Respectful Insolence

Area 51 veterans speak: No space aliens

One of the most persistent and prevalent examples of a modern myth that will not die is the story of Area 51. So ingrained in our culture has it become that nearly everyone (at least in the U.S.) knows what you are talking about when you refer to it. It’s been featured in movies as diverse as Independence Day (one of my favorite big budget, brain-meltingly silly end-of-the-world movies about alien invasion) and, of course, Area 51. Forests of trees have been slain in order to publish books on the subject, and cable TV channels serve up near constant stream of documentaries either about Area 51 or mentioning it as a place of secret government studies of aliens who crash landed and deep conspiracies to keep The Truth About The Aliens from the American people. While there is no doubt that something secret was going on at Area 51, which is in fact a military base located on the shore of Groom Lake within the U.S. Air Force’s Nevada Test and Training Range.

A single blog post is too little space to document the sorts of conspiracy theories that have spring up around Area 51. The most famous legend is that the U.S. government brought the wreckage and alien corpses from a space ship crash at Roswell, NM in 1947. Indeed, the very plot of Independence Day has the movie’s heroes visiting Area 51, where a functional alien spaceship had been studied since 1947, and it turns out that it was a spaceship piloted by a scout from the alien race who had invaded the earth and caused such devastation. In a scenario that’s hard to believe even suspending disbelief for purposes of a shoot-’em-up blockbuster science-fiction alien invasion movie, two of the protagonists figure out how to pilot the ship to the alien mothership to deliver a computer virus that would shut down the alien fleet’s defenses (not to mention a nuclear bomb to blow up the mothership), so that a coordinated world-wide counterattack would have a chance of succeeding.

Other conspiracy theories that have sprung up around Area 51 include the aforementioned storage and attempted reverse engineering of the alleged alien space ship claimed to have crashed at Roswell; meetings with extraterrestrials; the development of all manner of secret weapons programs, such as energy weapons; and all manner of imaginative (and not so imaginative) activities. Given the secrecy that has been maintained by the U.S. government over the years regarding Area 51, it’s not too surprising that conspiracy theories took hold, although, despite the fact that the events that inspired the conspiracy theories took place in the 1940s and 1950s, most of the myths surrounding Area 51 didn’t actually start to spring up so much until decades later, when a man named Bob Lazar claimed that he had worked on alien spacecraft at Papoose Lake, which is south of Area 51. Since then, Area 51 has become, with Roswell, the twin capitals of alien abduction paranoia in the U.S.

I wonder how alien abduction conspiracy theorists will react to a recent news story entitled Area 51 vets break silence: Sorry, but no space aliens or UFOs. It turns out that some of the secret projects that have been carried out at Area 51 have been declassified. Veterans are talking, and–surprise! surprise!–they aren’t telling any tales of space aliens or UFOs:

Noce, 72, and his fellow Area 51 veterans around the country now are free to talk about doing contract work for the CIA in the 1960s and ’70s at the arid, isolated Southern Nevada government testing site.

Their stories shed some light on a site shrouded in mystery; classified projects still are going on there. It’s not a big leap from warding off the curious 40 or 50 years ago, to warding off the curious who now make the drive to Area 51.

The veterans’ stories provide a glimpse of real-life government covert operations, with their everyday routines and moments of excitement.

Noce didn’t seek out publicity. But when contacted, he was glad to tell what it was like.

“I was sworn to secrecy for 47 years. I couldn’t talk about it,” he says.

In the 1960s, Area 51 was the test site for the A-12 and its successor, the SR-71 Blackbird, a secret spy plane that broke records at documented speeds that still have been unmatched. The CIA says it reached Mach 3.29 (about 2,200 mph) at 90,000 feet.

The stories of the veterans reveal lots of secret stuff going on at Area 51 back in the 1960s, but, alas, there isn’t a single story of extraterrestrials or alien space ships. There are, however, lots of stories about secrecy and test-flying A12s and Blackbirds. Some of the most interesting parts of the recollections of some of the Area 51 vets are some of the mundane things, at least to me. For instance, James Noce was always paid in cash and signed another name to the receipt. There is no paperwork proving that he ever worked for the CIA or at Area 51.

So how do we know that he isn’t just laying down a line of B.S.? We don’t, at least not completely. We do know, however, this:

But Noce is vouched for by T.D. Barnes, of Henderson, Nev., founder and president of Roadrunners Internationale, membership 325. Barnes is the one who says he got checks from Pan Am, for whom he had never worked.

Roadrunners is a group of Area 51 vets including individuals affiliated with the Air Force, CIA, Lockheed, Honeywell and other contractors.

For the past 20 years, they’d meet every couple of years at reunions they kept clandestine. Their first public session was last October at a reunion in Las Vegas at the Atomic Testing Museum.

As age creeps up on them, Barnes, 72, an Area 51 radar specialist, wants the work the vets did to be remembered.

And Barnes himself has someone quite credible to vouch for him: David Robarge, chief historian for the CIA and author of “Archangel: CIA’s Supersonic A-12 Reconnaissance Aircraft.”

Although the story doesn’t provide a lot of detail, Noce’s recollections do suggest that the military and CIA actually didn’t mind the notoriety of the place and the stories of aliens and spaceships that had popped up over the years. The reason is that such tales served as a lovely bit of misdirection to obfuscate and cover up the real secret projects going on there, specifically the secret planes that were being tested. Although I find parts of Noce’s story to sound a bit fishy, specifically the story about a pilot putting on a gorilla mask and flying upside down alongside a private pilot and how afterward the pilot told reporters that he had seen a plane without a propeller that was being flown by a monkey.

In evaluating a story like Noce’s, it’s hard not to shake the thought in the back of my mind that the guy is enjoying himself entirely too much and may be–shall we say?–embellishing some of his stories a bit. It’s also bothersome that there’s no good way to verify that any of these men ever actually worked for Area 51 other than the word of other men who claimed to have worked in Area 51. On the other hand, no one has as yet produced compelling evidence that extraterrestrials have visited the earth or that alien spaceships have crashed and been dismantled and studied by our government. Inevitably, any evidence presented is of the variety of the testimonial of a “friend of a friend,” stories with little or no evidence to support them, or physical evidence that proves nothing but is held up of evidence of extraterrestrials. Skeptic or not, I do share one thing with UFO conspiracy theorists. I would love to see conclusive evidence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe before I die. Unfortunately, I have not seen anything that even comes close to qualifying. For all the accusations of being “close-minded,” I’m actually fairly open-minded towards the possibility of extraterrestrial intelligence, although the idea that there are aliens out there abducting people and performing various examinations on them, often involving sticking probes into various orifices, to be almost as improbable as homeopathy.

The reason that stories of UFOs and extraterrestrials persist is explained relatively well by, of all organizations, the CIA. A companion story to the Area 51 story points out a fascinating CIA report entitled CIA’s Role in the Study of UFOs, 1947-90, which points out:

An extraordinary 95 percent of all Americans have at least heard or read something about Unidentified Flying Objects (UFOs), and 57 percent believe they are real. (1) Former US Presidents Carter and Reagan claim to have seen a UFO. UFOlogists–a neologism for UFO buffs–and private UFO organizations are found throughout the United States. Many are convinced that the US Government, and particularly CIA, are engaged in a massive conspiracy and coverup of the issue. The idea that CIA has secretly concealed its research into UFOs has been a major theme of UFO buffs since the modern UFO phenomena emerged in the late 1940s.

After describing the history of the CIA’s investigations of UFO sightings over five decades, the report concludes:

Like the JFK assassination conspiracy theories, the UFO issue probably will not go away soon, no matter what the Agency does or says. The belief that we are not alone in the universe is too emotionally appealing and the distrust of our government is too pervasive to make the issue amenable to traditional scientific studies of rational explanation and evidence.

And this is certainly correct. UFO stories aren’t going away any time soon, any more than stories of extraterrestrials. it is something the people want to believe so badly that evidence almost doesn’t matter. The same techniques to deny, twist, cherry pick, and misrepresent data and studdies that do not support stories about the existence of UFO-spaceships and aliens visiting earth are very similar to the same techniques used by the anti-vaccine movement to attack studies that fail to find a link between vaccines and autism, creationists attacking evolution, 9/11 Truthers attacking the “official” story about the terrorist attacks of that day; “alternative medicine” mavens attacking evidence showing that conventional medicine works and their woo doesn’t; and, as much as I get into trouble pointing it out, Holocaust deniers attacking evidence supporting the historicity of the Holocaust or the scope of the mass murder.

In the techniques used by its advocates, Area 51 is no different than those other forms of woo. It does, however, have the complicating factor of a real government base where real top secret projects were carried out during the Cold War and may still be going on today. The existence of the government base makes it harder for skeptics, historians, and scientists ever to verify for sure that the conspiracy theories regarding UFOs and aliens are not true, even though there is no convincing evidence that they are true. On the other hand, there is no such complicating factor for those other forms of woo, and they maintain a hold on believers just as well as any conspiracy theory to which UFO believers cling. Come to think of it, there are few or no such complicating factors for UFO stories that don’t have anything to do with Area 51. (As a certain Saturday Night Live character from the 1970s used to say, “Never mind.”)

There are two things I’ve never understood about UFO conspiracy theorists and theories. First, if there really are extraterrestrials of such awesome intelligence and possessing such incredibly advanced technology, why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth? The other thing I can’t understand is how, in the improbable circumstance that such a race actually did travel many light years to visit us, the government could maintain a conspiracy of secrecy for several decades, be it over the purported Roswell crash or the sightings around Area 51. After all, the longer a conspiracy continues and the more people who know about it, the smaller the chance that secrecy will be maintained. Someone will talk. Someone always talks if enough people are involved. Holocaust deniers, for instance, are masters at constructing elaborate conspiracy theories to explain why the “Holohoax” persists, sometimes even going so far as to claim that the Jews fabricated all that evidence. Alt-med mavens construct similar yarns, postulating that the “medical-industrial complex” is keepoing all those “natural cures” from you because…well, they never really make it clear why. After all, even evil big pharma executives get cancer; so do their families. If those natural, sure-fire cures existed, someone would talk eventually.

In the end, humans believe what they want to believe–what they need to believe, for whatever reason, ideological, religious, or emotional. Science and skepticism are the tools we need to overcome our natural tendency to believe in such things, but these tools are useless if we don’t want to embrace them.

Comments

  1. #1 Matt Platte
    April 1, 2010

    Ha! Good post; Insolence(tm) applied to another discipline. What tipped me off that this is just another hoax is the glaring omission of Rep. Kucinich’s sighting in the “companion story” quote. A well-written April Fools entry nonetheless.

  2. #2 Rene Najera
    April 1, 2010

    April Fool’s Day is a conspiracy in itself, if you think about it. Think. About. It.

  3. #3 Christina
    April 1, 2010

    Ah, the truth is there were no aliens. The whole “UFOs crash-landing on Earth” is a cover-up (made more plausible by the government denying it) for the secret genetic engineering experiments! The aliens are genetically-modified humans! (Yes, the government secretly had genetic engineering back in the 1940s, all that stuff about Watson and Crick and so forth? Just more cover-ups!)

  4. #4 Jojo
    April 1, 2010

    I’ve always had a fondness for the Area 51 woo and I probably have just as much desire to know what’s going on there as the UFO kooks do. In my case it’s because I’m interested in the cutting edge technology of the air craft industry, which is very likely what’s been going on there for some time. Forget the UFO’s, I want to see what we are capable of coming up with.

    As far as the long term conspiracy theory that the government is covering up alien technology, it’s pure BS. It’s just too hard to cover up anything for that long. I followed the progress of the B-2 stealth bomber program all through high school even though it was a classified program. The government was so successful at keeping it classified that I tracked it’s progress through articles in Popular Science. When they finally rolled the aircraft out for it’s first public flight, I had been following it for four years. There is a reason why people hoping to steal American technology read our magazines…people just cannot keep secrets.

  5. #5 christophe-thill.myopenid.com
    April 1, 2010

    I sense a pattern here. The Roosevelt crash was actually a secret spy balloon. Area 51 was actually a test zone for hi tech planes. Will we one day learn that all the unexplained sightings of UFO really were the work of secret military programs ?

  6. #6 Romeo Vitelli
    April 1, 2010

    The Men In Black obviously neuralyzed Noce after he retired. Of course he doesn’t remember seeing anything alien!

  7. #7 Dangerous Bacon
    April 1, 2010

    The truth is that Area 51 is now being used to stockpile H1N1 vaccine in preparation for the rollout of Obamacare, so that we can all be genetically engineered by U.N. troops into Pharmaclones when the time is right.

    Only a select few realize what’s going on.

    See “Machiavellian Pharma Model” and your eyes will be opened.

  8. #8 olga
    April 1, 2010

    This is oddly disappointing.

    Um. Not that I was hoping for aliens or anything. *cough*

  9. #9 Mu
    April 1, 2010

    The alien research activity was moved to southern California in the early 50s. To hide the strange figures in case of escapes they put Disneyland on top of the facility. It’s been the most profitable government operation ever since, allowing the price of hammers to drop from $500 to $53.24.

  10. #10 Tracy W
    April 1, 2010

    First, if there really are extraterrestrials of such awesome intelligence and possessing such incredibly advanced technology, why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth?

    I’m guessing you never read The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Douglas Adams amply explains this as rich kids picking a backwaters planet, putting on some bizarre bodies, kidnapping a rural local, parading some alien technolgy in front of him, and then dropping him back. The joke being that no one will believe what he saw.

    As for humans believing what they want to believe, I agree with that. My favourite example of extreme belief is the breatharians, the ones who claim we don’t need food or water to live. And some people have, unfortunately, proved that they really did believe it was possible to do that.

  11. #11 ENT-TT
    April 1, 2010

    Of course it’s a hoax. What self-respecting ET would ever dream of coming to such a grubby little rock, where the dominant species is too stupid to vaccinate itself? Ask people if they hope aliens are real, and many would say yes. Ask them if they’d feel the same knowing that the aliens would look down on us for being the grimy vectors of disease we are? Probably not as many. The myth loses its appeal when you realize that any sane aliens avoid you at all costs.

  12. #12 MikeMa
    April 1, 2010

    I was 8 or 9 and reading Erik Van Daniken (sp?) books about aliens. It was a couple of years before one of the older kids in the neighborhood asked if I really believed all that stuff. I owe that kid a great debt of gratitude for making me start to think critically about the world.

  13. #13 JohnV
    April 1, 2010

    “why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth?”

    I’m just being difficult here as opposed to actually arguing that aliens have visited…

    But why wouldn’t they? Why do humans go to disney land or on safari or look at little bacteria in a microscope or travel up the east coast in the fall to watch trees turn colors? Because they can :P

    Besides, we don’t have much data on this sort of thing, perhaps earth is unique in some fashion?

    Or, aliens don’t visit earth. Or they don’t exist. Either of which is (sadly?) vastly more likely than they visit here for sight seeing :p

  14. #14 dNorrisM
    April 1, 2010

    If we vaccinate everybody, then all the germs will die and the Earth will be powerless against the Martians.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    April 1, 2010

    My late father used to have great fun ridiculing the UFOlogy believers on TV(as well as the writers of pulp paperback *exposes*): he spent almost two years in the Mojave, courtesy of the USAF (actually pre-AF,USAAC).He said that there were always rumors flying about new weapons,experimental planes,who was getting shipped over to the fighting,who was taking his leave in Hollywood,not about aliens.The only clandestine landings being covered up were the frequent liquor supply runs.

  16. #16 HappyHax0r
    April 1, 2010

    @9 I believe the starting price was $20,000.00 on a hammer. The sad thing is that the price of toilet seats hasn’t dropped ;D.

  17. #17 rob
    April 1, 2010

    I lived out in Caliente, Nevada for a year. It’s pretty close to Area 51. At night the sky would be lit up with dozens of really fast-moving objects. We all knew that the government did testing and worked on aircraft, but it was still kinda neat to look up into the sky each night and see the flashing, zooming lights. When you live out there, it’s understandable why Area 51 is forever associated with alien lore.

  18. #18 Jojo
    April 1, 2010

    Mu @9, I call Poe.

    The Disney story is far-fetched, but I can work with that. You really gave yourself up with that ridiculous line about the Government only paying $53.24 for a hammer. Not even Jenny McCarthy is dumb enough to fall for something that absurd.

  19. #19 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    First, if there really are extraterrestrials of such awesome intelligence and possessing such incredibly advanced technology, why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth?

    Better question: why would these aliens, if they did come to Earth only send a single ship, that just happened to crash-land on the territory of the only world government that had the resources to even hypothetically stage such a cover-up? Why were there no rescue missions to recover their (aliens’) property? How is it that we can trace the development of available technologies to human sources along an undoubtedly rapid but wholly logical timeline?

    It’s like there was one fact about a sighting in someone’s head that got shaken around and just overpowered everything else in there… OMFGROFLOBGYN HOMEOPATHY IS REAL!

  20. #20 trrll
    April 1, 2010

    I must say that the “official” explanations, in which the Roswell crash was first dismissed as a weather balloon, and the explanation was years later amended to secret military experiments with balloons containing anthropomorphic dummies (to explain the “alien bodies” reported by some witnesses), have increased, rather than decreased the credibility of the “flying saucer crash” claims.

    On the other hand, if alien spacecraft were reverse-engineered, we must have done a piss-poor job of it. There is no indication of any major technological discontinuity around that time, and our space craft still rely on the same basic rocketry technology.

    Full disclosure: My wife was from Roswell.

  21. #21 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    My new favorite hypothesis for resolving Fermi’s Paradox (why we don’t see any signs of alien life even though the universe is so huge that it seems unlikely we are the only ones) is that the window during which a technological civilization is loudly broadcasting RF as a matter of day-to-day routine is vanishingly small, about a century or two at most.

    Look at us. Increasingly, high-powered RF broadcast is being replaced by a global network of fiber-optic cables for long distance transmission, and then low-powered localized RF broadcast (i.e. WiFi, cellular) for the last hop to the actual devices. What high-powered RF broadcast remains (e.g. digital TV) is increasingly moving towards digital, which doesn’t have the massive and easy-to-detect carrier wave that is characteristic of analog broadcast, i.e. if you had no idea what you were looking for, a digital signal is harder to detect than an analog signal of the same strength.

    If our technological progress is typical, then that means a civilization’s day-to-day RF signal is only visible for a couple hundred years at best, and even then only for a few light-years. This leaves Active SETI-type programs as the only significant source of long-term RF visibility of a technological civilization, and even if we assume that most civilizations find this an important enough activity to fund it (which is anything but a given, considering even our civilization is not so sure about that), Active SETI only targets one star at a time.

    So it’s quite conceivable that our galaxy is filled with technologically advanced civilizations, and that these civilizations are actively beaming “Hello there!” broadcasts to any likely solar systems — and that they just haven’t rolled around to Sol yet. And might not for millenia.

    Worse, it’s equally conceivable that our galaxy is filled with technologically advanced civilizations, and most of them just “give up” looking for other intelligent life after a few hundred years, because (like us) they have local problems that are far more pressing than funding an Active SETI-type endeavor.

  22. #22 The Gregarious Misanthrope
    April 1, 2010

    The only thing I find more implausible than our government being able to keep such a huge secret for so long is that an alien race, having mastered the techology to travel across light years (at superluminal speeds, perhaps), would arrive at our dust mote of a planet, only to crash into it. That would be alien FAIL of the highest order.

    The only conceivable reason I could figure for such a coverup in the first place was that if we had to worry about aliens, Soviet communists wouldn’t seem so bad.

    In the 90′s there was a small press conference at an organization at Wright-Patterson AFB that was occasionally accused of harboring alien bodies. During the conference, one of the shorter members, dressed in his Air Force blues and with green makeup covering his whole face, neck and hands, popped into the back of the room, away from the cameras. He lingered for only a moment, apologized for being in the wrong room and left. There were a lot of craned necks and dropped jaws. It didn’t take long for the joke to set in.

    Who says the military (well, the Air Force, anyway) doesn’t have sense of humor?

  23. #23 Sir Eccles
    April 1, 2010

    He, well that’s what they want us to think! A little bit too convenient I think!

  24. #24 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    The only thing I find more implausible than our government being able to keep such a huge secret for so long is that an alien race, having mastered the techology to travel across light years (at superluminal speeds, perhaps), would arrive at our dust mote of a planet, only to crash into it. That would be alien FAIL of the highest order.

    In fairness, I think a lot of the tinfoil hat crowd think that the crash wasn’t the first visit, i.e. the aliens had been monitoring us as a matter of course for quite some time, and eventually an accident happened.

    Personally, I liked Futurama’s take on it.

  25. #25 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 1, 2010

    1)The story about the gorilla mask is quite real. The early tests of the USAAF’s first jet, the Bell P-59 Airacomet, took place at Groom Lake. On the ground, they were fitted with dummy props for secrecy. The test pilots couldn’t talk about what they did, and had to listen to the boasting of the P-38 Lightning pilots based nearby. The pilots loved to baffle the pilots of the P-38s by flying up alongside them; a few times they dressed up with gorilla masks, derbies and cigars and flew alongside the regular planes, knowing they wouldn’t talk about it. I know I can find the link if I search for it.
    2)Don Henley asked the right question in his song, “They’re Not Here, They’re Not Coming”: “Would they pile into the saucer, find Orlando’s rat and hug it, go screaming across the Universe just to buy McNuggets?” Note the Disney connection – maybe Don knows more than he’s telling?
    3) The CIA’s and USAF’s interest in UFOs comes from a few basic concerns. First, did someone have some radical new type of aircraft that could evade our defenses? Second, with our air defense still heavily dependent on ground observers, could the belief in/ publicity about “flying saucers” blind our defenses to allow Soviet bombers to slip through unreported? Third, would it bring unwanted scrutiny to our own secret aerospace programs? Fourth, the Soviets, for some obscure reasons of their own, encouraged UFO reports in the official press (the only kind of press they had). It would be natural for the CIA to want to investigate these reports and the sources and methods of investigating could legitimately still be secret today.
    In any case, it is strongly suggestive that astronomers and meteorologists generate disproportionately tiny numbers of UFO reports, because they are the best-trained and most experienced watchers of the sky.

  26. #26 Calli Arcale
    April 1, 2010

    James Sweet:

    My new favorite hypothesis for resolving Fermi’s Paradox (why we don’t see any signs of alien life even though the universe is so huge that it seems unlikely we are the only ones) is that the window during which a technological civilization is loudly broadcasting RF as a matter of day-to-day routine is vanishingly small, about a century or two at most.

    The other problem, often overlooked, is the inverse square rule. The intensity of a radio signal is proportional to the inverse square of the distance to the emitter. And we don’t beam them out with vast power; why would we? It’d be a waste (and potentially lethal for passing aircraft). You don’t really have to get all that far away before the signals are so faint they disappear into the background noise. Only a civilization actively and intentionally broadcasting in a manner likely to be picked up by our equipment would be detectable.

  27. #27 Pablo
    April 1, 2010

    I live pretty near to a still operational Air Force base. It is not uncommon for us to have C130s flying overhead. It is also not uncommon for us to see UFOs flying overhead and to have a lot of strange, unexplained occurences. But that is normal when you are around an Air Force base. When something strange happens, the media contacts the Air Force, and of course they say, “We don’t know anything…”

    I discovered a couple of years ago that, in fact, this area is pretty well-known among UFO nuts. Apparently, they are blinkin idiots or something.

    (I think the argument is that alien visitors tend to concentrate around areas of Air Force bases because of the activities going on there attract them…)

  28. #28 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    Vaccination is mankind’s single greatest achievement. It has saved more lives than any other public health or medical intervention. And despite the protests of a small yet vocal minority vaccination is incredibly safe. Please don’t deny yourself or any of your family members the miracle of vaccination due to unfounded fears generated by these irresponsible “antivaxxers”. Remember, the mumps, measles and chicken pox are killers. And they’re out there, waiting for those unfortunate children whose parents allow them to stray too far from the herd.

  29. #29 S
    April 1, 2010

    Happy April Fools day to all my friends at Respectful Insolence

  30. #30 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    Happy April Fools day to all my friends at Respectful Insolence

  31. #31 triskelethecat
    April 1, 2010

    Same to you, Sid.

  32. #32 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    The other problem, often overlooked, is the inverse square rule.

    Yeah, that’s the other thing, I was surprised recently when I read an estimate of the distance at which our peak RF signal would have been detectable. Even if you are generously optimistic and assume the Super-Advanced Space Aliens(TM) have some sort of technology that allows them to pick up our signal at ten or twenty or fifty times the distance that we estimate it is possible, that’s still a pretty tiny sphere on a galactic scale.

    Tangentially related, I recently watched a lecture by Lawrence Krauss where he said something quite depressing that really stuck with me… that, had us and our solar system come into existence X billions of years later, according to our present understanding of cosmology, by that time the accelerating expansion of the universe would mean that no stars were visible, because they were all moving away from us too rapidly. Not just invisible to the naked eye; completely undetectable barring some huge change to our understanding of physics.

    And worse, even if we assume that our understanding of physics is wrong and that there still would be some funky technology that would allow these hypothetical humans-evolving-in-the-distant-future to study the cosmos, without first being able to study it in an easier fashion, they might not ever think to even look. Their entire cosmology could be restricted to the solar system, with little to no chance of understanding anything outside of it. They might hypothesize the existence of other solar systems, but it would be much like the various theories we have which posit the existence of other universes, i.e. basically untestable and poorly understood.

    With this thought experiment in mind, how much of reality might be permanently inaccessible to us, without us ever even realizing it?

  33. #33 Glaxo PharmaBase 7
    April 1, 2010

    MESSAGE BEGINS

    Shills and Minions all:

    Gorilla mask. Heh.

    MESSAGE ENDS

    Lord Draconis Zeneca, VC, iH7L
    PharmaCOM Orbital HQ
    0010101101001

  34. #34 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    With this thought experiment in mind, how much of reality might be permanently inaccessible to us, without us ever even realizing it?

    Also, how much of reality is permanently inaccessible to Sid Offit?

  35. #35 Beclecto
    April 1, 2010

    After exploring many conspiracy theories for a couple of weeks its kind of refreshing to see folks so eager to agree that yeah.. area 51 theories are all hogwash. I must admit to still being under the influence of folks like Dan Burisch who speaks of his experience with area 51 and his direct involvement with the J-rods… interesting video interview at Project Camelot. Hey.. they exist AND they believe in God. OH and actually they are us from 45,000 years in the future..lol. There are links on my site to his interview. Enjoy!

  36. #36 small pox
    April 1, 2010

    Sid Offit is a hero to all of humanity. He and his ilk alone realize that we viruses, and our cousins the bacteria, aren’t here to do harm. No, we just want to be friends. Why must you engage in this superkingdom-cidal war against us, humans? We mean you no harm. I mean, sure some people die, but a lot of those are in Africa so who cares, right? And the rest of you, yeah you might not die you could just end up sterile or deaf. Is that any excuse to try and eradicate us?

  37. #37 dedicated lurker
    April 1, 2010

    Tracy W – when I visited California with a friend we went out to eat in the only restaraunt in the small town. Our host told us about meeting someone who claimed to be a breatharian, and how he later saw the person in the restaraunt eating scrambled eggs.

  38. #38 Jeff Read
    April 1, 2010

    My favourite example of extreme belief is the breatharians, the ones who claim we don’t need food or water to live.

    Oh, yeah. Those guys are loons.

    But just because some food revolutionaries are batshit crazy doesn’t mean you should take reasonable steps to ensure a healthy diet: like cutting out all meat, casein, gluten, and let’s not forget that liver toxin, fructose. I mean, haven’t you ever seen Food, Inc. Big Pharma and Big Agro are, literally, poisoning the populace to keep them dumb and docile.

    I eat a pound of soy powder and organic carrots, beets, and turnips from the farmer’s market every day, and I’ve never been healthier!

  39. #39 Sigivald
    April 1, 2010

    First, if there really are extraterrestrials of such awesome intelligence and possessing such incredibly advanced technology, why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth?

    Well, the obvious explanation there is that with (presumably) some sort of FTL technology and more or less free energy, they’d go everywhere.

    The idea that they’d specifically target the Earth holds no water (unless by sheer luck combined with a dedicated RF search on their part, they managed to come within about 100 light years of us with amazingly good detection).

    But with free energy and FTL as assumptions, along with a large number of them relative to the size of the galaxy (or automated probes ala Empire Strikes Back), the only surprise would be not being visited.

    (That said, I’m only talking about that specific point – I see no evidence for even the *existence* of extraterrestrial intelligence close enough to matter – probabilistically I reckon it probably exists somewhere.)

  40. #40 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    @Smallpox

    We, the bacteria, come in peace

    Bacteria are needed for life
    Written by Dr. T. M. Wassenaar
    Tuesday, 06 January 2009
    Most people associate bacteria with the three D’s: Dirt, Disease and Death. But if you thought life would be safer without bacteria, you’re wrong. Life evolved from, and with, bacteria, and all higher animals are dependent on bacteria. We live in close association with billions of bacteria. They are at the least harmless, and in some cases needed for health.

    Most bacteria are completely harmless

  41. #41 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    Trudy Wassenaar, Ph.D., is a molecular biologist specializing in microbiology

  42. #42 dedicated lurker
    April 1, 2010

    Smallpox is a virus, Sid. That’s an impressive example of missing the point.

  43. #43 rob
    April 1, 2010

    i climbed Devil’s Tower and hoped to see the alien landing facility like in Close Encounters of the Third Kind. there was no such thing up there. however, there was a hotdog stand, but i left my wallet 865′ below in my car.

  44. #44 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    Sid Offit said “Most bacteria are completely harmless.”

    Very good, Sid. That’s why we don’t bother to protect ourselves against most bacteria/viruses. Just the ones that kill or maim us. You’re arguing against someone who isn’t there.

  45. #45 microbes united
    April 1, 2010

    @sid

    you’ll get no argument out of us.

    signed: Yersinia pestis, Clostridium tetani, Corynebacterium diptheriae, spokesbacilli for microbes united.

  46. #46 theshortearedowl
    April 1, 2010

    First, if there really are extraterrestrials of such awesome intelligence and possessing such incredibly advanced technology, why, of all the places they could go in the galaxies, would they spend all that time, energy, and technology to travel to earth?

    Maybe intelligent life really is rare enough that even our pathetic attempt at civilisation deserves some kind of interest? Or maybe someone had to use up their budget somehow in order to get it renewed next galactic cycle? We don’t know what kind of resource expenditure it takes for hyper-advanced aliens to get here. Maybe it just means applying for that inter-stellar travel grant from the United Betelgeusean Association for Xenobiology.

  47. #47 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    Most bacteria are harmless, therefore, we shouldn’t try to protect ourselves from harmful bacteria?

    Good logic. Most humans are extremely unlikely to kill people, therefore, we shouldn’t put murderers in jail.

  48. #48 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    Maybe intelligent life really is rare enough that even our pathetic attempt at civilisation deserves some kind of interest?

    Who says our civilization is a “pathetic attempt”? Maybe “intelligent” life is really common throughout the universe after all, but most of their civilizations are even more barbarous and self-defeating than ours.

    I hear Glenn Beck is really popular with the Alpha Centaurians…

  49. #49 JohnV
    April 1, 2010

    JohnV, Ph.D., is a microbiologist specializing microbiology.

    I can’t tell if this absurdity is part of your april fool’s joke or if you’re honestly suggesting that since most bacteria are harmless all bacteria are harmless?

    How’s it feel Sid, you’ve officially crossed line into Poe territory?

  50. #50 Shawn Smith
    April 1, 2010

    @James Sweet #32,

    Was it this talk at AAI 2009 that you’re mentioning? Look at around the 50:52 mark and you’ll see he’s talking about 100 billion years, and the galaxy (by then the Andromeda and the Milky way will have collided) will be all we can see, and no astronomers could possibly know about the big bang. Fascinating stuff.

  51. #51 Bronze Dog
    April 1, 2010

    Most bacteria are completely harmless.

    Leaves me to wonder if Sid’s being extra stupid with his straw men for April Fool’s Day, but, of course, how would anyone be able to tell.

    And as Ian points out, we don’t vaccinate against “most bacteria” or even “most viruses”, just some of the ones that can maim and kill. Of course, I will be unsurprised if he starts denying that those diseases disabled because we all know we can’t trust our grandmothers who were there to know childhood friends victimized by “harmless” childhood diseases because all old people had their memories altered in a mass neuralizing by the Big Pharma Men in Black.

  52. #52 clostridium botulinum
    April 1, 2010

    @microbes united,

    We just don’t get no respect!

    http://www.evtv1.com/player.aspx?itemnum=8567

  53. #53 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    @Ian
    That’s why we don’t bother to protect ourselves against most bacteria/viruses

    ——————————-
    I’ll remember that when Paul Offit, in defense of our bloated vaccine schedule, says something like:

    Given that infants are colonized with trillions of bacteria, that each bacterium contains between 2,000 and 6,000 immunological components and that infants are infected with numerous viruses, the challenge from the 150 immunological components in vaccines is minuscule compared to what infants manage every day.
    ——————————————–

    @Dedicated Lurker
    Smallpox is a virus, Sid. That’s an impressive example of missing the point

    Smallpox said:
    He and his ilk alone realize that we viruses, AND our cousins the bacteria, aren’t here to do harm

    And means in addition to.
    —————–

    @JohnV PhD in microbiology

    since most bacteria are harmless all bacteria are harmless?

    where did I say all bacteria are harmless

  54. #54 JohnV
    April 1, 2010

    I assumed you had a purpose or direction for that Sid, as opposed to just randomly spouting out platitudes for the benefit of no one in particular.

    I apologize :p

  55. #55 James Sweet
    April 1, 2010

    @Shawn Smith #50: Yep, that’s the one. I guess I misremembered when I thought only the solar system would be visible… just not other galaxies. Still, though, depressing!

    That was a really great talk, I loved it.

  56. #56 llewelly
    April 1, 2010

    Noce and Barnes say they never saw anything connected to UFOs.

    Poor fools. They should be grateful the alien pregnancies did not take. Then they would have KNOWN the truth.

  57. #57 llewelly
    April 1, 2010

    Mu | April 1, 2010 9:59 AM:

    The alien research activity was moved to southern California in the early 50s. To hide the strange figures in case of escapes they put Disneyland on top of the facility. It’s been the most profitable government operation ever since, allowing the price of hammers to drop from $500 to $53.24.

    And in fact some years later there was an attempt to integrate the aliens into the civilian population in Southern California. There was even a documentary series made about it. It was called Alien Nation.

  58. #58 bluemaxx
    April 1, 2010

    MOST BACTERIA are HARMLESS….

    MOST OF SID OFFIT’s postings, are CLUELESS.

    … oh and MOST VACCINES, are aiming at VIRUSES, Sid. Nasty, evil, harmful VIRUSES.

  59. #59 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    @Sid Offit

    I’ll remember that when Paul Offit, in defense of our bloated vaccine schedule, says something like…

    Oh SNAPITTY SNAP! I just got TOTALLY refuted!

    Wait a second… that’s not a refutation to ANYTHING. Paul Offit’s quote is true. You SHOULD remember that! Because it completely SUPPORTS my point that we don’t care about most bacteria/viruses.

    Is this an impostor? The real Sid Offit isn’t THAT stupid. Don’t get me wrong, he’s dumb, but not THIS dumb.

  60. #60 Jonny
    April 1, 2010

    What would you expect them to say? Who knows what they could be threatened with for speaking out.

  61. #61 Jonny
    April 1, 2010

    REference to the $500 hammers: there was a reason for that. It was a way of hiding the cost of black programs into a contractor’s regular program budgets. They still do it, but in less obvious ways. We are doing a lot of secret and expensive things. They may not be “alien”, but some of them would take you a while to belive it even if you saw it. That’s all I can say.

  62. #62 llewelly
    April 1, 2010

    trrll | April 1, 2010 11:14 AM:

    I must say that the “official” explanations, in which the Roswell crash was first dismissed as a weather balloon, and the explanation was years later amended to secret military experiments with balloons containing anthropomorphic dummies (to explain the “alien bodies” reported by some witnesses), have increased, rather than decreased the credibility of the “flying saucer crash” claims.

    There is no evidence of a secret military balloon of any kind crashing with “anthropomorphic dummies”. The Roswell crash was probably a balloon flight of Project Mogul.

  63. #63 WMDKitty
    April 1, 2010

    I think the best evidence for alien intelligence is the fact that they HAVEN’T visited us.

  64. #64 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    Paul Offit’s quote:
    the challenge from the 150 immunological components in vaccines is minuscule compared to what infants manage every day.
    —————
    Ian says:
    Paul Offit’s quote is true. You SHOULD remember that! Because it completely SUPPORTS my point that we don’t care about most bacteria/viruses..

    so what is it that this poor infant is having to manage every day that pales in comparison to 23 doses of vaccine by age two

  65. #65 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    so what is it that this poor infant is having to manage every day that pales in comparison to 23 doses of vaccine by age two

    The answer is a harsh and uncaring world full of microorganisms that are trying to reproduce both outside and inside the human body. Some of them produce disease when inside the human body. We vaccinate against those. The majority do not, and so we don’t bother with them. It is entirely correct to say that most bacteria do not cause disease; nobody has said that they don’t (except that one poster, who was speaking as a bacterium in what was obviously a tongue-in-cheek spoof).

    There are some bacteria and viruses that cause disease. Those are the ones we vaccinate against. This isn’t rocket science. It’s barely grade 5 science! I really don’t understand what you’re objecting to here.

  66. #66 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    Ah, okay I get it now. You write in such a way as to make comprehension next to impossible.

    The world is full of all kinds of antigens. Many of them come from bacteria. Regardless of whether or not they are “harmful”, when they the body an immune response is engaged. Infants are, in this way, exposed to thousands upon millions of foreign proteins (antigens) every day. What vaccination does is introduce specific antigens into the body, which does the same thing with them as it does with any antigen – creates antibodies.

    That way, if the infant is subsequently exposed to an antigen that is part of a harmful bacterium or virus, the body is already equipped to fight the disease.

    The point that Paul Offit makes is that the antigens in vaccines are just like antigens seen in normal exposure to the environment, and that vaccinating does not “pump a child full of poisons” any more than ordinary exposure to the world does.

    ==============================

    Is there any way to check if this Sid Offit is legit or some kind of April Fool’s gag designed to besmirch his “good” name?

  67. #67 Sid Offit
    April 1, 2010

    @Ian
    I really don’t understand what you’re objecting to here.

    You’re right. It seems we’re arguing about nothing. Let’s pick this up in the near future when our differences are more evident

  68. #68 Ian
    April 1, 2010

    Agreed. For now, sugar-free lemonade and date squares for all!

    (My grandmother caters my parties… don’t ask)

  69. #69 Todd W.
    April 1, 2010

    Hey, uh, Sid? You realize this thread has nothing to do with vaccines, right? Please stop hijacking the thread (and those responding to him, please ignore him).

  70. #70 Monster hunter
    April 1, 2010

    I do not believe it. Just ask Francisco Coronado what happened to his men when he ventured into the Superstition Mountain of Arizona. The indians don’t call it The Devil’s Playground for nothing. Ever heard of hell night in Puerto Rico? Chupacabras and humanoid reptilians surround a group of campers for hours. In 1987 15 children on a school trip went missing on El Yunque mountain in Puerto Rico.

    Hundreds have went missing in the Superstition Mountains in Arizona. Something beyond our comprehension is going on undergorund in America’s western states Puerto Rico.

    I think we have underground alien bases all over. Hitler supposedly sent men into Arizona and Utah caverns looking for these rumored underground civilizations. He might have made contact with the greys. It appears that he built moon bases and bases in Antarctica which still exist there. of course Hitler is dead now, but his actions are ever present in the leftwing socialist movement. Maybe the liberals are alien hybrid government projects gone wrong.

  71. #71 Dangerous Bacon
    April 1, 2010

    Sid’s an antigen. He exists to try to elicit a response. He gets them because stupidity is highly immunogenic.

  72. #72 Sivi
    April 1, 2010

    It was very frustrating to attend a ‘Scientists explore the bases of sci-fi’ lecture at my university, only to find the recent ones were a four-part series by an experimental psych prof going on about UFOs and government conspiracies (or cover-ups as he explicitly preferred to call them).

    He was really misleading people about the nature of science (I want to punch people who misuse Kuhn) and it was, as I said, very frustrating, especially as the organizer is a member of the CFI.

  73. #73 tim gueguen
    April 1, 2010

    If aliens were visiting Earth secretly it’s unlikely we’d find any evidence of it. A race capable of crossing interstellar space would be capable of constructing even more advanced versions of the kind of remotedly piloted vehicles already in use by many Earth militaries, which are becoming increasingly stealthy. So unless they wanted to make their presence known they’d simply build a bunch of stealth UAVs that would escape detection by our technology.

  74. #74 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 1, 2010
    I must say that the “official” explanations, in which the Roswell crash was first dismissed as a weather balloon, and the explanation was years later amended to secret military experiments with balloons containing anthropomorphic dummies (to explain the “alien bodies” reported by some witnesses), have increased, rather than decreased the credibility of the “flying saucer crash” claims.

    There is no evidence of a secret military balloon of any kind crashing with “anthropomorphic dummies”. The Roswell crash was probably a balloon flight of Project Mogul.

    I think there’s a bit of misunderstanding here. Let’s create a table of explanations.

    Explanation A – a balloon from Project Mogul, a top-secret project to spy on Soviet nuclear tests, crashed at Roswell.
    Explanation B – an ordinary weather balloon, engaged in non-classified non-exciting scientific experiments, crashed at Roswell.
    Explanation C – some sort of secret military balloon-craft with anthropomorphic dummies crashed at Roswell.
    Explanation D – an extraterrestrial spacecraft crashed at Roswell.

    I don’t think trrll was trying to indicate that there was ever truth to Explanations C or D. I thought trrll was trying to say that the military at first gave out Explanation B, and then switched to giving Explanation C, which increased people’s suspicion that the military was covering up Explanation D. (Which would actually be a good strategy if what they really wanted to cover up was Explanation A.)

    Honestly, though, I had never heard Explanation C before trrll cited it here. I’ve only heard that the military wanted to cover up the true explanation, Explanation A, and so they gave out Explanation B, and UFO believers on their own jumped to the conclusion that the true explanation was D. Explanation C… well, naturally, I cannot prove it, but if I had to lay a bet on where it came from … I would bet that it was never offered by the military as an explanation; instead it was attributed to the military by the same people who wanted so badly to believe in Explanation D that they invented the rest of the Roswell mythology.

  75. #75 David N. Brown
    April 2, 2010

    Forteans and folklorists have traced the “aliens in the freezer” story to a book by one Frank Scully in 1950, which appears to have been a credulous report of claims by a couple cranks who may have been active even earlier. These early versions didn’t mention Roswell, and it’s also widely noted that even Forteans were skeptical. Jerome Clarke offers a good quote on the latter point: “Even ufologists who thought UFOs to be extraterrestrial spacecraft- and who suspected the US government knew as much- were largely skeptical of what were called, derisively, `little green men in pickle jars’.”

    I have written a “fan fic” which satirizes the “Area 51″ story, in part by considering what it would be like to work at such a place if it existed:
    The corporal’s eyes widened. “If we had this, before 1950… How much technology has been developed from these machines?”
    The lieutenant scowled. “Nothing of importance. The need for security limits how often we can bring in qualified specialists to examine the specimens, and when we do, it never does any good. The first of them is supposed to have said, `We don’t have the tools to make the tools.’ What we have learned since is that it would be more accurate to say, ‘We don’t have the materials to make the tools to make the materials.’”

  76. #76 David N. Brown
    April 2, 2010

    A thought on the “anthropomorphic dummies” story: It would make sense as an extension of a ruse actually used at D-Day, in which dummies were parachuted in to distract from the real drop zone.

  77. #77 Scientizzle
    April 2, 2010

    A recent xkcd comic dovetails nicely with this post: http://xkcd.com/718/

  78. #78 AnthonyK
    April 2, 2010

    Happy April Fools day to all my friends at Respectful Insolence – Sid

    Hmmm. Well, at least we’re only fools one day a year..

    But seriously, I liked a quote, attributed to Phil Plait, that if UFOs are real, how come the people who look at the skies all the time – astronomers – never see them?
    If you would like a real insight into koody US research, may I recommend “The Men Who Stare at Goats” by Jon Ronson (not the film, apparently that sucks)? Truly eye-opening; and – true.

  79. #79 Dangerous Bacon
    April 2, 2010

    And, speaking of the connection with U.S. Army loons documented in “The Men Who Stare At Goats”, note that a head loon (General Albert Stubblebine, celebrated in the book as the guy who thought he could walk through walls) currently co-heads the Natural Solutions Foundation (with his psychiatrist wife), acting as a promoter of varous sorts of health quackery and conspiracy theories.

    This is evidence that Area 51 is part of a government plot to promote alternative medicine and antivax ideology, to weaken us so that our alien masters can assume control more easily.

    I love the term “mouse warrior” on the NSF website. I see some of our frequent contributors here as mouse warriors, scurrying about anxious to deposit the latest antivax drivel, whiskers twitching with alarm.

  80. #80 AnthonyK
    April 2, 2010

    the latest antivax drivel

    The latest? If only! See Sid, bensmyson etc etc…
    Yeah, it’s a constant drone of ours that anti-vaxxers, creationists, 9/11 truthers and all the other nuts parrot the same nonsense over and over again, but still..

    I just wish my alien overlords, through the mechanism of Big Pharma would just pay me all they owe me – otherwise, I swear it, I’m going to turn to the light side!

  81. #81 Vicki
    April 2, 2010

    Here’s a weird one, out of science fiction (Ken Macleod’s Cosmonaut Keep and the sequels thereto): he postulates that the highest and most powerful intelligences in the galaxy are colonies of extremophile bacteria living in the outer reaches of every solar system. The human (and saurian) people in that world refer to them as gods, because they are powerful and potentially destructive.

    The reason we haven’t detected alien civilizations by their radio emissions is that the one thing the gods want is peace and quiet. If a civilization puts out radio emissions for too long or too loudly, the gods drop a mile-wide asteroid on it.

  82. #82 Old Rockin' Dave
    April 2, 2010

    The “anthropomorphic dummies” were being used in acceleration research elsewhere in the Southwest by an Air Force doctor, Captain John Paul Stapp, when he got tired of testing on himself. They were probably conflated with Roswell in somebody’s faulty memory.
    Stapp is very much worth reading about. He did some remarkable work and is the father of our seatbelt laws. His protege, Joseph Kittinger, set the fifty-year-old records for high-altitude balloon ascent and parachute jump. And when Captain Murphy came from Wright-Patterson to install some strain gauges that didn’t work the way they were supposed to, he laid down his famous Law.

  83. #83 trrll
    April 3, 2010

    Here is an article from the NY times reporting the dummies in balloons explanation offered by the Air Force.

  84. #84 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 4, 2010

    Thank you for showing us your primary source, trrll. There’s a point I’d like to make that I think is subtle, but salient — if I can quote your first post mentioning the anthropomorphic dummies:

    I must say that the “official” explanations, in which the Roswell crash was first dismissed as a weather balloon, and the explanation was years later amended to secret military experiments with balloons containing anthropomorphic dummies (to explain the “alien bodies” reported by some witnesses), have increased, rather than decreased the credibility of the “flying saucer crash” claims.

    Your claim refers to “the Roswell crash”. I believe most people would interpret that phrase to refer specifically to the crash that occurred in June or July 1947. It is important to note that the military never offered anthropomorphic dummies as an explanation of any element of that crash.

    What they did do, and which may seem to be the same thing at first, is to offer their use of anthropomorphic dummies in experiments starting in 1950 as an explanation for elements of people’s memories of the crash. But this is not the same thing.

    It isn’t clear exactly what it is about the “dummies” explanation that makes you feel it decreases the credibility of the official explanations. The two possibilities I can think of are:
    a) You feel that the Air Force “changed their story” and thus lost credibility, or;
    b) You feel that the “dummies” explanation is itself implausible.

    Of these two, a) is misaimed because it was the story that the Air Force was refuting which changed. So I’ll assume that your objection is b); please tell me if I’m wrong. If we didn’t know so much about just how fallible human perception and memory really are, then yes, I think it would sound very implausible to suggest “these people who say they* saw alien bodies in the Roswell debris in 1947? They actually saw anthropomorphic dummies some time in 1950 or later, and both mistook them for aliens, and misremembered when they saw them.” But really, neither one sounds too implausible given what we know about the things people do convince themselves they’re seeing when they’re expecting to see it, and the way their memories change after the fact to match what they want to have seen.

    * For purposes of discussion, we’ll consider first-hand claims only, though frequently it seems like almost all the accounts are actually second-hand…

  85. #85 trrll
    April 5, 2010

    I’d say that changing their story (3 different “official” explanations that I know of, not counting the original statement to the press that it was in fact a space craft–first, just a weather balloon; second, a secret military balloon experiment; third, anthropomorphic dummies loaded into secret military balloons) does not enhance their credibility. It certainly indicates that the Air Force believes that people’s reports of bodies had sufficient credibility to require an explanation. Frankly, prior to the official explanation, I dismissed the “bodies” as subsequent embroidery of the story (the original local newspaper report of the crash, while quoting a military source identifying it as a “flying saucer,” has no mention of any bodies). I also thought that the “big-headed alien” explanation sounded more than a bit contrived.

  86. #86 Antaeus Feldspar
    April 5, 2010

    I’d say that changing their story (3 different “official” explanations that I know of, not counting the original statement to the press that it was in fact a space craft–first, just a weather balloon; second, a secret military balloon experiment; third, anthropomorphic dummies loaded into secret military balloons) does not enhance their credibility.

    Except that as previously stated, the military did not change their official explanation of the Roswell crash to include anthropomorphic dummies. They cited the anthropomorphic dummies to explain people’s stories about the crash.

    If someone says to me “Paul Offit said that we should give children 10,000 vaccines at once!” I will say “No, that’s misunderstanding what Offit said. He didn’t say that’s how many we should give; he said that fears about our current practice of giving 11 vaccines being ‘too many too soon’ were unfounded because the ‘too many’ point was far closer to 10,000 than to 11.” If someone then says to me “Paul Offit said that we should give children 10,000 vaccines at once and we know that’s false because that was in one of the twenty-one studies that got retracted when they found out he never even did the experiments and just made up all his data!” then I’m going to say more; I’m going to say “That is misunderstanding what Paul Offit said and you seem to be getting Paul Offit confused with Scott Reuben.”

    Anyone who claims that I am “changing my story” in the above example is just simply completely wrong. I am responding to two different stories. If you’re telling me that I lose credibility for “changing my story” when responding to a story that is itself changing…

    Well, such a standard makes an automatic no-win situation for anyone who is trying to refute rumors: if you keep saying the exact same thing over and over as the rumor gets embroidered with new details and new claims, you look like you have no answer to those claims; if you answer the new claims, you’re accused of “changing your story” and losing credibility.

    As for the fact that the military changed their story from “it was just a weather balloon” from “it was a balloon that was part of a classified military project”, yes, they changed that story. What else could they be expected to do? They couldn’t come out and say “Yes, this is part of our classified military project!” while it was still classified, of course; they offered a cover story until the secret project was declassified and then they told about the secret project.

    I fully acknowledge that it’s possible to speculate that aliens exist and crashed at Roswell and that that information is still classified in which case the military would have to still be lying to us. I fully acknowledge that possibility. But why restrict that to the military at Roswell? Why not acknowledge that anyone can be lying to us at any time about anything? At some point, Occam’s Razor comes in; the fact that many people have attached themselves to a hypothesis of alien visitation does not mean that that hypothesis is the natural alternative explanation if you disbelieve that what crashed at Roswell was a balloon from Project Mogul.

  87. #87 Travis
    April 24, 2010
  88. #88 George Martin
    October 3, 2010

    the reason it’s all so secret is, they don’t want you to know what they are planning to use on you.element of surprize is the best offence, two meanings of the word offence. one _ to take the initiative first.two_ to offend.

  89. #89 Hope
    October 6, 2010

    I think the government should tell the world what’s really going on at Area 51-not that I believe in aliens because until they are proven, I don’t. The fact is that genetic engineering isn’t a possibility either.. have you ever seen splice? There’s no way anyone could keep these unstable specimens a secret (not saying these genetically engineered people are ever going to be as violent as the movies), but they have to have some kind of defect hence they are not human. I wish these Air Force vets would let the world know what it is they spent their lives studying instead of writing vague books about what they want you to think happened.

  90. #90 Hemi
    July 16, 2011

    Boy, you people are as brain-dead as they come. You can’t discredit all of the people that have come forward on this. Go tell Gordon Cooper he nuts. Well, I think he’s dead now. But his videos aren’t. Go tell Buzz Aldrin he nuts. Or the hundreds of retired Military people from The Disclosure Project, some with the highest security clearance there is. Go look at NASA’s photos from the 60′s and compare them to the ones they’ll give you today, they’re totally different. You can see what was airbrushed out of the old ones. People who have worked at NASA have come forward on their forging of what’s out there. Bob Dean, recently shown photos of what’s on the Moon, they were supposed to have been destroyed by people at NASA, but survived. Just go to You Tube and look up (NASA Lost pictures, Bob Dean 2009 Exopolitics Summit Press Conference.) If the NASA / Govt. cronies want to prove this a bunch of bull, just release all of the photos and video of the Moon. And since Japan entered into a deal to have copies of everything, let them release them, too. By the way, this hasn’t been kept secret all these years, the Govt. runs a program of denial. Everybody is just nuts. Just like all the scientists that have found hi-tech nano-thermite in the debris covering all of lower Manhattan, which NIST just confirmed. Of coarse the Govt. has no idea what you’re talking about. People aren’t as dumb as you think.

  91. #91 Scottynuke
    July 16, 2011

    Ah, but how much do we need to “think” when your necromancy includes both moon hoaxerism and 9/11 trutherism?? That speaks volumes about your intelligence…

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