You know you've touched a nerve when you make so many people angry. Dr. Susan Clancy's 2005 book on the alien abduction phenomenon, Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, has done just that - at least within the pro-ETH camp of ufology. Unlike many UFO books, most of which struggle to find a place on bookstore shelves, Clancy's has broken into the mainstream media, and received a great deal of attention - which is no doubt part of the reason why so many in ufology are so angry at her.
From his most recent Mufon Journal Column, Stan Friedman summed up the views of most of the pro-ETH community:
"One could write a lot more about the trash in this book and the self serving nonsense about being objective. Not surprisingly there is a blurb on the back from Dr. Elizabeth Loftus, one of the leaders of the False Memory Syndrome cult like group: 'Abducted is an enormously brave, smart, original book.' I suppose that is true once one recognizes that most of it is fiction masquerading as Truth."
So, what is Clancy saying? In an interview at www.reason.com, Clancy sets out and defends her theories. An excerpt:
"Question: You're convinced that most people who believe they've been abducted by aliens are normal people, and that every one of them with vivid memories got them in therapy. How does that happen, exactly?
Clancy: I do think these people are fundamentally normal. The belief in alien abduction is much less weird when you consider the process by which the belief is acquired. It doesn't happen overnight. Nobody wakes up and says, "Holy shit, I was abducted last night, they took me, there were rotating vibrating devices and then they extracted my sperm." People say, "I have these weird experiences. I wonder what it could be?" They look for explanations and at some point they'll say, well, maybe I was abducted. I know it sounds weird but it's just like what Whitley Strieber wrote about, or it's just like what happened to Betty and Barney Hill. There are a lot of people out there who believe aliens are real and a lot of people who believe aliens have been on earth—look at the Roper polls and the Time/CNN polls—and it's not that weird that some people would say, maybe I've been abducted.
Question: And the memories are recovered later on?
Clancy: Either by choice, or because it kind of happens that way, some end up in an abduction researcher's office or a psychotherapists office to talk about their concerns or beliefs. I never met a single subject that had detailed autobiographical memories of what happened to them until they ended up under hypnosis."
Now, these are not new theories - Kevin Randle, William Cone and Russ Estes came to basically the same conclusions in their book, The Abuduction Enigma, a few years ago. As readers of The Other Side of Truth know, like Randle, Clancy, and Jacques Vallee, I am extremely skeptical of the use of hypnosis by so-called abduction researchers. However, that doesn't mean that I dismiss the abduction phenomenon / enigma out of hand. I agree with Jerry Clark when he wrote, with reference to the best-known of all abduction cases, the Betty and Barney Hill story, that:
"The resolution of the Hill case awaits the resolution of the UFO question itself. If UFOs do not exist, then Barney and Betty Hill did not meet with aliens. If UFOs do exist, they probably did. The evidence available to us from this incident alone provides no answers surer than these. In other words, no answers at all. For now, anyway.”
This applies to all abduction cases.
What is disappointing to see is the amount of abuse that some in ufology have heaped onto Dr. Clancy. Again, I think that this has less to do with her actual theories (which are, again, neither new nor completely unsupported within ufology), but with all of the attention that she has garnered. What they overlook is that, in the process, the alien abduction phenomenon has been thrust back into the public consciousness, and the pro-ETH / pro-abduction ufologists have been given time to make their case, and to counter what Dr. Clancy is saying - as on the most recent Larry King episode discussing UFOs, where Clancy shared the "stage" with Budd Hopkins, among others.
Counter her theories with reason and logic if you can, but for those people in ufology who have made it personal (even to the point of basically calling Dr. Clancy a "dumb blonde"), you just diminish yourselves. You do a disservice to the cause you espouse, and you undermine the serious study of the UFO phenomenon, a study which requires a constructive dialogue - even with people with whom you disagree.
One thing is for certain, however - Dr. Clancy certainly made an impact on ufology in 2005!