotaped?

3. Has the progam/project used recording equipment and media that are appropriate for the purposes of the work and potential nonprint as well as print uses of the material? Are the recordings of the highest appropriate technical quality? How could they be improved?
If videotaped, are lighting, composition, camera work, and sound of the highest appropriate technical quality?

4. In the balance between content and technical quality, is the technical quality good without subordinating the interview process?"

These are the kinds of questions that ufologists HAVE to ask themselves before and after conducting interviews.

Paul Kimball

George Bowra & the Aztec "Incident"

Scott Ramsey claims to have found over 60 "witnesses" to the alleged crash of a flying saucer near Aztec, New Mexico, in March, 1948. So far, he has only made five known to the public; I have dealt with each of them either here (see Fred Reed blog) or at UFO Updates.

For the edification of those who might, perhaps understandably, have the impression from all of this that everyone out in Aztec agrees that there was a flying saucer crash, it should be noted that the majority (the vast majority, I would suggest) have always been convinced that the whole thing was just a hoax / con.

Take, for example, a "witness" that probably isn't on Scott's list - George Bowra, who in 1948 was the editor of the local Aztec newspaper, the Independent Review (he was also a Deputy Sheriff, and an accomplished poet, winning the Outstanding Contemporary Poet Award in 1939 from New York's Literary Publications). Here is what he told researcher Mike McLellan back in 1975, for an article on Aztec that McLellan wrote for Official UFO (October 1975):

"From my conversation with him, he impressed me as one who must have been a colorful individual. He recalled a tongue-in-cheek article he had written for the newspaper years ago descibing his abduction by little green men from space.

Bowra has been in Aztec for 70 years. He ran the paper for 44 years. 'Nobody could have gotten in there and out (Hart Canyon) without attracting a lot of attention. Its rough country and there's only one highway in there.' Bowra stated emphatically that the roads had never been cordoned by anyone. He became interested enough in the story to speak with what he estimates to be over one hundred people including cowboys, Indians, lawmen and ranchers. None of them recalls the UFO landing or subsequent military movement.

If anyone had motive to make good use of the Aztec story, Mr. Bowra would head the list. Instead, no sensational accounts of the landing appeared in the paper. Had the story been true, no newsman worth his salt would have passed up such an opportunity!"

An article in the Albuquerque Journal on May 16, 1998, shed a bit more light on Bowra and the Aztec story. It quoted Bob Weaver, president of the Aztec Museum's Board of Directors, as saying that Bowra did indeed write a report of a crash, but as a joke.

"I don't remember the year, I just remember what he told me," Weaver said. "He said it would be fun to put something like that in the paper. Everybody pretty much knew he did these things and nobody thought anything about it."

Of course, the fact that Bowra neither saw nor heard of anything about an Aztec crash, and the fact that he pulled a little flying saucer crash joke, don't prove, in of and themselves, that a crash didn't happen, as the Aztec proponents would no doubt point out.

The interesting thing, however, is that they will do so only after you point out Bowra's account (and those of many, many others in Aztec who say pretty much the same thing) to them first. Even then, their response has little to do with evidence. Take William Steinman's "rebuttal" to the McClellan article - "The only investigation apparent is that the author read a lot of media information in the popular press, no more." This despite the fact that McLellan interviewed several "old timers" from Aztec, and referenced interviews conducted by other researchers.

But that's the Aztec story. To paraphrase David Farragut, "Damn the evidence, full speed ahead!"

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

Interviewing Sins & Useful Advice

From An Archive Approach to Oral History (1978, at. pp. 15 - 16) by David Lance, at the time Keeper of the Department of Sound Records at the Imperial War Museum, some "sins" which interviewers should always avoid:

"Interviewing Sins
1. Questions which are unnecessarily too long;
2. Questions which are not clear;
3. Questions, too frequently, which are answerable by "yes" or "no";
4. Combining several questions into one;
5. Interrupting a speaker with a secondary question before he has finished answering the first;
6. Failing to follow-up on a question which has not been fully answered;
7. Seeking, too often, for opinions and attitudes (particularly without establishing any factual basis for them);
8. Missing opportunities for follow-up questions which are "invited" by earlier answers;
9. Not asking for specific examples to illustrate general points which an informant has made; and
10. Jumping to and fro between one subject and another, or one time period and another."

Lance also offered these useful pieces of advice:

"Generally, the degree of useful information in a recording is in direct proportion to the amount of interview preparation that has been carried out."

"Interviews most conveniently follow a chronological pattern; start at the beginning and work systematically through the period which the particular project is concerned with."

"Do not hurry the interview process. The pace of an interview depends mainly on the informant's personal capacity; the length depends on the amount of useful information he has to give. There should be no other personal factors to consider in deciding how much time to devote to each informant."

"The purpose of oral history interviewing and recording is to collect interesting and significant information by questioning men and women about their personal experiences within prescribed subject areas. Interviews should be based mainly on activities or events in which informants were directly involved."

And finally, my favourite, which all SETI types and debunkers who think witness testimony is worthless should be forced to read; here, Lance quoted from Sir Basil Liddell-Hart, one of the great historians of the 20th century:

"History should be tested by the personal witness of those who took part in the [events]... The more that any writer of history has himself been... in contact with the makers, the more does he come to see that a history based solely on formal documents is essentially superficial."

Absolutely, one hundred per cent, true. However, in order to accomplish this goal, it is critical to remember that the researcher has to get it right in the field.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Randle on Kimball (L. K.) & Johnson

A few days ago, I discussed the Roswell account of Lorzeno Kent Kimball, which is not mentioned in the books of the two primary Roswell investigators, Kevin Randle and Stan Friedman. I wrote that I thought Captain Kimball (again, not related), a credible witness, had something to offer to the overall Roswell picture, particularly with reference to the Glenn Dennis story. It was a mistake, I concluded, to not reference his testimony.

Kevin wrote me a nice note, and after a short back and forth, we'll just have to agree to disagree about the relevance of Captain Kimball's testimony, which is fair enough (the study of history is replete with similar disagreements).

However, with respect to Captain Kimball's remarks regarding Jesse B. Johnson, Kevin pointed out to me that the original Randle - Schmitt work on Johnson was the work of Don Schmitt. After Kevin and Schmitt parted ways, Kevin researched Johnson himself, no longer confident of Schmitt's account. He discovered mistakes by Schmitt, and, as a result, published a revised history for Johnson in his Roswell Encyclopedia (New York: Quill, 2000) , at pp. 202 - 203.

Here is what that entry says, which can be compared to Captain Kimball's account, which can be found at

"Johnson, Jesse B. (1920 - 1988) Jesse B. Johnson was born in Temple, Texas, and lived there most of his life. In 1945, he graduated from medical school at the University of Texas. He was a resident at the Scott and White Hospital in Temple from 1945 to 1046, when he was apparently drafted into the Army. During 1947, First Lieutenant Jesse Johnson was assigned to the base hospital at the Roswell Army Air Field. There is no evidence that he played any role in the alleged autopsies of alien beings found near there in July 1947, though his name has been connected to them. Information published suggested that Johnson was a pathologist in 1947 and was called upon to assist in the performance of preliminary autopsies conducted at the base hospital. That information was based on two flawed tales. One of them was by Glenn Dennis, who claimed that he had known a nurse assigned to the base in 1947 who told him about the autopsies. The other assumption was that in 1947, Johnson was a pathologist. The ABMS Compendium of Medical Specialists reveals that in 1947, Johnson had just completed his medical training. He had no training as a pathologist in 1947, so there was no reason to suspect that he would have been brought in to assist in the autopsies. In fact, the information available suggests that Johnson did eventually train as a pathologist at the University of Texas Medical Branch in Galveston from 1948 to 1949. In other words, he did not have the training in 1947 but completed it after his military service. Johnson wasn't finished with his medical education. He trained next as a radiologist in 1950 and 1951. That was apparently the specialty that he practiced for the rest of his medical career. An interview conducted with his wife in the early 1990s revealed nothing to suggest that Johnson was ever involved in the recovery of alien bodies or their autopsy. She had no knowledge of any connection between her husband and the U.S. government. The fact that he had once trained as a pathologist seems to have confused the issue. Dr. Johnson died in 1988."

Paul Kimball

Oral History - A Starting Point for Ufologists

A ufologist who wants to interview witnesses owes it to himself, the interviewees, and ufology in general, to familiarise himself with oral research methodology. In "Q & A 101" I touched briefly upon some types of questions, and the general approach used by lawyers to interviewing / questioning witnesses.

The study of history shares much with the legal method, but can differ in some important respects as well. The following sources are excellent starting points for any ufologist genuinely interested in learning the nature of oral research methodology, which is a necessity if they want to have their work taken seriously.

Baum, Willa K. Transcribing and Editing Oral History (Nashville: American Association for State and Local History, 1977).

Davis, Cullom et al. Oral History: From Tape to Type (Chicago: American Library Association, 1977).

Dunaway, David K. and Willa K. Baum, eds., Oral History: An Interdisciplinary Anthology (London: Altamira Press, 1996).

Grele, R. J. Envelopes of Sound: The Art of Oral History 2nd Ed. (Chicago: Precedent Publishers, 1985).

Lance, David. An Archive Approach to Oral History (London: Imperial War Museum, 1978).

McMahan, Eva M. and Kim Lacy Rogers, eds. Interactive Oral History Interviewing (Hillsdale, New Jersey: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1994).

Thompson, Paul. The Voice of the Past: Oral History 2nd Ed. (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988).

Vansina, Jan. Oral Tradition: A Study in Historical Methodology (London: Routldge & Kegan Paul, 1965).

I offer the following sage words of wisdom from Cullom Davis, Kathryn Back and Kay MacLean, from Oral History: From Tape to Type, at. p. 8:

"Collecting oral history requires proficiency in such specialized skills as historical research, equipment operation, and interviewing; it also demands sensitivity, alertness and empathy on the part of the interviewers. Contrary to popular impression, preparation and interviewing can be tedious and tiring work, and sometimes even unproductive. Veteran oral historians have had their share of unsuccessful projects, and a bad interview will always remain a bad interview. Of some consolation (as well as anxiety) is the fact that collecting, if not the totality, is the sine qua non of oral history. Without a taped interview one can never have a transcript or a bound oral history memoir. Collecting is the crucial first stage of oral history and therefore it deserves careful attention and extensive practice by the novice."

Paul Kimball

Monday, April 04, 2005

The Cosmic Watergate vs. The Conspiracy of Silence

Stan Friedman and Kevin Randle, two of my favourite ufologists, and the two chief pro-Roswell writer / researchers of the last fifteen years, have a very competitive, sometimes "difficult," relationship with each other.

Each has posited a different scenario for the supposed crash of an alien spacecraft at Roswell.

Each accepted a now discredited "star" witness (for Stan it was Gerald Anderson, for Kevin it was Frank Kaufmann), while at the same time they attacked the other one's "star" witness.

Each has become adept at pointing out the other person's mistakes, or false claims, or evasions of questions, or whatever...

Stan has MJ-12; Kevin, not to be outdone, has the Unholy Thirteen.

All of this is serious stuff. However, one area where they've chosen to compete is just downright silly - finding and promoting a term to describe what they see as a government cover-up of the truth about the UFO phenomenon.

Stan got out of the gate first, with the "Cosmic Watergate." He's written papers and given lectures with that title.

Kevin followed with the "Conspiracy of Silence." He has a book with that name.

Both terms, while amusing, and nowhere near as bad / ufologically obscure as "Pelicanist" or "Klasskurtzian", should be retired to the Ufological Hall of Fame (or Shame, depending upon who you ask).

Newsflash to Stan - if you want to reach the younger set (you know, anyone under 35), Watergate is about as relevant as Vietnam, or the Beatles... or Julius Caesar, for that matter ("beware, the ufological Ides of March"). Time to freshen up the material (the "Cosmic Da Vinci Code?" No - forget I said that!). Further, is Watergate even applicable? If the whole point is that the cover-up has been kept hush-hush for almost six decades, and is ignored by the media and politicians, Watergate, which broke (relatively) quickly, and was embraced as a story by everyone and his dog, would seem to be a less than perfect analogy.

As for Kevin, a conspiracy is, by its most commonly used definition, an illegal act. In the case of the UFO cover-up, if it exists, almost everyone seems to agree that it was authorised at the highest levels, probably under presidential authority. It might not be right, but it isn't illegal, anymore than the keeping of any number of national security secrets is illegal. Besides, with all the "whistleblowers" of Steven Greer, Michael Salla et al running around, "silence" seems to be in short supply. Alas.

My suggestion?

If Stan and Kevin think there's been a cover-up, then just say...

"It's a cover-up."

I think everyone will get it.

Paul Kimball

Q & A 101

There are a number of methodological problems within ufology. To me, however, the most serious relates to the process of interviewing people who may or may not have something to offer to the study of the UFO phenomenon (these people are often, and incorrectly, as I have pointed out elsewhere, referred to as "witnesses" by ufologists).

There are many different ways to ask a person a question, or a series of questions. There is no one, absolutely correct way to do it - for example, a defense lawyer cross-examining a prosecution witness will often use leading questions, often requiring a simple "yes" or "no" answer, whereas, as a general rule, he is not permitted to use leading questions when examining his own witness (there are, as always, a number of specific exceptions that prove the rule); instead, he would use open-ended questions.

There are reasons for this rule, which can be discerned from an examination of both the types of questions that can be asked, and the effect they can have on the "witness" testimony that is given as a result.

For the purposes of ufology (and borrowing from Legal Interviewing and Counselling by David Binder and Susan Price), here are four basic categories of questions of which ufologists should be aware:

1. Open-ended questions - In general, questions can be classified in terms of the breadth of information that they seek to elicit from the interviewee. At one end of the spectrum are open-ended questions, which allow the interviewee to select the information related to a general subject which he believes is pertinent and relevant. A ufological example might go something like this: "Could you tell me what you observed on the mesa that day?"

2. Leading questions - At the opposite end of the spectrum is the leading question.The structure of this type of question provides all the data which the interviewer believes is pertinent or relevant. The question makes a statement and, in addition, suggests that the interviewee ought to affirm the validity of the statement. A ufological example might go something like this: "You saw a flying saucer on the mesa that day, did you not?"

Between the totally open-ended question at one end of the spectrum, and the absolutely leading question at the other end, there may be an infinite variety in the forms of question. There are, however, two other significant types of questions:

3. The Yes / No Question - These are phrased in such a way that the interviewee can respond with a simple "yes" or "no." A ufological example might be: "Were there police officers on the mesa?"

4. Narrow Questions - Narrow questions both select the general subject matter, and choose which aspect of the subject the interviewer wishes to discuss. In restricting the interviewee to discussing that aspect of the general subject which the interviewer has selected, the interviewer is asking the interviewee to put aside whatever notions he might have as to the importance of information, and adopt instead the priorities of the interviewer. A ufological example might be: "How old were the police officers that you saw?"

As a general rule of thumb, ufological interviewers should begin with, and try to stick to, as much as possible, open-ended questions; narrow questions can be employed to focus in on particular pieces of information for which the interviewer would like further clarification. The goal should be to use these two types of questions to elicit as much information as possible from the interviewee, without distorting the answer.

This last consideration should be paramount. There are many ways in which the type of questions that are asked can influence the accuracy with which interviewees recall and relate information. Here are four of which ufologists should be especially aware:

1. Improper use of leading questions - Assuming the interviewer knows best, the interviewee will often go along with the interviewer's suggestion rather than indicating he does not know the answer, or is unsure of the answer. By an unconscious use of leading questions, the interviewer can unwittingly lead an interviewee into adopting a favourable but ultimately inaccurate view of the event or situation being discussed.

2. Pressuring the interviewee for too much detail - People do not perceive all of the details of any given event; therefore, they cannot usually report precisely everything that occurred. When pressed for too much detail, they will often "fill in" the details they can't remember by taking what they can recall of the event, and then using logic to reconstruct the event by imagining details that would be consistent with the facts that they do remember. This is usually an unconscious process. An interviewer who states in advance what he believes happened, or who asks leading questions, may inadvertently encourage an interviewee to "reconstruct" events to fit in with the interviewer's version.

3. Obtaining conclusions which distort - In some instances, asking a person for a conclusion before obtaining the details on which the conclusion is based can lead to distortion. For example, if the interviewee is first asked, "Do you believe that flying saucers have crashed, and that the government has recovered them?" the person's "yes" or "no" answers may shape his subsequent reporting of a specific alleged crash retrieval case.

4. The use of too many narrow questions - As stated above, the focus of the interview should be to allow the interviewee to tell his story in his words, as fully as he can recall it. Unless he is given this opportunity, which can best be accomplished through open-ended questions, certain facts and details will often not emerge. As a consequence, the story he relates might be more limited than it otherwise would have been.

Keeping the above in mind will help prevent the kind of interview that Frank Feschino conducted with Colonel Dale Leavitt about the Flatwoods case, as recounted at pp. 55 to 61 of The Braxton County Monster. Here's a particularly egregious example of leading the witness (found at pp. 56 to 57). The inappropriate questions are highlighted, with the worst one also bolded:

"Feschino: Where did you have to send all this? Did you have to send it to Washington?

Leavitt: The Air Force, that's what they wanted me to do.

Feschino: And they never told you any of the results?

Leavitt: No results. Never. They never do.

Feschino: Why do you think that? Do you think?...

Leavitt: You think something's wrong?

Feschino: Do you think they were trying to cover something up?

Leavitt: [Caught off guard by the question] Maybe."

Feschino followed up this sequence by a later one when he again asked Leavitt about a cover-up, and Leavitt expressed his opinion that it was. The problem is that we'll never know whether that was Leavitt's real opinion, or the result of Feschino's leading questions and interview technique (another example, when discussing the oil Leavitt found on the ground - "Feschino: I guess spaceships have oil leaks too.")

Here's how this segment of the interview should have been conducted, and the answers that probably would have been given as a result.

"Feschino: What did you do with all of the stuff you collected?

Leavitt: We sent it to the Air Force.

Feschino: Where?

Leavitt: [Wherever it was sent]

Feschino: Did you ever hear back from the Air Force about what you sent to them?

Leavitt: No.

Feschino: Why?

Leavitt: It was standard procedure. Our job was to collect the material, theirs was to analyse it. I wouldn't have had a need to know, whatever it was."

Of course, there are those in ufology that discount all of this.

And that's a BIG problem.

After all, as Mr. Justice Beck, of the Alberta Court of Appeal, wrote in Maves v. Grand Trunk Pacific Railway Company (1913), 14 D.L.R. 70, 73 - 77 (Alta C.A):

"The chief rule of practice relative to the interrogation of witnesses is that which prohibits 'leading questions,' ie. questions which directly or indirectly suggest to the witness the answer he is to give. The rule is, that on material points a party must not lead his own witness... if he were allowed to lead, he might interrogate in such a manner as to exact only so much of the knowledge of the witness as would be favourable to his side, or even put a false gloss upon the whole."

Common sense then; common sense now.

Paul Kimball