07 mai 2006

The Story Behind the 'Alien Autopsy' Hoax

By Joe Nickell

Britain's Manchester Evening News (April 6, 2006) termed it a hoax that "fooled the world." Well, not exactly: Skeptical Inquirer magazine was on to the 1995 "Alien Autopsy" film from the outset. But now the reputed creator of the fake extraterrestrial corpse used for the "autopsy" has publicly confessed.

The film—purporting to depict the post mortem of an extraterrestrial who died in a UFO crash at Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947—was part of a "documentary" that aired on the Fox television network. Skeptics and many UFOlogists quickly branded the affair a hoax.

Among numerous observations, they noted that the film bore a bogus, non-military codemark, that the injuries sustained by the extraterrestrial were inconsistent with an air crash, and that the person performing the autopsy held the scissors like a tailor rather than a pathologist (who is trained to place his middle or ring finger in the bottom of the scissors hole and use his forefinger to steady the blades).

Hollywood special effects expert Trey Stokes (whose film credits include "The Blob," "Batman Returns," and "Tales from the Crypt") said that the alien corpse behaved like a dummy, seeming lightweight, "rubbery," and therefore moving unnaturally when handled. (See Joe Nickell, "'Alien Autopsy' Hoax," Skeptical Inquirer, Nov./Dec. 1995, 17–19.)

Belatedly, a Manchester sculptor and special-effects creator, John Humphreys, now claims the Roswell alien was his handiwork, destroyed after the film was made. He made the revelation just as a new movie, "Alien Autopsy," was being released, a film for which he recreated the original creature. As he told the BBC, "Funnily enough, I used exactly the same process as before. You start with the stills from the film, blow them up as large as you can. Then you make an aluminum armature, which you cover in clay, and then add all the detail." The clay model was used to produce a mold that yielded a latex cast.

Humphreys also admitted that in the original autopsy film he had himself played the role of the pathologist, whose identity was concealed by a contamination suit.

The alien-autopsy hoax represented the culmination of several years' worth of rumors, myths, and outright deceptions purporting to prove that saucer wreckage and the remains of its humanoid occupants were stored at a secret facility—e.g., a (nonexistent) "Hangar 18" at Wright Patterson Air Force Base—and that the small corpses were autopsied at that or another site.

Among the hoaxes were the following:

• A 1949 science fiction movie, "The Flying Saucer," purported to contain scenes of a captured spacecraft; an actor actually posed as an FBI agent and swore the claim was true.

• In 1950, writer Frank Scully reported in his book "Behind the Flying Saucers" that the U.S. government possessed no fewer than three Venusian spaceships, together with their humanoid corpses. Scully had been fed the tale by two confidence men who had hoped to sell a petroleum-locating device allegedly based on alien technology.

• In 1974, Robert Spencer Carr began to promote one of the crashes from the Scully book and to claim firsthand knowledge of where the pickled aliens were stored. But as the late claimant's son admitted, Carr was a spinner of yarns who made up the entire story.

• In 1987, the author of a book on Roswell released the notorious "MJ-12 documents" which seemed to prove the crash-retrieval story and a high-level government coverup. Unfortunately document experts readily exposed the papers as inept forgeries.

• In 1990, Gerald Anderson claimed that he and family members had been rock hunting in the New Mexico desert in 1947 when they came upon a crashed saucer with injured aliens among the still-burning wreckage. Anderson released a diary his uncle had purportedly kept that recorded the event. Alas, forensic tests showed that the ink used to write the entries had not been manufactured until 1974.

The most elaborate Roswell hoax, however, and the one that probably reached the largest audience was the "Alien Autopsy" film. It will be remembered as a classic of the genre. The truth about "the Roswell incident"—that the crash device was merely a secret U.S. spy balloon, part of Project Mogul, which attempted to monitor emissions from anticipated Soviet nuclear tests—continues to be obscured by hoaxers, conspiracy cranks, and hustlers.

Joe Nickell is the Senior Research Fellow with the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal. He investigation the "Alien Autopsy" case for Skeptical Inquirer magazine in 1995.

Après les rapport du MoD anglais, voici maintenant le farceur de "l'autopsie de Roswell" qui confesse son canular, faisant quelques milliers de croyants déçus dans le monde. Le reste criera à la conspiration et au faux, bien sûr.

UFO study finds no sign of aliens

Mark Simpson
BBC News

A confidential Ministry of Defence report on Unidentified Flying Objects has concluded that there is no proof of alien life forms.
In spite of the secrecy surrounding the UFO study, it seems citizens of planet Earth have little to worry about.
The report, which was completed in 2000 and stamped "Secret: UK Eyes Only", has been made public for the first time.
Only a small number of copies were produced and the identity of the man who wrote it has been protected.
His findings were only made public thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, after a request by Sheffield Hallam University academic Dr David Clarke.
The four-year study - entitled Unidentified Aerial Phenomena in the UK - tackles the long-running question by UFO-spotters: "Is anyone out there?"
The answer, it seems, is "no".
The 400-page report puts it like this: "No evidence exists to suggest that the phenomena seen are hostile or under any type of control, other than that of natural physical forces."
It adds: "There is no evidence that 'solid' objects exist which could cause a collision hazard."
So if there are no such things as little green men in spaceships or flying saucers, why have so many people reported seeing them?
Well, here is the science bit.
"Evidence suggests that meteors and their well-known effects and, possibly some other less-known effects are responsible for some unidentified aerial phenomena," concludes the report.
"Considerable evidence exists to support the thesis that the events are almost certainly attributable to physical, electrical and magnetic phenomena in the atmosphere, mesosphere and ionosphere.
"They appear to originate due to more than one set of weather and electrically-charged conditions and are observed so infrequently as to make them unique to the majority of observers."

Rational explanation

People who claim to have had a "close encounter" are often difficult to persuade that they did not really see what they thought they saw. The report offers a possible medical explanation.
"The close proximity of plasma related fields can adversely affect a vehicle or person," states the report.
"Local fields of this type have been medically proven to cause responses in the temporal lobes of the human brain. These result in the observer sustaining (and later describing and retaining) his or her own vivid, but mainly incorrect, description of what is experienced."
There are, of course, other causes of UFOs - aeroplanes with particularly bright lights, stray odd-shaped balloons and strange flocks of birds, to name but a few.
Yet, it will be difficult to convince everyone that there is a rational explanation for all mysterious movements in the sky.
Some UFO-spotters believe governments will always cover up the truth about UFOs, because they are afraid of admitting that there is something beyond their control.
It is not clear how much time and effort the MoD has spent looking at the skies in recent years, but it appears there are no plans for an in-depth UFO report like the one written in 2000.
A MoD spokesperson said: "Both this study and the original "Flying Saucer Working Party" [already in public domain in the national Archives] concluded that there is insufficient evidence to indicate the presence of any genuine unidentified aerial phenomena.
"It is unlikely that we would carry out any future studies unless such evidence were to emerge."

Malgré plus d'un demi-siècle d'observations -- ignorons les divagations sur des ET préhistoriques --, aucun témoignage d'OVNI n'a jamais été validé comme provenant d'une intelligence extra-terrestre. Plus ces croyances sont infirmées, plus leurs adeptes se tournent vers le conspirationnisme pour expliquer que le gouvernement "nous cache quelque chose de pire encore" et que malgré l'absence totale de preuve, ils ont toujours raison.