Tuesday, April 06, 2010

A Dispassionate Look at Roswell

A Dispassionate Look at Roswell
By Dr. Kevin Randle
A Different Perspective

Dr. Kevin Randle     I had posted an obituary of Charles Moore because he had a connection to the UFO field and the paranormal. I meant it only as a way to note his passing and not to be a commentary on his beliefs about the Roswell UFO crash or to generate a long discussion about it (which to this point has generated the most comments to any post). I thought that should come later.

Well, now is later.

Let me say that I am often astonished by the way skeptics and proponents can ignore evidence and argue right passed one another. Want an example or two?

The skeptics will quote from the July 9, 1947, article in the Roswell Daily Record in which Mack Brazel said he picked up a bundle of debris that was very flimsy. According to the story, which does not quote Brazel exactly, "When the debris was gathered up the tinfoil paper, tape, and sticks made a bundle about three feet long and 7 or 8 inches thick, while the rubber made a bundle about 18 or 20 inches long and about 8 inches think. In all, he estimated, the entire lot would have weighed maybe five pounds."

Following the lead of the late Phil Klass, the skeptics will often suggest this is pretty flimsy stuff to be part of an alien spacecraft.

The proponents of the extraterrestrial explanation will quote from the July 9, 1947, article in the Roswell Daily Record, pointing out that Mack Brazel said that he had previously found two weather observation balloons on the ranch but that what he found this time did not in any way resemble either of these.

The article ends with a direct quote. Brazel said, "I am sure what I found was not any weather observation balloon... But if I find anything else besides a bomb they are going to have a hard time getting me to say anything about it."

What we find in that one article is information that supports both sides of the argument. It was flimsy and probably a balloon, but the witness saying that he knew what the balloons looked like and this wasn’t one of them.

How do we reconcile the two points of view. The answer is obvious to me, but I’ll allow you to draw your own conclusions about this and move on.

Let’s take a look at the report Charles Moore wrote about Mogul Flight No. 4. He said, using the winds aloft data I supplied to him, Dr. Albert Crary’s diary that covered the events in New Mexico, and his memories, that he believed Flight No. 4 headed off to the northeast and he remembered it near Arabela, New Mexico, when they lost track of it. His calculations placed it within 17 miles of the Brazel (Foster) ranch, which to him proved that what had been discovered by Brazel and what fooled Major Jesse Marcel, was one of those balloon arrays.

David Rudiak has suggested, in rather strong language, that Moore’s calculations were in error and that the math might have been manipulated in such a way as to provide the outcome that Moore desired. Rudiak, along with Brad Sparks, worked the numbers and came to a different conclusion. They said that the projected Mogul flight didn’t come close to the Brazel ranch (though I must note that the 17 miles that Moore suggested doesn’t seem all that close).

The one factor that isn’t mentioned often is that the winds aloft data used to figure this out was gathered rather sporadically in 1947 and then only to 20,000 feet. Any deduction about the winds above that level, and the Mogul flights were designed to fly at much higher levels, would be speculative.

And another factor that is only rarely mentioned is that winds aloft data were not collected at Alamogordo, home to the New Mexico end of the Project Mogul. Winds aloft were deduced using data from Tucson, El Paso, Albuquerque and Roswell. While it might be possible to be fairly accurate using that data, it is also possible to be wildly in error, especially when complete data do not exist.

The one part of these arguments that continue to amaze me is that one side roundly criticizes the memories of Major Jesse Marcel, Sr. because his memories, as he related the tale to researchers, were decades old. These same people accept the memories of Charles Moore, whose memories were even older when he began to comment on the Roswell case, and were certainly tainted by that time with all the information that had been published and broadcast. This was quite clear in my discussions with him in Socorro.

Moore said that he remembered the balloon array disappearing near Arabela and that is accepted as accurate. He told me that he had been fascinated with the exotic place names... Arabela, Carazozo, Cap Rock, Tularosa, so he remembered these things. But remembering a balloon flight near Arabela is not the same as evidence that it did disappear somewhere around there, especially when there was a tracked flight that was part of the record that did make its way to Arabela.

What all this tells me is that there is evidence for both sides in the single article published by the Roswell Daily Record, but neither is willing to listen to what the other has to say. Everyone seems to be oblivious to the elements in the article that don’t fit into his or her point of view. Brazel’s description is of something flimsy, suggesting a balloon, yet he says that it was not a weather balloon. The story seems to suggest that everything was retrieved, yet they mention Marcel bringing back more of it.

Then we have Moore using records to extrapolate wind direction and speed above the levels for which data exist, and some accept it as the final evidence. They reject other information that simply falls outside their world view when some have raised legitimate questions...

And, I mustn’t forget that proponents reject Moore’s work that suggests the balloon array drifted toward the ranch. Instead they attack his character, which isn’t fair... and yes, I know that Phil Klass was famous for attaching the character of those with whom he disagreed, which, I believe proves my point here.

What we end up with are people unwilling to look at the evidence... regardless of that evidence. They select that portion that fits into their views of the case and ignore the other. They scream that they have the truth, but rarely have looked at the larger picture...

And in this case that picture happens to be all the contradictions in the July 9 article. How is it that both sides can cite the same source and not understand that there is something fundamentally wrong with that? How can one article support everyone while answering none of the questions?

Or how can one side review the various documents and not understand that they simply don’t hold the answers? How can two groups of people use the same set of data and come to such wildly different conclusions?... Okay, I know the answer but this is a rhetorical question.

Nothing positive will ever be accomplished until those on both sides realize that each has some evidence for their points of view. Nothing positive will be learned until both sides realize that the evidence is contradictory and there is an overall reason for that. We won’t know what happened until we look beyond our own near-sighted beliefs and expand our vision to the big picture.

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