“There you go again…”

I hope May the 4th provided most people with their fill of Star Wars alien beings and spaceships online and throughout social media, because May the 5th seemed to only herald a call to cantinas to celebrate Cinco de Mayo w/ strong margaritas for UFO enthusiasts despite assurances that the world would soon see proof positive of extraterrestrial life.

Two old Kodachrome slides were presented in yesterday’s Be Witness event organized by longtime ufologist Jaime Maussan in Mexico City.  What is pictured in the slides is what piqued so many people’s curiosity.  Supposedly captured in them are the remains of a deceased alien body taken from the infamous 1947 Roswell, NM crash.  The story put forward is that these two slides were found in an attic, and had once been in the possession of Bernard and Hilda Ray, former residents of Midland, TX.  From a photographic standpoint, the slides were apparently given some analysis and determined to be generally authentic for the time period of the 1940s-1950s.  The couple have since passed away, and have no children to which questions may be directed about the slides.

The Rays were apparently a successful and well-educated couple, and do not appear to have had any reason to have perpetuated a hoax of any kind.  The slides in question were found among many other slides containing decidedly non-alien pictures during the same time.  The event created a buzz that reached a crescendo May 5th, and quickly fizzled as photos from the event began circulating the internet, with early social media reactions citing the “alien remains” to be nothing more than photos of a mummified human child taken at a museum.

But haven’t we seen this before, and with Roswell at the center no less?  In 1995 FOX broadcast the now-legendary Alien Autopsy: Fact or Fiction program hosted by Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s own Jonathan Frakes to wild ratings and a public eager to see fantastic, gory footage of a dead gray alien.  The documentary-style black-and-white film was the topic of much debate, but in 2006 entrepreneur and producer Ray Santilli relented that the footage was a reconstruction of an original film he’d seen in the early 1990s, and ultimately not the real deal.

The general public, especially Americans, seem to have an unending interest in the Roswell event (whatever it was).  Yet much-hyped events like this latest one highlights a couple of things.  First, the public and media are always thirsty for juicy UFO and alien news.  This isn’t anything new, but some would cite that over the past several decades the topic continues to become more mainstream.  While there are still plenty of hoaxes and overblown reactions to “genuine” shaky-cam film or photos of UFOs, there is a steadily-growing channel of scientific interest and even support for the existence of life beyond our own tiny planet.  This is encouraging, because increasing awareness of our place in the universe and interest in what else might be out there – whether that be in print, films, or other mediums – facilitates continued discussion about something for which mankind has wondered for centuries.

Second, and more frustrating, these moments give all ufologists a very public black eye.  Do a quick search, you’ll quickly find that not all ufologists were on-board with these slides being the “proof” they were heralded to be.  Yet the media headlines will cry hoax and many credulous and sincere researchers, writers and interested parties will grumble to themselves.  There are all sorts of people in the international ufologist tent, and just like politicians they come in many shapes, sizes and colors.  As a non-fiction author of Lone Star Saucers: Searching for UFOs in Texas, I can’t help but roll my eyes when something like this comes along.  It will never live up to the hype, and when there’s significant money or publicity involved you can generally count on being underwhelmed in this field if not outright hoaxed.

Perhaps a bigger problem at the heart of this is simple – many of us would like for it to be true.  Proof for alien life would be an astonishing discovery for the human race, and intelligent extraterrestrial (or hey, extra-dimensional for that matter!) life would certainly cause heads to turn.  For many that toil in the field, both believers and skeptics, we know how little is to be made when you are in search of real answers.  We understand the time dedicated in the pursuit of even some small new piece of information.  So when another new public backlash hits all of us “tin-foil-hat-wearing-UFO-nuts”, we can’t help but feel discouraged a bit from time to time.

That all said, this most-recent example reminded me of Ronald Reagan’s famous line, “There you go again.”  Those who seek the spotlight and to profit off a public starved for open and honest truth about UFOs will always find an audience.  In this case it may be just an honest mistake coupled with wishful thinking, though on an undeniably grand scale of visibility.  There’s still hope yet, even if the slides in question aren’t those of a genuine alien.  This isn’t the end of the world or a sign to toss the baby out with the bathwater; it’s ultimately just another bump in the long road to the truth, which as we all know, is out there.

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