Monday, December 6, 2021

The MUFON Ambient (Abduction) Monitoring Project (AMP)

Ambient Monitoring Project History and Status 

by Thomas Deuley, MUFON

The Ambient Monitoring Program, AMP for short, was a scientific research project that the MUFON fully supported as a one third member of the UFO Research Coalition. The other members of the coalition are the Center for UFO Studies, and the Fund for UFO Research. 

The AMP originally stood for Abduction Monitoring Project, but the early days of dealing with equipment and parts suppliers and after some consideration we changed the name, and I noted that I got better and more serious attention when I used the term Ambient instead of Abduction. In actuality the term Ambient Monitoring is probably the more precise term, so it was adopted as the operative word in the title for the project. 

The overall idea of the project was to place a data collecting sensor system in the home of a repeat abduction experiencer. We did this with great success and learned many valuable lessons along the way. The experiment allowed us to collect very large amounts of physical data that may or may not correspond to the abduction phenomena. 

For five years the UFO Research Coalition actively operated the project with basically two years devoted to instrument development and to three years devoted to data collection.

In the past, and as it may still be heard today, it has been alleged that attempts at physically monitoring abductees has failed in one way or another. Often the failures have been attributed to some outside force causing the device to either quit working all together or to work so badly that no new information has ever been collected. In the process of working this experiment we attempted to track some of these alleged situations down, but never found any more than anecdotal information about such interference, and no documentation for such. The one good report we did get, however, was from researcher David Jacobs, where there was an attempt to use a video camera to monitor an abductee, but the subject reported that just before the abduction was about to occur, they got an overwhelming desire to turn the camera off, but here again there was no physical act from the outside. 

From the beginning, in our design, we attempted to build a unit that would get around some of these problems. First of all our device, when in use, is on all of the time, even when the subject does elect to turn it off, it does not turn off all functions and some data continues to be collected. In particular it continues to record the time, by the second, so that we can see when it is turned off or when it looses power. We could also detect if someone, or something, if you wish, attempted or did get into the interior of the device. In such a case that particular case would come under very special scrutiny and would have had have been handled with special provisions and special precautions. This was never necessary.

In all of the cases we never saw any signals that would suggest that anyone or anything had attempted to so much as touch the sensor unit. On occasions, when it was touched out of necessity by the subject or someone who lived in the same house as the subject, we found an explanation in the subjects Journal, or we sent a message to our installing researcher to go back to the subject to find out what the problem was: and there was never anything out of the ordinary. On one occasion it was the subjects cats walking on the unit that caused very unusual signals, and on another occasion the subject had spilt a glass of iced tea that required the monitoring unit to be moved to clean up the mess, after which the monitor was returned to its original position. 

History 

The AMP project started out several years before it actually began as 28th Proposal that had come before the CFM Coalition. The basic idea had been around for a long time, but was now in writing. 

The CFM was made up of the Center for UFO Studies, The Fund for UFO Research, and, the Mutual UFO Network, the same group that later became the URC. The coalition was started up with the help of the Bigelow Foundation. However, the CFM coalition did not get to present this particular research proposal to Mr. Bigelow, since the CFM broke off its relationship with him on the very same day that we were ready to make the presentation the project. 

After the loss of that opportunity the proposal was held for about one year while the coalition was realigning and while we were looking for sponsors and donors for this and many other projects. All the while the initial project idea, which was somewhat simpler than what I will be presenting here today, was being groomed and perfected into a much larger and a much more formal scientific effort than what we had started out with. 

The proposal was in essences given off to the Fund for UFO Research, a member of both the old and new coalitions, with intention that they in turn offer the idea to some prospective donors, whom they were aware of, and whom they thought might be interested in this project. 

Over time the Fund's efforts got a positive responses which eventually lead to sufficient funding for the work. In the meantime the CFM Coalition had become the UFO Research Coalition or URC, and was now wholly on its own and no longer associated with Bigelow. 

I might point out here that the Bigelow Foundation was never and is not considered any form of enemy or adversary or anything like that by any one of the groups that make up the coalition. Our separation from Bigelow was strictly based on business and management practices. He then opened the NIDS organization, wherein all three groups that form the Coalition had a good relationship with NIDS, and in general, supported the work of NIDS, just as they supported our work. 

With a good prospect for a sponsor the URC continued to make changes to the proposal that had been recommended by the prospective financing organization, and then resubmitted the proposal. After several rounds of changes and negotiation the proposal for the Ambient Monitoring Project had been accepted. 

From the initial idea being presented to the sponsor, to the beginning of the first work was nearly three years. Finding a project and someone willing to support the work is not as easy as it may seem. 

Project Start Up 

The project got under way with me quitting my engineering job in May of 1998. At that point I picked up the full responsibility of getting both the AMP project underway and carrying it through to completion. 

Because of the long lead times necessary to design and build the custom electronics the first thing needed was to find someone capable of the work. Over the time period from the initial idea to the approval to go forward we had developed a good idea of the shape of the sensor unit and the number and kind of sensors we wanted in it, so, based on that very soon after the start up of the project a contract was let to a small research lab for developing the electronics to our specifications and for building the first prototype. To our surprise it 6 was only weeks and that we were shown the size and shape of the electronics package that had been developed, and a recommended container. We approved both and told the contractor to proceed with the building of the first trial unit, show below as picture No.1. That same lab eventually built four prototypes for us, and then, later on, supplied the electronics for all of the final design units, which I designed and built up. The lab remained a consultant through out the run of the experiment, should we have needed to go back to them for any level of assistance. 

Picture No. 1. The URC AMP Project’s first prototype shown closed. 

The electronics package consists of a custom electronics board for the ambient sensors, a special power supply and a separate power supply to keep the batteries charged. The electronics board has a sensor for light level, which only measures the amount of light in the room; and a sensor for sound level, which only measures the instantaneous volume and does not record any voice. 

Picture No. 2 Prototype 1 open. Batteries, power supply, and data logger are under the electronics board. 

Then there is an array of electromagnetic sensors and there is a basic weather station inside that peeks out through the back of the unit, and measures temperature, humidity and barometric pressure. 

Once the sensor unit was finally and properly placed in the home of a subject it took a set of data every second, 24 hours per day, and recorded this internally to be downloaded daily and then available to us for storage. I could also monitor the data real time. 

The electronics board feeds its readings to a purchased item known as a data logger. The data logger is a device that is specifically designed to collect electric signal data. Some data loggers simply graph, real time, the information put into them by sensors. Some data loggers take in the sensor information for storage in its memory for later extraction and use. Our particular data logger is of the second type, and has the ability to be talked to through telephone lines and a modem, so that we can call it up and download the data on a periodic basis. We can also call in and watch the data accumulate in a real time mode and make adjustments to parameters and reading times. 

There is also an auxiliary memory module built into the package so we can collect more information than the data logger alone can hold. Power is supplied from the subjects household power but is backed up by a battery system in the sensor unit. It can operate in the passive battery mode for over 24 hours in case of a power failure. 

After a couple of months, and several meetings with lab personnel, the first prototype unit was delivered. The first unit was built into a women's make up travel case which had been hollowed out and had a small window in the back for reading the light, plus a small box mounted on the back for bringing in power and the data line. 

Pictures of the first unit are shown above. Note that the carrying strap is taken off for this picture. This unit weighed nearly 23 pounds. Most of that weight was from a gel cell lead acid battery that supplies the back up power. 

This first unit was tested for several months working towards calibration methods, sensitivities, ruggedness, and EMI/EMC, that is (Electromagnetic Interference and Electromagnetic Compatibility) considerations. A great deal was learned from this testing but only a few changes had to be made when we built the second prototype. 

This first prototype unit was used for the first live test with real subjects. The first test with subjects was used to iron out the "in briefing" process, data collection methodology, "out briefing" process and for trying out the various documents used in the study. The documentation package for one case consists of some 30 pages. 

The first test case ran for 3 months with the electronics unit never failing and holding up through one power failure. This first test, however did result in several changes in the documentation used for the cases. This first unit did have some minor problems. First of all it did not dissipate heat well enough and was causing the temperature to always read higher than it actually was. The temperature build up was due to a lack of ventilation. The second problem was with the case, in that it was too heavy, and very expensive for us to be ripping apart inside. The case alone cost right at $300.00. Lighter, less expensive make up cases, of a similar sort, were not found to be substantial enough for the weight it had to carry. While this first box was being used in the first live testing, ideas were kicked around on how to get a design with more ventilation. 

As a result a second design, using an identical electronics package, was agreed to and was built into a medium size boom box.

Picture No. 3 Prototype 2. 

This design was used to gain the openness necessary to have sufficient air flow to keep the electronics cool. In this respect it worked very well. 

This boom box model was used for two more prototype tests with real subjects. This design, too, had problems. The biggest one, and a very important one, was with internal breakage during shipping, starting with the first shipment. The combination of the weight of the batteries and the weakness created by hollowing out the boom box left the unit too weak to handle the jolting of being shipped. 

The make up case design just did not seem to be something that would be out in a room all of the time while the boom box did fit OK, in most rooms, but not all. So, all in all, a compromise design was needed for these and other reasons. 

During the 4 or so months of live testing with the second prototype, knowing that they too had a problem, a final design was developed by me, which was settled on and was adopted by the URC Board. This final design was completely designed on paper before going out and building the first unit. The idea was to build the sensors into a fine finished wooden box of substantial strength, yet with sufficient ventilation to prevent heat build up. Like the make up case, having custom boxes made was going to be very expensive. I had shopped everywhere and had ran across several possibilities. The one wooden box I had found that seemed to fit the needs best cost a little over $80.00, while there was lessor candidates for comparably less money. Coincidentally on a trip to Sam's Club the perfect box was found and it only cost $40.00. One was immediately purchased and brought home. It turned out to be exactly the same as the $80.00 dollar box I had found at another store, but now at half price. It fulfilled all of the needs, so that is what we built up and used for all of the actual test units. This final design was engineered from the beginning to meet the needs of appearance, heat dissipation and strength for shipping. 

Picture No. 4. Final design of the sensor unit. 

This model, of which I built 6, completed 13 full data collections of 4 months or more. Data collection ended in June of 2003. 

This final design was shipped in standard airline approved shipping containers which had proven far more rugged than the best cardboard box. In some 16 round trip shipments we did not have any breakage with the final design units. 

Case installation and data collection 

A new study case was started by finding a prominent and known researcher who had identified a willing subject. So it was researchers we went looking for and not subjects per se. We arranged with the researcher to have an extra telephone line put into the subjects home, if that was necessary. The researcher also arranged for a psychological evaluation of the subject. This was done for both the subject's protection and our protection. Lastly, we sent a predated Journal for the subject to use for each day the sensor unit would be in their home. The researcher would also run a set of tests in the home to help establish normal background readings and usual noise levels. Finally, the researcher makes a drawing of the room where the unit is located showing exactly where the unit was placed. Often pictures of the units location were taken. 

Since the unit is extremely sensitive the researcher puts marks on the surface where the unit is sitting so that if it ever has to be moved it can be put back to exactly where it was originally placed. 

The electronic data is collected each day from each unit. This was accomplished automatically by a collections computer in my office in San Antonio, Texas. The computer was programmed such that at a specific time each day it called out through the modem to each one of the units that were in the field. Each collection took approximately one hour. The long distance bill was quite high. 

Each days data from each unit consisted of about 1500 or more 8 1/2 X 11 pages. All of the pages looked pretty much the same without close inspection. Here is a sample.

55,21,2354,40.37,292.7,337.1,.114,15.5,1.012,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.2,36.16,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,292.7,337.4,.114,15.5,1.003,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,36.03,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,293.4,338.1,.047,15.5,1.048,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,35.79,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,293.4,338.1,.08,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.86,30.55 55,21,2354,40.03,294.7,337.8,.08,15.5,1.003,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,36.13,30.55 55,21,2354,40.37,295.4,337.8,.147,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,36,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,294.7,337.1,.08,15.5,1.023,20.08,1.748,72.9,75.1,36,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,294.4,340.8,.08,15.5,1.036,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.79,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,295.4,340.1,.047,15.5,1.027,20.08,1.748,72.8,75.1,35.86,30.55 55,21,2354,39.7,295.4,339.4,.013,15.5,1.03,20.08,1.748,72.8,75,36.06,30.56 

Picture No 5. Sample of data. 1500 pages per day, 6 megs or so

There was a little over 6 megabits of data per day per unit. (If we were to print it out it would be three reams of paper for each file, each day) (Over a case and one half of paper every two days.) about 260 cases of paper per year. Needless to say - I didn't print it out, nor did I need to. Electronic storage makes much more sense here. 

After each collection I converted the data into a graphic file and then I reviewed the graph for the entire day for each case looking for technical problems with the data and gross anomalies that may show unusual activity. After the review, both files, the data file and graphic file, were backed up to a Read / Write CD. A CD holds about 55 days worth of data. 

A typical graphical presentation of the data looks like this. 

Picture No. 6. 24 hours of data in a single presentation. 

The data graphical program was capable of showing however much data that was in a file, normally 24 hours worth, however if necessary only one minute could be looked at or if need be only two seconds at a time, maybe to see exactly when a sudden event occurred. 

Picture No. 7. 15 minutes of data from the graph above. 

During the entire study, the subjects in their homes, kept a daily journal of their abduction experiences, if any should occur. Here is a sample of the top of the page. The bottom was fully lined for writing. 

Each day they mark NO, MAYBE or YES at the top of the page. "No" means they do not need to go any further. A "maybe" or a "yes" requires some additional comment. If necessary extra pages are supplied at the end of the Journal for continuing a long entry. 

At the end of the case the remote researcher removes the unit, debriefs the subject and obtains the journal. The researcher would then send me the sensor unit and would send the journal to Dr. Mark Rodeghier at CUFOS. I, in turn, created a permanent set of read only CDs and sent all of the electronic data to Mark. 

When all of the data had been collected for all of the cases, the data and the Journals are to be compared by other third party researchers and a final report for the project is to be written. The data is being analyzed now. 

The final results from the report will be published and available to everyone and if significant will likely be the subject of a paper to be delivered at some future MUFON Symposium. 

That's the project, but before you ask any questions I'd like to answer some of the obvious questions first. 

Q1). Could the aliens, if there are aliens involved, detect the box? 

We were careful to engineer the box such that it is completely passive. It does not make any noise, electronic or otherwise, and it does not send out any form of signal except during data collection or when real time monitoring is occurring. It would, however, be detectable with most any non sophisticated "bug" detector. This would be particularly true during the time the box is sending us data. But that only occurs one hour per day and when possible that was when there is was no one home. Any piece of wire with a digital signal on it is easy to detect. Also there is an electronic clock running in the unit at all times that has an extremely low signal that could be detected by a more sophisticated detector. 

Q2). If the box is detectable can it be fooled? 

Yes, but we don't know how it could be "frozen" without us knowing it. It would probably quit working all together if it was "frozen". Also the data collection is a very specific number of data bits and if it was completely "turned off" for some period of time the clock would be wrong, with a gap in the time and the number of data points would be short. If this occurred this would be very telling for us and very exciting. This then would tell us much more than we know now and would call for a new approach. If they could turn off the unit and leave the clock running we would then have a clock signal but all of the data would be gone - again a very telling situation that would be important to us. 

Q3). Can the unit be turned off if the subject feels the need for complete privacy? 

Yes. There is a switch on the back of the unit that allows for privacy, but the subject is told that if it is turned off too often or for long periods of time they would be voiding the experiment and we would probably stop the test. 

A word about our scientific approach. 

In a good scientific test, the test is conducted in a double blind fashion. That is, one subject is tested with a real test unit, and one is tested with a false test unit. In this case, an abduction situation, this would require a false test unit in the home of a close neighbor with very similar family and work relationship profile. We concluded that this would make it nearly impossible to conduct the study. 

We have instead opted for a separation of duties. I as the data collector was to never know the name or address of the subjects. I was to only know the name of the researcher for a given case. All of my correspondence is through a third party. Likewise the subject never knows who I am. I also was to never have access to the subjects journal so I can not make changes to the data to match something the subject has reported. Lastly, as mentioned above, after all of the data was collected, some third researcher who has had nothing to do with either the Journal or the data, will do the comparing of the data and the Journal and write the case report. 

A final comment: 

Part of my purpose was to try to get some interest up for additional researchers. MUFON provided three researchers and we would have liked to have had more. Harry Wilnus from Michigan, Craig Lang from upper Michigan and Beverly Trout from Iowa handled cases for us. In addition Dan Wright and Dave Jacobs have conducted cases with us. We negotiated with Budd Hopkins for doing a case with him but he never felt like he had a case that fit with our needs.

Saturday, December 4, 2021

Where There's Smoke, There's Mirrors

In the natural world, where there’s smoke there’s normally fire. But in the world of the paranormal, filled with extraordinary claims of UFOs, poltergeists, demons, and other weird phenomena: where there’s smoke, there’s often only mirrors.

These mirrors only serve one purpose: to focus your gaze on a shiny new extraordinary claim that makes you exclaim Wow! Ooh! or Ah! Meanwhile, the claimant hopes that with your attention on the novelty and the mystery of the claim, you won’t notice that the corroborating data is non-existent, made up, or baselessly correlated as proof.

Most TV shows making extraordinary claims are clearly just about the entertainment value, but now we have a TV series that is alleging true science investigation of their high strangeness stories. Factor in that the series will still live or die based on viewer ratings, and it now has the basic ingredients for a pseudoscientific menagerie that can be best described as “science gone wild”. This in a nutshell is the 18-episode-two-season self-proclaimed “scientific docuseries” known as The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch.

From the very first episode, unsubstantiated assertions are flung at the viewer, starting with the biggest whopper of all, that “Skinwalker Ranch has been a center of UFO and paranormal activity for 200 years.” Never mind that the paranormal tales of the ranch can only be traced back to when the Sherman family moved on the ranch in 1994.

Or that the ranch is “downwind” from nuclear testing in Nevada, with ranch crewmember Thomas Winterton baselessly stating that “the Uintah Basin was a hot spot for the downwind” radiation and that “some of the highest concentrations measured were just 30 miles from here.”

This is at odds with what is reported officially here: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/6828876/ with the southern part of the state getting the highest nuclear fallout readings from the 100 nuclear tests conducted at the Nevada Test Site.

Downwinders, those exposed to nuclear testing fallout, can be compensated via the Radiation Exposure Compensation Act (RECA), https://www.justice.gov/civil/common/reca if they live within one of the Utah affected areas as shown on this map. Note that the Skinwalker Ranch in Uintah County, in Northeast Utah, is not included.

 


I am not proposing that Uintah County received zero radiation from the prolific Nevada nuclear testing, but the true downwind hot spot is the southern part of Utah. By failing to accurately state this, the series starts off on the wrong scientific foot.

The ranch is likely affected by one known environmental source of ionizing radiation. This article https://www.deseret.com/indepth/2020/1/29/20862792/radon-radioactive-killer-utah-lung-cancer-picocuries-huntsman-cancer-institute describes how although Utah has one of the lowest smoking rates in the country, it has a high incident rate of lung cancer, most likely due to Radon exposure. Uintah County is one of seven counties in the state with the highest Radon concentrations. Now, Radon gas may kill you after years of exposure, but it is not going to suddenly strike you down like a lightning bolt nor cause the strange manifestations allegedly occurring on the ranch.


Yet, despite there being no real reason to bring up the radiation angle to begin with, Dr. Travis Taylor describes in the first episode how radiation exposure could cause people to have strange symptoms including hallucinations and then suggests digging a hole for radiation measuring. It is at this juncture that science gets reality checked by the paranormal.

Because of the ranch lore that digging on the ranch causes bad things to happen, Taylor’s idea is shot down. Exhibit A is Thomas Winterton who allegedly experienced a life threatening and strange brain injury after digging on the ranch. Exhibit B is Dr. Travis Taylor himself who in a later episode claims he received a high dosage of ionizing radiation that caused immediate medical effects to his body, not while digging, but taking a cover off a cistern.

So, despite showing no direct repeated observations that digging on the ranch causes bodily harm, the “no digging” theme is emphasized until it falls way to “cautious digging”. And when the digging finally does occur with a drill rig going to depths of 100 feet, no discernable bodily injuries occur. This is unscientifically explained away as the ranch choosing the time and place when it decides to mete out human punishment for daring to disturb its dirt.

Another example of paranormal lore taking a front seat to science is the unsubstantiated statement that exposing the ranch to new people triggers strange stuff to happen. This is tested by a constant influx of experts brought on to the ranch including radiological surveyors, thermal imaging surveyors, rocketeers, soil resistivity and ground penetrating radar experts, LIDAR and laser experts, magnetometer surveyors, veterinarians, a petroglyph expert, an oncologist, and a tesla coil expert. To supplement the technical experts, a Ute tribal elder and a Jewish Rabbi are brought in.

Also paraded on to the ranch are Uintah basin UFO investigator Junior Hicks’ family, an extended member of the Sherman family, as well as others who claimed to have had firsthand high strangeness experiences on the ranch. Finally, paranormal investigator Ryan Skinner (Mormons are anti-UFO) and investigative journalist Linda Moulton Howe (she of a 1000 unsubstantiated claims) show up for good measure of “science”.

Despite this constant influx of new human subjects, not to mention “biosensors” in the form of a new herd of cattle and a couple of alpacas, no interdimensional portals open up, no monsters crawl out, no cattle are mutilated, no metal rods materialize unexpectedly, and no dogs get evaporated into gooey puddles within the two-year period that the series is filmed – roughly the same length of time that the Shermans lived on the ranch. Ditto for the three-year period that Brandon Fugal owned the ranch prior to TV cameras setting foot on the property.

What takes the place of the very high strangeness as documented in the George Knapp/Colm Kelleher book Hunt for the Skinwalker are very unimpressive blobs of light in the sky, strange lights on the mesa, cattle running scared, alpacas being attacked by “some animal”, suddenly discharged batteries, cell phones randomly acting strange (inexplicably called hacking) and a myriad of geiger counters, trifield meters, lightning detectors and other instrumentation recording “crazy” anomalous readings while beeping away for the cameras. In other words, the ranch showed its most impressive side from 1994-2016 and for the last five years appears to be hibernating in low-activity mode. Perhaps at season 3 or 9, it will rear its paranormal nastiness back to bio-level 5 once again.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is part Jurassic Park (we spare no expense), part Ghostbusters (anomaly detectors at the ready), part Paranormal Activity (cameras pointing in every direction), part The Keep (strange room keeping something in), mixed in with what seems to be every sci-fi/horror movie theme known (aliens, werewolves, bad spirit tricksters, mysterious energy sources and time-space warps).

When science can’t explain the bad things that the ranch may conjure up, and the armed guards carrying AR-15s and shotguns appear to be the most skittish and fearful of the group, then it’s probably best to throw in a Mormon prayer, a native American blessing, and a Jewish rabbi’s chant for added protection, as seen in later episodes.

Is it entertaining? Absolutely! Is it science? Not in the least. It has taken on the mantle of science but without following the scientific method of coming up with hypothetical explanations for what has been directly observed, instead relying on past unsubstantiated observations. This reverse logic is seen throughout the series as we are reminded of the high strangeness that Native American lore, the Sherman family, and the Bigelow NIDS and BAASS studies allegedly observed on the ranch and using these stories as the basis for formulating hypotheses. When a blob of light is seen in the sky, and ground instrumentation pick up anomalous energy readings, the narrative immediately turns to underground alien bases and interdimensional portals.

It takes this reverse approach by “poking the hornet’s nest” to see what can be observed, without first defining what the hornet’s nest is or even why it’s being poked to begin with. If the poking results in something that seems to confirm the past unsubstantiated observations, that is presented as proof of a correct “scientific” approach. It is upon these unsubstantiated past and not current direct observations that predictions and experiments are conducted.

This can be seen when Dr. Travis Taylor proposes that the sum of all the observed strange phenomenon can be explained by a wormhole bending time and space, without first considering other more mundane and less exotic possibilities. It is the deductive equivalent of the ancients dropping a virgin into a volcano to appease the gods, hoping to ward off a drought, failed crops, and a famine. If the drought never comes, then it must have been that human sacrifice that was the cause to the effect.

The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch is a never-ending paranormal roller coaster ride of uncorrelated observations to prove preconceived beliefs about a place whose best thrills are long past their heyday. In one of the most memorable lines from the series, as the Skinwalker crew towers above a dead cow that per a local veterinarian died of natural causes, but somehow still manages to get a paranormal explanation, Dr. Travis Taylor exclaims: “It’s just dead." "It’s hard to kill a cow.”  

And I predict that this cow of a series will be just as difficult to kill off and will be with us for some time. Perhaps, even as many seasons as The Curse of Oak Island where I fully expect the Lagina brothers to pop through to China in season 20, or perhaps as many seasons as Ancient Aliens, with its incessant faux history lessons.

If you are open-minded and curious about the paranormal, yet long for real science to solve the mystery of what’s really going on in the Uintah Basin, you will probably feel exasperated by The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch. If science is not your thing and you are only here for the thrills, then hang on and enjoy the ride.

Avi Loeb, if you are reading this, we are sending out to you a science SOS! Please rescue us from this televised land of science ignorance and smoke and mirrors.



Wednesday, November 24, 2021

Brandon Fugal Responds to Dead Men Tell No Tales

 After posting Dead Men Tell No Tales on this blog, an email exchange between Brandon Fugal and I ensued. Brandon has provided permission for me to detail the entire exchange here. I am omitting Brandon's personal information such as phone/email addresses.

Email from James to Brandon, November 23:

Hi Brandon,

Before I publish the attached article on my blog, I am extending to you the courtesy of reviewing it and correcting any mistakes, for the record.

Regards,

James


Brandon response email to James. November 23:

James:

I appreciate the opportunity to respond and provide clarification and correction.

I do not understand why you are trying to provoke contention or disagreement. I invited you in open public forum to come meet with me and visit the ranch, and I have responded to your statements and concerns with facts and respectful dialogue.

I am relying on living, first-hand witnesses to strange activity on the ranch pre-dating the Shermans. This also includes members of the Locke family, and visitors to the ranch in the early 1980s, that have requested that I not involve them. You are calling Kris Porritt, Gwen Sherman, Junior Hicks and anyone else that has stepped forward with an account that contradicts Garth Myers a liar. Why are you doing this? 

Can you please help me understand why you are trying to be adversarial, and cast me in a negative light? I am eager to resolve your concerns and provide you further information and perspective. 

Best,

Brandon Fugal


James response to Brandon, November 24:

Brandon,

I am not sure why you perceive this as adversarial. I am a truth seeker like you and in the end, it is the truth that matters. I am not accusing anyone of lying but showing that their versions of events are not the only ones. You can help clarify the truth by making public Hicks’ video interviews.

If the Skinwalker Ranch has real activity that can be scientifically investigated, then why would the paranormal history of the ranch need to be proven?

Dr. Garth Myers, Dr. Frank Salisbury and Junior Hicks deserve to have their reputations defended. Surely you can understand that.

Regards,
James


Brandon response to James, November 24:

James:

You claim to be a truth seeker, yet you dismiss the testimony of many people, including law enforcement, which calls into serious question the narrative you keep pushing. That’s not truth seeking, that’s confirmation bias. 

I do not understand why you would want to continue to illuminate the fact that the testimony of one person who is no longer living contradicts the testimony of several that are living (including recent testimony from the co-author of the very book you continue to cite), with first-hand experiences. 

You bring up a good point, in that the history of the ranch really has little impact on the legitimacy of our current investigation, or the reality of what we have been documenting. But that data may be important, in that demonstrates a potential pattern. In reference to Junior Hicks and his testimony, we had Ward Hicks (Junior’s son, who is current faculty with BYU-Idaho, and well respected) ask Junior directly on May 22, 2020 (two weeks before he died) whether there were accounts of UFO activity and strange cattle mutilations on the ranch during Myers ownership. Ward replied in writing the following day on May 23rd stating, “I talked with Dad tonight and he remembered the Myers, and he said yes there were episodes when Myers were on that place”. 

Have you watched my docuseries? I am a truth seeker. I have a proven track record. I have never defaulted on anything in my life, and after closing thousands of significant transactions, I have never been sued. I currently represent billions of dollars in projects, including Fortune 500 companies, significant institutions and entities throughout both the public and sector. 

I acquired the ranch as a skeptic, and had even funded past ventures requiring scientific rigor, discipline and resources to investigate extraordinary claims, and ultimately disproved them. Based on that experience, I truly did think there was a 95% chance that anything unusual reported regarding Skinwalker Ranch had a natural, prosaic explanation. I also believed that it had been most likely an adult scientific snipe hunt of sorts. The data and evidence collected under my stewardship proves otherwise. 

What does the data relative to your history in this arena illustrate? Should I investigate that, since you seem to insist on attacking me and questioning my integrity and those involved with my scientific investigation? You also attack and call into question the professionalism and integrity of the scientists and researchers involved in my investigation, which I have a serious problem with. Calling them “pseudoscientists” is not only inaccurate, it’s libel.


James response to Brandon, November 24:

Brandon,

I haven’t dismissed anyone’s testimony, I simply pointed out the discrepancies.

I am not sure why you believe this is an attack on you personally, as it is not. It is a fact, that you came out and publicly called Garth Myers a liar and based that on what others have said. You don’t know for certain Garth was lying. You just believe the conflicting voices are the ones telling you the truth. The fact they are still breathing doesn’t make their voices more credible.

As to whether pseudoscience or science is being pursued on the ranch, so far you have only cited people’s credentials as proof of sound science. If the current Theranos trial shows us anything, it is that having many credentialed people on staff, does not establish that science is being pursued. 

I am not sure why you are pursuing investigations on the ranch in the manner that you are. Perhaps once you have published your data and others in the wider scientific community have had a chance to review the data, it will all make sense.

Regards,
James

Dead Men Tell No Tales

It is not nice to speak ill of the dead, but even more so if you are calling them a liar, since they are no longer around to defend their reputation. Recently, I had a discussion with Brandon Fugal, current owner of the Skinwalker Ranch in Utah where he suggested that Dr. Garth Myers, deceased, was lying about the nonexistent long paranormal history of the ranch, as detailed in Dr. Frank Salisbury’s book: The Utah UFO Display.

In 2009, Salisbury interviewed Garth, whose brother Kenneth Myers and sister-in-law Edith Myers lived on the ranch decades longer than the Sherman family – the Shermans being the first to claim strange activity. On page 218, Garth states:

“I can tell you right off that my brother died in April of 1987. My sister-in-law lived alone there until about 1992. She died in March 1994. And I can tell you unequivocally that up to 1992 there had never been and there never were any signs of that [UFO and similar activity].”

On Page 219, Garth continues:

“The next thing I knew I get this information that there were UFOs, and he [Terry Sherman] was scared to death, and then this man in Las Vegas phoned in and was going to buy it…

All I know is, about a month or six weeks after he bought it, Bigelow called me on the phone and wondered why we hadn’t told anybody about the UFOs. I told him they didn’t get there until [Terry Sherman] got there, and he said: ‘UFOs were coming there, and you had dogs keeping the people away.’ And I said all they had at most were two dogs, and the last time my sister-in-law lived there five years with a three-legged dog and part of the time with no dog at all, and there were no UFOs. And he said ‘Oh, you’re not telling me the truth.’ I said, “If you don’t believe it, I guess we don’t need to talk and more,’ and that was about it.”

When Salisbury asked Garth Myers if it were possible that his brother and sister-in-law didn’t tell him about UFO activity they were experiencing. Garth vehemently denied it:

“He said he was very close to his brother (in spite of the age difference), knowing every detail of their lives. After his brother died, he kept in very close touch with his sister-in-law – many visits and close emotional ties as he worried about her living there alone. He feels totally confident that his brother and sister-in-law would have told him about any strange activity, especially under the circumstances.”

Fugal however doesn’t believe Garth, stating: “Garth Myers was not truthful and was purposely misleading in his statement to Salisbury. As reported by Gwen Sherman, Garth Myers acknowledged and confirmed strange activity on the property historically to them, even though he never really spent time there.” 

Fugal continued: “I am simply relating the facts, as presented by first-hand witnesses, including numerous recent statements from the co-author of Salisbury’s book [Junior Hicks], which contradict Garth Myer’s statement.”

I’ll get to Gwen Sherman’s allegations and Junior Hicks a little bit later but first let me respond to Fugal stating that Garth never really spent time on the ranch. Per Dr. Salisbury, on page 220: “Remember, however, that he [Garth] was there himself (as a teenager) for three summers without seeing any UFOs.”

In addition to the many visits over a five-year period to check on his sister-in-law after his brother died, Garth also checked in on the ranch during the two-year period it was vacant after Edith left. I would say that constitutes time on the ranch.

Dr. Garth Myers was no country simpleton, but was a M.D. in pediatric neurology, having spent most of his career at the LDS Primary Children’s Hospital and having worked for the State Department of Health. Garth’s obituary mentions that he was from the greatest generation having served in WW2. “His parents taught him to work hard and to accept responsibility for his actions. Honesty and integrity were expected.”

If only he was around so he could confirm all of what was revealed in Salisbury’s book: the time spent on the ranch, the zero strange activity, the close relationship with his brother and sister-in-law and the Bigelow phone call, but unfortunately dead men tell no tales.

The pro-paranormal Skinwalker investigators like Ryan Skinner and Brandon Fugal want you to believe that the ranch always had paranormal activity on it, and if anyone tells you differently, they are lying. They reach their immovable position, not with firsthand knowledge of what the Myers experienced while on the ranch for six decades but based on stories they have collected from adjacent property owners, other investigators, or just other strange stories from the surrounding community. Let’s examine each source.

Skinwalker investigator Ryan Skinner believes Garth Myers was lying and bases that position on interviewing others who told him so. Skinner cites Gwen Sherman’s testimony that Myers was being less than truthful. As proof, Skinner presented a snippet of the interview here:

Gwen Sherman states:

“Garth was not one of my favorite people. He knew what was going on there and sold it to us putting my children at risk. So, my opinion of him is extremely low. He pulled into the yard one day and asked how things were going [and] we started asking him questions. Quote: ‘I hoped it had gone away and wouldn’t bother you.’ Asked why we asked we told him everything we had experienced. Cattle mutilations go on everywhere there’s cattle. Junior Hicks might have names. He was the local who would gather up UFO info.”

This is interesting from two perspectives. First, Gwen is accusing Garth of knowing that Skinwalker was paranormal central when selling the property to her family – thereby lying through omission. Fugal and Skinner however, directly accuse Garth of lying to Salisbury when denying any activity took place on the ranch while brother Kenneth and sister-in-law Edith lived there.

Second, if Gwen is to be believed, this would imply that her family had already experienced some activity, and at some point, after experiencing that activity, had an encounter with Garth after the property already had passed hands. Why would Garth have “pulled into the yard one day” after having already sold the property?

Garth lived in Salt Lake City and would have had to drive over 2 ½ hours to the ranch to have this encounter with Gwen. Why? To appease his conscience for having omitted the paranormal aspect of Skinwalker when selling it? None of this is explained or analyzed by Skinner. Gwen Sherman perhaps can still elaborate, given that I believe, she is still in the land of the living.

Gwen’s clarification pending, there is one glaring detail that calls her entire testimony in question. In Salisbury’s book, page 224, Salisbury recounts his interview with Terry Sherman, Gwen’s husband.

“The witness [Terry Sherman] basically supports Garth Myers’ version of the history of the ranch. So where did the exaggerated version – the ranch as the center of UFO activity – come from? This was a version that Bigelow learned early, as indicated by his calling Garth Myers a liar when Garth would not confirm it. Although I have some suspicions, I don’t know where the embellished story originally came from. (I’m assured that it did not come from Zack Van Eyck, the Deseret News reporter.).”

So here we have a conundrum that neither Fugal nor Skinner would comment on – how can we reconcile Gwen Sherman’s testimony of confronting Garth for knowingly lying via omission with Terry Sherman’s testimony confirming Garth’s account that there was no strange activity on the ranch prior to their purchase? Either the wife or the husband is not telling the truth. Remember that Terry was interviewed in 2009 whereas the alleged Garth-Gwen encounter would have had to occur from 1994-1996 while she still lived on the ranch.

Ryan Skinner however takes his accusations against dead men a step too far – accusing both Garth AND Dr. Frank Salisbury of an outright cover-up – based on their adherence to the Mormon faith.

“Frank Salisbury was forthright about his religious bias towards ‘UFOs’. Stating it’s not a part of his ‘belief structure’, & ‘not something he wants to be involved with. As an LDS Bishop, Garth had even more reason to cover up Kenneth's blasphemous UFO claims for religious reasons.”

“Garth due to his overzealous devotion to the Church as a LDS Bishop wanted to distance himself from aliens and demons clearly...”

When I pointed out to Skinner that Brandon Fugal was also an adherent of the LDS faith and therefore by Skinner’s reasoning could also be complicit in an anti-UFO coverup, Skinner did not respond. In addition, anyone reading Salisbury’s book will come away with the impression that despite being a science minded person (professor emeritus at Utah State University), Frank leans more toward the belief that UFOs are real manifestations, and in no way was he hell-bent on covering them up because of conflicting religious beliefs. If only Frank or Garth was around to confront their accusers, but sadly, dead men tell no tales.

According to documents that Fugal/Skinner found, Kenneth and Edith Myers leased the ranch from a Henry Lister in 1934. Lister then sells the property to a Benton Locke and Locke subsequently sells the property to Edith Myers in 1961. Let’s review this ownership chain for a second.

The Myers leased and lived on the property for 27 years before buying it – yet they made the purchase even though they knew it was paranormal central? They deliberately continued to live there despite the alleged dangerous activity to humans and animals taking place on the ranch? Fast forward some 26 additional years later to 1987 when Kenneth Myers died, and Edith Myers continued to live on the ranch ALONE for five whole years, till she moved off the ranch in 1992. Either the alleged paranormal forces on the ranch took a liking to the Myers, or there is something amiss here.

In 1994 the Sherman family bought the property from Garth Myers, the executor of the estate, after Edith Myers died the same year. The Myers lived there a total of 58 years; the Shermans, only two, having sold the property to Robert Bigelow in 1996. It is those two years when the Shermans owned the property, that are documented as a real-life horror story in the Kelleher/Knapp book: The Hunt for the Skinwalker.

Skinner alleges that the adjacent neighbors, the Winn and the Garcia families had numerous strange stories to tell about the ranch. When in 2009 I interviewed along with Dr. Salisbury, both families, as documented in the second edition of The Utah UFO Display, they revealed far less sensational accounts than Skinner has collected. Neither family appeared to be holding back any information in 2009.

Salisbury on page 240 of his book, points out why Charles Winn’s testimony to Skinner may be flawed:

“Charles said that for a long time he denied any special activity there, but now he had become convinced, mostly on the basis of stories he had heard.”

“…it is hard to know how much Charles knew by personal witness or how much he had heard. He had clearly read The Hunt for the Skinwalker”.

For high strangeness cases, firsthand testimony is paramount, but one must be careful to corroborate that the accounts have not been embellished or appropriated by assimilating other’s experiences. As I pointed out earlier, Charles’ own firsthand paranormal experience on the ranch did not even meet the bar of high strangeness.

In a recent exchange with Skinner, he even conceded that perhaps Skinwalker was not the epicenter of strange activity in the Uintah basin, although his web site continues to promote this idea. But if you read both The Hunt for the Skinwalker and Skinwalkers at the Pentagon, you would come away with the impression that the ranch was the X that marked the spot of high strangeness in the Uintah basin. If you are thinking, big deal, so what if the Skinwalker Ranch is not the epicenter, I have $22 million dollars’ worth of reasons to differ.

Fugal went further and alleges that Junior Hicks, the coauthor of The Utah UFO Display, knew firsthand of what the Myers experienced on the ranch, stating “We have countless hours of video testimony from Junior Hicks attesting to all of these things & confirming contradictions, from 2016 until shortly before he died last year.” When I asked him to publish Hicks’ interviews so I could ascertain what exactly was said regarding the Myers time on the ranch, Fugal’s response was: “We are editing it all right now. Everyone present, can attest to his testimony.”

Until those videos see the light of day, I will put Hicks’ confirmations of pre-Sherman activity in the unknown column, especially since Hicks had an opportunity to reveal the same information to Salisbury, so it would make it in the book, but chose not to? Salisbury on page 225 of the book discussed Hicks’ interaction with the Shermans but there is no mention of Hicks’ direct interactions with the Myers. Unfortunately, Junior Hicks died in 2020 and can’t confirm any of this. Dead men tell no tales.

So, who among the living can confirm that Kenneth and Edith Myers experienced high strangeness yet chose not to mention any of that activity to even their closest relative, Garth Myers? The witness that both Fugal/Skinner rely on is Retired Uintah County Deputy Sheriff, Kris L. Porritt who in a video interview claims to have witnessed strange activity in his interactions with Kenneth Myers on the ranch.

Porritt claims he knew Kenneth Myers because they both had a shared fascination with horses and that they became good friends. In his video interview, Porritt claims that Kenneth had locks and chains on everything, including the refrigerator and cupboard. When asked about the locks, Porritt claims that Kenneth Myers told him of alien visitors and that things came up missing and things came up dead. Ryan Skinner who was on video with Porritt, asked if Kenneth could see the aliens, to which Porritt responded that Kenneth could feel their presence.

 Porritt also recounted a tale he claimed to have witnessed firsthand. Allegedly, Kenneth couldn’t find three heifers; Porritt arriving to help in the search but finding no tracks. There was a shed on the property that both men tried to push open, but it wouldn’t budge. Porritt looked through a crack in the door and told Kenneth that he wasn’t going to believe it, but his heifers were in there. To which Kenneth responded that the animals couldn’t possibly fit in that shed. When the door somehow opened, Porritt claimed that the three heifers were stacked one on top of the other in the small shed. Kenneth then said the heifers were dead, but Porritt said no; they are still alive because the snot is still running out of their noses. Porritt asked Kenneth to get a glass of water and dump it on their heads which brought the animals back to life.

Now that sounds downright spooky, but it also sounds an awful lot like the story told in The Hunt for the Skinwalker, Chapter 16, Hunt for the Bulls:

On the afternoon of April 2, Tom and Ellen [pseudonyms for Terry and Gwen Sherman] had set off toward the west end of the ranch on a routine mission to spot and count the animals. As they passed the bull enclosure, both of them looked fondly and proudly at the four burly bulls in the corral. They truly were magnificent beasts, two each of pure black Simmental and Black Angus, each weighing more than two thousand pounds. With muscles rippling healthily beneath the shiny black coats that perfectly reflected the setting afternoon sun, the animals made the Gormans proud. Ellen said wistfully, “I would go out of my mind if I lost any of those animals.” Tom nodded in agreement as they drove west on the narrow dirt track past the corral.

Forty-five minutes later they drove back. All the animals seemed to be accounted for, yet they could not shake that nagging feeling of unease. An unnatural calm hung over the property, broken only by the sound of the truck engine. Abruptly Ellen screamed and pointed out the windshield. Tom hit the brakes, fearing he was about to run over something. He followed her finger and gasped. The corral was empty. Tom’s stomach knotted. Each of those four registered bulls was worth thousands of dollars. They were irreplaceable. Tom looked into Ellen’s tear-stained face.

They stopped the truck by the empty corral, and he got out to search for some evidence that the four magnificent animals could have left behind. Tom’s knees felt weak. There was no sound as he walked around the corral.

Tom walked around looking at the footprints in the corral. The animals had been there only forty-five minutes ago. Ellen was sobbing in the truck. His search meandered over to an old small white trailer located at the west end of the corral. There was no entrance to the trailer from the corral except a door that was tightly locked and hadn’t been opened in years. As he passed the trailer, he glanced in.

Tom froze. All four animals were standing silently, crammed into the tiny space. They seemed frozen hypnotically and appeared to be barely conscious. Tom, with relief flooding through his veins, yelled loudly for Ellen. At the same time, he banged forcefully on the side of the metal trailer. The noise seemed to break the silent spell. Instantly, all four animals appeared to wake up. They began kicking and bellowing to get out of the narrow, confined space. Within seconds the four huge animals went berserk and devastated the interior of the trailer. Finally, a metal door was kicked out and instantly all four animals tumbled blindly out the broken door and began stampeding in a panic.

I’ll leave it to you to decide whether Porritt witnessed the heifers in the shed, or like Charles Winn, came to believe he had, after reading stories and assimilating those stories into his own experiences.

Porritt in a separate Facebook post stated:

“In the early 80's l was an Uintah County Deputy Sheriff and lived on and was assigned to the west side of the county. In a period of about three months, I responded to five separate incidents involving Mr. Myers cattle none of which were mutilated by any type of animal. They were surgically operated on, and different body parts removed. It was done in a way that could not have been done with the technology that we have today. There was also two other Ranches that it happened on.”

The problem with Porritt’s statement is the lack of confirmation data. There should be police reports that back up both Porritt’s investigations and the details of the mutilations. Per Ryan Skinner, however, “when we contacted the local county about the records, we found out they had all been destroyed (due to age, not conspiracy).” In addition, Porritt’s comments on surgical precision and advanced technologies sounds a lot like the UFO community’s take on cattle mutilations.

Unlike Fugal and Skinner, I am not calling Porritt a liar, but the only one who can confirm the veracity of either the stacked heifers in the shed or the 1980s cattle mutes is Kenneth Myers, who died in 1987, and dead men tell no tales.

So herein lies the problem with confirming a long history of high strangeness on the Skinwalker Ranch. Kenneth and Edith Myers would be the ones to know if their 58 years of living on the ranch were punctuated with just the normal sounds of a country ranch setting, or the blood curdling screams of mutilated animals and shapeshifting Skinwalkers and things that go bump in the night, but they are no longer with us. Neither is their brother Garth Myers who knew them best and denied any strange activity whatsoever. 

On the flip side of the long paranormal history debate, Gwen Sherman’s testimony is at odds with her husband’s, and the alleged Junior Hicks testimony has yet to make it to the public domain. Complicating all of this is that The Hunt for the Skinwalker has been out long enough that its stories have been inculcated into the cultural fabric of the Uintah Basin and make suspect any alleged testimony as possible assimilated experiences.

So until Gwen/Terry can reconcile their conflicting accounts and Fugal releases the Hicks' videos, don’t let anyone try and convince you they have unequivocal evidence of strange activity on the Skinwalker Ranch prior to 1994; as they don’t. In the end, the truth of what occurred on the ranch has died out with the passing of each participant, leaving us with just campfire stories to ponder, and lamenting that dead men tell no tales. Now on to other high strangeness. If you have had the experience of a Billionaire call you out of the blue and try to convince you of something you know is not true, I want to hear from you!



Monday, August 3, 2020

Truth Contortionists

Have you ever watched a contortionist squeeze their way into the tiniest of spaces? They calculate every move, having practiced many times which limb and joint should precede which into the void - a carefully choreographed dance to occupy micro-spaces in ways the human form was never intended.

Equally, in what has increasingly become a fact-free and conspiracy leaning society, we watch truth contortionists in our own politics twist their extreme “version” of the truth into public discourse while attracting new  adherents with battle cries of combating the  “Deep State”. Q-Anon endorsers are elected to public office and whole swaths of the population, enduring the worse pandemic in 100 years, shun scientific experts in favor of conspiracy mongering and snake oil pushing politicians. People die.  

And as I watch this train wreck of what I once thought was the greatest country on earth, with its supposed deep-rooted institutions and traditions of civility and decorum, literally going to hell in a handbasket fast, I can’t help but experience Déjà vu. I have seen this self-destructive and corrosive behavior before, in the world of UFOs.

The microcosm of UFO-world is both fascinating and exhausting to observe. It too is an alternative reality where facts are in constant free fall, conspiracy runs rampant and its truth contortionists are exceptionally adept at their trade. Instead of the Deep State it is the Cosmic Watergate, where the “Government” allegedly wages an almost century old war hiding the “truth” of extraterrestrials visitation to planet earth. In UFO-world, there is no middle ground in this war – you are either against the “truth embargo” or you are labeled a Government agent, an agitator, a disinformer, or a debunker.

To give you a taste of how UFO truth is stretched, warped and ultimately consumed by the public as “fact”, let me share with you a recent Facebook exchange with Donald Schmitt of “It was Aliens” Roswell fame. I want to focus on two specific areas – standards of evidence and factual reporting.

Let us begin with standards of evidence which are pretty much non-existent in UFO-world. Ufologists for some odd reason often either believe themselves exempt from professional standards of evidence or cherry pick the standards they employ.

Because the Roswell Incident suffers from a complete lack of public domain physical evidence, i.e. the bodies, the craft, etc., Schmitt believes that Roswell is foremost a people investigation. His reasoning is that if he finds the witnesses to the event, at some point the physical evidence is going to pop, and then he can call in the UFO-world equivalent of CSI to scientifically analyze the material evidence. By his reasoning, the real-world standards of evidence would be those that involve witness testimony, i.e. the same standards involved in civil or criminal proceedings. Fine, I can sort of agree with that.

So, let us examine legal standards of evidence. Direct evidence like witness testimony is admissible in a court of law when the witness is present in the court room and subject to cross examination by both the prosecution and the defense. Hearsay, where the witness is not available for cross examination, and instead their words are introduced by a third party, is not admissible with a few exceptions – one of these being the Dying Declaration exception which Schmitt not only endorses but believes trumps all prior testimony.

The Dying Declaration hearsay exception however does not exactly match up to Schmitt’s use of it. Dying Declaration is invoked for example if a person is murdered and they can name their murderer right before dying, or as another example,  a person confesses to a family member with their last dying words that they had committed a crime. But with Roswell, no crime has been committed; instead, we are talking about memories of an event.

Schmitt believes that if Roswell Witness A has been saying X for years, and now close to their death they state Y instead, in his opinion, this end-of-life change-of-heart deathbed testimony is superior to and supersedes any conflicting testimony the witness gave prior. I would love to hear real criminal and civil lawyers (I am not one) opine on this. This sounds like nonsense to me as this change of heart is not related to knowledge of a crime but the radically differing testimony of a witness.

This appears to be more akin to a contested will case. If I write up my will leaving all my assets to my children and toward the end of my life I write a new will leaving it all to my dog, well something’s up that prompted such a radical departure. The will gets contested and various factors like Lack of Testamentary Capacity (read mental capacity) and Undue Influence (prompting by others to modify the will) must be considered. The end of life will does not automatically supersede the prior.

The second issue I want to touch upon is factual reporting, i.e. telling it like it is, straight-up, without embellishment and without leaving out important details. Equally important is not obfuscating or making ambiguous statements that are open to assumption and interpretation. In our lengthy Facebook exchange, Schmitt has provided some glaring examples of non-factual reporting.

Let us take the case of Doyle Rees that Schmitt mentions in his book Cover-Up at Roswell: Exposing the 70-Year Conspiracy to Suppress the Truth.  Schmitt believes Rees provided deathbed testimony to back up Roswell as an alien event.

Rees is first mentioned at the end of chapter 6 in which Schmitt summarily disqualifies Sheridan Cavitt as a witness, because Cavitt allegedly repeatedly lied to Schmitt over many interviews. Here is an excerpt from the book:

Cavitt’s own former boss, Lt. Colonel Doyle “Dode” Rees, who was stationed at USA/OSI at Kirkland AFB in Albuquerque, New Mexico, wrote a letter at our request to him around the same time. In it, he remarked, “When you call the press conference to tell the world, let me know, because I want to be there”.

Note how this paragraph has a double connotation; that Cavitt was “in the know” and Rees was also potentially in on the secret and waiting for his more directly involved subordinate to spill the beans.  However, Doyle Rees (DR)  gave a taped interview to Sign Oral History Project’s Tom Tulien (TT) in October 1999 https://sohp.us/interviews/pdf/Rees-Doyle-1999.pdf, where Rees’ knowledge of the Roswell Incident comes into focus.

DR: [Laughing] Yeah. Well, I came after the Roswell incident. I came out there after that.

TT: Were you aware of that at the time?

DR: No, I wasn't. And one of my top officers was down at Roswell at the time, you know. You've probably heard of Sheridan Cavitt, have you?

TT: Yeah.

DR: Well, he was one of my top officers, and they've always - the people I've talked to – have always suspected that he was holding out. That his lips were sealed. And he told me - and I have lots of correspondence here with him - where he says, "I don't know anything." He says, "If I'd have known, I would have told you." But that may not be so - I don't know. If you're sworn to secrecy, maybe he's got to keep - maybe his lips are sealed, I don't know.

This exchange paints a different picture. Rees believed Cavitt may have known more than he was saying but clearly professes his own lack of involvement or knowledge.

And in Sheridan Cavitt’s (SC) own May 24, 1994 interview with Colonel Richard Weaver (RW) as part of the US Air Force’s report on Roswell: https://media.defense.gov/2010/Dec/01/2001329893/-1/-1/0/roswell-2.pdf , Cavitt mentions the letter Rees sent him:

RW: Well the names I recognize here that were still: are Doyle Rees and John Stahl.

SC: Doyle is still alive. I have a letter from him.

RW: I think he's in the Association of Former OSI Agents.

SC: Yeah. Right.

RW: And I am also a member of that so I see a lot of that. So, I see a lot of their letters and stuff, pictures that they send.

MC: We get correspondence from Doyle… (NOTE: MC is Sheridan Cavitt’s wife)

MC: Nice, nice man.

SC: He is a nice man. And a nice family. I don’t know what the date on that is. Letter from Doyle, it says: “When you call the press conference to tell the world, let me know, because I want to be there.“ So, I just got reams of this stuff from books.

So, Cavitt acknowledges the letter from Rees with the “tell the world” message. None of this is technically non-factual, at least until Schmitt states this in our Facebook exchange: https://www.facebook.com/donald.r.schmitt/posts/10217218700087129

Rees was not in Roswell and not involved as we have ever been able to determine. I quoted his letter which he was kind enough to have written on our behalf to Cavitt where he clearly implied that he had a BIG story to tell. We have that letter.

Put into context with Rees and Cavitt’s interviews, we see an alternate picture: Rees professes no knowledge of the Roswell Incident but believes Cavitt may be holding back something, although Cavitt has also denied any knowledge. Schmitt asks Rees to write the letter to Cavitt with the “tell the world” message. Schmitt states in a public forum that Rees was implying that Cavitt had a BIG story to tell, but who prompted Rees to write the letter in the first place? Schmitt & CO. This is a self-generated and twisted version of the truth where Schmitt is simply playing one witness against the other and then trying to attach importance to a letter that has no significance whatsoever.

To explore Doyle Rees (DR) knowledge or involvement with the Roswell Incident further, let us examine this excerpt from his interview with Tom Tulien (TT):

TT: Yeah, it is odd too that the whole thing began during the time that we developed nuclear capability.

DR: Yes, yes.

TT: And you know, the green fireballs around Los Alamos.

DR: Yes.

TT: You know, that is curious, too.

DR: Yeah, it, it's a strange thing. There isn't an answer to it yet, as far as I know. You can't dismiss it, because of the reports you get from good witnesses. But then on the other hand, why haven't we got the concrete evidence somehow. A photograph- or really a crash.

TT: Yeah.

DR: I have lots of reservations about the Roswell incident. I doubt that it occurred myself. I can't believe that it occurred, and it went to Washington, and went to Wright-Pat. And those of us who are in counterintelligence and intelligence - if that did occur we'd have had rumors of it, somehow. But I never did hear a rumor from within the Air Force that there was anything like that going on.

But I hope there can be a resolution to this and put it to rest. Or, if there is something to this, let's make an all-out effort to resolve it. Because if there are UFOs coming from other galaxies, they have some scientific information that would be awful valuable to us.

What is striking about Rees’ response is that he reveals his non-involvement or knowledge of the Roswell Incident, unprompted! Schmitt in his book paints a different picture:

"Rees refused to tell anyone about the '47 incident..."

When I asked Schmitt  why he didn’t mention Tulien’s interview in his book, he initially gave lengthy and irrelevant explanations of how deathbed testimony was superior to prior testimony  and argued this point ad nauseam until he claimed he had never seen the Tulien transcript to begin with and only first heard of it when I brought it up. OK, benefit of the doubt granted.

But as oftentimes happens when one does protest too much while contorting the truth, slippage occurs where you say something that sounds good in the moment but does not exactly fit the overall story. Here’s some relevant Facebook exchanges where Schmitt talks about Rees:

Rees was not in Roswell and not involved as we have ever been able to determine. I quoted his letter which he was kind enough to have written on our behalf to Cavitt where he clearly implied that he had a BIG story to tell. We have that letter.

Rees was not at Roswell at the time of the incident, so he remains a non-witness. The only reason we sought him out was because he was Cavitt's boss and Cavitt wouldn't even admit being at Roswell in 47'.

For the umpteenth time; Doyle Rees was in Albuquerque at the time and not involved at Roswell.

The fact that you intentionally select a non-witness to argue your point demonstrates how flaccid your effort.

The fact that Rees was not at Roswell at the time of the incident is the bottom line.

If the best you or anyone else can do is relegate an individual who was 200 miles away from Roswell at the time to somehow being involved - your misrepresentation.

Which really begs the question, if Rees was such a non-character and the only reason Schmitt sought him out was because he was in Cavitt’s chain of command, why in the world would Schmitt write this about Rees?

"Unknown to his family, he was also involved with the CIC investigation of the Roswell Incident"

Twisting the truth here is saying it mildly.

Now to be fair to Schmitt, since he does place such importance on end-of-life testimony, let me finish this off by relating the anecdote in the book where Schmitt ties in Rees’ alleged endorsement of the extraterrestrial hypothesis. Summarized on Facebook:

Rees died in 2007 and according to his daughter Julie, who we interviewed in 2011, just before he died she was spending time with him at his home in Utah. One day she found him sitting in a chair staring through a window up at the sky. "What are you looking for Daddy? she asked. "I'm looking for UFOs. They're real, you know," he replied and then he added, "I saw the bodies."

The problem with this “deathbed” anecdote is that there is absolutely nothing to tie it to Roswell. Rees is not quoted saying “I saw the Roswell alien bodies” but it is a general statement in support of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis. This exchange remains hearsay and would not be considered anything close to a Dying Declaration. However, Schmitt believes this anecdote trumps Rees’ taped interview where he opines on the UFO phenomenon:

TT: You've been looking at this phenomenon for fifty years, what's your attitude about it these days?

DR: About?

TT: About the phenomenon in general?

DR: Well, I would say this: I'm not convinced that there are UFOs. I'm convinced that people are seeing something that they are accused of being UFOs. Some of the testimony of the people that have observed them, and my own observation - it's something you can't just laugh about and forget about. They did -people that were honest and trustworthy - make awful sincere, honest reports on what they saw. I don't know. I'm not convinced that there are flying saucers. Yet, I'm - I can't understand, if there isn't a strange phenomenon going on, why people are seeing them. Not only in New Mexico or the Southwest - but all over the world. They're observed them all over the world. So, it's strange. But then it's strange, if there is such a thing - why haven't we had concrete evidence to show that there is? That would be my thoughts.

Note that Rees did not deny the plausibility of UFOs but denied knowing what UFOs are, due to lack of concrete evidence. Rees also denied any knowledge of the Roswell Incident itself.

To summarize, Rees when interviewed on tape in 1999 at the age of 91, by all appearances was in a sound state of mind, based on his coherent answers to Tulien’s questions, as reflected in the transcript. But then eight year later, in 2007 when he died at the age of 99, Doyle Rees allegedly had a radical change of opinion on UFOs. I say we contest the will!

Schmitt was livid that I called him out on these factual errors, and he did not hesitate to mention the 150 other witnesses that he had interviewed multiple times over many years. But if he is so nonchalant about distorting the record of one of the least important of the characters in his book, what are we to assume about the central witnesses that he attaches great importance to?

I’m happy to give him the benefit of the doubt, but if Schmitt really wants to avoid being labeled a truth contortionist, it would be in his best interest to release the complete transcripts of his witness interviews so we can judge their testimony for ourselves. Other wise we are at the mercy of his interpretations, factual errors, and unconventional standards of evidence and in UFO-world that bar has been set far too low for way too long.


Tuesday, July 28, 2020

UFO Gatekeepers: You Shall Not Pass

The recent sensational New York Times’ headline thrilled readers across the world:  No Longer in Shadows, Pentagon’s U.F.O. Unit Will Make Some Findings Public.

I am not going to discuss the details of the article or the Time’s subsequent corrections or the buzz generated in UFO circles of imminent disclosure. Instead, I want to focus, as I have for the last ten years on the human side of the UFO subject, and specifically on those who play a role in pushing the UFO narrative through the mass media. In this latest sensation - Leslie Kean and Ralph Blumenthal who also broke the Times’ 2017 AATIP story, follow up on their tic-tac, paddywack, give a Navy dogfight a bone story to the now even more sensational retrieval of off-world vehicles.

If my multi-decade experience with the UFO subject has taught me any one core truth, it boils down to the following observation. The modern-day UFO subject has been dominated for the last seven plus decades by humans deceiving humans and because the deceivers are affiliated with domestic or foreign government agencies, what truly lies at the core of the UFO phenomenon cannot be unequivocally ascertained until the role of those agencies is brought fully to light. A tall glass to fill indeed.

I am not talking about the MIB, or MJ-12, or the IPU, all mythical or made-into-myth organizations that have no basis in reality. I am referring to, at least on our side of the pond, our run-of-the-mill agencies like the CIA, the DIA, and in years pass the AFOSI. Now it is the ONI – the Office of Naval Intelligence – that is taking the central role in this hall of mirrors.

We are enticed to believe that soon, some of the ONI’s UFO findings will be shared with the public, although I am not holding my breath for clarity but just further muddying of  the UFO waters,  likely generating more questions than answers. I anticipate the “findings” will be piecemeal-ed out in a very controlled manner using the same human mouthpieces that have been serving their intended purposes from 2017 until the present day. It won’t just be Kean and Blumenthal but also Mellon, Elizondo, de Longe, and Silva, who will act in there already pre-established roles as “gatekeepers”. Those who came before them like Knapp and Moulton-Howe have long since served their purpose of pushing false narratives like the Skinwalker Ranch. New gatekeeper blood has emerged but the myths they are helping to build have at their base the dung hill of deceptions past.

Gatekeepers

You may remember the iconic movie scene from the Lord of the Rings, The Fellowship of the Ring where the wizard Gandalf prevents the demon Balrog from crossing the bridge; slamming down his magical staff while uttering the words, “You shall Not Pass!” The bridge crumbles and the Balrog falls into the chasm. UFO truth seekers who shun the sensational and instead critically explore and research facts are just as doomed to cross the UFO bridge of enlightenment, stopped from further progress by the sponsored gatekeepers of the UFO narrative.

Playing an analogous role to Gandalf in UFO world are the UFO mouthpieces who release and promote their sensational UFO news stories, oftentimes fed by an inside source.  Ego-driven by their “chosen” status and preconceived beliefs, they are more than eager to regurgitate the sensational allegations, irrespective of glaring red flags. Facts and journalistic integrity often time take second place to getting the story out. The UFO narratives that make it into the mass media flow directly from deceivers through these gatekeepers and alternative narratives simply cannot compete. Conspiracy and sensationalism sell and anything mundane simply falls away into the deep black void.

Gatekeepers most likely are not cognizant they are being taken for a ride, although I would venture some do and simply don’t care. Others are just plain old naïve and truly believe they are the conduits to imminent disclosure. Some may think they can role play their way to the inner circle of UFO enlightenment when in fact they never make it over the bridge themselves. Some may even be cognizant of their roles and the masters they ultimately serve.

Critical thinkers will see it as just the same ole nonsense of imminent disclosure they have been hearing about for years. Jack Brewer discusses the same in his recent blog article UFO Debris, Disclosure, and Congressional Investigations. If you think Senator Marco Rubio is a visionary for pushing for Congressional briefings, then take the time to read this 1988 document. Congress has had an interest in UFOs since Kenneth Arnold kicked off the modern-day UFO era in 1947. Since that time, neither the most ardent UFO believers who scream  Cosmic Watergate nor the official agencies that had UFO investigation oversight until 1969, have been able to muster sufficient concrete evidence to interest the scientific community or to grab the short attention span of politicians. Congressional inquiries have gone nowhere.

And are we supposed to believe that by the time the Air Force stopped investigating UFOs in 1969, that the Office of Naval Intelligence (ONI) was asleep at the UFO wheel for decades? If the ONI wants to truly brief the public, they can start by explaining what the hell they have been doing with UFO intelligence since 1947.

UFO Gatekeepers come and go, but what always eludes us is the plain and simple UFO truth. Instead it is obfuscated, muddied, built on deceptions and minutely orchestrated by those who control the narrative for selfish reasons. The same old gatekeepers show up time and time again in UFO circles, monopolizing the news cycle; propped up to media roles, their sensational voices drowning out logic and reason. Did you catch Linda Moulton Howe’s cameo on the History Channel’s The Secret of Skinwalker Ranch?

When they have outlived their usefulness, UFO Gatekeepers are sidelined, and new young guns take their place. The sooner you accept that UFO disclosure is a fallacy, the less disappointment and frustration you will endure when the ONI’s findings do not live up to your expectations. But if you insist on skipping and hopping your way across the bridge to UFO enlightenment – just remember that like all who desired the same before you and were denied - You Too Shall Not Pass.