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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 24.2 > Becoming Fantastic

Becoming Fantastic

Why People Embellish Already Accomplished Lives with Incredible Tales of UFOs and Other Phenomena

IT STARTED WITH A SIMPLE QUESTION: Why would otherwise successful, professional people with long, prosperous careers tell wild tales? Why would someone of good reputation, education and a gainful career, embellish their record with incredible adventures? Why would a retired Lieutenant Colonel with a number of high level accomplishments in his career and awarded numerous medals and praises from superior officers, upon retirement start telling people he was part of a team that analyzed the wreckage of a crashed UFO? Why would anyone do this if it were not true? Intuitively, it seems like someone who gains credibility, status, and a reputation would be less inclined to puff themselves up with fantastic tales. Why risk losing it all by going off the rails recounting unbelievable stories? Philip J. Corso is a case study in this phenomenon.

According to his DA Form 66, he was a battalion commander and a Chief of Foreign Technology Division who was granted numerous awards and decorations.

He served in World War II and in the Korean War. He retired from military service on March 1, 1963.1 Decades later, in 1997, he published The Day After Roswell, in which he claimed that when he worked with the Foreign Technology Division, not only did he divvy up Russian and German tech to private companies for reverse engineering, but also sent out parts fromthe crashed UFO at Roswell. Why would a man of his prestige say such a thing if it were not true? That is the argument made by UFOlogists.

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About Skeptic

THE EXISTENCE OF EVIL AND GOD COLUMNS The SkepDoc: Laser Therapy: Hope or Hype and Hokum?, by Harriet Hall, M.D. • The Gadfly: The Sisyphean Challenges of Skepticism or, Start by Disbelieving, by Carol Tavris ARTICLES Pterosaur Thunderbird: The Origin of a Fake Native American Legend with an Anti- Evolution Agenda • Conversations with My Dead Mother: Why We See Signs and Omens in Everyday Events • Is Cousin Marriage Dangerous? • Therapeutic Touch Redux Twenty Years After the “Emily Event”: Energy Therapies Live on Through Bad Science • What Can Science Learn from Religion? Steven Pinker on Religious Beliefs and Rituals • Becoming Fantastic: Why People Embellish Already Accomplished Lives with Incredible Tales of UFOs and Other Phenomena • 1984 in 2019: The New Privacy Threat from China’s Social Credit Surveillance System SPECIAL DEBATE SECTION Michael Shermer v. Brian Huffling: Is the Reality of Evil Good Evidence Against the Christian God? REVIEW Graham Hancock’s “America Before: The Key to Earth’s Lost Civilization” reviewed by Jason Colavito JUNIOR SKEPTIC The Colossal Case of the Cardiff Giant: One of America’s Greatest Hoaxes