19 August 2009


One of the mysteries of ufology, it seems to The Pelican, is what is known as disinformation and the reactions of many ufologists to it. Some of the disinformation appears to be aimed at the news media rather than ufologists and has a certain superficial plausibility, but much of it is, so absurd that it is a wonder that anyone takes it seriously and apparently finds it worthwhile to discuss and investigate it, except perhaps as examples of modem folklore.
The Pelican, of course, does not take it seriously but merely finds it mildly amusing. The most puzzling kind of disinformation is that which appears to come from official sources, notably the US Air Force. This is just as implausible, or even more so, than that produced by those who do it just for fun, or to get invited to the numerous UFO conferences.

Now, many ufologists have reasons for spreading disinformation. Some believe that the UFOs are alien spacecraft and they want to convince others, so they add details to UFO reports to make them more interesting and exotic, or they suppress details which suggest mundane explanations. Others exploit ufology for its entertainment value and have few scruples about attempting to pass off faked photographs and documents as genuine. Some of these people try to make themselves seem more impressive by lying about their military service, academic and professional qualifications.

However, when government officials give out false information about UFOs, one should expect that there are rational reasons for it. For example, when a nation is at war, false information is fed to the enemy concerning what their forces plan to do next. It is easy to find many examples in military history and there is no difficulty in understanding the reasons for such actions.

What, then, asks The Pelican, are the rational reasons for the actions of Richard C. Doty, who was a sergeant in the US Air Force, serving in their Office of Special Investigations at Kirtland AFB, and who, in retirement, is apparently still active in spreading UFO disinformation.

Doty's disinformation is quite unlike other misleading pronouncements from the military in that it lacks the essential quality of seeming to be plausible. In other words, it just doesn't make sense. There is no need for The Pelican to go into detail about it, as it must already be familiar to most of his readers. (Those who would like to know more about it can easily find the information in numerous UFO books and on the Internet.)

This is what is so puzzling. What is the point of disinformation which is so utterly absurd that no sane person is likely to believe it? For instance, Doty had become known for his interest in UFO reports, and it was entirely reasonable and relevant to his work that he should spend some time investigating any which seemed to involve the US Air Force. However, when Linda Moulton Howe (who surely needs no introduction) went to see Doty seeking information for a proposed TV documentary to be titled UFOs: The ET Factor, he showed her what purported to be a briefing paper for the President of the United States giving details of UFO crashes, living and dead aliens, details about the planet they came from, etc. He also gave her lots of other details.

The Pelican, having some grasp - however precarious - on sanity, does not believe a word of the yarns told by Doty to Howe and others. Surely no one in their right mind could believe any of his nonsense? It is likely, of course that some pretend to believe them because they are aware of their entertainment value. This might indeed be Howe's motive for apparently taking Doty's nonsense seriously, but some ufologists assert that she is just extremely credulous. Unlike some commentators, The Pelican also finds it hard to believe that Doty plied ufologists and others with incredible yarns and fake documents without the knowledge or approval of his superiors.

So what is going on here? What is the point of disinformation which is unlikely to be believed by anyone with any grasp on reality? Why was he allowed, or even encouraged, to do this?

The Pelican has carried out a simple thought experiment. He has tried to imagine an NCO in the Royal Air Force inviting ufologists to his office at an RAF station and behaving like Doty, by showing them fake documents and telling absurd yarns about space aliens, unsupported by any evidence.

The Pelican's attempts to imagine this scenario have failed.


  1. The Pelican says Doty's disinformation would not be believed by anyone with any "grasp on reality". Maybe so, but the point is that, particularly in the US, there are enough people with no "grasp on reality" to make it worthwhile for Doty to promote his disinfo. Didn't it all start with Paul Bennewitz in 1980? He was one of those with no such grasp on reality. Also, I don't think it follows that Doty needed approval from above if he was acting privately and not in an official capacity.

  2. The Pelican26.8.09

    Doty could hardly be said to have been "acting privately" when he invited people into his office at Kirtland AFB and showed them documents which purported to be official US Air Force documents. This seems to be what The Pelican once knew as "conduct prejudicial to good order and military discipline". Surely the US Air Force can't be so absurdly slack about such matters?

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