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What They Didn't Want You To Know

by Joe Turner


One of the A & E Channel's investigative TV programs has now found the tables turned on it in the most ironic fashion. "The Unexplained," a Sightings/Unsolved Mysteries" knock-off that deals with the paranormal and mysterious, has been the focus of an investigation led by one of its past experts. The findings of this investigation, conducted by a real life "Fox Mulder," firmly place "The Unexplained's" episode, "Strange Disappearances" in the same context as the Hitler Diaries and CNN's recent news debacle on nerve gassing Viet Nam deserters. Like the CNN Viet Nam story, the episode dealt with a military operation. A test in W.W.II that would have been the latest development in a long history of military camouflage. Total optical and radar invisibility. The Philadelphia Experiment.


" caught fire, went mad, and - the most bizarre of all, some were embedded halfway into the deck of the ship. Others phased in and out of this reality..."
Much has been written and speculated about this legend of an experiment in "electronic camouflage," both pro and con. Reportedly it ended with the ship teleporting from Philadelphia to Norfolk with some crew members becoming embedded in the ship. Sorting the facts from the fiction has proven an almost impossible task, particularly with the recent flux of misinformation and deliberate disinformation that has been injected into the internet by those connected to the U.S. intelligence community, professional skeptics and arm chair researchers.

Against this confusing tapestry there have been a few constants. They are that one, Carlos Miguel Allende, claimed in the 1950s to have been a witness to a test at sea of a ship being made optically invisible using strong electromagnetic force fields when he was a sailor onboard the merchant marine vessel SS Furuseth in 1943. He also claimed that during another test that went wrong, some of the men caught fire, went mad, and - the most bizarre of all, some were embedded halfway into the deck of the ship. Others phased in and out of this reality, only kept here by the laying on of hands. Allende wrote a series of strange letters in 1955 to Morris K. Jessup, a researcher who had written the book "The Case For The UFO." It was Allende's fear that the same technology that was responsible for the disasters of the Philadelphia Experiment was the secret behind the propulsion method used successfully by UFOs. Jessup had called for research into such force fields of UFOs without having any knowledge of the navy experiment, and this alarmed Allende.

Official Nany photograph of the US Eldridge during ceremonies for its commission. The Eldridge was the ship used in the controversial experiment in 1943.

Allende's letters were filled with cryptic references and mailed from an assortment of locales around America. They can be read on-line at . Jessup eventually dismissed Allende as a crank until in 1957 he was contacted by Capt. Sidney Sherby and Comdr. George Hoover, two officers from the Office of Naval Research. They had received a copy of Jessup's book with strange annotations in the margins about a vanishing ship, aliens and other anomalies. The officers from ONR asked Jessup to travel to Washington D.C. to meet with them and discuss what the annotations might mean. When Jessup got there he was surprised to see that the annotations appeared to be from Allende although they had been written in three different colored inks as though three separate individuals had been writing comments.

Jessup had no idea what to make of it and was a little unsettled by the interest that these ONR officers had in the writing, especially about the ship that was made invisible and it's crew severely injured. The officers even paid Varo Inc. to reprint copies of the annotated version of Jessup's book and had them passed around ONR for consideration. Jessup confided in his friend Ivan Sanderson that he felt the officers might want to try the experiment again. Meanwhile Jessup's life began to be plagued by what he called "strange coincidences." He began to complain about his health. and his research efforts took a turn for the worse. In 1959 he was found dead in his car from carbon monoxide poisoning and declared a suicide without the benefit of an autopsy. Many believe to this day that he was actually murdered, with Allende left roaming the country to escape the same fate.

The Office of Naval Research has created a number of form "response" letters over the years to handle public inquiries into the Philadelphia Experiment. The latest version can be found at Somewhat embarrassed by all the attention drawn to them by the activities of the now long gone officers, and having not been in existence at the time of the experiment, the ONR has had to handle the lion's share of public requests for clarification and information. Until 1996 they had no trouble shrugging off accusations of cover-up with simple explanations about degaussing and misunderstandings about the word "invisible." They contend that the legend got started based on the routine task of demagnetizing or "degaussing" the ships so as to be "invisible" to magnetic mines and torpedoes. Echoing this position on "The Unexplained," as an official representative of the US. Navy, was US. naval historian John Reilly. Reilly stated that, as far as he knew, the navy never experimented with making ships invisible with magnetic fields. The navy has been long indirectly assisted in these apologetic efforts by the usual gaggle of disinforments.

"The Unexplained" featured an interview with researcher Robert Goerman, saying that he solved the mystery of the Philadelphia Experiment by a discovery he made about Carlos Allende. A writer from Pennsylvania who penned articles for pulp UFO magazines in the '70s, Goerman considered himself to be "a player," at least an also-ran amongst the galaxy of name UFO researchers of the time. When the book, "The Philadelphia Experiment: Project Invisibility," by William Moore and Charles Berlitz came out in 1979, Goerman was motivated to do his own investigation but in a different direction. Instead of checking into the new information and science that the book mentioned, he latched onto Allende because of a quirk of fate - his parents were neighbors of the parents of Allende. Furthermore, Allende's real name was Allen, Carl Meredith Allen. Goerman's daughter used to visit the Allens and it was just by chance that he discovered that they were in fact the family of the elusive Philadelphia Experiment "witness."

After agreeing to keep certain information about the family confidential, the Allens allowed Goerman to review various cards, letters, and other things that Carl had sent to his family. They described Carl as "a leg puller," and someone who was very intelligent but lacked the discipline to achieve his full potential. It was clear from the items that Goerman looked over that Carl would annotate everything. He was even quirkier and more eccentric than he had ever imagined. Armed with this new information, Goerman was convinced that he had the truth, especially after having conversations with Carl himself. Ignoring all other available information, Goerman wrote "Alias: Carlos Allende" and it was published in "Fate" magazine in 1980, now archived on the internet at . But Goerman's article was not well received by others in the UFO community. He has remained bitter about this, accusing those who ignore or disagree with his analysis as only being interested in "selling their books." An accusation that Goerman made on "The Unexplained" and intentionally or not, inferred this as a motive of the wrong researcher.

"I know the applicable laws, how to operate with law enforcement, do investigations, have a badge and I.D., weapons, the whole nine yards and all legal. I'm versed in psy-ops, surveillance, counter-surveillance, stings, non-lethal weapons. I know how and can intervene in a felony in progress and execute arrest procedures until law enforcement arrives. I've actually been involved in cases against pedophiles, a rouge psychic spy, Men In Black related activity, potential terrorism related to Y2K that threatens national security. No cops or state police have complained so far. I think that earns me the 'special'." So says Marshall Barnes, Special Civilian Investigator Marshall Barnes who "The Unexplained" had contacted through his book distributor because he was described as an expert on the Philadelphia Experiment. Under the pretext of trying to get to the truth, Mark Caras allegedly got Marshall to agree to appear on the show and not allow arguments that Marshall had disproved to go unchallenged.


"...the crux of it all came down to the use of an intense electromagnetic field that would create a mirage effect of invisibility by refracting light..."

Marshall had been in a similar situation in November of 1996 with the Sci-Fi Channel's version of Sightings, the magazine format show that the Fox network originally created. It was the first to break ground in the field of reporting the strange and paranormal. Marshall used an eleven point white paper to successfully pitch the idea of doing a story on how he could prove that the last paragraph of the ONR information letter was false, that there was in fact a scientific basis for invisibility known before the letter was written. Marshall assembled all of the evidence to prove his case along with a physicist for Sightings' cameras. Six months later, after he and the physicist had been told separate stories about why the episode hadn't aired yet, Marshall took things into his own hands and used a bit of his investigator know how to trick his way into talking with one of the executive producers. She told him the episode had been canceled because there were no witnesses to verify the Philadelphia Experiment had taken place.

"That was not part of the deal," Marshall recalls. "I never said that I could prove that it happened, only that the ONR's statement was false about the science and that's what I did. The story was sold on that basis. It passed muster in a production meeting where ideas were voted on up or down. Maleka Brown brought it to that meeting and Ruth Rafiti was the producer it was assigned to. They sent out a director who hired a two man production crew to shoot all day. The first excuse was they ran out of editing money. Then they had to wait to see if they would be renewed for the next season. Finally someone admitted the episode was canceled but wouldn't tell me why. Then I tricked my way in to getting a phone call to one of the executive producer people who told me it was because there was no witnesses, which had nothing to do with the idea that Maleka sold at the meeting. This producer wasn't even in on it until later. It made no sense to kill that story, except for one thing - I proved I was right, and I did it right in front of their own cameras with one of my experiments and they were stunned. It was probably too good. It left no doubts. I had heard that Sightings had been infiltrated by government types after all the complaints that they got from the Pentagon when they were on Fox. Exposing Area 51, and all that. I had no opinion about that before. Now I'm almost convinced."

Marshall's "experiments" demonstrated that reflected light from an object could be refracted in such a way to create a mirage. This mirage would render that object transparent or invisible, a feat based on the statements made by an anonymous scientist who was given the cover name of "Dr. Rinehart," by William Moore. Moore interviewed Rinehart who had met Allende but gave the eccentric the false name of "Franklin Reno," derived from a road sign describing the distance from Franklin and Reno Pennsylvania. Rinehart claimed to have been one of the men who worked on some of the calculations for the Philadelphia Experiment and provided detailed scientific data up to a point. Marshall determined that if this data made no sense, did not 'check out', then the whole story would lose much credibility. Using the standard scientific method, Marshall carefully read Rinehart's account and researched each scientific detail. The crux of it all came down to the use of an intense electromagnetic field that would create a mirage effect of invisibility by refracting light. This light would be refracted by the conditions caused in the air by the field that would include dielectric breakdown of the air, ionization, and even a zeemanzing of the atoms. Not having the equipment to cause such conditions, Marshall calculated that if he could find a material that would refract light, he could at least prove whether or not the basis for the Philadelphia Experiment had any foundation in science. As fate would have it, he did have such a material - a special plastic called 'diffraction film' - and he discovered, much to his amazement, that it worked.

(above) Photograph showing the defraction film and its invisibility effect upon a spool of thread. Notice that the table top and pen are visible through the spool (A). This simple experiment proved that defraction was a viable and scientifically sound method of simulating invisibility.

Marshall found other scientific data to corroborate Rinehart's account, including a photograph from Sandia National Laboratories from the cover of the college text book, "Physics: Volume 2." The photograph shows a particle accelerator device, that sits in water, surrounded eerily by the identical greenish-bluish glow said to have emanated from the Eldridge as the field generators were being turned on. The glow is described in this case as the result of the same condition that Rinehart mentioned - dielectric breakdown of the air near the surface of the water. Marshall's scientific research was good enough that he was invited in 1996 to present his findings in a scientific colloquium sponsored by the biological and physical sciences department of Columbus State Community College. This event is mentioned as part of a press release announcing that it could be proven that the ONR had in fact been involved in a cover-up since Marshall's findings directly contradicted the official ONR statement in the last paragraph of the information sheet. It also mentions that Marshall was to present his research on the Art Bell radio show. A copy of that release can be viewed at It was this event, and the discoveries leading up to it, that the Sightings episode was supposed to have been based on. If Marshall's research and experiments were good enough to be presented in a colloquium sponsored by a college science department, why weren't they good enough for a cable TV show increasingly becoming known more for its psychic ghost hunting? When considered in that light, Marshall's suspicions of governmental interference are quite understandable.

But this was supposed to be different with "The Unexplained." Segment producer Mark Caras had bought Marshall's book and liked its focus on hard, documented evidence, instead of the wild stories and speculation of most of the available material on the subject. Not only had Caras taken an interest in the story, he also played a minor role in Barnes' investigation against respected scientist and UFO researcher Jacques Vallee. Vallee had written an article debunking the Philadelphia Experiment called "Anatomy of a Hoax." The basis for the article was that Vallee found another witness to the event, a witness that said that he was there at the time that it was supposed to have taken place and that it never did. The article had been hailed as the best research on the subject by UFO pundits like Michael Corbin, whose ParaNet newsgroups host discussions on such topics on the internet. But Caras knew that Marshall's book exposed the Vallee article as a fraud since Vallee had not checked Dudgeon's background or statements - statements that proved to be false when checked against navy documents and other historical information. Marshall unearthed admissions made by Vallee himself concerning his being taught on how to write disinformation, as well as Vallee's links to the shadowy Aviary. The Aviary consists of various former CIA, DIA, INSCOM, and AFOSI agents and connected scientists. Allegedly dedicated to infiltration, studying and disinforming the UFO community as double agents, links for this group can be found at such sites as The Society for Scientific Exploration, that issued last year's report calling for a further study of UFOs, is an Aviary infiltrated organization, as is their Journal of Scientific Exploration that published both the report and Jacques Vallee's fraudulent article.

Marshall sent an eight page report to JSE editor Bernhard M. Haisch, informing him of his investigation against Vallee, the evidence that he had acquired and his intention to expose Vallee, with the suggestion that Haisch put a disclaimer on the JSE web page for the article's abstract. When Marshall called Haisch to discuss the matter, Haisch acted as if Marshall's investigation was inconsequential and flatly refused to inform readers of his findings. Haisch seemed more concerned about the possibility of Marshall taking his report to the internet.

"What are you going to do? Put it on the internet?" Haisch asked. Sensing a point of consternation, Marshall held his cards close to his vest.

"It's not a matter of what I'm going to do," he replied, "It's a matter of what you should do if you want to live up to these high standards that your publication brags about on your web site." Haisch hung up.

Caras was intrigued by Marshall's gutsy, 'go get the truth' attitude. When considering including the Anatomy article in The Unexplained episode, Caras called Bernhard Haisch and then reported back to Marshall on Haisch's disposition. "You're really on to something," he allegedly told the investigator. "Haisch was unnerved by your call, and nervous about my doing an episode about all this." Caras also told Marshall that after failing to return calls to his office, Jacques Vallee called five minutes after Caras left him a message that he was going to proceed with the episode featuring Marshall's statements about him without Vallee's opportunity for rebuttal. During the ensuing conversation, Vallee said that he was "sorry that he had anything to do with the Philadelphia Experiment" and worried about his reputation in the UFO and venture capital communities as a result of Marshall's investigation. He had forwarded Marshall's report to his attorney, an action that Marshall considered to be in preparation for some kind of legal attack to keep him silent by tying the issue up in court. Based on this new information from Caras, Marshall decided to strike against Vallee publicly in a information warfare styled campaign that would only be held back until Caras decided if he was actually going to include the Anatomy issue in the episode. If he was, Marshall would wait until Caras had a chance to get his interview in the can, knowing that once the campaign began, Vallee would be loathed to talk to anyone.

When the time came for Marshall to be taped for his appearance, he was handed a release form that seemed to stray away from Marshall and Caras' prior agreement. Recognizing it as a standard release giving the show the freedom to edit as they pleased, Barnes reminded Caras about their arrangement which Caras said he would still honor. The shoot that day included a demonstration of Marshall's experiments for the camera and the photos from "Physics: Volume 2" and a lengthy interview with Marshall. Jean Claude Ba, a physics professor was also interviewed. Marshall later sent Caras a copy of his dramatic experiment showing a sheet of diffraction film causing a full scale replica of the Santa Maria to look as transparent as a phantom ship.

As the time approached for the episode to air, Caras began to act cryptically. First was his mention of having a computer animation appear to 'dramatize' the Eldridge becoming invisible. When Marshall asked about the use of the video of his experiment with the Santa Maria, Caras acted like it was almost non-existent. "His attitude was like it either wasn't good enough of a dub or that it didn't show what I said it did. Regardless, it was a disingenuous response but I chose not to push the issue. I know how producers can be with their production toys."

The next thing to happen was Caras telling Marshall that the executive producer Jonathan Towers, had him make 'changes' in the script because it was 'too weird'. "Don't worry," Caras told Marshall, "you'll still get the truth across." Marshall was beginning to worry but having been informed by Caras that there would be no coverage over the Vallee issue because of lack of available time, Marshall had begun his campaign against Vallee on the internet, the very medium that Haisch had apprehensively asked about. Through a network of cyber journalists, the story about Vallee's fraud and Haisch's attempt to keep it secret slowly began to appear in various forms until now if you do a search on the net combining the words 'fraud', 'hoax' and 'anatomy', depending on the search engine, you'll get articles about Jacques Vallee like

By August 21 the first wave of Marshall's campaign was over and he was beginning his middle game. But that night he stopped to see what Mark meant when he said he had to make some 'script changes'. What he saw was as far from the truth as you could get. In fact, the Office of Naval Research could have written the script themselves.