Kevin D. Randle, Russ Estes, and William P. Cone, PhD, published a book in 1999, The Abduction Enigma: The truth behind the mass alien abductions of the late twentieth century, in which they claim to have revealed the truth about alien abductions, at least those purportedly occurring during the late twentieth century. What follows is a review of The Abduction Enigma, its arguments and claims. The review will show that the arguments and claims, while well argued and researched by Randle et al, are deficient in several ways.
According to Randle et al (1999, p. 359), “there is not a single shred of physical evidence that alien abductions are taking place other than the tainted testimony of the abductees”. Does that imply that there is other evidence to support it? I’ll try to answer this question by the end of the review.
Investigating alien abduction
If one were to conduct a thorough investigation of the alien abduction phenomenon, what evidence would one need to collect? Here are some possibilities:
- Abductee testimonials – their accounts of their experience
- Eyewitness accounts of the abduction – photographs would be good, video compelling
- Physical evidence – medical reports, police reports, and trace elements left behind at the scene of the crime
Normally, if one were dealing with abduction, the police would be involved – the Travis Walton case immediately comes to mind.
However, when Randle et al talk about the lack of physical evidence, what do they mean? How have they defined physical evidence? They didn’t. But they did allude to it – medical evidence (e.g. artifacts or implants under the skin), police evidence (e.g. an interrupted life) and trace elements at the scene of the crime (e.g. marks made by landing gear). Such evidence, however, for Randle et al, was unconvincing.
So what other evidence would convince them? This, unfortunately, isn’t unknown. There are only two types of direct evidence that I can think of that would be utterly compelling if not totally convincing.
1) The perpetrators;
2) Eyewitness accounts; and,
3) Video of the abduction.
The perpetrators, unfortunately, probably won’t willingly step forward and confess, but it is still by far the best evidence. The perpetrator(s) of abduction must be apprehended and a conviction sought. Impossible if one is dealing with extraterrestrials. On the other hand, eyewitness accounts should be compelling evidence; however, few if any eyewitness accounts of abduction exist – the Betty & Barney Hill case comes to mind. Video of the abduction should also be compelling evidence, though difficult, if not impossible to get hold of.
The question is have any perpetrators stepped forward or been arrested? None. Well, none that we are aware of – and highly unlikely that it will ever happen. Are there any eyewitness accounts? No reliable accounts. Is there any video of an actual alien abduction? No. Well, none that we are aware of; however, unlike the less than zero chance of a perpetrator ever being arrested, there is a good-to-excellent chance an abduction may have been videoed or will be. The chances are good-to-excellent, of course, if the right type of research is conducted too. My optimism wins out over my scepticism here.
Randle et al’s methodology
Before I get into Randle et al’s research design and methodology, I should really do the hard yards and establish three important things:
1) What do the police do when they investigate abduction?
2) What do medical examiners look for when examining abductees? And,
3) What do psychologists/psychiatrists look for when evaluating the mental health of abductees?
Well, fully knowing police procedure when dealing with abduction is difficult if not impossible. But we can be sure of a few things, at least. First, they would gather evidence. They would gather evidence of the life of the, at this point, alleged abductee. They would use this information to build a picture or profile of the person’s life to determine whether they inadvertently played a part in their own disappearance, or even caused it themselves. And when the police are convinced they hadn’t, they would search for more clues and possible sightings of the abductee to learn of their whereabouts (if their disappearance has been longer than 48 hours). They would try to pick up the trail of the abductee (cf the case of abducted and murdered journalist, Jill Meagher).
A general theme of alien abduction is that it lasts a few hours to six or seven, possibility more. An exception to this rule, if it can be called a rule, is the Travis Walton case. Walton’s disappearance was lengthy, indeed. He could not be found after the night of the incident, and the police soon got involved. The assumption of the police, however, is telling. The police were unconvinced of Walton’s friends’ UFO story, and soon came to see his disappearance as a case of murder. They soon saw the ‘murder’ as the action of one person, in particular.
They were unconvinced of the UFO abduction scenario and became convinced the boys were lying. They made all the boys submit to a polygraph test. The expectation was that they would all fail. They didn’t. The most compelling evidence, however, came from the boy soon accused of initially murdering Walton. Along with the others, when asked about the UFO sighting, all had passed. They hadn’t been found to be lying. They hadn’t lied. Well, at least, not according to the polygraph test. But this, no doubt, would be unconvincing evidence for Randle et al. The police were completely baffled.
Whitley Strieber, though having multiple abduction events and visitations, didn’t seem to disappear for longer than an entire evening. His experience, without a doubt, was just as horrific and disturbing as Walton’s. It is discussed in his book, Communion (1987). Unfortunately, for some people, who knows how many, they have never returned. And that is truly disturbing.
When doctors examine abductees they look for physiological evidence of a traumatic experience. They would look for scrapes and bruises, maybe even broken bones. They’d most definitely look for neurological trauma. Travis Walton exhibited all this type of evidence. Not only did he have scrapes and bruises, he exhibited shock. He was unable to talk properly for some time. He also kept having flashbacks that left him traumatized all over again.
When psychologists examine abductees they look for signs of psychological disturbance and/or trauma. They look for signs of a life interrupted. They would also try to heal abductees by helping them come to grips with their experience by engaging them in some kind of therapy. They would help them by getting them to talk about their experience. Some may even suggest hypnotherapy. A psychiatrist like John Mack (2004), who used hypnotherapy with abductees, would simply ask them to tell their story and look for consistency in the story.
Research design and methodology
What was Randle et al’s final research design and methodology? How did they go about investigating the alien abduction phenomenon to arrive at the ‘truth’ about it?
Regarding Randle et al’s research design and methodology, it was structured something like this:
- An analysis of abductee testimonials
- An analysis of alien abduction researchers’/therapist’s reports
- An analysis of the physical evidence
- A psycho-sociological approach
– To understand the evidence in terms of mental states
– To know the cultural impact on the mind and memory
Their theoretical approach, while acceptable, tells us something about the way they approached their topic; how they viewed the alien abduction phenomenon – that it must be a psycho-sociological one, and not really a real one. This is important to understand, I think, because it reveals their strong bias. They were biased; they were in favour of a psycho-sociological answer. They didn’t really believe alien abduction was possible. And didn’t set out to find evidence of actual alien abduction; they set out to find evidence of psychological events.
What hypotheses did Randle et al work with? They worked with three main hypotheses:
Hypothesis no. 1: if there is convincing physical evidence of alien abduction, then it did happen – however, they assumed they wouldn’t find any
Hypothesis no. 2: if the abduction experience is closely matched with false memory syndrome, then that is part the answer to the enigma
Hypothesis no. 3: if the abduction experience is closely matched with sleep paralysis, then that is the answer to the enigma
Did they find evidence to support H1? No. So they concluded alien abduction didn’t happen.
Did they find evidence to support H2? Yes. So they concluded FMS was part of the answer.
Did they find evidence to support H3? Yes. So they concluded sleep paralysis was the answer.
Because they had been sceptical from the beginning, weren’t convinced alien abduction was really happening at all, the discovery that abductee testimonials were, in their view, fallible (e.g. prone to errors), just made it easy for them to move toward false memory syndrome early in the investigation, and then finally to sleep paralysis to explain the alien abduction phenomenon.
Another reality is a false reality
They took the view, based on the case evidence, that because abductee testimonials suggested that abduction events hadn’t appeared to have occurred in this reality, meaning our reality, but had occurred in some other reality, an alternative reality, that abductees had had a psychological event rather than a real one. Also, given that abduction events tended to be a single person event, there were no other witnesses to it, this also helped Randle et al conclude that abductees were having a psychological rather than a real experience – it was all happening their heads. If the event appeared to occur in an alternative reality, then the abductee really wasn’t psychologically sound. There’s only one reality, right?
So at this point, Randle et al looked to another realm of possibility (the psychological) to explain the abduction phenomenon. They were resolute in their thinking that there wasn’t any evidence to be found looking elsewhere. This step really reveals how Randle et al were thinking – that there had to be an Earthly reason for the alien abduction phenomenon. The alien abduction experience, as they put it, couldn’t possibly be real if it didn’t happen in this reality. In addition, there is no compelling physical evidence of it ever having happened. All the available physical evidence, what little there was of it, didn’t convince them. They were unconvinced by it. That left them with only one option: the event had to have been psychological; not a real one, mind you, a psychological one.
How did they finally arrive at this conclusion?
To begin with, they scrutinized alien abduction researcher and therapist’s accounts. According to these reports, abductees had, for the most part, undergone hypnotherapy to fully recover their memories of their abduction experience. Randle et al had prior to this held the view that hypnotherapy, firstly, hadn’t been proven reliable in recovered memory therapy, and secondly, based on these reports, that the use of hypnotherapy was problematic. The therapists, in their view, had allegedly used questionable hypnotherapy techniques.
Enter false memories
Based on the above analysis, Randle et al concluded that the hypnotherapy hadn’t provided clear evidence of alien abduction. To add weight to their contention, they turned to a psychological notion known as false memory syndrome (FMS). FMS was invoked and the Satanic Ritual Abuse (SRA) cases of the 1980s were discussed in length as examples. But Randle et al went one step further; they drew parallels between the alien abduction experience and the SRA cases. While tantalizing, the result strengthened hypothesis no. 2: if alien abduction experience is closely matched with FMS, then, they had almost certainly found the path to the answer to the alien abduction enigma.
Add some alien drawings and voila!
To further strengthen their argument, they discussed how culturally constructed ‘aliens’ had impregnated the unconscious mind of abductees and had given birth to the abduction experience. Human culture was to blame, and an overactive imagination. The alien in the alien abduction experience wasn’t a real one – it was a cultural construction. In other words, it was a drawing of an alien. The alien was the result of human imagination, and it had somehow impregnated the unconscious mind of the abductees and was mashed together with some other cultural stuff to create an alien abduction experience. But they never explained how that actually happened, thereby, in my mind, weakening their argument. And they never explained how they themselves hadn’t experienced an alien abduction experience if everyone everywhere had experienced the phenomenon.
The view that Randle et al really began with was that all alien abduction is the result of confabulation and therefore wasn’t real. They held this view well before they had even drawn their conclusion from an analysis of a number of cases of false memory implant/syndrome and the claims of alien abduction researchers, even though they admit later in The Abduction Enigma (1999, p. 362) that the hypothesis can only explain some but not all known cases of alien abduction. So what did they conclude about the rest? Nothing!
The conclusion of The Abduction Enigma is that ‘there is no solid evidence that alien beings are physically abducting people,’ that the alleged abductions can be explained by reference to some seemingly already existing facts: historical, cultural, and psychological.
Embedded cultural artifacts?
Randle et al argue that the elements of alien abduction can be found everywhere in culture. This claim is argued for as a precursor to arguing that these elements become implanted memories, which I discuss further in a moment. The elements of alien abduction are all around to be seen, apparently. They are cultural artefacts. These cultural artefacts are the stories in newspapers, magazines, journals, in television and radio shows, as well as in photographs and drawings, and have been unconsciously implanted in the unconscious of the ‘abductee’. This happened when the abductees were consciously interacting with culture (whether or not they remember having interacted with it or not). The abductee has then simply unconsciously découpaged or massaged these elements into a real experience, which resulted in the construction of an unconscious abduction experience, and later manifested itself in flashes of memory or in dreams or some other interesting but disturbing psychology.
Help, my unconscious has been abducted by drawings of aliens!
The abductees then seek out help to deal with these bewildering and often disturbing unconscious manifestations. They approach a psychologist or psychiatrist directly or seek help from someone working in the field of alien abduction like John Mack or Budd Hopkins (now deceased). In a ‘therapy’ session, a trained therapist/alien abduction researcher, either one, but an allegedly less well-trained one – the trio claim Budd Hopkins wasn’t well-trained – unintentionally or intentionally lead the abductee to believe that they have, in fact, been abducted, not the reverse. It wouldn’t be hard to lead the abductee astray if they, the therapist, believe they, the abductee, have, in fact, been abducted.
Believing the believer believes what they believe to be true to be true might suggest that therapist and abductee were leading each other astray. This situation suggests probable scenarios in multiple fields, not merely alien abduction, if true.
According to Randle et al, however, the unwitting therapist unintentionally (e.g. the therapist is oblivious to what they are doing), or sometimes intentionally (e.g. ‘repressed memories are deep so you have to dig deep to get to them’), in the process of a therapy session, made suggestions about or led the abductee into thinking that their assumptions, intuitions, and dreams about being abducted are manifestations of suppressed memories of a real event. Randle et al have compared this event to what happened to the victims of ‘satanic ritual abuse’ (SRA) (in the 1980s), in which the victims allegedly experienced false memory syndrome. The therapist has unwittingly done this because the therapists themselves also believe the alien abduction experience to be a real one, even if a metaphor for something else. The suggestions the therapist makes, usually through hypnosis, are of this type: ‘you had an experience of X, it is there somewhere in your unconscious but you can’t remember it right now but you will, you will remember it’.
The science of arguing
This simplified rendition of the professional help alien abductees experience is problematic. But what research did Randle et al do to empirically validate their claims? None. That’s right, none. They didn’t do any research to validate their claims. They have simply argued strongly for the truth of it, in most instances, based on the reports of the hypnotherapists and research into FMS and sleep paralysis, in which they found support for their interpretation of the hypnotherapy transcripts. They strongly claim, however, that their argument is true. How can they claim that? Well, they can claim it is true, because they can. Claims are made every day about many things by many people who often lack hard evidence to back up their claims – conspiracy theorists immediately come to mind. However, the trio have claimed that their argument is empirically sound. That is, they claim their argument is scientifically based. They even claim to have used the scientific method to validate their claims. However, their claim to scientific validation is also problematic. It is problematic because they didn’t conduct any hypnotherapy sessions with any alien abductees; no, they didn’t. They simply used the case reports of alien abduction researchers and therapists and what others had said about hypnotherapy, and drew their own conclusions.
A scientific anomaly
They claim their argument is scientifically based, on the evidence of gathered data. That’s right, on the evidence they claim they gathered. But did they gather any evidence? If so, what was it? The answer to the first question is that they did and they didn’t. The ‘evidence’ they gathered was cultural and psychological ‘evidence’, but no other evidence was gathered. In other words, they gathered evidence that would support their original hypothesis that the abduction experience is purely psychological (e.g. H2: FMS), having its origin in culture (e.g. drawings of aliens). But they did not do any additional research (e.g. use triangulation – evidence from several sources – e.g. observation and experimentation). What they did was collect a disparate bunch of facts and built a theory around them. The so-called evidence they gathered was others’ research, not research they themselves had done. All they did was make an argument for their hypothesis to be correct.
Back to the lab
To be scientific, a research project must conform to the scientific method or an acceptable scientific methodology, which generally involves observation, experimentation, and/or theory building. Now, it is true that you can observe the phenomenon in two main ways, one of which is direct observation; that is, you can watch the phenomenon occurring right before your eyes (e.g. alien abduction). The other is indirect observation (e.g. the neighbours saw the victim taken by the aliens). Here’s an example: say you want to explore the political beliefs (which cannot be observed directly) of a single town, which you could do through an interview (e.g. ask the town’s folk directly), through a questionnaire (e.g. ask the town’s folk to answer several questions on a piece of paper, either by closed questions, as in tick a box, or open-ended questions, as in write freely on the question). Or, you could explore the voting habits of the town through examining election records.
Randle et al did not do any direct observations of alien abduction happening. They probably realized just how tricky that would be – right place, right time, kind of thing. And they didn’t observe alien abduction experiencers in a hypnotherapy session either. Neither did they do any experimentation. They didn’t even try to create a false memory moment in anyone. Or try to implant drawings of aliens in peoples’ brains and see if they soon experienced false memory syndrome. Someone else had researched false memory syndrome, all Randle et al did was match some of the symptoms of FMS in abductee testimonials. What they really did was theory building.
I have a theory, albeit untested
Theory building belongs to two main categories: well-substantiated theory and unsubstantiated theory. Well-substantiated theory is theory that is based on facts, laws, and tested hypotheses. Unsubstantiated theory is theory that has not been substantiated with facts, laws, and tested hypotheses. Basically, unsubstantiated theory is the opposite of well-substantiated theory. In other words, the former has facts the latter does not, or may contain some interesting facts that just happen to fit the theory. For example, the adage ‘all men are liars, Robert is a man, therefore he is a liar’. Put another way, all aliens are drawings, the Grays are aliens, therefore the Grays are a drawing. The vagaries of such a supposition become evident when the givens are scrutinized.
Randle et al’s a priori assumption was that aliens could not possibly be abducting humans. But instead of seeking to disprove their theory, falsify it through observation and experimentation, they ignored it. They probably thought, and quite rightly, that it was impossible to disprove or even prove, and searched for an Earthly answer to their predicament, and when they found it they went with it. But falsifying theory is paramount in scientific investigation. If you claim something is true, you must prove it, or find evidence to support it, which they did. Or argue for it to be accepted as true, which they also did. So they gathered a bunch of facts (e.g. drawings, FMS, sleep paralysis) that just happened to fit their theory. In other words, aliens couldn’t possibly be abducting humans because the humans claiming to have been abducted were, in fact, at the time, experiencing false memory syndrome and/or sleep paralysis. But they didn’t try to prove that alien abduction wasn’t happening, and that’s the rub.
The absence of evidence equals the absence of X
If alien abduction was happening, they argued, there would be physical evidence of it. They didn’t find any physical evidence, convincing evidence, at least, so they concluded alien abduction wasn’t happening. Absence of evidence, though, isn’t evidence of absence. It just means you have to look elsewhere for it, if you still think it exists. If you don’t, well then, you draw a final conclusion, as they did. Or you find evidence of something else happening and give that as your answer, which they did. They found evidence of false memory syndrome and sleep paralysis, so they concluded this must be the answer; the best possible explanation. But they still had failed to falsify their theory that alien abduction wasn’t happening.
They failed to find any physical evidence of alien abduction because they really didn’t look hard for it. Perhaps they really didn’t want to look for it, which means their research methodology was all wrong.
Experimentation, to complete our review of the scientific methods (that they should’ve used), is where a theory or things are brought together and tested and the response or reaction is observed (Dawkins, 2009, p. 66). Then repeated. For example, you want to conduct an experiment in which you want to observe what happens (e.g. false memory syndrome; alien abduction). They could have conducted experiments to observe false memory syndrome in action, but they didn’t. Should they have? What about sleep paralysis? They could have set up an experiment in which to observe sleep paralysis in action too, using two groups, one group a control group, but they didn’t. Again, should they have? These two experiments would be costly and time-consuming, to be sure, but they would have provided much-needed evidence, which their thesis doesn’t really have. There are other experiments they could’ve conducted too, but they didn’t. But what they certainly did not do was test the theory that alien abduction wasn’t happening. To truly know if aliens are abducting people, you would have to catch them in the act. Or arrest one and force a confession.
Randle et al did not really do any actual research to disprove alien abduction. They made a few claims about it, though. They claim, for instance, that all the elements of alien abduction can be found in culture (e.g. the elements of alien abduction are cultural artefacts – drawings of aliens), thus they ignored the events (e.g. actual abduction) and sought ‘evidence’ of another kind, in cultural artefacts rather than in real events. Drawings of aliens are a secondary source of ‘evidence’, if it can be loosely called that, one far removed from the actual alien abduction experience. The distance between aliens entering your bedroom at 3AM and forcibly removing you and a drawing of an alien is considerable. The link is spurious, at best.
Aliens are cultural artifacts – drawings
Secondary sources of knowledge or data are not primary sources of data generated by your own research but by the research of others. For instance, they argue that aliens can be found in culture – they can be found in newspapers, magazines, journals, in television and radio shows, present in photographs and drawings, as well as in documentaries and movies. But not in UFOs hovering silently over empty paddocks or peoples’ homes. Aliens then are something that are the result of someone’s creative imagination, somewhere, sometime, and everyone has seen what was created, whether they remember having seen it or not. Their argument is that even if you claim to have never seen an image of an alien drawn by someone on the other side of the world, you have seen it; you just don’t remember having seen it. There is a problem with this hypothesis, it negates the possibility the victims really did see aliens; real aliens, not drawings of aliens. This claim is significant because it is the same argument they use against alien abduction researchers and therapists, and that is hypocritical.
The problem with claiming that all aliens are cultural artefacts of human civilizations, ancient and recent, is that it is an unsubstantiated claim. It is a claim that cannot be substantiated; it is an unsubstantiated theory – it cannot be falsified, meaning you cannot prove (at present) if it’s false let alone true. It is one thing to claim, argue, that all aliens are drawings (cultural artefacts), but it is quite another to empirically demonstrate or substantiate that they are all cultural artefacts. What if aliens are real? There is substantial evidence to suggest they are, without even considering the UFO evidence. What the trio have done is take a few facts – human drawings and depictions of allegedly fictional aliens – and fitted them into their theory, but not gone out to prove (or disprove) that all aliens are the result of creative human imagination and therefore by extension cultural artefacts.
It is impossible to prove that all aliens are simply artists’ drawings, the result of someone’s imagination. Therefore, the claim that ‘all aliens are drawings’ and therefore by extension cultural artefacts, is purely argumentative and not an empirically substantiated fact. Furthermore, and this is the really prickly part, you would first need to prove that all drawings, illustrations, etchings, etc, of aliens are in fact the product of human imagination. The trio have taken a few samples (e.g. artist renditions and professional illustrations) and then generalized to the entire population of drawings of aliens to claim that all depictions of aliens are the result of human imagination. That’s not science; that schmoozing the data!
Only imaginative drawings become embedded in the unconscious?
Another of the trio’s suppositions is that all depictions of aliens (cultural artefacts) become embedded in the unconscious. Beginning with the unconscious, it is easy to claim that the unconscious is real, or at least argue that it is, when most people may believe that there is such a thing as the unconscious, but have no idea what it is and if it really exists. And herein lies the problem: does the unconscious really exist? The answer is that it is an unknown. We still haven’t figured out what consciousness really is, what causes it (besides electrochemical events in the brain), but it can be readily observed, albeit indirectly. You can’t see consciousness, like you can see a whale, but you can indirectly observe the products of consciousness (e.g. thoughts, cognition, etc). To ask if the unconscious exists is to ask if God exists; there’s simply no way to really know – some will make appeals to secondary data e.g. the Bible, their feelings of truth, etc. The idea of an unconscious is still a theory; it has not been empirically substantiated. It is the daughter of an earlier theory called dualism, in which reality is argued as being made up of binary opposites – heaven, earth; man, woman; girl, boy; god, devil; up, down; wrong, right; truth, lies; good, bad; mind, body; spirit, flesh; etc, etc. If there is a conscious, then, the argument goes, there is an unconscious.
How to demonstrate that all cultural artefacts, however, become embedded in the unconscious? This is an impossible task, or nearly impossible. We know much of it can become embedded in memory, but are these the same thing? Don’t know. So of course the trio have not done any research to substantiate whether or not all alien drawings (cultural artefacts) do in fact become embedded in the unconscious. There is simply no way to empirically demonstrate it. You could run a survey, I suppose, and ask a few thousand people whether they have seen certain alien depictions. But would it be valid? Would it possess validity? In other words, would it measure the thing you are exploring?
How do the trio know (for a fact) that people haven’t actually seen real aliens? The trio is arguing, as they have done with their supposition that all aliens are drawings, that it is the case, based on indirect evidence (e.g. the existence of drawings) not direct evidence of whether or not there are real aliens and that some of the drawings, at least, are depictions of real aliens. And that the drawings somehow end up in the unconscious. To argue that an abductee simply unconsciously decoupages a bunch of allegedly unconsciously embedded drawings – how we do that isn’t explained – as well as unconsciously bring them together with a bunch of procedural and encyclopaedic knowledge to unconsciously construct an abduction experience and then mistake the manifestations of these unconscious decoupages – the sporadic memory bytes, flashes and dreams of it – as evidence of a real experience is simply theorizing. The trio is theorizing. They are taking some cultural and cognitive phenomena and claiming it to be something that they themselves cannot empirically substantiate as alone being, unequivocally, the alien abduction experience.
Adamantly arguing that the facts correlate
So did the trio demonstrate or prove that the alien abduction experience is a completely unconscious phenomenon? They analysed a few cases of implanted memory and discussed the SRA cases and strongly argued that all abduction experience is a matter of false memory syndrome brought on by sleep paralysis. What they did was argue that drawings of aliens, having been seen or unseen, end up in the abductees’ unconscious and then somehow manifest as a memory of an actual event – the catalyst being sleep paralysis; sleep paralysis brings on the abduction experience. And by extension, they strongly implied that aliens could not possibly be abducting people. Once again, they did not prove that all drawings of aliens are the result of human imagination because they didn’t set out to demonstrate that, and they did not prove that all drawings of aliens do end up in peoples’ unconscious because they didn’t set out to demonstrate that either. They simply drew together these elements and argued that they are strong correlates.
If you cannot demonstrate that all alien drawings are the result of human imagination, and that all alien drawings end up in peoples’ unconscious, then you are only arguing for it to be the case. You are theorizing. A statistically significant sample of the population of alleged unconscious abduction experience is needed to be able to claim generalization. Because the population of alien abduction experiencers is not fully known, it is unobtainable. The fact that the trio did not look at the evidence of alien’s abducting people but evidence of something else, it means that their starting premise was that aliens do not really abduct people because they aren’t real. Therefore, it must be the result of human imagination. They did not see that by saying aliens cannot possibly abduct people because aliens are in fact drawings by imaginative people, is absurd. You cannot say aliens are real (which they strongly implied in the Introduction) and then say they are drawings. Again, that is contradictory.
If one looks for evidence of myth (alleged alien abduction) by beginning with myth (e.g. aliens are drawings by imaginative humans), then the conclusion can only substantiate myth (e.g. that alien abduction is imaginative). If one argues that alien drawings come to inhabit the unconscious and will manifest in dream states, then one will concluded that aliens alone are the result of confabulation. If the trio had have looked at the alien abduction experience by beginning with the reality of alien visitation, which, by the way, is easier to substantiate (Dolan & Zabel, 2010), then their conclusion would not have been that aliens are human drawings that come to inhabit the unconscious and result in an alien abduction experience. Their conclusion would have been different; it would have been inconclusive, and that it needs further investigation. Not all aliens are products of human imagination. UFOs are evidence of aliens and therefore, evidence, at least, of the possibility of abduction. UFOs in themselves are not, at this moment, strong evidence of alien abduction; however, I should say UFOs are evidence of alien visitation. The evidence for visiting aliens does not also preclude the possibility of abduction; it merely raises other questions deserving further enquiry. Why would they abduct people, is just one of them.
A proper investigation requires a proper starting place
If we are to properly investigate the alien abduction experience, we must first preclude the existence and presence of aliens on Earth. The empirical evidence against alien abduction must by extension automatically preclude the existence of aliens, because to claim that aliens couldn’t possibly abduct humans is patently absurd. It’s like saying that humans couldn’t possibly abduct cows, but they do. The whole idea of alien abduction seems absurd, but it doesn’t mean it can’t happen or hasn’t happened or isn’t happening. The absence of aliens will necessarily support the absence of alien abduction. The absence of aliens, however, cannot today be strongly supported. In fact, the evidence strongly favours the existence of aliens. The evidence of alien visitation is substantial, if Randle et al can be bothered to look at it. If the researchers cannot empirically nullify the evidence of alien visitation then it cannot empirically nullify the possibility of alien abduction, that some people are being abducted; experiencing alien abduction. The research hasn’t ended at all, it has only just begun.
The statement alien abduction is happening presupposes aliens exist, but not that abduction cannot happen. To begin an investigation of the truth of alien abduction by attempting to disprove the possibility of abduction is to begin the investigation in the wrong place.
The right place to begin an investigation of the truth of alien abduction is to begin with the possibility of aliens. If you can disprove the possibility of aliens (falsify the theory they exist), you will automatically disprove the possibility of alien abduction. For to imply that aliens are incapable of abducting humans, is to begin with a patently absurd argument.
The issue of alien abduction isn’t a matter of whether they can or cannot abduct people, it is a matter of why. Why would aliens want to abduct humans? The supposition that aliens are incapable of abducting humans is premised on the absurd notion that aliens are morally superior. If not, it strongly implies they don’t exist. They are morally superior, the argument goes, because they are technologically superior. It does not follow that technologically superior also means morally superior.
Do aliens exist? Yes. There is substantial evidence of their existence. Are they visiting Earth? Yes. There is substantial evidence of their visitations (cf The Disclosure Project; Dolan and Zabel). How are they accomplishing it? Unknown. So how do we know they are visiting Earth? We know they are visiting Earth because they have been seen, and some of the eyewitnesses have even made contact with them.
The evidence that aliens have been seen is partly found in the amassed accounts of UFO sightings (e.g. MUFON), and the eyewitness accounts of many highly credible witnesses who have not only seen their crafts but have also made contact with the pilots. The evidence is extraordinary and overwhelming. Dr Stephen Greer (2001) presents some highly credible witness testimonial in the Disclosure Project Press Conference. Bryce and Zabel (2012) discuss in A. D. After Disclosure what happens after the world hears from world leaders about extraterrestrial visitation. Further evidence can be learned through the Tim Coleman and James Fox (2002) documentary, Out of the Blue.
The evidence of aliens and their visitations to Earth and subsequent contact with many humans is substantial. So let’s move on to the possibility that some aliens are abducting people. The possibility that some people have engaged in confabulation, however, is also highly probable, if Randle et al’s (1999) research is any indication. But it is also undeniable that some people have really been abducted.
Abductee testimonials are extraordinary, and disturbing. However, while the abductions imply many things, they hardly confirm anything either. The evidence of abduction is odd, if not illusory. The fact that some abductees have a positive experience while others experience a nightmare is confounding. Some are abducted and given messages to take back to humanity, while others are abducted and experience bizarre medical examinations, whose purpose and aim is tantalizingly puzzling.
While it seems reasonable to be given a message to take back to humanity, the method of achieving it is highly peculiar. Why abduct someone just to give them a message to take back with them and not make the message positive and enlightening? This sounds oddly familiar. Most of the messages have been portentous, warning of impending disaster if humanity doesn’t modify its behaviour and attitude. The behaviour of some extraterrestrials doesn’t endear them to us, however; and, more importantly, doesn’t make them appear morally superior.
Abducting people to conduct bizarre medical experiments on them also doesn’t endear them to us. And that certainly doesn’t make them morally superior; makes them cold and callous and downright nasty. Such behaviour does not make us want to be friends with them, and portends possible future conflict. And that is definitely something we wouldn’t want to experience with a technologically superior, potentially sociopathic alien.
If they want to commune with us, as Whitely Strieber (1987) has learned, then why don’t they make mass contact and make their intentions clear? Unknown. Yet there is another possibility, observed and learned by other abductees, one that is bizarre and frightening in its import. I refer to Travis Walton’s experience, in particular. Why the contrasting experiences of abductees? Perhaps, as some have deduced, it’s because there are several alien species visiting Earth. And that further complicates the issue.
John Mack M.D. explains Why the Abduction Phenomenon Cannot Be Explained Psychiatrically:
Clancy, S. A. (2005). Abducted: How people come to believe they were kidnapped by aliens, United States: President and Fellows of Harvard College.
Coleman, T. and Fox, J (2002). Out of the Blue, documentary, Tim Coleman and James Fox: http://www.outofthebluethemovie.com/. Accessed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cYPCKIL7oVw&feature=my_liked_videos&list=LLpUqDkFUStgRXVIR3X2LGAA
Dawkins, R. (2009). The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution, London: Transworld Publishers.
Mack, J. E. (2004). John Mack: Experiencers, a documentary by Stephane Allix, 2004. Online: accessed http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fT3WwNUgKmE
Randle, K. D., Estes, R., and Cone, W. P. (1999). The Abduction Enigma: The truth about alien abductions of the late twentieth century, New York: Tom Doherty Associates.
Dolan, R. M., and Zabel, B. (2012). A. D. After Disclosure: When the Government Finally Reveals the Truth about Alien Contact, Pompton Plains, NJ: New Page Books, a division of The Career Press, Inc.
Strieber, W. (1987). Communion: Encounters with the Unknown, A True Story, London: Arrow Books Limited.