The Inmates are Running the Asylum
by
Mike Bara
[email protected]


Stop the insanity!

As I have watched the increasingly bizarre attacks on Enterprise mount, I have found it amusing and enlightening to note just who has chosen to give them credence. One positive side effect of these events has been an illumination of just who is interested in truth, and who is more concerned with "other agendas." The "Sightings on the radio" crowd and their friends have given an uncritical airing of every tirade, regardless of the accuracy -- or even sanity -- of the claims made. There was a period when I was willing to let it go, to just let the absurdity of the attacks speak for themselves. But, as my friend Richard Hoagland once pointed out to me, I "suffer fools poorly." And I endure liars with even less patience.

It was once my hope that one Joe Firmage, who has written a book called "The Truth," might actually be an asset to the rudderless "UFO community." I became concerned that this initial optimism was misplaced when Firmage posted the results of his investigation into the veracity of the new "MJ-12" documents. The documents, supposedly written by or prepared for members of the infamous "Majestic 12," contained hand written notes in the margins. By implication, these notes would have been written by various members of the committee. Yet despite two years of effort to "verify" these documents,  Firmage and his investigators had not seen fit to hire a handwriting expert to make any comparisons with "known" members of the group.

Of course, to anyone undertaking a serious investigation, this would have been the first item checked. The issue of course, is that the investigation was far from serious. I would have forgiven Firmage for that, despite the very disturbing things I have heard about him.   But when he decided to side with the loony Robert A.M. Stephens and give credence to his "200 questions," he lost what little credibility he had. Not only is Stephens a demonstrable fraud, liar and just plain idiot, but as anyone who listened to the December 30th. 1998 Art Bell program can attest, he has a tenuous grip on reality.

For Firmage to align himself so completely with such a man is an indictment of his credulity. Even as he attacks Hoagland for presenting data that in his esteemed opinion "would not hold up in a pre-trial hearing, let alone in front of a jury," he calls for Hoagland to debate with Stephens and answer his "200 questions." Given the rumors of Firmages own "nocturnal visitations" and the "voices" he occasionally hears, I would have expected that he would be somewhat sensitive to a venal personal attack on someone he knows. I evidently overestimated the limits of Firmage's empathy.

So I went and got a copy of the "200 questions" and Firmage's endorsement of same. I quickly noticed that Frimage's statement and his "pre-trial hearing" claim was evidently based on just a few visits to Hoagland's web site and the alluded to "two meetings." It was quite clear that he had never read Hoagland's book "The Monuments of Mars," "The McDaniel Report," had never heard of the Marvin Czarnik's "Lunar Artifacts Research Group" or any of the other reviews of ideas presented by Hoagland that I was familiar with. I initially tried to contact him by e-mail to make him aware of these studies, but was ignored.

So Mr. Firmage turns out to be just another pretender, a clay footed "savior" for the UFO community. Like so many before him, he has criticized and attacked Hoagland without benefit of doing his homework. For him to accuse Hoagland of being insubstantial after 18 years of papers, books, videos, conferences and web posts, while he has produced in contrast absolutely nothing except a poorly designed web site, is the height of arrogance. Obviously the acquisition of large sums of money is not dependant on the possession of a large degree of intellect or integrity.

None of this mattered to the folks over at "Sightings." Despite the fact that they had ended up with egg all over their face after their pet attack dog Stephens melted down on Bell's show on the 30th of December, they couldn't wait for a reason to post his now infamous "200 questions." Firmages ill-conceived endorsement gave them just such an opportunity. Of course, they could have posted the endorsement without the following "200 questions," but that would have looked like they were interested in truth or fairness. Given that they had already accused the owner of a Minneapolis computer consulting firm of being the "real" Stephens (remember the "real" EQ Pegasi hoaxer?) without a shred of evidence, I guess that printing the tirade of man they had already declared a fraud is actually par for the course.

As for Stephen's "200 questions," which Firmage and "Sightings" seem to find so intriguing, well ...

There are only 144 questions, not 200. I guess "144 questions" didn't have quite the same ring to it. As for the questions themselves, they only reinforce Stephen's shortcomings. Most of the questions are rhetorical, vague, or flatly nonsensical. Others are simply statements, not questions, asserting all manner lunacy as "fact." What few questions there are consist of the "Are you still beating your wife?" variety. This vile, vicious attack rambles from one bizarre innuendo to another, and the whole thing seems to have been written by a 12 year old sneaking onto his dad's computer at night to stir up trouble on the internet. It has been said that dishonesty is revealed in it's meanness, and this tirade reeks of such dishonesty. It is obviously documents like this one which led Whitley Strieber to declare the UFO community the "meanest group of people I've ever seen."

As a public service to those like Mr. Frimage, who seem to find these incoherent ramblings to be something other than a compelling case for Stephen's involuntary commitment, I have decided to address these "questions" in a limited way. Despite friendly advice that I should stay clear of this cesspool of mendacity and monument to inanity, I will volunteer to respond to some of the "questions." I have picked two from the list that I think clearly demonstrate both the absurdity and detestable nature of this attack. I will also be glad to answer some of the other inquiries as long as they are from the list, pertain to data either in print, on video or posted on the Enterprise web site. I will not respond to hearsay claims, personal attacks on myself or Richard, or anything not being directly related to the factual arguments. Since a cursory check of the "144 questions" reveals only maybe eight or ten that actually qualify by the stated standard, I will place the limit at 12 answers. I simply have better things to do with my time than answer this nonsense.

It is my hope that this will once and for all demonstrate the vapidity and dishonesty that I have found to be not just typical, but uniform when it comes to the critics of this investigation. Here goes:

 

"27. Goddard Space Flight Center wants your hide. They inform me and others, particularly an LA Times reporter who wishes to remain anonymous, that he was there when you were there also At Goddard. You photographed copied photos from the moon flights and other space missions, while the pictures were laying there on copy tables under glass. Thus, the natural reflection is now what you are claiming is structures and such on the moon and elsewhere. Your photos and claims are fakes and frauds. Why have you done this?

28. The very photos on your Enterprise Mission site, in general, when checked with the photo archive at NASA-JSC, shows that they are crystal clear and have not the reflections as the Goddard photos have that you have used. Goddard says the day in question they were in a hurry and the photos had reflections. They regret this. You have exploited a falsehood. Why have you done this to the public at large?"

This first example starts with a hearsay claim, the second sentence is incomprehensible and the final question is so vague that it is difficult to determine just what he is referring to. It appears that Stephens is claiming -- without providing any evidence whatsoever -- that somebody at Goddard Space flight center is angry at Hoagland. Even assuming that this is true, and we have no reason to suspect it is, he distorts this into being "Goddard Space Flight Center," as if everyone who works there has some bone to pick with Hoagland. Certainly the SOHO project scientists are probably not happy with the heat they are getting. His third sentence actually appears to be dealing with Hoagland's visit to the National Space Science Data Center (NSSDC) in November of 1994. While the NSSDC is located at Goddard, it is an independent operation.

The gist of this question however, is the ludicrous claim that the lunar images on the Enterprise Mission web site are "fakes and frauds." Stephens is claiming that the objects shown over the lunar horizon like the "Shard" and "Tower," (and I'm guessing this, since he does not say specifically) are actually just reflections off glass covering the images at Goddard.

This is of course totally wrong and utterly stupid. Hoagland's trip to NSSDC took place on November 14th and 15th, 1994, some six months after he first presented his lunar findings at Ohio State and four months after the release of the video of the that event. So, even if there were snapshots taken of pictures at NSSDC (which is doubtful since such an image would have little research value), they were certainly not the images presented at Ohio State or on the Enterprise web site. Further, all of the image enhancements done and presented were obtained from negatives with high quality prints made and scanned at considerable expense by professional photographic labs, not from simple snapshots of prints. Since his question was so vague, it is possible he is referring to the March 1996 press conference images. Unfortunately for the hapless Mr. Stephens, these images did not come from the visit to NSSDC, but from Ken Johnston's personal collection.

The key factor here is that all of this is in the public record, available from the Enterprise Mission web site or the EM newsletter. It is significant that on one of his later charges that he claims he has done "exhaustive" research. If this is an example of such ...

As to question number 28, he also seems to have missed that Marvin Czarnik's Lunar Artifacts Research Group confirmed the presence of all the anomalies presented by Hoagland at Ohio State. They presented their findings at the March 21st 1996 press conference. Had Stephens done any research on this he would have found that they obtained numerous copies from various archives -- including JSC -- and confirmed the "Shard," "Tower," and "Castle" on all of them. So it is clear that Stephens never actually checked into any of this before making his spurious charges.

And of course, the guys over at VGL also got their own copies of the "Shard" and "Tower" frames, and also confirmed them.

What I do find interesting is the possibility that NSSDC employees are spreading false stories about Hoagland's visit there to the press. If that part of this diatribe turns out to be true, they will be hearing about it.

Clearly, Stephens has simply found and repeated various falsehoods on debunking sites on the internet. Clearly, he has no knowledge of how to obtain or evaluate scientific data, and relies on vicious rumor and innuendo to appeal to those who have a bone to pick with Hoagland. To call him a dupe and fool is far too mild. It is not Stephens, but rather those who promote him who are the most exposed here. At least we have a clear idea of who our enemies and friends are, and who is actually serious about the work they do and who is just in the waters in order to muddy them with their lies and ignorance. I suppose we can thank him for that.