Date: Wed Jun 01 1994 00:00:32 Subj: Mack, Roswell UFO - Spacing out / Extraterrestrials a
Date: Wed Jun 01 1994 00:00:32
From: Sheppard Gordon
Subj: Mack, Roswell
Spacing out / Extraterrestrials and Me
THE SAN FRANCISCO CHRONICLE
Every generation has to make up its mind about Unidentified Flying Objects,
so I suppose I should get off the dime. I mark dates down on the calendar, but
something always comes up. The next thing I know the year has flown and the
49ers aren't in the Super Bowl again. Then it's time to start all over again.
One in seven Americans believes in UFOs, according to the latest Gallup
poll on the subject. The same poll said one in 10 has personally spoken to the
devil, but that need not detain us any more than does their strange claim to
have owned and driven Oldsmobiles.
How comforting to think there is a more advanced race hanging about in
flying saucers, wringing long four-fingered hands and wondering how they can
keep us from destroying ourselves. If that's their mission. They might have
other things up sleeves made of a strange metallic fabric, such as sexual
plunder and mind theft. My reading of the literature suggests there's no middle
The UFO thing comes and goes. It's sort of like how malaria sleeps in the
blood, waiting for something to awaken its fevers. There is a permanent UFO
secretariat headquartered in New Mexico that conducts meetings and collects
dues. Membership cards are issued and there is a singles club that sponsors an
annual hoedown where rosy-faced guys and gals bob for apples. I'm not talking
about this hard-core element.
I mean the sporadic interest shown by the wider public. The huge
success of "E.T." illustrates this, as does "Close Encounters of the
Third Kind." Both are among the biggest grossing movies of all time.
"Star Trek" (two generations so far and I'll bet a third is
gestating) is further evidence. When Scotty, crusty but lovable
engineering officer, and Lieutenant Uhuru, the Enterprise's
navigation officer, produce their First Generation memoirs later this
year, every member of the crew will have written a book. I've read
none of them and see no reason to start now.
Two books have been lately published about Ufology, one by a
Pulitzer Prize-winning Harvard psychiatrist named John E. Mack. A
thick book with all the trappings of serious scholarship,
"Abductions" consists of 13 case studies of people who claim they
were kidnaped by extraterrestrials. These had small bodies and big
heads with large dark eyes that peered into the minds of the
abductees, knocking down defenses and sweeping away pretense.
Many of the men abducted claimed semen samples were forcibly taken from them
as they lay on laboratory tables, while the women complained of medical
procedures apparently aimed at removing eggs or embryos. No money was taken,
Typically, the abductees Mack put on the couch reported they were
immobilized and transported to spacecraft. Snatched from bed and
moving car, they often saw themselves pass through solid walls. Some
said this had happened to them in childhood as well as again in
adulthood. Others said they believed they were themselves aliens in
human form, put here to check things out or to change human
consciousness. Some didn't like the extraterrestrials for the pain
and terror they were put through. Others, however, loved the little
creatures for their caring warmth.
Mack put these abductees through the standard battery of psychological tests
to detect mental illness, but found only one who was nuts in the clinical
Significantly, in the psychiatrist's eyes, most of his subjects at first
preferred that their experiences be chalked up to delusion rather than real
experience. That way they could at least still hold up their heads.
Mack said he saw no reason to disbelieve their accounts and every
reason to believe them. By use of the same hypnosis methods employed
by the recovered-memory crackpots, he helped the abductees become
comfortable with what had happened to them. "I have come to see that
the abduction phenomenon has important philosophical, spiritual and
social implications," he says in the book.
"Above all, more than any other research I have undertaken, this work has
led me to challenge the prevailing worldview or consensus reality which I had
grown up believing and had always applied in my clinical/scientific endeavors.
According to this view -- called variously the Western, Newtonian/Cartesian, or
materialist/dualist scientific paradigm -- reality is fundamentally grounded in
the material world or in what can be perceived by the physical senses." Mack's
colleagues at Harvard shake their heads and sigh. They speak off the record of
Mack's late-blooming interest in psychedelics and the writings of Carlos
Castaneda. Mack's wife of 34 years left him, usually a sign of trouble in a
The other book, "The Truth About the UFO Crash at Roswell" (soon
to be a Showtime movie) was produced by the Center for UFO Studies
itself. This is the mother church of the movement to wake the world
to its peril or opportunity, whichever it is. On July 4, 1947,
something fell to earth in the desert near Roswell, New Mexico,
scattering strange debris over a wide area. Several people who
handled it said it could not be burnt and the material returned to
its original shape after being bent. The federal government says it
was a weather balloon and, as is well known, it never lies.
However, the following people are among those who believe that it was a
space ship: the sheepherder who found it, several archeologists poking around
an Indian dig, several Roswell sheriff's deputies and firemen, several soldiers,
a rancher and a young boy, two campers, and a radio reporter. Other witnesses
said the bodies of four small-eyed aliens and one survivor were found in and
around the craft. The survivor was seen walking into an Army Air Corps hospital
and body bags were observed flown off somewhere in a heavily guarded airplane.
I can see why the government would lie, its natural inclinations aside. I
can't see why all those eyewitnesses would make up their stories, however. I'll
make up my mind by the halftime of the next Super Bowl. The 49ers will be
blowing out the New England Patriots 36 to 0. A little green man told me.
E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank