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James W. Moseley: Wikis


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James W. Moseley (born August 4, 1931 in New York City) is an American ufologist.

He has exposed UFO hoaxers and perpetrated fraud in his career, and, according to Jerome Clark, has "entertained just about every view it is possible to hold about UFOs, without ever managing to say anything especially interesting or memorable about any of them." (Clark 2005)



Moseley was born to a military family; his father, George Van Horn Moseley, would attain the rank of Major General in the U.S. Army. Moseley attended Princeton University for two years. Despite earning good marks, he dropped out to pursue interests and hobbies, including archeology. He became interested in UFOs following the 1947 claims of pilot Kenneth Arnold, but his interest deepened following the 1948 death of U.S. Air Force pilot Thomas Mantell in pursuit of a UFO.

In July, 1954, Moseley co-founded Saucer News, a periodical remembered for its unorthodox, "freewheeling" (Clark, 2002) style. Saucer News only occasionally featured serious UFO research; Moseley was among the first to publicize evidence against the claims of leading "contactee" George Adamski. In 1953 he investigated the Ralph Horton flying saucer crash.

Saucer News was sold to Gray Barker in 1968. Moseley became a regular lecturer on UFOs for several years and organized an annual convention. In 1970, he founded a newsletter that went by several titles until Moseley settled on Saucer Smear in 1981. He produces the newsletter irregularly, and mails it free-of-charge to about 200 friends and associates. Saucer Smear typically has a joking, gossipy tone.

Moseley reports (Story, 1980; Clark, 2002) that he has accepted, then rejected, a number of explanations for UFOs. In roughly chronological order, he considered the extraterrestrial hypothesis; a secret weapon/aircraft hypothesis, psychic/supernatural/interdimensional hypotheses in the vein of John Keel or Jacques Vallee; deep skepticism; and agnosticism.

In 1984, Moseley established an antiques store in Key West, Florida. Moseley co-wrote a memoir With Karl T. Pflock, entitled Shockingly Close to the Truth! (2002).

The "Straith" hoax letter

Moseley was long suspected of having co-created a phony 1957 letter as a prank against Adamski. After years of denying the charges, evading the subject, and hinting at responsibility, Moseley admitted to the hoax in 1985 (Clark, 2005; Moseley and Pflock, 2002).

In 1957, Barker acquired some blank U.S. Governmental letterhead stationery and envelopes from a friend. During an alcohol-fueled weekend, Moseley and Barker wrote seven letters, each using this official letterhead. Five of the letters were jokes to friends; only two of the letters were outright hoaxes, the Adamski letter and one to Moseley's father.

The letter to Adamski was signed by the fictional "R.E. Straith", a representative of the non-existent "Cultural Exchange Committee" of the U.S. State Department. Straith wrote that the U.S. Government knew that Adamski had actually spoken to extraterrestrials in a California desert in 1952, and that a group of highly-placed government officials planned on public corroboration of Adamski's story.

Adamski took great pride in the Straith letter, and publicized its contents. FBI agents investigated the letter, and, since none of the claims were genuine, asked Adamski to stop publicizing the letter. Adamski refused.

FBI agents also questioned Barker and Moseley about the matter, but no criminal charges were filed.

Moseley has been quoted (Clark, 2002) as stating that he committed multiple UFO "hoaxes", but the incidents are not detailed by Clark.

Ralph Horton crash case

Horton and the "flying saucer"

Moseley investigated the Ralph Horton flying saucer crash after finding it in the flying saucer file of the Atlanta Constitution. Moseley called the airport and confirmed that the object was a device used by the Air Force to determine wind velocity and direction. It was sent up attached to a balloon and tracked by radar, since radar beams were reflected by the object. Horton retrieved the object from where he had discarded it, and gave it to Moseley. Moseley lost the object. He laments that if he had held on to the object, then it might have been he instead of Pflock that cracked the Roswell UFO Incident (Moseley & Pflock 2002:53-54).


  • Clark, Jerome (2005), The UFO Encyclopedia: The Phenomenon from the Beginning, Volume 2, L-Z (2nd ed.), Omnigraphics, ISBN 0-7808-0097-4  
  • Moseley, James W.; Pflock, Karl T. (2002), Shockingly Close to the Truth!: Confessions of a Grave-Robbing Ufologist, Prometheus Books, ISBN 1-57392-991-3  
  • Story, Ronald J. (editor) and J. Richard Greenwell (consulting editor), The Encyclopedia of UFOs, Garden City: Doubleday & Co, 1980, ISBN 0-385-13677-3

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