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Archive for the ‘Hypnotic Regression’ Category

In another excellent piece on the UFO Trail blog, Jack Brewer takes the issue of the use of hypnosis in alien abduction research head-on. The post is another example of why, if you care about thinking clearly about matters ufological, you should be reading his blog. A couple of Jack’s summary points should be enough to get my own readers interested:

- An inherent challenge to ufology, and particularly alleged alien abduction, is that its followers do not seek information that provides a balanced and objective point of view. Actually, they are often quite unaware of the current mental health paradigm, symptoms of emotional traumata, relevant physiological circumstances and similar subject matter, the absence of which substantially obstructs their abilities to form objective and more complete understandings of what became known as the abduction phenomenon.

- If researchers want to be accepted by academia, they must adhere to rules and practices, i.e., peer review, proper recognition of standards of evidence, accept hypnosis is not a reliable memory retrieval tool, etc., that are established by academia, else stop claiming their work to have scientific merit. Equally important would be members of the UFO community learning to more accurately identify misrepresentations of scientific merit.

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HillMapHilldrawingFrom time to time I see the idea of actual intelligent ET visitation defended on the basis of the Betty and Barney Hill abduction — specifically, on the basis of the “star map” that Betty Hill allegedly saw while on board the alien space ship during her abduction.  Hill purportedly reproduced this map under hypnosis. In the late 1960s Marjorie Fish (a teacher) supposedly succeeded in correlating Hill’s star map with real stars associated with Zeta Reticuli, this proving Hill had been on a ship from Zeta Reticuli. The rest, as they say, is history (Nancy Lieder went on to channel the Zetas about how Planet X would factor into the great cataclysm we all witnessed on Dec 21, 2012 . . . sort of).

The Hill star map “recollection” and “correlation” are bogus. Several dedicated researchers have debunked the astronomy of the “star map” (and their rebuttals seem regularly ignored by people like Stanton Friedman, the guy who somehow dismissed the authorship attribution linguistic tests I had performed on the Majestic documents with my novel – nice research there). Here are some of those debunkings:

The Hill story also has other problems, like the inconsistencies in Barney’s recollections. (For you Facade fans, back in 1963 Barney Hill said that his captors looked like “German Nazis” dressed in black . . . hmmm . . .  they became more alien as time went on). See here.


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I just finished Thomas Bullard’s book, The Myth and Mystery of UFOs, by scholar-folklorist Thomas Bullard (University of Kansas Press, 2010). Rather than write my own review, I found the work summarized nicely in this review over at Magonia review of books blog. I’ll just add a few thoughts below on this important work.

Bullard’s book is not light reading. It is an academic work. In my view, as an academic, it’s a wonderful volume. Bullard has detailed chapters, with the expected documentation in mainly academic sources, on all the major motifs of UFO studies: descriptions of alien craft, the aliens themselves, abduction narratives, and alien mission and homeworlds. In each case, Bullard painstakingly details how virtually all the UFO anecdotal evidence can be found in ancient, medieval, and early modern tales across the globe. Importantly, the vast majority of these correlations have nothing to do with other planets, inter-planetary travel, or extraterrestrials. That is, though the correlations are overwhelmingly present, it is only in the contemporary era that narratives about abduction and “otherworldly visitation” conforms to anything we would recognize as high technology. His point in this effort is to raise question of how any of the UFO phenomena could in reality be about visitors from space given the vast arrays of correlations. Good question.

Bullard’s (for the most part) explanation is the psycho-social approach. This is not a view that says a culture produces these episodes or encounters and their descriptions. Rather, it is the encounter with the anomalous that produces the descriptions — and the descriptions are far more likely to not be about genuine aliens from space than other deep-seated thoughts, fear, beliefs, yearnings, etc. The reason the overlaps are so high, reasons Bullard, is that experiences are parsed in such a way that new mythologies are constructed that serve the same fucntion or outlet as older ones. The garb changes because we are living in a different era, our lives defined by technology and the “final frontier” of space.

Bullard doesn’t take a dogmatic stance on this, though. He simply feels it has high explanatory value, but not complete explanatory power. He leaves room for truly anomalous events that might include genuine extraterrestrial contact, and outlines in some details how such experiences might be winnowed from the those experiences for which the psycho-social explanation can best account.

I would encourage anyone interested in UFOs to read this book, and to keep it as a handy reference for its coverage and source material. In particular, those for whom the UFO subject goes beyond the nuts and bolts (questions of physics and reverse engineering which a priori assume that most UFOs are physical craft of non-human origin) will be well served by Bullard’s focus on how the UFO subject molds and produces religious experience and worldview.

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Such is the title of this essay from the Journal of Popular Culture, a peer-reviewed resource. The article deals with alien abduction researchers like David Jacobs and John Mack, and it’s fairly sympathetic to them. I post it here so you know that this kind of stuff does indeed get discussed in mainstream scholarly journals.

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I think the highlights of the last few articles are page 134 (3rd page of the PDF) from “The Ordinary Nature of Alien Abduction Memories” and pages 140-141 (pp. 2-3 of the PDF) from “The Construction of Space Alien Abduction Memories.”

The former details the very small percentages of those who experience at least four of Jacobs’ five “abduction events” and how the small percentage (2%) can be accounted for by equally rare but less spectacular explanations. This points to the need among abduction researchers to provide some form of corroborative evidence that rules out the alternative explanations. Only then can ANYTHING out of the “terrestrial” range of possibilities be entertained with coherence.

The latter deals with how humans can indeed construct false memories. Especially interesting is the role of hypnosis in the formulation of those false memories, since abductions are overwhelmingly “remembered” under hypnosis.

On the other hand, I haven’t seen any of these researchers deal with physical evidence of some physical event (e.g., marks on the body). The phenomenon of luminescence on the body discovered by Derrel Sims of course came along much later than these articles.

Here are the next two articles:

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.

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