Sunday, May 24, 2015

UFO$, Inc. - Volume 2

Richard Dolan is the king of ufological sleight-of-hand. One of thousands of people possessing a Masters Degree in History from some small liberal arts college, Dolan managed to turn himself into "Ufology's historian" in just over a decade, all while building a nice little multi-media congolmerate with him as the centerpiece. 

How has he done it? Well, he wrote a book about the history of UFOs that was a combination of fact recitation, just enough wild-eyed speculation to bring in the true believers, and copious footnotes - the apotheosis of quantity over quality. But in the land of the blind, the one eyed historian proved to be king. He followed that up by doing anything and everything that would get allow him to build his brand, which was that of the reasonably articulate, well-educated (by ufology's standards), young-ish, and good looking researcher. What followed? More books, of course, usually just repeating the same themes that he has written about before, mixed in with some television gigs and now his own radio show (the flagship of the KGRA internet network), and a publishing company (that he called Richard Dolan Press, which is quintessential personal branding).

He's kept this all going by getting more and more outlandish with his claims over the years as he has refined his branding to the only place he could really take it and be successful - over-the-top conspiracy theorizing about anything, usually by quoting anonymous "witnesses" and "sources." Most recently he wound up on the stage at Mexico City with the Roswell slides promoters, a decision which blew up in his face within just a couple of days. Whereas some of the others involved apologized, however, Dolan did what all good corporations do - he issued some bland statements about how none of it was really his fault (conveniently forgetting any and all statements he made in support of the event and the slides before May 5th), and urged everyone to move on as quickly as possible... even as he steadfastly refused to offer anything even remotely resembling an apology for agreeing to be part of an event that was a money-milking sham.

But that's how UFO$, Inc. rolls. 

Paul Kimball

Friday, May 22, 2015

UFO$, Inc. - Volume I

For many people interested in the subject of UFOs, it is just a hobby. There are also the true believers, of course.

But for a small group, it's a corporation - UFO$, Inc. For them, it's all about the money. Like the entertainment industry, they constantly have to generate new content to stay profitable, almost always riffing on the same basic stories and themes that they have been pushing for decades. They are a transnational conglomerate, no different in principle from Exxon or Lockheed - Martin (even as they are clearly penny ante in terms of practical impact)... or, in a less formalized sense, the Bilderberg Group.

So I've decided, in the wake of the "Roswell Slides" fiasco, to list the people who clearly comprise the Board of Directors of UFO$, Inc.

Some of them are con men / women and frauds, a few are true believers in the flying saucer gospel who are also very adept at turning that belief into buckets of bucks, and some of them are a bit of both. I'll let you, the readers, decide into which category each Board member fits.

First up - Linda Moulton Howe, the grand dame of UFO$, Inc.

More to come.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

The "Roswell Slides" Movie

The poster basically says all that there needs to be said. Courtesy of the talented Jeff Ritzmann.

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 18, 2015

Guest Column - James Mitchell on "Ufology as Pro Wrestling"

James Mitchell, aka James Vandenberg, The Sinister Minister, and Father James Mitchell

Anyone who knows me is aware that I am a big fan of professional wrestling, and have been since I was a kid watching Leo Burke, The Cuban Assassin, Killer Karl Krupp, and the other legends of Atlantic Grand Prix Wrestling on television here in Atlantic Canada. I even made a short documentary called "A Nite at the Opera" for the CBC years ago about a local indie promotion called Mainstream Wrestling based in riral Nova Scotia.

One of my favourite characters throughout the years was James Mitchell, a pro wrestling manager known by a number of aliases over his career, including James Vandenberg, The Sinister Minister, and Father James Mitchell. In real life, he James Mitchell, a cool guy who, as it turns out, is as much a fan of the paranormal subculture (from a skeptical point of view) as I am of pro wrestling. We became friends a few years ago via Facebook.

In the wake of the Roswell slides fiasco / con / hoax / brouhaha (take your pick), Mitchell sent me a note wherein he compared pro wrestling to ufology... which is something I once did on Radio Misterioso with Greg Bishop when we put on an ad hoc, off-the-top-of-our-heads ufological wrestling death match tournament that might be the funniest thing I will ever do.

Anyway, I asked James if I could post his observations, which I thought were spot on, and he kindly said yes. So without any further ado, let's get ready to rumble with James Mitchell on why ufology is a lot like pro wrestling!

Ufology as Pro Westling by James Mitchell

I sat back as an observer and was thoroughly entertained by the two year long Be Witness / Roswell Slides debacle. The other day my wife asked, "being that you have always said flying saucers, Bigfoot, ghosts, psychics etc., are all bullshit, why do I hear those subjects via podcasts every time I'm within ten feet of you and your computer? And what's the deal with those goddamned Roswell slides?"

Upon reflection, I had a "eureka" moment and explained to her that Ufology / paranormal drama has replaced professional wrestling as entertainment for me. The dynamics are very similar. 

The majority of the population doesn't give it the time of day and, for the most part, snickers and rolls their eyes about it. 

A small, yet vociferous minority ( the "marks") believe in it with religious fervor. They will even argue with an insider who tells them it's not real - They are the "tinfoil hat" crowd. 

There is also no shortage of what we carnies in the bump-and-groan-trade call "money marks". The money mark is someone with an open check book and zero understanding about the history and nature of the business or it's denizens. If they did, they would run for the hills rather than piss away their fortune. They become star struck because someone they have seen on TV is giving them the time of day and business advice. The dubious advice always includes the money mark featuring the grifter in a position of prominence and a fat payday.

The money mark is then put in the spotlight alongside their new "best friend" so he or she can distractedly gaze at their own reflection on TV or various social media platforms while they are being financially hornswaggled.

"This is new my friend Joe Blow who was abducted by aliens! Didn't you see him on Unsolved Mysteries? Or In Search Of back in 1978? He was on Ancient Aliens for fifteen seconds, too! He's FAMOUS! I'm going to finance the UFO Geek Symposium that he's planning! He says I'll quadruple my investment! I'll fly in and pay several of his colleagues who can't possibly be the filthy, lying, sociopaths everyone else says they are. After all, he vouches for them and he wouldn't lie to me, because I'm giving him top billing and top pay up front- in cash! That criminal record of his you saw online? He says it's DISINFORMATION!"

At the end of the day all money marks in wrestling or Ufology wind up learning the same lesson imparted upon the old lady who got talked into nursing an ailing viper that subsequently repaid her kindness with a fatal bite. "Lady," sneered the viper, "you knew I was a snake when you picked me up."

A slightly smaller crowd ("smart marks" or "smarks"), often much better educated and intelligent, is sort of fascinated by it from a sociological / psychological / watch the potential train wreck / entertainment point of view, and might spend spend a few bucks or even many hours of leisure time on it. They are not ashamed to say they follow it for various reasons. I suppose Jim Mosely and Greg Bishop would fit that characterization.

At the far end of the spectrum are those who are actively pissed off that folks would waste their time considering it for any reason, a la the James Randi crowd. It's all fake and not worthy of any serious thought. Therefore, anyone discussing it is beneath their contempt.

Then we have the cast of onscreen characters. The good guys, or "babyfaces" in pro wrestling parlance, that wave the flag of truth and righteousness within their fictional narrative. I put Kevin Randle, Nick Pope, and Richard Dolan in that pile.

"Heels" would be the usual suspects that are constantly peddling snake oil to the gullible and getting caught cheating by various means, yet somehow are able to repeat their nefarious deeds with no real sanctions of consequence. Massaun, Greer, Romanek, ad nauseam.

There is a subset of performers in Ufology that are analogous to what are referred to as "shooters" in pro wrestling. They have real world credentials. So long as they are in a position to get paid for furthering the fiction on their own terms without damaging their reputation beyond a wink and nudge from the knowing, they play into the story because their involvement lends an air of legitimacy. Some might even believe what they say. I would place Stan Friedman, J. Allen Hynek, and Edgar Mitchell in that category.

Finally, on the outer edges of the sub-culture we have the so called "dirt sheet" writers, ala Dave Meltzer of The Wrestling Observer. They are particularly reviled by wrestlers and promoters alike because they report the facts, air dirty laundry when needed, and are not afraid to call "bullshit". That would be guys like yourself and Lance Moody. They "break kayfabe", "smarten up the marks", and often spoil the story before it unfolds with sober analysis. No Virginia, there is no Santa Claus.

So from a wrestling booking standpoint, Roswell Slides fiasco was like a particularly bad WrestleMania PPV. Months of ballyhoo and build up about something that is not real to begin with and a big disappointment in it's ultimate presentation. There were highly charged, diametrically opposing promos from the white and black hats along with unflattering revelations of behind the scenes shenanigans, courtesy of truth seeking outside pundits.

Ultimately, the heel protégés of the "evil manager" Jaime Maussan - Carey, Schmidt, Dew, and Bragalia - were defeated by the forces of righteousness. As is always the custom after a big blow-off PPV, a couple of the defeated heels attempted to turn babyface and ask for forgiveness from the true believers, much like Sgt. Slaughter did after spending a year in cahoots with The Iron Sheik during the Desert Storm conflict. The evil manager then calls his former confederates liars and insists that the footage of any cheating or loss on the part of his stable has been doctored. The referee was in the babyface's pocket. He would have "gotten away with it, too, if it weren't for you meddling kids".

Then the cycle of chicanery starts all over again for another year. Only the main events change with slightly different line ups. The marks in the crowd will always hold up signs that say "DISCLOSURE" and chant "ROSWELL! ROSWELL! ROSWELL!", right on cue.

It's a ritual as comforting and predictable as the Catholic Mass for those who choose to suspend their disbelief.

At least that's how I perceive it.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Don Schmitt Apologizes

Is he sincere? Who knows? If he is then he will withdraw from the public part of ufology - no more books, no movies, no more lectures. Responsibility entails consequences.

Based on his past record, I doubt we'll see that from him. Britney probably sums up the whole lot of them. But maybe Schmitt will surprise me this time and do the honourable thing all the way through.

If so, good for him and happy trails on the rest of his journey. If not... well, that's why we all have blogs.

Paul Kimball

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Talkin' Roswell Slides Blues, Part I

I was on The Gralien Report with Micah Hanks on Monday evening discussing the Roswell Slides fiasco. You can tune in here

Here is Micah's write-up about the episode:
This week on The Gralien Report, we’re all just about tired of hearing about the so-called “Roswell Slides”, and so as our final word on the matter, we feature a complete discussion of what happened, how it all fell apart, and what we can learn from it in the aftermath. A friend of the program, researcher and filmmaker Paul Kimball, was one of the operative members of the Roswell Slides Research Group, who helped determine the origins of the mummy depicted in the images. Paul joins us in hour two of the program to discuss the need for better judgement and discernment in the field of UFO studies.
My segment starts at 1:19:00, but I recommend listening to the whole show.

Paul Kimball

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

The "Roswell Slides" Scandal - Who is Adam Dew?

Anthony Bragalia is apparently very good at looking into peoples' background. Well, there's a project that he can sink his teeth into if he wants to earn some redemption for the role he played in the Roswell Slides fiasco. He should put all of his energy into answering one key question: Who is Adam Dew, the man behind all of this? 

If Mr. Bragalia really believes that he is the innocent victim in all of this, a naive but honest man who was led astray by someone who played fast and loose with the truth, then I would imagine he would want to look into the background of the man who started it all. I have no doubt that the ufological community would welcome the effort.

I know I would.

Paul Kimball

Monday, May 11, 2015

Bragalia - Famous at Last!!

The Mirror in the United Kingdom reported today on the Roswell slides fiasco, with the result that "slides" promoter Anthony Bragalia has now become the poster-boy for ufological incompetence in the mainstream media. An excerpt:
The UFO 'believer' community has been rocked by an admission that a photograph of an alien was actually the mummified remains of a dead child. An image taken from the so-called Roswell Slides was unveiled last week in front of a worldwide online audience at an event called Be Witness. Ahead of the big reveal, researchers said the picture was a "smoking gun" which proved aliens had crashlanded on Earth. But these claims are now in tatters after Tony Braglia, a "principal investigator" who analysed them, issued an astonishing public apology. He said the dead alien (pictured below) was actually a Native American child who lived in the abandoned ancient city of Mesa Verde.
For everyone he has threatened, insulted and harassed for the past three years (yours truly included), karmic Christmas has arrived!

Mr. Bragalia can always look at the bright side, I suppose - at least now he's referred to as a "world-famous researcher." Alas, it's fame for all the wrong reasons... and in a final well-deserved indignity, they didn't even spell his name right.

Paul Kimball

Sunday, May 10, 2015

How to Make the Roswell Slides Fiasco Right

Apologies from the promoters of the Roswell Slides fiasco in Mexico City, even if they are forthcoming, are not enough. It's easy to say you're sorry while you still hold the cash. The way to make it right, or at least as right as it can be, is as simple as it was for the Roswell Slides Research Group to solve the "mystery" - the promoters must immediately offer a full refund on each and every ticket sold to the May 5th event. Those who were only participants in the event or the build-up to it, like Anthony Bragalia and Richard Dolan, can begin to restore some of their reputation by publicly calling on the prime organizers of the event to take this step.

Anything less is just as worthless and hollow as the event itself.

Paul Kimball

Richard Dolan and the Roswell Slides

No matter how much he tries to distance himself from the Roswell Slides fiasco now, here is what Richard Dolan had to say about them when he arrived in Mexico City for the BeWitness con job on May 5th.

As with so many other things, it turns out that Dolan was dead wrong. One might expect a mea culpa (even Anthony Bragalia has sort of issued one), but I wouldn't hold your breath. Dolan has become the "Teflon Ufologist" - nothing sticks to him where his fan base is concerned.

Whatever credibility Dolan might once have had has long since been shredded in the eyes of objective observers. But because his fan base remains loyal and starstruck, Dolan Inc. just keeps chugging along. 

Paul Kimball

Truth and Lies

As those of us in the Roswell Slides Research Group worked toward finding out the truth about the so-called "Roswell Slides," some of us were subjected to smear campaigns by the most vociferous Slides promoter, Anthony Bragalia.

Here's an example about me, alluded to in a post at Kevin Randle's blog yesterday when Randle wrote, "Paul Kimball, who has been recently and unjustly vilified for his anti-slides stance." It comes from an e-mail that Bragalia sent to my RSRG colleague Tim Printy (and my understanding is that this claim was made to others):
You have allowed your team member Kimball to call Dr. Edgar Mitchell at home out of the blue to disturb him.. You have no moral compass, no filter- you have become desperate.  Kimball urged Mitchell not to attend the event and your reputation  -such as it is- will suffer immensely. You will personally be called out as a harasser and antagonizer who works with a mentally unstable alcoholic to derail other people's hard work.  How could you do this? What is wrong with you? When the world finds out how you operate, that you have no scruples and will stress-out and attack elderly people to get your way- no one  will ever want anything to do with you. My god, Tim, this is over-the-top and you have finally revealed yourself as a repellent nut. Btw, your foul attempt did not work..
To be clear, the claim that I contacted Mitchell was a lie. To be clear, I am not an alcoholic. That claim was also a lie. Either one of them would be grounds for legal action were I to pursue it further. Fortunately for Mr. Bragalia, I am not so inclined. I've got better things to do, and Mr. Bragalia, like his fellow Slides promoters, is now irrelevant.

But I want to let you know that this is what we were up against, folks. These are the people we were dealing with. Secretive, abusive, deceitful, and very, very angry when you challenged their claims, right up to Adam Dew accusing us yesterday of photo-shopping the placard research - another lie. 

For our part, while we skeptics can wield sharp elbows from time to time, and also have been known to pull a good-natured prank or two at the expense of self-important con men and true believers, our research itself was above board, peer-reviewed, factual... and open-sourced for everyone to look at

Finally, we had no financial stake in the story. Our only interest was in getting to the truth of the matter.

And that's the fundamental difference between the Slides Promoters and the rest of us.

Paul Kimball

Saturday, May 09, 2015

The Roswell Slides - How the Placard was Deciphered

In the video above Tim Printy provides a demonstration of how easy it was to decipher the writing on the placard on the “Roswell slide”. Note that there is no manipulation of the image going on here other than an enhancement of the original – which in this case is the “drum scan” provided by slides promoter Adam Dew on his own website.

And here is Lance Moody showing the same results from the process, which he explains in the video.

Paul Kimball

The Roswell Slides placard

Adam Dew and Anthony Bragalia are claiming that the image from which we derived the proof that the "alien" body is actually a human mummified child is a fake - that it was photoshopped. I believe Jaime Maussan has said the same thing.

This is categorically untrue. The only change made was an increase in the contrast to accentuate the actual letters on the page (which were deblurred using simple commercially available software). Nothing was added.

I think we all know who the fakers are in this.

Paul Kimball

The Roswell Slides - Further Perspective from Philip Mantle

By Philip Mantle

I just wanted to add a little bit more info regarding the on-going debate into the alleged Roswell slides. Unfortunately this last week I have been a little bit under the weather, however, this did allow me the opportunity to sit with my feet up in my ufological armchair and see if I could obtain a quote or two from a variety of experts regarding the alleged Roswell slide. Basically all I did was email a polite request to a number of academics and institutions respectfully asking them to comment on the photo (slide) in question. Some came back and stated that they didn’t think the photo was of good enough quality to comment on, others requested more details, some did reply but when I asked if I could quote them they declined.

There are a number though that did indeed reply and give me permission to quote them. Personally I believe I’ve spent more than enough time on this sham already but for the record I am providing here two of the replies I obtained. They are unedited and all they were sent is the so-called Roswell slide photograph. Again, for the record, none of the academics I contacted came back with a reply that they thought the photo depicted an alien.

Here are two of several replies I received:
I confirm that the photo is of a mummy of a child, possibly Peruvian or even Egyptian.
Salima Ikram, Professor of Egyptology, American University in Cairo
Okay, it is a mummy, but very hard to tell if it Egyptian, South American or European. I see no wrappings of any kind, it appears to be a child or youth. Do you have a provenance on the slide??? That may help the determination. 
S.J. Wolfe, Senior Cataloger and Serials Specialist, American Antiquarian Society / Director of the EMINA (Egyptian Mummies in North America) Project. 
You are of course free to make of these comments you will as they are simply my humble attempt to hep try and get to the bottom of what I believe is a very sorry saga. There will no doubt be those that question the abilities of the two above ladies to comment on this matter but so-be-it. The one thing that I can say regarding the above two comments is that they have both been made independently of any of the promoters of the ‘Roswell slides’ and therefore in my opinion are a great deal more credible. You can choose to agree or disagree of course but this is just one way to try and bring the matter to an end as quickly as possible in my humble opinion.

Please feel free to re-post and re-distribute this in any format you wish.

Philip Mantle

The Roswell Slides... Game, Set, and Match

Deblurred image of original slide - not photoshopped other than an increase in contrast.

Curt Collins breaks it down here with clear proof that the figure in the Roswell slides is a mummy. A more recent, updated analysis is available here.

Tom Carey, Don Schmitt, Anthony Bragalia, Richard Dolan, Adam Dew, Jaime Maussan... all completely discredited.

This is the end of the story, and should be the end of their careers.

Paul Kimball

Thursday, May 07, 2015

Anthony Bragalia

For someone who couldn't shut up about the "Roswell slides" prior to the May 5th fiasco, Anthony Bragalia seems curiously silent in the aftermath of the event. No more defamatory e-mails about me sent by e-mail to friends (no, I never called Edgar Mitchell - that was what we call a "lie"), no more boasting comments on blogs... nary a peep.



Paul Kimball