Four Classic Attitudes
To The UFO Abduction Phenomenon
By Budd Hopkins
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Susan Clancy: Liar or Poor Researcher?
In yet another stunning example of Clancy’s baseless True Believer stance she repeated in her book the debunkers’ old red herring about the Hills’ abduction case in which she asserted that despite their denials, Betty and Barney had watched the sci-fi program Outer Limits before they reported their UFO abduction experience, and that their description of the UFO occupants was formed by the “alien” figure depicted on that show. That fictional TV image, Clancy stated, was of “big-headed, big-eyed” alien who “looked remarkably similar to those of today: they had big, black, wraparound eyes, no noses or mouths, and delicate, waif-like bodies.” Unfortunately for her, another intrepid Skeptical Investigator, my friend and colleague David Jacobs, located a tape of the original Outer Limits presentation that Clancy referred to (entitled the Bellaro Shield) and found that the alien depicted - there was only one - was of normal human height and bodily proportions, with deep set but quite typical human eyes. No “waif-like” body, no “big, black, wraparound eyes,” in fact no resemblance at all to the figures the Hills’ described. Thus Dr. Jacobs neatly proved that in her book Clancy had either deliberately lied or failed to do her homework on a subject about which she said she was an expert. Even worse for her claim about the alleged effect on the Hills’ account, the Outer Limits program she alluded to was aired three years after the Hills’ abduction.
The problems objective UFO Skeptic/Investigators have with True Believers seem to be endless. Another illuminating encounter I had with a Clancy-type of set-in-concrete ideologue occurred on Canadian television a few years before the previously mentioned Larry King Live program. This time my supposed opponent was a nice young man, a professional astronomer, who during his segment explained why there was nothing to the UFO phenomenon in general and so, by extension, to any abduction reports. You can’t get here from there, he averred, wherever there is, so no one has ever reported a genuine extraterrestrial UFO. And spacecraft would never be round, as UFOs are usually described, nor would their occupants be doing the things abductees report that they do. Therefore, he firmly concluded, the whole thing was unbelievable.
Painstakingly Acquired Data
It was obvious that he was offering nothing more his own personal belief system to refute the data that have been painstakingly acquired and examined for over a half century. So, when it came time for me to have an on-air dialogue with this young man, I tried a new tactic. I began by asking him his opinion of the well-known scientific report by GEPAN, the UFO subcommittee of the French version of NASA, on the famous Trans-en-Provence UFO landing case. Shifting nervously, he admitted he was unfamiliar with it. I then asked his opinion of another well-known, well- investigated UFO report, and again he pleaded ignorance. After a couple of more tries I asked him his opinion about a very famous witnessed abduction incident which I said I was sure he knew about, the 1975 Travis Walton case. Again he backed off, admitting he had never heard of it, either. Exasperated, I asked what he had read about the subject.
“Very little,” he answered sheepishly. “Practically nothing.”
“Then why are we having this conversation?” I replied.
I intended this revealing exchange to demonstrate to anyone watching the program that this young astronomer’s rigid True Belief system was a product of nothing more than hubris and an abysmal lack of information. There was no reason someone as ignorant of the UFO phenomenon as he should be discussing it on Canadian television.
Passionate Disbelief by Scientific Community
By analogy I often think about the battle between many creationists’ faith-based rejection of Darwinian evolution on one hand, and on the other the scientists’ many decades of work on the fossil record. Thus the opposition is between the rote rigidity of the religious True Believers against the carefully accumulated scientific evidence of the paleontologists. When one relates this situation to the UFO phenomenon, most mainstream scientists - and they would scream with outrage at the very idea - are in the role of the nay-saying, knee-jerk religionists, while for decades serious UFO investigators - the true Skeptics - have performed like enquiring paleontologists. To put it bluntly, the majority of mainstream scientists passionately believe in the non-existence of UFOs in exactly the way the Pope believes in the Virgin Birth - as a matter of unexamined faith.
1950’s – 1960’s Contactees
These thoughts - plus thirty two years of active abduction investigations - have led me to attempt the taxonomy of all those groups which are even vaguely connected with the UFO phenomenon, and it is here that the issue becomes more complicated. Because among those we should designate as True Believers, there is yet another, and quite opposite subgroup. This similar breed of True Believers is one which, rather than rejecting the UFO phenomenon, all too often accepts almost any wild and wooly UFO report that comes down the street, whether or not it’s supported by any credible evidence.
For the purposes of clarity I will designate this group “the UFO Enthusiasts.” These are the credulous people who inadvertently bring ridicule down upon serious Skeptical Investigators, as they have done ever since the era of the notorious ‘Contactees’ in the Fifties and Sixties. For a time during those decades almost any con-man, publicity-seeker or mentally deranged individual could develop a cult following which accepted every bit of unsubstantiated trash he promoted. (Interestingly, there were, in this category, very few she’s.) One infamous Contactee found a sellers’ market for little glassine envelopes of dog hairs from the tail of a Venusian dog he said he’d befriended while on a round trip to Venus in the company of beautiful, blond, long-haired Venusian men and women who urged us humans to make love, not war.
Unfortunately this sort of nonsense continues to the present day. One ex-race car driver currently explains to adoring crowds that the Queen of England and George Bush, senior, are secret, evil reptilians out to rule the world. He claims that one of his followers has described seeing the elder Bush momentarily morph into a scaly, snout-nosed, extraterrestrial reptilian before his very eyes.
Another would-be guru, a defrocked psychologist [who could have been set up] whose ethical lapses with female clients cost him his license, has published an account of the “capture,” in 1972, of three huge alien “Space Beacons,” each 30 miles long (!) by members of an evil, earthly, anti-alien “cabal.” He explains further how a group of good earthlings, working with their alien brothers, rescued these monstrous things from their resting places in Greenland, in Canada’s Nanuit Territory, and near the Alaska-Yukon boundary, thus allowing “Zeta” to move the thirty-mile-long Space Beacons back to their rightful locations. It was not easy, he tells us. The aliens’ good-cop human colleagues, a Counter-Insurgency team under the righteous “Colonel Shadow,” engaged in a brutal firefight with the evil, bad-cop Cabal, and poor Mr. Shadow was wounded. Luckily, we are told, his life was saved by his bullet-proof vest. (Apparently the Cabal lacked up-to-date laser guns.)
Perhaps we should forgive anyone for thinking that this [individual] either has a screw loose somewhere or is an undercover disinformation agent for those who wish to discredit serious UFO research, but sadly, he seems to actually believe such stuff. Apparently for him the despised, virtually Satanic ‘Cabal’ and its many ‘fellow travelers’ consists of anyone who doubts his appointment by Zeta as Ambassador to Earth, Official Spokesperson, or some such intergalactic title. In his case at least, even the most credulous Enthusiasts have begun to have their doubts.
Damage to Serious UFO Research
I could go on and on with examples of other bizarre sects, but it is important to show how, by reinforcing the prejudices of the “UFOs-do-not-exist” True Believers discussed earlier, an uncritical fringe of gullible Enthusiasts effectively continues to damage serious UFO investigations. The problem can be seen in the wild and unsupported assertions made in Washington, D.C., in 2007, by members of a new sect claiming to practice something called “Exopolitics.” At a sparsely attended press conference their members informed the two or three media people who showed up that, among other things, an advanced civilization was currently living underground on the planet Mars; that Governor Bill Richardson of Arizona had for years been a secret CIA operative dealing with UFO issues; and that members of their group had solid evidence that if elected, presidential candidate Hillary Clinton planned to announce to the world that UFOs were real. This, despite the well-known fact that Sen. Clinton had recently characterized someone’s political proposal as being “just as crazy as believing in UFOs!”
During a recent European UFO conference at which I was a speaker, I had firsthand exposure to the beliefs of this fringe group when one of its central figures presented, as if it were fact, a list of all the many alien “races” that made up the Exopolitical scene. A number of these so-called groups were on his list because one individual somewhere, sometime, claimed to have seen and interacted with them.
The list of alleged witnesses he displayed included several known hoaxers, but what was even more remarkable, this Exopol expert managed to misstate Betty and Barney Hills’ last name on his Power Point presentation, calling them something like Betty and Barney Hyde. The audience was left with the impression that this exopal was ludicrously ill-informed; after all, even Susan Clancy correctly recalled the Hills’ correct last name.
One of the ongoing problems within the field of abduction research has been the willingness of so many people to consciously overlook the psychological damage such encounters inevitably inflict on abduction experiencers, and to present this traumatic process as a rosy one. Using a term from pop psychology, it is as if these fringe Enthusiasts act as “enablers” for the UFO occupants, excusing the pain, confusion and post traumatic stress they cause in their temporary captives. None of us who work with abductees know how it will all end or whether the aliens’ ultimate goal will be helpful or destructive to humankind, but no honest observation can avoid seeing the real, long term emotional toll of such encounters. I’ve worked with many hundreds of abductees over the past three decades and have been deeply moved by the courage and spiritual resourcefulness so many have exhibited in the face of their ongoing traumas. Yet I know far too many outsiders - Enthusiasts? - who prefer to minimize the abductees’ emotional scarring and attribute their resilience to a gift from the abductors themselves.
The writer Joan Didion, in a piece about Doris Lessing, stated that Lessing wrote often about extraterrestrials, and asked us to “imagine an interplanetary conference, convened on Venus to discuss once again the problem of the self-destructive planet earth.” Didion added, in a sly parenthesis, “The fancy that extraterrestrial life is by definition of a higher order than our own is one that soothes all children.”
Continue Reading Part III: Little Nobodies, Abduction Hoaxers Rare, Incurious, Landmark Event, Lack of Media Coverage, The SCICOP Mantra
This article is published with the expressed permission of Budd Hopkins for publication on The Alien Jigsaw: alienjigsaw.com