Sunday, July 05, 2015

Tempest in a Psyop?: The "Roswell Slides" Redux

UFOlogy isn't dead. On the contrary it appears to be stuck in an never-ending adolescence. I don't know exactly why but there's something about the subject that makes middle-aged adults act like 13 year-olds, and the subculture is endlessly locked in the digital equivalent of a schoolyard brawl.

This goes especially for those UFOlogists who consider themselves "skeptics" or debunkers. In point of fact, the skeptics are more obsessed with the topic than even the most credulous Pleiadean light worker, and seem to spend all of their free time trying to convince everyone that they're not like those "believer" so-and so's, they're critical thinkers. 

Actually, they're just like the kid who thinks he's too cool to sit at the outcast lunch table he's been banished to, unwilling to realize that the rest of the school thinks he's no different than the other outcasts. 

After all, no one is forcing debunkers to spend all the livelong day talking about flying saucers on UFO sites, even if they do so with a sneer and an air of smug superiority. And it's not as if one needs to man the hustings against rampaging UFOlogists, on the verge of taking over the world.

The fact of the matter is that debunkers are just disheartened believers, longing with all their hearts for the skies to open and for the saucermen to take them to the stars. It probably wouldn't take much coaxing to draw this out, maybe just a few beers and a starry sky. 

It's clear that debunkers suffer from what psychologists call "approach-avoidance conflict syndrome," a conflict between desire of an object and fear of it. The debunker is torn by his insatiable desire for a close encounter and his simultaneous fear of the unknown (or perhaps his fear that the unknown will forever elude him). 

So in order to cope with this conflict the debunker immerses himself completely in the UFOlogy subculture but does so in an adversarial fashion. But if they were really interested in science and all the rest of it, why aren't they off talking about the digestive enzymes of the giant tiger prawn or the photosynthetic processes of the Pacific Northwest tree fern? 

You know, science?

To complicate matters further the new generation of skeptics are mostly concerned with social and political issues and think paranormal skepticism is not only corny and irrelevant, but actually counterproductive.

In any event, UFOlogy is also sailing against some pretty heavy headwinds. Government secrecy has metastasized beyond all reason since 9/11. The Internet (particularly YouTube) has decentralized the subculture, giving rise to voices that have no interest in established UFOlogy. The expectation of free content and the interminable economic malaise mean there's no money for independent investigators to do any "boots on the ground" work anymore. 

Old time UFOlogists harp on the fact that we're not seeing the kinds of cases we did in the 60s and 70s but the reality is that no one is out there investigating reports the way they did back then.

Almost no one. Into this mix we also have MUFON, which like everything else in America is now controlled by a shadowy billionaire, a billionaire who doesn't like to share much. MUFON has an agenda the rest of the subculture can only guess at and "ex-MUFON director" seems to be an honorific a lot of BADs (or "born again debunkers") have tacked onto their bylines these past few years. MUFON also has a fairly visible TV series on cable, one that just happens to ignore most of the UFOlogical community.

These headwinds have meant that not a lot of news is breaking in UFOlogy these days. Sightings seem to be clicking up but so too are bad CGI hoaxes (helpful hint: if someone doesn't step forward to claim credit for a hoax video within a few weeks or so, assume it's been created by some intelligence agency somewhere). 

Scientists do seem to be talking about aliens quite a lot these days but don't consult with UFOlogists on account of the fact that they consider them subhuman. There's been a lot of talk of UFOs in the Christian conspiracy community, anathema to UFOlogists who consider their work "scientific." And then there are also the endless bizarre proclamations coming from the Vatican, now controlled by the Jesuit Order, who seem awfully interested in ET (but not so much in UFOlogists).

It was into this primordial ooze that the so-called Roswell Slides appeared. I personally didn't pay it much mind, given the fact that it all seemed to center on a small network of debunker and BAD sites, nearly all of which offer up a lot of acrimony, posturing and cant and not a lot of interesting information.

UFOlogist Kevin Randle gives us a thumbnail sketch of the genesis of the psychodrama:
(I)n February 2013, Rich Reynolds published a column about some slides that had surfaced showing a body from the Roswell crash but we, meaning the team assembled for the reinvestigation, couldn’t talk about it because of some sort of a nondisclosure agreement that had been signed. I knew nothing of the slides and I had signed no such agreement. Nick Redfern seemed to be the source on this and since I know Nick, I called him to ask about it. 
He told me that the slides had been found when a woman had been cleaning out a house for an estate sale (though now we learn that it might have been a house that was about to be demolished). She had sent the slides to her brother and he eventually got in touch with Tom (Carey) and Don (Schmitt) (or (Adam) Dew, after finding the slides sought out Tom and Don, whatever)
The above mentioned Adam Dew was the instigator behind all of this, and it was he whose friend's sister had found the box of slides. Dew is a video producer who specializes in sports and has done work for the local professional sports teams in Chicago. Dew produced a very slick video trailer for this project and was working on a documentary film, which presumably will be scuttled now.

NOTE: I previously wrote about this drama in this post.

What didn't make any sense is why these people would have access to any ET evidence at all. Rumors have circulated over the years that Jackie Gleason was once shown an EBE by his personal friend Richard Nixon. But if that's so you can bet your life he wasn't allowed to photograph his encounter. Gleason is not well known now but he was television's first superstar and was also a major player in some political circles. Conversely, the couple in question concern the slides here were nobodies. 

If Barry Goldwater- one of the most powerful political figures of the 20th Century- was unable to get access to any information concerning UFOs (not to mention Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, etc etc), why on earth would anyone believe this couple were given access to alien bodies? The premise here is a non-starter.

And if by some fluke of chance they were able to sneak a peak at at an EBE, wouldn't they be a bit more circumspect about storing the slides in question? I would think a safe or a safe deposit box would be where you'd find something as potential as earth-shattering as the photographic evidence of a dead UFO pilot, an artifact that would change the course of human history.

The issue rumbled along in a small corner of the UFOlogy underworld, until finally it was announced that the photos would be revealed during a paid event in Mexico City, hosted and paid for by Mexican TV personality Jaime Maussan. 

A group of N&B (nuts-n-bolts) and BAD UFOlogists formed a group to counter the claims of the slides group and the invective was duly hurled. As the Mexico City event approached a low-rez image of one of the slides was leaked and almost immediately it was identified as mummified child in a museum display case (even in lo-rez it looked wizened and ancient).

Things went to bad to worse and the unveiling event (this past May 5th) was almost universally panned. Suddenly the event became a vehicle for score-settling, and UFOlogists who had nothing to do with the mess were suddenly and bizarrely accused of responsibility for it. 

No, in fact all of UFOlogy was responsible for it, according to the debunkers and their fellow travelers, even though one debunker admitted that the "UFO community that warned them all along to suspend judgment pending verifiable evidence," but the slides team "chose to reject those warnings with aggressive and self-righteous contempt." But who needs fact when there are witches to burn? 

The debunkers are still riding the hobbyhorse, but the fact is that hardly anyone outside the UFOlogical ghetto was paying attention and most people inside didn't believe the hype in the first place. Certainly no one is paying attention now.

Undetered, some debunkers are now stirring up a good old-fashioned witchhunt, and are campaigning against not only the slides team but also Richard Dolan, who agreed to give a lecture on UFO history at the event even though he remained neutral on the slides themselves. 

Some are even trying to use the brouhaha to not-so-subtly campaign for bookings at UFO conferences (Hey, chuckleheads- people who go to UFO conferences have no interest in listening to debunkers). 

The professional jealousy in UFOlogy is stultifying. 

The slides team were part of the so-called "Roswell Dream Team" (a name they gave themselves) and were contacted for their alleged expertise in the Roswell case. They've since claimed that they weren't shown a hi-res image of the slide as part of their reasoning for getting involved. 

I can't help but wonder about this- why get involved if you couldn't actually see the evidence in question? This fact-- along with the obvious polish of the trailer and other details-- leads me to wonder if there wasn't upfront money, maybe a lot, involved in all of this. That would go a long way in explaining why two presumably experienced investigators would put their reputations on the line with so little to go on.

One of the Dream Team posted a mea culpa and said of the placard that identified the "alien" as a mummy:
I was told that the best-available, highest resolution images of the placard were provided by the co-owner of the slides, Mr. Adam Dew, and given to world-class photo experts including Ray Downing of Studio Macbeth in NY (who conducted analysis on the Shroud of Turin) and Colonel Jeffrey Thau (who sent them to the Pentagon’s Photo Interpretation Department.) Despite the application of the best de-blurring software in the world, they were unable to read the words on the placard with any definitiveness. 
 I can only surmise that Mr. Adam Dew did not provide to these experts the highest-resolution images of the slides. Why he did not, I cannot be certain. But Adam Dew has to this very day not yet publicly provided the crystal-clear slide images that I know exist.
Well, I wouldn't be so sure about that. Now that we see the Pentagon's involvement, we're playing an entirely different ballgame.

No one in UFOlogy would ever stop to ask this question but has anyone familiar with this story ever stopped to wonder that this may have been a psyop all along? The Dream Team includes a former career military man and is poking around military secrets, even if they are almost 70 years old now. The aftermath of the Roswell event may still radiate around classified projects and maybe someone thought it was time to put the issue to rest once and for all.

Equally questionable is the slick video presentation that was put together to promote this debacle. I understand that Adam Dew is involved in video production but this seems a bit too polished- too Hollywood- for a guy who basically films college football games. 

And therein lies another quandary- who is this guy? 

Did this so-called Dream Team ever look into his background or connections? I don't know anything about this guy so it's pure speculation on my part but video production- a gig that gives you a great deal of access into people's lives, their businesses, their homes- seems like a line that certain agencies may well have an interest in. 

Now I realize this is just plain crazy talk but the whole Roswell Slides saga reminds of an old episode of The X-Files called "Gethesemene." In it, Mulder is set up to believe that an alien corpse has been found in the Yukon. The purpose of the hoax was to get Mulder to believe the body was real and to go public with the information, after which it would be exposed as a fraud, but only after Scully was dead from cancer and so on and so forth. (Mulder also discovers that he's been under close surveillance by the DoD).

Here we have a strange parallel narrative- three UFOlogists (whom the debunkers call "Mulderites") are set up to believe that they've finally found the proof they've been searching for all these years. But it all blows up in their faces and destroys their credibility. 

That the Roswell Slides debacle may be more than meets the eye may have been confirmed by an episode in which the principals were allegedly harassed by people within the intelligence community, an event that served only to strengthen the group's resolve. I'd argue that this was exactly the desired effect. From the UFO Chronicles:
Ross, a commenter at the 'UFO Conjecture(s)' blog, stated today in an email exchange with 'The UFO Trail' that his email and the accounts of some high profile UFO-researchers were hacked in relation to the alleged Roswell slides. Ross further stated that he believed "a three letter agency" was responsible. 
Ross stated that he assumed he was initially targeted due to his involvement in email exchanges about the slides.
"Based on the resources required to do what I think they were doing; intercepting our comms as opposed to just 'hacking' and just the way things transpired I'm of the opinion this was a three letter agency," he added.
The party responsible for compromising the emails was obviously interested in the slides, Ross explained, and generally caused disruption.
"My instinct was that whoever we were dealing with had a sophisticated operation behind them," Ross wrote, "and figured I may as well try communicating to see what they have to say (the hacker used various safe-mail accounts to interact with us)." 
Ross continued, "The first response I received to a communication I had initiated was a list of emails which were mostly discussions about the slides, but there was some unrelated material there (which I discarded). This was obviously the hacker wanting to let me know the extent of the surveillance. 
There was a lot of smoke and mirrors, but overall the story was that these slides were of interest to certain three letter agencies. There were offers of money, a sit down meeting with someone fully briefed in what the government really knows about UFOs, and even the opportunity to see for real what the slides supposedly depict. All these offers were related to my acting as a conduit to arrange a meeting between the people handling the slides and the party/parties doing the 'hacking'. This wasn't something I was in a position to set up not being in contact with or on good terms with the people involved."
In "Gethesemene" a DOD operative murders the team that digs out the fake alien body, a typically extreme action meant to convince Mulder that the corpse is real and that people within the government are desperately trying to cover it up. 

The hacking event served the same purpose (and also ties us back to "Gethesemene", oddly enough).

Think about it: if an intelligence agency really wanted to suppress the slides, it probably could have done so without breaking a sweat. Instead, the team's suspicions were confirmed and they now had the confirmation they needed from Uncle Sam.

Strangely enough, I agree in an oblique kind of way. That we continue to see these kinds of things - along with the anonymous hoax videos that seem to appear on a daily basis on YouTube- suggests that creating UFO disinformation is still a priority in, uh, certain communities. 

In the same way crop circles were evidence that someone was concerned enough about the "saucer nest" phenomenon to create a diversion that grew to such proportions that people would soon forget why they were created in the first place. That at least one crop circle hoaxer is a British Intelligence asset tends to validate this, in my mind at least.

You can't help but wonder if UFOlogy itself is the ultimate triumph of UFO disinformation. Certainly the kind of rancor and backbiting you see in the wake of fiascoes like the "Roswell Slides" is keeping nearly everyone who might be interested in the topic at a safe distance.  

But I would argue that UFOlogy is also its own worst enemy. Whether you regard them as real or mythic, UFOs don't exist in a vacuum. They are part of our history, our culture, our religions, our politics. UFO culture often takes you into a closed universe in which all that exists is the saucer and its aftereffects. 

UFOs themselves are kind of boring. To my way of thinking they only take off when plugged into the overall matrix of esoteric thought, parapolitics, quantum consciousness and all the rest of it. But the present generation of UFOlogists- trained to view the phenomenon in a sci-fi mindset and often blindingly conventional in their attitudes- are keeping that alchemical mix from its boiling point because they turn so many people off from the topic with their endless dysfunctions.

It's time to try something else.

UPDATE: An interesting perspective on the story from an Italian researcher here, who claims that casting doubt on the entire Roswell narrative was the purpose behind this debacle. If so, all of a sudden the "ex-MUFON directors" and debunkers who seem to be engaged in a coordinated campaign to blame all of UFOlogy for this don't seem so much like lonely voices crying in the wilderness, do they?  

NOTE: I reported on the wave of terrible alien movies and the media's ignorance of same a few years ago and now have come to believe it was part of an aversion therapy psyop- more on that later.