Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

The catch-all forum for general topics and debates. Minimal moderation. Rated PG to PG-13.
User avatar
Doctor CamNC4Me
God
Posts: 1642
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 2:04 am

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Doctor CamNC4Me »

RI,

FAA for flight info only. I just wanted to see if there was a record of it.

- Doc
Clinton King commenting on SeN: "My (perhaps) uncommon personal opinion: I find it easier to doubt the accuracy of carbon dating than the historicity of the Book of Abraham narrative." Good, Lord.
User avatar
Gadianton
Stake President
Posts: 586
Joined: Sun Oct 25, 2020 11:56 pm

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Gadianton »

Lem wrote:Maybe that's part of the confusion. I certainly don't think that, and I'm not really seeing anyone telling you that,
I'm not either. Res and I are in two different places: why it can't be ruled out vs. why I should accept it.

I have some serious philosophical differences with Gemli, but he makes the best default skeptic cases ever. I think if Gemli were here, he'd just say the burden of proof is on Nelson or those who believe the story to provide the evidence and until then, he'll just sit there kicked back in his chair with his feet on the coffee table, and call BS. There's a major asymmetry of effort here: Showing the black duck vs. all ducks are white. There could be an incident report or a story in the paper, or a memoir by a pilot or someone close to the scene on a blog and case closed. Such a shred of evidence could have been provided if nothing else, for the authorized biography.

Since we're telling career stories: When I was first getting into my career, a friend hooked me up for breakfast with a relative well-established in the same career -- my friend, however, gave me "the warning" about his relative. Here we are at the restaurant, and it's one whopper after the other, all told with sincerity and a straight face. The conversation was all over the place. From the killing machines he'd trained as a martial arts instructor to the war zone about the mission home on his mission. The guy was huge, overweight, sure, but tall and broad. We had to sit at a table where there'd be enough room. He winced every now and again from back pain he was in. I tried to clarify that the martial arts that he actively teaches; surely if he were serious, represented some kind of "big guy" judo, grappling style. No. He clarified that he moves like Jean Claude Van Damme (his reference, not mine). There was never a moment of humor about this or anything at that table. Another of his many random claims that morning: Somewhere in Idaho, there exists a Stake Center with 4 indoor swimming pools.

Let's focus on that last claim. How much time could we spend as a group running down every stake center in Idaho, our connections, websites, church leaders, and how many ways can we construe the claim just to be sure -- maybe the church bought some land and adjacent to where the chapel ended up were the pools? And what really stares at you in the face, again, is the disproportionate effort involved proving vs. definitively ruling out the claim. "Here's the address, run it down yourself." Asked and answered. These aren't extraordinary claims requiring extraordinary evidence, they are ordinary, but rare or suspect claims, requiring ordinary evidence.

Yes, I admit that I'm hugely biased in this case, as I was hugely biased about everything I heard at breakfast that day. Is that bias a problem? It really depends on what question you're trying to answer. Given the asymmetry of effort for believer vs. skeptic here, those calling BS could push the claimant into revealing his hand. If you want to confirm it happened, everyone needs to call BS and let the guy who has the proof present it. Our efforts will almost certainly never, in a hundred years at this point, confirm this incident. On the other hand, if you want to answer the question of bare plausibility, with a nod to Lem's example of the Book of Mormon, then we can't yet say that every duck is white. There are always more ducks to go.

That's not to say that it's silly to be skeptical of "all ducks are white". I really believe this comes down to what you're trying to get to, personally. Maybe another 200 ducks will rule it out with near certainty, so don't give up yet. Or Given the notoriety of the claimant here, the number of times the story is told, and so on, it could be seen as a case where there's a lot on the line. Let's check 150 more ducks than we ordinarily would, otherwise we could be caught with our pants down. Skeptics have quickly blown off the Book of Mormon with valid concerns, but caution being low, accidentally put the ball on the Tee for the apologist. The apologists one day find an answer to a concern that hadn't been thought out well enough, and even though the case for the Book of Mormon doesn't advance an inch because of it in reality, it appears to in the mind of the believers. Knocking down a flippant objection is taken as proof for the primary claim. How many times has Interpreter been justified as a smashing success because it has published on Fridays for so many years, when a random critic said it would die, ten years ago? I'm just saying there are advantages and disadvantages to either attitude.
Res Ipsa
God
Posts: 1689
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:44 pm

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:08 am
RI,

FAA for flight info only. I just wanted to see if there was a record of it.

- Doc
Thanks. I noticed that includes a breadcrumb that might help us figure out the records retention policy. Following the breadcrumbs leads to where there are online copies of document retention policies. A couple of polices I had seen referred to sending documents to FRC to be held and then destroyed at the end of the retention period. FRC stands for Federal Record Center. That led me to wonder where one would have to make a FOIA request to find an NTSB record that is in storage in the FRC. The answer is, it's still a record under the control of the NTSB, so a FOIA to the NTSB will include any NTSB records stored in an FRC (there's a bunch of them scattered across the county).

But that didn't help with permanent records. What happens to them. Well, the FAA records management policy refers to transferring records to NARA. NARA is the National Archives, and it's where permanent records eventually are stored.
Not all individual documents are searchable online, but the catalog itself is. So, I found the section for all FAA documents and searched accident and input reports. The first thing that popped up were the paper forms from which the FAA created its Accident and Incident Datasystem. That the database you can search online at FAA.gov.

I thought HOT DAMN!!! Now I can submit a fairly target request to NARA and get the paper FAA Accident and Incident forms from Utah during the 1970s. But, alas, like the searchable database itself, the paper records only go back to 1978. But that doesn't mean NARA doesn't have earlier copies. It may mean they are in a different folder. So it will take some time to look.

Not only that, but based on just a few minutes of fiddling around, it looks like there are records designated as being from the different regional offices. Which also makes me wonder whether there are similar collections of records from field offices sitting in NARA. I think the only way to tell is to browse the different sections and folders under NARA's catalog system.

I did one little quick search of one thing I found. There is a HUGE correspondence file that covers the 1970s. And the files are arranged chronologically by year. Guess which one's missing. Yeah, 1976. DAMMIT.

So, to summarize, if I send a FOIA request to the FAA or NTSB for records from the 1970s, but the records I want to look at are at NARA, the answer will be "we searched but were unable to locate the records you requested." Comparing the NTSB response to Dr. Moore's friend with the FAA response you received, it looks like some FOIA officers are more terse than others. At least yours left you breadcrumbs.

You remember in Raiders of the Lost Ark when the French dude is digging to find the map room based on the instructions on the medallion, but his copy is based only on what was burned into the creepy torture Nazi's hand when he grabbed it in fire and so French dude didn't know the instructions on the back of the medallion and Indy and the Egyptian dude look at each other and say at the same time "They're digging in the wrong place?" It's kinda like that. Asking NTSB and the FAA for 45 year old records may be digging in the wrong place. If they haven't been destroyed by now, it's likely they're in NARA's possession.

I'm going to try a FOIA there, although I'm tempted to spend several hours I don't have browsing the catalog first. Here is what I'm generally thinking.

1. Any and all records obtained from the NTSB or FAA of aircraft accidents or incidents in the state of Utah from 1/1/70--12/31/79.

2. Any and all records of the NTSB or FAA's present document management systems that include retention or disposition dates for records of aircraft accidents or incidents.

3. Any and all records that report the total number of accidents and/or the total number of incidents by state for any calendar year from 1970 through 1979.

Suggested edits or additional items would be welcome.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
Res Ipsa
God
Posts: 1689
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:44 pm

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Gadianton wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:23 am
Lem wrote:Maybe that's part of the confusion. I certainly don't think that, and I'm not really seeing anyone telling you that,
I'm not either. Res and I are in two different places: why it can't be ruled out vs. why I should accept it.
I'm not sure we are even talking about the same "it." For me, because I'm interested in how stories/myths/urban legends develop, the "it" is what, if anything, is the set of historical events that forms the basis of the story. I start with the assumption that we can rule out a set of facts that assumes 100% accuracy of every detail in every version of the story. Given what we know about perception and memory, the chances of that set of facts being historically accurate is so close to zero that it's not worth considering.

Right now, I have to work with a reasonable range of "it's" to reduce the chance that I'll overlook material evidence. Hypothetical: suppose Nelson did include an account of the event in his autobiography in more detail than is found in the brief preface. And assume that description said that the flight, indeed, was for an event at Dixie university, but not the November 12, event. And that it was a charter flight, not a scheduled commuter flight. Even if we had was a complete set of accident and incident reports for November 12, or a complete set of incident and accident reports from Skywest for the month of November, we'd wouldn't be looking in the right place.

That's all. When you are looking for evidence, cast the widest net possible. And make sure you're not missing the holes in your net. That minimizes the risk that you'll reach a wrong conclusion. And that's the stage I'm at.

If I'm able to settle on what I think is the most probable factual scenario, then I'll state it and should absolutely have the burden of convincing you why you should accept it. If not, maybe I can determine that some scenarios are not likely given the evidence. And, if I do, I should have the burden of convincing you that you should accept my assessment. And if I conclude that I can't make either type of argument in a convincing way, I'll just shrug.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
User avatar
Dr Moore
Endowed Chair of Historical Innovation
Posts: 312
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 2:16 pm
Location: Cassius University

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Dr Moore »

Res Ipsa wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:38 am
1. Any and all records obtained from the NTSB or FAA of aircraft accidents or incidents in the state of Utah from 1/1/70--12/31/79.

2. Any and all records of the NTSB or FAA's present document management systems that include retention or disposition dates for records of aircraft accidents or incidents.

3. Any and all records that report the total number of accidents and/or the total number of incidents by state for any calendar year from 1970 through 1979.

Suggested edits or additional items would be welcome.
Looks like a good way to establish a strong control group.
Res Ipsa
God
Posts: 1689
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:44 pm

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

Dr Moore wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 4:20 am
Res Ipsa wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 2:38 am
1. Any and all records obtained from the NTSB or FAA of aircraft accidents or incidents in the state of Utah from 1/1/70--12/31/79.

2. Any and all records of the NTSB or FAA's present document management systems that include retention or disposition dates for records of aircraft accidents or incidents.

3. Any and all records that report the total number of accidents and/or the total number of incidents by state for any calendar year from 1970 through 1979.

Suggested edits or additional items would be welcome.
Looks like a good way to establish a strong control group.
Thanks, that's what I'm trying to do. Number 1 should get us any paper records from the 1970s that either the FAA or NTSB turned over to the National Archives. If the answer is "we don't have any" or "we looked and couldn't find any," then we know that the type and age of records we are looking for aren't at the National Archives. In that case, I'd send this separately to the FAA and NTSB. One thing I noticed in the National Archive collection is that some of the NTSB records are contained in FAA files. Tricksy!

The National Archives also happen to contain the current retention policies for all other federal agencies. Handy one-stop shopping.

Number 3 gives a check on whether any collection of records we get is complete. For example, the NTSB database contains only a single incident for the entire decade of the 1970s. Having a statistical report that includes annual totals would help us compare the number of incidents reported compared to those they selected to include in the database.

Ideas for any other way we could check on the completeness of records for a given year would be most welcome.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
Res Ipsa
God
Posts: 1689
Joined: Mon Oct 26, 2020 6:44 pm

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Res Ipsa »

DrW wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:39 pm
Doctor CamNC4Me wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 8:07 pm
Ok. Here's the response I received:



So, there it is. Very interesting!

- Doc

Original FAA or NTSB paper records may have been destroyed according to policy. However, the information in those records, including the accompanying report files, was clearly scraped and published digitally prior to their destruction. Several here, myself included, have reviewed those saved digital records and found no mention of the RMN event in 1976.

As mentioned upthread, I have also checked a few years before and after 1976 and found nothing of relevance. It should be clear that destruction of original paper records would have no effect whatsoever on the validity of the scraped and digitally preserved information .
The problem is what is in the databases. The databases themselves tell us what is in them.

FAA Accident and Incident Database (AIDS): no records of accident or incidents before 1978.
NTSB Accident database: no images of original records during the decade of the 1970s. NTSB personnel prepared summaries of final reports (all include probable cause determinations) of all accidents and "selected incidents." A search of all records from Utah during the entire decade generates 55 or 56 accidents and only a single incident -- an incapacitated pilot on a commercial passenger jet. Given the disparity between the number of accidents and the number of "selected incidents," as well as the nature of the single incident (commercial passenger jet), there is no basis for assuming that database is complete enough to draw conclusions from the absence of a record for some other incident.

If any aircraft sustained an engine fire that was limited to the engine, followed by a safe landing with no injuries (just like the example you posted upthread) at any time during the 1970s, we could not find it in either database because neither includes all incidents for that time period.
“Those who can make you believe absurdities, can make you commit atrocities.” -- Voltaire
IHAQ
2nd Counselor
Posts: 406
Joined: Wed Nov 18, 2020 8:00 am

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by IHAQ »

Lem wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:22 pm
It's interesting that the version of this story with the most flamboyant upgrade in details seems to be the one in Sherri Dew's version. Iirc, the other removed story was also based on a simpler version that was true, but didn't have the 'miraculous' details. Given that the earliest version in Nelson's autobiography is quite simple, the likelihood that Dew did the same with this story would be an interesting angle to consider.
Sheri didn’t write that, unprompted, in a vacuum. She’s had access to Nelson and his journals and the contents of that book will have been signed off by Nelson himself. If the stories contain dramatic embellishment (and it’s already been proven that one did) then Sheri is merely an accomplice.
User avatar
Moksha
God
Posts: 1091
Joined: Wed Oct 28, 2020 3:13 am
Location: Koloburbia

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Moksha »

Gadianton wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 12:23 am
I have some serious philosophical differences with Gemli, but he makes the best default skeptic cases ever.
When up against the Mystic Order of Bakerists, Gemli did not let his unfamiliarity with all their recipes sway him in stating that the powdered remains of various grains, enabling powers over the heavens, still needed proof. Even wizened old Baking Wizard Smudgley, could not drool a sufficient spell into his muffins to silence Gemli.

Talk about atheist resilience!
Cry Heaven and let loose the Penguins of Peace
Lem
God
Posts: 1156
Joined: Tue Oct 27, 2020 12:46 am

Re: Fact Checking Nelson's "Doors Of Death" light aircraft near death experience

Post by Lem »

IHAQ wrote:
Sat Apr 10, 2021 6:01 am
Lem wrote:
Fri Apr 09, 2021 5:22 pm
It's interesting that the version of this story with the most flamboyant upgrade in details seems to be the one in Sherri Dew's version. Iirc, the other removed story was also based on a simpler version that was true, but didn't have the 'miraculous' details. Given that the earliest version in Nelson's autobiography is quite simple, the likelihood that Dew did the same with this story would be an interesting angle to consider.
Sheri didn’t write that, unprompted, in a vacuum. She’s had access to Nelson and his journals and the contents of that book will have been signed off by Nelson himself. If the stories contain dramatic embellishment (and it’s already been proven that one did) then Sheri is merely an accomplice.
Good point. She may facilitate this exaggeration as an accomplice, but yes, I agree ultimately the responsibility lies with the person signing off on their story being told.
Post Reply