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Secret FBI UFO document not so secret
April 18, 2011 10:38 AM   Subscribe

As part of making documents available following Freedom of Information Act requests, the FBI has set up The Vault, including documents on unexplained phenomenon. One document in particular, the Guy Hottel memo, had some proclaiming "these are the real life X-Files." Except it's not - the document is real, but the report was based on a hoax that is known by many UFO debunkers.
posted by filthy light thief (12 comments total) 13 users marked this as a favorite

 
I hope no one minds that I'm sneaking in this video of a dead alien found in Russia...
posted by yeoz at 10:54 AM on April 18, 2011


I WANT TO BELIEVE
posted by mazola at 10:58 AM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


Beyond the hoax-y stuff (which is still super cool), there are some really interesting files in there.
posted by HumanComplex at 11:09 AM on April 18, 2011


"The Vault includes several new tools and resources for your convenience:

- Searching for Key Words"

Tries: "Samantha Mulder"
posted by marienbad at 11:13 AM on April 18, 2011


the report was based on a hoax

That's just what They want you to believe!
posted by kmz at 11:14 AM on April 18, 2011


Beyond the hoax-y stuff (which is still super cool), there are some really interesting files in there.

I don't know. Interesting, maybe; but illuminating, unfortunately not.

Any FBI files circa 1950s can't really do much more than muddy the waters if you're interested in documents of historical fact, given the well-documented Stasi-like activities the FBI undertook to undermine populist protest movements during the Red Scare, culminating in the COINTELPRO program, which targeted everyone from MLK, Jr. to Albert Einstein for character assassination.

I mean, some of this stuff might make for interesting reading as Spy Fiction, but it's so utterly impossible to determine the integrity or veracity of any FBI information created during this entire period that I wouldn't take even a recorded "fact" as basic as someone's street address without a near-poisonously large grain of salt.

(I know some of the Zinn content lined in the comment predates COINTELPRO, but that specific operation only began as a clandestine version of what had been more open tactics prior to certain key court rulings that constrained the FBI's nastier tricks to thwart any and all protest movements in the US.)
COINTELPRO tactics included discrediting targets through psychological warfare, planting false reports in the media, smearing through forged letters, harassment, wrongful imprisonment, extralegal violence and assassination.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:39 AM on April 18, 2011


...given the well-documented Stasi-like activities the FBI undertook to undermine populist protest movements during the Red Scare, culminating in the COINTELPRO program, which targeted everyone from MLK, Jr. to Albert Einstein for character assassination.

Sounds interesting.

I'm certainly not citing this stuff in any papers.
posted by HumanComplex at 11:50 AM on April 18, 2011


Sure, like I said, it's interesting in context, but not illuminating and also kind of toxic. It's just extremely frustrating that so much of the information in these kinds of releases is so hopelessly tainted by the demonstrated lack of credibility of the agencies we depend upon to maintain the integrity of our society. It almost makes all such info releases more harmful (if you're interested in establishing historical fact) than helpful, whether the subject matter personally interests you or not.
posted by saulgoodman at 11:58 AM on April 18, 2011


This is a perfect example of the tainted nature of the ufo research field. Between extremely gullible researchers, other researchers willing to pretty much commit fraud in order to advance their cause, reporters only concerned with good stories, and lying "witnesses", the entire subject area is a morass of disinformation and endlessly repeated claims. At this point the enthusiastic efforts of ufo researchers have muddled things- when all of the best known ufo cases are either hoaxes or misidentification combined with gullibility, then it's easy to simply toss off unexplained cases as tainted evidence.

So bad is the situation that the few serious researchers have started believing there is or was a conspiracy to make people believe in ufos. I wouldn't go that far- basic human reliance on magical thinking and the willingness to bend the truth in the pursuit of a cause is enough.
posted by happyroach at 1:03 PM on April 18, 2011


tainted nature of the ufo research field

Not sure if I fully understand your comment, but you are aware that there's no such thing as as UFO*, right?

* My definition meaning a spaceship from another planet like flying around Earth and stuff.
posted by gagglezoomer at 1:12 PM on April 18, 2011


Not sure if I fully understand your comment, but you are aware that there's no such thing as as UFO, right?

That's because once we identify it as a flying object, it's less "unidentified" and more "indeterminate"? (As in we've identified that it was a flying object, but we don't know what the hell it is.)
posted by filthy light thief at 2:12 PM on April 18, 2011


One of the problems with the field of inquiry is that nearly all researchers DO assume that "UFO = spaceship", and procede accordingly. Whether or not there's anything worthwhile to investigate, there's too much fraud and self-delusion to make it worth looking at as anything other than a psychological and sociological phenomenon.
posted by happyroach at 3:25 PM on April 18, 2011 [1 favorite]


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