Astronaut Edgar Mitchell on Campbell Live

9 08 2008

Recently Edgar Mitchell has returned to the public eye 37 years after setting the current record for the longest moon walk. Mr Mitchell is one of the privileged few who has had such an opportunity, but his most recent public statements risk over shadowing his important space exploration legacy.

On the 8th of August 2008 he appeared on TV3’s Campbell Live to discuss his belief that the Roswell UFO incident occurred. Coincidentally he lived in Roswell at the time of the alleged UFO crash that occurred in 1947 and he commented that he did not think much of it at the time.

The reason he did not think much of it was because no one did think much of it, the mythology that surrounds the Roswell UFO incident did not enter the public consciousness until the publication of The Roswell Incident in 1980 by Charles Berlitz and William L. Moore where it was contended that a UFO had crashed and the military had covered it up. The 1990’s saw a flurry of books being published that expanded the mythology even further and the idea that alien bodies were recovered from the wreckage was introduced.

Mr Mitchell told John Campbell that he was privy to information from ‘old timers’ who told him that alien bodies had been recovered from the site, and that a fourth alien was alive and subsequently assisted the US authorities. He has refused to disclose who these ‘old timers’ are during other interviews. This is unsatisfactory in determining whether his position is based upon a solid foundation.

The evidence for the Roswell incident is weak. The books tend to be based upon witness testimony obtained some 30 to 40 years after the events. This in it self presents its own problems due to the well understood problems that arise out of relying upon memory. Furthermore, very few of the people interviewed were eyewitnesses, rather they were reporting hearsay evidence, which weakens the strength of the evidence even further. Other witnesses have been shown to intentionally or unintentionally inflate or fabricate testimony about what they did see in 1947.

Supporters of the Roswell incident point to the cover up carried out by the air force as evidence to support an alien crash. They are correct that there was a cover up, but for a much more earthly reason. The item that crashed was a high altitude balloon that carried experimental top secret equipment that the air force hoped would detect Soviet nuclear tests. In the increasingly tense years after the Second World War, it is not surprising that the air force would move quickly to clean up the crash site and release a cover story that it was a weather balloon.

Perhaps Mr Mitchell could be forgiven for having one errant belief that he has reluctantly made public – as he said to John Campbell, he has been recounting his belief in aliens at Roswell to many people for the last 10 years, but it has only recently come to the attention of the mainstream media. However, in the years after his tenure as an astronaut he set up the Institute for Noetic Science that investigates the powers of consciousness, including areas that do not fit into the conventional scientific methods – in other words such questionable things like psychic abilities, consciousness surviving death, and alternative medicines, just to name a few.

Given his apparent belief in many alternative ideas and the conspiracy around the Roswell incident, I am surprised that he has not jumped on the bandwagon and stated that the moon landings were false as well.

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