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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2012 > Jun > Jun 3

Re: Dating Arnold

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Sat, 2 Jun 2012 17:22:33 +0100
Archived: Sun, 03 Jun 2012 07:42:21 -0400
Subject: Re: Dating Arnold

>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Thu, 31 May 2012 10:29:18 -0600
>Subject: Dating Arnold [was: Flying Saucers - The Greatest Lie Ever Told]

>If you haven't already seen it, I highly recommend the ten-part
>series "The Positively True Story of Kenneth Arnold" at


>which goes into great detail about this and other
>'inconsistencies', including outright fabrications, in the
>Coming of the Saucers version of Arnold's involvement in Maury
>Island affair. And while I suspect most or all of these were due
>to Ray Palmer, I have distinct unease with Arnold's apparent
>complicity in their publication.

Thanks, Mike. But after my first reading I would say (whilst
reserving the right to adapt my opinion on the basis of further
thought!) I'm not too impressed with this. I was drawn in by the
pleasure of re-reading much interesting background in one place
with evocative period photos, and had high hopes for it. I was
initially intrigued by what the author was trying to do, and
interested to see what he could do with the July 29/30 date
anomaly etc. But after a few sections I started to get a sense
of the ballistic arc of the thing and where it was carefully
aimed to come down. I ended up finding the result analytically
petty, lacking judgment and proportion, and insincere. This
anonymous person - let's call "him" X - gives us no clue as to
his identity or background which deprives us of the ability to
perceive his motivation in 3D, but I can smell an agenda.

In my opinion (at the moment) the date error is not dramatically
material. I disagree both with X and with Don Ecsedy. I doubt
that it signifies much. There are "internal" inconsistencies
between the 1947 Smith/FBI record and Arnold's narrative, yes,
but I don't perceive the "significance" that X claims to see,
and neither do I see the heavy hand of Ray Palmer on Arnold's
narrative, planting fabricated tales in it the way X suggests.

A few points:

X implies that Arnold's retelling of Dahl's story is suspect
because the narrative Arnold places in quotes is too
grammatically and idiomatically polished to be a verbatim record
of Dahl's exact words. The implication is that Arnold is
deceiving us. This is ludicrous, in that only an idiot could
have imagined that by using quotes around these twelve wordy
paragraphs in 1952 Arnold was claiming perfect recall of Dahl's
words in a Tacoma hotel room in 1947. The account is plainly
intended as no more than a reconstruction or evocation of what
was said. The critic here shoots himself in the foot, a victim
of his own over-literal pedantry.

X argues that Dave Johnson "encouraged" Arnold to get involved
with Ray Palmer and go to Tacoma. I don't see this. Arnold says
he asked Johnson's opinion about Palmer's offer of expenses.
Johnson said he couldn't see why Arnold shouldn't go to Tacoma
but the only way to find out if Palmer was serious was to take
him up on it and see if he did send any money.

The fact that Dave Johnson telegraphed Hamilton Field on July 29
on his own account advising a check on Palmer and Venture Press
is fascinating. X says it is evidence that "Johnson wasn't quite
as sanguine about the matter as Arnold believed". This
misrepresents Arnold, who wrote that when Palmer's $200 actually
arrived the "hard headed" Johnson was surprised and "just
couldn't believe an unknown party would be tossing money around
that way". Hardly "encouraging". This is in fact exactly the
suspicion that Johnson telegraphed to Lt Brown, that Palmer's
freedom with $200 seemed "out of scale" for the nature of the
business. Nothing strange or inconsistent here. But X tells the
story in such a way as to imply that Arnold is at fault.

[Begin Quote]

Arnold would write of his experience five years later in the
book The Coming of the Saucers - published and in fact co-
written by Raymond Palmer. It is from that book that the story
of Johnson's encouragement for Arnold to go to Tacoma is told.
Yet, Johnson's behind the scenes activities - revealed decades
later in a declassified FBI report - would seem to be
inconsistent with such advice.

And as it turns out, it would be just the first of many
inconsistencies and discrepancies to come in the story of that
time as later told by Arnold.

[End Quote]

X exhibits some tell-tale pseudo-sceptic tics, such as
constantly buttressing the argument in-hand with promises of how
much stronger the next arguments are going to get, advertising
punch-lines that never quite materialise, and dropping in
observations that he hopes will seem damaging with that butter-
wouldn't-melt mannerism that begins "Curiously, . . ." or using
phrases like "EQUALLY OPAQUE in the events leading up to
Arnold's departure for Tacoma is Arnold's motivation...." to
plant the thought that Arnold was not merely falling short of
his duty by omitting to include the results of a total
psychiatric evaluation and brain scan in his 79 page story but
could be hiding some motivation that is murky or even

X focuses on the date discrepancy as a big thing because, he
points out, if Arnold really arrived on the 30th not the 29th
then everything which he describes as happening on the 30th
really happened on the 31st, and so on. Most consequences of
this are of the "so what?" variety. There are numerous examples
of what he calls "internal" inconsistencies among the small
daily details variously recalled by Smith for the FBI and by
Arnold for his book five years later - several things in
Arnold's account of the meetings and comings and goings in the
hotel room that Smith (or Smith's interviewer at least) does not
mention, differences regarding the sequence of events and who
was in the room or not in the room when so-and-so arrived, which
reporter phoned on which day and who picked up the phone, etc
etc - but says "the most glaring discrepancy" is the date,
referring again to the 29/30 July confusion. This is true in the
sense that most of the material discrepancies he lists come down
in the end to this same issue.

X suggests that the content of the claimed anonymous letter to
Harold Dahl that Arnold says he forgot to mention to Brown-
Davidson is a coded insert referring to the "Shaver mystery"
therefore proving the account to be corrupted by the scheming
hand of Ray Palmer. But he forgets that he has earlier spent
several paragraphs explaining to us that Dahl's associate
Crisman (he of the shadowy past and suspect associations, whom
Arnold says he and Smith both sussed as a liar and peculiar and
fishy and a controlling influence ) was probably none other than
the author of the original "Shaver" correspondence to Ray Palmer
in the first place. So one doesn't have to look far to imagine
who may have fed Dahl this stuff.

X is trying to set this up as evidence that Palmer has inserted
fabrications into Arnold's story to further his own publishing
interests, or even that Arnold and Palmer colluded to make this
up in furtherance of those interests. The latter is certainly
implied constructively, inasmuch as X knows as well as his
readers do that Arnold never resiled from this account and would
thus have been passively condoning the lie that X claims to have
detected. But I think X is off-beam and trying to sell us a
conspiracy theory.

It seems quite likely to me that Palmer may have "helped" Arnold
polish his narrative and knock his notes into shape, especially
in this part of the book, but I see no convincing evidence of
systematic deception with any particular purpose. I think that
dates and times and sequences of phone calls and meetings etc
were probably reconstructed very roughly from Arnold's memory (I
know of no evidence that he kept an exact daily diary in Tacoma)
and finessed a bit with help from Palmer in order to make a
flowing story, which does differ in details from the account
that the FBI got from Capt Smith in 1947. But the essence and
flavour of what happened and the cast of characters are not in
much doubt, despite this (nor are the FBI documents immune from

The main point to come out of all this is the one Dion Ecsidy
brought up here. Most things come back to this question of why
Arnold recalled flying to Tacoma on July 29 instead of July 30.
I think that Don perhaps suspects some sort of cover-up of a
missing day that Arnold really did spend in Tacoma? If there are
other reasons to suspect this it would be interesting to hear
about them, but for my money, at the moment, this is probably
just a meaningless error.

Arnold's 1952 book says July 29. And a 1948 official report
contains the July 29 date. When we then find that Arnold himself
used the July 29 date in a telegram of August 31, 1947 it seem
at first sight like impressive early corroboration.  OK, but of
course this document could simply be the source of a perpetuated
systematic error.

Could Arnold have written down the wrong date a month after the
event? It's possible. If he did then whatever sources or notes
or memories he was using to reconstruct the affair 5 years later
for Ray Palmer would be contaminated by this early error. The
occurrence of the same date in the document "Analysis of FLYOB
Incidents in US" would be more impressive were it not that the
context of this reference seems confused and may suggest that
some info from the files has been improperly digested by the

Martin Shough

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