NatGeo ( National Geographic TV ) has put out two versions of the UFO conundrum.
First is its show “Chasing UFOs” in which it has three protagonists look into various UFO stories all over the U.S. A lot of hard-core UFO researchers hate the show, but I find it entertaining ( I hold no illusions about any scientific veracity about the series ).
Now we have NatGeo’s latest production “Secret History of UFOs” which shows the other side of the coin. The “debunking” side:
Well-known “skeptic” Robert Sheaffer’s performance in Secret History of UFOs, the National Geographic network’s latest debunking-disguised-as-documentary, begs the question: At what point does the systematic presentation of half-truths and outright falsehoods about the UFO phenomenon cross the line from incompetent scholarship to intentional disinformation?
As I noted in my last article,given the extremely biased and propagandistic treatment of the UFO subject one consistently finds on Nat Geo, it might reasonably be argued that the network has been working behind the scenes with the CIA to debunk the phenomenon.
This is not some paranoid fantasy. Indeed, the history of the agency’s covert efforts to spin or suppress UFO-related stories, utilizing its contacts in the news and entertainment media, is now well-documented. The policy resulted from the findings of the CIA’s 1953 Robertson Panel, which explicitly recommended using the mass media to debunk UFOs in the interest of national security. Journalist Terry Hansen’s excellent, scholarly book, The Missing Times: News Media Complicity in the UFO Cover-up, just republished as an e-book, details the agency’s decades-long use of the television networks, among other organizations, as tools to disinform the American people about the UFO reality.
While it would be nearly impossible to prove or disprove that producers at Nat Geo are in cahoots with the spooks—barring the intrepid efforts of some journalistic sleuth who is willing to ferret out the facts—it can at least be said that those responsible for the ongoing series of UFO “documentaries” at the network are slavishly spouting the agency’s official party-line regarding the supposed non-existence of UFOs, year after year, program after pathetic program. Their reliance on Robert Sheaffer, in particular, as a purportedly objective scholar on the UFO topic, belies either their naiveté or their premeditated participation in a disinformational ruse.
Highly relevant to this discussion is my research into Sheaffer’s affiliation with the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (CSI) which was previously named The Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP). As journalist Terry Hansen has argued in The Missing Times, the historical role of CSICOP (now CSI) strongly suggests it has been performing as an intelligence community “front organization”—pumping anti-UFO propaganda into the media without revealing its true source or motivation.
My own findings about Sheaffer’s “skeptical” group—he was a founding member of its UFO Subcommittee—relate to my 39-year investigation of UFO activity at nuclear weapons sites, as documented in declassified files and military witness testimony. Many years ago I discovered that two of CSICOP’s leading members had professional ties to the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program, something they seemed very shy about publicly discussing in any meaningful way.
Moreover, one of those individuals, James Oberg, once privately harassed a former U.S. Air Force officer, Lt. Robert M. Jacobs, after he openly discussed a still-classified, nukes-related UFO incident in various magazine articles the 1980s. As discussed in my bookUFOs and Nukes and online, Oberg—who had worked as a nuclear weapons researcher and security officer while in the Air Force in the early 1970s—chastised Jacobs, in a personal letter, for releasing “top secret UFO data” relating to the September 1964 Big Sur Incident. This was a very odd accusation indeed, coming from someone whose public, supposedly-skeptical stance is that UFOs don’t even exist.
(According to now-Dr. Jacobs, a UFO had been inadvertently filmed through a high-powered telescope/camera as it paced and then circled a dummy nuclear warhead during a missile test flight at Vandenberg AFB, California. Apparently, four beams of light were seen shooting from the domed-disc to the warhead in rapid succession, whereupon the warhead began tumbling, eventually falling into the Pacific Ocean hundreds of miles short of its target. This amazing encounter has been confirmed as a real event by a second USAF officer, retired Major Florenze J. Mansmann, who unequivocally says that two CIA agents confiscated the Top Secret film.)
After Jacobs went public with the story, another leading member of CSICOP/CSI, the late journalist Phillip Klass, engaged in what Jacobs considered to be a thinly-veiled threat by pointedly mentioning, also in a private letter, his close professional associations with two leading figures in the U.S. intelligence community, Admiral Bobby Inman and U.S. Army General Daniel Graham.
Over the years, Klass had been accused of being a government disinformation agent by various UFO proponents. In response, he had always recoiled indignantly and dismissed the charge as nonsense. Interestingly, to my knowledge, never once did Klass openly cite Inman and Graham as associates and personal character references, as he did with Jacobs, when privately pressuring the former USAF officer. Fortunately, rather than being intimidated by Klass and Oberg, Dr. Jacobs eventually released the contents of their self-incriminating letters to him.
A third leading member of Robert Sheaffer’s organization, Skeptical Inquirer magazine editor Kendrick Frazier, published two demonstrably-inaccurate articles about the Big Sur case in an apparently frantic effort by CSICOP to debunk the incident, no matter how badly the facts had to be distorted or completely misstated to achieve the ruse. My documented exposé on the group’s now-discredited, attempted sleights-of-hand may be read at my website.
Significantly, although one will have to search diligently to find information confirming this fact, Kendrick Frazier was employed for over 20 years as a Public Relations Specialist by Sandia National Laboratories—one of the key facilities involved with the U.S. government’s nuclear weapons program—during the same period his “skeptical” magazine was repeatedly pooh-poohing UFOs and ridiculing those who reported them. Frazier has even ducked mentioning his longtime job as a government-paid spin doctor in his self-written biography.
So, let’s recap here: Among CSICOP/CSI’s leading members are a former USAF officer (Oberg) who publicly rejects the reality of UFOs but privately chastised another former officer who leaked information about an Air Force/CIA cover-up of one very important case; a journalist (Klass) who publicly ridiculed those who suggested a disinformational motive for his UFO debunking, but privately acknowledged his close professional associations with top-level officials at the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Security Agency; and a magazine editor (Frazier) who continues to work for a magazine ostensibly devoted to dismissing UFOs on purely scientific grounds but who simultaneously worked as a PR mouthpiece for the U.S. nuclear weapons program for two decades, a position he has avoided mentioning in published references to himself.
In short, Robert Sheaffer’s “skeptical” organization has some very suspicious links to the U.S. government which it has attempted to downplay and even hide from public scrutiny. And this is the group of “UFO experts” that Nat Geo calls upon when seeking a supposedly knowledgeable, objective authority to interview about the nature of the phenomenon, when producing its alleged “documentaries” on the subject.
Whether by design or default, the latest debunking effort by the network is possibly the worst piece of anti-UFO propaganda ever produced by them, comparable to the crudest of the former Soviet regime’s notorious and now-laughable fact-spinning exercises during the Cold War era.
For example, to hear Secret History of UFOs tell it, the reason Americans began reporting sightings of disc-shaped “flying saucers” in the late 1940s is because they had been whipped into a near-hysterical frenzy by sensational news reports in July 1947 relating to the Roswell Incident which, according to debunkers quoted on the program, was in reality the recovery of a secret military balloon-train belonging to Project Mogul, not a crashed extraterrestrial craft, as many now believe.
Dr. David Rudiak, a leading Roswell researcher, says, “Those guys are merely parroting the theory originally adopted by an Air Force counter-intelligence team at the Pentagon in 1994 to thwart U.S. Congressman Steven Schiff’s official inquiry into what happened at Roswell.” Rudiak further notes that the project’s own records confirm that the specific test flight alluded to, Flight #4 on June 4th, had been cancelled due to cloud cover, thereby discrediting the debunkers’ and the Air Force’s claims about its alleged involvement in the now-famous Roswell object debris-recovery operation.
Rudiak explains, “The Air Force also deliberately brought back the two previous flights from the dead, #2 and #3, in order to make a case for #4 being the crash object. In reality, Mogul records unambiguously show these flights were likewise canceled due to high winds and equipment failure. All three flights were therefore written out of the project summaries, as can easily be seen in one image excerpt:
– click image(s) to enlarge –
Note that the summaries instead list Flight #5 as the first ‘successful’ Mogul flight, and it is so-listed in NASA’s records and in an official Air Force history of flight. It cannot account for Roswell, nor can any other real Mogul flight, the fates of which are all well-documented. ‘Flight #4’ is a fiction created in modern times purely to debunk Roswell. How can a nonexistent balloon flight explain anything?”
In spite of this documentation, Robert Sheaffer and the other debunkers continue to assert that misplaced public interest in the supposedly-discredited reports of a recovered flying saucer resulted in thousands of ongoing UFO sighting reports, even decades later, as gullible Americans jumped on the bandwagon. In doing so, Sheaffer and company conveniently fail to mention the U.S. military’s own secret assessment of the mysterious aerial objects, undertaken not long after the Roswell Incident, as revealed in the now-declassified “Twining Memo”, which was only released to the public via the Freedom of Information Act, decades after it was written.
In the late summer of 1947, after a three-month, nationwide sighting wave, Air Intelligence at the Pentagon urgently requested a report on the “Flying Discs”, as the military called them at the time. In response, Air Force Lt. General Nathan F. Twining, Commander of the Air Materiel Command (AMC), based at Wright Field, Dayton, Ohio, held a conference with personnel assigned to the Air Institute of Technology, the Office of the Chief of Engineering Division, various aeronautical laboratories within the Engineering Division designated T-3, and Technical Intelligence officers. For raw data, these groups used in their evaluations interrogation reports supplied by the Pentagon, containing statements by military UFO sighting witnesses.
Summarizing the input he received from his engineering and intelligence staff, Twining sent a memorandum to Brigadier General George Schulgen, Chief of the Air Intelligence Requirements Division, in which he presented AMC’s initial assessment of the unexplained aerial objects. Dated September 23, 1947 and classified Secret, the key portions of the memo are as follows:
1. At the request of AC/AS-2 there is presented below the considered opinion of this command concerning the so-called “Flying Discs”… 2. It is the opinion that:
a. The phenomenon reported is something real and not visionary or fictitious. b. There are objects probably approximating the shape of a disc, of such appreciable size as to appear to be as large as man-made aircraft. c. There is a possibility that some of the incidents may be caused by natural phenomena, such as meteors. d. The reported operating characteristics such as extreme rates of climb, maneuverability (particularly in roll), and action which must be considered evasive when sighted or contacted by friendly aircraft and radar, lend belief to the possibility that some of the objects are controlled either manually, automatically, or remotely. e. The apparent common description of the objects is as follows:
(1) Metallic or light reflecting surface. (2) Absence of trail, except in a few instances when the object apparently was operating under high performance conditions. (3) Circular or elliptical in shape, flat on bottom and domed on top. (4) Several reports of well kept formation flights varying from three to nine objects. (5) Normally no associated sound, except in three instances a substantial rumbling roar was noted. (6) Level flight speeds normally above 300 knots are estimated.
In other words, despite the debunkers’ bogus claims on Secret History of UFOs about the reasons underlying public interest in the supposedly non-existent Flying Saucers—allegedly the result of inaccurate news reports relating to Roswell, coupled with Cold War hysteria and a widespread fascination with the dawning Space Age—in reality, behind-the-scenes, government analysts and officials took the UFO sighting reports by both civilian and military observers absolutely seriously.
Over on Rich Reynold’s site ‘The UFO Iconoclast(s)‘ , Rich speaks about Robert Sheaffer’s “unkept” appearance and how it’s a sign of “unclear” thinking.
I haven’t seen the show yet, but I will certainly see how any such thinking affects his debate. This certainly will be interesting.
After all, this is a thinly veiled attempt by NatGeo to present both sides of the UFO issue and most importantly, make the most money for its sponsors.