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Ask Dr. SETI ®

Chapter 5: Sociology

What Were They Covering Up at Roswell?

Dear Dr. SETI:
I'm still trying to figure out exactly what the Government was trying to cover up at Roswell. How can our (wonderful, trustworthy) United States Government have so many different "official" explanations over the years to this one, single event?

John A., Missoula, MT

The Doctor Responds:
First off, what follows is only my opinion. I do not represent the United States government (except to the extent that I pay taxes to it). I was not in Roswell at the time, and had I been, I would have still been a toddler in diapers, not much able to sort out any nefarious doings that might have been going on. And, your opinion is probably worth as much as mine. That said, here goes:

It's clear enough to me that the US government was definitely covering something up (their ultra-secret test firings in New Mexico of captured German A-4 rockets, most likely). After all, we now know that such missiles were shipped to New Mexico from Penamunde at the end of the Second World War. At the time, this was a closely guarded secret.

One fact that's no secret at all: things sometimes go wrong with test launches. Clearly, something fell to the ground on a sheep farm near Roswell, the night of 3 July 1947. There were many witnesses, and it was reported widely in the press. But what was it?

Now the story gets interesting. First, the government let slip, "we've recovered part of an alien space ship." Then, they retracted that story, said "it was a weather balloon" (which it clearly wasn't), and "we never said it was an alien spacecraft!" So, of course, through all that denial, they convinced most folk that it really was an alien spacecraft after all -- wonderful cover for what they were really doing (and they never even had to deny that they were firing German missiles. In fact, that was the farthest thing from folks' minds.) This is what I call the Red, White, and Blue Herring hypothesis. Conclude whatever you will.

Alien spacecraft crashed at Roswell? Alien bodies kept on ice? Massive government cover-up, to "protect" us from the truth? As a SETI proponent, I'd like to believe it. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending upon your perspective), the evidence just doesn't add up.

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