Date: Sun Aug 22 1993 16:50:00 Subj: Fakery In The Forest UFO - TRUTH OR HOAX? FIRE IN THE

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Date: Sun Aug 22 1993 16:50:00 From: Sheppard Gordon Subj: Fakery In The Forest UFO ------------------------------- TRUTH OR HOAX? FIRE IN THE SKY LESS THAN ACCURATE, AUTHOR SAYS 03/12/93 CALGARY HERALD TRUTH OR HOAX? FIRE IN THE SKY LESS THAN ACCURATE, AUTHOR SAYS If Philip Klass is right, the UFO movie Fire In The Sky should be retitled Fakery In The Forest. Paramount Pictures claims its new movie, opening today in Calgary, is based on the "true story" of an Arizona logger kidnapped by aliens aboard a UFO. But Klass, who spent several months investigating the incident, says it was a deliberate hoax. "I`m convinced it`s a hoax, because the evidence that should be there was not," said Klass, aviation and space writer and author of _UFOs: The Public Deceived._ He said in nearly 27 years of investigating UFO reports, "I`ve never encountered such double-dealing, dirty pool" as in this case. Fire In The Sky is based on Snowflake, Ariz., logger Travis Walton`s claim that he was taken aboard an alien spaceship on Nov. 5, 1975, after he and other loggers noticed a strange light in the sky. In promoting the film, actors have publicly made much of the fact that five of six loggers with Walton that day passed a "lie-detector" or polygraph test. But what few people know, Klass said from his home in Washington, D.C., is that Travis Walton failed a secret polygraph test he took immediately after he returned from his five-day absence. That test, paid for by National Enquirer magazine, was administered by Jack McCarthy, one of the most experienced polygraph examiners in Arizona, Klass said. "And when McCarthy came back to report the result: `Gross deception.` " McCarthy also said that Walton "was holding his breath, trying to fool the machine." Klass said National Enquirer and a now-defunct UFO group persuaded McCarthy to sign an agreement keeping those test results secret. The polygraph test the six loggers took during Walton`s absence was administered by a comparatively inexperienced examiner, he added. Police have publicly stated they wanted that test done because they suspected the loggers had murdered Walton, not because they gave credence to the UFO-abduction tale, Klass noted. Three of the four test questions dealt with that issue, and only the last question asked whether the loggers had SEEN a UFO, he added. He said he suspects the hoax was contrived by a timber contractor who was behind on a government logging contract and was looking for an excuse. Prior to the incident, Walton and his older brother Duane had agreed they`d try to get aboard a UFO if they ever saw one. And the Waltons often played bizarre jokes on their neighbors, Klass said. Klass is a member of the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP), which also criticized Paramount. "The public is being deceived by Paramount`s promoting the film as a true story," said CSICOP chairman Paul Kurtz. A spokesman for Paramount couldn`t be reached. Hollywood is inundating the public with films and television programs claiming that thousands of people are being abducted by extraterrestrials, Kurtz said. None of these programs offers credible scientific evidence or critical dissent, he added. "They seem to be motivated solely by profits, and no matter how outrageous a claim, there is always somebody willing to turn it into a `true` movie." Walton claimed the UFO hit him with a bolt of light that tossed him through the air and knocked him out. He also said initially he was bleeding heavily when he awoke aboard the spacecraft. Yet there was virtually no physical evidence such as bruises, burns or scabs on Walton, or any signs at the spot where the incident occurred, says Elizabeth Anderson, a Calgary member of the Alberta Skeptics. "There`s very little reason to believe what these guys said happened, really happened." Anderson suggested moviegoers enjoy Fire In The Sky as science fiction. "But don`t keep looking over your shoulder on the way home from the theatre," she added with a chuckle. "You`re probably not at risk." CSICOP, an organization devoted to the scientific investigation of claims of the paranormal, includes hundreds of scientists and skeptical investigators. [NOTE: Since the publication of this article, it has been pointed out to Phil Klass that Walton actually said he was BREATHING heavily, not BLEEDING heavily, as it says several paragraphs up. Upon finding this to be true, Klass has admitted his mistake and issued a formal retraction of THAT PORTION of his statement. The other evidence still stands. -- D.B.]

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