Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Alien Abduction: Part One of Two: The Invasion Begins!

Magazine article Skeptic (Altadena, CA)

Alien Abduction: Part One of Two: The Invasion Begins!

Article excerpt

You already know' what the aliens look like and why they are here. We all know. We've seen it over and over on TV, in books, and in movies.

According to this modern legend, the aliens come for us in the night. They paralyze us, take us on board a spaceship, and strap us to a table for bizarre medical experiments under a harsh white light. They hover over us, either in silence or while chittering terrifying sounds. As we scream, they only stare at us with merciless, huge black eyes....

This image is frightening enough in the movies. It's even more terrifying for the thousands of people who swear it really happened--to them.


As a certain four-legged cartoon hero would say, "Rokay Raggy!" There's a real mystery to solve here! Why do thousands of people think they've been kidnapped by creatures from outer space or another dimension?

On Scooby-Doo, the gang always unmasks the lone culprit ("And I woulda got away with it, if it weren't for you blasted kids!"). One mystery, one tidy solution. People whoo study UFO abduction cases make the same mistake in their thinking--that one thing has to explain all alien abduction reports. As one leading investigator put it, "there can only be one explanation for this, the correct explanation.... That means that all the explanations ... for this except for one will be wrong."

But, reports of alien abductions aren't one mystery--or even just one thing! Instead, they are thousands of individual stories told by thousands of individuals. Each story is unique, and each abductee is too. There is no reason to suppose people who say they've been abducted all say so for the same reason.

Think of UFO sightings. Everybody agrees (especially UFO investigators!) that there are all sorts of different things that people mistake for alien spacecraft: satellites,the planet Venus, airplanes and helicopters, reflections, headlights, clouds--and even outright hoaxes. (Pro-UFO investigator Jenny Randles says "95%+ of UFO sightings have conventional solutions.")

As we investigate alien abduction, we need to look for many solutions to the many cases. Some cases could turn out to be hoaxes, others some sort of mental illness, and the rest could have still other causes: aliens? Strange powers of the mind? Too much pizza before bed?

Let's investigate.


The flying saucer age began in 1947, just two years after the United States ended World War II by dropping atomic bombs on Japanese cities. People were frightened by the sudden realization that while advanced technology could be a wonderful blessing, it could also be a terrifying threat. Newsstands were stuffed with magazines about rocket ships, alien craft, and invaders from other planets. The atmosphere was ripe for an outbreak of "real" ,alien invaders.

It came that summer, when a pilot named Kenneth Arnold spotted some weird flying objects from in plane. Newspapers reporting his sighting mistakenly created the term "flying saucer." But, as Arnold explained, "The newspaper did not quote me properly.... These objects more or less fluttered.... And when I described how they flew, I said that flew like when you take a saucer and throw it across the water. Most of the newspapers misunderstood.... They said that I'd said they were saucer-like. I said they flew in a saucer-like fashion." (In fact, Arnold said they were boomerang-shaped, somewhat like today's B2 stealth bomber.) But the damage was done. Flying saucer fever gripped America, as hundreds


As soon as flying saucers were invented, people began to claim that they'd met the spacemen--or even boarded their ships. These people became known as "contactees."

According to abduction researcher Dr. David Jacobs, "The contactees were a group of people who spun tales of having continuing contact with benevolent 'space brothers' who had come to Earth to prevent humans from blowing up the planet with atomic bombs and upsetting other planets in the process. …

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