Friday, October 23, 2020

Keyhoe and Wallace Video: Lessons from the Past



I recently viewed the above 1958 Mike Wallace interview of Maj. Donald Keyhoe, then-director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. I initially thought I would only watch a couple minutes of the video but ended up sticking around for the entire half hour show. 

Several points stand out to me. To appreciate these points, one should understand some things about the 1958 UFO scene and Maj. Keyhoe. He was a former Marine Corps pilot and author. He wrote about aviation and flying saucers, and he managed publicity tours for aviation pioneers like Charles Lindbergh. In 1958 Keyhoe was in his second year of thirteen that he spent representing NICAP. He was convinced UFOs were alien spacecraft, proof of which he was optimistic he would soon pry from the United States Air Force. 

Maj. Donald Keyhoe
NICAP was a civilian UFO research organization that went on to be 7,500 members strong, with chapters in every state and several nations. Its leadership became vested (preoccupied, some argued) with proving the U.S. government was conducting a cover-up of an extraterrestrial presence.   

Keyhoe did not seem to grasp that the thousands of reported UFO sightings NICAP was compiling may both involve sincere, credible people and those people may simply be mistaken. In most circumstances it is not being challenged that a citizen, pilot, police officer, military officer, etc., encountered some type of event outside their normal range of experience. The question is whether they interpreted it correctly. This was a primary barrier during the discussion between Keyhoe and Wallace, who took a skeptical, investigative approach. The same fundamental challenge would go on to embed itself in the heart of the UFO genre and arguably come to define it.   

While doubtful about flying saucers, Wallace was supportive of statements and reports issued by the military, the likes of which contradicted Keyhoe. It should be considered that trusting Uncle Sam was a rather popular position to take in 1958. The show host pressed Keyhoe on why he thought the Air Force would lie to the American people.

Keyhoe had answers for Wallace, consisting of what became the usual talking points of public panic about aliens and such. I think a more interesting aspect of the discussion was how neither of the men addressed national security issues as a potential reason for a cover-up. I'd add that the culture at large tended to overlook the situation as well. 

My research into NICAP suggests minimal consideration was given to the likelihood the military and intelligence agencies might avert from transparency pertaining to UFOs for what, in 2020, seems like the most obvious possibility: some sightings involve sensitive natsec implications for reasons that have nothing whatsoever to do with alleged ET spacecraft. 

It just doesn't seem to be something most UFO researchers give much thought, for what are surely a variety of reasons. Even today the more 'down to earth' natsec issues seem to be neither understood nor received well among the general public. We tend to prefer suspicions of crashed saucers and interplanetary exchange programs. In fairness, those same intelligence agencies may very well have led the public in that direction. The media certainly did.   

I found one of the more striking moments of the interview to occur in the 24th minute of the video. As Keyhoe offers evermore info from UFO reports, Wallace interjects, "Major Keyhoe, what would you like to see done about flying saucers that is not currently being done?"

I think that is an important and practical line of reasoning. I also think it often still applies today, perhaps at times more rhetorically than literally.

Mike Wallace
Last but not least, the video contains three commercial segments for the show's sponsor, Parliament cigarettes. The dubious claims put forth, combined with proclamations that professional research proves the claims, are sights to see. Some of it might be considered humorous if it weren't for the associated health risk. 

Perhaps most notable of the commercial breaks is Mike Wallace giving his Parliament pitch, in which he repeatedly describes it as the "best" smoke going. He explains and supposedly demonstrates how the filters are designed for maximum effectiveness and tobacco flavor. Then, after meeting his obligation to praise the sponsor's cigarette, he sets the lung dart down, turns toward Keyhoe, and ironically puts his investigative journalist cap on and proceeds to critically question Keyhoe and the saucer story.

The video serves as a time capsule of 1958. It is also about as effective example as one could find of American culture, complete with implications to its evolution. The saucer stories, belief systems, and contradictions are "apple pie" without the wholesomeness. The video is a telling glimpse, we just might not like some of what it has to say.

Monday, October 19, 2020

UFOs and Politics

Tom DeLonge has been expressing his political views on Twitter. After writing a line like that about DeLonge, reporters and bloggers typically give readers an obligatory few sentences about how he is the unlikely front man of an organization consisting of former defense officials and contractors who purport to research UFOs. We'll skip the intro since you probably already know about TTSA if you're reading my blog in the first place, but we could add that very little in the way of compelling evidence has actually been produced by those former officials and contractors. After decades of spooky stories and promises of forthcoming UFO Disclosure, we continue to have little more than hearsay to show for it.

While plenty of the burden falls on the shoulders of self-described scientists who plundered around Skinwalker Ranch, it's not all their fault. It's been three years now since Kean and company broke the AATIP story in the Times, and there are a whole lot of relevant assertions made in that article that still haven't been verified. The Times, its writers, and TTSA bear responsibility for that.

As we have explored on this blog and elsewhere, the Disclosure movement is a chronic staple of the UFO genre. It has endured some 70 years of public hearings, Congressional panels, and forecasts of big things to come. Nonetheless, many UFO advocates continue to suggest a Congressional hearing will, this time, reveal the secrets that are surely withheld.

Deeply withheld secrets, we might add, that allegedly seem to be rather puzzlingly made available to men like Luis Elizondo. These men, secrets purportedly in hand, apparently decided to launch a corporation with a stock securities strategy for fundraising rather than seek counsel from attorneys with expertise in national security and whistleblower law. It might indeed be considered reasonable to tap some brakes on the validity and objectivity of their insider knowledge that rests so heavily on taking them at their word.   

As DeLonge weighs in on the upcoming election, we could consider a prevailing point that towers above the support and criticism he receives: The UFO topic is married to the political arena. 

In order to realistically discuss possible Congressional hearings and initiatives (like the Rubio-backed effort to obtain a DoD appraisal of the UAP situation), we must consider political allegiances and related dynamics. Moreover, while some high profile characters state they support a nonpartisan approach and that politics should stay out of the UFO fray, their actions suggest somewhat otherwise.

As suggested in the above tweet, TTSA personnel and its friends of the program are fond of guest spots on the right wing, highly dubious FOX News. The "highly dubious" description I opted to use is not just my personal observation, but is in line with court filings by FOX itself. Attorneys argued on behalf of FOX that reasonable viewers do not take Carlson seriously and understand his segments to be hyperbole, as suggested in the screenshot below.

The seemingly ever present Nick Pope is also among those who frequent Carlson's show and discuss issues which many would argue he is not the least bit qualified to address, much less explain. The political leanings of Pope, who generally supports TTSA or most anything that keeps people talking about UFOs, may be explored at his Twitter account

UFO enthusiasts and TTSA fans, whether they like it or not, are somewhat forced to accept that Congressional support for the UAP topic is enmeshed with political issues. Acknowledging the political factor in the UFO arena is a sensitive undertaking for the talking heads because it lays bare the topic's often overlooked social complexity. It is often overlooked, both mistakenly and as an insincere matter of convenience, in lieu of promoting an overly simplistic and unrealistic model. UFO buffs might also consider why their preferred spokespeople, if they sincerely want to keep the topic as apolitical and nonpartisan as possible, congregate to talk about it on the defacto state media channel. 

Tuesday, September 8, 2020

A Story May Be Accurate, but Is It True?

Spooky hallway in the Crescent Hotel and Spa
of Eureka Springs, AR. The Crescent is dubbed
America's most haunted hotel.
Sometimes we hear a story about paranormal subject matter that sounds really compelling. Some reports of unusual experiences might indeed represent odd occurrences, but it should be a given that many do not. How the storyteller frames the circumstances - what they leave in, what they leave out, etc. - can make a huge difference. 

The use of language is very important. We can either inadvertently or intentionally mislead others, as well as ourselves, depending on how we describe things, repeat and embellish them over time, and so on.

People often do not accurately interpret descriptions of things we try to transfer through words. We can't even transmit a thoroughly accurate signal, and they can't receive it if we could. To complicate matters, they often think they understand fully. They are then subject to taking on their own inaccurate mental vision of a story as if it is a correct representation of actuality, and then later describing that evolving and shifting mental vision as what someone else told them took place. The process then repeats as the story is passed along. 

Paranormal stories rarely have resolution. We often just don't know what happened, but understanding points an author may omit or fail to pursue has the potential to significantly help us with listing and ranking possible explanations. Let's consider an example.

The Ghost Story

Several years ago I resided in a house about 100 years old. I taught music lessons and sold instruments, often in the house.

One night I had just arrived home from the grocery store. I carried some bags up the front steps. As I reached an elevated wooden front porch, out of the corner of my eye I thought I caught a glimpse of an old woman standing in the yard to my right. 

She seemed to be standing in a line of trees. I initially interpreted her to be wearing outdated clothes, or, we might say, garments from another era. I thought she perhaps had on an apron or long skirt, and maybe a bonnet or something on her head.

I had the impression she was lost or distressed, which is to say it would be pretty strange to be standing around in someone's yard at night. I set the bags of groceries down before turning to address the woman because I suspected this interaction might require more care than a typical exchange with a neighbor. I was prepared to ask her if she was okay, and take some responsibility for the situation if she was not. I turned to face her and she was gone.

A few weeks later I was working at a musical instrument display I set up in a local store. I was playing an electronic keyboard. This one man, about 65 years old, took my business card. Momentarily he returned with excitement.

"Hey," he told me, alternately looking at me and my card, "I grew up at this address."

"Is that right?" I asked.

"Yeah, I sure did," he continued, telling me how the now paved road used to be dirt, and a few other things of note.

"You know," he eventually said, "that house is haunted..."

"Yeah?"

"Yes, it's my mom. She loved that place, and people saw her for years after she died. She played piano, and people who lived in the house would say they heard her playing a few notes now and then."

I encouraged him to stop by the house if the mood ever struck. One Sunday he took me up on it.

He came up the steps, onto the porch, and I welcomed him into the house. Far and away the most prominent thing one would first notice would be the musical instruments all over the place. This was no regular living area I kept. Electronic keyboards, music books, an old upright piano. He enthusiastically explained how his mom (the piano player) would have loved this. 

I gave him some space and allowed him to browse the home, just him and his memories. We chatted a bit afterward, about his mother and old stories about the house, and I bid him farewell.   

It seemed I had quite a ghost story on my hands, complete with my own sighting!

More of the Story

I would not try to validate or devalue the man's beliefs, as of course I wasn't there and have no idea what all may or may not have taken place. I really can't speak to his experiences and interpretations, but I can speak to mine.

There are some things that should be considered before we assume my experience necessarily has any relevance at all to his story, much less validates spirits walk the earth as apparitions after physical death. The following offers an example of how an author might omit potentially important info, leading readers to make a lot of assumptions about the above ghost story.

At the time in question, my music students were primarily senior citizens. Overwhelmingly so, as a matter of fact. I spent a great deal of time around aged people. I taught recreational music making on keyboards. I had been doing this in one capacity or other, from Florida to Maryland, for years.

We often conducted social events in the house to increase morale and create traffic. These might include keyboard concerts consisting of Big Band music, and costumes were encouraged. We'd do Western Day, 1950's Day, salutes to veterans, and so on, depending on things like holidays and time of year. Suffice it to say I spent significant amounts of time not only with seniors, but with us all dressed in outfits from yesteryear, and on that very property. I think it's reasonable to suppose that if my 'ghost' was a momentary optical illusion, it would seem pretty likely that what I might think I saw would be an older person in outdated clothing. I had, in fact, frequently seen and greeted just such actual people from the porch on which I stood. 

As first mentioned, the ghost woman seemed to be standing in a dark tree line. I was standing on an elevated porch, illuminated by a porch light. It doesn't seem like much of a stretch to suspect I may have momentarily mistaken a tree or shadows in the outlying dark for a person. A storyteller could, hypothetically, leave out the part about it being night, omit the fact they were standing in an illuminated area while glancing into the darkness, fail to mention the perception was simply a fleeting glimpse, etc. 

Also, and I came to think this might be pretty relevant, I had just arrived home from the grocery store. As the story suggests, it was nearing the end of the day. It was a work day, I was tired, and I went grocery shopping on top of that. So not only do those points seem potentially relevant to me, but particularly the part about being in a store just before it happened.

I had just left a place where lots of people were milling around. It wouldn't seem all that odd to mistakenly think I saw a person when I looked into the dark, or, in a manner of speaking, looked at an ink blot. This might be considered similar to spending a day at an amusement park riding a roller coaster, then continue to have the dizzying sensations when closing our eyes at night to go to sleep. When veterinarians get home after a long day, do they 'see' dogs in the shadows? And particularly if they saw a few more on their way home from the office? 

The musical aspect of the story might be considered an intriguing coincidence. While that is indeed the case, it's also true that it was extremely common for women of the relevant age group to play piano. It was once considered a pretty standard part of a well rounded education and cultural upbringing. We might also consider it's extremely unlikely the other residents of the home who apparently reported ghost sightings, as mentioned by the man, were using the property as a music store. It's a pretty shaky connection, albeit a potentially fun and entertaining story to tell.   

We'll never know for sure about the vast majority of these kinds of situations. However, the discriminating reader realizes all possibilities are not equal. A great deal more hypothetical circumstances must be taken into evidence to assume a ghost sighting than, for instance, a trick on tired eyes. Whether a writer chooses to research optical illusions or spend their time learning about seances may make all the difference as to how they frame a story. Similar may of course be said about a UFO writer allocating some attention to exotic aircraft as compared to spending inordinate amounts of time absorbing and relaying sensational stories.

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Recommended related reading:

UFO Critical Thinking 101

Eye of the Beholder

Tuesday, September 1, 2020

CIA Serves Assist to Researchers Seeking Previously Processed UFO Docs

The CIA FOIA response referenced in this post and containing a CIA list of UFO documents may be viewed in its entirety and downloaded at either Keep&Share or Google Drive

The Central Intelligence Agency recently provided The UFO Trail a list of UFO-related documents generated from an internal "Requester Report" database. The list contains identifying information of 713 previously processed documents totaling 2,780 pages. The Agency explained the documents may be requested individually or the entire package may be purchased on CDROM for $10.

"Please be advised," the CIA wrote, "the Agency has released to previous requesters numerous pages of UFO-related documents under the FOIA. Most of this material was located as a result of previous searches for records conducted on behalf of earlier requesters for information regarding UFOs. Any releasable material as a result of these earlier, thorough searches is included in this package."   

The 33-page list was supplied in conjunction with a July 28 CIA response to an FOIA request pertaining to Stuart Nixon, a former executive director of the National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena. The request sought records referencing Nixon in addition to two documents already located on the CIA website. 

The CIA provided one additional item in response, a 1973 newspaper clipping featuring Nixon. He commented in the article on a rise in the number of UFO reports in the wake of the now legendary Pascagoula alleged alien abduction case. Reports apparently increased tenfold, and Nixon stated NICAP was "literally swamped with calls" after the event in Mississippi.

The July 28 CIA response emphasized in bold font there is no current organized CIA effort to conduct research in connection with UFO phenomena, nor has there been an organized effort to collect intelligence on UFOs since the 1960's. The CIA indicated many of the documents on the list relate to the Scientific Advisory Panel, or Robertson Panel, and to sightings as reported in the foreign news media.

For those interested in requesting some or all of the records, the response stated:

View the full CIA response

If you want to obtain some of the listed records, it might be a good idea to first search for the document by title at the CIA online reading room. It may already be posted online. 

If you don't find the doc on the website, submit an FOIA request to CIA. Reference the document title along with its "CadreRefID" number and publication date. You'll find them on the list. Ask to be notified prior to filling the request if charges are applicable, or if costs are estimated to exceed a specific amount you state you are willing to pay. They'll often just mail you a free hard copy of the doc if it's only a few pages. The Agency will otherwise inform you how to proceed. Here is what the list format looks like:













To obtain the full set of records on disc, submit an FOIA request for the entire package of UFO documents on CDROM as referenced in FOIA response F-2020-01742. Be sure to clarify you want the CDROM (not hard copies with printing and postage fees for 2,780 pages). Specify to notify you of charges and the Agency will instruct you how to complete the transaction from there. 

Thursday, August 27, 2020

UFO Critical Thinking 101

We're often just not all on the same page when it comes to discussing UFOs. It might help if some of us interested in the subject read a little more material (or any material) on topics such as standards of evidence. It can get really tough to keep rational perspective if front loaded with tales of Core Stories and secret sources. This writer highly encourages integration of healthy skepticism into attempts to form opinions and beliefs, such as perhaps reading an article on critical thinking at least once out of every dozen or so clicks on a sensational UFO story link. So I wrote one! Please read on.

There are some widely recognized critical thinking questions to ask when we consider a person's point as presented in an article or during a social media discussion. A few of them:

What are the issue and conclusion?

What reasons are offered?

What are the assumptions?

Are there logical fallacies in the reasoning?

The answers to such questions should help us form reliable assessments of how much weight we should give the story. For instance, if a writer does not seem to state a pretty clear issue and conclusion, we're off to a really bad start! I jest, but there are actually a concerning number of articles on UFOs and paranormal topics that seem to meander and wind much more than they state particular purposes.  

If they seem to be fairly clear and systematic about their point, it is reasonable to question how they arrived at it. The more direct the route, the better. It's generally agreed that conclusions based on the least number of hypothetical scenarios have the strongest foundations. Another way to look at that is to say if their argument is based on hypotheticals, then it's an opinion, and you're entitled to hold an opposing one. Burden of proof is always on the claimant.

Sometimes we make assumptions when we don't even realize it. Assumptions are often mistaken as facts, but a few easy fact-checking techniques can quickly clarify. Sources should be provided for assertions, and they should be verifiable. Chains of custody of documents and similar such evidence should be readily available. If statements of assertions are attributed to other sources, then those sources should have verification of their claims and chains of custody for their evidence. While someone may thoroughly believe fragmented memories are indicative of alien abduction, it is, of course, an assumption based on many hypotheticals (as mentioned above).

Logical fallacies are patterns of reasoning rendered invalid due to flaws in their logical structure. These are bad. You don't want to find your latest book purchase full of 'em! A common logical fallacy is Ad Hominem, which is attacking the personal character of an individual rather than directly countering specific points of their work or argument. 

Another is Appeal to Authority, which is the other side of the coin from Ad Hominem. That's when a point is submitted based solely on the reputation of the source, with no regard given to verifying its authenticity. Just because the FDA said it, that does not exempt the statement from reasonable fact-checking. Same with PhDs about a vortex on a ranch in Utah (see above about lines of reasoning and number of hypotheticals required).

All of this leads us to the significance of standards of evidence. It's no wonder we can't agree on conclusions if we can't agree on the relevance of the information used to form them! 

Whether or not we agree to respect standards of evidence universally recognized by the professional research community, it is important to understand them. While we may be willing to entertain some of the more maverick and creative ways of exploring subjects of interest, we should know how far we might be veering from the established template. This allows us deeper understanding of why our ideas and research may be dismissed. It is also important to realize that if UFO researchers want to be embraced by mainstream science, which has been a battle cry for 70 years, they have responsibilities to at the least understand, if not conform to, scientific protocols and standards. Otherwise, don't complain your Pentagon boss isn't interested in your project.     

Like many people, I was interested in UFOs and related topics in part because I considered myself open minded. I thought there were things I might be willing to entertain that more rigid and dogmatic people would not. In hindsight, I think many of my beliefs about UFOs were formed in error, largely based upon incorrect information presented by those who package and traffic it. 

When exploring and discussing such material, nobody likes to be minimized and called stupid. We are all at different points in our UFO awakenings, and those of us who are sincere should be allowed the necessary room to grow. Mistakes happen. Misinformed opinions happen. Personal experiences are open to interpretation.

However, we should remain aware we can learn from both sides of the desk. If we want people to be tolerant of our beliefs and better understand why we embrace them, then we too can better inform ourselves why such people reject certain sources of evidence or hold it in low regard. It works both ways. 

It is through the process of effectively dissecting the collective UFO body of material in which we come to more stable terms with our beliefs, our hopes, and our fears. We learn about the world we inhabit and, ultimately, ourselves. I sincerely hope you find this blog a useful tool.

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

UFO Debris, Disclosure, and Congressional Investigations

Hey, did you hear the news? UFO debris is a hot topic, the veil of government secrecy will soon be lifted, and Congressional UFO investigations are ongoing. No, not that debris or those investigations. I'm talking about the UFO Disclosure of the 1950's!

Maj. Donald Keyhoe,
largely considered
the face of NICAP
My continuing interest in NICAP led me to the inbox of Barry Greenwood, a longtime researcher and archivist of a wide variety of original source documents. He helpfully shared some NICAP files with me which I have been reading ever since.

Among the clear takeaways is that perceptions of imminent UFO Disclosure are perpetual. Interestingly, many of the dynamics remain in tact to a rather fascinating extent.

Take, for instance, this sample from a NICAP bulletin. "Falls" from UFOs were a thing, as some readers may recall about the dubious 1947 Maury Island case and a 1950's incident in Brazil investigated by Dr. Olavo Fontes. 


More material distributed by NICAP in the late 1950's indicates its assessment of a forthcoming "break in official secrecy in 1959." Note the analysis (at the bottom of the image) indicating suspicions UFO bases were located on Mars and Venus. The speculation was due to interpretations of increases in UFO sightings while the planets were closer to Earth.


Further research indicated an ambitious NICAP member wrote Congressman William Ayres, asking if Congress investigates UFOs. Why, yes, Ayres suggested, we're on it, as reported in a 1958 edition of the Akron Beacon Journal:


The item made news when NICAP front man Maj. Donald Keyhoe cited the statement during a 1958 talk in DC. 

"A constituent made an inquiry and I had it checked into," Congressman Ayres explained further. "As I recall, a subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee had held hearings," he added, a possible reference to the 1953 Robertson Panel or something similar.

It's more understandable that UFO investigators in the 1950's perceived such events to be greatly significant than it is when they express shock and awe today. The 1950's researchers and reporters didn't have the saturation level of unresolved hype and mountains of material that we, their successors, have available while currently forming our assessments. 

Whether or not we use it, and whether or not it is omitted by supposed experts and journalists due to ulterior motives or incompetence, are questions the UFO genre appears destined to struggle with. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Whoa Cart, Let's Wait for the Horse

Research suggests people who subscribe to unproven conspiratorial theories often believe many such theories, even when they contradict one another. Live Science reported how one research project found those who suspected Princess Diana was murdered also tended to believe she faked her death. Similarly, those surveyed who believed Osama bin Laden was already dead when his compound was raided by U.S. Special Forces were also most willing to believe he is still alive. The common denominator seems to be a mistrust of authority, something in pretty strong supply.

It's easy to find the dynamic in UFO circles. It seems a lot of people believe the U.S. government was in possession of an extraterrestrial spacecraft examined by Bob Lazar at Area 51. It seems the same demographic likes to believe that same government is shelling out millions by way of AAWSAP and AATIP to learn about just such craft - of which they apparently don't provide access to the contractors awarded the grant funds. 

Robert Bigelow
Similarly, one of those apparent contracted scientists, Dr. Eric Davis, is believed by some to have been told about such secret information by an in-the-know insider, see the Wilson Leak, circa 2002 or so. We are apparently to also believe Davis, and in effect Team Bigelow and the eventual AATIP crew, failed to mention or substantially act on that knowledge while searching the globe far and wide for evidence of such craft and ET beings... that Uncle Sam is believed to already have in his possession. 

We could argue the logic - and lack thereof - indefinitely. We're always going to come back around to the importance of evidence available for public review. People either understand the significance or they don't.

An ongoing challenge with the TTSA saga is that some of it may indeed prove interesting from a number of perspectives, yet, at the same time, a lot of it is sensationalized by writers who supply a demand for Disclosure fury, if not create it. With a shout out to UAP written into a recent legislative bill, there are indeed points to ponder and social dynamics to keep an eye on. However, history shows us such dynamics are not new, yet to point this out may be viewed as wet blanketing the UFO blogosphere. Regardless, it might be wise to see how things play out and prioritize evidence available for public review before taking Disclosure victory laps.

As we see in an FBI file compiled on the 20th century National Investigations Committee on Aerial Phenomena, statements very similar to those we read now were issued. Such statements, as is currently the case, were released by esteemed members of the intelligence community. 


We might also consider a 1958 letter, contained in the same FBI file, written by NICAP Director Donald Keyhoe to FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover. It indicates the respected members of the NICAP crew and the prior experience with government UFO research of one in particular, Major Fournet.


The similarities to current day events are striking. Time will tell if the outcomes are much different.