Wednesday, March 31, 2010

FSR 1958: Veering towards the Lunatic Fringe.

Flying Saucer Review took a turn for the worse, in my opinion, in 1958. Whereas earlier it was a fairly naively presented forum for all sorts of guesswork about what saucers were and portended, now it was beginning to act like it had the answers. The answers were those that were being given by the contactees like Adamski et al. And massive landings and revelations were just around the corner. This crystallization of foggy vision had to be a direct reflection of the state of mind of editor Brinsley LePoer Trench. Trench must have been that sort of gullible romantic that needed an answer, even if answers were before their time. As stated the other day, some of the most powerful "evidence" cases had recently occurred, and they seemed to feed the fires of those who now "knew" not only that the UFOs were real anomalistic aerial phenomena [a rational deduction] but also that all the contactee claims were true [an irrational one --- contactee claims could conceivably be true (at least here and there) but cases like Levelland or Trindade hardly said a thing about the veracity of Adamski or Howard Menger]. Nevertheless, FSR was acting like great "physical" cases supported "metaphysical" and boldly claimed ideas. "Science" this was not. I haven't read the next year yet, so I don't know whether there was any backlash to this extremism by Trench. Will let you know in time.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The first two numbers of FSR in 1958 were pretty "clean". Very little wild unsupported claiming was going on. Only the Reinhold Schmidt hoax, which was reported upon sympathetically, marred a fairly good presentation of UFO facts and ideas. The last two-thirds of the year was a travesty. Averaging over five major articles an issue on contactee and hoax claims, the magazine presented Adamski three times, George Hunt Williamson three times, Howard Menger, Dana Howard, and Wilbert Smith each twice, and thoroughly discredited Brazilian hoaxer, Dino Kraspedon, four times. Pages were awash with wonderful loving messages to Earth from ascended beings on Venus and other planets, complete with prophetic warnings about stopping nuclear war. One can see how such ideas would bubble up in those harried times, and why they would "sell". [I am in favor of interstellar amity and the avoidance of being blown apart as much as anyone, but why so many would put their brains in the rubbish bin to simplistically get behind these charlatans still boggles me a bit]. ------------- these attitudes allowed the magazine to completely buy the photographs of Giampiero Monguzzi [of which the illustrations accompanying this section are two of his seven shots]. Any person familiar with miniature photography would immediately recognize the tell-tale out-of-focus areas closest to the camera, which amateurs [like myself] almost always get when we're trying to photograph a small model from a "fooling" angle to make it appear large. Nevertheless, the FSR screamed: "MONGUZZI TAKES SAUCER PHOTOS OF THE CENTURY". Well, pretty sad. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Another thing that they bought without assessment [when US organizations like NICAP and CSI and APRO did not] was the so-called "Straith Letter" wherein it was claimed that the State Department [of the US] had sent Adamski a private letter telling him that they knew that he was on the right track in all he said and encouraged him to keep it up. This letter was a deliberate attempt by Gray Barker and an immature [but State-department-connected {through his father}] young goon named Jimmy Villard. In a bizarre, almost bordering on insane at times, set of letters deposited in the Barker collection at the library archives in Clarksburg, WV, Villard and Barker drool and cackle about how they are doing this great foolery, despite the probably criminal offense of using State Department stationary to do it. Villard, by the way, says that he has many other types of official stationary and will be happy to employ them in a similar way. [obviously none of this latter ever gets to FSR; it was found by myself on an archival trip many years ago]. The bottom line is that the Straith Letter was wholly a hoax, and FSR was happy to buy the whole thing without thought. The second point is that the field had acquired many truth-criminals of varying kinds, and you had to be on guard with crap detectors up and operating at all times. Adamski and Menger, Barker and Villard, have established behaviors that are alive and well today---all over our field. The lesson of our history is to be like CSI or NICAP and not FSR when it comes to such matters. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I probably shouldn't waste all our times on the next thing, but it was boosted as a big deal in England at the time, and [somewhat tellingly] has not been discarded by some UFO enthusiasts even today---plus it's an interesting story. So--let's tell a barroom tale. This is the way FSR told it: Three men were out driving near Scarborough in North Yorkshire, when their motor cut out. They saw a glowing object in the sky which seemed to come to Earth a short distance away. One guy went out and located an object at the site, but couldn't carry it [or wouldn't], so he went back to get his buddies. On returning to the place, they passed a man and woman, who did not speak. The object was no longer there when they arrived. Telling their story around, an ad was placed in the paper for a reward for the thing. Someone responded to the ad and a deal was made to pay ten pounds for it. "It" was a disk-like object made largely of copper, 18 inches in diameter and weighing 35 pounds. There were two vent holes scorched about, and a shaft running down the middle. The thing was handed over to a writer named "Avendel"/"Avenel", a pseudonym. Allegedly he knew about UFOs [which was apparently not true]. Some markings were present on the outside, but not decipherable. The thing was nick-named the "Silpho Moor artifact" from the spot of its find. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Sometime in here, the thing was pried apart. Within the disk was a "thin copper book", 6"x5", and composed of seventeen thin sheets upon which "glyphs" were written/stamped. This book was given to a local cafe owner to translate. This he did, claiming the message to be a missive from extraterrestrials. The Manchester UFO society agreed with him. "Avendel" said that he thought it was a clever statement by some humans who were using this gimmick to give us needed "philosophy". The Teeside UFO group said that they had the material chemically analyzed and it was normal terrestrial copper which had been sealed together using normal solder. Their conclusion was that it was a slightly elaborate hoax. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------I know that you're dying to hear the ET message so here it is: the outside read--"Friends. Message inside to be dealt with by philosophers, not officials. Good wishes, Ulo." hmmmm....philosophers, eh? The inside read [in part--all that FSR reported]: "My name is Ulo, and I write this message to you, my friends on the planet of the sun you call earth. Where I live I will not say. You are a fierce race, and prepare space travel. No one from another planet has ever landed on the earth and your reports to the contrary are faulty....It is impossible to receive radio over far distances owing to natural waves in space, unless key of several frequencies is used, but we can receive single frequencies from near transmitter-recorder in space vehicles". As far as us being nuisances was concerned, we were interfering with their distant-controlled probes: "Our recording vehicles on return are sometimes found to have atoms radiating and we can't touch except by machine". Doubtless many other knowledge gems were omitted by FSR in its coverage. ----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Other resources added little to this which has been supportive of any reality [other than a hoax] as far as my own reading goes. Lord Dowding, who, despite being a British Air Marshall, doesn't seem to be wired too tight, claimed that he opened the disk and perused the copper book and its translation, and was convinced that it was a true elaborate language. The cafe owner who did the translating said that he could "get into the mind" of the writer and knew that this was a real well-used language. [the language was by the way composed of almost entirely "Ts" and "Vs" stamped at a variety of angles.] Leonard Cramp, who was thought by some people at the time as a person who occasionally made sense, was informed by "Avendel" that the copper book was meant for Cramp [how he "felt" this we don't know] and Cramp believed him. The cafe owner later said that Ulo blew his cover in the text and it was revealed that he was from Mercury. The respectable British UFO group BUFORA said, quite late [2005] that they believed that the persons involved had admitted the hoax. Regardless of all this, the current editor of FSR is said to have re-affirmed his belief in the reality of the ET artifact, even stating that the top of the disk was made of not just copper but copper so advanced that it was transparent. Yikes. The man can't even read the back copies of his own publication. A good story. And good lessons if we're willing to take them. {I hope that it's obvious that the illustrations are FSR's pictures of the device and the stamped markings}.----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The last bit is the tale that I [liberally] put in my high-strangeness files, rather than just toss it the rubbish bin, where it, with commentary, probably should go. I'm keeping it out because it has an interesting feature and I think that unlike typical contactees, the woman involved was probably honest. ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Cynthia Appleton had just put the babies to bed for an afternoon nap when she got a feeling of a "presence". Looking about, she ultimately noticed the fuzzy outlines of a man standing near her fireplace. He was like an unfocussed television picture which gradually hardened down to crystal clarity. [sounds like the old pre-program commentary from the Outer Limits to me]. His entrance was preceded by a high-pitched whistle. She was scared, but he somehow calmed her. He did not say things aloud, but somehow communicated directly with her mind. He wore a tight-fitting silvery plastic thing with a high Elizabethan collar. He was tall and fair. He claimed to be from another world and that they needed something from the bottom of our seas--apparently Titanium. He said that we were wasting our time with brute force rockets [he didn't state it that way] and spread his hands forming another tv screen in the air. On screen was a large domed disk and ET personnel. He ended up telling her that they live in peace and harmony and that he would return. As he faded out, some newsprint that he had happened to be standing upon was charred.-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------About a month and a half later, he came back. Same fuzzy TV screen routine preceded by the whistle. [she had the day before just blacked out and tumbled to a crash off a, gratefully low, piece of furniture]. She was at the same spot when her ET visitor came again. This time he was in a subsidiary capacity to a bigger wheel. As they firmed up they were "solid" and you could not see through them. They were dressed the same with different hairstyles. This time they spoke aloud. [and in a clipped formal english]. They told her that they had to knock her out the previous evening in order to prepare her mind so that they could get through. Her mind was special, and very few people could allow contact. [You will be delighted to know that they were from Ghanas Vahn on Venus--a fact that I know you will apply with discretion]. She should not try to touch them as it could be hazardous to her health. {at this point in the magazine, editor Trench, totally sold on the affair, enthused about the newspapers being charred by radioactivity and gamma rays---which, at charring doses, would have fried her}. They didn't want to appear to too many of us because of panic. They also informed her that Russia was building a death ray which would decompose matter without explosions. {they missed that prophecy rather widely}. They then left, leaving her, as on the previous occasion, with a splitting headache. FSR sold the ranch for this story, but it seems to me to more likely be the product of a sensitive and honest young woman, who had a couple of [hopefully temporary] seizures, with accompanying fantasies. I don't say this lightly. Such micro-seizure dream-like states are in the literature with a lot of stress-induced fantasy imagery. It is at least a serious alternative hypothesis. -------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------Well, I hate to be a skeptical ogre about things, so lets briefly end with a good old Charles Fort-like anomaly. 1886:August 3rd. "Monsieur Poey and Monsieur Touvelet saw numerous objects crossing the face of the Sun. Some of them were round and others were triangular". So, take that, Don Menzel!!


  1. the copper plates remind me of the book joseph smith found in a stone chamber on the side of a very oddly shaped hill near syracuse new york. its a shrine for the mormons now with an equally odd statue if the "angel maroni" on the very top. salvatore trento wrote it up in his mysterious places book. trento felt it was discovered by smith who had been investigating the mysterious stone chambers of the NE for "treasure/artifacts" and that it was copper, although smith claimed it was gold. the hill has strange electromagnetic readings and caused some of use to have odd physical symptoms there. the path to the stone chamber is cordoned off and my husband offered to "cover me" while i jumped the barricade but i didn't have enough nerve. the whole place has security cameras everywhere.
    he (smith) deciphered the plates using special lenses and then gave the plates back to the angel afterwards who ascended with them into the sky.
    i mention this because the thin copper plates with "hieroglyphics" is a cultural reference that had been done before the tale you mention, and is complete with angels (e/t's) and ufo's (not sure but i think i remember maroni descended in a fiery convenance.)
    this hill is strange and worth visiting of you are ever in the syracuse/ finger lakes area. T'mara

  2. I have no depth information on the Joseph Smith tale about the angel Moroni, but am aware that everything about it is felt to be extremely controversial, and basically not credited by any student of this subject except for members of the Mormon faith. It is possible that some elements about the story are true of course, but the tale remains a matter of faith, not data.

  3. right, i didn't bring it up for the truthfulness of it i just mentioned it because the tale of copper plates with mysterious writing was present in the culture previous to its mention in the story you wrote about and contained ufo like aspects as the time your story came into being it might have been a conscious or collectively subconscious memory. T

  4. According to the rr0 page on the Monguzzi photo case, Colman von Keviczky calculated the distance of the object from the camera to be 60 to 70m. He was (according to various sources), a man with long experience as a professional in the field of photography. The google translation of the same rr0 page states:

    "..Monguzzi then grabbed the camera, a Kodak Retina 1, loaded with a black and white fast and equipped with a Schneider lens F.3.5. The camera is set to infinity, f.8 1 / 300 s (with all the settings on this camera is anything closer than 25 feet is meant to be blurring) and takes 2 Monguzzi first photo.."

  5. Anyone is welcome to believe anything that they want to. All I can do is supply information. In this case that is that no one that I know thinks that the Monguzzi photos are anything but a crude fake, and no one I know believes that Colman von Keviczky is a trustworthy source. But I will file away your opinion on the reason why the foreground is blurry.

  6. I just glanced at your writeup, because I had an interest in one of the cases. I won't even say which one, because you'll just trash it. Skeptics like you guys are all alike. Everything is either "faked," or "easily explained." You dismiss literally everything out of hand ... like Phil Klass or Joe Nickell. I don't go in for hoaxes either, in fact I can't stand them because it hurts legitimate study of the field. But to dismiss everything like you guys do leaves you with absolutely zero credibility. You're just as bad as the out and out hoaxer. I don't even pay attention to you guys, it's a complete waste of time. But I guess there will always be guys like you in the crowd.

    1. Well, as they say on the Internet: LOL. Obviously this person hasn't taken much time to read this blog.



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