|EDITOR AND STILL
James W. Moseley
Volume 46, No. 11
November 5th, 1999
P. 0. Box 1709
Key West, FL 33041
In an Internet posting previous to the Convention, Stacy referred to your "Smear" editor as ufology's "reigning court jester". We hadn't really thought of ourselves that way, though we do use humor to get some hopefully serious points across. Anyhow, ace cartoonist Matt Graeber has come up with a wonderful rendition of this concept, as seen on the left. (See also Matt's letter to the editor, further along in this issue.)
The lead-off speaker at the Con. on Saturday morning was supposed to be retiring MUFON czar Walt Andrus, but Walt became lost in his efforts to drive to the hotel. That made Literary Agent Cherry Weiner the lead-off speaker, she being the lady handling our book "Shockingly Close to the Truth". Though not a ufologist, she is looking for interesting new clients.
Then came Walt, speaking on the subject of the truly mysterious disappearance of Australian pilot Frederich Valentich, some twenty years ago. Finally, the morning's program was rounded off by your "Smear" editor recounting (once again!) his "Weird Personal Experiences of a Skeptical Believer."
Saturday afternoon's program began with Patrick Huyghe speaking about various unearthly-looking creatures, drawings & descriptions of which also appear in his latest book. Then came Constance Clear, speaking about the abduction research she has done as a trained psychologist. We understand that Ms. Clear also does a stand-up comedy routine, but this was not it. Finally came Karl Pflock, with a detailed description of the story behind the rumored Aztec, New Mexico saucer crash, circa 1948. This is the yarn from Frank Scully's classic 1950 book, "Behind the Flying Saucers".
After the close of the Saturday afternoon session, Dennis Stacy invited all the speakers to dinner at a classy local fish house, where there was much merriment except for a brief but ugly scene between Whitley Strieber and Kevin Randle. As he walked into the room, Strieber immediately said to Randle, who was seated with his back to him: "You are either a military disinformation agent or a professional liar". (This may not be the precise quote, but it is extremely close.) Randle just sat there in shocked silence. The reference here was to Randle's latest book, co-authored with two others, in which a somewhat skeptical attitude toward abductions is expressed.
Whitley Strieber and Joe Firmage composed the Saturday evening program. Strieber accepted NUFOC's "Ufologist of the Year" Award, and then proceeded to show several startling videos, including two from NASA's 1986 space shuttle mission. Firmage gave his usual gung-ho, inspiring video presentation of his concepts regarding UFOs and the bright future awaiting Mankind if only we can get our Act together.
The final session of the Convention was Sunday morning. Again your "Smear" editor acted as Master of Ceremonies. First off, Tom Deuley gave the real story of the alleged 1950 saucer crash known as the El Indio - Guerrero case. Actually, as strange as this may seem, the real event behind the legend was an incident in 1944 in which a Civil Air Patrol plane was accidentally shot down by our own military personnel at an aerial gunnery range. The pilot and an observer with him were both killed, and there was indeed a cover-up of this embarrassing event, leading to the crashed saucer rumor.
Next on Sunday morning, Kevin Randle gave his usual entertaining but skeptical lecture regarding UFO abductions. Randle has recently obtained a Ph.D. from an institution called California Coast University (CCU). Cynics on the Net have characterized this as a "diploma mill" and questioned whether it is duly accredited. We do not have enough information to comment on this, but we do congratulate Randle on his achievement, whatever the gory details may be.
Our last speaker was a lady named Linda Corley, who many years ago made the last in-depth interview with Jesse Marcel Sr, of Roswell fame, and obtained certain details about the Roswell crash that no one else ever knew about until now.
Amazingly, the Fox Network covered our Convention, and it is said there will be a TV "Special" on this, shortly. In all respects we had a great deal of free publicity before the event, in the San Antonio newspapers and on the Art Bell Show, as already mentioned. Here's hoping we can do as well next year, wherever the 2000 NUFOC may be held. As of this writing, we are still looking for a site, and we would be very interested in any leads that "Smear" readers might care to send us.
Incidentally, this is the same Peter Gersten who, years ago, believed in the so-called "Federal Hypothesis", i.e., the theory that all UFOs are made on Earth. Quite a change from that conservative view to the wild ufological guru Gersten is today! ...
" ... It occurs to me that the Mexican government may wish to embark upon an effort to reclaim this part of international history stolen from Mexico by the opportunistic and deceptive U.S. soldiers who chose to confiscate the apparently extraterrestrial spacecraft without proper authority from your central government. Accordingly, I suggest that you immediately contact the U.S. State Department with the request that it proceed with the prompt return of the craft to Mexican custody, accompanied by an official U.S. apology for the improper confiscation..."
Actually, as we learned at the San Antonio Convention, the incident in question apparently occurred in 1944 (not 1950) and involved the accidental shooting down of an American plane, by our own military. So the Mexican Government can maintain its dignity without our having to send back anything! ...
Incredibly, the Woods have come upon newly-discovered security classifications such as SUPER SECRET and DOUBLE TOP SECRET, and they accept these classifications as authentic.Egads! ...
Firmage has also spoken at many UFO conferences, including our recent one in San Antonio.
Also on the show was actor Dennis Weaver, Michael Shermer of "Skeptic" Magazine, and prolific writer Brad Steiger, who made the startling claim that shots were fired at the UFOs over Washington, D.C. in the famous July 1952 incident. This is the first time in all these years that we have heard this claim made! ...
Davidson is currently a "Smear" non-subscriber, and has kindly autographed our copy as follows: "To Jim, with best wishes & thanks for keeping us (even us skeptics) all so wonderfully entertained all these years."
This plus praise on the back cover from the likes of Sir Arthur C. Clark and Johnny Carson makes it unlikely we will pan this book or its subject. We heard Sagan speak once, at CalTech, and he is a fascinating speaker. We even met him briefly after the lecture.
To put it in a nutshell, Sagan was not popular with ufologists, because he did not endorse their unproven claims. On the other hand, though a founding member of CSICOP, he felt that "some of its members were too lacking in compassion for those deluded by foolish ideas". (Ex-CSICoper James Randi immediately comes to mind here!) Sagan was a moderate, a sincere searcher for scientific Truth. Dr. Donald Menzel of Harvard University criticized him as being a "closet believer", and indeed, in his early years Sagan had been a believer in interplanetary saucers. Maturity and especially a book by Martin Gardner (another "Smear" non-subscriber) cured him of this!
Keay Davidson informs us that Sagan testified as an expert witness against UFO contactee Reinhold Schmidt in 1962. Schmidt had sold to many women a half-interest in a southern California mine, which had been shown to him by inhabitants of Saturn. The mine supposedly contained a special kind of quartz that cured cancer. Schmidt was given one to ten years in prison, and lost his case on appeal.
As an outspoken, articulate but moderate thinker on the subject of UFOS, Sagan was unpopular with extremists on both sides of the UFO debate - much as (on a far more humble scale) your "Smear" editor finds himself to be!
This book runs over five hundred pages, and quite frankly, we have only read the relatively small segments concerning UFOs and (strangely!) marijuana. It turns out that Sagan smoked marijuana frequently from the early 1960s on, and felt that it aided him with genuine insights that he would otherwise never have achieved.
"Smear" gives very few favorable reviews, but in our opinion Davidson has written the definitive biography of a great man. What more can we say? ...
"When...Eldon Byrd sued me in Baltimore a few years ago, his lawyer brought up the famous tape recording as evidence against my character. My own lawyer, at my insistence, asked that the entire tape be played for the courtroom and jury, so that the true nature of the record would be understood, instead of being misrepresented as it usually was."
We now have a portion of the transcript of the Eldon Byrd vs. James Randi et al trial, dated May 26th, 1993. From a reading of this transcript it is abundantly clear that Randi's lawyer, named Diane Margaret Link, made every effort to persuade Judge Marvin J. Garbis not to let the jury hear the tape, which of course is the same so-called Blackmail Tape that we have referred to in "Smear" many times in the past.
Here, verbatim, is part of that excerpt from the official record of that trial:
MS. LANK: May I respectfully ask how the tape is relevant, your Honor? What defamatory statements alleged by Mr. Byrd are related to that tape?
THE COURT: Fortunately I don't have to persuade you that I'm right. I have to ultimately persuade the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit that I am properly exercising my discretion in this case, which I am doing.
I have listened to the tape.I have carefully and agonizingly reflected on this. It is possible, it is possible that your client told this Court, this jury, and the New York Skeptics a bald face lie. It is possible. The jury is going to have to evaluate that. I don't know how they can evaluate that if they don't hear this and determine which version is true.
If he has said a falsity about this tape and this is the tape he accused Mr. Byrd of manipulating, then I think it is relevant to this case, to his credibility and to the issues in this case with regard to whether or not he knew that other statements were false.
He had this tape. He knew what this tape was. He said things about Mr. Byrd relevant to this tape that the jury may find false, they may find are true.
What you have said and your position has been is that this tape is material. Mr. Randi is leading on some obscene callers. If your version is true, it is benign. I trust the jury. But if your version is not true, then the jury is entitled to know that. This issue is closed.
The Blackmail Tape was then played for the jury, obviously over the objections of Ms. Lank, who presumably was acting in behalf of her client, James Randi.
Randi apparently does not want the American public to hear this Tape, either. Why not???
In his October issue, "Magonia Monthly Supplement" editor John Harney writes,
"One of the problems caused by the preconceptions entertained by ufologists is that interesting cases are rarely investigated objectively. If the investigator favours the ETH as a possibility he will give up at a certain point and classify the case as possible evidence of it. He will also be tempted to suppress negative evidence, or alternative theories.Harney has it right, but goes too easy on the so-called skeptics. The truth is that gung-ho anti-ufologists like Klass, Shaeffer, and Posner, Klass' amanuensis, don't just lose interest, they sink their fangs into whatever explanation they've decided fits, and will fight down and dirty in its defense, tempted - and more - to suppress any evidence or theory to the contrary.
If the investigator is a sceptic, he will lose interest as soon as he has satisfied himself that some explanation other than alien spacecraft will fit."
Ufology is beset by True Believers ("They must be, therefore they are!") and True Unbelievers ("They can't be, therefore they aren't!") Rare are those who pursue evidence wherever it may lead, no matter how the results may square with their cherished hopes and dreams. Ironically, both the TBists and the TUists see themselves as champions of objective analysis and critical thinking, when in fact they are defenders of their respective faiths and, not incidentally, their egos.
Harney cites this example of TUism in action: The dogged insistence that the Travis Walton abduction case is a hoax in which all the witnesses are co-conspirators despite the enormous practical problems with the "They are all in on it" theory. I can attest from personal experience that this is a particularly good example of the problem.
When I told Phil Klass, TUism's Walton-case inquisitor, I found it unlikely in the extreme that all the witnesses could have been in on a hoax, he would have none of it. Instead of giving my ideas reasoned consideration, Phil launched into a major - and unsuccessful - effort to demonstrate what he considered the error of my ways. (I am most grateful, though, for the extremely valuable material he provided along the way.)
I've focused on TUism here, but similar TBist examples abound - e.g. Roswell. The issue isn't which a priori beliefs blinker one's consideration of UFO data, but rather that any such beliefs are in play. When theories harden into articles of faith and egotism, critical thinking and truth are smothered in their cradles!
"Re Fabulous Conference (in San Antonio): The caliber of this conference is wonderful, and I so enjoyed your presentation & perspective. C. Clear, W. Strieber & J. Firmage were riviting & beautifully done. Each was refreshingly energetic, bright, and gave lots of food for thought, & new & interesting material & insights.
"And it's not over yet! I'm so fortunate to have been able to attend at the last minute. Really first class weekend.Thanks! ...
"I've been wanting to drop you this note for some time, but it's been very busy here at home, and I couldn't get around to it. Karl Pflock sent me the July 25th issue of 'Saucer Smear'. I want to thank you for the kind words you wrote about me. (Blush!) Beautiful, huh? I guess that's alright if you like gerbils. (Smile!)
"I'm glad that we let go of the hurt feelings and put the past be- hind us where it belongs ..."
"... As for Kal Korff and the Hefflin case, I can remember the time when he was one of that case's strongest supporters. He even claimed to have found photographic evidence of invisible force fields under the UFO. How sad it is that, as this fellow has aged, his ego has, increasingly, taken control of his mind, rather than vice versa. At least there was some 'class' about 'Klass'. 'Korff' is the sort of sound one makes when trying not to choke in public. Or perhaps better put - a 'cough' is defined as a violent spasm which results in the expulsion of considerable amounts of hot air and phlegm. A 'Korff' is much the same, only of less significance. (I do hope someone sees the humor in this, as it was so intended.) ...
"I rejoice in the information published in your latest 'Smear' regarding efforts by valiant urologists to convene Congressional Hearings, thereby forcing the Government to reveal the Truth at last. Such happy news brings us back to the days of our youth, when NICAP made such Hearings their top priority and their favorite argument in raising money from subscribers.
"You will recall that the Michigan cases of the mid-sixties finally prompted Congress to hold such Hearings, where much wonderful posturing was displayed by Pentagon brass and various luminaries of science. In the end, the proceedings were a travesty of research and little more than an escape valve for the steam of public opinion - or, in this particular case, its swamp gas.
"It would be wonderful to relive the excitement of those days. Such public exercises are a great alternative to the painful search for clues in the muddy fields of farmers and the messy homes of ordinary witnesses who only contribute to our puzzlement in the end. It is much better to parade among pundits in the marble halls of Washington, rubbing elbows with silver-haired Senators and buxom interns!
"There was a similar situation in the last century when passions about contact with the Spirits of the Dead reached a feverish pitch. Researchers, including some notable American scientists, demanded Congressional Hearings about communication with the Beyond. You will find the details in a fascinating magazine called 'La Table Parlante", published in Paris on rue Garanciere in the Fifties. The Eighteen Fifties, of course!
"With warm regards, and my admiration for your stamina in the midst of such chaos..."
"Thanks for the recent note and enclosures about the Conference. Who the hell came up with the idea that you're ufology's reigning court jester? Somehow, I always thought of you as the observer of many jesters in disguise as experts. Anyway, I am still chuckling over the last issue of'Smear'. Indeed, an issue which proves your powers of observation in the land of myopia. Perhaps when your book is published, others will come to realize that Moseley knows more about UFOS, the people who see them and the self-proclaimed experts than anyone else on the planet (except for me, of course).
"On another note, I have just finished reading 'Soul Samples' by R. Leo Sprinkle, Ph.D., who is a counseling psychologist, pioneer abduction researcher, and ufologist of the first magnitude. 'Soul Samples' is must reading for anyone who doubts (or too simplistically accepts) the 'reality' of the UFO experience. With his remarkable researches, wit, intelligence, and spiritual insights, Dr. Sprinkle invites his readers to explore 'the Karmic - Cosmic Connection' of Mankind's continuing contacts with extraterrestrials. 272 pages, from Granite Publishing, Columbus, N.C. - $21.95..."
"In Part 3 of Karl Pflock's Fifth Column (in 'Smear') on 'The Future of Ufology', he repeats the Trent promoters' favorite claim that 'Bruce Maccabee demonstrated that the shadows were not inconsistent with conditions on the evening of May 11th'. Nothing could be farther from the truth (unless it turns out that the sun was setting in the east that evening). Maccabee's 'demonstration' consists primarily of a photo showing shadows under the eaves of his own house, that he says resulted from the illumination of an evening cloud.
"What we skeptics want to see is not these shadows; we want instead to see the remarkable cloud causing them, that violated all normal laws of atmospheric optics. Unlike normal clouds and sunset conditions, whose contrast with the background sky diminishes to its lowest value of the day ... this one Super-cloud in the east (it must have been a single object of extremely compact angular size, and extraordinary brightness) got brighter and more contrasty as the sun went down in the west - a type of cloud never reported before or since. For those interested in the full details of the debunking of the Trent photos, my original 1969 paper has recently been updated and placed on the UFO page of my Debunker's Domain website: see www.debunker.com.
"Many thanks for the latest 'Saucer Smear' and for the quotation of me therein. I also especially liked the letter from John Ford. It's only appropriate for such an august publication to have at least the occasional letter to the editor from a mental hospital.
"I have it confirmed for you, that the recently deceased Jim Keith was one of the writers, if not the only one, of Tim Beckley's 'Commander X' books!
"Keep your eye on the ground (for entrances to Dero and Tero caves!"
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