PARANET EDITORIAL: THE SNOBS AMONG US by Jim Speiser As I have stated before on many occas

---
Master Index Current Directory Index Go to SkepticTank Go to Human Rights activist Keith Henson Go to Scientology cult

Skeptic Tank!

PARANET EDITORIAL: THE SNOBS AMONG US by Jim Speiser As I have stated before on many occasions, the idea that abduction experiences represent objectively real encounters with extraterrestrials represents an hypothesis, one that must be evaluated and weighed against other hypotheses or alternative "explanations." In terms of true scientif- ic objectivity, no one hypothesis has any more weight than any other un- less it can be shown to be more consistent with our knowledge and with all the pertinent facts. A psychological explanation is no more valid than any other simply by virtue of having been proposed by a more mainstream psych- ologist; it must prove itself on the weight of the evidence. Occam's ra- zor, however, dictates that more mundane, less extravagant explanations must be evaluated and discarded before we can fully accept the more outre' scenarios into the hallowed halls of "knowledge." You have to start some- where. Abduction specialists such as Budd Hopkins have long paid much lip- service to their efforts to investigate the more subjective explanations such as delusion or fantasy, and so I am curious as to how he and they will react to the article in the Winter 1987/88 edition of the Skeptical Inquirer, entitled "The Aliens Among Us: Hypnotic Regression Revisited," by University of Kentucky psychologist Robert A. Baker. While the article is flawed in many respects, it compensates by offering the hypothesis outlined in the following extract: << If these abductees were given...intensive diagnostic testing it is highly likely that many similarities would emerge--particularly an unusual personality pattern that Wilson and Barber (1983) have categorized as "fantasy-prone." In an important but much neglected article, they report in some detail their discovery of a group of excellent hypnotic subjects with unusual fantasy abilities. In their words: Although this study provided a broader understanding of the kind of life experiences that may underlie the ability to be an ex- cellent hypnotic subject, it has also led to a serendipitous finding that has wide implications for all of psychology -- it has shown that there exists a small group of individuals (pos- sibly 4% of the population) who fantasize a large part of the time, who typically "see," "hear," "smell," and "touch" and fully experience what they fantasize; and who can be labeled fantasy-prone personalities. << Wilson and Barber also stress that such individuals experience a reduction in orientation to time, place, and person that is charac- teristic of hypnosis or trance during their daily lives whenever they are deeply involved in a fantasy. They also have experiences during their daily ongoing lives that resemble the classical hypno- tic phenomena. In other words, the behavior we would normally call "hypnotic" is exhibited by these fantasy-prone types (FPs) all the time. In Wilson and Barber's words: "When we give them 'hypnotic suggestions,' such as for visual and auditory hallucinations, nega- tive hallucinations, age regression, limb rigidity, anesthesia, and sensory hallucinations, we are asking them to do for us the kind of thing they can do independently of us in their daily lives." << The reason we do not run into these types more often is that they have learned long ago to be highly secretive and private about their fantasy lives. Whenever the FPs do encounter a hypnosis situa- tion it provides them with a social situation in which they are en- couraged to do, and are rewarded for doing, what they usually do on- ly in secrecy and in private. Wilson and Barber also emphasize that regression and the reliving of previous experiences is something that virtually all the FPs do naturally in their daily lives. When they recall the past, they relive it to a surprisingly vivid extent, and they all have vivid memories of their experiences extending back to their early years. >> While there are many aspects of the abduction syndrome left unex- plained by this scenario, it appears to be a description of a personality type that is consistent with some of the more famous "abductees," such as Whitley Streiber. While researching his two books, Budd Hopkins retained the expertise of psychologist Aphrodite Clamar, who administered psycho- logical evaluation tests to nine abduction percipients, all of whom proved to be normal, sane individuals. The point Baker makes, however, is that these FPs ARE ALSO SANE, and would no doubt pass such a test. He further claims that there are more stringent tests designed to weed out such FPs, and I maintain that, in the interest of true scientific objectivity, it is incumbent upon researchers such as Hopkins to arrange to have such a test administered to another group of abduction claimants. We have been provid- ed with an earthly alternative; we owe it to the public, to the skeptics, to other researchers, and to the claimants themselves (who Hopkins claims are actually quite fearful of the ETH) to investigate fully this new pos- sibility. There is another, admittedly more selfish and spiteful reason to objectively evaluate the "FPH." Baker, typical of many CSICOP "hit-men," has succumbed to snobbery and unabashedly claims the intellectual high ground in his article. He was doing just fine until his "Consequences and Summary" section. Some quotes typify his attitude: "Need we be concerned about an invasion of little gray kidnappers? Amused, yes. Concerned, no." "Should we take Streiber, Hopkins, Kinder, et al. seriously? Not really." "Tolerance IS the mark of a civilized mind." Well, BLESS you, Prof. Baker. You seem to forget, however, that YOUR hypothesis has not been tested, either, and consequently you have as yet no legitimate claim to being "right." And as I stated before, your article is flawed. It doesn't take into account the physical evidence, such as scarring, landing traces, and "exoglyphic exemplars." It relies heavily on generalizations and quoting of previous studies which only tangentially impact the abduction scenario. And it weakly waves off the marked similarities between abduction ac- counts. If testing of the FPH should provide a clear indication that a psych- ological explanation is warranted, I fully expect abduction researchers to acknowledge that their hypothesizing of alien intervention stands on weak- ened legs. If, however, the results of such testing show no such correla- tion, I would appreciate it if Prof. Baker and other debunkers would propose solutions in a more detached, even-handed, level-headed manner more becoming of the TRULY civilized. Failing this, I would appreciate it if they would kindly shutup.

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank