Date: Mon May 09 1994 01:28:00 To: All UFO - Close Encounters of the Comic-Book Kind Colum

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

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Mon May 09 1994 01:28:00 From: Sheppard Gordon To: All UFO ------------------------------- Close Encounters of the Comic-Book Kind Column: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 05/02/94 THE WASHINGTON POST Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack fails to specify exactly what it is about the alien abduction stories that convinces him of their validity. He touches on two possibilities: that his sample population appears to be a cross section with no obvious psychological disturbance, and that the stories share a consistent theme. In his last paragraph, he alludes to the argument that this is a higher spiritual something to weep about; I cannot respond to that. But his prototypical abduction story touched me - could I have repressed memories of an abduction? No, unlike his patients, I remember my first abductions story encounter. I was 8 years old, reading my uncle's copy of Incredible Science Fiction Comics in August 1955. It told of protoplasmic beings from somewhere else, who upon observing that man "chose, instead of peace, a path of violence" decide to kidnap a breeding pair "of the highest possible type." Since there were hundreds of such stories written and millions of copies published, it is not surprising that Dr. Mack has encountered lots of people with the same silly ideas rattling around their heads. It is surprising that no one appears to have noticed that the story lines belong to 1950s comic books. Now this doesn't preclude the occurence of actual abductions that just happen to resemble comic books, it simply offers an explanation. As for his cross-section argument, consider that dime novels written in New York and a commercial rodeo invented the Old West and cowboys, a culture and way of life that never existed. And now, 100 years later, we have country- and-western music recorded on digital audio and country line dancing enjoyed by millions of people who have never been on a horse. Most of them have strong feelings about the West and the way of life it represents, even though they are a random sample and exhibit no obvious psychological disturbances. What is damning to Dr. Mack's case is the description of the beings busy monitoring, performing specific tasks and carrying out mechanical functions. Don't these superior beings have microprocessors and embedded control systems? In the 1950s, comics and B-movies, (see the opening scenes of "Forbidden Planet") depicted the crew watching dials and twisting knobs as they fiddled the spaceship to the destination. Today, we have automated most of these jobs away. I would expect superior beings to have something better than Intel 486DX- 66s and OS/2 Rexx for their mission's critical applications, although that is difficult for me to imagine. CORY K. HAMASAKI Alexandria Close Encounters of the Comic-Book Kind Column: LETTERS TO THE EDITOR 05/02/94 THE WASHINGTON POST As a licensed and board-certified mental health counselor, I read with interest the beliefs of John Mack on UFO abductions. Dr. Mack, in describing the variability and mental health he observes in these individuals, overlooks the work in the literature describing "fantasy- prone" personalities: These people score normally on psychological tests and do not demonstrate pathology during interviews, but have imaginative and hypnotic abilities not found in the general population - i.e., they are highly suggestible and unable to distinguish normal recollection from confabulated or externally stimulated memories. Dr. Mack notes great consistency of detail in the stories of the abductees; this is hardly surprising given the exposure that the standard story has received in books, movies and articles such as Dr. Mack's. Indeed, it would be unlikely that many individuals would construct an experience that challenged the prevailing parameters. Dr. Mack's suggestion that there is something rigid and limiting about science as a tool for understanding how everything works, including ourselves, is disingenuous at best. I cannot imagine telling a patient suffering from horrific hallucinations that his reality is just as good as mine and perhaps just as accurate. There is in psychology a concept called "object constancy" - simply put, this means that while feelings can be individual and personal, reality is the same everywhere and can be measured. If your car doesn't start there is a comprehensible reason; the car is not depressed or having an emotional crisis. The memory of being abducted does not place space ships overhead. Evidently, these aliens are visiting us for biological and reproductive reasons. There is lots of penetration, by instruments and worse, presumably to (a) reconduct tissue sampling that they have done, we gather, on thousands of people before, and (b) impregnate our females so that hybrid creatures can be conceived and then kidnapped and taken back to the home planet. One can only be amazed that beings who can make trillion-mile trips through space evade our most sophisticated radar - and visit repeatedly without leaving the slightest credible physical trace of their existence and promote human amnesia and obedience at will - would have such primitive science that they could not reproduce our DNA on their own. It seems far more likely that we are in the midst of the last gasp of humanity's sense of its own importance. If we are not at the center of the universe or galaxy, or even the solar system, perhaps we are so special that everyone wants to come here; and perhaps, even more important, there would be good reason not to feel so alone. SEAN O'NEILL Annandale

---

E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank