Alien Abduction Part 2

Skeptic (Altadena, CA), Winter 2006 | Go to article overview

Alien Abduction Part 2


HELLO!

I'm Daniel Loxton, the Editor of JUNIOR SKEPTIC. I'd like to welcome you to Part Two of our two-part look at the eerie world of alien abduction.

In the last issue we looked at the history of the idea that people are being kidnapped by space creatures. We saw that this concept started In science Fiction, and that claims of "real" alien abductions came after the idea became common in movies, comics, and pulp Fiction. We also saw that the notion evolved over time: science

Fiction inspired claims of abductions, which inspired Hollywood movies, which in inspired new abduction claims ... and so on.

Finally, we saw that the most Famous and influential cases of alien kidnapping were almost certainly not real. Some were hoaxes and some were the result of mistakes, confusion or delusions!

Yet, For all of that, we're still left with a profound mystery. After all, thousands of people still swear that they themselves were abducted by aliens. Surely thousands of people can't all be mistaken r lying about these vivid, terrifying experiences?

There's only one way to Find out. Come with me as we delve deeper into our investigation of alien abduction!

MARCH OF THE ELEPHANTS

Have you ever heard the phrase "The elephant in the living room"? That's what we call it when there's an

important fact so big, and so obvious, that it can't possibly be ignored--and yet, everyone is pretending it doesn't exist. (For example, if someone in a family was addicted to drugs but no one was talking about it, then that drug addiction would be "the elephant in the living room.")

In the strange world of alien abduction research, there are a number of essential facts that are screamingly obvious and important, but which researchers hardly ever acknowledge. By them selves, each one of these uncomfortable facts chips away at the claim that aliens abduct human beings. Taken together, they are a whole herd of elephants in the living room.

As we go travel through this murky realm, we'll turn our spotlight on one elephant after another. You may find you're amazed, as I was, by the things people can ignore when they really put their minds to it! Here's one to get us started:

"RECOVERED MEMORY" IS UTTERLY UNRELIABLE.

"REPRESSED" AND "RECOVERED" MEMORIES

Belief in alien abduction depends on two strange notions: that people "repress" bad, traumatic memories; and that they can then "recover" those repressed memories using hypnosis.

You may have seen these ideas used in TV shows. When someone has a retable experience, their brain (supposedly) protects them from further psychological damage by taking the memories of the event and locking them away, like sealing them in a vault. Later, using hypnosis, a therapist puts the person into a trance and gives them access to the hidden, repressed memories.

In real life, things don't work like they do on TV. As far as scientists can tell, recovered and repressed memories don't exist any more than the science fiction concept of "warp drive." Memory is not really like a series of cabinets that can be locked and unlocked by some hidden stress manager in our minds. Instead of repressing traumatic memories, survivors often find it impossible to forget them. And therapy or hypnosis cannot instantly turn total anmesia back into complete, fresh, and accurate memories.

Lots of people talk about repressed and recovered memories, but (like warp drive) no one has a clue how they're supposed to work. Even those who use recovered memory therapy admit it. Dr. John Mack wrote, "we have lithe understanding of how this repressive force works, or, for that matter, why an altered state of consciousness, facilitated in a caring, protective, setting, is so effective in recovering abduction memories." That is, Mack didn't know why people tell abduction stories when they're hypnotized, and he had no evidence that they were real "repressed" memories. …

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