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UFOs and "Official Stories:" Why Do We Believe?

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Who you gonna believe? Mulder and Scully? Or your government?

Twelve years ago, on June 24, 1997, the Air Force released a report on the so-called "Roswell Incident." According to the Air Force, the "alien bodies" witnesses reported seeing in 1947 around Roswell, New Mexico were actually life-sized crash test dummies.

I know I am asking for trouble by even raising this issue. But inquiring minds want to know. The frenzy surrounding Roswell and the infamous "Area 51″ began back in July 1947 when a ranch worker found shiny material littering the ground, He turned it over to local police who gave it to the military authorities at nearby Roswell Army Air Field.

This find and a series of later mysteries surrounding the airfield spawned decades of theories about flying saucers and alien autopsies. The Air Force tried to respond to these rumors and conspiracy theories once in 1994. But on this date in 1997, a new report was issued, intended to quell some of the 50th anniversary frenzy over the Roswell incidents. According to the New York Times:

The new Roswell report, titled 'Case Closed,' was written by Capt. James McAndrew, an intelligence officer assigned to the Secretary of the Air Force's Declassification and Review Team. Its 231 pages are designed to go beyond the 1994 report by revealing more about Federal work in the desert and examining what apparently inspired sightings of not only alien artifacts but of the extraterrestrials themselves.

In places it is grim. For instance, it describes the crash of a KC-97G military plane near Roswell that killed 11 fliers, leaving their bodies badly burned and reeking of fuel. The stench was so foul that identification work at the Roswell air base was moved from the small hospital to the commissary, which had a large refrigerator.

The Air Force report suggests that this crash, recalled decades later by a civilian who visited the air base and talked to workers there, prompted his account of small, black, mangled, dead aliens who smelled so bad that their autopsies were moved from the base hospital to a place better suited to the dissections.

Another incident described in the report told of the accidental crash of a balloon that caused a pilot's helmet to shatter and his head to swell. From there it was "one small step" to big-headed aliens.

Needless to say, the Air Force report 12 years ago has not quelled the 'true believers."

And that raises a more serious question. Why do people continue to accept an elaborate "conspiracy theory" or other notions over what appears to be clear evidence to the contrary? That question can be applied to a variety of subjects, from astrology to Creationism/"Intelligent Design" or AIDS as a government plot. Part of the reason lies with a complete lack of critical thinking skills and intellectual laziness. It is much easier to believe a simplistic and often appealing narrative. People are gullible. The world of advertising is built around that truism.

But there is something else: A long history of government and Presidential lies. And that is why Roswell is instructive. The Gulf of Tonkin Resolution got us deeper into Vietnam on a lie. Watergate was built around lies. Ronald Reagan lied about arms for hostages during the Iran-Contra mess. There are probably still many people who believe Iraq had something to do with 9/11 because of the carefully crafted web of deception and half-truths that linked the two without a shred of evidence. So our recent past gives us all good reason to be skeptical of what the government tells us. Curiously, that skepticism is more focused on UFOs than it is on foreign policy.

Of course, in true American fashion, somebody figured out how to make a buck out of this. Just as Salem, Mass. became America's witchcraft capital and Gettysburg, Pa. turned a grim battlefield into a massive souvenir stand, Roswell, N.M. has become America's UFO capital. The annual Roswell UFO Festival takes place on the July 4th Weekend. This year's musical guest -- Jefferson Starship, of course.

Here's a link to the town of Rowell's official site.

Read more here.

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