Monday, March 14, 2011

The Big Picture



A 2005 lecture from Dr. Susan Clancy in which she talks about her research into "alien abductions", and her conclusions.

The blurb:
Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens

They are tiny. They are tall. They are gray. They are green. They survey our world with enormous glowing eyes. To conduct their shocking experiments, they creep in at night to carry humans off to their spaceships. Yet there is no evidence that they exist at all. So how could anyone believe he or she was abducted by aliens? Or want to believe it?

To answer these questions, psychologist Susan Clancy interviewed and evaluated 'abductees' – old and young, male and female, religious and agnostic. She listened closely to their stories – how they struggled to explain something strange in their remembered experience, how abduction seemed plausible, and how, having suspected abduction, they began to recollect it, aided by suggestion and hypnosis.

Clancy argues that abductees are sane and intelligent people who have unwittingly created vivid false memories from a toxic mix of nightmares, culturally available texts (abduction reports began only after stories of extraterrestrials appeared in films and on TV), and a powerful drive for meaning that science is unable to satisfy. For them, otherworldly terror can become a transforming, even inspiring experience. 'Being abducted,' writes Clancy, 'may be a baptism in the new religion of this millennium.' This book is not only a subtle exploration of the workings of memory, but a sensitive inquiry into the nature of belief.
An important work that most UFO researchers either passed on at the time, or simply accepted the "party line" that was put forward by the leaders of the "alien abduction cult" when the book was released. I also recommend my interview from September, 2010, with Kevin Randle, about his book, The Abduction Enigma.


To all of those UFO researchers who are still inclined to defend the practices and ridiculous "theories" of these cultists, answer this one question:


If aliens from other worlds have technology sufficiently advanced to allow them to travel the vast distances between the stars (and even in our own "neighbourhood", those distances boggle the mind), and abduct people here, there and everywhere when they get here, then what kind of person would believe that a plucky little bunch of "abduction researchers" (artists, associate history professors, and so on) could manage to beat these aliens at their own game, and defeat their technlogy and discover their plans?

It's laughable, and it has always been laughable.

In the meantime, people who probably needed real psychiatric help have wasted their time going to these "cultists" for help. Serious UFO research has suffered, and been tainted by this ridiculous circus. Finally, if there really is some sort of paranormal aspect to a few abductions (and I don't rule that out, anymore than I rule out the possibility that some people have direct experiences with a non-human intelligence in any context, "God" being the pre-dominant manifestation throughout human history), then any opportunity to discover such an intelligence has been squandered for decades.

UFO researchers wonder why they get no respect from the mainstream media?

Some even talk in dark tones of a conspiracy.


It's a conspiracy, all right - a conspiracy of self-marginalization by men and women who live in a fantasy world of mediocre 1950s science fiction.

All the while, the real mysteries remain - ephemeral, a bundle of possibilities which, if real, are far more exciting than anything UFO researchers (with a few notable exceptions) have been able to conjure up in the past sixty years. It's not just that they don't have the answers; they don't even have the imagination to ask the right questions.

Paul Kimball

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

The people at The Anomalist must be drunk - they have the lecture by Clancy listed as an interview that you conducted with her, despite the fact that you have clearly identified it properly! When even a paranormal "news" site can't get the facts right, what hope is there for UFO research!!??

Regardless, thanks for the post. Interesting lecture by Clancy, and interesting interview you did with Randle. I agree with your overall conclusions.

Don Maor said...

Paul wrote:
"If aliens from other worlds have technology sufficiently advanced to allow them to travel the vast distances between the stars (and even in our own "neighbourhood", those distances boggle the mind), and abduct people here, there and everywhere when they get here, then what kind of person would believe that a plucky little bunch of "abduction researchers" (artists, associate history professors, and so on) could manage to beat these aliens at their own game, and defeat their technlogy and discover their plans?
It's laughable, and it has always been laughable."


Hello Paul. You think your thoughts are pretty witty and inteligent but they are really not. Even accepting that Jacobs' and Hopkins' conclusions are close to the truth regarding abductions, that does not mean they have beaten the aliens. I would say that aliens would be beaten only when obliged to return to their home.

As you may believe, I agree that it seems extremely difficult that humanity will ever be able to reject an extraterrestrial civilization that would come here to colonize, deceive, or study human civilization. But my opinion, and your witty opinion, both do not really matter here. I supose that if the vietnamese people were to believe that it was laughable to think they would ever be able to reject the mighty and highly technologized northamerican army out of their land, they would have never made it. But they made it, they kicked out americans.

Remember also that discovering what bad thing is going to make to you someone that is more powerfull or smarter than you, does not automatically mean that you have beaten this smarter guy. As it happens, a goat or a pig may know that it is going to be killed in the next minutes, and it may scream, kick, etc. But that can not avoid them to be finally converted into salame. To know is not the same as to win.

The sad part of this tale is that Jacobs and Hopkins, even they are correct (IMO), are not winners here. They have worked a lot, they have not got enough evidence for their theories, they have been critiziced by many people. And their are old by now. One have to be really insane to even think that they have beaten the aliens.

Mauricio

Paul Kimball said...

Yes, beat them - because if they can detect it, then that means that they have gotten around the attempts by the aliens to mask their presence, and what they're up to. Even as I type the words, the sheer ridiculousness of the proposition is clear.

You are, of course, free to indulge in your 1950s science fiction fantasies (a fantasy world that imagines the aliens are just a few years ahead of us technologically, as implied in your use of the Vietnam comparison), but don't then wonder why the mainstream media and science don't take the UFO phenemenon seriously.

Paul Kimball

Bruce Duensing said...

I think like most of "Ufology" ( whatever that loose term means) this phenomenon uses reductionism while perhaps inevitable, are a sort of self referential quasi-reality that is taken literally instead of being viewed as metaphors for a possible variety of causes. Abductions are perhaps closer to an immersion in an alternate, experiential reality that parallel the accounts of close encounters and the variety of craft types seen, which seems to fall more under parapsychology and sociology than it does "The Stockholm Syndrome". If it were a culturally based psychological experiment to draw out how society processes liminal accounts, the effects are, if anything, interesting.I think the whole dynamic of this still has to be "beat" and the effects are, in one sense, more interesting than the accounts themselves.I wrote recently that Jacobs etc have "contaminated the contaminated." If you take all the vested interests out of this, it becomes a handy maetaphor for the human condition.

Paul Kimball said...

Jacobs etc have "contaminated the contaminated."

I agree, and it's a topic I'll be addressing more in the future.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Kimball, have a close look at the Disclosure Project. And take a look at the book by Leslie Keen.
Till you can suggest an explanation for what THESE people are talking about, you will absolutely appear to have no credibility in regards to the discussion of "ufos" and "extraterrestrials".
I place the previous terms in quotation marks to indicate there is no better terminology to describe the phenomenon.
I would be the first to agree that a particular condition is prey to innuendo, artistic description, misinterpretation, misunderstanding, cultural interpretations and other obfuscating processes inmical to the Human Condition, but denying that an observable, recordable, categorical phenomenon exists makes it appear that you are burying your head in the sand to avoid evidence contrary to a very dear viewpoint, which I am sure is not the case. I would rather be helpful and contribute to the discussion, and in that spirit, I say that I am only calling the shots and perhaps they might have been called better, but so be it. Thanks for listening.

charles said...

Mr. Kimball, have a close look at the Disclosure Project. And take a look at the book by Leslie Keen.
Till you can suggest an explanation for what THESE people are talking about, you will absolutely appear to have no credibility in regards to the discussion of "ufos" and "extraterrestrials".
I place the previous terms in quotation marks to indicate there is no better terminology to describe the phenomenon.
I would be the first to agree that a particular condition is prey to innuendo, artistic description, misinterpretation, misunderstanding, cultural interpretations and other obfuscating processes inmical to the Human Condition, but denying that an observable, recordable, categorical phenomenon exists makes it appear that you are burying your head in the sand to avoid evidence contrary to a very dear viewpoint, which I am sure is not the case. I would rather be helpful and contribute to the discussion, and in that spirit, I say that I am only calling the shots and perhaps they might have been called better, but so be it. Thanks for listening.

If I have posted this comment more than once it is because your site doesn't indicate whether the commentary has been accepted. Thanks.

Red Pill Junkie said...

"If aliens from other worlds have technology sufficiently advanced to allow them to travel the vast distances between the stars (and even in our own "neighbourhood", those distances boggle the mind), and abduct people here, there and everywhere when they get here, then what kind of person would believe that a plucky little bunch of "abduction researchers" (artists, associate history professors, and so on) could manage to beat these aliens at their own game, and defeat their technlogy and discover their plans?"

It is laughable, unless:

a)the aliens want the abductees to eventually remember the experiences, as part of their agenda.

b)the aliens manipulate the abductees memories as part of a deception stratagem.

c)the aliens are counting on abduction researchers to manipulate the abductees' memories with their crude research methods, as an even easier way to fulfill their deception stratagem.

d)the aliens really don't give a rat's ass if we discover their plans or not, or what we believe they're really doing, anymore than a biologist doesn't think much about the polar bear's eventual processing of the strange experience of being abducted and tagged for an ecological survey.

I have heard your interview with Randle, and his opinion expressed on other places re. the abduction phenomenon. It's an opinion worth considering, and yet it also suffers (IMHO) from several logical flaws —since Randle wouldn't himself conduct some type of arcane research on humans the way these entities are alleged to be doing it, then he concludes the abduction phenomenon is not related to UFOs. Hmmm... aren't we supposed to be talking about aliens here? and alien intelligence is by its very definition crazy (i.e. opposite to our own logical framework).

Heck, maybe it's a ritual experience to them, the way Catholics have refrained from changing too much of their holy communion ceremony for centuries.

Or maybe it's their own twisted version of foreplay —there's a reason humans haven't done much to improve the way we engage in sexual intercourse for the last 10,000 years or so ;)

Paul Kimball said...

RPJ:

Yes, everything you say could well be true. And the Easter Bunny might be real as well. I suppose anything is possible. But is it probable? Or even likely? Or even remotely possible? I think not. As I said, it's all based on a human-centric, 1950s sci-fi scenario that posits we are the center of the universe, even when faced with a far superior intelligence. It also posits that this intelligence would behave pretty much the same way that we would.

As I said, it's possible... just like it's possible that the Bunny is going to leave you a basket of eggs in a few weeks.

Paul

Paul Kimball said...

Anon:

Here's the thing - I don't need to read Kean's book, because I made a film (Best Evidence: Top 10 UFO Sightings) in 2006-07 that covered the same ground before she did. You should look it up; the original version is available for free on the Internet. Having said that, however, I have indeed read it... and the many others that were written long before hers, and which hers is more or less just a somewhat updated copy of. There's nothing really new in there; the information has been available for a long time.

As for the rest, you clearly didn't read my post, nor have you any idea of my views on this subject, which are more complex than yours seem to be, and which have never denied the possibility of extraterrestrial life or even vistation to this world.

If you want to contribute something useful to the discussion, I suggest you get your information straight next time.

Paul Kimball

Red Pill Junkie said...

>"It also posits that this intelligence would behave pretty much the same way that we would."

That's actually the opposite of what I'm suggesting Paul. I wrote that a truly alien intelligence would by its very definition act in an unpredictable and illogical way (they would appear to be crazy from our POV).

Paul Kimball said...

Yes, but then, from (a) through (d), you frame what you see as possibilities through the prism of how we would act. It's still human-centered reductionism. That's what I was focused on. If we're dealing with a truly alien intelligence, then I suspect none of those four things is applicable or relevant.

Red Pill Junkie said...

>"Yes, but then, from (a) through (d), you frame what you see as possibilities through the prism of how we would act. It's still human-centered reductionism. That's what I was focused on. If we're dealing with a truly alien intelligence, then I suspect none of those four things is applicable or relevant."

No, the (a) or (d) scenarios I proposed were intended as counter-arguments of why it might not be laughable that we humans, either through interviewing experiencers, or through other means that may or may not be as accurate or reliable as some might think, might get some tenuous glimpses about these entities and their MOs.

Granted, what we might gather in the end is still inevitably filtered by our cultural baggage and our preconceptions, and might be as far away from the real truth as the mythical explanations we may found in other cultures that also try to explain the dealings between us and them.

And in the end, I agree that all these counter-arguments are completely irrelevant --as irrelevant and human-centered as the arguments raised by Randle of why abductions couldn't possibly be originated by the UFO reality.

What shouldn't be relevant is that we ought to try to discern whether something truly out of the ordinary is behind some of the experiences of some of these abductees.

It may not help to learn a great deal more about the aliens, but it could possibly allow us to learn a whole lot more about ourselves.

Don Maor said...

Paul wrote:

"Yes, beat them - because if they can detect it, then that means that they have gotten around the attempts by the aliens to mask their presence, and what they're up to. Even as I type the words, the sheer ridiculousness of the proposition is clear."

Well Paul, even when you clarify and restrict your use of the term "beat them", i still have serious conflicts with it, and I still can not find the laughable part of the whole tale.
First of all, if aliens are here, and if they are trying to abduct people without being noticed, it means that aliens at least are trying, in some way, to preserve our society as a whole. If they were malign or willing to do things ala fast track, they might be able to conquer our world with great violence and no respect, and take what they want immediatly. But they have not. If the above is true, then Jacobs and Hopkins are unveiling a fact, that is hidden from us, for our own good. In that sense, Jacobs and Hopkins discovery would not be a victory over the aliens, but instead, would be a victory against humanity.
Just like the kid who cheats his parents and throws his medicine to the toilet.. Have he beaten his parents? Not really, the brat has only beaten himself.
This is a limited example, but works fine to ilustrate tha basic principle behind my reasoning.


Paul wrote:
"You are, of course, free to indulge in your 1950s science fiction fantasies (a fantasy world that imagines the aliens are just a few years ahead of us technologically, as implied in your use of the Vietnam comparison),"

Sorry Paul, but I do not really know how many years ahead of us an alien civilization would be. I am not a psychic. Of course, if there are many civilizations out there, one would expect some, many, of them to be very advanced compared to us, and some of them to be just a little more advanced than us. But, and this is important, one would expect, that the ones needing something from our planet, would have to be in a stage just a little more advanced than us. You now, a grown man will not normally engage in teenagers games, and a teenager will not normally be atracted to play with 4 years old boys. Deepening in this example, one would expect the bully to be just one or two years older than the bully's victims. Of course, i admit, relationship between civilizations would have to be a little more complex that relationship between small kids, and always there will be exceptions, but the general rule would be the same. Conclusion, do not expect that any civilization that come here to abuse us, or even to help us, to be much more advanced than us. On the other hand, do not expect it to be equal to us. If they were equal to us, they would not be able to travel to here.

Another problem with your analisis Paul: You seem to be making a parallel between the space travel technology and the neuroscientific technology that aliens would have, meaning that if alien's space-travel-technology is so advanced as to reach planet Earth, then alien's neuroscientific technology would have to be necessarily so advanced as to prevent amateur Jacobs and amateur Hopkins to discover the hidden truth. That parallel is only in your mind. We do not have any mathematical rule that relates boths fields, and we humans are really on diapers on both fields as to make such sofisticated futuristic parallels between them. Sorry Paul, but your parallel is to be rejected.

Best,
Mauricio

Paul Kimball said...

RPJ:

irrelevant and human-centered as the arguments raised by Randle of why abductions couldn't possibly be originated by the UFO reality.

Knowing Kevin well as I do, I don't think that he would ever rule out some possible paranormal interaction between humans and some sort of non-human intelligence, which may possibly lay at the root of some few "abduction" experiences. But he does reject that it's space aliens doing actual physical abductions.

It may not help to learn a great deal more about the aliens, but it could possibly allow us to learn a whole lot more about ourselves.

Agreed.

PK

Paul Kimball said...

Another problem with your analisis Paul: You seem to be making a parallel between the space travel technology and the neuroscientific technology that aliens would have, meaning that if alien's space-travel-technology is so advanced as to reach planet Earth, then alien's neuroscientific technology would have to be necessarily so advanced as to prevent amateur Jacobs and amateur Hopkins to discover the hidden truth. That parallel is only in your mind. We do not have any mathematical rule that relates boths fields, and we humans are really on diapers on both fields as to make such sofisticated futuristic parallels between them. Sorry Paul, but your parallel is to be rejected.

You are of course free to reject whatever you want, but there is no basis in logic or science for your rejection. Indeed, much of the "science" that the aliens supposedly use is already available to us, but the technology to get to the stars that they would need is hundreds, probably thousands (or more) years away. So what you're suggesting is that they aliens are far more advanced than us in terms of space travel technology, without corresponding advances in other areas.

With respect, it is as I said - laughable, and based, as are the rest of your suppositions, on a human-centered, 1950s sci-fi view of ourselves, and the galaxy around us. It has nothing whatsoever to do with reality.

PK

Red Pill Junkie said...

No one escapes human-centrism, Paul. Not even you --what makes you think "they" use a technology to get from here to there --and where exactly is "there" anyway? ;)

Paul Kimball said...

RPJ,

Agreed, but knowing that one is always going to be inclined to view something through their own understanding and experiences is a good place to start, and something I don't see from the Keyhoe-ian UFO believers.

As to the "where are the from" question, in this case we're talking about extraterrestrials from another planet, making their way here in nuts-and-bolts spacecraft - which is what the Keyhoe-ian types would have us believe.

That there might be other "there's" is something which they rarely, if ever, consider... which is my point.

PK

Mike Franklin said...

"I think like most of "Ufology" ( whatever that loose term means) this phenomenon uses reductionism while perhaps inevitable, are a sort of self referential quasi-reality that is taken literally instead of being viewed as metaphors for a possible variety of causes."

There are as many possibilities as there are people to consider them. Human habit demands that we debase thought that doesn't mesh with our own. The end result is that instead of a unified community working for a common goal, we settle into our musty desk chairs to cast our displeasures.

If there is one reason why the UFO community is so very non-community oriented, this has to be it. The foundations of genuine thought... regardless of how it agrees (or not) with our own, is smashed to bits before it can get off the ground.

We are, as in all things with human culture, our own worst enemies.

Don Maor said...

Paul said:
"You are of course free to reject whatever you want, but there is no basis in logic or science for your rejection. Indeed, much of the "science" that the aliens supposedly use is already available to us".

This last one is also rejected. Why?. Reported alien technology/habilities includes walking trough walls, levitating people and objects, make hybrids that are half human and half alien, aliens that eat no food, aliens that have telepathic habilities/techonology, paralizing habilities/technology, etc. As long as I know, we do not have such powers.

Other rejected ideas:

The notion of Jacobs and Hopkins ,in some way, any way, "beating" the aliens. Rejected.

The notion of a known mathematical parallel/relationship between alien space travel technology and alien neurocience techonology. Rejected.

Paul's notion of arbitrarily picking one scenario, out of 20 possible ones, and say that since the selected scenario is laughable, therefore abduction ETH sucks. Rejected.

Mauricio

qraal said...

Of course there's nothing wrong with the idea that ETIs can induce whatever hallucinations they wish via direct neural feeds, whenever they feel the urge to screw with our brains. Consider the bizarre experiments we do on lesser mammals with single neuron triggering and micro-electrode implantation etc etc. Throw advanced nano-tech into the mix of possibilities and there's every possibility of micro-probes which objective observers need never to be aware of.