Brand new signs at Area 51 main gate on Groom Lake Road

New Sign at Area 51

(courtesy of Amateur Radio Club)

NO DRONE Signs, Barbed Wire and New Monitoring Camera inside the paved Groom Lake Road… of December 5, 2015:

SEE THIS VIDEO by Amateur Radio Club:

Brand new signs at Area 51 main gate on Groom Lake Road

barbed wire

barbed wire right next to the warning sign  (photo, courtesy of Amateur Radio Club)    

no drone sign (2)

new monitoring camera just inside the perimeter line on paved Groom Lake Road  (photo, courtesy of Amateur Radio Club)

no drone sign (1)

NO DRONE sign added to the warning signs at the perimeter line on Groom Lake Road  (photo, courtesy of Amateur Radio Club)



E-mail =


Exploitation in the UFO community……a must-read, written by Jack Brewer

BookCoverImage (1)

Deception, sensationalism and questionable ethics characterize the UFO genre and distort perception of the UFO phenomenon……AN EXCELLENT BOOK BY JACK BREWER:

Introduction to his book, written by Jack Brewer.


“I came to the dance for the same reasons as lots of people.  UFOs and seemingly related phenomena were a longtime interest for a variety of reasons and I desired to learn more.

My on again, off again journey through the UFO community went on for decades.  While there were times I thought I was learning some things about reported UFO sightings and alleged alien abduction, I eventually came to the realization I had actually been learning more about people and dynamics that make up the UFO community.  In the vast majority of circumstances, I think much more can be learned about the people, organizations and government agencies participating in the steeplechase than the often nebulous and unverifiable things they claim and promote.

In 2010 I began writing a blog, The UFO Trail.  I made intentional efforts to explore people of interest and the related circumstances in credible manners, including holding some of the players accountable for their actions.  I wrote about individuals and organizations that claim to investigate UFOs and alleged alien abductions, often concluding that the researchers and their groups should be considered much more critically than typically the case.

Other demographics explored included alleged alien abductees, self-described experiencers of high strangeness and UFO witnesses.  I also blogged about members of the intelligence community, as well as people who suspected themselves to be targets of human-instigated covert operations.  Interestingly, the demographics often overlapped.

The UFO Trail included posts about and submissions from scientists, mental health professionals, authors, filmmakers, researchers, scholars, skeptics and more.  My intention was to provide a factual account and well rounded view of what came to be known as ufology.  It became abundantly clear there were relevant aspects of the UFO genre typically being overlooked for a variety of reasons, none of which are conducive to better understanding what’s actually going on.

The general thesis I developed is that a genuine mystery may lie at the heart of humankind’s fascination with the unknown, but public perception of whatever phenomena it may include has been exploited, distorted and manipulated for a variety of reasons.  The perpetrators span several demographics, including the intelligence community, hoaxers, disingenuous writers, con men and, in all reasonable likelihood, lunatics, among others.

I think it likely the mid 20th century U.S. intelligence community conducted a variety of deception operations mistaken for UFO-related phenomena.  Some of those operations were intended to create confusion surrounding airborne objects.  However, I am reasonably confident in some of the cases it was colorful writers and overactive imaginations, not intelligence officials, that encouraged the public to prematurely conclude phenomena, such as the so-called ghost rockets, had something to do with extraterrestrials.  I do not think it was the specific intent of the architects of the operations, at least not always. Sometimes it was just a byproduct.  Other times it appears to have been more intentional.

Yet other times there may have been truly unusual phenomena involved. After all, reasonable arguments have been made that such phenomena have been with humankind for a long, long time.  Perhaps that is correct. Unfortunately, the tainting of the well as perpetrated by both the intelligence and UFO communities, which are ironically at times one and the same, has often rendered the task virtually impossible of sorting fact from fiction.

As the situation continued to progress, public fascination with UFOs and aliens mushroomed.  In the process, more opportunities and reasons developed to produce state-sponsored propaganda related to UFOs. Further comprising the self-perpetuating snowball effect were filmmakers, authors, upstart research organizations and entrepreneurs marketing wide varieties of products and services.  Hypnotists found a niche, with or without reasonable training, as did self-styled investigators who churned out books, movies and so-called instructional workshops to most anyone who was willing to ante up registration fees. Lots of people wanted in on the act.  Trouble was, none of them were presenting any proof to support their claims of aliens among us, while a large percentage of the UFO community was nonetheless driven to near hysterics while becoming convinced of alien intervention in the sometimes most mundane of events.  I came to strongly suspect the reason conclusive proof of an extraterrestrial presence remained ever elusive was simple: it was an incorrect explanation for the reported sightings and experiences.

I suspect what became known as the modern day UFO phenomenon arose out of a combination of potentially legitimately unusual occurrences, covert operations conducted by the intelligence community and a public willing to be deceived.  Charlatans substantially contributed to the effect, as did some sincere yet entirely incorrect researchers.

Much of the material in this book is subsequently presented from a position of being rather unimpressed with sensational stories of aliens.  That is not to necessarily suggest there are no reports of high strangeness of interest, but the focus of this offering is the exploitation of public perception of what may sometimes be genuinely mysterious phenomena, and the related cultivation of inaccurate beliefs that such circumstances represent extraterrestrial visitation.

Basically, I think the greys have been framed.  That doesn’t have to mean there is nothing of interest under the sun, but I am indeed suggesting that ufology, by and large, has not taught us much about it.  People have been hurt in the process.  They’ve also been misled.  Lots and lots of them.  I think that deserves its share of attention, at least in proportion to the continuing parade of self-described investigators who chronically assert increasingly wild speculation as fact while consequences are enabled and ignored.

“The Greys Have Been Framed: EXPLOITATION IN THE UFO COMMUNITY” is dedicated to the countless individuals who approached the UFO community seeking reliable information, yet found their lives forever detrimentally changed amid deception and obfuscation.  Many encountered unethical agendas, mystery mongering and a lack of accountability among investigators and organizations designating themselves as qualified to help.  Exactly why such exploitation and manipulation occurs continues to remain unknown in many specific situations.”


Above, from:



E-mail =

Maybe there’s nothing to cattle mutilations, after all

Cattle Mutilations


A thought-provoking comment by Rottenberg  (of rotten book reviews, written on August 6, 2000):

“I first read “Mute Evidence” – a journalistic dissection of the “cattle mutilation” craze of the late 1970’s-early 1980’s – in 1989, and find much of it fresh today.  For roughly a decade following the end of the war in Vietnam, cattle farmers of the southwest reported finding numerous steers dead and, apparently deliberately mutilated.

Dead cows appeared to have body parts selectively and precisely removed in ways that suggested something other than feral scavengers.  Blame for these incidents soon took a turn for the sinister, with sentiment hinting at the use of cattle carcasses for secret experiments by the government, sinister corporations, secret paramilitary organizations, aliens, devil worshippers or some weird combination involving all of them.

With no plan to turn up little green men out for a quick chorizo, Kagan and Summers find that the truth, even when plausible, can often chill more than fiction.  In their journeys, they encounter the usual suspects – crackpots and the ambitious small-town media hounds that exploit them.  While the authors wisely refrain from attempts to avoid explaining the phenomenon of cattle mutilation, Kagan and Summer also offer competent evidence suggesting that there was no phenomenon to explain – just overzealous reporting of typical and perfectly natural cases of bovine mortality, combined with an unwillingness to recognize perfectly natural indicia of scavengers.  With no indication that the frequency of cattle deaths was actually within normal limits, slipshod reporting overlooked evidence that would have explained the indicia of mutilation.

I’ve since edited this review in-light of another review which doesn’t do this book justice. “Evidence” does not condescend towards the die-hard UFOlogists convinced of a link between aliens and the dead cows, nor attack the notion of intelligent extra terrestrials in general (or specifically the idea that ET’s, for their advanced technology, would need to experiment on cows).
Kagan and Summers provide a wealth of alternative theories ruling out alien involvement, and never go out of their way to condemn as liars those who steadfastly claim otherwise.  Theories implicating corporations, the military, Satanists or simply those inspired to commit acts as copycats are inherently more plausible than UFO’s.  That is not to say that Kagan and Summers don’t detail the subjectivity of those believing in the ET’s, or reveal the paucity of their claims or their willingness to jump to UFO as the solution of first resort.  Neither does it mean that Kagan and Summers must ignore how UFO enthusiasts like TV reporter Linda Moulton Howe play-up the alien-angle from both sides – as fervent proponents of a theory as well as seemingly impartial reporters ready to look at a story from all angles.


While obviously unfavorable to Howe, Kagan and Summers never came close to slandering her – their reporting was consistently objective, looking into her claims and explaining them. The controversy seems laughable to us, but its principle that bothers Kagan and Summers.

There are no shortage of minds in America ready, willing and able to apply Moulton-Howe’s brand of deceptively objective reporting to more critical matters, like the search for WMD’s in Iraq or (just to keep things even) the search for episodes of financial, political, sexual or otherwise unethical wrongdoing by the Clinton administration.

Though Kagan and Summers steer away from the exotic legends underlying cattle mutilation, “Evidence” retains the chill of the legends nonetheless.  While the stories of alien scientists probing the southwest night may be entirely fanciful, the fear upon which they rely is very real – a product (the author’s are willing to speculate) of uncertainties generated by the Vietnam war, Watergate, Ab-Scam, the oil-embargo, Iran, Stagflation and the other assorted horrors of the Nixon-Carter years.  That thousands of Americans could readily accept the cattle mutilation phenomenon as true seems at least as chilling as the phenomenon itself.


E-mail =

Phil Schneider’s Dulce base nonsense


Phil Schneider and his Dulce base nonsense

There is absolutely no physical evidence whatsoever of the existence of a Dulce underground base.   I cannot help but conclude that Phil Schneider was nothing but a deluded con artist.

Phil was a self mutilator and had cut his thumb off with a hack saw in the basement of his father’s house on the day of his sister’s wedding.  Phil did none of things that he claimed, was not a geologist, had never worked for any of those companies he claimed he worked, and could not keep a job very long, because of his mental instability.  There are untold number of people in the U.S. receiving SSI because of mental problems.  They are unable to get regular jobs.  It is indeed a sad thing.  But it should be understandable.

Phil Schneider mental illness SSI

He married after telling all these stories and that is why his wife believed them.
He usually started off his talks by saying that the major reason for going public was his best friend was murdered in a park and had been in the Air Force.
He had never been in the Air Force.   Because this story was posted when the Internet was just beginning in the 90’s it has taken on a life of its own and been copied and circulated over and over.
Circular knowledge is not knowledge at all, it is just repeating what someone else says.

When Phil’s father died, Phil stole Navy blank letterhead paper from his dad and created letters using that stock and circulated and showed it to people at his conferences.
Phil and his friend who he said was in the Air Force created a newsletter and were doing research like all of us about UFO’s etc.
So why he went off the deep end and started telling all these stories is a mystery.

Phil Schneider was found dead and it was ruled a suicide.

(I had a chance to look at the Coroner’s death/autopsy report which was obtained by the late Gabe Valdez, New Mexico State Patrol officer in charge of the entire Dulce region for many years…..Gabe Valdez had also come to the same conclusion and agreed with the Coroner’s report that the dead was ruled a suicide)

from Greg Valdez’s excellent book DULCE BASE.  (Greg Valdez is the middle son of the late Gabe Valdez, New Mexico State Patrol Officer in charge of the Dulce area for many years):

Dulce Base Book


Cynthia Dryer was the person who actually came up with the murder theory.

Cynthia didn’t get this idea from actual evidence but from her mother, who had a psychic vision and concluded that Phil was murdered.

Cynthia also claimed that her dad, Frank Martain, was killed in Albuquerque in 1952 as part of another conspiracy involving the government.

Her inconsistent story also claimed that Phil’s hands were tied when he was found dead and then later claimed they were by his side.

Her story has many inconsistencies, making Phil’s involvement in Dulce extremely unlikely and not credible.

Cynthia Dryer quickly started requesting money in her correspondence with Gabe Valdez because, she claimed, Phil did not have life insurance.

Cynthia has provided much of the rumors about Phil.

There are claims that Phil was killed with piano wire, but the autopsy report clearly indicates that he died with surgical tubing around his neck.

The piano wire theory was part of the psychic vision and not actual evidence.

Take caution with any website or person claiming he was killed with piano wire, because he was not.”


I highly recommend Greg Valdez’ excellent book, “DULCE BASE”.

By the way, as far as the allegation that there is a joint U.S./alien underground base under Archuleta Mesa is concerned, there is absolutely no credible evidence for it. Phil Schneider’s story, no matter how fascinating it is, is simply his own personal account, with no credible documentary evidence whatsoever.

Moreover, Phil Schneider was never a part of the initial Dulce base rumors.
However he had already read many articles concerning the alleged Dulce Base by the time he came out into the scene in 1995 and started giving lectures.

(Phil Schneider no doubt became familiar with the stories of some of the enigmatic personalities behind the initial Ducle underground base rumors)

It was only in 1989 that Bob Lazar first came out with the story that there was an altercation between the U.S. military and “alien entities” in an underground installation. Lazar never specified any location.

Phil Schneider also heard about the Bob Lazar story.
Apparently, knowing that no one had yet come up with any claim of personal involvement in the alleged 1979 “altercation”, he conveniently cast himself into the scene, claiming that he was a survivor of the Dulce “Wars”.

In other words, “inspired” by Lazar’s tale, mentally unstable con artist Schneider somehow seemed to have succeeded in concocting his fanstastic tale.

It’s a brilliant fiction that has captivated a gullible segment of the so-called ‘UFO’ community.  It would make a great Hollywood movie.

I would categorize him as one that suffered from a mental delusion:


Above photo:
Here is an interesting comment from “Questal” (Jason Bishop III, a.k.a., Tal Levesque, a.k.a., TAL), one of the original promoters of the Dulce Base story:


“Phil Schneider claims he was one of three people to survive the 1979 fire fight between the large Greys and the US intelligence and military at the Dulce underground base.
Phil was found dead, January 1996, due to what some people like to claim “appears to be an execution style murder”.
Seven months prior to his death , Schneider did a lecture on the forces he had discovered at Dulce.
Tim Swartz writes that “Clackamas County Coroner’s office initially attributed Philip Schneider’s death to a stroke.”
Schneider was NOT murdered.
He suffered multiple physical illnesses (brittle bone syndrome – osteoporosis, cancer, injuries – Philip had missing fingers on his left hand).
He had intense chronic pain all of the time.
Officially, suicide was listed as the cause of death.
An autopsy was performed at the Multnomah County Medical Examiner’s office in Portland, Oregon by Dr. Gunson, and she determined that Philip had committed suicide by wrapping a rubber cathater hose three times around his neck, and half-knotting it in front.

Phil told a nice story.
Phil Schneider did not tell his BOGUS Story till about 1995.
Phil had never heard of “Project Gasbuggy“. Yet he claimed to be a knowledgable “Geologist” and explosives expert.
Schneider was never able or willing to prove his allegations (e.g. showing the entrance to Dulce Base or where Tunnels he drilled were located).

Phil Schneider did repeat info about the Underground bases that was ALREADY in Print.
Phil Schneider did quote “word for word” material ALREADY written by other researchers.
Phil Schneider did NOT bring forward ANY new info, not already in circulation.
Phil Schneider DID put on a good show, for any NEWBIE to the Info.
He DID tie together many aspects of the material.
He did Correlate the Data into a Dramatic “Story” format that flowed well.
He put a personal face on all the material and that was compelling.
But, still he was weaving together lies and information already in circulation.
Such as:


Phil Schneider was connected to another Bull-Shit Con artist…. Al Bielek.
He said, “Richard Souder, a Ph-D architect, has risked his life by talking about this. He worked with a number of government agencies on deep underground military bases.”
Well. Richard’s name is Sauder and he NEVER “worked with a number of government agencies on deep underground military bases.”

Phil said, “They have laser drilling machines that can drill a tunnel seven miles long in one day.”
That is CRAP.
Phil said, “The average depth of these bases is over a mile…”
That is CRAP.
Phil said, “They are all between 2.66 and 4.25 CUBIC miles in size.”
That IS REALLY Crap.

Phil said, “My Father, Otto Oscar Schneider, fought on both sides of the war. He was originally a U-boat captain, was captured and repatriated in the United States. ”
The simple answer to this one is that there was no U-boat commander in WWII with that name.
Only 2 commanders with that last name in the war; Herbert Schneider died while in command of U-522 and Manfred Schneider only commander the small XXIII boat U-4706 for the last 3 months of the war, never on patrol. This story is just that, a story.

Phil said, ” He (Phil’s father) was involved with different kinds of concerns, such as the A-bomb, the H-bomb and the Philadelphia Experiment. He invented a high-speed camera that took pictures of the first atomic tests at Bikini Island on July 12, 1946. I have original photos of that test, the photos show UFO’s fleeing the bomb site at a high rate of speed. ”
Oscar Schneider was a Captain in the United States Navy, worked in nuclear medicine.
PHIL did have photos from Operation Crossroads.

His father died in 1993, Philip discovered the photographs in his father’s basement. But…NO test was done on July 12, 1946. The Crossroads tests were the fourth and fifth nuclear explosions (following the Trinity test and the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki). * Test Able, was on 1 July 1946. * Test Baker, was on 25 July 1946

Phil said, ‘I got shot in the chest with one of their weapons, which was a box on their body, that blew a hole in me and gave me a nasty dose of cobalt radiation. I have had cancer because of that.”
Radioactive cobalt is used for commercial and medical purposes. Exposure to high levels of cobalt can result in lung and heart effects and dermatitis. Phil may have gotten his exposure to cobalt by undergoing radiation the therapy treatment of deep-seated cancer.
But, there are NO “Cobalt Weapons” except in “Flash Gordon” stories.

Later, Phil said, “Right now I am dying of cancer that I contracted because of my work for the federal government. ”
Phil said, he had “a Ryolite-38 clearance factor – one of the highest in the world.”
Ryolite was a Top Secret surveillance satellite system developed at TRW. Rhyolite refers to SIGINT (signal intelligence) satellites. Phil was NOT involved with this type of work.
He did NOT have a Ryolite clearance.
Later, Phil said, ” I cut up my security card and sent it back to the government”.
Too bad, there goes another thing that Could have been useful to his story (lets say “his Lies“.)
Phil said, ” “Saddam Hussein killed 3.5 million Kurdish people….”
WRONG…..try more like 5000 civilians.

Phil said, That Government Agents asked him NOT to show the “Classified” photos of “Operation Crossroads” NUKE Tests, in public.
Phil showed the “authentic” Original Photos any way and after his death…the Photos were “Missing”.

Phil was a friend of Ron Rummel.
Ron was found in a park in Portland in Sept. 1993 (according to Cynthia Schneider Drayer).
The police believed that he had committed suicide by shooting himself in the mouth.
Ron, Philip, and 5 other people had been collaborating on a little magazine called “The Alien Digest”.
It was starting to get a fairly wide circulation, when Ron was found in the park.
Philip felt that his friend had been murdered.


By the way, for more on Jason Bishop III (a.k.a., Tal Levesque, a.k.a., TAL), click and READ:

THE MYSTERIOUS JASON BISHOP III (a.k.a., Tal Levesque, a.k.a., TAL), one of the original promoters of the “Dulce Base” story

– – – – – – – – – – –


E-mail =


S-4 at Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA will be the production site of the new Long Range Strike Bomber


S-4 (Hangar/Building 401) at Air Force’s Plant 42 in Palmdale, CA, will be the production site of the new Long Range Strike Bomber which is certain to be tested at Area 51 in Nevada in the very near future (as imagined in this illustration).
Together with S-3 and S-4, the expanded footprint of Northrop’s production site will grow to a total of around 3 million square feet with the addition of Sites 7 and 8:

December 15, 2015

Despite Northrop being gagged from discussing the Long Range Strike-Bomber pending the verdict of the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO) bid protest review there is some information.  Northrop has hinted that if its plan prevails final assembly will occupy the same Building 401 hangar at Palmdale’s Plant 42 site used for the construction of the B-2 stealth bomber in the 1980s and 1990s.  Although only 21 B-2s were built, the east side of Building 401 supported up to 11 bombers on the line during peak production.

In 2014, Northrop received a $10 billion contract to modernize and sustain the U.S. Air Force’s B-2 stealth bomber for a decade.  In 2014, Northrop Grumman completed a USAF review of a new software package for the fleet.  The upgrade, known as the USAF’s ‘Flexible Strike Phase 1’ program, was created to streamline weapons management software on the aircraft, according to Northrop Grumman.  The aircraft previously had several standalone software programs that each managed a specific mission.

The Flexible Strike program is the first B-2 modernization effort to take advantage of the new communications infrastructure Northrop Grumman created for the first increment of the B-2 EHF satellite communications program.  That infrastructure included faster processors, a fibre optic network, and increased onboard data storage.

With concerns about the size and availability of the B-2 bomber fleet, Northrop is meanwhile speeding up maintenance on the 1980s-era aircraft. The company sought to reduce the time that it takes to overhaul each of the 20 bombers in the Air Force’s fleet from 560 days down to one year.

Advancements in the stealth coatings — from the initial days of painting the B-2 by hand to today’s robot-based application — are helping to keep more B-2s in operation.  Previously the coatings had to be replaced every seven years to maintain their low radar cross section, but the Air Force has agreed to extend that to every nine years.

Along with a faster maintenance schedule, the B-2 has seen a number of upgrades to its radar system, adding Link 16 communications and new weapons, including the ability to carry two Boeing-made Massive Ordnance Penetrator bombs. Future enhancements are planned as well. Engineers are working to integrate the B-61 tactical nuclear bomb and Northrop is in the acquisition planning phase of adding protections for nuclear missions via the use of Advanced Extremely High Frequency communications.

The Air Force plans to buy up to 100 LRS-Bs to replace B-52s and B-1s, which are slated to retire in the mid-2040s.  Initial operating capability is expected in the mid-2020s, with nuclear certification planned two years after service entry.   The program is targeting a cost of around $550 million per aircraft; a basic enabler of this price point will be a mature production system.  Together with Sites 3 and 4, the expanded footprint of Northrop’s production sites at Plant 42 will grow to a total of around 3 million square feet with the addition of Sites 7 and 8.:



E-mail =

Conspiracies exist……but delusional conspiracy theories only exist in the mind of the misinformed


An excellent article by Edward Epstein, WSJ, December 18, 2015:

Conspiracy, a word derived from the Latin “to breathe together,” has been a salient part of the darker side of recorded history ever since some 60 conspirators in the Roman senate, including Brutus and Cassius, plotted together to assassinate Julius Caesar in 44 B.C.  Nowadays the “C” word does not always sit well with journalists, who commonly employ it in conjunction with “theory” to describe paranoid distortions of reality.

Even so, a criminal conspiracy is not a rare phenomenon.  Not only was a foreign conspiracy responsible for the monstrous 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (as well as the previous attempt to blow it up in 1993) but, according to the Center on Law and Security at Fordham University, over 90% of routine federal indictments for terrorist attacks since 9/11 contain at least one conspiracy charge.  The government’s pursuit of conspiracies is by no means limited to terrorism.  Conspiracy charges are the rule rather than the exception in cases brought against businessmen accused of fixing prices, evading environmental regulations, using insider information or laundering money.

But there are also pseudo-conspiracies that exist only in a delusionary or misinformed mind.  And some of them achieve a huge following.  In Pakistan, according to public opinion polls, a majority of the population believes that the 9/11 attack was staged by President George W. Bush to launch a war on Islam.  The claim that the 1969 moon landing was faked is still around.  Just two days ago a crew from a Russian TV channel rushed to my apartment to interview me about a viral post on YouTube in which the deceased director Stanley Kubrick supposedly made a deathbed confession to having filmed the landing in a Hollywood studio—even though everything about the post, including a fake Kubrick, was untrue.


Why people believe in pseudo-conspiracies (delusional conspiracy theories) is the focus of Rob Brotherton’s fascinating book “Suspicious Minds.”  Mr. Brotherton, an academic psychologist, advances the thesis that the belief in pseudo-conspiracies proceeds from the “quirks and foibles” in the way that the human brain, or at least some human brains, process evidence.  He lucidly reviews studies showing common defects in the brain’s wiring, such as the bias that selects evidence to confirm rather than undermine a pre-adopted thesis.  “We seek what we expect to find,” as Mr. Brotherton puts it.  Relatedly, “biased assimilation” causes us to “interpret ambiguous events in light of what we already believe.”

Until the controversy over the validity of Warren Commission’s 1966 report on the Kennedy assassination, the phrase “conspiracy theory” had a more neutral meaning, suggesting a plausible yet unproven claim about multiple actors in a single event.  Only in the aftermath of the Warren Commission did it become a derogatory term used to suggest theories that subvert conventional wisdom.  To those who doubted the commission’s finding that a single gunman killed Kennedy, Earl Warren became, Mr. Brotherton’s says, the “figurehead in a vast cover-up.”

It is not easy to find an objective criterion that distinguishes the inquiry into a real conspiracy from one that chases a pseudo-conspiracy.  Both types rely are the eyewitnesses, documents and forensic evidence.  The best that Mr. Brotherton can offer on this score is to cite Stewart Potter’s famous comment on pornography: “I know it when I see it.”  In the context of suspicious minds, though, one person might see a plausible case for a conspiracy and another only outlandish connections.  The distinction is in the mind of the beholder.


Mr. Brotherton offers a sample list of conspiracy theories, including ones alleging that Abraham Lincoln was assassinated on the orders of his vice president;  that the moon landing was faked;  that Area 51 in Nevada is home to extra-terrestrial technology under government auspices; that President Obama is “a communist Muslim from Kenya.” Such theories are meant to show that suspicious minds leap to absurd conclusions.  These are chosen because there is no evidence to support them.

The picture changes, however, if we consider, for example, the theory claiming that Lincoln’s assassin, John Wilkes Booth was part of a larger conspiracy backed by the Confederacy.  On April 14, 1865, at about the same time that Booth shot Lincoln, one of his associates stabbed Secretary of State William Seward and another stalked Vice President Andrew Johnson with a loaded gun.  The military commission appointed by President Johnson, after hearing 371 witnesses testify and after examining Confederate bank transfers and cipher communications, concluded that the three attacks were part of a conspiracy sponsored by the Confederacy and convicted eight of Booth’s associates, four of whom were hanged.  Here we have a conspiracy theory proceeding not from crackpots but from a government commission backed by the new president and most members of Lincoln’s cabinet.

Clearly the defects in the brain’s wiring that lead to crazy theories may lead to the confirmation of theories that are adopted by rational people. Indeed, the confirmation bias can work in contradictory ways: confirming not only conspiracy theories but the impulse to reject them in favor of conventional wisdom.  Can this defect be corrected?  Here I am reminded of a Woody Allen’s 1996 comedy “Everyone Says I Love You,” in which the once-liberal son of a New York liberal family starts spouting conservative theories until a doctor solves the problem by restoring the proper flow of oxygen to his brain.  The movie has a happy ending when the son goes back to spouting his family’s liberal theories. While Mr. Brotherton offers no such remedy to our brain’s defects, he does offer a thought-provoking analysis and an appealing guide to thinking about conspiracies, real and imagined.

ABOVE, BY EDWARD EPSTEIN, Wall Street Journal, December 18, 2015:






E-mail =


Los Alamos turns its nuclear weapons power to War on Cancer

1995 aerial TA-3 south to north

(from NBC News, December 16, 2015:

“Hidden amid the mountains and mesas of northern New Mexico lies Los Alamos National Laboratory.  It’s shrouded in secrecy.  Once known simply as Project Y, it was a classified lab where scientists built the atomic bomb.

Now, 70 years later, scientists there still work on nuclear weapons, but they’re also using some of that same knowledge to battle cancer.

NBC News got exclusive access to the secure facility, where physicist Eva Birnbaum is working to use radioactive elements to battle cancer.

Image: Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico
Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. NBC News

She works with actinium 225 or ac-225, one of a new class of radioactive therapies called alpha-emitting isotopes.  It’s unique because of its ability to destroy cancer without hurting healthy tissue.

The alpha particles emitted by ac-225 are relatively feeble, so they don’t do much damage past the targeted area.  Even a little healthy skin stops them dead.  And its half-life is 10 days, meaning half of it’s gone after 10 days, so it doesn’t hang out in the body for long.

“I think we’re very hopeful that this will have tremendous impact for some cancers right now that really don’t have highly effective treatments,” Birnbaum said.

Early clinical trials have found that ac- 225 has the potential to treat leukemia, melanoma and other cancers, like those of the breast and the prostate.

Related: Quick Treatment Saves Women With Breast Cancer: Studies

But the issue that concerns cancer experts isn’t whether actinium is promising.  It’s whether there’s enough of the precious substance to use in clinical trials.  The supply has been quite limited because it’s so hard to produce.

The scientists at Los Alamos can use particle accelerators built to make nuclear products for weapons and energy generation to make ac-225 from another radioactive element called thorium.

Image: Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico
Los Alamos National Laboratory in New Mexico. NBC News

“This project is aimed at making 50 times more material available than is available right now,” said Kevin John, the project manager at Los Alamos.

It takes Los Alamos’ half-mile-long proton accelerator.  The team starts with a disc of thorium, blasting it with the stream of protons.  This knocks off the charged particles called isotopes — some of which are Ac-225 particles.

To use it for cancer therapy, scientists outside Los Alamos bind the isotope with an antibody — a human immune system protein engineered in the lab to find tumor cells. When injected into the body, it homes in on the targeted tumor and destroys the cancer.

“This is more focused radiation.  It’s more precise, and it allows for efficient killing of the targeted cell alone,” said Joseph Jurcic, a hematologist and oncologist at New York-Presbyterian/Columbia University Medical Center.

Related: Common Prostate Cancer Treatment May Double Risk for Alzheimer’s

Jurcic conducted some of the early clinical trials, and he’s on the board of Actinium Pharmaceuticals, a company that’s working to develop cancer treatments using ac-225.

He said it can help people with smaller tumors or those that have metastasized. More research is needed before it can be approved.

And that research can now be done in large part thanks to the scientists at Los Alamos who are helping create a new type of weapon. This time, though, it’s to fight cancer.”


New security firm takes over at Los Alamos National Laboratory



E-mail =