Thursday, January 20, 2005

The integrity of Whitley Strieber's Unknown Country keeps sinking. I just noticed the following, referring to the new scientific paper arguing that we are likely in the midst of at least one extraterrestrial civilization ("Inflation-Theory Implications for Extraterrestrial Visitation"):

"Have you noticed? Or was the story like the 'elephant in the room'--so big you didn't really see it? It's the kind of news you only find HERE, on"

Huh? That story was big news, not some bit of online esoterica. I encountered it and blogged it days before Unknown Country got around to it. So, I'm sure, did a lot of others interested in the SETI/UFO inquiry. But according to whoever writes the come-ons for Unknown Country, it was a Strieber exclusive. Bullshit.

It gets worse:

"In her new diary, Anne Strieber points out how exciting this news really is, and how it vindicates every experiencer and abductee."

Unfortunately, the new ETI paper does not "vindicate" even one alien abduction account, let alone "every experiencer and abductee"; it simply heightens mainstream awareness of the UFO enigma and frames the controversy in an up-to-date model of the Cosmos. To suggest that Bernard Haisch et al are defending the mass of "bedroom visitation" tales that fill the popular UFO literature is irresponsible and probably represents a deliberate mis-reading of the paper.

That's not to say that the paper is irrelevant to the abduction phenomenon (if you're willing to identify the alleged abductors as extraterrestrials -- something Strieber himself has often made a point to avoid, when pressed). Personally, I think "alien abduction" -- beneath the mountains of "noise" generated by fanatics, enthusiasts and true believers -- represents a fascinating and overlooked aspect of the human experience. We would we foolish to ignore it. But given what little we know, it's equally foolish to attribute it to extraterrestrial intervention. It could be something else, perhaps something altogether weirder.

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