Crash Landing Flying Saucer Statue from Design Toscano
The bizarre belief that powerful alien beings from distant planets have not only visited earth but forcibly kidnapped unwilling humans and conducted strange and intrusive experiments on them has been around since the 1960’s. Various polls over the years reveal that the majority of Americans believe there is life “out there” and super-intelligent beings may have visited us. A smaller but significant percentage claim to having been abducted by aliens or believe the claims of others.
1) Not one shred of hard scientific evidence has ever been produced by the numerous people who supposedly underwent such an intimate and profound “close encounter”. Where are the alien high-tech devices implanted in victim’s bodies? Why are the special messages the chosen ones have for humanity from these godlike beings always “live in peace” and never “here is the cure for cancer”? Or “here’s how to travel to our planet”?
2) Most people have a legitimate strong desire to believe in something greater than themselves. To find meaning in their often unsatisfying lives. The possibility of being singled out by some super-evolved intelligence, for any reason, brings some existential meaning, substance and wonder to futile lives mired in life’s besetting mundaneness. Also, in some cases, the knowledge of being selected as one of the chosen few elevates fragile and battered egos above the ordinary, insignificant lot assigned to most of human kind.
3) Dr. Susan A. Clancy spent 5 years interviewing hundreds of people who sincerely believed they had such an experience. In her book, Abducted: How People Came To Believe They Were Abducted By Aliens, she explains in most cases the thinking starts with unexplainable occurrences. Why did I have this “nightmare on steroids”? Why are there unfamiliar bruises on my body? Why are my pajamas on the floor? A visit to a sympathetic hypnotherapist often leads to discovery of repressed memories and an uncovering of the terrifying event hidden deep within the psyche. Many hypnotherapists specialize in unearthing alien abduction memories, which should have been wiped clean by the menacing aliens, but they missed some pertinent brain cells.
4) Dr. Clancy on these practitioners: “A wealth of solid research, conducted over four decades, has shown that hypnosis is a bad way to refresh your memories. Not only is it generally unhelpful when you’re trying to retrieve memories of actual events, but it renders you susceptible to creating false memories – memories of things that never happened, things that were suggested to you or that you merely imagined. If you or your therapist have pre-existing beliefs or expectations about what might come up, you’re liable to recall those experiences that fit with those beliefs, rather than events that actually happened. Worse, neither you nor your therapist will realize this, because the memories you do retrieve seem very, very real.”
5) Sleep paralysis along with hallucinations is the most common explanation for these experiences. A good summary of these night time occurrences is offered by skeptic and author Guy P. Harrison: “It happens when the natural transition between deep sleep and waking up is somehow derailed. The brain can still be in a sleep state with motor output from the brain blocked, as is normal during sleep so that body movement is restricted, but the person ‘wakes up’ and feels paralyzed. Add to this the possibility of a dream in progress, and one could be in for a very scary ride. In an awakened state, or something close to it, a dream might be impossible to separate from reality.”
6) Two accounts from people who have experienced numerous sleep paralysis episodes in their lives, and were soon able to rationally evaluate the incidences, shine a light on how misinterpretations and exaggerations can easily occur:
----- “It would be so terrifying if you didn’t know what was going on, and being conscious but being unable to move does make you feel like you’re being crushed somehow. You so badly want to open your eyes, but can’t. You try to imagine what’s going on in the room, and it would be pretty easy to think of something terrible, since this terrible thing is happening to you. My only concern is, How long will this last? I’m pretty good at calming myself and getting back to sleep, thankfully.”
----- “Usually I feel like someone is in the room with me or lying down next to me. Sometimes I can see a face and sometimes I can only see a shadow-type figure. I always feel like I’m conscious but can’t move or make any sounds. A lot of the time I’m trying to talk or yell but nothing comes out ….The experience is damn scary.”
7) The perception of aliens as beings with slender, puny bodies, big heads encasing equally big brains, and large, sinister eyes, have pervaded all media since the 1950”s. They are the standard, cultural symbols of space invaders permanently etched in the imaginations of anyone who has ever looked into a TV. It is no coincidence that experiences of sleep paralysis and false memories will inevitably bring up images already ingrained in minds since childhood.
8) An illogical leap is made by people who, despite no evidence, believe that these alien abductions are taking place due to the vastness of the universe and the billions of galaxies and planets. There must be life out there, therefore humans are being visited and abducted. These common errors in logical thinking are known as the Appeal to Probability, the Appeal to Wishful Thinking, the Unfalsifiability fallacy, and the Affirming the Consequent fallacy. http://www.informationisbeautiful.net/visualizations/rhetological-fallacies/
9) Many Christians and people who believe in an invisible, spirit world see obvious parallels between alien abduction and demonic possession. Some of the most common similarities are levitation, trances, rape and speaking for the entity. “Abductees” who dabble in the occult could be experiencing demonic activity, while the majority “encounters” are purely psychological. For a partial list of similarities see: http://www.danielrjennings.org/SimilaritiesBetweenUFOActivityAndDemonicActivity.html
Guy P. Harrison, 50 Popular Beliefs That People Think Are True, Prometheus Books, 2012 (Points 1– 8)
Photo: designtoscano.com CC