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Sci-Fi Space Idle

New Book Reports Soviets Behind Roswell UFO Scare 135

jalefkowit writes "A new book by Los Angeles Times Magazine investigative reporter Annie Jacobsen, titled Area 51, reports that that the famous 1947 UFO sightings in Roswell, New Mexico, were actually an attempt by the Soviet Union to demonstrate that they could panic the American population if they wished. According to the book, the UFOs were actually aircraft derived from flying-wing technology, piloted by 'child-size aviators' surgically altered by captured Nazi doctors to appear more frightening. Skeptics note that this account is based on testimony provided to Jacobsen by a single unnamed source, who she describes as one of only five engineers given full access to the crash debris at the top-secret facility in Nevada known as Area 51."
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New Book Reports Soviets Behind Roswell UFO Scare

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  • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday May 27, 2011 @09:56AM (#36262282)

    Silly claims about surgically-altered child-sized navigators aside, there is a connection between the Soviets and Roswell. Project Mogul [], a top secret program to spy on the Soviets, was being testing near Roswell in 1947. One of their spy balloons was what crashed in that famous incident (and why there was a subsequent cover-story and cover-up by the local military).

    In fact, if you look at the mass of "UFO" incidents, you'll notice a pretty consistent pattern. They almost always took place near secret U.S. air bases during the height of the Cold War. Doesn't take a genius to figure out that the strange lights, mysterious craft, and "men in black" that people were seeing had a lot less to do with little green men than with Cold War secrecy, paranoia, and spycraft.

    • I think your argument would hold more weight if it weren't for the last section in the wikipedia article (yeah, I probably shouldn't trust wikipedia 100%, but I think it's accurate enough to believe until I hear otherwise). The flight that supposedly was the Roswell crash was also supposedly canceled due to poor weather. That reeks too much like the "magic bullet" theory to me.

      I wouldn't be surprised if the Soviets pulled a stunt like this, and there was (and still is) a massive coverup by the U.S. governme

      • Occam's Razor? How about the fact that we know Russians *exist*? I would be the first to hope that there are non-Earth life forms out there, but since you mentioned assumptions, it seems assuming alien life actually exists is pretty far from lex parsimoniae.

        • I think that was steelfood's point - that yes, this explanation, however outlandish, is simpler than assuming humanoid alien life capable of interstellar/planetary travel.

          I take much the same approach on the "fake" moon landing pictures. If we presume the apparent photographic problems like rocks overlapping film crosshairs are actually there, then assuming that some of the photos were doctored is realistic - it doesn't mean that the entire event involving thousands of people and enormous amounts of har
        • Sounds like a great plan; start a terror campaign to make Americans believe an alien invasion is about to start.

          There's no way the soviet people could also have heard about it, what with the news media blaring. No danger of it backfiring on the soviets.

          I believe think-tanks are a bit smarter than that.

          Nice try, book-selling charlatan.

          • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

            Sounds like a great plan; start a terror campaign to make Americans believe an alien invasion is about to start.

            Except that would be an incredibly stupid way to go about it. If you were going to do something like that (and it would be a stupid idea, on so *many* levels), you wouldn't crash your "alien craft" on some desert farm in the middle of bumfuck nowhere. You would crash it in a suburb, or near a city. And, even so, the panic wouldn't last very long--because a quick autopsy would reveal the "alien" pilots to be human almost immediately. Not only that, but the U.S. government would tear your "UFO" apart and find

            • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @11:53AM (#36263862) Homepage
              It was to be announced at the Party Congress on Monday. As you know, the Premier loves surprises.
              • My only regret is that I have no mod points to offer you for a superb pop culture Cold War reference...
            • by socz ( 1057222 )

              You know, you make a very valid point:

              You would crash it in a suburb, or near a city. And, even so, the panic wouldn't last very long--because a quick autopsy would reveal the "alien" pilots to be human almost immediately.

              I think crashing it into a big city would cause an undesired side affect - setting off an entire nation and gaining further support for mass armament.

              So here's what I would do, besides using a font straight out of predator for everything, I would basically finish the job on the inside that was started on the outside of the 'freaky pilots.' Throw in some komodo dragon parts, maybe an ostrich gizzard or two, and for good measure, an elephant's trunk. That'll do something!

          • by orkysoft ( 93727 )

            What news media? You do realize you're talking about 1947 Soviet Russia, right?

            • What news media? You do realize you're talking about 2001 Corporate Amerikkka, right?

              • by orkysoft ( 93727 )

                That too, except there you won't be sent to a forced labor camp for watching John Stewart instead of Fox News.

                Except if they catch you streaming it illegally...

        • Occam's Razor? How about the fact that we know Russians *exist*?

          Do you? Have you ever been to this Russia you speak of? All I know is some other people tell me it exists. Just like they tell me the aliens don't. Coincidence? I THINK NOT.

      • It's always interesting to watch the line of thought play out with this general subject. Secret aeronautical experiments during the Jet Age / Space Age / Cold War? No. Wait a second. Something just doesn't add up here. Extraterrestrial visitors crashing on our planet? Hey now - we might be on to something!

        Surgically altered pilots flying bleeding edge technology in to the heart of US air space just to screw with people sounds like a nice combination of UFO mythos. Occam's Razor indeed.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) * on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:43AM (#36262954)

        Eyewitness testimony of the Roswell wreckage is consistent with a high-altitude balloon. Witnesses described strange lightweight metal foil and strange strong but lightweight metal (keep in mind that this was before the general public would have encountered much aluminum material in consumer goods). And we know that the top secret Project Mogul was real and was testing nearby in the same time period. We also know that the military imposed a pretty heavy-handed lockdown of the materials not long after the crash and that witnesses were even threatened by MP's not to talk about the materials they had seen.

        Now, in that case, what do you think is the simplest, sanest explanation--that a Project Mogul balloon crashed or that the Soviet Union surgically altered humans to look like children and flew them in a strange craft to the middle of the desert, then crashed them, all to instill mild fear in a bunch of local rednecks? Or perhaps you believe that alien creatures capable of crossing the almost unimaginably vast emptiness of interstellar space decided to expend the vast amounts of energy needed to cross hundreds of light years--all just to go the the middle of nowhere out in the desert and buzz some military base (and maybe probe a few rednecks while they were here)?

        • No where does it say humans were altered to look like children. I believe what they were trying to explain was humans that were already short (dwarfs, little people, race-horse jockeys) were altered to look like aliens.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by GooberToo ( 74388 )

        The story is beyond stupid. The well established history of the advancement in aerodynamics in the US completely disproves the story.

        Frankly, aliens are more likely that this bullshit story...and that's saying a lot!

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      No, it wasn't one of their spy balloons. IT wsa are experiment. it was an experiment to see if the US can detect atomic weapons testing and/or a launch.

      • by elrous0 ( 869638 ) *

        I'm pretty sure the Soviets would classify floating a secret high-altitude balloon over their country in an attempt to determine if they were doing atomic testing as "spying."

    • I remember all sorts of UFO theories about triangular and not round UFOs near Area 51 and how they had to be alien in origin because the crafts were very quiet and didn't appear on civilian radar. Then a decade later the government acknowledged the existence of the F-117 Nighthawk and the B-2 Spirit and no one would admit that all people saw were merely secret but terrestrial military aircraft.
    • I remember i once read an article in a magazine that someone had recovered a piece of metal from the Nevada desert and had it analyzed. The author claimed this particular alloy was unknown on earth and gave the composition, i remember it had a particularly high nickel content.

      My father was a mechanical engineer and I consulted his data books (this was around 1980, no wikipedia or google). I found an alloy that was very close to what was printed in that article, it happened to be a stainless steel designed f

    • If I remember the history of the Roswell incident is that it made the news long after everything was cleaned up. Decades later did the stories come out about coverup and what people really saw.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Russians? Nazis? Not according to any movie I've seen.

  • I know we're all naturally curious creatures, and love a good narrative, but no experimental technology, political conflict, or conspiracy surrounding a single crash in the 40s is going to have much bearing against todays in-use technologies, political conflicts, or conspiracies(if there are any). Whatever happened is essentially irrelevant today, unless it was aliens(it wasn't aliens).

    • Well, yes. We should just ignore history. After all, today's in-use technologies, political conflicts, and possible conspiracies had nothing to do with what happened in the past.
    • But if it weren't for the Roswell incident, we probably never would have gotten Deus Ex [].
  • It was called the Cuban missile crisis.
  • by robot256 ( 1635039 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:04AM (#36262378)
    An obscure journalist attempts to demonstrate that she can capture the attention of the media by publishing yet another a crackpot conspiracy theory.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:11AM (#36262474)

      Obscure? Hardly. Don't you remember her? She's the one who can't tell the difference between Syrian musicians and terrorists:

    • Nope, she works for the Los Angeles Times, a reputable newspaper whose halo of truth shines on all its journalists. Her book is 544 pages, of which 30 contain this account. If she's making it up, then we must conclude that the Los Angeles Times and a whole lot of other reputable journalists make shit up on a regular basis, and we know this simply isn't true. Journalists are only allowed to print facts that have been independently verified by their editors. Get some knowledge before you spout off anti-jo
      • Are we talking about the LA Times that slightly overshadows The Enquirer in reputation of truth? Sarcasm or did I fall into some cosmic bunny hole?

      • by tgeller ( 10260 )
        This barely merits a response, but what the hell. Where to start?

        >Journalists are only allowed to print facts that have been independently verified by their editors.

        O.K., I can find three errors of fact in this sentence:

        1) "Allowed"? By whom? The Federal Bureau of Truth? You posit an authority where there is none.

        2) " print facts". You've never heard of an opinion column, or advocacy journalism?

        3) "...independently verified by their editors". I don't know what newsroom you work in -- I'm guessing it
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      She isn't obscure, and quite frankly I am shocked at how who journalism skill falls away at the end of the book.

    • As fun as slandering people is, two notes should probably be kept in mind. First, the vast majority of the book is about research told to her by multiple sourced first-hand accounts of what was going on at Area 51. As in, non-conspirational yet still interesting stuff. Second, as a commenter above noted, this is not Annie Jacobsen's crazy theory on what was happening. She took special pains to point out that this was a story directly recounted to her from someone who was supposedly directly involved, un

      • That is all fine and dandy, but anyone can go interview lunatics and come up with "research" and something that resembles a "story". What next, run to the nursing homes and start "documenting" and "researching"? I have a father who has Parkinsons and he will give you all sorts of "first hand accounts" of how "aliens have infected our blood supplies" and how he is still on a secret mission for Jack Kennedy. Sweet Jesus, I should be writing this all down and making bank on a book to the retards in today's r

    • She does admit that this last part (the faked aliens/ufo thing) is not substantiated. She only includes it at the very end of a book about Area 51 that is much more thoroughly documented. She does not say that this new theory is true and is careful to say that it is only the word of this one guy who she was referred to by her other sources.

  • by bl8n8r ( 649187 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:05AM (#36262382)

    No matter how many people speak out the "truth", there have been so many wildly different stories and claims that everything automatically gets tagged as bullshit in everyone's mind.

    • I wish I hadn't commented on another post in this thread, because I would have had moderator points to flag your comment as [+1 Insightful]
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Except the truth IS KNOWN. there are no more secrets about what happened. IT's a very mundane and boring explanation but people who make money sling shit just ignore it, or make an ad hom attack against the theory and then ignore all responses.

      How the russians would have gotten this craft their isn't explained, nor is it explained why the Russians would be using Scotch Tape, and american tape with flowers printed on it is ignored. Like all inconvienant facts people with an emotional tie to in idea tend to i

    • No matter how many people speak out the "truth", there have been so many wildly different stories and claims that everything automatically gets tagged as bullshit in everyone's mind.

      It's a pity that said calling of bullshit doesn't happen more often.

  • Seriously? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hitch ( 1361 ) <(hitch) (at) (> on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:05AM (#36262392) Homepage

    I'm more willing to believe it was an actual UFO.
    And I don't believe in Alien UFOs.

    This is the most convoluted conspiracy theory I've heard since the "9/11 was perpetrated by the US" and "Obama's Birth Certificate" nutjobs

    • So given all the improbabilities involved in interstellar travel, you think that's more likely than one government fucking with another, and expending great resources in which to do it?

      I'm afraid I have some bad news for you about how the world works...

    • by PuckSR ( 1073464 )

      I actually agree with you. I am more willing to believe actual aliens landed than this story.
      This is probably as crazy as the "9/11 was an inside job" nutjobs, but not as crazy as the "Obama Birth certificate" nutjobs. The birthers were more denialists. They just didn't want to believe a single fact and believed people might be covering up. They were not specific concepts that were massively convoluted and questionable in motive. I would compare the birthers to JFK conspiracy theorists. I would also p

  • by Anonymous Coward

    It's a shame that the stuff at the end (Stalin smuggled Josef Mengele out of Nazi Germany in the closing days of WWII so that he could surgically/genetically alter 13 year old kids to look like aliens for the purpose of starting a panic in the US that would delay the response to a preemptive Soviet attack- really?) will discredit what otherwise seems to be a well sourced history of cold-war research.

  • An actual alien crash landing is almost more believable than this "explanation".
  • the crap that is told by that book, is less believable than extraterrestrial visitors.

    ironic that this shit came out a short while after fbi ufo disclosure (right or wrong) news hit the major news outlets.

    aliens may be there, or not, but, THIS is the most incompetent piece of disinformation that can ever be attempted. 'child size aviators' my ass.
    • I could buy that if it wasn't for the "altered by captured Nazi doctors to appear more frightening" part :P
  • Holy crap...the most batshit-crazy theory yet to explain Roswell, and it doesn't even point to a consipracy by our own government, or a shadow organization? Who would have thought?

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Actually it does. And it's the stupidest 'theory' ever based on...well... nothing.

    • Crazy or not, it was clear that the US public at the time was easily panicked. The Soviets were amused at the War of the Worlds incident, and the UFO hysteria had just taken off. The US government did not like this hysteria and they would want to downplay this if it had occurred. The rationale to do this make sense, the part that seems to fall down the most is the aircraft that vaguely resembles a saucer made by some German brothers, I'm sure some pictures and evidence of this would be out there.

  • they would have made it public for a worldwide haha on the US!
    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      She claims that our government didn't say anything because we decided to do it after finding out the Russian did it. As if that has any gain over coming out and telling people look what the reds did!

      And she sidesteps the issue of how the Russians got a craft there.

  • Hear her out (Score:5, Informative)

    by just_another_sean ( 919159 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:11AM (#36262472) Journal

    She was on the daily show last week; she seemed pretty sane, even if her story doesn't... Judge for yourself. []

    • by arazor ( 55656 )

      She was on the daily show last week; she seemed pretty sane, even if her story doesn't... Judge for yourself. []

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      Sanity isn't really the question. On OPB she clearly had huge holes in her story, and when pressed it was pretty clear she has nothing to base this on.

    • She was on the daily show last week; she seemed pretty sane, even if her story doesn't... Judge for yourself. []

      Many authors are completely sane - including the ones who write fiction.

    • by hoytak ( 1148181 )

      Ah.... a nice example of knowing what would sell.

      In other words, she doesn't have to believe it to understand how people think about this, and it's likely a lot of readers will see it as a work of fiction, buy it, and be entertained. In other words, she seems successful as an author here.

    • by Dan541 ( 1032000 )

      Some author who's selling a book makes unsupported claims in order to sell aforementioned book.

      Why is this on slashdot?

  • by JMZero ( 449047 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:15AM (#36262522) Homepage

    This narrative doesn't make sense for any of the players involved. The only way you see the plastic-surgeried child pilot is if you're deliberately crashing the thing - at which point it is clear to the people picking it up it's "normal" technology and the child is clearly a clumsily mutilated (even modern plastic surgery is not going to conceal this kind of thing) human. It would have also been immediately clear who did it, why it isn't scary aliens, and it would have been reasonably hard to do (requires launching a plane deep into the US). It also wouldn't make much sense to keep secret - the message is simple: the Russians are weird douchebags who sent a over a plane with a dead kid.

    Contrast that with another, significantly-less-crazy-but-still-pretty-crazy plan that could have actually worked: Have a weird formation of small planes with blinking lights. Send them around at night to New York. If you want, maybe blow up the Statue of Liberty with an unconventional mix of explosives while shining a big light on it or something. Get a whole bunch of weird coincidence stuff going too, broadcast strange radio messages and have it happen in correspondence with some astrological phenomenon. Then get out real fast before they can find your planes, and see that they have conventional propulsion systems and human pilots.

    Anyways, I'm sure you or I could do better than the above stupid plan with a little time to think it out (heck, a rope and a cornfield works pretty good). Imagining that the Russians, with plenty of time to think through a plan that required significant commitment, couldn't do better than mutilated kid crashing a plane in the desert... is just so very dumb. I think the only people dumb enough to accept it would be the morons who already have an "explanation" (ie. those who believe it was aliens).

    • 1) The account seems pretty clear that the intention was to crash one, to prove to the US military that they (the Russians) could cause a nation-wide UFO scare.

      2) Flying disk technology was considered advanced technology in that day, as flying wing technology was still being tested.

      I'm not fully convinced of the truthfulness of the account, but it seems far more plausible than a covered-up alien encounter.
      • by JMZero ( 449047 )

        The account seems pretty clear that the intention was to crash one, to prove to the US military that they (the Russians) could cause a nation-wide UFO scare.

        To cause a scare, why not, uh, let their UFO get caught flying on film (hopefully doing things that only their advanced aircraft could do). Again, if I was trying to fake this, I'd do it at night with a formation of planes (thus appearing larger than a plane could be, or - using tricks of perspective and a formation moving faster than planes could move

    • Or just release a bunch of prank balloons: []

      Note: Don't actually use this design; they can start fires. I bet some great prank balloons could be made from flashing LED light toys and helium balloons.

  • Whoosh (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Greyfox ( 87712 )
    That really isn't the story here, and she pretty much says that in all the interviews I've heard with her. The story is the fact that the organization behind Area 51, the US Department of Energy, can classify information so tightly that no one in the US Government (Including the President) could be deemed to have a "need to know" to see it. They are unaccountable and outside any system of checks and balances. Of course, that alone doesn't sell books so I can see why she trotted out the freak show.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      The story is the fact that the organization behind Area 51, the US Department of Energy, can classify information so tightly that no one in the US Government (Including the President) could be deemed to have a "need to know" to see it

      Or the DoE has no such ability, and the only reason nobody has ever been able to see this "information" is because there's no such information to see beyond the rather mundane and the now widely reported stories regarding weather/spy balloons. Even if there was still a hidden truth behind this, how do you know what the President or any other high-level official has seen? Right, you don't. Your "real story" is as much a conspiracy theory as the UFO crash itself.

      • Don't conflate Area 51 with Roswell. The conspiracy theorists tie them together but Area 51 itself is involved with top secret research having nothing to do with the UFO story.

    • The story is the fact that the organization behind Area 51, the US Department of Energy, can classify information so tightly that no one in the US Government (Including the President) could be deemed to have a "need to know" to see it.

      Trash that video of "Independence Day" and get back to taking your meds.

  • by supersloshy ( 1273442 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:24AM (#36262666)

    "Lesbian Nazi hookers abducted by aliens and forced into weight-loss programs. All next week on Town Talk"
              - George Newman (Weird Al Yankovic), UHF

  • CLearly she stopped applying all thought when she talked about child altered surgically and/or genetically.

    In fact, in order to use emotions to make her claims more believable, she changes from a proper journals 3rd person writting to a 1 person writing.

    IT's crap. Complete hearsay. She also made the classic blunder of people who start to buy in to this kind of lunacy: Made up security clearances.

    At one point she said:
    My source remains anonymous because he is afraid of what will happen. He is the last remaining engineer on a 5 man tame.
    As if that wouldn't give him away to the very people she claims he is afraid of.

    "Gosh Bob, we would shut this person up, be he is anonymous. We do know he was on the uber top secret project with pal;id levels security, and we know he's the only surviving member. But Who can it be?"

    When pressed she started making up crazier and wider reaching 'theories'. I mean she was told by some guy who claim to have been on some project, and then uses the Ad ignorantiam ad the 'argument from authority' logical fallacies.

    IT';s kind of sad. Watching a good journalist get sucked in like that.

    • IT';s kind of sad. Watching a good journalist get sucked in like that.

      What makes you think she is a good journalist or sucked in?

      The most logical explanation is that she knows what she is doing. It would explain the consistent form-change, and the over-the-top conspiracy theory that would guarantee her free publicity and probably even make people who thinks it sounds stupid, buy the book, in order to find out where it is coming from, or to have laugh.

      Sounds to me more like an evil journalist than a good jou

  • by rudy_wayne ( 414635 ) on Friday May 27, 2011 @10:29AM (#36262744)

    I recently heard an interview with Annie Jacobsen and this book is a huge load of crap. It's all based on third-hand information ("I was told by someone, who was told by someone...."). She claims that the aircraft was being remotely piloted by the Soviets and contained people, who appeared to be 12-13 years old, who had been genetically engineered by Josef Mengele (who went to work for the Soviets after the end of WWI) to look like aliens.. Of course she had no explanation of how Mengele genetically engineered a few 12-13 year old people in the 2 years between the end of WWII and the crash at Roswell. Not to mention the fact that the knowledge and technology for genetic engineering didn't exist at that time. She never did answer questions about the people in the aircraft -- did the US recover them? Were they alive? Were they dead? She just changed the subject and started talking about something else.

    The entire interview was nothing but weasel words and lots of backpedaling whenever she was asked about specific details.

    • She doesn't claim this, she is quoting a source that she explicitly says is just a source with no substantiated evidence behind the claims. She doesn't have the details because she is just relaying information. She does not claim that this is true either. It's just a tacked on section at the end of a much longer book.

      Personally I think it could have been left off but she included it in order to increase sales of the book. So there's the ethical question here. She switches from 3rd to 1st person explici

  • Was Area 51 even a facility back then? Whatever they recovered from Roswell went to "Hangar 18" - an environmental test facility at Wright-Patterson AFB in Dayton, OH.

    Even most skeptics agree on that (regardless of what they thought was recovered).

    Anybody claiming Area 51 involvement in the Roswell incident instantly loses all credibility.

  • Roswell explained: []

    This is a lecture on physics a Berkeley. It will take an hour but it explains the Roswell UFO stuff and why it was classified.
    More fascinating IMO than aliens....

  • I watched the Nightline report on this book last night. Ms. Jacobsen claims that Josef Mengele was working with Stalin and the Soviets, developing these alien-looking children.

    Josef Mengele, after WW2, was captured by the United States while he was FLEEING the Soviets. He used a fake name and was in a POW camp for a while, was released, and then escaped to Buenos Aires care of the ODESSA network, where he remained until the 1980s.

    So, historically speaking, her story makes no sense.

    • I believe you can watch the nightline episodes online.. and it's also available as a free audio podcast.

  • Flying wings, piloted by child-sized aviators ... makes me think of the The Turk [], piloted by a child-sized chess master.
  • ...did anyone else immediately get that idea?

  • If you've read the book, or heard her discuss the book at length you might be a bit more informed to make comments. She -does not- make these claims on her own, nor does she report it third hand. She reports it as an addendum to the, most likely true, accounts of what the UFO's at Area 51 actually were ... experimental aircraft. The 'conspiracy' theory was not a leap of logic, it was a journalistic account told from an immediate source who supposedly worked on the 'alien' crash at Roswell. Don't jump to
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