Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe

Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe


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Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe by Karl T. Pflock

For over fifty years an incident near Roswell, New Mexico, has sparked the imaginations of UFO enthusiasts. Did the military recover a crashed "flying saucer" there, along with several extraterrestrial bodies? Has the government gone to great lengths to hide the evidence? Over time these speculations have reached the status of unquestionable truths in the minds of many ufologists.

In this definitive study of the Roswell incident, longtime UFO researcher Karl T. Pflock-who is convinced that some UFO reports are real alien sightings-concludes, after an exhaustive investigation, that no alien craft or bodies were ever found at Roswell. Pflock admits at the outset that he too once strongly believed there might be something to the Roswell alien stories, and he describes how he then came to discover the whole truth. Using formerly classified records he proves that the U.S. government has absolutely no physical evidence of aliens, shows how critical weather data completely refute key claims of Roswell believers, and explains why the case now rises and falls on the testimony of just one witness, who cleverly manipulated leading investigators and continues to do so today.

Pflock's intensive research and access to once-classified documents-including facsimilies of important formerly classified documents, 28 witness affidavits, and the entire Pratt-Marcel interview transcript-make this book must reading even for UFO buffs-believers and skeptics alike- who feel they know everything about Roswell.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781573928946
Publisher: Prometheus Books
Publication date: 06/28/2001
Pages: 345
Product dimensions: 6.28(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.21(d)

About the Author

James W. Moseley (Key West, FL) is the Permanent Chairman (since 1971) of the National UFO Conference, the creator and editor (since 1954) of the newsletter Saucer Smear, and the author of UFO Crash Secrets at Wright Patterson Air Force Base.
Karl T. Pflock (Placitas, NM), a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense and intelligence officer for the CIA, is the author of the highly acclaimed Roswell: Inconvenient Facts and the Will to Believe.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One


I am a "pro-UFOlogist."

    This is what my friendly ufological antagonist—colleague Philip J. Klass calls those of us who are convinced by the data that there is something more to UFOs than mistakes, hoaxes, delusions, weather balloons, and tub-thumping by hucksters to keep the book, television, and lecture-circuit pelf flowing.

    I am also an "anti-Roswellian."

    These two facts confound both pro- and "anti-UFOlogists." How is it possible someone who takes UFOs seriously, even thinks some of them were vehicles from another planet, can also be convinced the event that leading ufologists and thousands of UFO buffs have considered and continue to consider "the most important case in UFO history" is bunk? This is a question I hope to answer to everyone's satisfaction in this book.

    I began my inquiry into Roswell an agnostic, with no ax to grind, no vested interest in one theory or another, no allegiance to anything but a commitment to uncover and make public the truth about this remarkable case. I began with no conclusions about what was found in the remote reaches of south-central New Mexico in July 1947, nor about official actions taken with respect to it. I began only with the strong suspicion that whatever was discovered was not the remains of a mere weather balloon and its radar target—the official"explanation"—and that military authorities who acted on the discovery apparently felt constrained to cover up the true nature of what was found.

    I was wrong—about myself, that is. My odyssey through the tangled Roswell incident maze revealed to me I was not as objective as I believed myself to be. All too often, my personal hopes and preconceptions blinkered my thinking, and it was only after some rude awakenings and subsequent and sometimes painful reconsideration that I realized this. Thus this book is not only about the Roswell case itself, but also my own inner journey of discovery, a trek I believe has made me a better researcher—and, yes, a better ufologist.

    That said, there is no doubt what fell to earth and was recovered by the U.S. Army Air Forces was not just a weather balloon and associated equipment. So, too, there is no doubt the military concocted the weather balloon yarn to squelch press and public interest in the matter and took other actions to keep the truth about it under wraps.

    There are several highly credible witnesses who have given remarkable and mutually corroborative accounts of what was found, where it came from, and what was done about it—and what was not found and how it came to be a part of the Roswell story. There is substantial documentary and other evidence that supports what these witnesses have recounted. There is still more that tends to support or in important ways is not inconsistent with their stories.

    This body of testimony and evidence establishes beyond a reasonable doubt that alien voyagers were not shipwrecked here over a half century ago.

    There are also other witnesses—and "witnesses"—whose stories, along with seemingly supporting documentary and other evidence, have fueled the furor over Roswell and captured the public imagination as has no other UFO case before or since. This more titillating side of the story has dominated the debate and persuaded thousands that a flying saucer crashed, killing its crew, with the lot being swept up and spirited away into secrecy by the United States government. This remains the prevailing ufological and popular view, despite the fact that the weight of evidence is overwhelmingly on the other side of the scales.


A good deal of what has been accepted as fact about this case—both pro and con, though mostly the former—is unacknowledged speculation; or comes to us from less than credible witnesses; or is the result of a troubling mixture of faulty analysis, conclusion jumping, and failure to address "inconvenient" facts and contradictions because of an overwhelming will to believe. In some instances, all or several of these factors are involved. The melancholy truth is that much of what has been advanced as fact is little more—and all too often, nothing more—than speculation, armchair theorizing, unacknowledged taking of journalistic license, and uncritical presentation of purportedly factual testimony and evidence.

    I do not ask the reader to accept the above assertions on faith. In the pages that follow, my findings and supporting sources and documentation are set forth for all to judge. I ask only that judgment be suspended until everything I offer has been considered with care and objectivity.


Much of the difficulty of sorting out the truth about Roswell is a consequence of what I think of as Vallée's Law. In Confrontations, veteran ufologist and computer scientist Jacques Valle observes that the excitement and sometimes circuslike atmosphere surrounding highly publicized UFO cases almost invariably interferes with getting at the truth about what happened. He writes, "Here we must assume that some of the data is misleading. The cases that receive a high level of media publicity are especially suspect." To this I would add that, even when the truth is ferreted out, the hype frequently makes it all but impossible to make it known and accepted. The legend become reality is all but unchallengeable.

    Roswell is such a case, in spades. Moreover, the investigator's job is made still more difficult by the need to penetrate the mists of time and fallible memory. More than fifty-three years have rolled by since the original events unfolded, and there was an almost thirty-one-year hiatus before UFO researcher Stanton T. Friedman interviewed former air force intelligence officer Jesse Marcel and urology realized Roswell might be something other than just another hoax or mistake—or weather balloon.

    Further, the Roswell "mystery" now sustains a virtual mini-industry, paralleling in almost every respect that spawned by the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, with a colorful and voluble cast of True Believers and True Unbelievers and, of late, the New Witness of the Month Parade. After a slow start, the town of Roswell has joined in, raking in tourists and their money by the thousands and millions with annual saucer crash-and-burn festivals and year-round promotion keying on a UFO Capital of the World theme.

    The principal surviving witnesses find themselves having—or wanting—to be "on" almost constantly. Other individuals have gained seats on the Roswell bandwagon with tales of their alleged involvement in or knowledge of the incident and/or its aftermath, while still others have embellished their genuine roles in a sometimes unconscious attempt to keep up with the "more interesting" accounts of the Johnny- and Janey-come-latelies. In the ranks of urology, the atmosphere of the case remains highly charged, with all the elements, positive and negative, of a competitive treasure hunt.

    With all this implies, it is no wonder a Roswell mythos has taken firm root and bitter rivalries have flared among researchers, reminiscent of the nineteenth-century "dinosaur wars" waged by pioneer paleontologists Edward Drinker Cope and Othniel Marsh. Like that famous fossil feud, the Roswell treasure hunt has inspired a tremendous and often uncritical gathering of material and a rush to often equally uncritical interpretations of that material, pro and con. As a result, Roswell has become a curious ufological contradiction. It has given the field what almost certainly is the largest body of data ever collected on a single UFO case, while at the same time saddling it with the ufological equivalent of the brontosaurus.

    Roswell and related matters, along with the UFO abductions obsession, have taken center stage in ufology and the public perception of the field and its subject matter. Far too many of the field's very limited resources have been poured into investigation—and exploitation—of the case, to the detriment of study of others that offer real potential for advancing our knowledge and understanding of the phenomena labeled UFO. In Roswell in Perspective, my 1994 interim report on my research and findings, I wrote, "It may be no exaggeration to say, as Roswell goes, so goes ufology." And so it has gone.


At its outset in mid-1992, my investigation was an entirely self-funded effort. Nine months and a research trip to New Mexico later, the Fund for UFO Research (FUFOR) approved a substantial grant to support my work, including another field investigation visit to New Mexico, where I have resided since December 1993. On my second trip, I spent two and a half weeks interviewing and reinterviewing about two dozen witnesses and sources and conducting archival and on-site research, including a visit to the location at which rancher William W. "Mack" Brazel made his at first surprising discovery.

    After relocating to the Land of Enchantment, I made many additional trips to Lincoln and Chaves counties and conducted interviews with additional witnesses and knowledgeable sources, plus follow-up interviews with others. I visited the ranch house where Mack Brazel, Jesse Marcel, and U.S. Army Counter Intelligence Corps Capt. Sheridan Cavitt are said to have spent the night before investigating Brazel's find, and have trekked to two of the several locations identified as the "true" site where a crashed flying saucer and the bodies of its crew are alleged to have been found.

    I also have spent uncounted hours digging into the files of and consulting with researchers at the Center for UFO Studies, the National Archives, the Library of Congress, the University of New Mexico's Institute of Meteoritics, the U.S. Naval Observatory, the Smithsonian Institution, the Center for Air Force History, the National Personnel Records Center, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, the International UFO Museum and Research Center at Roswell, the Roswell Public Library, and so on.

    Even greater time has been devoted to in-person and telephone interviews with witnesses and sources; viewing and reviewing the unedited videotape "depositions" taken under the auspices of the Fund for UFO Research; listening to audiotaped interviews conducted and kindly provided to me by others; and study and analysis of and follow-up research based upon affidavits executed by more than thirty witnesses, other original source material, and the books, published papers, and other materials of my fellow Roswell investigators and the pertinent work of other researchers.

    My Washington and intelligence community experience and associations were helpful on a number of fronts. I sought to learn what former high-level officials, whom it is reasonable to assume well could have been "in the know," knew and remembered. I also explored certain aspects of the case with members and key staff of the U.S. Congress. I tracked down, invited, and gained assistance from retired and other former agents of the Counter Intelligence Corps and its air force successor, the Office of Special Investigations, who had been involved in or had knowledge of Roswell and related matters.

    I also have compared notes, shared information, and debated theories, facts, and issues with fellow ufologists across the spectrum of belief about the case and UFOs in general. I am grateful to all of them for their insights and generous sharing of time and the fruits of their work. Of course, I alone am responsible for what is set down here.


My colleague Jerome Clark's judgment that Roswell is the most important case in UFO history may well be right on the mark, but not in the sense he meant. What Clark had in mind was what it would mean for mankind if the wreckage of an alien craft and the bodies of its crew had been recovered on New Mexico's high desert in 1947.

    Less earthshaking to say the least, but very important to those of us concerned to restore a measure of balance and perspective to ufology, is how the field deals with the far more mundane but nonetheless fascinating reality of Roswell. So far, it has not done well. Ufology has gotten well out on the Roswell limb, a branch overburdened with questionable claims and conclusions, and faulty analysis. It is high time ufologists set aside their will to believe (and disbelieve) and faced up to the facts—including and especially the inconvenient ones—consistently, truthfully, and objectively, and that fantasy, exaggeration, and fraud are rooted out and exposed, not only with respect to Roswell but across the board.

    I hope that by recounting here what I have discovered in more than eight years of investigating Roswell and, through this work, what I have learned about ufology and my own thinking and approach to UFO research, I may contribute some small measure to a new and productive direction in ufology. Skeptics and "pro-UFOlogists" who are sincere and critically thoughtful in their pursuit of the facts and the truths they embody share a good deal of common ground. If we come to recognize this and deal with each other as colleagues, who knows what might come of it?

Excerpted from ROSWELL by KARL T. PFLOCK. Copyright © 2001 by Karl T. Pflock. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

the night torn mad with footsteps



Copyright © 2001 Linda Lee Bukowski. All rights reserved.

Table of Contents

Foreword Dr. Jerry Pournelle11
1. "The Most Important Case in UFO History"17
2. The "Conventional Wisdom"22
3. Roswell As Some Would Have Us Know and Love It41
4. The Revisionist Vision: Less than Meets the Eye51
5. Tales of Kaufmann67
6. What We Really Know and What It Tells Us85
7. The Rest of the Truth about the Press Announcement95
8. Recovery Operations99
9. What We Are Told Went Where105
10. Rickett, LaPaz, and the CIC111
11. Disposing of the Bodies118
12. Glenn Dennis127
13. Not So Mundane143
14. The Terror and Other Exaggerations168
15. The Formerly Classified Record184
and Other "Minor" Matters
16.Bandwagon, Gravy Train, and the Will to Believe200
17. The Congressional Inquiry:212
Insights from an "insider"
Epilogue. "Our Revels Now Are Ended...."222
A. Jesse A.Marcel Sr, December 8, 1979, and Walter
Haut, July 11, 1990225
B Excerpts from Project 93 (New York University
Level Balloon Project) Technical Report Number I
C FBI Teletype Message, July 8, 1947, Concerning the
Roswell "Disc"239
D Author's Sketches and Notes from May 17, 1993,
Interview with Frank J. Kaufmann241
E United Press Association Broadcast Wire
Transmissions, July 8, 1947244
F 509th Bomb Group Headquarters Morning Report, July 9,
G New York University Flight 4 Ground Track, June 4,
H. Roswell Witness Affidavits253
I The Formerly Classified Record—Real and Bogus,
October 1947-November 1948295

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