Date: Tue Apr 26 1994 19:34:00 To: All Subj: Mack Makes Weak Case UFO - `ABDUCTION' MAKES

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Date: Tue Apr 26 1994 19:34:00 From: Sheppard Gordon To: All Subj: Mack Makes Weak Case UFO ------------------------------- `ABDUCTION' MAKES WEAK UFO CASE 04/17/94 PORTLAND OREGONIAN ABDUCTION Dr. John E. Mack (Scribner's, $22; 426 pages) Let me say up front that I really want to believe. I read every account of UFO sightings I can. As a child growing up in New Jersey, I spent Saturdays in the third row of the State Theater, jawing jujubes while watching "The Angry Red Planet," "Forbidden Planet" and "Them!" Eighteen years ago, my wife and I made a pact: we would never tease one another about seeing a flying saucer. After all, people who see UFOs might just as well walk around with a sign on their backs proclaiming "Crackpot." It would help if your spouse at least believed you. So I really, really want to believe. But despite his credentials, and the scholarly approach of "Abduction," I still don't believe Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack's 13 tales of alien intervention. Mack, who won the Pulitzer Prize in 1977 for "A Prince of Our Disorder," a biography of T.E. Lawrence, has investigated more than 75 cases of alleged alien abduction. He offers the stories of 13 people who clearly believe they have been visited by extraterrestrials. Mack also seems to believe. The language throughout "Abduction" gives the subjects the benefit of the doubt, referring to them as "experiencers" and noting matter-of-factly that "children have experienced being taken from school yards," and "abduction encounters begin most commonly in homes or when abductees are driving automobiles. One woman was taken from a snowmobile on a winter's day." Unfortunately, he offers no proof. Mack says we shouldn't get hung up on physical evidence or even eyewitness corroboration of other-worldly abductions. The abduction phenomenon, he says, might take place on another level of consciousness. That's why it might seem like a dream, or not be recalled at all without hypnosis. So how does Mack determine if someone is pulling his leg? "My criterion for including or crediting an observation by an abductee is simply whether what has been reported was felt to be real by the experiencer and was communicated sincerely and authentically to me," he reports in his typically stilted academese. Unfortunately, on those grounds, I'd have to also believe in the Loch Ness monster, which, given recent revelations of a faked photograph of Lessie, is inviting the crackpot designation. Mack understands my need for a picture, a fingerprint (tentacle print?) . . . something. "I do not expect that the material presented in this book will have much impact on the minds of those who believe that the laws of physics as encompassed by the Newtonian/Einsteinian system are the full definition of reality," he writes. "I hope, however, that the data contained here is of sufficient power and solidity to enable those who are open to expanding their view of possible realities to consider that the world might contain forces and intelligences of which we have hardly allowed ourselves to dream." Trouble is, doc, I dream about those intelligences all the time. I keep a candle in the window, just in case E.T. wants to visit. I'm about as open-minded on this subject as you can be. But 13 interviews, earnest as they may be, are not enough to make me a believer. And if you haven't sold me, I don't think you're going to sell many others.


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