Figaro is so excited! His home state of New Hampshire has just put up an official historic marker denoting the site where Betty and Barney Hill were kidnapped and, um, experimented upon onboard an alien spacecraft.
The really interesting part, rhetorically, comes with the wording of the sign. It commemorates an alleged experience without endorsing its truth. The critical word here is “official”—a very interesting figure of thought:
Unaware endorsement (un-uh-WARE en-DOR-sment), the purloined brand. Term invented by Figaro. Related to Aristotle’s description of the rhetorical use of witnesses in his Rhetoric.
To see the unaware endorsement at his best, you’ll want to reach the whole gripping tale on the historical marker itself:
On the night of September 19-20, 1961, Portsmouth, N.H., couple Betty and Barney Hill experienced a close encounter with an unidentified flying object and two hours of “lost” time while driving south on Rte 3 near Lincoln. They filed an official Air Force Project Blue Book report of a brightly-lit cigar-shaped craft the next day, but were not public with their story until it was leaked in the Boston Traveler in 1965. This was the first widely-reported UFO abduction report in the United States.
The unintended endorsement uses a brand name to lend credibility without taking responsibility for the truth, and without the endorser’s permission. Why question Betty and Barney’s excellent alien adventure when it’s in the official Air Force Project Blue Book?
According to the extensive research we conducted on Wikipedia, the Project Blue Book studied accounts of UFOs from 1952 until 1970. Alas, this ambitious study of alien spaceships yielded…no credible evidence of alien spaceships.
Thank goodness for the great state of New Hampshire, which is keeping alive the hope of curious aliens and their sexy anal probes—without actually admitting belief in them.