Tuesday, April 18, 2006

The Wit & Wisdom of James W. Moseley, Vol. III

The Aztec "UFO Incident" (which I have called "Ufology's Dracula") continues to be promoted by a small group of people. I made a film a couple of years ago that gave the primary modern proponent of the Aztec "case", Scott Ramsey, a chance to make his case. He and Frank Warren continues to plug away at trying to convince people of the reality behind Aztec as well.

My own views are fairly well-known to anyone who reads this blog, and straightforward - the whole thing was a scam, a con, a hoax, cooked up a bona fide snake-oil saleseman, Silas Newton, and his sidekick, Leo GeBauer, who succeeded in pulling the wool over the eyes of the gullible Variety columnist Frank Scully (or, alternatively, were in cahoots with Scully in pulling the scam). Type in "Aztec" in this blog's search engine and you'll find my past columns on the subject, including the deconstruction of some of the claims made by the Aztec proponents (Scully, GeBauer and Newton are shown above, plotting, in a drawing by Jason Goodyear that appeared in the Aztec 1948 film).

Unlike any of us who may write about Aztec today, Jim Moseley actually got to meet and interview Silas Newton and Frank Scully back in the early 1950s. His recollections of those meetings can be found in Shockingly Close to the Truth, but here are some choice excerpts that should be read by anyone who still gives Scully and Newton the benefit of the doubt.

This first one concerns the meeting Moseley had with Newton in Denver, Colorado, on December 29, 1953:

"Once again, I heard the same story about J. P. Cahn's True expose that I'd heard from Scully and Adamski (I wondered if all three weren't working from the same script). Newton added the specific figure of his soon-to-be-(but never)-filed libel suit against the magazine: $10 million. He also took a shot at Keyhoe, claiming the writer had come to Denver, offered him 'a huge sum' for the little-men story, and when Newton refused, decided to 'write it up as a hoax,' just like Cahn, it seemed. Herman Flader, the victim of the swindle for which Newton had been convicted; saucer debunker Donald Menzel, who, Newton said, had completely distorted the facts about his Denver University lecture; and just about everyone else who dared to challenge the veracity of Newton and his friend Scully were denounced as opportunists, dissemblers, and conpiratorialists, perhaps in cahoots with the government...

I could see I wasn't going to get anywhere with him on his own claims, so I asked about those of others... [I brought up] Adamski. Newton said that while he didn't buy the Professor's mystical ideas or claims to have conversed with a Venusian, he did believe Adamski had met a spaceman and that his saucer photos were real. He said he and Scully told Adamski how to copyright his first three UFO pictures, which he claimed a 'Hollywood trick photography expert' told him could only have been faked 'at terrific cost and with studio equipment Adamski doesn't have.' Since I knew otherwise, this convinced me that Newton was lying...

It looked like Newton would back any claim that even remotely could be construed to lend support to his, even to the point of attempting to keep alive stories that had been retracted by those who told them. Newton went on to confirm my suspicions by very solemnly telling as true the hoax story of a man from Venus who had made a gouge in a piece of steel with his thumb, a story which he said I could not reveal, implying it was a big secret known only to a few. His dramatically delivered closing line was, 'And do you know that it took seventeen hundred pounds of pressure to reproduce that dent?' I stopped him there, thanked him for his time, and went out to my car.

As I drove away, I marveled at Newton's breezy nerve and style. There was no doubt in my mind that he was a confidence man through and through, and a very good one at that. It was quite likely that if I had talked with him before learning his background and doing my California investigations, I might well have been tempted to believe him. He told a great story - and with a straight face, too...

My investigations left me little doubt that Newton's saucers-and-little-men tale was a hoax perpetrated to help promote Newton and GeBauer's doodlebug confidence game. Yet even today, as with the Adamski saga, there are those who insist on believing otherwise, that some shadowy agency of the U.S. government still has GeBauer's saucers and little men stashed away in a secret facility. Newton, GeBauer, and Scully, you see, knew The Truth and were framed to keep it from being revealed...

Thus is confirmed another ufoological principle: No case ever is closed. Wait long enough, and what was thought dead and buried (pick your favourite case) will rise from the grave / Hanger 18 / Area 51 / a secret underground base, to walk among us again." [pp. 92 - 95, Shockingly Close to the Truth]

As for Frank Scully, Moseley met him a few weeks prior to his meeting with Newton. His take on Scully, written just after that meeting?

"My impression of Scully after one short meeting, and after the things I have heard and read about him, is this: He was probably duped... and he probably knows it; he may even have known it at the time [he wrote his book], as he is a professional writer and probably not against making money, even on a hoax. He gives the appearance of being religious, but he does not seem like a kindly man or a truly religious man, and he therefore seems to be a hypocrite. Actually, I think he is 'very much of this world,' and perhaps he is not even a believer in saucers. I think, however, that after the controversy caused by his last book, and after the way he has been discredited, he will be very careful of his facts in the next saucer book [which both he and Manon Darlaine told me he was working on but which never saw print]. He probably won't write the truth in his next book, but I imagine he will be careful to use hoaxes that can't be easily checked upon." [p. 80, Shockingly Close to the Truth]

Aztec, Adamski, Billy Meier, Alternative 3, the alien autospsy film... on and on it goes. There are always going to be con men, and there are always going to be people who fall for the con. The question is whether, when the con is finally exposed, the people who bought it in the first place continue to believe, despite the evidence to the contrary, or whether they accept the truth, and move on to more productive endeavors.

Alas, as Moseley noted, in ufology / ufoology there will always be enough of the former group to keep just about any story alive, and to keep anyone willing to promote it as real on the lecture circuit (small as that circuit may be these days).

Paul Kimball

No comments: