Wednesday, January 14, 2009

From a work-in-progress:

A journeyman ufologist's introduction to the abduction phenomenon usually begins with a recounting of the capture of Betty and Barney Hill in New Hampshire in 1961. Believed at the time to be the first kidnapping of humans by UFO occupants, the Hills' account contains virtually all of the elements contained in later narratives (which reached a near-fever pitch in the mid-1990s, stoked by an obliging media and the success of several influential books).





There's little doubt that something unusual happened to the Hills. At the very least, both Betty and Barney recalled seeing an unidentified object apparently trailing their car. The account becomes more explicit upon Barney's attempt to view the object through binoculars; upon magnification, he witnessed a "pancake"-shaped vehicle sporting triangular fins and red lights. More startling yet, he could discern occupants behind a row of windows, including one raptly staring humanoid he found especially threatening. The ensuing abduction has become the stuff of ufological legend, as has the Hills bout with "missing time," an element that recurs throughout later accounts.

Under hypnosis by Boston psychiatrist Dr. Benjamin Simon, Betty recalled a conspicuously chatty alien "leader" whose human demeanor was only slightly less outlandish than his bizarre questions. (Ironically, the Hill abduction -- widely cited as one of the best cases to suggest an extraterrestrial origin for UFOs -- is at least as amenable to indigenous beings engaged in deliberate psychodrama. The "leader's" presentation, complete with 3-D star map showing alien trade routes -- seems staged, his queries sampled from "B"-movie science fiction.

Nevertheless, one comes away from the Hill episode forced to confront what was almost certainly a "real" encounter. But the reigning interpretation -- that the Hills were the victims of a chance run-in with ET interlopers -- owes more of its appeal to the mythological syntax at our disposal than any particular piece of evidence. (Barney's testimony, while deemed sincere by Simon, is notably less explicit than Betty's, and may well betray unwitting contamination from his wife.)





Inquiry into the nascent abduction phenomenon was forced to adapt to the now-familiar reproductive overtones upon the rediscovery of the Antonio Villas Boas case of 1957. Boas, a farmer, claimed a forcible encounter with a UFO in which he had sex with a fair-skinned female. Like today's "Grays," Boas described his seductress as short and large-eyed, with a lipless mouth and pointed chin that suggest the cover painting for Whitley Strieber's best-selling "Communion," not published until 1987. Though exotic, she was far from the specimen expected from mere erotic fantasy; Boas himself described her as paradoxically repellent and desirable. Reading his account (initially censored by the UFO community), one wonders in what ways Boas might have been coerced into his sexual encounter: an ordeal that left him oddly emasculated, resigned to having served as mere breeding stock. (Although critics are quick to point out his possibly self-aggrandizing reference to himself as a "prize stud.")

Before Boas was escorted off the "spaceship," the woman pointed significantly to her abdomen and in the direction of the sky. Advocates of the Extraterrestrial Hypothesis have interpreted this as a reference to the woman's ET heritage, but at the same time they've effectively ignored the troublesome prospect of genetic compatibility. Granted that Boas had intercourse with an extraterrestrial, what are the chances that two independently evolved humanoid species could "mate" in any viable sense?

In "Revelations," Jacques Vallee compares the feasibility of conceiving a human-alien hybrid to that of a human attempting to breed with an insect. Certainly, if Boas encountered a genuine ET, then "they" have achieved a most remarkable degree of impersonation -- not an altogether impossible achievement for a civilization capable of traveling between stars but one that arouses substantial skepticism. The law of parsimony begs the speculation that the beings who abducted Boas were human in at least some essential respects.





Contemporary abduction reports are fraught with much of the same ambiguity. While an abductee's surroundings may seem bizarre enough to an addled witness, evidence of extrasolar origin is at best superficial. Occasionally an abductee reports visionary episodes (apparently instigated by the abductors with the assistance of audio-visual technology that recalls Betty Hill's famous star map). Abduction researchers like Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs are forever on the lookout for hypnotically derived alien symbols, perhaps glimpsed on walls or uniforms, in hopes of finding validating tools for future research.

But what too often passes unmentioned is the relative dearth of reports involving transport from the abductee's normal environment to that of the supposed ETs. In many cases, no mention is made of a UFO or "spaceship"; the transition from "here" to "there" proceeds with unnerving haste, often accompanied by partial amnesia and a wordless certainty of having been taken vast distances. (Reports of actually visiting otherworldly locales, common fare in the heyday of the contactees, are seldom encountered in the abduction literature.)





The quintessential alien environment is spartan, unencumbered by decor. The aliens are characterized as colorless, dispassionate creatures whose behavior resembles that of hive-dwelling insects or even machines. As in the Hill case, there's sometimes a "leader" in attendance, although the tone of the abduction is far from conversational. Any "wisdom" imparted by the aliens is predominantly vague or philosophically obstinate. And while the beings can seem terrifically unearthly in the flesh, they avoid explicit references that might shed light on their origin or purpose.

Debunkers have pounced on the endlessly elusive nature of the abduction experience in order to expediently dismiss it. In "The Demon-Haunted World," for example, Carl Sagan laments the fact that abductees have yet to emerge with artifacts that would demonstrate the physical reality of their experiences.

19 comments:

RRRGroup said...

Mac:

The Villas Boas case was a CIA "experiment" as outlined at The UFO Reality and confirmed by the notorious (and now dead) CIA operate Bosco Nedelcovic.

RR

Intense said...

I have some questions: regardless of whether abduction accounts are ascribed to either extraterrestrial or indigenous non-human beings, do you actually think such accounts, as generally described by the percipients, have occurred, or are occurring?

What weight do you place on the possible influence and confabulatory effects of forms of regressive hypnosis, which were used in the Hill, Boas, and Strieber cases?

How likely, as compared to the nature or details of the accounts you note (and again, regardless of whether ET, CT, or other, such as MILABS, in possible external origin) do you think these anecdotal accounts really are true or accurate, as compared to the possible origins, in turn, from within the broad spectrum of human behavior and potential aberrant mental states of such persons, and that may have been internally or purely psychologically generated, as an alternative possibility?

I guess I'm asking how (and with what techniques of discernment or evidential criteria) you can determine with reliability how accurate not just what the source describes or recalls (or the possible motivations or causes of why), but primarily whether these accounts have some manner of being proven, or are able to be found valid, in your opinion. In other words, how do you personally separate the wheat from the chaff?

Gareth said...

I like it. This from the CTH book?

Can I put you on the spot and ask if it will be out this year?

Mac said...

@Gareth

I'll put it this way: I plan to be finished writing it this year.

Gareth said...

@RRRGroup

You sound so sure. Are you basing that on one CIA persons testimony?

It could just as plausibly be disinformation.

Are there documents?

RRRGroup said...

Gareth,

There is "documentation" at ufor.blogspot.com, but it's one of the first postings there, so you'd have to scroll down or check the archives.

Jacques Vallee received the material in the late 1970s and gave it some credence.

The Bosco Nedelcovic connection can be found in the archives at UFO UpDates.

Nedelcovic worked for AID and DOD but was, as you'll see from the Updates links, a CIA operative (or operate -- he was contracted by DOD.)

RR

Mac said...

@Intense

I have some questions: regardless of whether abduction accounts are ascribed to either extraterrestrial or indigenous non-human beings, do you actually think such accounts, as generally described by the percipients, have occurred, or are occurring?

I'm convinced that *something* is occurring, and I suspect taht in many cases the stimulus is nonhuman.

What weight do you place on the possible influence and confabulatory effects of forms of regressive hypnosis, which were used in the Hill, Boas, and Strieber cases?

It's absolutely a factor, and one reason I tend to discount much of the abduction hysteria of the 90s.

I guess I'm asking how (and with what techniques of discernment or evidential criteria) you can determine with reliability how accurate not just what the source describes or recalls (or the possible motivations or causes of why), but primarily whether these accounts have some manner of being proven, or are able to be found valid, in your opinion. In other words, how do you personally separate the wheat from the chaff?

Quite honestly, I see no way we'll ever know for sure about cases like Villas Boas and the Hills, so research is limited to looking for recurring patterns. Enough signals in the noise just might constitute a sort of statistical argument favoring nonhuman involvement.

Gareth said...

The sheer weight of the (often times corroborative) evidence seems to suggest something is going on, and validates further study IMO.

But separating the 'wheat from the chaff'? Likely impossible.

Ray said...

“Though exotic, she was far from the specimen expected from mere erotic fantasy; Boas himself described her as paradoxically repellent and desirable. Reading his account (initially censored by the UFO community), one wonders in what ways Boas might have been coerced into his sexual encounter…”

Sorry if I’m taking this part out of context and looking it at the wrong way, but isn’t there speculation that the liquid/gel smeared on Boas or the gas pumped into his room put him “in the mood?” (I don’t know if that could be called “coercion” if he was dosed with some sort of aphrodisiac.)

Ray

Anna M said...

Great piece, Mac.

I'm glad to see you highlight Vallee's question about the apparent absurdity of "them" being able to interbreed with "us" -- it's a curious point that is frequently lost in all the abduction noise. And if they're good enough at genetics to make themselves able to interbreed with humans, what could they need our DNA for at that point? Couldn't they just stay home and play with their own DNA lotto machine to get the same results? And (as I think Vallee and others have also pointed out) their method of DNA extraction is rather ham-handed, considering a swab with a Q-tip should do just as well.

I'm glad that you're fearlessly writing about these issues. Philosophy, psychology, biology -- so many profound questions from different fields intersect around the UFO question, yet so few people are willing to go there with an open mind.

Intense said...

"The Villas Boas case was a CIA "experiment" as outlined at The UFO Reality and confirmed by the notorious (and now dead) CIA operate Bosco Nedelcovic."

"There is "documentation" at ufor.blogspot.com, but it's one of the first postings there, so you'd have to scroll down or check the archives.

"Jacques Vallee received the material in the late 1970s and gave it some credence.

"The Bosco Nedelcovic connection can be found in the archives at UFO UpDates.

"Nedelcovic worked for AID and DOD but was, as you'll see from the Updates links, a CIA operative (or operate -- he was contracted by DOD.)"


Or, so you say, Rich. Very interesting comments, Mr. Reynolds, but after closely examining some details of the references you make, among others I found online, I'm afraid I'd have to say there are several problems with your unsubstantiated claims and somewhat contradictory prior written statements, especially regarding issues related to unverified sources, hearsay, provenance, and attribution, to say the least.

For those interested in investigating further the rather intriguing, and contradictory, details regarding Mr. Reynolds claims, see the following:

http://tinyurl.com/989k7j

http://tinyurl.com/9gjyrx

http://www.philipcoppens.com/ufo_fontes.html

http://tinyurl.com/72hfn8

http://tinyurl.com/8vkf4q

Gareth said...

@Anna

Ive always found that extremely fascinating too. Assuming some abudctions reports are true and some sort of interbreeding operation has taken place, this to me proves that we are related in one way or another to 'them'.

Mac's CTH would support this through an off-shoot evolutionary strain of humans that separated from the group millions of years ago.

Or maybe they literally are us as future time travellers.

Or maybe (and all the anomalous artifacts we have found on Earth could support this) humans are millions of years older than we think, and a previous pre-cataclysm generation left Earth for greener pastures (and safer planets) and have come back for some reason.

All exciting possibilities!

Mac said...

@Ray

Sorry if I'm taking this part out of context and looking it at the wrong way, but isn't there speculation that the liquid/gel smeared on Boas or the gas pumped into his room put him "in the mood?"

Indeed there is. Good catch. I came very close to expounding on the possibility in the essay but figured I'd expand on it later.

I recently read Boas' original testimony (included in the Lorezens' "The Flying Saucer Occupants.") There are some telling details in the account that abduction researchers have yet to honestly address.

Greg Bishop said...

Right up my alley! I HOPE this is part of the upcoming book, to which I still hope to write an introduction or forward.

We're still on for that, right?

Mac said...

@Greg

You bet we're still on -- although I must admit I'd forgotten. A double-barreled forward by Bishop and Redfern: sweet!

Anonymous said...

Intense, do you have your own blog?

"The sheer weight of the (often times corroborative) evidence seems to suggest something is going on, and validates further study IMO."

But does it suggest something going on in the real world? Where are all the witnesses to abduction (minus the few fraud cases)? Mack had his "abductees" set up video cameras to catch themselves being abducted, and soon it became... they were being abducted when the tape ran out, the aliens waited 2 months until they were staying at a friend's house to abduct them, the aliens hypnotised them into getting up and turning off the camera, etc., etc., etc. Toss in the fact as you said that abduction just doesn't make SENSE and psychological explanations seem to be far more likely.

The idea of governments impersonating aliens and performing the abductions doesn't make sense for the same reasons. Why not just have people "say" they abducted, write books purporting to investigate cases of abduction, post stuff on the Internet, etc.? There's no need for any real abduction, and great risk of discovery.

Intense said...

Anon--

No, I don't have a blog. I'm still thinking about whether to start one, but haven't decided as yet.

I should say that I've always had doubts about most reported aspects of the "abduction phenomenon" and especially the confabulatory effects of regressive hypnosis on alleged "witnesses."

Personally, I strongly suspect the Villas Boas case initially started as a hoax, by Boas himself, and then became conflated and exacerbated by Dr. Olavo T. Fontes in particular. See the link to the article by Phillip Coppens I noted above for crucial details. I also have similar problems with the Hill and Strieber cases.

In each of these three cases, regressive hypnosis was also used, which I think leads, in part, to synthesized memories and confabulation.

Mac said...

@Intense

I should say that I've always had doubts about most reported aspects of the "abduction phenomenon" and especially the confabulatory effects of regressive hypnosis on alleged "witnesses."

That makes two of us.

Personally, I strongly suspect the Villas Boas case initially started as a hoax, by Boas himself, and then became conflated and exacerbated by Dr. Olavo T. Fontes in particular.

That's a possibility that obviously can't be discounted.

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