Following Up on Rh-Negative Blood, the Kandahar Giant, and the FBI's Investigation into Richard Shaver
Today I have three follow-ups to discuss on the Kandahar giant, Rh-negative blood, and the FBI’s involvement with the Shaver Mystery. Oh, won’t it be fun!
First up is Rh-negative blood. Regular readers will remember that there are two main schools of fringe thought on the subject, the first being that the rare blood types (A, B, AB, or O negative) signify that the bearer is a descendant of space aliens—either as their slaves or their children—while the second claims that it is a mark of racial superiority among certain Basque, Celtic, or white supremacist groups.
A woman named Katrina wrote to the Washington City Paper because she was concerned that having A-negative blood would impact her pregnancy. She used Google to research the condition but was bombarded with kooky fringe claims about aliens, diffusionism, and racism.
Cecil Adams replied by citing Nick Redfern’s alien ideas (which are not unique to or originated by him) before making the obvious and correct conclusion that the alien claims are an offshoot of straight up racism:
Forever on the lookout for some minor genetic distinction between ethnicities to bolster their worldview, certain white supremacists are tickled a melanin-deficient pink about the fact that about 15 percent of people of European descent will tend to be Rh-negative, while less than one percent of Africans, Asians, and Native Americans will. Thus, predictably, you’ll see assertions that Rh-negatives have a higher IQ and that the fair-skinned Caucasian traits of Northern Europeans were caused by the mutation. Stray far enough into the muck and you'll find “proof” that Jesus was Scandinavian—with AB-negative blood, natch.
It's good to see this kind of racism called out in print, if only in alternative weekly. After wall, more than a few people who read alternative weeklies are also the kind of people who are likely to believe aliens are their real parents, anyway.
Meanwhile, Snopes.com has taken notice of the wildly proliferating claims that the U.S. military captured or killed a red-haired cannibal giant near Kandahar in 2002 after the giant killed a special forces member named Dan. The story, as I noted recently, originated with claims made by Steve Quayle a decade ago but recently received new attention when L. A. Marzulli included it in his Watchers X DVD and subsequent YouTube promotional video.
Snopes actually called the Defense Department for comment, and a DOD spokesperson gave them the following statement: “We do not have any record or information about a special forces member killed by a giant in Kandahar.” Granted, conspiracy theorists will dismiss this as a cover-up, but Snopes also found the same information that I did, namely that the only service member named Dan who died Kandahar in 2002 died in a documented accident alongside three others.
I’m glad that Marzulli’s video has now been labeled “False,” but it is testament to the growing popularity of these kinds of YouTube claims that Snopes ran the story in the first place.
Finally, I’d like to return to the bizarre tale of the FBI’s investigation of Richard Shaver, the author of I Remember Lemuria, and his publisher, Ray Palmer of Amazing Stories, in the days following Kenneth Arnold’s flying disc sighting in the summer of 1947.
Regular readers will remember that not long ago James Carrion made some rather dramatic claims that declassified FBI documents pointed to a secret U.S. government plot to fake flying discs and the Roswell crash to fool the Soviets. Carrion cited a memo in which the FBI redactor failed to blot out the name of Richard Shaver, allowing me to reconstruct a bizarre and sad story of how Ray Palmer helped to midwife the UFO phenomenon in order to promote the Lemurian fantasies of his cash cow, Richard Shaver, whose novels Palmer said were actually based in fact, the so-called Shaver Mystery. The FBI uncovered the truth but then did nothing with the results because they had ended their partnership with the Army Air Forces, later the U.S. Air Force, before delivering the final reports. The Army Air Forces, for their part, misled the FBI throughout by denying that they had any secret military projects that could have caused some UFO sightings, which nevertheless the FBI kept coming back to as a likely explanation. They carefully worded their denials to obfuscate, since it was literally true that they were not flying specifically disc-shaped aircraft, omitting their planes and balloons.
Kevin Randle analyzed Carrion’s posting from a different perspective, examining military aspects of the claims, prompting a rebuttal from Carrion. Now UFO researcher Brad Sparks, the founder of Citizens Against UFO Secrecy, has issued his own rebuttal to Carrion, but he takes a more serious view of the FBI’s role in investigating the Shaver Mystery.
To understand this requires highly complex background that isn’t worth analyzing in detail. The short version is that all involved put a great deal of weight on the July 21, 1947 FBI memorandum which reported that Carl Goldbranson of the War Department Intelligence Division has asked the FBI to look into Shaver. Thus, Sparks makes the following claim:
If anything, Goldbranson's request for FBI investigation of Shaver sounds more like a counterintelligence and security matter, not some sort of deception scheme. Goldbranson was wondering if an AAF flight had had an encounter with a UFO in some way linked to, or anticipated by, Shaver and thus might be some kind of threat to the AAF.
Sparks also questioned Goldbranson’s affiliation, arguing that he was an Army officer and therefore was acting outside of the Army Air Forces purview, so the AAF was not actually the agency involved in planning or responding to the flying disc event (“the FBI memo says Goldbranson was from Army Intelligence Division, not AAF”). Carl Goldbranson was a name shared by a father and a son, Air Force and Army respectively, who were both serving in 1947. I do not know which was the officer in question.
But when we follow Sparks’s analysis back to its sources to look at what the War Department actually sent to the FBI on July 16, 1947, we see that Sparks and Carrion are both making assumptions. Far be it from me to give Carrion any succor—his case is, to put it mildly, unproved—but you can’t craft a narrative from one document, or even two. I say this with full knowledge that even after reading through hundreds of pages, I still haven’t found all of them either.
The FBI memo actually slightly misrepresents the information the Bureau received. On July 16, they did receive information about Shaver, and Goldbranson might even have delivered it, but the information did not originate from him. The memorandum of that day officially came from the War Department General Staff, not the Army Intelligence Division. Further, it was not signed by Goldbranson, but, in memo form, had no closing. The July 21 version, sent to J. Edgar Hoover’s assistant, D. M. Ladd, said that Goldbranson had “informed” special agent S. W. Reynolds of the Liaison Section about the incident and asked for action. The most parsimonious reading is that the WDGS prepared a memo for the FBI, and Goldbranson, working in the office, handed it to Reynolds, the FBI-War Department liaison, to take back to headquarters. However, we know that this was not specifically an Army issue because the WDGS memo references a telegram about Shaver that had been sent directly to the Army Air Forces Headquarters. AAF appears to have bumped the note up to WDGS because they had a liaison in place with the FBI.
However, Carrion reads these events as discrete moments in a conspiracy whereby Goldbranson purposely delayed each step in the information transmission process to create a conspiracy. Sparks, on the other hand, assumes that the July 16 memo didn’t get where it needed to go and that Goldbranson “telephoned or visited” Reynolds in the “five-day gap” between July 16 and 21 to deliver the message in person. My reading is also an assumption of course, but one that takes a minimalist position. The truth is that we don’t know why the two documents differ, but the fact that the FBI’s July 21 memo repeats verbatim chunks of the WDGS memo of July 16, with the same attachments, argues that there was only one transmission event, not repeated calls to action.
A look at the calendar might explain why. July 16 was a Wednesday, and assuming that Goldbranson didn’t rush the memo over to the liaison’s office (or even if he did), Reynolds likely could not do anything with it until Thursday or Friday, at which point FBI headquarters had the information. Even within Washington, it took time for memos to be read, reports to be filled out, and documents to pass from office to office. The War Department wasn’t just next door to the FBI, and there is no indication anyone considered this memo important enough to rush. The intervening weekend then accounts for the time gap before headquarters issued a memo on Monday July 21. Thus, the mysterious “five-day gap” all but vanishes into the time it takes for an office to process its paperwork.
Granted, this is speculation, but it conforms to the patterns seen in other memo series from the era, where a day of processing follows receipt, and weekends delay responses. Indeed, on August 19, in response to a request for more information, the liaison officer told his bosses at the FBI that he had met with and discussed the discs with a different colonel, a Col. Garrett of the Air Forces, who had given him the memo, at which time Garrett told him that he thought that the discs were really secret Air Forces test planes that even he had not been told about. This, by accident, sparked the FBI discussion that eventually led to the FBI leaving the UFO business when they realized the Air Force was trying to offload crank cases onto them.
Similarly, the “gap” between when the telegram about Shaver was sent to the AAF and when the WDGS acted on it seems to be less a conspiracy than indifference. The telegram was sent on July 5, and Sparks wonders why it was only “received” on July 9. But that isn’t the case. The AAF Headquarters received it on July 5, but a handwritten note said that it was received by an acronym with an illegible letter (marked with a question mark), the AFBI[?]-CO on July 9. That means that AAF Headquarters received it on a Saturday and probably passed it on to another division later the next week, after an official Air Force report on flying saucers in Wisconsin was received on Monday, July 7, sparking interest. In other words, the telegram on its own wasn’t interesting, and it only became of interest when flying saucers were reported shortly after within 50 miles of Shaver’s house.
Indeed, that is exactly what the WDGS says: “In view of the fact that the time the observation of the flying saucers was made corresponds closely with the date of the unsigned telegram and considering the proximity of [Lily Lake] to the points where the objects were observed, it is requested that [Shaver] be investigated.” Thus, there is no “conspiracy” but rather the War Department foisting onto the FBI the grunt work of running down an unlikely lead out of an abundance of caution.
I am an author and researcher focusing on pop culture, science, and history. Bylines: New Republic, Slate, etc. There's more about me in the About Jason tab.
Enter your email below to subscribe to my newsletter, The Skeptical Xenoarchaeologist, for updates on my latest projects, blog posts, and activities, and subscribe to Culture & Curiosities, my Substack newsletter.
Terms & Conditions
Please read all applicable terms and conditions before posting a comment on this blog. Posting a comment constitutes your agreement to abide by the terms and conditions linked herein.