Prominent skeptics Joe Nickell and co-author James McGaha identified a myth-making process, which they called the “Roswellian Syndrome”. In this syndrome a myth is proposed to have five distinct stages of development: Incident, Debunking, Submergence, Mythologizing, and Reemergence and Media Bandwagon Effect. The authors predicted that the Roswellian Syndrome would “play out again and again”, in other UFO and conspiracy-theory stories.
Recriminations among ufologist’s
Glenn Dennis, who testified that Roswell alien autopsies were carried out at the Roswell base, and that he and others were the subjects of threats, was deemed one of the “least credible” Roswell witnesses by Randle in 1998. In Randle and Schmitt’s 1991 book UFO Crash at Roswell, Dennis’s story was featured prominently. Randle said Dennis was not credible “for changing the name of the nurse once we had proved she didn’t exist.” Dennis’s accounts were also doubted by researcher Pflock.
Scientific skeptic author Brian Dunning concurs that Dennis cannot be regarded as a reliable witness, considering that he had seemingly waited over forty years before he started recounting a series of unconnected events. Such events, Dunnings argues, were then arbitrarily joined together to form what has become the most popular narrative of the alleged alien crash.
Some prominent UFOlogists including Karl T. Pflock, Kent Jeffrey, and William L. Moore have become convinced that there were no aliens or alien space craft involved in the Roswell crash.
Alien autopsy hoax
In 1995, film footage purporting to show an alien autopsy and claimed to have been taken by a US military official shortly after the Roswell incident was released by Ray Santilli, a London-based video entrepreneur. The footage caused an international sensation when it aired on television networks around the world.
In 2006, Santilli admitted that the film was mostly a reconstruction, but continued to claim it was based on genuine footage now lost, and some original frames that had supposedly survived. A fictionalized version of the creation of the footage and its release was retold in the comedy film Alien Autopsy (2006).
In an attempt to produce fresh evidence, some researchers used new technology to try to re-analyze photographs of the telegram held by General Ramey during his 1947 press conference. Goldberg writes that the results proved inconclusive: while some claimed they could discern wording like “victims of the wreck”, others claimed they saw “turn out to be weather balloons”. Overall, there was no consensus that anything was legible.
US political interest
On October 26, 2007, Bill Richardson (who at the time was a candidate for the Democratic Party nomination for U.S. President) was asked about releasing government files on Roswell. Richardson responded that when he was a Congressman, he attempted to get information on behalf of his New Mexico constituents, but was told by both the Department of Defense and Los Alamos Labs that the information was classified. “That ticked me off,” he said “The government doesn’t tell the truth as much as it should on a lot of issues.” He promised to work on opening the files if he were elected as President.
In October 2002, before airing its Roswell documentary, the Sci-Fi Channel hosted a Washington UFO news conference. John Podesta, President Clinton’s chief of staff, appeared as a member of the public relations firm hired by Sci-Fi to help get the government to open up documents on the subject. Podesta stated, “It is time for the government to declassify records that are more than 25 years old and to provide scientists with data that will assist in determining the true nature of the phenomena.”
When asked during a 2015 interview with GQ Magazine about whether he’d looked up top secret classified information, President Barack Obama replied “I gotta tell you, it’s a little disappointing. People always ask me about Roswell and the aliens and UFOs, and it turns out the stuff going on that’s top secret isn’t nearly as exciting as you expect. In this day and age, it’s not as top secret as you’d think.”
As time wore on, it became harder for Roswell researchers to find new evidence to publish; there was potential though in the prospect of deathbed confessions from those originally involved in 1947. In 2007 Donald Schmitt and Tom Carey published the book Witness to Roswell, which prominently featured a document said to be a sworn affidavit written by Walter Haut, who had written the first Army press release about the Roswell crash in 1947. The document, apparently kept under seal until Haut’s death in 2005, described how the 1947 crash debris had been discussed by high-ranking staff and how Haut had seen alien bodies.
The claims, however, drew an unimpressed response even from ufologists: Dennis Balthaser said that the document was not written by Haut, and that by 2000 Haut’s mental state was such he could not recall basic details about his past, making the detail contained in the affidavit seem dubious. Physicist and skeptic Dave Thomas commented: “Is Roswell still the ‘best’ UFO incident? If it is, UFO proponents should be very, very worried.”
The “other Roswell”
A 1950 FBI document relating a story about “so-called flying saucers” told to an agent by a third party.
The 1948 Aztec, New Mexico, UFO incident was a hoaxed flying saucer crash and subject of the book Behind the Flying Saucers (1950) by Frank Scully. The incident is sometimes referred to as the “other Roswell” and parallels have been drawn between the incidents.
Area 51 (2011)
American journalist Annie Jacobsen’s Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base (2011), based on interviews with scientists and engineers who worked in Area 51, dismisses the alien story. She quotes one unnamed source as claiming that Josef Mengele, a German Schutzstaffel officer and a physician in Auschwitz, was recruited by the Soviet leader Joseph Stalin to produce “grotesque, child-size aviators” to be remotely piloted and landed in America in order to cause hysteria similar to Orson Welles’ The War of the Worlds (1938). The aircraft, however, crashed and the incident was hushed up by the Americans. Jacobsen wrote that the bodies found at the crash site were children around 12 years old with large heads and abnormally-shaped, oversized eyes. They were neither aliens nor consenting airmen, but human guinea pigs. The book was criticized for extensive errors by scientists from the Federation of American Scientists.