Four Classic Attitudes
To The UFO Abduction Phenomenon
By Budd Hopkins
I’ve now been involved in UFO abduction research for thirty-three years. Though my active investigations began in 1975, I’d been reading about the phenomenon and studying its myriad ways ever since my original daylight disc sighting in 1964. After all those years of abduction research, after many hundreds of individual investigations, lectures, radio and TV broadcasts, after the successful recruitment of major abduction researchers like David Jacobs and John Mack, and after the publication of four serious books on the subject, I feel I’ve paid my dues. In the past I’ve tended to stay within the bounds of my own intellectual territory - UFO abductions - and to leave other specialties pretty much alone, but here I intend to take a retrospective view of the UFO field in general. Though much fine and significant work has been done by UFO researchers over the decades, we all know that an enormous amount of disturbing static has also been generated by fringe groups - almost enough to drown out our very real accomplishments. At times the UFO field has seemed to me to be nearly overrun by charlatans, would-be gurus and nut cases of every type, so perhaps it’s necessary from time to time to take a deep breath and try to sort things out.
First, there are the inflexible ideologues - the ever-present debunkers - who numbingly claim that all UFO abductions are hoaxes or mental aberrations, and who, out ufological necessity, go on to insist that all UFO sightings themselves are either hoaxes or psychological or perceptual aberrations of some kind. In this paper I’ll describe what I’ve found to be useful tactics to employ in confrontations with such stubbornly blinkered ideologues. But basically I’ll attempt, what is, for me, an unusual overview of the phenomenon: the taxonomy of various group attitudes to UFO abduction reports. To accomplish this I’ve isolated four basic factions: the Skeptics, the True Believers, the Enthusiasts and the Incurious. After defining the four, I’ll demonstrate the way each has responded to firsthand abduction narratives, either by helping, harming or ignoring those who have experienced such encounters. Obviously this is a large undertaking, and though some of my conclusions may seem controversial, I’ve given the subject a great deal of careful thought.
Carefully Vetted, High-Level Panelists
The most important public event in our field in decades was the November, 2007, international press conference in Washington D.C. organized by filmmaker James Fox and journalist Leslie Kean. At the National Press Club, fourteen carefully vetted, high-level panelists from the military, scientific and aviation communities of eight countries described their personal UFO encounters and their government-supported UFO investigations before a major gathering of media representatives. I offer this conference as an ideal model for the way we should in the future present the case for UFO reality to the scientific community, the government and the media, and in contrast point out why the wildly assertive, confrontational approach of many fringe groups is so counter-productive.
Several years ago I once again found myself a guest on the television show Larry King Live in the role that by now has become quite familiar: that of defending three decades of research into the UFO abduction phenomenon. The occasion for the broadcast was the publication of Susan Clancy’s debunking and remarkably incompetent book on the phenomenon entitled Abducted - How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. When, at the outset of the program, Larry King asked me a question, I employed the tactic of answering a question of my own choosing. I said something to the effect that the attitudes toward the UFO phenomenon fell into two basic groups: that of the Interested Skeptics and that of the True Believers. I said that I was a Skeptic, in that I did not know whether a UFO event had actually happened as it was described by those reporting it until I had looked into it thoroughly and examined the evidence. True Believers, I went on, were people who knew that the UFO incident did not occur as described because they knew in advance that such an event was impossible. Their rigid belief systems did not allow for that possibility. Therefore Susan Clancy, I said, was a True Believer about the abduction phenomenon, while I was the exploring, enquiring Skeptic who first had to critically examine the evidence before deciding on a case’s possible validity. In a cutaway shot, Clancy made a surprised face, as if she had never thought of herself as a True Believer in the non-existence of abductions, despite the fact that this unshakeable position lay at the heart of her book. In fact one can think of her Abducted as a long, torturous attempt to rationalize and defend that very belief.
Trent UFO Photos
Later in the broadcast a third guest, my colleague Rob Swiatek, presented as evidence for the reality of UFOs the famous Trent UFO photographs which Clancy immediately dismissed as “looking like someone threw a hubcap or a Frisbee up in the air.” Ironically, the optical physicist Dr. Bruce Maccabee, who had spent many months analyzing these photos, even making a trip to McMinneville, Oregon to visit the site where the pictures were taken, was also a guest on the program, but declined to attempt an extended technical explanation on such a sound-bite driven TV show. He undoubtedly saw that it would be a waste of time to delve into optical mechanics in order to rebut someone as fixed in her beliefs and as ill-informed about photo analysis as Susan Clancy. Later I mentioned to Rob Swiatek that had he merely shown the Trent photos and asked Clancy if she recognized them, she would undoubtedly have revealed her ignorance by admitting she did not, despite her claim of having “mastered the UFO literature.” Also she would probably have had to admit that she knew nothing of Dr. Maccabee or his scientific validation of the most famous UFO photos in existence.
Continue Reading Part II: Susan Clancy: Liar or Poor Researcher?, Painstakingly Acquired Data, Passionate Disbelief by Scientific Community, 1950’s – 1960’s Contactees, Damage to Serious UFO Research