THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AMERICAN UFOLOGY
"THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AMERICAN UFOLOGY"
by Dr. Willy Smith


By Michael Corbin/ParaNet Administrator

DENVER, CO -- Gulf Breeze, Florida has been the scene of mysterious and unexplained UFO activity during the last couple of years. As the sightings mounted in frequency, the town became embroiled in the most complex controversy since the Billy Meier case several years ago. This situation has become extremely polarized as the battle between the skeptics and the believers rages on.

Everything centers around some of the most dramatic photos taken of what is alleged to be a UFO, which for months, continued to buzz Ed Walters and virtually, as reported, harassed him while he shot the photos.

In November, 1987, while working at his desk in his home, Ed sighted a UFO. He quickly grabbed his Polaroid camera from a closet and ran outside and snapped the first series of the the mysterious object. Ed, not sure what to do, submitted the photos to the Gulf Breeze Sentinel, a weekly town newspaper. From that point onward, Ed was visited numerous times by the UFO whereby he shot more photographs under the supervision of MUFON. To date, not only have Polaroids been taken of this object, but there is also stereo photographs and some video tape in existence detailing these encounters.

Dr. Robert Nathan, a photo specialist for the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California received these photographs from the National Enquirer for study. According to Dr. Nathan, he performed a "very cursory" examination of the photographs and found many flaws and problems with them which he states "shot the case to hell" and convinced him that the photographs were hoaxed. Dr. Bruce Maccabee, a Navy photographic specialist, also performed a very detailed analysis of the photographs and rendered an opinion that he felt that the photographs could not have been hoaxed by someone of Ed's abilities. Due to the fact that Dr. Maccabee performed such a detailed study of the photographs, gives his opinion a great deal of weight for the acceptance of their authenticity. However, according to different investigative groups on the hoax side of the issue refuse to accept any of Dr. Maccabee's findings stating that there has been a serious breakdown in the methodology of UFO investigations by Dr. Maccabee and MUFON.

ParaNet has rated the Gulf Breeze case a hoax. After performing a detailed investigation of this case, ParaNet continues to rate it as a total hoax, basing it's findings upon the results of the investigation, and more so, upon the recent findings of a private laboratory which studied some of the Gulf Breeze photographs which clearly show a support of some kind holding the UFO up to be photographed. Additionally, it was found that the video taped film of the UFO, shown on national television in the 'Unsolved Mysteries' segment, shows the strong possibility of a support holding the UFO up while filming was done from about 20 feet from the video camera. This is evidenced by the appearance of a street lamp in the school yard which is located behind Ed's house. While the camera is taping the UFO, it moves in front of the street lamp. At the precise moment that the UFO is directly over the street lamp, the light from the lamp blinks out and as soon as the UFO passes from it, the light blinks back on. This, according to Dr. Nathan, could indicate that the UFO is being supported on a pole while being held up for photographing.

As everyone knows, Dr. Maccabee is considered to be an extremely credible scientist in the field. In light of this most recent evidence, it leads one to wonder what could possibly lie behind this if indeed it is a hoax? Have all of the scientific objectives been met in this case? Has MUFON compromised it's very charter to study this phenomenon in a scientific manner by throwing all care to the wind in light of some agenda not visible at this time? No one really knows, but here are some things to ponder.

MUFON has been embroiled in the most extensive and far reaching shake up since it's history. Several of it's key members have resigned and it has been brought to ParaNet's attention that anyone visibly opposed to the Gulf Breeze case's authenticity has been either removed or censored. It has also been learned that MUFON has a large part in a book contract which has been awarded to Ed Walters detailing the Gulf Breeze case by Morrow and Company, the publishers of Whitley Streiber's books, 'Communion' and 'Transformation'. The contract is in the neighborhood of several hundred thousands of dollars. There is also a possibility of a television 'mini-series'. And the list goes on and on.

Dr. Willy Smith has been a MUFON investigator and a board member for several years. He is a degreed physicist and has operated the famous 'Unicat' project, incepted by Dr. J. Allen Hynek to catalogue UFO reports that Dr. Hynek investigated during his life as a major UFOlogist. Dr. Smith is not buying the Gulf Breeze case. Recently, MUFON removed Dr. Smith from it's organization as Dr. Smith publicly denounced the authenticity of the case and the credibility of Ed Walters.

The story that follows is an article written by Dr. Willy Smith on the state of the UFOlogical community today. It is a very controversial piece and will most certainly create a fair amount of discussion. Dr. Smith wrote in December, 1988o and it has never been released, until now. It represents Dr. Smith's own observations and opinions, and does not necessarily reflect the opinion of ParaNet or it's staff, however it is perhaps 'on target' in describing the problems that belie each of us in our quest for the truth. It is time that we start demanding the truth and get it.

The Gulf Breeze case is a good example. Have all of the scientific avenues been totally exhausted before such a conclusion was reached by MUFON? Dr. Smith tells ParaNet that Walt Andrus, founder of MUFON, absolutely refuses to release the original photographs for an independent study. ParaNet is also in possession of a letter written by Ed's attorney to Dr. Smith stating that he would be sued in court if he attempted to have the copies of the photographs that he has analyzed without the Ed's permission. Yet, when asked to provide them for analysis, this avenue is completely closed. If this case is so air tight, what have the proponents to hide from legitimate investigators? ParaNet is making a formal request to have the photographs analyzed by an independent laboratory. We will keep you posted on the outcome of this request to MUFON.

It is the hope of ParaNet to get a discussion going and perhaps a rebuttal on this piece from the persons that Dr. Smith names.

What do you think?
We want to know.



THE DECLINE AND FALL OF AMERICAN UFOLOGY


Dr. Willy Smith

PREAMBLE

The first version of this paper was prepared during December 1988 at the request of the prestigious British magazine Flying Saucer Review. Understandably, American affairs have low priority in Europe, and thus the publication of this paper has been delayed while its import is rapidly decreasing. This reason has decided me to revise the article and seek immediate publication in an American magazine.

INTRODUCTION

Only a few years back, ufology in the United States was booming. Several major national organizations grouped under their banners a large number of members who were interested in the UFO phenomenon and provided ample financial support and a ready market for specialized publications. In addition, many smaller groups were active enough in more localized geographical areas.

Two of the major organizations, NICAP and APRO, existed almost from the beginning of public interest in flying saucers. NICAP was mainly organized by Major Donald E. Keyhoe (*) and attracted many distinguished members formerly associated with the government and the military. As the years went by, the backbone of NICAP dispersed, and the organization slowly but irreversibly ceased to exist. Some files were acquired by CUFOS, where presumably they still are. However, not even Dr. Hynek, who allegedly had paid for the files from his own funds, could gain access to them during the last two years of his life, so one must consider them all but lost for future research.

The other society, APRO, was created and organized by Jim and Coral Lorenzen, and attracted some of the best investigators abroad, such as Dr. Olavo Fontes in Brazil and Horacio Gutierrez Ganteaume in Venezuela. There is no question that the prime mover behind APRO was Coral, and as her health declined, so did the organization. The library was dispersed through a secondhand book dealer, and as for the files proper, nobody seems to know what happened to them after Coral's death in 1988. Once again, valuable records have ceased to exist for all practical purposes.

The other two major organizations were MUFON and CUFOS, the former a splinter group from APRO centered around Walter Andrus, then a manager at Motorola, and the latter founded by Dr. J. Allen Hynek in 1973. While Dr. Hynek attempted to create a credible scientific organization, the MUFON emphasis was and still is at the grass-roots level, as it admits to its rank and file anyone able to pay the subscription rates.

At the beginning of the 80's, essentially only MUFON and CUFOS survived. Walter Andrus had organized his society in a very effective way, using the subscribers to the MUFON UFO JOURNAL as potential but untrained investigators and creating a network covering the whole country. On the other hand, Dr. Hynek insisted that the CUFOS investigators should be competent, and a much thinner network was deployed under the able direction of Allan Hendry.

The above is just background information, but essential for understanding what has happened to those organizations in the last year or so. Although both groups boast a Board of Directors and claim to have guidelines for what they are doing, the truth is that they are totally controlled by a few individuals who dictate policy and do as they please. This fact is kept from the membership at large, more interested in receiving the publication on time than in its contents or internal politics.

As is always the case for monolithic structures, the success or lack thereof depends basically on the personal qualities of the leaders; and when the founders grow old or die, a slow but perceptible decline of the organizations is initiated. Often enough a deceptive steady state is maintained for years because nothing occurs to shake the complacency of the leadership or to challenge it. But then, one day, a sudden event occurs, a controversial case is mishandled, and the ineffectual leadership faces a situation beyond its capabilities which threatens the very existence of the organization.

A HARD LOOK AT CUFOS

The destiny of CUFOS is controlled effectively by only two individuals: Jerry Clark, the editor of the INTERNATIONAL UFO REPORTER, and Mark Rodeghier, president (whatever that means) and scientific director of CUFOS. Oh yes, there is a Board of Directors, but they are not important enough to have their names listed on the publication's masthead. I discovered how little say they actually have when following Dr. Hynek's death I attempted, very naively, to bring to their attention the fact that CUFOS was precipitously departing from what had been the basic philosophy of its founder. This is not meant to say that all the persons on the CUFOS Board of "Directors" are bad guys, because some of them, such as John P. Timmerman, are gentlemen who find themselves incapable of influencing events, for reasons too complex to deal with here.

Jerry Clark has a dubious pedigree because of his long association with FATE Magazine, where he achieved the position of full editor before being terminated when the publication changed ownership. Perhaps the orientation of FATE will now change, but in the past it has been devoted mostly to the occult, offering a mixed bag of articles dealing with esoteric subjects such as astrology, witchcraft, and life after death. Indeed, ufology was treated here and there, sometimes by Mr. Clark himself, but the articles have been slanted toward sensationalism and not science.

The serious problem with Mr. Clark, besides the imponderable influence that his relationship with FATE undoubtedly had, is that he can be swayed too easily, and not always for the right reasons. For instance, he has been strongly influenced by his friendship with Jenny Randles, resulting in publication by the IUR of unjustified attacks against FSR which are written in vague terms and not in a constructive manner amenable to rebuttal (Ref. 1).

Even Dr. Hynek was not happy with his own choice of editor for the IUR (Ref. 2), and he told me during the last months of his life that Clark was selected "because there was nobody else!" Not a very happy choice, indeed, as Mr. Clark has been telling all who care to hear how CUFOS had a turn for the better after the departure of Dr. Hynek, having finally achieved a "truly scientific orientation". Well, I guess one cannot expect any better from weekend ufologists.

Two issues have recently dominated the ufological picture in the United States. The first is the MJ-12 documents, the second the Gulf Breeze sightings. The official position of CUFOS on the MJ-12 affair is that the documents are genuine (and they might be right) but this position seems to be based not on the available evidence, but mostly on the feelings of the editor toward Barry Greenwood et al, who have taken the opposite view. I don't have enough information about this topic to assume a posture, but it seems to me that both proponents and detractors should realize that the existence of MJ-12 and the genuineness of the documents are two separate issues.

On the other hand, I have expended a great deal of time and effort in studying the alleged Gulf Breeze sightings. The validity of the case is based on a collection of Polaroid photos, which at the moment of this writing are unconditionally accepted as genuine--I believe--by only a few persons: Walt Andrus (MUFON International Director), Lt. Col. Donald Ware et al. (local investigators), Budd Hopkins (abduction expert), Dr. Bruce Maccabee (physicist), and Dan Wright (a MUFON henchman who really doesn't count).

It is my considered opinion that overwhelming evidence exists to label this case a hoax, but CUFOS has been vacillating on publishing any of that evidence, in spite of the fact that a capable CUFOS investigator, Robert Boyd, has been involved in the case since the very beginning. Why? Because two of Jerry Clark's friends have taken the other tack: Budd Hopkins, of controversial abduction fame, by his own admission not a photographic expert, but who after only a cursory examination of the photos proclaimed them genuine, "the best ever obtained". And Dr. Bruce Maccabee, certainly a photographic expert, who suddenly seems blind to the blatant negative evidence existing in the photos and who has engaged in a massive disinformation effort (Ref. 3 and Ref. 9) pathetically attempting to validate what cannot be validated. Friendship is admirable but should not obfuscate reason, and when our friends err, it is part of the obligation of friendship to bring them back to their senses, even if painfully. Apparently, Mr. Clark has a different opinion, but historically silence has never mollified guilt; and as the Piltdown hoax has shown, the passage of time makes things worse for those who conspired to hide the truth (Ref. 10).

As for Mark Rodeghier, he has yet to obtain his Ph.D., as Dr. Hynek had hoped when he appointed him Scientific Director of CUFOS. Nonetheless, he could have become an effective leader had he developed the strong personality that such a position requires. Clearly, this is not the case, and in all matters he yields to Jerry.

This has been deplorable in the specific instance of the Gulf Breeze incidents, and Rodeghier's lack of resolve has resulted in unmitigated thrashing of CUFOS and his leadership from the pages of the MUFON UFO Journal, not only by Walter Andrus (Ref. 4) but also by Ed Walters, the dubious and supposedly anonymous Gulf Breeze photographer (Ref. 5). To top it off, lately the pages of the IUR to disclose Dr. Maccabee's adamant opposition to an independent computer analysis of the suspected photos, which would have resolved the issue once and for all.

Undoubtedly the IUR readership feels that something is missing in the publication, that the selection of the articles is not determined by a firmly established policy but by the predominant wind, and that Dr. Hynek's ideals of serious scientific orientation have been betrayed. Although the exact circulation of the IUR is not known, a secret maintained at the price of higher postage rates, the publication delays seem to indicate a decreasing readership and a not very promising future for CUFOS. For the memory of Dr. Hynek, whose philosophy I share, I sincerely hope to be proved wrong, and that one of these days Mark Rodeghier will overcome his timidity and give us all a surprise.

AND A HARDER LOOK AT MUFON

If the picture I have sketched of CUFOS doesn't look bright, the reality of MUFON is still worse.

As stated above, Walter Andrus used to be a good manager; and if he had limited himself to administrative tasks, MUFON could have fulfilled its destiny. Unfortunately, this has not been the case. The many capable individuals in MUFON, such as Ray Fowler, Walter Webb, Richard Hall and Marge Christensen don't seem to have a hand in determining policy and have progressively withdrawn from the limelight. Perhaps they feel that nothing can be done, and as one of the many dissatisfied persons has put it, "Walt owns MUFON". Instead of seeking the advice of all those consultants that Andrus claims are available to the organization, he rarely if ever consults them; and when the expertise is volunteered, he ignores it if it does not satisfy his desires.

In fact, many respected ufologists have resigned from MUFON, while others--including myself and Robert Boyd--have been "expelled" because of their refusal to endorse the fake Gulf Breeze photographs. In recent weeks the split has possibly become irreversible due mainly to the issues raised by the controversial viewpoints of John Lear, which may or may not be presented in July at the Reno MUFON Symposium.

Walter Andrus has surrounded himself with persons willing to dance to his tune, provided that they are given positions that they (and perhaps nobody else) perceive as important. Outstanding among these, we find Dan Wright, a bureaucratic employee from Michigan, whose ambition has allowed him to rise in the ranks in spite of his obvious shortcomings. As Deputy Director of Investigations, or a similar resounding title, he has undermined the seriousness of MUFON investigations by establishing absurd rules which consider that having the appropriate forms completed is more important than the investigative process itself. The worst thing about Mr. Wright is his lack of ufological knowledge and experience, and his unshakable belief that he is favored with both. Again, I have firsthand experience with this, because in my naivete I attempted to educate him about the complexities of the evaluation of UFO reports. I soon discovered that his only emphasis was on the number of reports sent to MUFON headquarters to be placed in dusty filing cabinets, out of circulation forever.

The capital sin committed by MUFON is related to the Gulf Breeze sightings. The distressing part of the Gulf Breeze saga is not whether the photos are real or a hoax but the extremes to which both the investigators and Walt Andrus have resorted to maintain the illusion of a true and extraordinary case which was properly investigated. To narrate in detail the many incidents would take too much space (see Ref. 7) so I will limit myself to the most outrageous breaches of accepted investigative procedures and established scientific discourse.

1) Censorship.

Walt Andrus, as well as the local investigators (Don Ware et al.) have systematically suppressed all negative evidence, or simply not followed leads that could affect the credibility of the witness. None of the many scientific papers that I submitted to the MUFON Journal have been published or even acknowledged. Only due to the extreme pressure exerted by Richard Hall did a single negative article of less than 5 pages (Ref. 8) appear in the pages of the MUFON Journal. The rebuttal by the chief proponent, Dr. Bruce Maccabee (Ref. 9), took 18 pages of text plus photos and tables, skillfully dodging the fundamental issues, and containing so many errors of fact that they make a suitable response difficult, if not impossible, within the editorial constraints.

2) Lack of confidentiality.

The local investigators (mainly Lt. Col. Ware and Col. Reid) did not hesitate to release confidential analyses of other investigators (like myself), to the witnesses, thus allowing Mr. Walters to correct his errors and change his story in an attempt to nullify the negative evidence. An interesting example of this is that the "craft" shown in the initial photos is grossly asymmetric, but was replaced by a symmetric one at a later date. Incredibly, this change has been attributed to the alleged extra-terrestrials, rather than an improvement of Ed's techniques! Yet, those same investigators created an issue when I disclosed the name of Mr. Walters (a.k.a. Mr. Hanson) at a lecture, ignoring the fact that his TWO names are common knowledge in Gulf Breeze.

3) Failure to disclose.

Last, but the most important irregularity: only Dr. Maccabee has had unrestricted and free access to the original Polaroid photographs. It has been well documented that all requests for "independent examination", including the use of computer image enhancement, have been simply ignored. Since the basic tenet of scientific investigation is duplication by independent parties, if we are to invoke science the ORIGINAL photographs have to be made available. This has not been the case, and probably will never be. Having detected many shortcomings using photographs many generations removed from the Polaroid originals, I seriously wonder what is in them that MUFON and the proponents do not want others to see. Perhaps the lack of agreement between Mr. Walters' story and the manufacturer numbers on the reverse? Or the fact that apparently some of those numbers have been tampered with?

WHAT IS IN THE FUTURE?

Very little, if we don't do something about it. It seems that ufology in the United States is changing, and not for the better. The ideals that inspired the early pioneers in the field seem to have disappeared, and the present day publications only reflect the personal ambitions of those who write them. I find this depressing, and also intolerable, because in science the overwhelming driving force has to be the search for truth. Unfortunately, the leadership of CUFOS seems to have forgotten what the goal is, while the MUFON leaders cannot remember what they never knew.

I often wonder why MUFON continues the pretense of "investigating" cases, just to file them away. When the UNICAT Project agreed to joint efforts with MUFON, it was with the clear understanding that MUFON would make the "hidden" reports available to us in exchange for free access to the UNICAT database. Neither of those things ever happened: I was unable to obtain a single investigation report from Walt Andrus, and no inquiries were ever made to the database. The reasons are now clear to me: Walt Andrus (that is, MUFON) has no interest in solving the problem posed by the UFO phenomenon. In fact, such an occurrence would mark the end of MUFON as a viable organization: why would anyone buy the MUFON UFO Journal or the IUR if the mystery has been solved?

As for CUFOS, the weekend ufologists are set in their ways not to share information with others, in spite of the fact that this is contrary to the philosophy established by Dr. Hynek, for whom divulging and exchanging knowledge was of fundamental importance. Their files, or whatever still remains of them, are not accessible to anyone, much less to me because of my close relationship with Dr. Hynek.

MUFON is at the breaking point, and perhaps this is the moment to offer some creative thoughts. Ufology in the United States is stagnant because of the lack of leadership in the extant organizations. They live in the past, controlled by a few persons who, bound by canons of loyalty to old friends, are unable to recognize when those friends-- also set in their ways--are violating the rigid principles of scientific methodology. Those false leaders have reached the point where the decisive basis for their editorial policies is not the search for truth, but publishing what sells regardless of its lack of scientific value.

What is needed is a new organization, formed by a younger generation more committed to scientific research than to making a profit at the expense of truth. I sincerely hope that a few such individuals exist out there and that they will be able to form a new and more honest organization. Needless to say, the UNICAT Project is prepared to provide support and assistance.

Dr. Willy Smith
UNICAT Project
May 1989

POST SCRIPTUM

As I am not naive anymore, I am quite aware that what is published in the MUFON UFO Journal and the IUR pages is heavily dependent on politics. Thus, I foresee that this article will bring a vitriolic attack from those named in it. Very likely their frustration will be vented in the only way they seem to know well: attempting a destructive critique of the UNICAT Project. So be it. My associates and I are open to constructive criticism, which is always welcome. Not welcome are those critics whose main objection to the UNICAT Project is their fear that we may be approaching basic results, and whose arguments are invariably based on lack of accurate information about what we do.

REFERENCES

    1.  Fuller, Paul; in IUR Vol. 13, No. 3, May/June 1988, p.4. 
     
    2.  Hynek, J. Allen; LETTER TO THE EDITOR FROM THE EDITOR-IN-CHIEF, IUR 
        Vol. 10, No. 4, July/August 1985. 
     
    3.  Maccabee,   Bruce;  A  HISTORY OF THE GULF BREEZE,  FLA,   SIGHTING 
        EVENTS,  in the 1988 MUFON Symposium Proceedings, Lincoln, NE, June 
        24-26, 1988. (Note:   material covered by the author's presentation 
        at the symposium was essentially different.) 
     
    4.  Andrus,  Walter et al.; "The Gulf Breeze, FL.,  Photographic Case", 
        Part IV, in MUFON Journal No. 243, July, 1988, p.9. 

    5.  Walters,  Ed; "Ed Responds", in MUFON Journal No. 244, Sept.  1988, 
        p.3. 
     
    6.  Walters, Ed; letter to the Editor, in IUR Vol. 13, No.5, Sept./Oct. 
        1988, p.23. 
     
    7.  Smith, Willy; "The Gulf Breeze Saga",  paper presented on September 
        17, 1988 at the National UFO Conference, Cleveland, Ohio (Available 
        from R.D.  Boyd, P.O. Box 66404, Mobile, AL, USA,  $6.00  including 
        postage). 

    8.  Hall, R. and Smith, W.; "Balancing the Scale:  Unanswered Questions 
        about Gulf Breeze", in MUFON Journal No. 248, Dec. 1988, p.3. 
     
    9.  Maccabee,  Bruce; "The Scale Remains Unbalanced",  in MUFON Journal 
        No. 252, Special Gulf Breeze Issue, April 1989, pp. 3-24. 
     
    10. Gould,  Stephen Jay; HEN'S TEETH AND HORSE'S TOES, W.W.  Norton and 
        Co., 1983, p.201.


Prepared by Michael Corbin
ParaNet Administrator


Back to Gulf Breeze Docs.