June 14, 2017

Photographic memories

By Dom Cioffi

In November of 2014, a man named Thomas Carey told a large audience at a UFO convention that he had “smoking gun” evidence that extraterrestrials had visited earth. His evidence was purported to be in the form of photographic slides dating back to Roswell, New Mexico, in 1947—the location of the world’s most talked about alien encounter.

The slides were unearthed from the attic remains of geologist Bernard Ray after his death and then purchased by a journalist, who then attempted to sell his “discovery” to a number of outlets. (All refused to give payment for the information.)

The Roswell story goes like this: In 1947, an alien spacecraft purportedly crashed on a ranch on the outskirts of Roswell, New Mexico. Due to the sensitive nature, the event was covered up by the U.S. military, who reported that the debris was from a weather balloon. While the crash story made headlines in the local papers for a couple days, it was soon forgotten. And it stayed that way for nearly 30 years.

In 1978, interest was renewed when UFO researchers starting interviewing people who had a connection to the event. Over the next 20 years the Roswell incident gained epic notoriety, as conspiracy theorists postulated that the government was involved in a massive cover-up to mislead the public about the possibility of life outside our planet.

The truth about Roswell is that the government was sending up secret scientific balloons to monitor ongoing nuclear tests. The balloons were meant to detect sound waves emanating from explosions over long distances. The technology was being evaluated in the hope that it would eventually be used to keep an eye on Russian post-WWII nuclear activities.

So, while the government did indeed lie about the debris from Roswell, their lie was much less interesting than the story concocted by the conspiracy theorists.

In May of 2015, six months after Carey’s alien slides were initially teased, the evidence was unveiled to anyone willing to shell out the $20 livestream viewing fee.

Even before the event took place, serious UFO enthusiasts had offered skeptical analysis of the one teased image. Still, for those eager to finally witness what would be considered the greatest discovery in human history, interest was high.

When the images were finally revealed, skeptics immediately started poking holes in the evidence.

First of all, the alien in the slides looked fairly human and in fact, didn’t look unlike a number of mummified children that had been uncovered over the last century.

Skeptics also pointed out that the layout of other objects in the photo made it resemble a standard 1940s museum display and not a scientific lab meant for dissecting alien lifeforms.

But the most damning evidence was a small placard that was visible at the side of the alien object. The owner of the slides said that the placard was unreadable and that a forensic team had attempted to decipher the writing but said it was too blurry to accurately read.

Within hours of the slides’ revealing, common internet sleuths had enhanced the image enough to make out 90 percent of the writing, which clearly stated that the object was a mummified child.

Eventually, the public located the exact museum where the photo was taken as well as other photographic evidence of the same display, which all but put the glamorous hoax to rest.

If you’re curious, you can see the slides yourself by googling “Roswell slides.”

This week’s film, “The Mummy,” could have used a little alien intervention. If this is a precursor to our summer blockbuster season, then we’re in for long, tedious ride.

“The Mummy” stars Tom Cruise as a soldier of fortune who plunders ancient artifacts and then sells them to the highest bidder. During one of his excavations, he accidentally awakens an ancient Egyptian princess who was buried centuries earlier and who is unhappy about being bothered.

While I’m not a huge fan of Tom Cruise’s personal endeavors, he can generally be counted on to pick quality projects to star in—and his track record proves it. Unfortunately, this film was dead in that water, lacking neither the intrigue or story development that would make it a winner.

Check this one out if you’ve got nothing better to do on a rainy day. Otherwise save your theater dollars for one of the other blockbusters due out over the next few months.

A dusty “D+” for “The Mummy.”

Got a question or comment for Dom? You can email him at

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  • For more information on the exposure of the hoax, see the site of the “common internet sleuths” aka Roswell Slides Research Group.
    a detailed essay documents the rise and fall of the Roswell Slides in the new book, “UFOs: Reframing the Debate.”

  • What do the slides and the movie have to do with each other?

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