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Archive for September, 2008

Sorry for the unannounced hiatus. I’ve been asked to teach a sequence of ancient history courses at a local university, so I’ve been prepping. Classes start today, so I should be “in the flow” now and more able to budget my time.

Nick Redfern recently blogged about a new FATE magazine article by Paola Harris on the Vatican’s acceptance of ET and Msgr. Balducci.  Paola is a wonderful resource journalist and delightful person. As such, my note here is not about her in any way. It is to alert those who live in the blogosphere that Msgr. Balducci has a lot of answering to do when it comes to catholicism and what now passes for ET.  I’ve posted on this five or six times, as readers now (all of which can be found via the “UFO Religions” category on the lefthand side of this blog). Here was the first post on “Balducci’s Conundrum.”

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I’m guessing anyone who’s interested in the first article has read it by now. I enjoyed some of the humorous responses.  Yep, it’s another one-size-fits-all explanation from the psychiatric community. They can’t seem to deal with those abductees who have conscious memory, having nothing to do with hypnosis. But some good points in it: (1) The paucity of “uninvolved witnesses” is a good point, though abduction researchers would not say there are none (but they’d have to say there are “almost none,” which isn’t good). (2) That false memories CAN be generated — i.e., there is real clinical research that verifies this (regardless of how that is transferrable to the abduction issue). To be truly scientific about it, we’d need to catch someone in the act of creating this false memory to know that it is the CAUSE of the abduction event. Without that, we have only the possibility (and it’s a reasonable one – it just needs verification).

On to the second article (just follow the link):

2. Fantastic Accounts Can Take Many Forms: False Memory Construction? Yes. Escape From Self? We Don’t Think So. By: Arndt, Jamie; Greenberg, Jeff. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p127, 6p; Abstract Comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Implausibility of the escape-from-self explanation of UFO abduction memories.

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Well, I’m finally back at blogging after some brief travel. I had meant to go into the third group that would use UFO beliefs as propaganda, but to be honest, I’m more interested now in the next trajectory. For those who are curious, I may go back to this in detail. For now, suffice to say that the third group is one that, in the future, I see using the UFO paradigm as a means to redefine and displace theism (of any ordinary variety) and use the myth of alien visitation to prop up the idea that it is human evolutionary destiny to move toward transhumanism. This will affect all our basic social institutions, which are based on the idea that human life has some sort of sanctity or (without religion) special status. Without that, our basis for ethics, law, political theory, and religion are all fundamentally altered — and not for the better if we aren’t in the elite ruling or privileged classes.

But now let’s shift gears. I want to introduce all of you to a fairly hefty amount of peer-review literature (here, in psychiatric / psychological literature) on alleged alien abductions. In 1996 the professional journal Psychological Inquiry devoted an entire issue to alien abductions (vol. 7, issue 2). I have reproduced the contents below, with abstracts of each article. I have PDF files for all the articles, and I want us to begin reading through them together in order. I hope to stimulate some comments from readers, obviously. My goal is to show options for the abduction phenomenon. I hope readers of all persuasions have an open mind, because the spectrum of explanations (other than ETH) is pretty wide. All of the views have their points of coherence and problems.

Two things should be specifically noted in view of where our discussions have been in the recent past. First, there are other explanations for abductions besides the psychological explanations presented in this issue and other literature.As I and others have noted, abduction experiences can be filed in many categories. Second, the work of psychologists in this area does not undermine the demonic option as a possible explanation for some abductions. However, it does undermine the notion that the experiences of people are likely predominantly spiritual or demonic.

Here is the Table of Contents. Note that the first article has a live link, since we’ll start with that article in our reading.

1. Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories. By: Newman, Leonard S.; Baumeister, Roy F. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p99, 28p; Abstract Offers a prototype of the unidentified flying object (UFO) abduction experience and presents an assessment of the frequency of such reports. Cognitive-motivational explanation for the creation of spurious memories of UFO abductions; Parellels between UFO abduction accounts and masochistic fantasies; Elaboration of hallucinations, general knowledge and contextual cues; Role of hypnosis in false-memory creation.

2. Fantastic Accounts Can Take Many Forms: False Memory Construction? Yes. Escape From Self? We Don’t Think So. By: Arndt, Jamie; Greenberg, Jeff. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p127, 6p; Abstract Comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Implausibility of the escape-from-self explanation of UFO abduction memories.

3. The Ordinary Nature of Alien Abduction Memories. By: Banaji, Mahzarin R.; Kihlstrom, John F.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p132, 4p; Abstract Presents comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Psychological explanation of UFO abduction experiences in terms of both cognitive and motivational processes.

4. On the Edge of Science: Coping With UFOlogy Scientifically. By: Bowers, Kenneth S.; Eastwood, John D.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p136, 5p; Abstract Critiques the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Application of intrapsychic determinants of experience and behavior to the UFO abduction experience.

5. The Construction of Space Alien Abduction Memories. By: Clark, Steven E.; Loftus, Elizabeth F.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p140, 4p; Abstract Presents reactions to the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Argument that UFO abductions are a variety of false memories reconstructed with the suggestion of hypnosis.

6. Escaping the Self or Escaping the Anomaly? By: Hall, Robert L.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p143, 6p; Abstract Focuses on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Newman and Baumeister’s explanation for claims of UFO abductions; Factors that lead to the development of false memories.

7. When Explanations Fail: Science and Pseudoscience in Psychology. By: Hull, Jay G.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p149, 3p; Abstract Presents comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Lack of internal coherence in Newman and Baumeister’s explanation for claims of UFO abductions.

8. Alleged Alien Abductions: False Memories, Hypnosis, and Fantasy Proneness. By: Lynn, Steven Jay; Kirsch, Irving I.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p151, 5p; Abstract Comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Effect of hypnosis on human memory; Relationship between hypnosis and fantasy proneness.

9. A More Parsimonious Explanation for UFO Abduction. By: McLeod, Caroline C.; Corbisier, Barbara; Mack, John E.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p156, 13p; Abstract Presents a critique of the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Arguments regarding the relationship between fantasy proneness, masochistic fantasy and hypnotic elaboration.

10. “Memories” of Anomalous and Traumatic Autobiographical Experiences: Validation and Consolidation of Fantasy Through Hypnosis. By: Orne, Martin T.; Whitehouse, Wayne G.; Orne, Emily Carota; Dinges, David F.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p168, 5p; Abstract Responds to the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Cognitive-motivational explanation for claims of UFO abductions; Validation of fantasy through hypnosis.

11. Distinguishing Memory From Fantasy. By: Ross, Michael; Newby, Ian R.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p173, 5p; Abstract Presents comments on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Relationship of UFO abduction memories to ‘recovered’ memories of childhood sexual abuse.

12. Abduction Tales As Metaphors. By: Spence, Donald P.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p177, 3p; Abstract Reacts to the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Analysis of UFO abduction tales as metaphors for cultural crisis; Themes of powerlessness, uncertainty and alienation in abduction stories.

13. The Truth Is Out There. By: Strube, Michael J.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p180, 5p; Abstract Presents a critique of the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ by Leonard S. Newman and Roy F. Baumeister, which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Limitations of the ‘escape from self’ explanation for claims of UFO abduction.

14. Not Just Another False Memory: Further Thoughts on the UFO Abduction Phenomenon. By: Newman, Leonard S.; Baumeister, Roy F.. Psychological Inquiry, 1996, Vol. 7 Issue 2, p185, 13p; Abstract Responds to various comments made on the article ‘Toward an Explanation of the UFO Abduction Phenomenon: Hypnotic Elaboration, Extraterrestrial Sadomasochism, and Spurious Memories,’ which appeared in the April 1996 issue of the journal ‘Psychological Inquiry.’ Role of hypnosis in the creation of abduction memories; Characteristics of a fantasy-prone person.

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