Legends, Hoaxes and the Big Lie: The Ties that Blind
With the exception of Rex and Carol Salisberry, Jerry Black harshly criticized MUFON’s investigation of the Gulf Breeze UFO incident. First off, he felt that the initial investigators were too inexperienced to handle a case of that magnitude. Moreover they had become personally close to Ed Walters, and the resulting friendships with the claimant biased their investigation of his claims. As he told Kenny Young:
Maccabee and Andrus allowed rookie investigators, Charles Flannigan, Don Ware and others, to run with the case and use their own judgment. MUFON itself, I believe, wanted this case to be real....When I talked to Don Ware and told him about all the red flags and what was going on, he became real quiet and said: ‘Jerry, I don't care what evidence comes out. Ed will still always be a friend.’ He had got to close to Ed Walters. You can't do that. You can't get that close to a claimant where he's your buddy or your friend, you're not going to investigate sincerely.Investigating friends would be a bit awkward, right? There theoretically might not be any conflict of interest in one friend investigating, or pronouncing judgment on the other. But most of us understand that a negative judgment might have later repercussions (e.g., the loss of that relationship). Worse, a positive verdict gives off a definite impression of impropriety.
It would be one thing for Flannigan and Ware to conclude the investigation, let the chips fall where they may, and then develop a friendship with Walters after that determination. It’s quite another for them to develop a closeness to him while the investigation’s still ongoing (if that indeed was the case). If so, then Walters could have played a substantial role in directing the investigation of himself. Somehow, I don’t think he would find himself to be a fraud.
Figure 2. Postcard from Ed Walters to Jerry Black, dated 26 November 1991
In order to save your eyesight, the above card reads:
Jerry,Obviously, Black made an error here. By both Maccabee’s and Walters’ accounts, the payments didn’t begin in July 1988. Nor did Maccabee conclude his investigation at the time, but rather a couple of months earlier, before the symposium. That jibes completely with Walters' statement here. Moreover, both Walters and Maccabee agreed that the later received payments in the fall of 1988; although there is a tiny discrepancy in the date–Nov. as opposed to Dec.–it’s close enough for general agreement. Since the only payment Walters alludes to here (the “professional fee”) fits with the advance checks Maccabee received from the publisher (via Walters’ agent), there’s no reason to believe Black’s contention that there was a second payment of unspecified amount. We also have every reason to believe that Dr. Maccabee is telling the truth when he says he only received royalty advances starting months after he had concluded his research.
I did not pay Dr. Maccabee $5,000.
I did not have an appointment w/Mr. [illegible, but refers to the independent polygraph examiner originally scheduled to interview Walters]. (Flannigan asked me if I would agree to a p. test. I was offended but a week or so later I had it done. Flannigan might have talked to Mr. [illegible polygraph examiner] but I never heard of him.) Dr. Maccabee received a professional fee in 1988 Dec. for the work he had finished almost 2 years before the book was published. (July 1988). Book pub. March 1990) [sic]
You have been told ½ truths–and your voice is full of hate. I’m sorry for you. May God bless and keep you.
Ed W. [emphasis X. Dell]
While Black does come across as “full of hate,” as Walters suggests, he still has a valid point in all of this. Whether or not the payment was eighteen grand or more, and regardless of whether it was in the form of a professional fee or a book advance, the problem remains that Maccabee had a financial incentive to maintain and perpetuate a provable hoax. It’s a conflict of interest that forces us to question his final analysis.
Of course, I don’t believe that financial reasons influenced Dr. Maccabee’s opinion on this matter. If nothing else, one can argue that the desire to prove the existence of extraterrestrial visitation is so strong that some people (including Andrus) believed in things in spite of what their good sense told them. And if the thoughts of other researchers (including Dr. Jacques Vallee) have any merit, then we can see the Gulf Breeze hoax in an entirely new light.