On July 8th, 1947 photographer James Bond Johnson took several photographs of what was then called the remains of a "flying disc" found northwest of Roswell, New Mexico. This is the only photographic record of the crashed disc that Jesse Marcel recovered at the Foster Ranch. While almost all pro-crash UFOlogists declare that the debris in these photographs was not the debris found northwest of Roswell, they also point toward one key item in the photographs as evidence that something truly extraordinary was found. In one image General Ramey is holding a piece of paper with printed text. This paper has been called the "smoking gun" of the Roswell incident because the blurred image of the text, as interpreted by some researchers, describes "victims" and some sort of wreck being found. Can this be true? Certain groups are positive about what they have found, while others are somewhat skeptical. This article will try to address some important issues about the Ramey "document" that might indicate present interpretations are not as accurate as claimed.
Multiple readers = multiple interpretations
There are many interpretations of the document that have circulated over the years. Many have been bounced about for some time and can be found at the following link (P.56-57):
One can see that many of the researchers have different views on how the text reads but there are some areas of agreement. It is important to note that all these various readings did not come out in one mass reading through independent analysis but over a period of years with each publicly releasing their version on the web before the others had completed (or even started) their interpretations. Additionally, there is often a free flow of communication about the readings between the investigators. So these areas of agreement could be influenced by each other's interpretations or they could have been arrived at independently.
Despite this problem, the research into the Ramey document received a big shot in the arm when David Rudiak's recent interpretation appeared on the SCI-FI channel's Roswell program as "smoking gun" evidence. Rudiak has made it clear that he considers his interpretation the most accurate of all. Rather than wade through the various readings, this article will focus on this particular one. One can find Rudiak's interpretation of the text at http://roswellproof.homestead.com/fullpage.html for reference.
In addition to reading the document, Mr. Rudiak has publicly criticized the one government organization that did try to read it. In 1994, the United States Air Force (USAF) attempted to read the document in their Roswell investigation. Their conclusions, as one might expect, have been highly criticized by some Roswell researchers.
UFOlogy's favorite whipping boy
David Rudiak states on his website:
The Air Force claimed in the 1994/95 Roswell Report that a government photoanalysis lab which they refused to identify ("a national level organization") was unable to "visualize" any "details" in the Ramey memo from first generation prints and negative copies even after digitizing (computer scanning) supposedly because of "insufficient quality." As you look at higher resolution scans readily available to civilians from similar prints, how much "truth" do you suspect was in the Air Force statement? (Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line)
According the USAF report,
In an attempt to read this text to determine if it could shed any further light on locating documents relating to the matter, the photo was sent to a national-level organization for digitizing and subsequent photo interpretation and analysis. This organization was also asked to scrutinize the digitized photos for any indication of the flowered tape (or "hieroglyphics," depending on the point of view) that were reputed to be visible to some of the person who observed the wreckage prior to its getting to Fort Worth. This organization reported on July 20, 1994, that even after digitizing, the photos were of insufficient quality to visualize either of the detail sought for analysis. (HQ USAF 29-30).
It has been stated that they were not able to obtain the original negatives for scanning but instead were given copy negatives. If this were the case, they were starting from a bad position to begin with because a copy of a negative would cause a loss in resolution. Considering the minute details that would have to be scrutinized, it is not hard to understand, why this organization concluded these negatives were of insufficient quality. However, what about Rudiak's high-resolution scans? Do others see what he states is there?
According to Kevin Randle, Russ Estes attempted this a few years back:
Russ Estes using a 16-by-20 print made by the University of Texas Library, applied his expertise to the examination. Estes, a professional documentarian, was able to use a professional quality $50,000 video camera with a $7,500 macro lens to capture the image. Then, using his huge, $80,000 computer and a variety of technically complex and professional quality software programs, he examined the message every way he could think of, including a with jeweler's loupe, magnifying glass, and a microscope. He even scanned it at 9,000 dpi so that it created a file that was 1.7 gigabits in size and could be manipulated and enlarged even further. He said that he could seen(sic) nothing that he would be willing to swear to in court. He said there was simply nothing there to see.
Pressed on the point, because others were seing(sic) all sorts of words and phrases, Estees did say that he could make a "best guess" about the images on the message. Looking at an 8-by-10 photograph blowup of just the message area, using the same techniques and equipment, he could see, with a limited amount of confidence, "Fort Work(sic), Tex." On the line below that where one group saw "disk" and another saw "ELSE," Estes believed he saw "ELA*." He did say that it made no sense to him, just that that was what the ambiguous smudges that everyone was attempting to make into words looked like to him.(Randle 298-9)
Similar results were obtained when Stanton Friedman obtained scans of the original negative:
UFO researcher Stan Friedman contacted Rob Belyea, the owner of ProLab, asking him to examine high-resolution scans made of the negative. Friedman had actually paid someone in Fort Worth to hand-carry the original negatives from the Special Collections to a computer lab to have these scans made. The results were then sent to Friedman, who supplied them to Belyea...While Friedman stood on the sidelines watching and not commenting on the research, Belyea did say specifically that he could not see "Magdalena" in the text as the Johnson team had suggested. Belyea did say, "They're pulling off all sorts of [readings], but they're making some of it up." (Randle 302)
According to Randle, Dr Richard Haines, who conducted another analysis sometime around or after the AF report, seems to have had similar results. If these reports are accurate, why isn't Rudiak claiming that Estes, Belyea, and Haines are "untruthful" as well? Is it possible that these individuals were just as frustrated as this organization in trying to evaluate the text?
The organization that performed the analysis for the USAF probably realized it would seem hopeless after closely examining the photographs. Remember that they were to see if they could read the text to see what documents to look for in their investigation. If the text was that vague for Estes, Belyea, and Haines, it seems likely that this statement was correct. While Rudiak proudly proclaims that he can read the text easily, one must realize that he has been trying to read the "document" for years. He has used multiple images as well as scans from the original negative and has publicly produced at least two different interpretations during this time period. This organization was operating under some time restriction as well as using a second hand copy of the image. Maybe if the organization had dedicated thousands of man-hours on such an endeavor they would have presented a different result but it seems their priorities were elsewhere. Considering the varying readings of the "document" over the past few years, they were essentially correct and nobody has been able to identify specifically what type of document is visible in Ramey's hand or agree what is printed upon it. They haven't been able to even agree that Ramey is the author!
Is it really a message from Ramey?
Mr. Rudiak and a few others proclaim that Ramey was the author of the text. Some have even read the name "Ramey" at the bottom of the page. However, there are problems with this interpretation because of the way transmitted messages would be written and handled.
The transmission of military messages is not just typing up a paragraph or two and sending it right away to the addressee. There are many items that need to be defined as well as the text. The military often uses forms to ensure all of the "X"s and "O"s are filled out correctly. In Field Manuals 24-5 and 24-17, we are shown the standard form one might use to prepare such a message. The document in use in 1950 was NME form 173 and is probably very similar to the types of forms in use in 1947 (The fine print at the bottom stated it replaced form WD AGO form 0990 dtd 1 APR 46).
(Department of the Army FM 24-5 53)
The form would be completed and then taken to the person authorizing the message for transmission. One can see a similar form in the Eisenhower archives with the transmission of a message concerning the D-Day operations:
Note how the first page is used as well as all of the corrections entered in the document on this form. A copy of the message form or some rough draft might have been retained in the command headquarters for intial screening but it seems unlikely that any such copy would be the final transmitted document. Once approved, the form would be sent to the distribution center, which would then pass it off to the communications center as shown below:
(Department of the Army FM 24-17 93)
There are two duplicates mentioned in this flow path that make it out of the crypto center, which could be the document in Ramey's hand. The first duplicate is a copy of the original message form that is returned to the Distribution center (according to the FM, a copy was sometimes not made) after the registration number was added. The second copy of concern is from the operating section to the clearance clerk. According to FM 24-17, this clerk, "Receives the indorsed encrypted message from the operating section together with page printer copy, if any, showing the means used and operators indorsements" (Department of the Army FM 24-17 91,94). The second copy is for file records and would not normally be taken away from the communication center because, "Commcenters are not responsible for providing copies of outgoing messages to other sections within a headquarters; the originator or the distribution center assumes that responsibility" (Department of the Army FM 24-17 21-22). The distribution center would only have a copy of the message form and would not be in possession of the message printout. Even if Ramey had possession of the printed message, the document in his hand does not have any sort of statements/stamps on it showing the means used or operators indorsements. In either case, we have to seriously question if it is really a message from Ramey simply because it does not match the copies one might expect for outgoing traffic.
Additionally, some of the statements in the document make no sense if Ramey is transmitting the document.. For instance, according to Rudiak one part of a line reads, "...the wreck you forwarded..."(Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line). If Ramey wrote the text this implies that the receiver of the message shipped a wreck, which would be Roswell Army Air Field (RAAF). However, Rudiak also states this paper is addressed to the Headquarters of the Army Air Force (HQAAF). How could Washington DC forward any wreck that was located in New Mexico? Perhaps, Ramey was referring to the orders from HQAAF that RAAF forward the wreck. That line of reasoning does not agree with the story of General Dubose. According to him, General McMullen of Strategic Air Command (SAC) called him (ONLY after hearing about it in the press) and it was Dubose that directed the material be flown to Fort Worth. Why didn't Ramey reference the telephone call in the message and why didn't he address it to the next line in the chain of command, SAC? The text points more towards a message to RAAF than a message to Washington (HQAAF or SAC).
Even more interesting is what Kevin Randle/James Houran stated in an article they wrote for the International UFO Reporter (IUR):
There is now a final complication for all this. Johnson, according to some, has suggested that the message Ramey is holding was handed to Ramey by Johnson. That changes the source of the document. Did Johnson bring it into the office with him? Johnson said that he had received, from his boss at the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, an Associated Press wire story about the debris coming from Roswell. This would mean that the memo being held could relate to the Roswell, that it would be a document from a civilian source, but that it would contain nothing to establish the reality of the Roswell UFO crash.
Of course, it must be noted that Johnson has altered this new statement slightly. It must also be noted that Johnson's retelling of the events in General Ramey's office has undergone considerable evolution from first interviews conducted in 1989... (Houran and Randle 13)
Randle suggests that Johnson is not reliable at all and he may be correct. However, if this statement about handing the note to Ramey is accurate, then it becomes extremely unlikely that this was some form of message to or from Ramey. Rudiak has stated that Johnson only suggested this was possible but seemed to later deny this in an interview with Dennis Balthaser. Over the years, Johnson's story has see-sawed around and one can never know exactly what is fact, what if fiction, and what is a false memory. Since Johnson is the photographer and has stated he helped arrange the materials, it can not be completely ruled out that he may have had something to do with handing the document to Ramey.
Barry Greenwood has recently written an article that suggests the text at the bottom of the message is not a name at all but a time/date line. Additionally, Greenwood brings up an additional argument against this being written by Ramey:
If the document is a teletype, how is it that Ramey received it from himself? In a legitimate military teletype, Ramey's name or other designation would have appeared in the address line preceding the body of the message, not after the time/date line appears. In fact of hundreds of messages checked, not one was signed off as an individual, like "Ramey." (Greenwood)
However, Brad Sparks possesses the opinion that it was military message transmitted by Ft. Worth from Ramey. A copy of the message was then handed to him by an aide after coming in from outside thus explaining why he had a message addressed by himself:.
In any case, Ramey was apparently confronted with the teletype by an aide as he came in from the bright sunlight in the hot Texas summer outdoors, as he still held his sunglasses in the same hand that was holding the teletype message (my thanks to Mary Castner for noticing the sunglasses). (Sparks 13)
Update October 2009: Mary Castner has e-mailed me and now disagrees with the idea these were sunglasses. She also wants to point out that the idea originally came from Mark Chesney and not her.
Sparks has also presented evidence in the form of messages from the 1947 timeframe showing that individual's names or initials did appear at the end of messages when senior officers were communicating between each other. This might explain the interpretation of "Ramey" at the end of the message. However, it is odd that Ramey was not handed the original form for proof-reading prior to transmission and there remains the problem of him openly waving a highly classified message (assuming this was the case) around during a presentation to the media.
While those trying to read the wording feel that the name at the bottom indicates Ramey (others have suggested somebody called "Temple") is the author of the document, the evidence is less than compelling. The context of the interpreted writing sometimes does not agree with Ramey being the originator and Ramey possessing the document does not mean it had been sent/was ever sent as a message.
What kind of document is it?
After examining many of the documents available on line and elsewhere, I have yet to come across anything that resembles the document Rudiak has suggested in his interpretation. There are many examples of military messages and telegrams on the Internet at the Blackvault, Project 1947 and Truman/Eisenhower library websites. For instance one can find messages circa 1947-50 at the following locations:
- Top Secret messages concerning the crash of a plane during the Berlin airlift. Note the DTG (Date-Time-Group)/From/To format, method of punctuation used and that the word "following" is abbreviated "fllwg". Precedence appears to be "urgent". Interestingly there is a DTG at the bottom after the main text, which is indented to the right. Additionally, there is a line for "Eyes only" indicating that it was meant for a select group of individuals: http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/berlin_airlift/large/documents/index.php?documentdate=1948-00-00&documentid=5-2&studycollectionid=Berlin&pagenumber=1http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/berlin_airlift/large/documents/index.php?documentdate=1948-00-00&documentid=5-4&studycollectionid=Berlin&pagenumber=1http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/berlin_airlift/large/documents/index.php?documentdate=1948-00-00&documentid=5-3&studycollectionid=&pagenumber=1
- Top Secret message from JCS to MacArthur. DTG is at the bottom of the last page. Again, the text is not in all capital letters:http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/koreanwar/documents/index.php?documentdate=1950-06-29&documentid=ki-3-19&pagenumber=1
- Secret message from project Grudge files. Again note the punctuation, the precedence classification of "priority", the DTG, format and notes at the bottom: http://www.theblackvault.com/documents/wpafb1949.pdf
- Message from the project Sign files. Note the DTG (at the bottom and indented to the right), punctuation identifiers and the original "restricted" classification in the message (which is striken out in this copy): http://www.fold3.com/image/6387091/
- Message from Roswell to Fort Worth concerning routine operations. Note the From-To format as well as using the DTG. http://www.project1947.com/roswell/afodi.htm
- This is a "Urgent" cable sent to President Truman concerning preparations to drop the bomb on Japan (note the DTG at the bottom right of the page): http://www.trumanlibrary.org/whistlestop/study_collections/bomb/large/documents/index.php?documentdate=1945-07-30&documentid=5&studycollectionid=abomb&pagenumber=1
These documents give a good feel for how radio messages/telegrams should appear. Comparing these documents and a few others with Rudiak's published interpretation, I could not identify the type of document in Ramey's hand. The following are what I considered:
- Military message - Wrong originator/addressee format. No DTG. No numbering system for message. Use of last name indented to the right at the end is not necessary and does not conform to standard message format. Brad Sparks has since presented messages from 1947 that show personal messages between senior officers did sometimes contain the name of the sending officer at the end. However, the examples he presented also seemed to conform to the standard military message format as far as originator/addressee. Therefore, something is still wrong with the interpretation of the message as presented by Rudiak.
- Military cable/telegram - Wrong originator/addressee format. No DTG. No numbering system for message
- FBI Teletype - Date, time, and precedence in wrong location.
- Dept of state Airgram - Date is in the incorrect location. There is no Reference line. The form outline is missing.
- US government interoffice memo form - Logo is not correct. Date is in wrong location.
- Hand carried message - All CAPS indicates it was transmitted and probably not hand carried. If it were from Blanchard to Ramey, Jesse Marcel Sr might have carried it from Roswell aboard the B-29 but this is speculation.
- Written memo/letter to be sent via normal channels - Format is incorrect. One word last name is not per standard format for formal memos/letters. All CAPs never used in any memos/letters I can find.
- Press release/Message from news wire - The text appears similar to those provided by Frank Joyce to Karl Pflock. However, the text as interpreted by Rudiak and others does not appear to match anything that was discussed in the papers. Barry Greenwood disagrees and has pointed out several passages in news accounts of the time that appear to match some of the sections that can clearly be seen. Meanwhile, Brad Sparks emphatically argues that very few (if any) of the passages (as presently interpreted) are present in the media stories.
Rudiak's interpretation does not seem to match the formats one might find in any type of document from the time period. Does this mean that Ramey chose to write in some unique format or does it mean that Rudiak's "reading" of the text is not accurate? Future investigations should try and locate the type of document this is with specific emphasis on the apparent logo visible at the top. However, the proclamation of this being some form of military message seems premature.
Vandenberg's Urgent message?
When I cited examples of different messages, I made sure I highlighted some key points to consider when one looks at the Ramey document as presented by David Rudiak and others. None of the above messages matches the format presented by the investigators of the "document". Specifically, Rudiak's interpretation seems incorrect. He shows the message with the following heading format:
This format seems more suitable for a civilian interoffice memo than an actual military message. Most interesting is the lack of the DTG, which is a series of numbers that start with the date of the month followed by the military time and zone (for an example this message given Rudiak's values should read 081713S). The only thing close to the rest of the format is the FBI Teletype message discussing the Roswell incident (http://www.project1947.com/roswell/fbi_tele.gif). Even so, this is still not the same.
The address to Vandenberg seems awkward as well and not the standard way the message might be addressed to Vandenberg. According to Rudiak, FWAAF, took three whole lines to write the destination of the message and interrupted this addressee by the date. It should have only taken one or, at the most, two lines. Looking at the RAAF message, we see that the proper address to Washington DC as "CG Army Air Force Washington DC". To draw attention to Vandenberg, Ramey would have added the line "EYES ONLY" before the text as in the case of the Barclay message or possibly added Vandenberg and the "EYES ONLY" comment at the end of the "To" line as in the case of a message from General Eisenhower to General Marshall (http://www.eisenhower.utexas.edu/research/online_documents/d_day/1944_06_06_DDE_to_Marshall.pdf). There may have been a method to draw attention to Vandenberg as well that stated "ATTENTION GEN. VANDENBERG". In any case, it seems very unlikely that the message would be addressed in such a manner.
Based on the messages above and many of the field manuals I have been able to look at from the time period, one can get the feel for a basic format in all military messages as having:
Precedence and DTG (This is sometimes referred to as the Preamble)
Additional addressees (info)
Accounting symbol (message number)
While this is not the exact format found in all of the messages I listed, it does closely match them. This is how a radio message header should appear.
One other point that has to be made about the message heading as interpreted by Rudiak. According to him, the message was addressed to General Vandenberg. While Vandenberg was very high in the chain of command, he was not the commander in chief of the Army Air Force. That honor was held by General Carl Spaatz. What this means is that Ramey was not talking to the top ranking officer in the Army Air Force or even addressing him. Instead he was talking to Spaatz's chief of staff in some form of private communication that was not meant for the head of the Army Air Force. Ramey also seems to have "jumped" the chain of command. He was to report to Strategic Air Command (SAC), which was commanded by General George Kenney. The reason this would have to be done is that it was General McMullen (Kenney's chief of staff) had called his chief of staff (Dubose) inquiring about what was going on and with orders to ship the debris from Roswell. The proper address would have been to the CG of Army Air Force with attention to General Spaatz. Additional addressees probably would have included SAC and Vandenberg. There seems to be no good reason to make Vandenberg the specific target of the message.
In summary, it seems that not only is the header not properly formatted but is possibly addressed to the wrong person. In either case, there seems to be serious trouble with Rudiak's claim that he "... is "absolutely certain" that the message was addressed to Gen. Hoyt S. Vandenberg at the Pentagon..." (Filer).
Is this a classified document?
David Rudiak, as well as most of the others reading the document, has declared that this message is classified TOP SECRET. If this were really the message about a crashed spaceship, then this would probably be the case. Yet we really don't have anything jump out of the page that declares that it is TOP SECRET.
Probably the biggest evidence against this being TOP SECRET is that it was allowed to be inadvertently photographed by a civilian. Is it possible that a General could handle such a document casually in the middle of a press conference? According to Karl Pflock this happened before with politicians and a public photograph. However, while politicians and civilians are usually somewhat loose with classified documents (notice how many secrets are "leaked" from various government offices), the military is usually far more rigorous in its control. In the fourteenth edition of the Navy's Bluejacket Manual (1950 printing), it is interesting to note how a junior enlisted person is required to treat "classified material":
On one occasion or another you might come across some classified matter-a letter, booklet, or a device-which has been left unguarded, dropped on the floor, or thoughtlessly placed in a wastebasket. Don't try to read or examine the article. Don't try to decide what to do with it. Remember that someone is going to be severely punished for such carelessness. And you don't want to be caught holding or examining something marked Secret or Confidential which you should not possess. (US Naval Institute 225)
This demonstrates how serious the military considers the control of classified information. Note the description of punishment regarding the carelessness of the person who left the material adrift. As a persons rank increases, the sensitivity to such handling of this material becomes greater. This is noted in The officer's guide (9th edition) of 1942:
It is well known that the penalties for deliberately giving away or selling national defense secrets are heavy. It is not well known that there are certain penalties attached to gross negligence in the care and handling of classified documents and letters. (United States Military Service 398)
As noted, it is a serious problem if one is careless with classified information. Somehow we are supposed to believe that General Ramey felt that there was no need to pay attention to such precautions when he handled this "document". The Army clearly discusses how classified materials are to be handled by officers in their Signal Communications Field Manual:
Every officer is responsible for the physical security of classified equipment and material. To safeguard such material, be sure it is handled properly by using personnel, stored correctly when not in use, and destroyed completely when necessary. Use vaults, armed guards, or any other physical means necessary to prevent unauthorized persons from gaining access to classified information, material, or equipment. (Dept of the Army FM 24-5 89-90)
Notice how important it is to keep it hidden from unauthorized people up to the point of arming the guards for such material. For a General, it would have been paramount that he follows the rules in dealing with classified material. Not only is Ramey guilty of carelessly handing such a document but we also have Colonel Dubose, his chief of staff, standing next to him not even making an effort to correct the General's mistake. He should have pointed out to Ramey the problem with the classified material prior to the photographs being taken IF it were Top Secret.
In December 1953, Air Force Regulation (AFR) 205-1 made it clear how classified material was to be handled by ALL personnel. Although this is a 1953 document, this regulation was based upon practices in use for many years. Many of the paragraphs found in the document are very similar to the regulations/practices in use when entered the Navy over twenty years later so it seems that the practices in this document are similar to those in use in 1947.
So how does the Ramey document relate to the practices of AFR 205-1? If this document in Ramey's hand was a transmission of Top Secret material, one has to wonder about this line from AFR 205-1 (para 31a), "In no circumstances will TOP SECRET messages be transmitted in the clear by electrical means" (Dept of AF 30). However, there was a caveat in para 31b:
In combat or combat-related operations, simulated or actual, upon authorization by the commander or his authorized representative, messages of any classification except TOP SECRET may be transmitted in the clear over any nonapproved wire circuit or any radio channel, when time cannot be spared for encryption and the information to be transmitted cannot be acted upon by the enemy in time to influence the situation in question. Such messages will be marked "SEND IN CLEAR" over the signature of the commander or his authorized representative. (Dept of AF 30)
Note the circumstances for such an event. Perhaps the crash of an alien spaceship might be considered adequate reason to transmit in the clear but there seems to be no authorization signature on the document for such a breech of protocol. If the message was not transmitted "in the clear", it should have been coded prior to transmission and decoded after transmission. The decoded message would probably have not appeared on a document with the logo on its top. Considering this point, it seems unlikely that this is a classified document. However, there are other reasons to be skeptical of this being classified TOP SECRET.
Rudiak claims that it is TOP SECRET because he has found markings at the bottom of the page that look like some of the letters in TOP SECRET. If you look at the 600dpi image he presents on his website, those sections he describes as indicating the "TOP SECRET" mark are very faint and highly subjective in nature. This is not something you would expect from a prominent mark even if it were not viewed from the best angle. After all, one can see much of the logo at the top of the page clearly in the image. Why can't one see the prominent marks from a TOP SECRET stamp? In my naval experience, classification stamps are usually very large bold and heavy type that was in the top center and bottom center of the document on both FRONT and BACK of the page, even if one side of the page was BLANK (Often such a page was labeled in the center "intentionally left blank"). The only time this was not the case was when a message had just been received/transmitted at the teletype printer. In this situation the classification was found in the header of the message (something Rudiak's message does not have). Prior to routing and leaving the secure area of the printer, stamps were applied to the documents or the documents were placed in folders that were appropriately stamped. These prominent marks were for ease of identification in case the document fell in the garbage can or was carelessly left adrift by somebody who was not paying attention to the rules. According to AFR 205-1 para 27.b.(2), the following rules would apply to marking this document:
The assigned classification on unbound documents such as letters, memoranda, reports, messages, and other similar documents, the pages of which are not permanently and securely fastened together, will be conspicuously marked or stamped at the top and bottom of each page, in such manner that the marking will be clearly visible when the pages are clipped or stapled together. (Dept of AF 22-3)
While this document does not clearly state that the blank back would be stamped as well as the front, it does imply it. After all, a blank back is still considered a "page" and therefore would have to be stamped at the top and the bottom. In the case of the Ramey document, these markings do not appear to be there or visible in ANY of the photographs. Again, the only prominent mark seems to be some form of logo in the upper right of the memo/message. If one can see this logo, why can't one see the TOP SECRET stamp, which would be just as prominent?
It seems the only basis for this message being considered TOP SECRET are some very vague marks that Rudiak proclaims are from a TOP SECRET stamp. Rudiak has spent a lot of effort to produce a classification stamp because it would be unlikely that a document regarding the crash of an alien spaceship would not be so classified. Considering all the regulations and rules regarding classified material and how a Brigadier General managed to disregard a great many of them, it seems the document is not classified. In light of all this information, the faint smudges Rudiak interprets to be a classification stamp seem to be more wishful thinking than an actual TOP SECRET stamp.
What about punctuation?
A point brought up by Kevin Randle was how punctuation was designated. It was common to use the letters PD for the periods and CMA for the commas. When Randle suggested this as the reason to eliminate this as a military document, Rudiak responded:
I pointed this out to Kevin in e-mail at least 2 years ago, when his argument then was that since nobody was seeing PD or CMA here, that the readings must be wrong. As I recall, he admitted that the ordinary punctuation was there when I pointed it out. I also stated that there were many examples of military telexes which use ordinary punctuation. He agreed.
In his paper, he changed the argument. Because it uses ordinary punctuation, Kevin now argued that this _must_ be a civilian telegram:
"Indeed, our participants also interpreted some marks to be formal punctuation. ***Thus, it would seem that we are not dealing with a military memo.***"
This is just more illogical spin. Note the hidden assumption. He has changed _most_ military memos using nonstandard punctuation into _all_ memos.
I pulled out Timothy Good's "Above Top Secret", flipped to the Appendices and quickly found several military telexes using standard English punctuation and only one that used the CMA and PD. For those of you with the book, check out pages 468-469 (1975 North American Defense Command), pp. 493-494 (1954 USAF Intelligence Report), pp. 497-500 (1976 Defense Intelligence Agency), pp. 501-502 (1978 DIA report), pp. 503-504 (1980 DIA report), p. 528 (1980 AFOSI document). The only example in Good's book of nonstandard PD/CMA punctuation is on p. 488 (1953 USAF Intelligence report). Obviously, standard English punctuation in these military communications is not all that uncommon after all.
Brad Sparks provided the following relevant information to me in a recent e-mail:
"Let me point out something that may help: The CMA and PD spelled out words for punctuation were used for RADIO voice and radiotelegraph Morse Code messages where it was thought the chances of mishearing the punctuation was too great. It was generally NOT used for telexes."
Kevin Randle's argument that this _must_ be a civilian telex because it uses standard punctuation is complete nonsense. It is yet another example of how he is obviously trying to debunk this document using false, illogical argumentation. (Rudiak Re: Validating Online)
Rudiak's examples are not very good. Not one is from the time period in question and the one that was the oldest document (and closest to the 1947 time frame) did spell out the punctuation. This leaves the question unanswered.
In the early days of telegrams, it was common for punctuation to be spelled out as stated in this 1928 document:
This word "stop" may have perplexed you the first time you encountered it in a message. Use of this word in telegraphic communications was greatly increased during the World War, when the Government employed it widely as a precaution against having messages garbled or misunderstood, as a result of the misplacement or emission of the tiny dot or period.
Officials felt that the vital orders of the Government must be definite and clear cut, and they therefore used not only the word "stop," to indicate a period, but also adopted the practice of spelling out "comma," "colon," and "semi-colon." The word "query" often was used to indicate a question mark. (Ross)
The use of the Teletype began to remove the necessity for spelling out such punctuation. However, the military continued to spell out the punctuation as mentioned in this discussion on Telegrams, Radiograms, and Cablegrams from 1943:
Use telegraphic English. Avoid unnecessary punctuation. Use authorized abbreviations...Words to indicate numbers will be used in preference to figures, and all punctuation or special marks must be spelled out in words. All sentences except the last will end with the punctuation mark STOP or PERIOD. (Adjutant General's school 26)
Even as late as the 1953, the Air Force was still spelling out punctuation. AFR 205-1 para 51.b states the following about drafting classified messages:
Words unessential to the sense of the message will be omitted. The use of conjunctions, prepositions, and punctuation marks will be kept to a minimum. Unless instructions to the contrary are contained in the standing operating procedure of the headquarters, the originator will convert into words any numbers or punctuation in the body of the message. Punctuation may be written in either full or abbreviated form. When abbreviated, authorized military abbreviation will be used. (Dept of AF 38)
There is documentation to suggest that there was a requirement to spell out punctuation in military messages and most of the documents from my examples are written that way.
An important point to note in these military documents are the directions to limit punctuation. One can see this in, what appears to be, a telex printout from 1948 (page 31 of http://www.theblackvault.com/documents/wpafb_janaug.pdf). Note that the locations are not separated by a comma (i.e. Dayton Ohio is not written Dayton, Ohio). This brings up an important point about the Ramey document. There seems to be a lot of unnecessary punctuation in the message as Barry Greenwood noted in UFO Historical Revue (UHR) #11:
...Periods, quotation marks and commas are items relatively alien to military teletypes, hardly used at all except when quoting other messages. But they are quite common to journalistic teletypes. (Greenwood)
The first instance of unnecessary punctuation seems to be the use of the comma between Fort Worth and Tex. If it were to follow the standard set in the one message I cited, it should have been spelled out simply, FORT WORTH TEX. There would be no need for the comma. Probably the biggest use of unnecessary punctuation in the document is use of quotation marks. The FBI document and other military messages I have seen do not use quotation marks around the word "disc". For some reason the Ramey "document" uses quotation marks around the words "disc", "disk", "pod", and "ranch" (the ranch and pod instances are specifically found in Rudiak's interpretation). Either there seemed to be a need for using this unnecessary punctuation in this message or there is something wrong with the interpretation of the text.
Brad Sparks has presented messages that do contain unnecessary punctuation and from the 1947 time frame. However, in the only case that he shows using quotation marks, it is for quoting another message as Greenwood noted in his article and not for describing something as ambiguous as a "disc". The examples of punctuation tend to limit the unnecessary ones (like commas) especially when identifying locations. In only one example was the comma present and that was after quoting a telephone message.
It seems that Rudiak's argument is not quite as solid as he lets everyone believe. If he really wanted to demonstrate how punctuation would not be spelled out, he would present copies of messages sent by Fort Worth in 1947 showing the standard use of punctuation and not citations of messages from twenty to thirty years later. Brad Sparks messsages are a start but it is hard to ascertain what the standard format for Ft. Worth was without examples of Ft. Worth messages (especially personal messages from Ramey to other senior officers). It appears that each unit may have had a unique style of sending their messages and following guidelines. Using messages from other bases just confuses the situation. Without other examples of messages by Ramey, one can only assume that the headquarters would follow standard procedure and regulations in force at the time. Based on the documentation available, it seems likely that most messages from the time period spelled out the punctuation. Although, it is possible that punctuation might not be spelled out as demonstrated by Brad Sparks. The lack of any punctuation being spelled out does not completely eliminate the possibility that this is a military message but it does tend to lower it.
While conducting research on teletypes of the era, I discovered that most American teletypes printed lines of 72-76 characters. As a check, I decided to see how close the messages I have listed met this requirement. I discovered that most ran in the mid-60s with the reason not reaching the 72 or 76 mark being due to the next word being too long. There was an instance of the character counts exceeding 76 characters and another case of the character count being at or below 60. These seems to be the exception rather than the rule, where the average count hovered in the mid to high 60s.
Rudiak's interpretation of the message peaks at 61 characters with most of the lines running in the high 50s. The potential missing characters could be due to indentation but military messages did not normally indent from the left edge. This brings into question the conclusions that have been drawn. Either the entire text is not visible, this is not a military message, or this is not a standard teletype/telex printout.
The possible answer is that there are characters on the left side of the page that are missing. General Ramey's thumb is covering the left portion of the text and the pressure of his thumb caused a crease/depression near the left margin. The lighting here is not as good as on the rest of the page and the characters tend to fade into the depression. It is possible that there are 5-10 characters worth of text that are not visible because of this. If there are 5-10 characters that are not visible it changes the context of these sentences in many of the interpretations.
At this point it appears that the document may not be complete and there are potentially missing characters at the left margin. However, without any idea of how this document was transmitted or printed, it is not possible to determine exactly how many characters should have been available for each line. Further research into this matter might explain this potential discrepancy.
The limits of resolution
A serious problem to consider when examining these photographs is to consider the problems associated with the image being an accurate reproduction of what was truly printed on the paper in Ramey's hand. There are many factors affecting the image recording process:
- Resolution of the lens
- Focus of the camera
- Resolution of the film
- The type, temperature, and duration of developing solution used
- Resolution of the paper the image was printed upon
- Resolution of the lens used to enlarge the image for printing
- Resolution of the scanner used to digitize the image
All these factors add to the amount of noise present in the image. The more variables involved, the more noise is generated.
The individual characters present on the Ramey document are operating right at or just above the noise level present in the image. While enhancing the image can improve the clarity it cannot extract a signal from noise. This is the problem encountered in analyzing the Ramey document. The characters are often blurry and may not be accurately recorded on the film. The signal to noise ratio is not very high.
Additionally, after scanning images, the type of file used can change the appearance of the characters. Somebody working from a JPEG may discover that the compression algorithm has altered the individual character shape. David Rudiak shows a JPEG of the message on his website for the reader to examine. I am sure that Rudiak has done most of his work with files like TIFF but if he is using JPEG, it might explain why he sees certain characters while others do not.
The problem with reading these scans/images is best described by Bill McNeff and Glenn Fishbine when they attempted to read the memo,
...while we agree with the interpretation of some letters found by others, there are a significant # of cases where their reading of a letter was a reading of a film grain pattern. In some cases, we were able to find text in the grain background. Also, some of the other readings came from grain patterns above, below, or to the right of the actual letters. Third, a lot of the readings came from what looks like a photoshop gaussian blur of one of the original scans. That kind of blur creates some amazing artifacts & psychophysical interpretations. We avoided blurring at all costs.Finally, it is important to recognize the appearance of letters like "BCPQRSU". Often, we found the left -side of the character truncated as if the type hit the paper harder on the right than the left. Also, in blurred images it is easy to fail to distinguish between "WVNM". (McNeff and Fishbine 8)
As I have noted above, the signal to noise ratio is very low and it is too easy to interpret noise as something that really does not exist (like a TOP SECRET stamp).
Even more of a problem is that the words may not appear, as one would expect in a document. They could be misspelled. For instance, examine the word "balloon" in the famous FBI Teletype (http://www.project1947.com/roswell/fbi_tele.gif) is misspelled twice as "ballon". Then there are abbreviated words that need to possibly be considered. Additionally, the letters could have been typed out in such a manner that the letters do not appear correct. An example would be the "W" in the word "TWX"/"William" at http://www.project1947.com/roswell/afodi.htm almost looks like a "V"! All of these variables could change the reading of the message.
As one can see by the multiple readings produced over the years, the effect of signal to noise have played a major role in generating errors. When one throws in the potential for spelling errors/typos/blurred characters, one realizes the difficulties encountered in getting an accurate reproduction of the document. It all adds to making the signal getting weaker and noise rising. Those trying to reproduce the document have taken many steps to penetrate the noise and amplify the signal but are they really getting it right?
Making the document fit the story
Probably one of the most interesting aspects of the Ramey "document", as read by the various interpreters, is how it tends to blend with the story told by all of the popular books on the subject. The basic story line is that Mack Brazel found parts of disc but it did not land on his ranch. Instead it had landed at some other location where the bodies and bulk of the spaceship were found. Setting up a security area to chase away passersby, the military retrieved the spaceship and bodies and shipped them to a secret location (most likely Wright AFB in Ohio). All of these aspects of the story seem to be there but are these readings really verfiying the story or is it possible they are being influenced by the story as they have come to know it?
In Rudiak's reading one sees influences of the popular story. According to popular belief (as written in the Roswell books), the press conference occurred sometime late in the day (after 1630 in the Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell). As a result, he has identified the time for the message as being 1713 CST. Unfortunately, this does not agree with the time determined by the shadows on a vehicle outside the window. According to Neil Morris (http://minus.com/mlV3acTFC), the shadows indicate the time of the photographs to be between 1605 and 1620 CST making Rudiak's interpretation of this section of the message incorrect (I have since seen Morris revise his time to one hour earlier at about 1515). Another problem is the time stamp that he claims gives us this time. It is listed as 1713 CST. There would be no need to have the CST on a time stamp. One can see this in the time stamps found on one of the messages I listed(page 31 of http://www.theblackvault.com/documents/wpafb_janaug.pdf). There the stamps are simply date and time with no time zone.
Moving to the main body of the text, Rudiak states he sees that the "disk is the next new find"(Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line). This is along the lines of the story where there were two crash sites (hence there would be an additional find). Unfortunately, the second site's location has varied over the years and cannot be verified as stated in myth #14 of my Popular Roswell Myths. One also must question why the term "disk/disc/pod" is even used in the document. Why not mention that it was an unknown aircraft or spaceship if this were the case? Ambiguous references such as these do not seem to make sense in a military message. Even in the FBI Teletype there are references to size and shape but these are missing in this message. Additionally, there seems to be little reference to an exact location of the disc. It seems unlikely that Ramey would leave out such important information in his message to higher headquarters. This section of the text seems more of a guess by Rudiak than some sort of scientific interpretation of the data.
In addition to the obscure references to the "disc", there is another statement that Rudiak places in the document that is made to fit into the Roswell story told by pro-crash advocates. This is the use of the word "cordon". The cordon part of the story is addressed in myth #10 of my Popular Roswell Myths and it seems unlikely that such a situation occurred as described. The odd thing about the reading of the word "cordon" is that it is along the crease of the fold and right next to Ramey's thumb, where the characters would be distorted due to the thumb's pressure on the paper. In fact, the letters are so obscure, Rudiak only gives confidence in the two "Os" and the "C". If this document were about the recovery of the material by Jesse Marcel Sr., it would not be a far reach to suggest that the word might by Corona, the largest town near the Foster Ranch.
The rest of the text focuses mainly on the handling of alien bodies found at the crash site. This is addressed in myth #6 of my Popular Roswell Myths. Probably the biggest argument against any alien bodies being found are the statements by Jesse Marcel SR, which stated he knew of no such bodies being found. Like the second crash location, many of the alien body witnesses have become questionable. Still, the text as interpreted by most describes some sort of beings being found.
The biggest claim by interpreters is the identification of the phrase "the victims of the wreck"(Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line). The obvious emphasis is on the word "victims". However, some have suggested that the word may be "remains". Not willing to accept any other possibility, Rudiak has proclaimed that the first letter can not be an "R" and must be a "V" based on the position of the character. Russ Estes, in his analysis thought it might have been the letter "P" as the first letter. Others I have talked to state that it may be a blurry "T" because it looks a lot like the "T" in the words Rudiak and others have identified as "TEX" and "FORT" on the next line. One must recall that Ramey's message is folded over and most of the type is across a curved surface. The lighting on this section of the paper will appear different than the lighting on the areas elsewhere so it is not easy to make clear letter identifications. As a result, an "E" or a "T" may look like an "I" or a "V" to somebody who wants to see those letters. If one of the key letters used by Rudiak is being misinterpreted, then the possibility that this word is "victims" drops significantly. Rudiak himself presented a good example of how the meaning would change if one letter were altered. He raised the possibility that the word is "viewing" instead of "victims".
If you go through the list, the only remotely possibly plausible extra word that might make any sense is "viewing". The phrase becomes "the viewing of the wreck", which might make sense in isolation, but makes no sense whatsoever in the context of the complete sentence: "the viewing of the wreck you forwarded to the ?????? at Fort Worth, Tex." How do you forward a viewing? (Rudiak Re: Validating Online)
Such a sentence contains a different context than the one Rudiak has presented. It is not the viewing that was forwarded (as in "Viewing you forwarded") but the wreck itself. . Rudiak seems to have glossed over this possibility simply because it "had" to be victims that were forwarded. Of course, since we really can't read the entire sentence any slight changes/additions (we can't see the first part of the sentence because of Ramey's thumb) could make the context seem more likely that the word is "viewing" or something else. While the word "victims" may be clearly visible to Rudiak and others who have interpreted the text, it does not seem to be the case when viewed by less biased individuals. Both McNeff and Fishbine read the word as "remains" when they attempted their reading. In fact, both felt the "E" stood out quite well when they conducted their analysis:
Ten different types of image restoration techniques were employed in an effort to make the message more readable. They are highly technical and will not be detailed in this article. Standard degraining gave possibly the best results, yielding modest improvements. It was especially good on a few letters. It brought out the E in REMAINS very clearly. (McNeff and Fishbine 7)
Brad Sparks also implied that he interpretated this section as something other than "VICTIMS". Although he did not state what he felt the message said on this line, he did state:
Does Greenwood accept their other universal "consensus" readings such as Line 2 where they claim to read "VICTIMS OF THE WRECK YOU FORWARDED"??? (Which is of course interpreted as meaning alien bodies forwarded like the US Mail! That is not my reading by the way, not even close.) (Sparks 15-16)
It seems that Rudiak's claim that the word had to be "VICTIMS" is not as solid as one might believe.
In another effort to look past the blurry text and make some sense of the message in the context of a spaceship crash, Rudiak finds references to shipping something/someone inside the "disc". His actual interpretation reads, "in the disc they will ship"(Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line). The key word being "in" because it implies the disc holds something, which eliminates the radar reflector possibility. However, the syntax seems incorrect and a more likely interpretation might be "is the disc they will ship". Of course, we have to wonder who "they" are. If Ramey were sending a message, it would have probably read "is the disc we will ship". Based on what was known about being flown to Fort Worth, one wonders if it could ship anything inside of it. Recall that General Dubose's only description of the disc that was recovered from Roswell seems to be a sealed bag that he handled and gave to Colonel Clark for transport to Washington DC. Jesse Marcel Sr. never mentioned placing anything in the disc and only found remains a few feet across. The use of the word "in" is not only suspect in syntax but also seems suspect based on the testimony of those who handled the "disc" material. If the references are to a second object being found and transported, it seems that this was not what Marcel brought to Fort Worth. Yet Rudiak proclaims the "victims" were shipped "in the disc" to Fort Worth. Why weren't Marcel and Dubose aware of this shipment? This all raises serious doubts about the interpretation stating something/someone was shipped "in" the disc.
Rudiak's next section of text seems to indicate that the "victims" will be sent to "A-1 8th Army AMHC" (Rudiak Roswell Proof On Line). A-1, according to Rudiak, was supposed to mean the senior medical officer in question but I have never seen such a designation used in any memos/messages. The NARA research room indicates that A-1 was used for the office of the Assistant Chief of Staff (ACofS)(personnel) (http://www.archives.gov/research_room/federal_records_guide/army_air_forces_rg018.html#18.7.2)! A glossary of terms used by the Air Force during WWII (http://www.warbirdsresourcegroup.org/URG/glossary.html) reveals that the Group personnel officer was called G-1 and the squadron personnel officer S-1! The actual unit stationed at Fort Worth was Squadron M, 233rd Base Unit. Being a squadron unit, it would appear to have used the "S" designator. It seems likely that any reference to A-1 would be in describing the personnel officer of the senior air staff (although this designator isn't even in this glossary) and not the flight surgeon/chief medical officer of a hospital unit. As a result, this reading can be considered highly suspect.
Rudiak's reference to the 8th Army is also not entirely accurate. Fort Worth was where the 8th Army Air Force was stationed but not the 8th Army. The 8th Army served in the Pacific during WWII and was the occupying force for Japan in 1947. Apparently, he feels that the acronym AMHC is how one is supposed to differentiate between the two Army units. However, I have not been able to find any reference to AMHC in any military dictionary or database. To be a valid reading of the document the designation has to be shown to be something that was used and not something that was "dreamed up". There is no evidence that the Fort Worth Hospital was ever called AMHC. Recall that the medical unit was the squadron M of the 233rd base unit. This line would read something like "CO (CMO) SQDN M 233rd" or "CO (CMO) 233rd". After considering this, it seems the designation of AMHC seems completely incorrect.
There are also problems with Fort Worth even handling such an autopsy. Based on Lorenzo Kimball's recollections of the RAAF hospital's ability to handle such cases, it seems the facility at Fort Worth was similar if not worse. Realize that 8th AAF had just been stationed at Fort Worth in November 1946 and there was probably no significant presence at the base since the war. The 8th AAF hospital in July 1947 was, more than likely, a simple medical unit designed to treat injuries and illnesses experienced by airmen and pilots but not a full medical facility designed to be a regional medical hub for army units. It is known that when RAAF nurse 1st Lt Fanton was suffering from a serious medical condition in 1947, she was transferred to the Brooke Army Medical Center (BAMC) in San Antonio and not to Fort Worth's hospital unit. This indicates that the 8th AAF hospital unit in 1947 did not have adequate medical facilities to deal with serious or unusual cases at the time. Clearly if Fort Worth had no facilities to deal with a serious human condition, how could they deal with alien bodies from outer space?
Rudiak has also identified references to aircraft in use by RAAF for transporting the material/victims. According to him, the text describes a class of B-29 bomber called the B-29ST (ST for special transport) or a C-47. Again, there are problems with this interpretation. There is no such designation as ST in the B-29 records. The only transport B-29s were a CB-29K and a VB-29 (only one model as best I can determine). In the 1950 Army field manual on signal communications, we read, "In preparing military messages, use abbreviations wherever possible--they save time and space. They must be authorized or commonly accepted abbreviations" (Dept of Army FM 24-5 16). It would be interesting to see if this abbreviation for a B-29 was used in any transmission prior to or after the Roswell incident. If not, it would seem that the reading of this portion of the memo is incorrect. The reference to a C-47 is also seems incorrect since the 1st Air Transport Unit based at Roswell used a C-54, which had over twice the lift capacity over the C-47 and a greater range. Additionally, according to Roswell "gospel", Pappy Henderson flew the disc out using a C-54. Why would somebody make a reference to an aircraft that wasn't in use by the unit that had to transport the material or was inadequate for the task?
When one examines all these issues, it seems that many of the interpretations are more of a "force fit" based on the popular Roswell story and not the case of actually reading the document clearly. With all of these potential errors/misinterpretations being made, exactly what part of the text has been accurately read?
"Faces in the clouds"
As I have pointed out, one of the biggest problems with the interpreting the message is that people are motivated by their desires to see what they want to see. David Rudiak is quite adamant that he has the correct interpretation and explains his methodology quite clearly to everyone on his website. Yet, one can't rely on his interpretation as the sole word on the subject especially when many of his military designations seem totally inaccurate. Kevin Randle recognized this problem some time ago and together, with James Houran, conducted an experiment on reading the document. In this experiment, untainted pools of individuals were given the image and told to try and read it. There were three different groups, which were "pre-conditioned" on what the message was about (Roswell UFO crash/atomic bomb/no pre-condition). Their results demonstrated problems with preconceived notions of what the message was about:
Subjects in the Pro-Roswell Condition spent an average of 20 minutes trying to decipher the contents of the document. The subjects primed to notice Roswell-related terms indeed tended to interpret some words in accordance with earlier interpretations of the same words in the same positions by ufologists (e.g., "remains," "weather balloons," "land:").
Likewise, subjects in the Atomic Bomb Condition spent an average of 16 minutes trying to decipher the contents of the document. This change in context was accompanied by new interpretations of certain words. Now, we see that subjects perceived content that was congruent with the atomic bomb scenario (e.g., "flash," "glasses," "atomic").
Subjects in the Blind Condition spent an average of 14 minutes trying to decipher the contents of the document. Only a few interpretations were noted, and the content of these efforts did not strongly reflect any particular scenario such as we found in the previous conditions.
Even without sophisticated analytic software, the subjects across all three conditions found parts of the document legible. Moreover, despite the statistically significant effects of cognitive style and suggestion, subjects across the three groups did show consensus on several words that previous investigators also agreed upon: "Fort Worth TX (n = 52)," "story (n = 61)," and "weather balloons (n = 27)." Another word of relative agreement "land" (n = 47) was noticed by the two primary suggestion conditions, in which people were perhaps more motivated or discriminating in their interpretations than in the blind condition. Finally, subjects across all suggestion conditions perceived punctuation marks within the document.
While it will be noted that the examination of the memo by those in the study was of a relatively short duration, the purpose was not to decipher the memo, but to determine if "priming" or bias had any affect on the perceptions drawn from the memo. The interpretations offered by the subjects, based on their assignment to one of the three groups, did offer insight into the effect of their preconceived notions of the memo. Where the words were truly ambiguous, the "spin" put on the memo influenced they way in which they read the memo. (Houran and Randle 14)
Rudiak has voiced many objections regarding this test (although he has not bothered to conduct such an experiment himself). He suggests that the subjects did not spend enough time reviewing the material and were inadequately informed of the context to make a "proper" interpretation of the document's context:
Is it any surprise that in Kevin Randle's study that if you mislead two-thirds of your experimental subjects or tell them nothing about the proper context of the message that people will come up with many different readings? Tell some subjects that it's about a rock concert instead of a military message about Roswell and what's the big surprise if people come up with different interpretations for the words, especially since the average time spent per subjects was a meager 12 minutes for the rock group and 20 minutes for the Roswell group?
How many people could solve the N.Y. Times crossword, with its many ambiguous clues, in 12 - 20 minutes? What do you think the results would be if you also misled a bunch of them with the theme of the crossword. Is every person doing the crossword equally adept with the English language or understanding the clues or experienced in doing crosswords? Do you think, under these experimental circumstances, that an absence of agreement on many of the words they do fill in would be surprising? Should one then draw the conclusion that the absence of agreement means that doing the N.Y. Times crossword is nothing but seeing "faces in the clouds" and a solution to the crossword is not feasible? (Rudiak Re: Roswell Online)
Rudiak has since proclaimed that anything less than about a hundred hours of examining the document is not a valid effort. Instead of carefully reflecting on the conclusions Randle/Houran present, he has spent more time trying to destroy the validity of the experiment.
Rudiak's protestations become far more interesting when he states that people see the word "Victims" when he showed it to them in a UFO conference. Of course, he had preconditioned them when he showed it to them. Is it any surprise that a UFO conference crowd, with a preconceived notion that there was a crashed saucer and alien bodies, would overwhelmingly agree with him that the word is "Victims"? How many "witnesses" to the Roswell crash have convinced investigators to the authenticity of their stories based on a "will to believe"? A vote by a crowd so preconditioned is not verification. Rudiak would have something to cheer about if he were to receive the same response by a group of experts skilled in photographic interpretation and analysis.
In their conclusions, Houran and Randle suggested a thorough study of the document using independent laboratories to determine what was in the message/letter/memo:
What is needed at this stage is outside corroboration that can only come from triangulated, blind analyses from well-qualified laboratories and a set of stringent guidelines to evaluate any of their positive findings. Statistical analysis of a computer-enhanced photograph of the document is no substitute for having the original or a good verifiable copy. The main value in pursuing research on this document would be to provide additional data to refine current hypotheses for what crashed and to possibly provide a boost for morale in the field of ufology. Of course, more advanced and systematic triangulated studies of the document could reveal content that bears favorably on a conventional explanation for the crash debris. The field should be prepared for such a verdict as well, and treat the findings with the same respect as they would if the findings were pro-extraterrestrial craft. (Houran and Randle 26)
This could validate or invalidate Rudiak's findings. Perhaps Rudiak attitude is based on a fear of being shown to be incorrect or perhaps he would rather like to see the document stand as it is with the implications it currently holds. Again, Rudiak expressed his concern about how he interpreted the memo.
I don't object to peer review. I just want to know exactly what you mean by an "organized peer review" and exactly how they would go about doing such a review. Who would be doing the reviewing and who would be doing the picking of the reviewers?
I don't want this turning into a repeat of the "scientific" Robertson Panel and Condon Commission, which, as everybody knows, were just whitewashes designed to bury the subject under the cloak of being "scientific reviews" by esteemed scientists.
If this isn't done very carefully, then I can just see the headlines a year from now, "Esteemed Scientific Panel Disproves Alleged Roswell 'Smoking Gun' - Deemed To Be Nothing But the 'Will to Believe'"
Back in 1947 we had similar headlines that killed the story for a long time, such as the Daily Record headline: "Gen. Ramey Empties Roswell Saucer - Ramey Says Excitement Is Not Justified - General Ramey Says Disk is Weather Balloon"
Propaganda like this can be very powerful. Ridicule and appeals to authority tend to work very well. (Rudiak Re: Sci-Fi Online)
This diatribe seems to indicate that Rudiak will only accept analysis that validates his finding and wants to impose preconditions to any tests. Personally dictating the methodology and who is chosen to examine the document seems rather unscientific and biased.
When Rudiak stated that he would put up a voter's poll on his website to reflect the masses interpretation of the memo (as he presents it), a senior UFOlogist, Richard Hall, responded:
When I suggested the need for peer review you cried "foul" and insisted that different analysts work is not necessarily of equal validity (which of course is true, but entirely misses the point)...
Now you cheerfully suggest that a popular poll on the issue of readability is a worthy thing. Science is not conducted by a vote among non-scientists. (Hall Re: New Online)
Rudiak did put up his voter poll despite the apparent protest. I personally have looked at his memo's interpretation but did not vote because of my personal bias. Looking at his poll (only about six hundred people are listed as responding in August 2003), I found some interesting results. Most importantly is to recognize the fact that 87% of those responding had the opinion that UFOs are or probably are extraterrestrial craft (56% are listed as having a firm conviction). This means that those reading the document are already willing to believe that there is something in the document that will indicate there was an alien spaceship crash. With this precondition, is it no surprise that the amount of people who felt the phrase reads or probably reads "Victims of the wreck" was 80% (51% being sure of it)? Similar results were achieved for the phrase "In the disc". Here 73% felt it read this or probably read this (45% being sure of it). Again, it is easy to convince those who want to believe but it seems those are the only ones Rudiak can seem to convince of his interpretation. As demonstrated by the difference in numbers (7% for "victims of the wreck" and 14% for "in the disk") it seems that even some of these people were not convinced.
I feel that the original scan he presents on his webpage is easily open to interpretation and Rudiak's methodology, while thorough, is tainted by his own personal beliefs. Is Rudiak seeing "faces in the clouds" and seeing the images in a manner that reflects this belief or is he doing an unbiased interpretation of the data?
Percival Lowell, I presume?
UFOlogists sometimes try to compare themselves to great discoverers who were castigated in the past for their efforts. Rudiak seems no different when he made a comparison of his case to that of Galileo's:
I find as I monitor criticism of the Ramey "smoking gun", that most critics don't even bother to look at the images or maybe just glance at them. Instead I hear these annoying flippant dismissals of "faces in the clouds." They're like the clerics who wouldn't look through Galileo's telescope. (Rudiak Re: Roswell Online)
While Galileo had his critics and skeptics, another astronomer might be more applicable for this situation.
In the later half of the 19th century, the astronomer Percival Lowell (as well as a few others) made claims about seeing many different canals on the surface of Mars. He encouraged others to "look through the telescope" as well and some did see canals. Others did not (E. E. Barnard and E.M. Antoniadi to name a few) and, instead, only saw irregularities at the limits of perception. The mental interpretation of these irregularities (and some wishful thinking) created the canals and Percival Lowell vehemently argued his case for many years in astronomical circles. Often he proclaimed that those astronomers who did not see canals were using their telescope incorrectly. Lowell even conducted experiments in perception using distant telegraph wires to help justify his observations. Despite all his work, he could not convince those skeptics that the canals existed. In this case, the skeptics were proven right after the Mariner space probes visited the planet. Despite the actual existence of large chasms and gullies, not one of these features lined up with any of the canals drawn by Lowell and the others. Lowell had simply created the canals out of his perception of what he wanted to see.
Looking at the Ramey document situation, we find many similarities. Even Rudiak's response to criticism compares to Lowell's passionate responses. His protestations tend to place himself in the position of the entrenched cleric who refuses to accept opposing points of view or that he might be incorrect in some of his analysis. As in the case of the Martian canals, it will take more than a few biased analyses to confirm that the Ramey document is the "smoking gun" of a cosmic conspiracy.
Based on what I have been able to read and discover it seems that many of the words used by Rudiak in his "reading" are tainted by his belief that there had to have been a crashed spaceship discovered northwest of Roswell. This is the "faces in the clouds" argument. The few military terms that he states are in the document don't even seem to be standard military acronyms. He provides no examples from other teletypes/telegrams to back up his claims (although he makes references to Timothy Good's Above Top Secret, which has no such documents from 1947) and his reading seems to miss the standard format used in military messages (including telegrams). While Rudiak may have read some words in the document accurately, many sections seem to be influenced by his beliefs/desires to expose the "cosmic watergate". With so many potential/actual errors in his reading of the message, can we be certain of anything?
Certain parts of the message appear so illegible that just about any message can be created from them. Anything above the line, which starts near Ramey's thumb, is almost impossible to read. Even Rudiak's enhanced versions of this portion of the document look like vague squiggles with little or no definition. It is like chasing shadows and is not a substitute for accurate representation of what is actually written on the document. The only thing close to being legible is the logo at the upper right. As a result, it is my opinion that little, if anything, can be clearly read from this section of the document.
There is also plenty of reason to suggest this document is not as important as Rudiak et al suggest:
- It was handled carelessly by a General in sight of his chief of staff indicating it was not classified. One of them would have taken the necessary precautions to secure the item prior to photographs being taken or allowing unauthorized personnel in the office where the document was located. While it could be possible that both of these individuals acted like a bunch of careless civilians, who knew nothing about security, it seems highly unlikely.The theory presented by Sparks that Ramey had just got in from the hot sun when presented with this message still does not make sense if it were a top secret message. No matter how distracted Ramey would have been, it seems very unlikely that Ramey would simply hold onto the message. Instead, Dubose or the aide would have been handed such a highly classified message and directed to place it in a properly secure area.
- The document seems to use punctuation that is unnecessary and would not be found in a military message. Brad Sparks has since presented some evidence that suggests this objection may be incorrect.
- The document lacks substance. Vague references to crash location (exactly where was the cordon and the ranch?) and what the "disc" really were are more indicative of somebody writing a message without any concrete information. A military message would not have used the term "disc". Instead it would have been "unidentified aircraft" or "spaceship". Size and shape probably would have been in the message as well. This document seems more based on speculation than any facts that were on hand. Perhaps this document was drafted based on speculation that there might be "victims" to ship with the debris. Once Marcel arrived with his balloon/reflector material, the document was no longer applicable.
- The format, as presented by the various interpretations, does not match any military document I have seen. Brad Sparks suggests otherwise but I am not aware of his interpretation of the message. I am basing this objection on what has been presented.
These factors are just as important to consider as is understanding how or if the message might pertain to the Roswell events in July 1947. Without knowing additional information about this document's origins and its actual use, one can not draw any conclusions about this being a "smoking gun" at all.
Barry Greenwood in his evaluation of the message comes to a similar conclusion:
Given these examples, it is not unreasonable to suggest that the possibility of the Ramey memo being a newswire teletype is at least equal to or greater than the possibility that the document is a secret discussion of Roswell "aliens". It also raises questions about the various exotic interpretations of the message as supportive of extraterrestrials being discovered in New Mexico. (Greenwood)
Considering all that has been presented here can one really be sure that this really was a message about a crashed alien spaceship?
A mystery best left unsolved?
In UFOlogy, it is often popular for cases to remain unresolved. One can say the same for the Ramey "document". It will continue to polarize the debate concerning Roswell simply because it will always remain a piece of evidence that is highly subjective and open to interpretation. Skeptics (including myself) seem to think the message is almost impossible to clearly read (if at all) and that those trying to read the document are seeing what they want to see. Pro-crash/pro-ETH advocates are just as willing to believe anything they present with little or no argument because it supports their belief in the event. Randle and Houran probably have the correct attitude towards trying to figure out how valid the interpretations really are. Their proposal to have independent and unbiased agencies perform analysis of the image seems fair and justified. This is the next logical step, but will UFOlogy be prepared to accept a negative result? Based on Rudiak's public attitude towards the Houran/Randle study it seems that anything that does not verify a crashed spaceship will be considered an invalid attempt and disregarded. With this prevailing attitude on the matter, the mystery surrounding the document will not be solved. As a result, many UFOlogists will continue to proclaim they have the "smoking gun" even though the gun may have never been loaded or fired in the first place.