Photo 43369533 / Ufo Landing © Ig0rzh | Dreamstime.com
The vlog of this post, with some additional comments and visuals can be found here
Part 2 is my overall review of Trinity: The Best-Kept Secret by Jacques Vallee and Paola Leopizzi Harris. I’ll be focusing on the first edition of the book, since I understand there’s been a recent update with supposedly new vital information which I’ll read eventually, once I have time.
The opening paragraphs of Part 1 provide a basic overview of the Baca-Padilla case, so I won’t rehash those details here. I’m going to focus on specific features of Vallee’s approach in this case as well as mention some principal criticisms levelled against Vallee by members of the UFO community. I would have my own questions for Vallee should I ever have a chance to ask him. Since I’m more interested in his processes of analysis rather than in demonstrating that I’m right and he’s wrong, some might not be satisfied with my concerns here. I don’t care. Write your own blog.
I came to Trinity without knowing much about Paola Leopizzi Harris and her association with controversial topics such as the alien autopsy film, exo-politics and off world secret governments. Vallee doesn’t mention any of these controversies; he is solely interested in the interview material that Harris has accumulated from the witnesses. Some of this interview material predates her later writing and preoccupation with claimed high level ET government strangeness, something which critics of her inclusion in this book have seemed to miss.
Vallee explains his interest in the Baca-Padilla case by telling the story of how a trusted research buddy of his, Ron Brinkley, who died in a rather unusual traffic accident prior to the publication of Trinity, encouraged him to look into the account himself. Brinkley recommended Harris because she was literally the only person who had done any in depth work on the case, even though it had been mentioned by other investigators (i.e. Good and Six-Killer Clarke).
That seems to be the level of Vallee’s interest in Harris—basically, she had the contacts, had done the interviews and more background research on the case than anyone else. Where the hell else was he supposed to begin? So, the text utilizes her work accordingly: Harris tracks down contacts and provides/does the interviews and some background, Vallee provides more context, does the analyses and asks the big questions. There is no discussion here about the alien autopsy film, exo-politics or anything else with which Harris has been connected. Therefore, I would encourage readers to take this account on its own merit and not do the whole "guilt by association" dismissal right off the bat.
Harris’ interviews with the witnesses don’t seem all that unusual to me, particularly as I’ve interviewed literally dozens of contactees and abductees myself. None of the principal witnesses had been hypnotized at the time of their primary interviews and so she is working with individually remembered materials.
Harris lets her subjects do most of the talking and when she does ask leading questions it is to gain clarity; in many cases, Baca and Padilla brush her questions aside or indicate that a different aspect of their account is more important than her question (good examples of this can be found in a follow-up interview Harris did with Padilla recounted on pgs 167-168 concerning the ‘water tower’).
From my perspective, the reader is really left to draw his/her own conclusions, given the nature of the evidence, new analysis and pattern interpretation that Vallee seems to be considering.
Among the cases that Vallee brings together to provide pattern context-a forensic profile if you will-for the Baca-Padilla case, are two that are quite controversial, one of which is widely considered a hoax. And he doesn’t include one of the best documented cases with physical evidence out of Canada. So this is where my own questions and considerations begin.
Vallee includes the Maury Island Incident in his forensic profile list, despite the fact that the case is widely considered by most investigators now to have probably been a hoax (indeed Kenneth Arnold who had been sent out to investigate the case by Ray Palmer concluded as much almost immediately).
Vallee's criteria for inclusion seem to be that there were said to be multiple witnesses (some of whom suffered reported physiological effects), complex bungled investigations by various government alphabet agencies which yielded mixed results and the report of physical evidence that had been (possibly) or could have been examined.
Without really commenting on the veracity of the Maury Island Incident, it seems to provide Vallee with a kind of template. It’s interesting to me that this template may depict a type of “story” about an event, rather than what might have actually happened (whatever that might mean), and that the template of the story is important to exactly the same degree (but not in the same way) as what physical evidence might be available for examination.
For example, while it is very true that the individuals principally involved in reporting the Maury Island Incident, Harold Dahl and Fred Crisman have been largely discredited (the latter because he was clearly/probably a CIA operative-depending on who one consults), there are still odd aspects about the case that connect directly to the supposed physical evidence: the fact that Palmer and Arnold were able to analyze some of the material that Arnold had secreted away, and although it was clearly of terrestrial origin, it was, and remains unclear, exactly how that particular alloy of materials (which Vallee does describe in other writings) could have been obtained given the context of the Incident itself, plus the fact that two investigating military officers transporting supposed samples of the material did die in a mysterious plane crash with the materials onboard.
While the latter accident could have been a coincidence and certainly the entire circumstance does seem to read now like a psy-ops operation—one has to remember how early this report was and how elaborate the hoax would have had to have been. And for what reason? Is it, in fact, tied in some way to both Arnold’s sighting or the Roswell Crash? Folks seem to forget that all three of these “reports” occurred within a 4-5 week period-basically, within a month of each other. For Vallee, the materials seem to point to something more, even if the "event" was hoaxed, as in the Bennewitz case, the fact of the elaborate obscuration points to something “needing to be obscured.”
Vallee’s careful analysis also reveals what really interests him about the Socorro case (considered by some to be a hoax or perhaps a misidentification) and how he connects it to the Baca-Padilla account (this in addition to the fact that the Socorro incident was very close to the site of the Baca-Padilla incident). He returns to the original reports, elided by Project Blue Book, and unknown or ignored by many investigators, which reveal that not only was there substantial physical evidence found at the site and dutifully reported by a police investigator, but as in the Baca-Padilla report there were important third and fourth reputable witnesses whose accounts corroborate Zamora’s in time and place, but undermine the assertions of hoax and misidentified military experiment.
While Blue Book investigators did collect these extra witness reports, they declined to mention them in their final breakdown of the case. Vallee succinctly shows that in both the Baca-Padilla and Socorro cases, some observing party carefully ignored, covered up, or even tried to dispose of the physical evidence recorded in reliable reports, even to the point of Blue Book deliberately providing an incorrect rendering of the insignia that Zamora says he saw on the craft to the press.
This leads into Vallee’s analysis of what few physical traces could be said to remain in the Baca-Padilla case. There are three reported “pieces” of physical material: a thin foil like metal which when crumpled returned to normal shape, angel-hair like material that seemed to glow in the dark and which, according to the third witness, seemed to prickle the hands if played with, as the children did, and finally a bracket, which Jose said that he actually pried off the wall of the interior of the object/craft with a crowbar at one point before the full military clean-up had begun (there had only been a few investigators to the site prior).
The only piece of this evidence that still remains is the bracket. According to Reme and Jose, at some point, the foil was used to repair the windmill because they needed to water their cattle and the angel hair (almost sounds like fiber-optic material as it’s described) was divided up between the boys and various cousins and other kids for them to play with over the years. Although this sounds very convenient for skeptics, once one actually reads the interviews, it’s not hard to see how and why these materials would have come to these kinds of ends. After all, eventually, no one was really after them, and necessity might require the retooling of even remarkable materials.
Some critics have made the claim that one cannot trust the memories of Reme and Jose because of the malleability of the memory process itself. When put side by side, their accounts do differ some, as they would. This is actually more an index of truth than it is falsity. Not even Betty and Barney Hill actually remembered exactly the same things—and they told very different stories of their experiences.
A thorough and interesting investigation of the efficacy of memory is detailed in a highly recommended documentary series called “The Keepers,” which one can stream on Netflix. It is a record of the decades long investigation into the disappearance and death of Catherine Cesnik, a nun who was murdered in 1969 in Baltimore, MD. It is also an expose of how the Baltimore Diocese covered up sexual crimes committed against young women during the same time period by a small cadre of priests and their probable connection to Cesnik’s murder.
Among the witnesses is a woman who, as a young girl, had been taken by the offending priests to view Cesnik’s body as a warning of what would happen to her if she talked. Her experiences were so shocking that she couldn’t remember much of what happened to her for many years, until she finally started a meditation practice that slowly began to restore and heal her memories. As a result, she recalled many specific details about the murder scene, in particular, that were later used to verify and link her molesters to the crime. However, due to the discrediting of repressed memory syndrome in the press generally, mostly because of the misapplication of hypnosis (which she didn’t use) during both the Satanic Panic and by UFO abductee investigators, her memories were largely discounted until a pathologist's report about Cesnik's autopsy, released years later, vindicated her recollections.
What her account reveals, and as is discussed in the series, memories of extreme events can be extremely accurate as long as they are allowed to emerge on their own without interference by external authorities—and if there is corroborating evidence to back up the memories, then obviously it is even better.
Critics who say that Reme and Jose could simply not be remembering things correctly because their memories diverge at certain points don’t really understand how these things can work. It is perfectly plausible for Reme and Jose to remember certain aspects of an event they shared distinctly, differently and individually, and yet for that basic event to have occurred.
Much to Harris’ and Vallee’s credit, they were able to track down an independent third witness, a cousin, named Sabrina, who was present on the ranch in the weeks immediately following the crash incident. Without prompting, and without prior knowledge of what was going to be discussed (she hadn’t been in contact with Reme or Jose for years and didn’t even know what the interview was going to be about at first), she mentioned the physical objects, the stories and rumors of the craft that the family talked about, and especially the angel-hair material—because she was given some and later gave it to her children to play with until the material was scattered and lost.
In fact, the attitude that Jose, Reme and Sabrina have toward these special objects reminded me a bit of Joe Simonton’s reaction to the strange alien pancakes that he was given by his apparent otherworldly visitors, except that one can’t really use pancakes to repair anything.
As John Keel would have put it, Jose and Reme’s completely normal human responses to extraordinary events, their unwillingness to embellish their story (it’s actually a pretty plan and average account) is probably the best indicator that something happened, or at least they remember something that happened.
That leaves the bracket and this is where the pickle juice actually begins to show its brine. The bracket has survived—the two boys showed it to their father and then hid the object in various places throughout their home and compound until finally retrieving it and stashing it away once the boys, later men, moved on with their lives. Vallee saw the bracket, held it, took a photo. It looks for all the world like a regular bracket (albeit broken) that might be used on farm equipment or in construction of some kind.
In fact, Vallee says he tended to believe that the bracket was something left behind by the first military unit that came to investigate and clean up the site, except for three curious facts.
After the “clean-up” at the site, the family were approached several times by military officials inquiring about whether they had “found” anything like a bracket at the site they were hiding. This persistence on the part of the military was so strong that it seemed very strange to Vallee that such interest would be shown toward a simple military bracket of terrestrial origin.
And finally, when Vallee was speaking to one of the scientists who had done a materials analysis on the bracket, he voiced his opinion that the bracket was probably just a broken farm or military implement, especially when he read the initial report that there was nothing too exotic about the metals in the object.
The scientist interrupted him and strongly disagreed saying that while the metals and compounds in the bracket are readily available on Earth, the actual mixture and composition of the bracket itself was highly unusual and that he’d never seen anything quite like it before. It certainly wasn’t something a rural rancher and his kids in Podunk New Mexico could have come up with.
So, there’s the weird. For those critics who claim that Vallee has been fooled by two bumpkins with a broken farm bracket to show for it, well, it’s a bit more complicated than that—one would do well to read the whole book.
For my part, I wondered why Vallee had not included the 1967 Falcon Lake, Canada case in his forensic profile list. There are certainly many parallels, including the very real physiological effects on the principal witness, Stephen Michalak (effects that probably contributed to his relatively early death), strange dreams/affects, an impossibly complex investigation by various Canadian authorities which resulted in well, weird conclusions, and very odd physical evidence that was left at the landing, or incident site, even though, in this instance, there was no crash nor observed occupants. Michalak certainly believed something intelligent was behind the craft that he was so close to he was able to touch it, peak inside and get horribly burned when it took off.
For investigator Chris Rutkowski, who does an amazing amount of forensic digging in his report on the case When They Appeared, the Falcon Lake case is all the more remarkable because the more one knows about it, the weirder the weird gets.
He finds, for example, there really are odd characters that pop up in these stories and although they are often used to discredit accounts (as in Stephen’s strange relationship with a man named Gerry Hart who posed as an investigator but was actually an obsessed crank who kind of “stanned” Michalak and made life hard for both the Michalak family and RMCP who tried to investigate on their own), they often have their own strange part to play in the UFO drama. We’re not even going to talk about some of the possible MIB stuff in the case.
It was Hart who helped Michalak finally locate the probable site of the encounter. Michalak had been so injured by his exposure to some kind of never identified radioactivity during the incident that his mind was a little muddled about the exact location—there is also some evidence of the “psychic” element in his memory of the initial sighting. And it was Hart who provided a sense of stability for Michalak, because he absolutely believed something strange had happened, whereas Michalak, for all his injuries, tended to believe he’d encountered some kind of secret craft from the United States.
BTW, the story of Stephen Michalak is interesting in its own right. His account was largely ignored initially because he was a recent Polish immigrant to Canada, and of course he wasn’t from the U.S. so investigators in the states ignored him too. His family suffered a great deal due to the local publicity at the time. He was a good solid citizen and human being, just like Lonnie Zamora, Reme Baca and Jose Padilla. One could not ask for a better witness to high strangeness events.
Once they found the location, Michalak and subsequent investigators were able to actually record and retrieve some kind of real physical evidence that something odd had occurred. And this is where the parallels to the Baca-Padilla case begin.
First, there were many, many trees that had been damaged by the ascent of the craft at Falcon Lake (in this case not a crash) and by apparent heat and radioactivity connected with it. Second, investigators found a strange silver alloy that appeared to have been poured into the cracks and sprinkled onto the large outcropping of rock above which the craft had hovered.
Michalak had been out prospecting for precious metals at the time of his encounter, but what was found, when analyzed (samples of which still exist) is unlike any kind of alloy commonly made, or ore found in nature. Furthermore, it appears to have been deliberately poured into fissures of the outcrop, but by whom and for what purpose?
The metal samples exist and cannot be easily explained. The location is extremely remote. It is not even known for sure whether the silver has anything specifically to do with the very physical craft that Michalak encountered, although what the silver would have doing there otherwise is literally anyone’s guess.
On a subsequent visit to the site, Michalak and investigators discovered that someone? the Canadian Forest Service? had haphazardly attempted to remove some of the damaged trees and plant new ones, although whoever had undertaken the task had not followed the rather strict dictates of the Forest Service for rehabbing damaged wilderness sites.
Thus, when Vallee mentioned that on one of their initial site field investigations, when Jose Padilla first took the team to the location of the crash, and they found that the entire specific crash site had been carefully planted with a poisonous, noxious plant which is not native to the area, is toxic to cattle and wildlife and could only have been planted on purpose, I remembered the Falcon Lake tree replanting fiasco and thought WTF?
Subsequent visits in later years revealed that further work had been done on the Baca-Padilla site to completely reconfigure the arroyos and topography, erasing any sign, and making the site virtually unrecognizable.
So, there it is. I would ask Vallee why he included Maury Island and not Falcon Lake and what might the symbolism of a bracket (to a ranching family) and a strange silver alloy (to an immigrant seeking precious metals) might represent? There are so many levels to these stories it’s beyond mind boggling.
Some people think Vallee’s gone off the wheel with this book. I think he’s just finally venturing into the true wild blue where we’ve been headed all along. When consciousness and matter meet—almost anything might be possible, so one has to look at accounts of both mind AND stuff. If it makes me think differently, it’s good enough for me to read. Trinity is good enough.