Co-Director Cleveland Ufology Project
Chief Field Investigator – Thomas Wertman
One of my favorite portions of a presentation is a question and answer session with the audience. Experience has taught me that you can almost never have too much time for questions and answers nor can you predict what questions the audience will ask. Questions from the audience in Westlake ranged from do I know what’s going on in Dulce to am I familiar with the story of the “Mothman”. But one question in particular motivated me to write this article. “Do I believe the government is still providing disinformation on UFO sightings”.
My immediate response was yes as evidenced by information in the program I just conducted. But looking much deeper into the question, is the process of providing disinformation the same as say when the Roswell crash occurred in 1947. At the time of the Roswell incident there were two major news wire services, Associated Press (AP) and United Press (UP). Contributing members of these organization which included newspapers, radio, and television stations around the United States could post their stories for reprinting. Think about it. What better means of providing disinformation then intercepting the story before it reaches the mass-market by either deleting it or altering the original story?
Besides potentially providing disinformation through the wire services government sponsored programs such as the Robertson Panel of 1953 appear to have set the tone of things to come with the Durant Report. In the report the panel suggested the government begin a “debunking” effort in order to reduce “public gullibility” and demystify UFO reports. In short, it was recommended that the mass media be used for debunking. Who did they have in mind? Influential media giants like Walt Disney Corporation1. Now I have to worry about Mickey Mouse providing UFO disinformation. What is the world coming to? While I’m personally unsure how much overall effect groups such the Robertson Panel had on disinformation, it appears that was the thinking of the time.
This thinking continued in the late 1960’s with the Condon Report. Great cases such as the Portage County UFO chase of 1966 were hand delivered to the Condon committee by NICAP representatives, but completely overlooked. Dr. Condon himself openly made skeptical or debunking statements to the public and showed little interest in the proceedings 2. The Condon Report signaled the end of final publically known government UFO investigation organization Project Blue Book. Blue Book was the end of three government projects, which included Projects Sign and Grudge, also had issues during its existence through understaffing and directors opinions.
Fast forward to today. What would be the best media method to debunk the existence of UFO’s? In my opinion the internet. It fits the profile and uses the news organizations such as AP, UP, CNN, MSNBC, and Fox. The internet also has numerous other resources such as YouTube, blogs, and an outlet for UFO related websites too numerous to mention. Just as easy as I sit back and create this article I could sit back and provide disinformation through unlimited resources at my fingertips.
That leads me to one of my pet peeves. As an investigator I feel that I have to look at all incidents with an optimistic point of view. I also feel that if an event can be identified, tell people. How many websites simply repost articles from other websites without review? There is no original research other than changing the title, the site is just simply reposting of a story which the majority of the time has no outcome. But then again why post outcomes. If you post findings of Chinese lanterns people may quit clicking on your website. If they don’t click on your site you don’t get paid for advertising. Silly me, what do I know of running a website. I thought purpose of a website should be to inform and educate readers not just attract as many people I can for advertising dollars.
As I’m sitting here at my computer I think of the stories I could create and how little work it would take to reach mass media. In looking back at the original question maybe the better question would have been “Does the government have to work as hard today to create disinformation or does the general public do a better job themselves”?