Sunday, September 29, 2013

The Roswell Dream Team, Donald Schmitt, and the Broken Ethical Compass of Ufology



The ethical dilemma that has been revealed about the Roswell "Dream Team" in recent days should come as no surprise given the participation of Donald Schmitt, a person who should have remained a pariah in UFO research given the proven lies he told in the 1990s, lies that related to far more than just his background, despite what many many people would have you believe today (such as the Paracast hosts who had him on their show last week and gave him a complete pass on his past, although to be fair they just happen to be the most recent example of a long list of people who have given Schmitt a pass).

It's amazing how quickly people involved in UFO "research" forget and forgive transgressions that would sink a career in any self-respecting field of research. Schmitt has been back on the lecture and radio circuit for years, and has published several books with his current research partner Tom Carey... and when the "Dream Team" was formed he re-united with his original partner, Kevin Randle. 

I'm not going to revisit the long and sordid Schmitt story in its entirety here - that's what Google searches are for. But here's Kevin Randle's summary of Schmitt in an open letter published in 1995 that summarizes it succinctly:
He (Schmitt) will lie about anything. He will lie to anyone… He has revealed himself as a pathological liar… I will have nothing more to do with him.
The fact that any of the Dream Teamers, and particularly Kevin, were willing to partner with Schmitt years later should tell you all you need to know the direction in which their ethical compass is pointing.

Donald Schmitt

In an e-mail published in May, 2002, Kevin laid all of the problems associated with Schmitt and his ilk (which has since grown to include figures like Phil Imbrogno) when he wrote to Bill Hamilton and chastised him for attending a lecture given by Schmitt:
"I find myself a little puzzled here. I have waited for some sort of response to this suggestion that Don Schmitt has lied about his background, education, occupation, parts of his Roswell investigation and the like, yet no one seems willing to challenge Bruce [Hutchinson] on these points. It seems to me that we are in agreement about this. Bill, I don't mean to single you out, but when you attended the lecture, were you aware of the baggage that Schmitt brought to it? If not, then what is your reaction now, to the information he presented? Do you find it to be credible? I am interested in why anyone would listen to a thing he has to say, given what we know about him."
He continued:
Don Schmitt, while we were still working together, told a number of people not to talk to me because he suspected that I was a government agent planted on him. Here was my friend telling people I was a spy and not to be trusted. Since I'm not a government agent nor was I planted on him, would this then be character assassination?
And yet here we are in 2013, with Kevin and the others working with Schmitt, who is at the center of the "slides" story. The "Dream Team" was doomed to abject failure as soon as Schmitt was included on the team, just as Radio and TV shows and publishers diminished their credibility the minute they decided to do business with Schmitt. The "UFO research field" remains a joke a decade after Kevin wrote that e-mail in 2002 precisely because many within it have failed to heed Kevin's good advice - including, sadly, Kevin himself. 



If only Kevin had remembered the advice he correctly dished out to others in 2002.
How can we expect the scientific and journalistic communities to listen to us when some of those on the lecture circuit not only aren't telling the truth, they have admitted they weren't telling the truth, and turn up time and again selling their new and improved stories... Until we clean our own house, no one is going to listen to us. We're going to remain the lunatic conspiracy fringe whose positive evidence gets buried under the rubble of those who lie to us... and we're all so dumb that we'll just sign up for more we lies... So, that's where we are. We do not intelligently debate, we embrace those who lie to us, and we will not tolerate dissent... So, people, just why are we listening to Don Schmitt? I'd like to know the reason for it.
"Just why are we listening to Don Schmitt?" This is the real question that Don Ecker should ask when he interviews Kevin on Dark Matters Radio on Tuesday, October 1st. I hope he starts by reading Kevin's own words from a decade ago back to him, after which the only things that Kevin can say which would make any difference, and help him reclaim his credibility, are "mea culpa" and "I'm sorry".

Paul Kimball

13 comments:

Ryan P. said...

As Karl Pflock once wrote your legal training was clearly not wasted on you. Randle is busted.

Frank Stalter said...

"So, that's where we are. We do not intelligently debate, we embrace those who lie to us, and we will not tolerate dissent..."

Sounds like government and political parties as usual.

hetz barrur said...

b"h

It appears that in response to the well-conceived motto:

Don't Believe.
Don't Disbelieve.
Think.

Many in the UFO community answer:

http://www.wavlist.com/tv/010/think.wav

hbk

Bruce Duensing said...

Science versus folklore. Research versus obtaining fleeting attention to sell this or that. Then there is the toxicity that we become exposed to and fall prey to as well, as if one of us knew more than the other which translates to a piggy bank within a popularity contest.
We all have made mistakes and we all would have handled things differently if given a choice.
We presume responsibility in what we say as once it is published, we cannot take it back.
But in this miserable episode, perhaps we can learn from it.

James Carlson said...

I can't help but wonder why you would criticize so strongly those willing to give Donald Schmitt -- "a person who should have remained a pariah in UFO research given the proven lies he told in the 1990s" -- a pass, when you have so clearly done exactly the same thing in regard to Robert Salas, simply because you like him and admire him "for his advocacy of a nuclear free world." You have concluded that "he is an honest man" who has "made a genuine effort to remember things as they happened" in the face of "proven lies he told in the 1990s" and continues to tell today. Salas is the very definition of "new and improved stories" (as Kevin Randle put it in regard to Donald Schmitt).

The observation that the "Randle/Schmitt books tend to be quite contradictory. People, events and dates change, and even people's names" [see: http://www.roswellfiles.com/storytellers/RandleSchmitt.htm] is also characteristic of Salas' claims, which contain "numerous inconsistencies about the location, people, details and timelines". You seem confident that Schmitt is a complete liar, but isn't it equally possible that Schmitt, like Salas, is an "honest man" who was mislead by others? Or was he, like Salas, merely a victim of hypnosis? Tell me: how many "inconsistencies about the location, people, details and timelines" are necessary for one to assume a dishonest character? And isn't ethics just a fun subject?

By the way, your take on the Beach Boys' "Pet Sounds" is spot-on.

Paul Kimball said...

There is no conclusive evidence that Bob Salas has lied (that is merely your opinon). Is it possible? Sure. But that's as far as it goes for any reasonable observer.

There is, however, plenty of evidence that Schmitt has... including on some matters his own admissions.

These are apples and oranges.

Let's just leave it at a mutual like of the Beach Boys until you can provide an admission from Salas that he lied, or conclusive evidence (which even your chum Tim Herbert doesn't think you have when it comes to the allegation of wilful dishonesty).

PK

James Carlson said...

When Salas told CNN that both Eric Carlson and Walt Figel had confirmed his UFO claims, he was lying. When he insisted that Eric Carlson called him on March 16, 1967 and discussed a UFO at Echo Flight, he was lying. When he stated for three years that he and Meiwald were at November Flight when a UFO shut down a flight of missiles while in possession of a letter from Meiwald that insisted they were at Oscar Flight, he was lying. When he stated that Meiwald had confirmed his UFO claims while in possession of a letter from Meiwald insisting that he had no memory of missile failures during a UFO incident, he was lying. These are not opinions -- they are facts that have been repeatedly confirmed by the same "witnesses" he has tried to use as confirmation of his claims. You should examine them someday in the context of numerous other lies he has also told.

Paul Kimball said...

James,

Thank you for your comments. I don't want to get sidetracked into Malmstrom here, however. So, for clarification (which you can either except, or not):

1. I have never personally considered Malmstrom to be a good case. It appeared in Best Evidence because the ufologists I polled chose it.

2. I don't know whether Robert Salas is relating events as he understands it and believes it to be true, or whether he is lying as you claim. It is possible, as your friend Tim Herbert has pointed out, that the former is the case, although it is also possible that the latter is the case. (see: http://timhebert.blogspot.ca/2013/08/was-malmstroms-oscar-flight-results-of.html).

My assessment after having met and interviewed the man more than once is that he is honest but mistaken for a lot of reasons, although I have no problem conceding that this is a subjective personal assessment, and that I could very well be wrong. But it doesn't really matter whether he is honest or not - the point is that the Malmstrom UFO case has been conclusively debunked.

Schmitt's case is radically different in all respects.

But you are entitled to you opinion as to Salas' honesty, as am I. The evidence allows for both interpretations, while being clear on the important question of what really happened at Malmstrom.

Would I invite Salas to speak at a UFO conference, or would I interview him on my podcast? No... but not because I think he is a liar (although he may well be), but because the case with which he is associated does not have merit.

But you raise a valid point, and I appreciate your input.

Best regards,
Paul

Sapient said...

Nothing like the ad hominem attack. Of course no one likes to release private emails. Obviously Paul didn't want to do this. I think it was a brave thing to do, the opposite of cowardly. He put a friendship on the line.

Unfortunately, Kevin Randle remains as Jim Moseley described him in a Paracast debate -- a reasonable researcher on anything other than Holy Roswell. No evidence will be allowed against the Holy City -- not even the rancher's daughter who saw "pastel flowers" -- her testimony is suspect, but, oh, yes, we shall quote the son.

It was really sad to read that line in Randle's email, that if the slides proved fake, it would be unfortunate if "Roswell takes a hit". No matter what, Roswell must not take hits. The Dream Team must continue, in a star trek quest to find really exciting new evidence, and what do you know? Someone created and provided it for them.

Soldier on, Paul -- it's only a few of us die-hards even following this crap, at this point. This does kill Roswell totally, for a few people, and for that you will be commended, not hated, by history; bank on that!

Such a pity Jim didn't live to see this!
KH

James Carlson said...

While it may very well be a reflection of my own limited, albeit self-imposed, expectations in regard to the Malmstrom AFB/UFO issue, your comment above comes across to me as the first confident assessment you've made that doesn't strike me at some level as insulting to anyone familiar with all of the details of this particular case. Thank you for that, and thank you for not being immediately dismissive, which is what I expected. In my opinion, this case simply cannot be properly examined in the absence of emotional context for a number of reasons that you're already very likely familiar with. While I imagine that nobody is very pleased that such consideration needs to be taken into account, it is nonetheless what it is. In any case, it is also my opinion that the evident thought that you've put into your answer is heartening and refreshingly unexpected. So, thank you for that as well.

James

Steve Sawyer said...

Jan. 17, 2014

Well, this is a rather intriguing development.

Can you tell us, Paul, why you decided to post this particular blog article of yours to your Facebook page today (or maybe yesterday?), and more generally why, after over three months since you closed shop, you've also now resurrected your blog?

Curious minds would like to know. 8^}

Seriously.

Steve

Paul Kimball said...

Que sera, sera...

Anonymous said...

@Sapient, "Nothing like the ad hominem attack" to whom are you referring? That statement is a begging the question fallacy and aimless ad hominem attack itself and therefore hypocritical. As a logician and theologian I can easily see such fallacies and it's common for people to misuse a title of a logical fallacy when their personal opinions are disagreed with. For example if a Christian refers to God for evidence, an atheist in his bias who knows logical fallacies may then babble, "Appeal to authority". Yet such claims are begging the question fallacies UNLESS THERE IS SUPPORTING EVIDENCE. For example, merely saying, "This is bad because you referred to God for proof" (besides being morally backwards and therefore completely absurd to claim, it's as if Satan is arguing that!) IS NOT an evidence based statement itself. Just because someone says, "THIS IS BAD" or "YOU PERSONALLY ATTACKED HIM (AND THAT'S ALL YOU DID)" doesn't make it true. A logical fallacy is to be understood to mean, "an irrational form of thinking or argument or a wrong argument used to misdirect from truth (a lie)". SO, if someone is a liar, and I say, "That guy is a liar, that's why you shouldn't trust what he says" that is not an ad hominem attack because I am explaining (and it's supposed to be understood if you have common sense), that when you call a person a liar, it doesn't mean that NOTHING THEY SAY IS TRUE, but that THEY ARE NOT TRUSTWORTHY, in other words, you should not simply believe them. And hypocritically and ironically when you misuse "ad hominem attack" you are indirectly saying yourself, "You're a liar/you're lying". That is the problem with people who don't care about truth, or imperfectly: they misuse the truth and thereby cause confusion, even using the same terminology to classify truths or fallacies like "ad hominem". That is, by the way, also a strong reason for why God would forever seal rebels, liars, in Hell: they cause Hellish and aggravating confusion to no end, they stubbornly refuse to care about truth in full.

So in short, simply saying, "ad hominem" doesn't make a point, it's vague, who knows what you are referring to unless you are clear or it's common sense obvious? WHO is being merely being personally attacked and why is it bad? If I say, "Criminal", who the heck am I referring to, what is criminal? And if I say, "Schmitt is a criminal" why would that be wrong to point out if that is what he is?!

eternian.wordpress.com - please check out my journal for more lessons in truth and to help me care for my cats and kittens and get rid of some police tyranny I'm dealing with.