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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 2011 > Apr > Apr 28

Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

From: Martin Shough <parcellular.nul>
Date: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 09:27:43 +0100
Archived: Thu, 28 Apr 2011 07:21:52 -0400
Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

>From: Kentaro Mori <kentaro.mori.nul>
>To: post.nul
>Date: Sat, 23 Apr 2011 10:34:01 -0300
>Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

>>From: Michael Tarbell <mtarbell.nul>
>>To: post.nul
>>Date: Fri, 22 Apr 2011 16:39:46 -0600
>>Subject: Re: Trindade 'Negative Witness' Found

>>Hello Kentaro,

>>I generally find us in agreement, but as with the other recent
>>'developments' in this case, i.e., the 50+ year delayed (and
>>contradictory) revelations from nephew Ribiero and 'family
>>friend' Bittencourt, I'm somewhat surprised at the level of
>>significance you attach to this.


>In fact, the number of actual eyewitnesses is very probably
>less than a dozen;

Kentaro's guess may or may not be somewhere near the truth. I
strongly doubt that any extant source will allow us to pin it
down, but he is right that given the status of this case it is
something of a disgrace that for several decades the attempt was
not even made. However, starting from where we are now, I must
say the significant thing to me is the step-change which seems
to have occurred, almost without our noticing, in the sceptical

Hitherto it seems to have been widely held that there is a
simple explanation of why no Navy crew witnesses were named : -
They didn't exist. The whole thing was staged by the Icarai
Diving Club civilians, and no Navy witnesses are identified
because nobody else witnessed anything. I think John Rimmer's
2002 Magonia article "Multiple Witnesses or Wishful Thinking?"
could be described as defining this previous position, with its
thesis that the reported shouting on deck was done by "Barauna
and his associates" and that there were "no other witnesses".

Of course this position was always at odds with various Navy
statements to the effect that Navy witnesses did exist, but
these were simultaneously general in nature and terse in form.
They could be said to lack force - at any rate they lacked the
emotional force that comes from the voices of people on the
spot. The only witnesses with public names and faces were
civilians. The crew witnesses alluded to in Navy reports had no
names, no faces. We longed to hear their names, or at least to
hear someone named who was there assuring us in vivid terms that
they spoke to them, saw them, touched them, thus making these
Navy witnesses part of real history rather than abstract

It was always possible to argue that this division of witnesses
into two groups - named and vivid; unnamed and shadowy - fell
where it did, in the way it did, for the obvious reason that
Navy sailors had neither the same opportunities and motivations
nor the same freedoms to talk to reporters, and that internally
the military had no particular interest in the names and
opinions of individuals in the ranks. But there's no denying it
was inconvenient for our historical/scientific purposes and
tended to leave the named civilians on a raft surrounded by the
cynical sharks. And sharks must eat. How much frustration was it
reasonable to expect them to tolerate?

Today we appear to have reached a new acceptance thanks to the
recollections of Ribeiro, Amilar, Jansen and Brito - the first
apparently prompted by the Bittencourt "spoon" story that
achieved recent press and TV prominence in Brazil; the second
re-interviewed twice before his recent death by Borges and
Kentaro; the other two located by these same assiduous
researchers for the first time after more than 50 years.

One of them - reporting "inside info" that is really only
hearsay - says that the Navy crew and civilians really sighted
some object or effect in the sky, just not the exciting one that
appears in Barauna's photos. More interestingly, one named
participant says that he most definitely saw an object, which
had the general form of the object in the photos, that he came
late but in time to see before it headed off very fast out to
sea, and affirms that "everyone" on deck also saw it. Another
named participant says that "everyone" except him - including
all the sailors on deck - thought they saw something, but must
have been mistaken. The third named participant also says that
he found a lot of people ("staff" = crew) behaving as though
they had just seen something, although it was - in his opinion -
mass hysteria.

Each of these informants in different ways asserts that there
were indeed Navy people on deck "witnessing" something in the
sky. This means that we now have a spectrum of various
documented sources, with different interests, backgrounds and
types of narrative, supporting the civilian witness statements,
Navy press statements and confidential Navy intelligence records
from 1958.

As a result, Kentaro suggests (his arithmetical workings-out are
not transparent to me) that perhaps a dozen or so people might
have been actual witnesses.

But Kentaro then focuses on the residual problem that his figure
is different from figures (smaller and larger) which have
appeared in various sources in the past. Specifically, he points
out that other numbers have been attributed to Barauna at
various times, thus proving (he feels) that Barauna was a liar.

One number that has caused sceptical raised eyebrows is the
famous "48" witnesses. I am not 100% certain of the origin of
it. It has sometimes been laid at Barauna's door, but I think
(please correct me) that it goes back to a 1958 newspaper
article quoting a Navy officer. According to Kentaro's colleague
Jeferson Martinho

"... the same [Captain] Moreira da Silva, who said at the time
[in] the newspaper O Globo that there should be a whole are
"eight witnesses," would later be credited with the statement
that "[the] phenomenon, and documented by photographs, was
confirmed by written testimony from 48 witnesses."

I find the same claim made by Covo, who IIRC attributed the
statement to a Feb 1958 Ultima Hora article quoting Moreira da

But when the newspapers asked _Barauna_ in 1958 how many people
witnessed the object, he replied that he _didn't_know_.

Ultima Hora Feb 21, 1958: "I don't know"

O Cruzeiro March 8, 1958 : "Q. Do you know how many persons
aboard the Almirante Saldanha sighted the object? A. The object
was sighted by almost all the people on the deck at that
time..." He ventured no number.

What he did offer in reply has only the status of _hearsay_. He
was quoted by Ultima Hora as saying that when the ship's Captain
made an inquiry of the crew afterwards, 100 people were
discovered to have been witnesses.

This is the sort of thing which, isolated and illuminated by
Kentaro, gets exhibited as one of Barauna's "lies". He will
point out that so-and-so claimed some other number, and another
person guessed at a third, and that these contradict the
reporter who claimed to be quoting Barauna, and that Barauna has
thus been caught out.

But this sort of treatment (and there are other examples of the
method, perhaps some to be published by Kentaro soon) lacks
realism in my opinion. I prefer to ask: What did Barauna really
mean? What did the journalist think he meant? What was Barauna's
source for thinking whatever he really thought? Barauna was
merely a civilian guest along for the ride - what should he have
been expected to know about military inquiries conducted by
Captain Saldanha da Gama?

Not much, in all likelihood. Anything he thought he knew had
probably come to him second-hand as hearsay and should be
weighted accordingly. And if he heard (let us say) a rumour that
some one hundred crewmen had been questioned, it would not be
too surprising if this ended up in the paper as "100 sailors saw
the object" - reporters being reporters - even if only one in
ten of them had had anything concrete to say.

Why _must_ Barauna be right? What was so special about this man
that everything he is claimed to have said by every anonymous
hack in Rio, and every opinion he has ever murmured in the
decades afterwards, must either have the status of Revealed
Truth or be part of a Devious Lie?

Why should Barauna have the inside track on how many crewmen
were on deck or how many were interviewed in the Captain's
inquiry? Why would he not, rather, get his "knowledge" much like
the rest of us? - from a mixture of hearsay, newspaper stories,
inference, assumption, and rumour collected from other people?

Did Barauna himself seriously believe in those 100 witnesses
attributed to him by a reporter in 1958? Apparently not, because
at the _same_time_ he said that he "didn't know" how many
witnesses there were. And in his own typed and signed statement
in 1967 (see my other post) he estimates that there were "about
50" people on deck and that "everybody" saw the object.

Of course a certain type of sceptic, for whom this is a 2-
dimensional puzzle to be solved by shoving statements around on
a page and juxtaposing them, remembers Ultima Hora's "100 crew
members" and immediately pounces: "Aha, an inconsistency!" But
for myself, I wonder, where do people get their momentary
beliefs? Usually from other people, not from measurement. And
for this reason they are often inconsistent over time. Things
change. We change.

So from whom does _this_ number, "about 50", come? I wonder if
it comes from that press statement attributed to Capt. Moreira
da Silva in 1958 to the effect that the Navy got "written
testimony from 48 witnesses".

And this gives us what seems to me to be a realistic picture of
Barauna's knowledge. Initially, in Feb 1958, he does _not_know_
how many people were there, but passes on hearsay about the
Captain's inquiry among the crew, then later he settles on a
published figure that starts to becomes accepted as

Recently Amilar Viera, asked the same question, recalled, "It
was everyone on deck, the world looked, commented."  But as to
exactly how many people that might have been, "I do not have the
slightest knowledge," he said.

We will never know. Probably, no one ever did.

Martin Shough

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