by David Bloomberg
As the Chairman of REALL, I am asked a number of questions. Recently, most of these have revolved around Roswell, the Air Force report, etc. It's time for me to state exactly what my views are on Roswell:
I don't care.
That's right. I just don't care. I can't bring myself to care about a 50-year-old military SNAFU that has been conclusively shown to be meaningless -- except to a few ufological conspiracy theorists who ignore any evidence that contradicts their worldview. Frankly, I think the Air Force report did nothing to help, but rather only confused the situation more.
Now I know that I should care, at least a little bit, because I have taken it upon myself to be our media watchdog, and the media has taken up the 50th anniversary of the non-event at Roswell as a great way to reel in readers/watchers. But even so, how many times can we say the same thing?
Art Levine, writing for U.S. News & World Report, has written the only article I've seen which seems to mirror my viewpoint. In the July 14 issue, he talks about the disservice done to the public by the media, who have failed to make it plain that "one side of [the Roswell] debate consists of sheer hooey." He notes (and I agree) that the Roswell non-event's 50th anniversary probably shouldn't have rated "much coverage at all, given that the UFO event in question never happened."
He points out that the witnesses who keep telling their tales can't keep them straight: "many of Roswell's key witnesses have changed their stories several times and have been caught telling falsehoods." This is something that I've known for quite a while, as have other skeptics who keep up with UFO stories. Unfortunately, the media has done a less than stellar job of getting the information out to the public -- probably because telling the tale of an alien spacecraft crashing and our military covering it up seems a lot more interesting than talking about a few people in the middle of nowhere who are telling tall tales to get some attention.
But the Air Force played right into the hands of the believers. For whatever reason, it seems they didn't want to come out and say, "These people are lying," even though that much is obvious and has been proven. Instead, they came up with a cockamamie story about dropping dummies several years after the non-crash in Roswell. Now all the believers are hooting and hollering about the Air Force report, and I have to agree with them, at least as far as being skeptical that the dummies caused the alien body reports! As the caption under a photo in the Levine article says, "The Roswell mystery' is simple to explain: Many witnesses are telling false stories."
Even some former true believers have been forced to admit that there is nothing here. Kent Jeffrey, the main force behind getting more than 20,000 signatures on a petition asking President Clinton to make public all information about Roswell, has come out and said that the evidence shows that nothing otherwordly crashed at Roswell. He is already being attacked as a debunker-in-disguise by some believers and has responded, in part, by stating, "With regard to reversing my stance, it is important to remember that the objective of the Roswell Initiative has been to find the truth, not define it. Unfortunately, the truth turned out to be different from what I thought it might be, or hoped it would be. However, now that I am absolutely certain that the debris recovered from Roswell was not that from an extraterrestrial craft, I feel an obligation to get that information out as well. Not to do so would be less than forthright and less than honest."
So when even the biggest promoter of Roswell concludes that nothing happened, why should I care about it? I have too much other REALL-related work to do. Which is more important, the State Board of Education passing science standards without mentioning evolution, or a 50-year-old thoroughly debunked UFO case?
A famous skeptic (don't recall which one) once noted, "For ufology, it will always be 1947." Indeed, if this continues to be true -- and I certainly haven't seen a change -- the entire fringe of believers in alien visits to Earth can be virtually written off. In other words, call me when they come up with something interesting.
Side note: Some of you may be wondering how I can say that I don't care about Roswell, a 50-year-old case, while we are featuring part 2 of a discussion of Kenneth Arnold's 50-year-old sighting in this very same newsletter issue. First, let me say that the cases are somewhat different in that the Arnold case has not been definitively solved, while Roswell has. Second, Arnold's sighting is the one that started the whole frenzy of "flying saucer" sightings, and that alone makes it more interesting (at least to me). Third, and perhaps most important, even if I didn't find the Arnold case of interest, we don't just publish articles here based on what I like; if somebody submits a good article and it's relevant to REALL, we'll probably publish it!