Wednesday, September 28, 2011

50 years ago: The first alien abduction (?)

On September 21, 1961, Betty Hill telephoned Pease Air Force Base in New Hampshire to report that on the night of September 19, she and her husband Barney were driving back to their home in Portsmouth, New Hampshire from a vacation when they sighted an unidentified flying object just south of Lancaster, N.H. The UFO then hovered close to their car, and Barney, observing through binoculars, claimed to see 8 to 11 humanoid figures in the craft. The Hills claimed to have entered an altered state of consciousness while driving at high speed in an attempt to flee the UFO, and that when they returned to normal consciousness and arrived home at around dawn on September 20, they experienced sensations they couldn't explain, and couldn't clearly remember details of the distance they'd travelled or what they'd seen after first encountering the craft.

The incident, also known as the Zeta Reticuli Incident, was the first widely-publicized account of humans supposedly being abducted by space aliens. For more, see the Wikipedia entry.

Spiritual Counterfeits Project published a double issue of SCP Journal (Vol.17:1-2) in 1992 with the theme Alien Encounters: UFOs and the Realm of Shadows, in which it was pointed out that modern reports of encounters with UFOs and space aliens bear a strong resemblance to reports of demonic manifestations down through the centuries. Assuming, for the sake of argument, that the experiences reported by alien abductees are factual, I suspect that whatever supernatural experiences people such as Betty and Barney Hill (not to be confused with Betty and Barney Rubble) have had are encounters with the demonic realm rather than with actual beings from other worlds.

On a related topic, some of us remember the "Satanic panic" that was topical from about 1988-1992, when there were increasing reports of people claiming to have been abused--often sexually--in Satanic rituals. Some experts observed that those making such claims--which were usually bereft of physical evidence--had similar characteristics (such as abnormal suggestibility) to those claiming to have been abducted by space aliens. When it became apparent that it was possible for therapists to create false memories in clients, the panic abated, although resulting court cases continued. For more on the subject, see such books as Confabulations: Creating False Memories, Destroying Families by Eleanor Goldstein with Kevin Farmer (1992) and The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories of Allegations of Sexual Abuse by Elizabeth Loftus and Katherine Ketcham (1994). Dr. Loftus testified as an expert witness on behalf of Gary Ramona, who sued family counsellor Marche Isabella, psychiatrist Richard Rose, and the Western Medical Center in Anaheim, California, after Mr. Ramona's daughter Holly, while under the care of the therapists, had reported flashbacks of childhood sexual abuse by her father. The case was heard in Napa, California, and on May 13, 1994, a jury awarded Mr. Ramona $500,000.

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