The History Man: Wittgenstein's Lion and the Stories of Roswell

Peter Brookesmith
Magonia 83, December 2003
Somewhere in Philosophical Investigations, Ludwig Wittgenstein remarks that if a lion could speak, we would not understand him. As I understand the text, Wittgenstein meant that a lion's view of the world is so utterly different from our own that, even given a mutually accessible medium of communication, such as what human beings would call a language, we would not understand what lions were trying to say in it.

I doubt that, to about the same extent that I would bet against Ursula Le Guin's fictional musings on animals' subtle symbolic languages ever being found to have any parallel in reality.[l] If a Basque speaker can learn to comprehend what a Navajo is saying, or understand the extremely elliptical statements of Chinese ideograms, someone somewhere in the world could probably decipher a lion's account of the veldt, given sufficient reciprocal will between human and felid. [2]

Wittgenstein's proposition has obvious applications in sundry, easily-imaginable discussions of how off-world alien beings might really communicate with the likes of us lot, particularly in the persons of Betty Hill, Linda Napolitano (if that is her proper name), Travis Walton, John Velez, and many other icons of abductology. Yet so often in trying to follow ufological debates, the brain strains at the way language and logic are abused or mysteriously understood. In particular, when reading or engaging in dialogue with the American ufologist Mr Jerome K. Clark of Minnesota, one feels one is witnessing, or is party to, an attempt to communicate with an entity closely related to the lion imagined by Wittgenstein. Here, from an Internet discussion on the infamous Trindade UFO sighting of 1958, is an example. What one would think was a plain enough remark managed to baffle Mr Clark so much so that he produced an entirely baffling reply. As he once put it of someone else, his correspondent's point seemed to sail right past the point on the top of Mr Clark's head:
CLARK: As repeated statements make clear, there were many witnesses to the UFO's presence. Not a single statement from an investigating officer or from a 'witness' asserting that, all other testimony notwithstanding, no UFO appeared while he was in a position to view it denies that. The witnesses, as we know from Navy documents, were in two groups. one at the front and the other at the rear of the ship.

RIMMER: Of course. if no other witness was in a position to view it, why would they want to deny it?

CLARK: Is this supposed to mean something?
Obliqueness or. if one wants to extend the geometrical metaphor, obtuseness over a minor point made by an interlocutor is one thing, and happens to everyone. Mr Clark makes a habit of being obtuse (in the geometrical sense) as well as condescending both when the logic of his arguments are challenged and when defending a position he has taken up on some ufological issue. The 'discussion' of Trindade on UFO UpDates was a minor classic of the genre

Other major instances in Mr Clark's oeuvre include his repeated canards that Phil Klass once equated, in blanket fashion, ufologists with communists; that Gary Posner once said ufologists were schizophrenic, loathsome and evil: and (just to maintain impartiality, we must suppose) that James Oberg had accused ufologists of being crypto-fascists. James Oberg's riposte to the last may be echoed by many who have been bemused by Mr Clark's apparent difficulty (and aggression) in apprehending their arguments: "A remedial high school class in 'Reading for Comprehension' might be in order for anyone who suspects that there is any validity at all in Clarks nasty fantasy-prone misinterpretation of my words.' [3]

The magic mirror

Not being a lion, but human, Mr Clark has attracted his fair share of critics. According to his detractors, he is a man of abundant peccadilloes. Clark-watchers have speculated that most of them could be outgrowths of his ego, a marvel of the contemporary world they say, that is matched, in adoring self-regard. perhaps only by the pleasure that one imagines Mr Colin Bennett takes in himself. Some consider that Mr Clark might have achieved some ephemeral renown purely for his expertise in ad hominem insults (a tendency he affects to abhor in others), his pontificatory style, his apparent belief that having written a lot about a subject (any subject) he has acquired some wisdom on the matter, his remarkable ability to be able to quote, and reference, words of his own written up to 30 years ago, his frequent paeans in praise of beer. [4] his irrepressible' pedantry, [5] and the touching deviousness of his devotion to the extraterrestrial hypothesis.

His critics might briefly describe Mr Clark as pompous, patronising, and very easily self-satisfied. As such. he would be a fairly unimportant figure in ufology, indeed he would be scarcely distinguishable from some of his disparagers, as well as a vast proportion of those rejoicing in the sobriquet 'ufologist'. But his own claim to fame is probably as a historian of ufologv, manifested in his huge, prize-winning The UFO Encyclopedia. It would be unkind and unjust to dismiss this as merely 'another damned. thick. square book! Always scribble. scribble. scribble, eh. Mr Clark?' as the Duke of Gloucester once maligned a portly new volume from Edward Gibbon.

In many ways The UFO Encyclopedia was a massive achievement, and not merely as measured in avoirdupois. One wonders who else would have had the terrier-like tenacity to wade through so much tedious source material. and the energy, and clarity of mind, to synthesise so much that was so banal so well. And the whole is composed in admirably limpid prose. In a review for Magonia of the first edition, Hilary Evans graciously ignored Clark's rather mean-minded comments about himself [6] but noted that this magisterial work would be more accurately titled 'Jerry Clark's Book of UFOs'. One could read that as a polite way of saying that it is not an encyclopedia because it is full or Mr Clarks opinions.
For some of them are tendentious to say the least, as well as incoherent, notably in his approach to the soi-disant abduction phenomenon. Whenever one meets an entry on a matter one happens to know well one finds oneself noting crucial omissions, or fractured logic, or a gauze of opinion through which one has to grope for the facts. or (sec. e.g. the entry on Keyhoe), an inexplicable indulgence of the palpably unhinged. In other words, the work is really useful only to those who already have some expertise in the subject. And then it is very useful indeed and in some respects, unique and irreplaceable.

On the evidence of The UFO Encyclopedia. one is given leave to question, although not to condemn, Mr Clark's qualifications and capacity to write history. More recently he has revealed some of his thinking about history in the abstract, and about what an historical debate is in relation to the infamous (and infamously tedious) Roswell incident. This, he maintains. is "no different from all kinds of other complex, ambiguous historical controversies" and continues. "In every historical controversy, informants come forward and later prove not to be credible. and some are believed longer than they ought to be. And credible people like Jesse Marcel are unfairly trashed because the narrative demands it." [7]

There is already much to astonish here. Noticeably there is no mention of the credible people like Professor Charles Moore who are trashed because the believers narrative demands it. [8] And surely the complex ambiguity of 'Roswell' resides solely in the testimony of informants who have, indeed, proved not to be credible. Furthermore and unfortunately for Mr Clark's argument there is not a single latter-day 'Roswell' witness supporting the case for the crash of an ET craft (including the egregious fantasist Marcel) whose 'evidence' has not either been demolished or thrown into serious doubt after due scrutiny. The history of claims about 'Roswell' is complex. but the case itself is relatively simple provided one views the evidence as data to be evaluated, and from which conclusions may be drawn, rather than as a series of arrows pointing to a foregone conclusion (which is the technique of the conspiracy theorist). But there is more to come in Clarkian historiology to test the boggle threshold, as the late great Rene Haynes called it, of honest citizens going about their lawful business. Let us savour:
I might mention here two small controversies in American history in which I have some interest. and in which I've done a fair amount of reading. One concerns the question whether or not David Crockett was killed at the Alamo or surrendered afterwards. only to he executed by Gen. Santa Ana's troops. Another ... focuses on the character of the frontier lawman Wyatt Earp. In both cases there have been furious disputes which [9] so far have defied conclusive resolution, and in which dubious informants and forged documents credited, at least for a time, sometimes a long lime, by perfectly respectable scholars and journalists have played a large role.
There arc serious problems with Mr Clark's conceptions of history and of historical controversy here. First, he seems implicitly to be claiming, both by analogy and by calling the case 'complex and ambiguous' that to the truly impartial and disinterested mind, 'Roswcll is unresolvable in light of current knowledge. Second, he claims the case is essentially no different from such continuing controversies among historians as the nature of Davy Crockett's death, and the character of Wyatt Earp.

Among the audience, neither Tony Rullan nor Dennis Stacy was impressed. Mr Rullan [10] pointed out that in the issue of Crockett's death:
the consequences of a positive or negative resolution are not going to drastically change our American History (although they will change our view of Crockett). Also, the lack of resolution of the Crockett question will not impede any progress in the field of American History. If it is stays unresolved forever who gets hurt?
Dennis Stacy (loc. cit) stated the clear difference with the Roswell claims:
According to its adherents. it was at Roswell that we recovered remnants of alien technology and alien bodies. resulting in something at least akin to the popular perception of MJ-12. Now. either the half' century of world history since Roswell obliquely reflects the reality of the crash and recovery a/an extraterrestrial spaceship and alien bodies at Roswell - or it doesn't. No waffling as a fundamental position allowed...

Roswell is different either the history of the world changed at that exact moment, or it didn't. So you can forget the claims of individual witnesses on the ground at the time, pro or con and simply show us where history took the dramatic detour that would reflect the recovery of alien technology and corpses.
One might compare the wry discussion Tolstoy has in War & Peace on the various reasons, from cosmic to trite, that have been offered for why Napoleon lost the battle at Borodino. No one however disputes that (a) Napoleon was there (b) there was a battle (c) Napoleon lost (d) it happened in 1812. Mr Clark then shifted his ground a bit on Roswell:
Roswell is, in its essence, no different from the general proposition that most ufologists buy, namely that otherworldly intelligences are visiting the earth. The implications of this are vast. Roswell, in that regard. it only a side issue. Any pro-UFO argument, with or without Roswell, has the potential to change history. All Roswell, in the end, is about is the question of whether elements ofthe US government did not possess physical evidence of UFOs at an early stage. If one day ufologists. even sans Roswell, conclusively make their case or if a UFO lands on the Pentagon lawn ,history will change.
It would prove nothing whatever about UFOs - but perhaps a lot about ufology - were ET having arrived in a thing looking like a cross between a rickshaw and a rice pudding, look generally blank on the subject of flying saucers
But, of course, no one was arguing that if ET arrives tomorrow, history will not change. The question was whether it already had changed, and Mr Clark sidestepped that presumably on the specious grounds that 'Roswell is unresolvable'. Besides, if ET were to arrive on the proverbial White House lawn tomorrow, that would prove nothing whatever about UFOs (but perhaps a lot about ufology), were ET blithely to deny all knowledge of any previous visit by any spacefarers and, having arrived in a thing looking like a cross between a rickshaw and a rice pudding, look generally blank on the subject of flying saucers.

Good enough for jazz?

Mr Clark's admirers have seen him dancing through a debate many times in like fashion. What happened next, however, was very curious, and faintly alarming for his reputation an historian. Presumably recognising the flaws in his previous analogies, he offered a catalogue of more significant historical controversies, which include:
the rationale for the use by Truman administration of atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945: what FDR knew about Japanese intentions toward Pearl Harbor before December 7, 1941: what Soviet intentions were or were not during the Cold War years: what medicines do and do not work against diseases such as cancer and AIDS: who did or did nor assassinate JFK and why. I could go on and on. but I think you get the idea. All of the above have generated a massive literature. from the serious and scholarly to the paranoid and semi-literate.

In each of these cases. you don't have to go far to find parallels to the Roswell controversy...
This last sentence is both wrong (because the controversy over 'Roswell' is factitious) and right, because at least two of his examples of 'real historical controversy' are hokum of a high order. There are no grounds whatever to question what Franklin Roosevelt knew about Japanese intentions toward Pearl Harbor in 1941, and no substantial reasons to think Lee Harvey Oswald did not kill John F. Kennedy. And, paranoid and semi-literate commentators apart, the medical controversies he mentions are no more than the daily business of science, messily making its way toward reasonable conclusions. That he mixes these instances of fringe obsession indiscriminately in with legitimate problems of knowledge suggests that Mr Clark really does not know how to sort one kind of history (or event) from another, and gives the unfortunate impression that he entertains a rather more paranoid weltanschauung than the average Joe.

Mr Clark could usefully remind himself of the words of his mentor Ed Bullard, whom he rarely mentions without praising. I have adapted some of them to the matter of JFK:
Perhaps the most succinct and all-encompassing definition of folklore designates it as 'unofficial culture' .... Experts have the final say in the modern world. They set the standards of truth and the public bows to their authority in most matters. The JFK assassination stands out as an exception. The official verdict rules the conspiracy theories to be misinterpretations of conventional events, but many people defy governmental and scientific conclusions to maintain a stubborn insistence that something truly mysterious lies behind the death of the 45th President. The persistence of such beliefs in opposition to official opinion places them within the sphere of unofficial culture and identifies them in one basic sense as folklore. [...]

Individuals may remain passive bearers of tradition, familiar with conspiracy theories and beliefs concerning JFK's demise but silent about them. Other individuals may speak out and become active tradition bearers. Communication draws speculation about JFK's death into the social realm. and there the variety of beliefs about the truth of the assassination acquires its folkloric significance. When an individual reports a newly discovered 'fact' or states a belief about JFK's death, he takes a stand on the reality of his finding or the correctness of the belief He also exposes himself to the conflict inherent in a subject where no consensus exists and various listeners hold strong opinions of their own. Members of the audience speak up to support, deny. or reinterpret the assertion according to personal preference. This disputation is the typical folk interaction over controversial claims .... These disputes are less efforts to reach a consensus than to promote personal beliefs. so the structure of conflict persists as a constant for as long as the controversy fires human interest. [...]

Without controversy and the taking of sides. no distinction would exist between official and unofficial beliefs. and subsequently no folklore. [ll]
Bullard's discussion seems to ring as true when applied to the JFK issue as it does for UFOs. In other words, Mr Clark is peddling unofficial history (alias folklore), whose essence is disputatiousness, as the real thing. [12] In 'official' history, changes in interpretation of received 'fact' are a consensus based on an accretion of evidence, albeit sometimes achieved slowly and laboriously [cf. the process of acceptance of new scientific insights}. Mr Clark's analogies are not good for the case he is trying to make. Is it possible to help him out? Are there any good analogies, from indisputably official history?

Here are three instances of discoveries that have altered received historical wisdom, taken more or less randomly from the pigeon coops of my memory:

The real meaning of the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The Amendment is short and to the point: 'A well-regulated militia being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed.' This has been taken to mean that individual Americans do not have a right to own firearms except as members of a militia. That misreading should never have got out of the bag, but malign propaganda as well as ignorance on the part of naive people with good intentions brought it about. The controversy, such as it is, is satisfactorily resolved by reference to the Federalist Papers and other contemporaneous debates, the U.S. Constitution's roots in English common law, and so on. The rather curious circumstances of the last Supreme Court judgement (United States v. Miller (1939), which involved a bootlegger in possession of an unlicensed sawn-off shotgun) have been revisited by scholars and illuminated as irrelevant to the real issue. [13} The revisionist foray of Professor Michael Bellesiles has gratifyingly been exposed as based on fraudulent findings. [l4] Even grammarians agree that the Amendment refers to the individual citizen's right to keep and bear arms.

The domestication of the horse.
Until the discoveries at Dereivka in the 1980s it was believed horses were used as draft animals before being adopted as steeds. The archaeological evidence (bone cheekpieces from bridles, and equine teeth worn down as they would be by a bit) shows that horses were ridden in the Ukraine at least 500 years before, and some 2500km distant from the appearance of the first known wheel. If someone ever does find some wheels at Dereivka, or at a yet earlier site of equine domestication (none discovered so far), the earlier presumption will be reinstated. I would not wager on seeing a great deal of resistance.

The role of disease in history.
Until William H. McNeill published Plagues and Peoples in 1975, the effect of epidemics and pandemics on events was barely considered by historians. Today it can be seen that the prowess of the conquistadors as warriors pales somewhat beside the efficacy of the bugs they brought with them to the Americas. There are dozens of other examples, but I particularly enjoy the way one ancient outbreak still has resonance:
In 542CE the Byzantine emperor Justinian was engaged in an enormously ambitious plan to conquer all the territories of the old Roman empire .... He had already taken much of North Africa. Sicily, and parts of Spain. Then bubonic plague struck. It came out of Egypt. hit the Byzantine capital Constantinople (today Istanbul) and spread west across Europe. The .. disease raged across Europe over the next six years, eventually reaching Ireland and Denmark. It returned at intervals (sometimes within three or four years) until about 590; by 600 CE. according to one estimate, it had killed half of Europe's people. By 610 it had reached China.

Apart from the famine and civil disorder that came in its wake, the plague shattered Justinian's so nearly realised [imperial ambitions, [as well as] the remnant of the old Roman empire; the loss of Rome's last civilising influences in Europe ushered in the period of political confusion and cultural decline known as the Dark Ages. Britain's destiny was altered, as the Celtic population was unable to resist invading Saxons from Germany. In North Africa in the following century, it is certainly possible that Islam marched so swiftly through so many lands because the plague had battered them physically, psychologically and culturally' - with consequences for future ages that we are still witnessing today. In China, the plague contributed dramatically to a loss of faith in the old religions and the rise of Buddhism. The disease decided the future of millions of people from one end of the vast Eurasian landmass to the other. [15]
What makes history?

These three instances of fresh (or re-freshed) interpretation of evidence did not join the historical consensus overnight. An intellectually inbred rump of misguided liberal diehards still cannot swallow the demonstrable real intent of the Second Amendment. It certainly gives one pause to think that a bacterium may have contributed to the fall of the Twin Towers: what was that about butterflies and monsoons again? Crucially, however, these examples show implicitly and explicitly that real history and Roswellian history inhabit different archipelagos of that 'other country' that is the past.

For dividing, like a moat full of refuse and dead dogs, these revisions of history, and others like them, from the pro-ET Roswell legend, are such factors as these:

1. Real (as opposed to 'unofficial' or folkloric) historical interpretation is essentially a process of clarification.
Certain facts are not in dispute. All the items in the three examples above have an independent existence in a real world. Not even Holocaust deniers have claimed that Hitler did not come to power in 1933, although it would not surprise me to learn that someone, somewhere, believes that this was due to the machinations of international bankers and Zionist cosmopolitans. As with Holocaust denial, there is approximately only one undisputed Roswellian fact in the pro-ET case: that something, origins not immediately apparent, crashed on Brazel's ranch in the summer of 1947. No pro-ET Roswell 'witness' (who should be distinguished from indubitably honest people whose testimony has been over-interpreted by pro-ET commentators) has survived scrutiny with his integrity intact. There is no agreement on where the alleged aliens landed up, what they looked like, how many survived, why none of the military procedures of the Roswell legend accord with standard operating procedure, etc., etc. 

The pro-ET Roswell story has actually been confused through elaboration, not confirmed and refined, by successive waves of 'evidence'. This is not the case with real historical research and interpretation, although that does not mean that in real history there are no ambiguities, loose ends, and controversies over minor issues, such as whether it was Napoleon's cold or his chronic hemorrhoids, or something else entirely and nothing to do with him, that decisively influenced the outcome at the battle of Borodino.

2. The anti-ET Roswellian case, on the other hand follows the more usual route of historical clarification.

The Mogul solution is not absolute, but many bits of evidence point that way, and the evidence has the virtue of being amenable to argument and justification (for an example, see Tim Printy's demolition of Rudiak's unscrupulous attack on Prof Moore's calculations at URL: http://members. aol. com/tprinty2/rudiak.html). Not that it is strictly necessary to provide an alternative explanation for the Roswell debris: but it is intellectually satisfying.

3. No recognisable historical event exists on the strength of a single source.
Hence there are endless treatises on the historicity of the Sage of Nazareth, and the legendariness of the legend of King Arthur. Acceptable sources and confirmations of a mid-20th century event would have to be of impeccable provenance and might include the following (the pro-ET-at-Roswell score [RS] follows each):

a) Artifacts: [RS = 0]
b) Photographs: [RS = 4, but patently of busted weather balloon material, and even the photographer has now changed his story: one need not count the comical 'alien autopsy' movie]
c) Contemporary official documents: [RS = 1 FBI memo of ambiguous purport, although quite unequivocal in revealing the FBI's lack of interest]
d) Contemporary diaries [RS = 0, discounting forgeries]
e) Contemporary news reports: [RS = 3+, ambiguous either in nature or intent]
f) Eyewitness accounts: [RS = 0, all claimants irretrievably discredited]
g) Physical traces: [RS = O]

Compared to Borodino, Roswell (ET edition) isn't faring very well as an established fact, is it? And neither Napoleon nor the Tsar had cameras to help them either, in them days.

4. No historical event has a single cause.
The plague of the 6th/7th century CE was not the sole reason the armies of Islam conquered North Africa, all sorts of conditions had to pre-exist to make the birth of Islam (not to mention Mohammed) possible, and there had to be a desire for conquest, the generalship, the troops, and the resources to make it possible even to contemplate ... and so on and on. It is always difficult, and often pointless, to assign greater or lesser weights to particular historical causes; something like a network of multiple causes and effects is in operation at any one time. The point is surely blindingly obvious, but it is apparently not obvious to votaries of Roswell: The ET Cut that their favourite world-shaking bit of history cannot have occurred unless one presumes that one (and only one) huge, and implausible, historical 'cause' has been in play a global blanket of secrecy.

Theories of cover-up (of ET involvement, MJ-12, etc) are too simplistic not to collapse under the weight of comparison with known historical events. The tight fit ('like a jigsaw') of the pro-ET Roswell mythology, and its amazing afterlife in the face of its original providors' loss of credibility that Jan Aldrich has pointed out in Internet discussions, is perhaps another instance of such an improbable simplicity. The Roswell story is at once too untidy (too many crash sites, for instance) and too damned neat to be nested in reality. If you understand how actual history and its actual study works, there is not much room for even for agnosticism over Roswell (ET edition). This point should not be taken as a blunting of Occam's Razor, by the way. Introducing an extra cause (disease) into the events that led to the rise and spread of Islam actually simplifies the overall hypothesis, just as adding a term to a maths equation may make it more elegant. A lot of people seem to find this subtlety or should we say nuance? hard to grasp.

5. Actual historical events have discernible historical effects.
These might include cultural effects of the order of the existence of Moorish architecture in Spain, the reappearance of the horse in the Americas in the 16th century, the marked reduction in the Jewish population in Europe between 1933 and 1948, the remarkable collection of Hindi words that now inhabit the English language, or (speaking of Borodino) the composition of Tschaikovsky's 1812 Overture and of Tolstoy's War and Peace. They might equally include quite minute physical effects, such as the grape pips in the Roman city of Eboracum's drainage system, or the bodies found in the permafrost from Sir John Franklin's 1845 attempt to find the Northwest Passage, or vitrified sand in the New Mexico desert from the first nuclear weapons tests.

Nothing of material significance or insignificance that has happened since 1947 is so mysterious in origin as to lend itself to serious speculation about having its source in an ET civilisation (not even the dreadful Heaven's Gate misadventure). It really will not hurt anyone to learn to live with human ingenuity as exemplified by the really rather well-documented invention of the transistor, or with human and viral weirdness, not to say monkey business, as exemplified by the probable origin and spread of AIDS. Even if we are momentarily possessed by the notion that Roswell (ET edition) happened, we have to admit that it is an absolutely unique historical event: it has left no trace of its occurrence and has made no demonstrable or discernible practical difference to human history thereafter.

A prophecy

By his own account Mr Clark is a student of history, and he claims to have his own interpretation of the Roswell case. He may have made this up, because he knows it teases. If he did not, he puts himself in a unique position. Unlike any other historian in history, but not unlike certain inventors of faster-than-light technologies, perpetual motion machines, and so on, he declines to expose the tender product of his mountainous labours to the gaze of rude mechanicals and the vulgar generality: and he ostensibly declines on the not-even-specious grounds that be would offend too many people. While this rationale is at best eccentric, and at worst puerile, it is certainly a fresh tack for Mr Clark, given his customarily abrasive style. [l6] But more pertinently, if his claim is genuine, it does nothing to bolster Mr Clark's pretentions to being an historian in any serious sense. Divulging his insight might, on the other hand, go some way to restoring their credibility.

Personally, I doubt this resuscitation will happen, should Mr Clark's little mouse ever come out to play. His thoughts on what really happened at Roswell may be very interesting they could even turn out to be accurate, one day but I predict they will be neither history nor historical, but purest speculation.

  1. See, for example, 'The Author of the Acacia Seeds' and 'Maze', in Ursula K. Le Guin, The Compass Rose, Gollancz 1983. In these stories, animals convey complex symbolic meanings (suitably 'nuanced') through various media such as dance, as distinct from vocalization
  2. Navajo is a notoriously impenetrable language which the US Marine Corps took advantage in World War 11. Navajo radio operators completely baffled Japanese cryptologists in the Pacific theatre.
  3. A summary of the difficulties Mr Clark has had with Messrs Posner and Oberg may be seen at URL: http://www.ufomind.comlufo/updates/2001/feb/m21-058.shtml
  4. In 1932, Hubert de Mirepoix, in a speech to the French Wine Growers' Association (of which he was president) remarked that wine gave the French people 'wit, gaiety, and good taste', qualities that set them 'profoundly apart from people who drink a lot of beer.' Quoted in D. and P. Kladstrup, Wine And War, Hodder & Stoughton 2001, page 11.
  5. Those who post messages to Internet lists that Mr Clark adorns as a subscriber had better watch their grammar and spelling, or suffer Mr Clark 'ever the stern editor' in his own words scurrying from his part of the woodwork to lecture them on the errors of their ways. Mr Clark has more than once been reminded that good manners require that, without embarrassing the previous speaker by drawing attention to his or her mistake, one simply incorporates the correct usage into one's response; but he chooses to ignore even friendly advice.
  6. Clark appears to despise psychosocial approaches to ufology with particular ferocity. Apart from making a fundamental error in treating those approaches as an homogeneous school of thought, he also likes to repeat his curious belief that psychosocialists are motivated to object to the limitations of his own thinking out of anger and disappointment that so eminent and original a thinker as Mr Jerome Clark himself once declared himself among their number and then abandoned them for some latter-day version of nuts-and-bolts ufology. However, he is not comparing like with like when he claims to read the minds and motives of today's psychosocial anomalisticians. His famous book The Unidentified (Warner 1975), written with Loren Coleman, takes an apocalyptically post-Jungian view of anomalistic events and strongly implies that UFOs and other liminal oddities are essentially tulpoid in nature. Whatever those calling themselves psychosocialists might have thought a quarter of a century ago, they certainly don't think like that now. Logically, they would find it difficult to resent anyone abandoning a position they themselves no longer hold if, indeed, they ever did hold it, as individuals. Yet again, Mr Clark is found mired in a false analogy.
  7. Post to the Project 1947 e-mail forum, 15 June 2003 (Re: Roswell Declassified')
  8. Mr Clark has referred to the crushing self-righteous of the anti-Roswell camp (as witness, e.g., the absurdly pompous subtitle of Karl Pflock's book ['Inconvenient facts and the will to believe']); less publicly, he is rumoured to have said that, despite having become a 'Roswell agnostic', he never issues statements in support of what he calls 'Roswell bashers' because they are 'all self-righteous whiners'. Can he possibly mean that those promoting the Roswell imbroglio as an involuntary ET visit are not self-righteous, and never whine?
  9. Anyone can get picky about grammar. This word should either be 'that', if the intention is to define the 'furious disputes'; but if the word 'which' is being deployed as a non-defining relative pronoun, it should in best usage be preceded by a comma. It is not clear which error is being made here.
  10. Post to the Project 1947 e-mail forum, 15 June 2003 ('Re: Roswell Declassified'). On the same day Dennis Stacy noted: 'To simplify matters, let's look only at Crockett. Yes, there is a controversy as to how he died. Will we ever ultimately resolve it? Probably not. But in the larger scheme of things it doesn't matter how Crockett died. The Texans (or Texians or Texicans if you prefer) decisively won the battle of San Jacinto the following month, rendering Crockett's demise a moot and subsidiary point for all time. In other words, it had no bearing on future historical events. If we had an argument that Crockett had somehow survived the Alamo and led the decisive charge at San Jacinto, then that would be a controversy worthy of the name.' 
  11. Adapted without permission (sorry, Ed) from pages 4-8 of Thomas E. Bullard, "Folkloric Dimensions of the UFO Phenomenon", Journal of UFO Studies ns 3 (1991), pp 1-57 .
  12. And in addition. This may seem naive, but. Apart from perennial American obsessions with government truthfulness, any appeal of JFK-conspiracy theories to real historians seems to me non-existent. I have yet to work out what huge difference JFK's survival would have made to American or global history. LBJ followed Kennedy logic in Viet Nam, and in pursuit of the 'Great Society'. He didn't cancel the space program. What else was there of key significance? What could one plausibly say JFK would have done otherwise? If one grants for a moment that he was assassinated by a cabal rather than a lone nutter, then what actual achieved advantage (such as a major change in policy from JFK's to LBJ's presidency) to said cabal can one point to as indication of evidence that said cabal was in operation (we can rule out negative possession of such truths as he never revealed the truth about UFOs)? Since (perhaps in my ignorance) I don't see any such advantage, Occam inclines me to the lone gunman interpretation. So does my knowledge of what an easy shot it was. Enlighten me please, if you will, or can. And then suppose 'Roswell' happened just the way (well any of the ways) the pro-ET gang say. What difference did it make? More on this below ... 
  13. For a wide-ranging discussion of the meaning of the Second Amendment, see David Kopel, 'The Second Amendment before the Supreme Court', Liberty, Dec 2003, pp 23-7. 
  14. - extracted from the Boston Globe, 11 September 2001. 
  15. Peter Brookesmith, Future Plagues, Blandford 1997, pp10-11.
  16. For example: "I'm sure well, anyway I'd like to think you have a contribution to make to ufology. It is not, however, in relentless sermonising, and I hope that the next time the urge grips you, as it seems to be doing with growing frequency, you will go soak your head." [Posted on the Project 1947 mailing list in response to a remark on Roswell by long-time UFO researcher Herb Taylor] This may be an instance of 'nuanced' dialogue, an inability to engage in which he so often discerns in others. It is interesting too that one of the most frequent complaints that one hears voiced of Mr Clark's style is his sermonising, yet he is rarely slow to point the failing out in others.