Monday, October 21, 2013

Roswell Crash uncovered: Project Mogul

The myth

Almost everybody has already heard about the Roswell crash. A rather prominent TV series was even created, elaborating on the myth. According to the myth, a spacecraft of extra-terrestrial origin crashed on Earth on July 7th 1947, near Roswell, New Mexico. Allegedly, this spacecraft transported at least one extra-terrestrial life form with a humanoid body.

After the body and debris were taken away by the US Army, various beliefs estimate that these have been studied in order to help the USA gain advanced military capabilities through the reverse-engineering of alien technologies.

Reasons to doubt the myth and accounts of it

After the Roswell incident happened in 1947, the early days of the Cold War, the story went silent for 30 years. It only resurfaced in the media following the publication of the book "The Roswell Incident" by Charles Berlitz and William Moore in 1980. The whole story and the book therefore resulted from interviews that took place 30 years after the facts.

As a general subject, UFOs have generated a wide interest from the public for decades but no substantial evidence has ever been uncovered supporting the reality of visits to Earth by extra-terrestrial lifeforms. Conversely, the vast majority (~95%) of UFO reports have been explained by pareidolia and erroneous identifications of celestial objects, the Moon and Venus being the most frequently misidentified objects. While it sounds shocking that people could mistake the Moon for a spacecraft, it seems that particular weather conditions can affect the size, color or shape of it. I intend to cover this subject in more detail in another article about the Project Blue Book.

In 1995, a film entitled "alien autopsy" surfaced on television about an alleged autopsy of the alien victim of the crash. As often with hoaxes, the video appeared to have a very poor image quality. It was released by Ray Santili. Since Santili's job was already a job as a producer, this should have raised eyebrows as to the film's legitimacy. In 2006, Santili finally admitted that the film was a staged reconstruction. He however insisted that this was the re-creation of a now lost documentary of military origin that he had watched in 1992 and that some of the frames of his staged movie are taken from the original document. It seems impossible to prove or disprove Santili's claims but there are reason to disbelieve them, like the profit motive of keeping the myth alive and the oddity of losing material of which existence could be so important that it could modify globally the perception that mankind has of its place in the universe and the scientific prospects of interstellar travel and biology's interests into evolutionary convergence in the shape, structure and function of alien bodies compared with human bodies.

Hoaxed movie: however hoaxed, some scenes can be too graphic for sensible audience

The reality

The real story behind the Roswell crash is a top secret project now declassified called Project Mogul. It consisted in an array of high-altitude balloons equipped with microphones probing pressure waves in order to detect Russian nuclear explosions tests and assess USSR's progress in the development of a nuclear weapons program.

The crash of one of Project Mogul's balloons was determined to be what was later called the Roswell crash.


While it is always interesting to see a myth being exposed and the truth being unraveled, there is a more interesting aspect to this story. This aspect is the whole construction of a myth from a rather mundane event... even though the army's protection of the crash site may have been a source of suspicion that largely contributed to the birth of this myth.

On a smaller scale, this story can be paralleled by personal biases and the construction of superstitions. When confronted with unusual events, we may construct inaccurate intellectual representations of the causes of these events and come to believe in the association of these events with supernatural beliefs. Imagine a child kicking a tree and subsequently being hit by the fall of a fruit on his head! It would be possible for the child to represent the tree as a conscious being voluntarily dropping a fruit on his head as a retaliation for the kick it received. How many of such erroneous intellectual constructions have entered our society's beliefs or tales?

When in doubt about something, when we don't know for sure, we should not jump to conclusions. We can build ideas to try and understand what we don't know, and preferably we should build ideas that can be repeatedly tested and confirmed. But if we don't know, we must admit we don't know.

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