Date: Wed Jun 01 1994 00:00:30 To: All Subj: Mack Unconvincing UFO - SUNDAY MATTERS: Littl

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

Skeptic Tank!

Date: Wed Jun 01 1994 00:00:30 From: Sheppard Gordon To: All Subj: Mack Unconvincing UFO ------------------------------- SUNDAY MATTERS: Little grey men with big dark eyes A Harvard professor's book on aliens fails to convince Jerome Burne 05/29/94 THE SUNDAY TELEGRAPH London "I HAD Sex With An Alien", "Aliens Stole My Baby" - the tabloid headlines kept up their sensational screeching inside my head. It was uncanny. I had started reading Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens (Simon & Schuster, #16.99) with the firm intention of keeping an open mind - after all, the author was Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and a Pulitzer Prize winner - but it was as if some outside force was controlling me. Aliens, little green men . . . this is the stuff of cartoons and Woody Allen movies. So if Professor John Mack, prize-winning biographer of T. E. Lawrence and a prominent member of the Boston Psycho-analytical Society, has written a book claiming that stories of meetings with aliens were not delusions but real experiences, then he must have found some new and substantial evidence. His material is certainly sensational. "A huge inter-species breeding program has invaded our physical reality," he declares "and is affecting the lives of millions of people." And not just in America. After a recent five-minute slot on British breakfast television , Mack claims 700 people rang in with abductee stories. His evidence comes from cases such as that of Ed, a virgin teenager who was sitting in a car with his mate chatting about girls when it happened. Suddenly he is in a pod with a "female entity" with a triangular-shaped head and large dark eyes who could, he later revealed to Mack under hypnosis, "see right into me", and so they had sex." Another abductee, Catherine, described under hypnosis how she was taken up a ramp by five glowing creatures into a space ship where a foot-long metal instrument was inserted into her nostril until she could feel something breaking inside her head. There is, says Mack, a remarkable consistency to the stories, which is one of the factors that has led him to believe them. Again and again abductees report being taken by small grey beings with huge dark eyes to some sort of space craft where they are probed in a battery of tests that appear to relate to sexual and reproductive experiments. Mack doesn't regard these stories as testosterone-charged sexual fantasies, but accounts of real events with monumental implications for the nature of science and the survival of the planet. Well, sort of. Because although he believes these people, the location of these adventures doesn't always play by the rules of our space-time continuum. Catherine, for instance, wasn't wearing her contact lenses when she was abducted, but all the details of her ordeal were pin-sharp. Then there is the lack of any physical evidence. Despite the fact that these aliens apparently have an obsession with sticking instruments and probes into orifices, and despite the fact that hundreds of thousands of Americans have supposedly been abducted, no non-terrestrial objects have ever been found in any of them. Appropriately for a book that earned a $250,000 advance, Abduction comes garlanded with extensive American media coverage. But, unsurprisingly, the tone has been sceptical. Time quotes a writer, Donna Bassett, who, concerned that Mack was "strip-mining" the stories of emotionally distraught people, read up on UFO literature and went to him posing as an abductee. She concocted an elaborate story of other-worldly encounters, including a childhood alien friend called Jane and a meeting with John F. Kennedy and Nikita Khrushchev on board a space ship during the Cuban missile crisis - a revelation that made Mack so excited he fell over. Bassett claims that Mack provided her with UFO literature to read before the sessions, asked her leading questions while she was hypnotised and "made it obvious what he wanted to hear". This is particularly damaging to Mack because therapists are currently being challenged in the courts for implanting false memories of early sexual abuse and many believe that therapists who use hypnosis to uncover multiple personalities may actually be creating them. But Mack is insistent that none of this explains the adventures of the abductees. "Look, I have been in psychiatry for 40 years. Believe me, I tried all the conventional explanations and they just don't explain what is happening. I wish they did. In the case of Bassett, other abductees wrote to Time to point out that she was a very troubled woman who had been a genuine abductee." Professor Mack is obviously an intelligent and sincere man. But his cases do not come anywhere near providing proof. As science writer Dr Carl Sagan has said: "Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence" and this isn't it.


E-Mail Fredric L. Rice / The Skeptic Tank