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Causal Correlations: Alien Abductions Under Fire

For the last half a century, one of the most shocking and compelling aspects of the UFO mystery has involved alleged reports of human abduction by nonhuman intelligences. Typical encounters of this variety (though stating such in this forum may constitute something of a redundancy) involve individuals being removed from their homes at night against their will, and taken to either remote locations or the presumed interiors of UFO craft.

Here, bizarre and crude medical examinations often occur; occasionally there are overtly sexual circumstances that transpire during the abduction, sometimes involving the presence of presumed “hybrid” children that are the result from the cross-breeding between humans and the alien visitors.

In spite of the body of information that exists pertaining to claims of alien abduction, there is still little evidence that could be used to scientifically verify such circumstances. Furthermore, there have recently been some rather damning critiques that have arisen in the field of UFO research that pertain to the ethics and scrutiny undertaken by researchers of this phenomenon (see Carol Rainey’s article in the new Paratopia magazine, which questions the methods of abduction researchers Dr. David Jacobs, Ph.D. and Budd Hopkins, Rainey’s ex husband, as well as researcher Jeremy Vaeni’s investigations of the Emma Woods case in UFO Magazine, Vol. 24, No. 1 #154). Things have certainly been cast under a hard light as of late, but should this compel us to  discontinue research into this phenomenon, or merely step back and reevaluate things more carefully?

Perhaps leaping to conclusions and supposing that none of the available evidence of human interaction with alien beings is trustworthy would do us as much disservice as blindly following the logic set forth by researchers such as Hopkins or Jacobs. After all, there is clearly consistency between people’s reports of the goings-on within the realm of proposed alien visitors. Even in the event that all such recollections were the result of psychological aberrations stemming from a widely recognized (and readily available) knowledge base, there would still be certain intrigue associated with trying to understand what has led to the ever-growing body of abductee lore… or if we’re brave enough to consider the alternative, perhaps the lack thereof.

But perhaps more importantly, in the name of understanding this phenomenon–whatever its cause–we would do well to consider whether there could be scientific correlations made with other circumstances that might shed light on the greater mystery, by virtue of their associations. For instance, in a study among those claiming to have been abducted by strange, non-human beings, it would be interesting to see how many also had experiences that also involved any of the following:

  • Bouts with sleep paralysis
  • Past experiences involving electrical accidents
  • Issues with electrical or electromagnetic hypersensitivity
  • Problems stemming from the suffering of multiple allergies
  • A history involving extreme shock or physical trauma
  • A history involving sexual abuse, particularly at an early age
  • A history involving the use of psychedelic substances
  • Past experiences involving extreme stress or captive/hostage situations



No doubt, similar studies to what I propose above have already occurred (in fact, I can think of at least a few examples right off the top of my head). These illustrate only a few areas of interest in the background of potential abductees, as they all may have at least some indirect relation either to potentially inducing altered states of consciousness, or perhaps providing natural triggers for dissociative psychological states. If a study completed among a number of abductees did happen to show correlations between claims of alien abduction and any one (or even several) of these circumstances, it still may not indicate any underlying relationship between the two (in order to truly be scientific about this sort of thing, we must be careful about jumping to conclusions about causal aspects in perceived correlations). Still, could the presence of any noticeable trends along these lines point us in the right direction toward coming to new understandings about the nature of the alien abduction experience? With so much of the abduction lore presently under fire, I think it may very well be time to revise our theories a bit; and hence, it might not hurt to consider other angles for studying this phenomenon.

I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts on this… or if you believe you have suffered a circumstance similar to reported claims of abductees, I’d love to hear your perspectives on the matter. Feel free to use the comments section below, or simply drop me an email by clicking here.

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  • Hey Micah,

    Jacobs behavior and his overall derailment while researching Emma Woods is indefensible, and from reading Rainey’s excellent article, Hopkins let his agenda become the driving force in his research. They need to be called out, again and again, and people need to continue discussing this. This is HUGE. But from the beginning, I’ve never seen this as anything to do with negating the reality of UFOs, or framing alien abductions as nonsense. Obviously, the research methods into these things need to be reworked. That includes the power imbalance between researcher and witness.

    This is all a good thing, in a way, because these awful deeds by Jacobs and Hopkins, and other researchers who’ve allowed their personal egos and agendas get in the way, are in the open. But all the while, things are still happening: UFOs are still in the skies, people are still reporting “abductions” and we need to figure this out. I wonder at those within the UFO world who are so defensive at critics of Jacobs and Hopkins. What is the fear, and what is the reasoning behind protecting them?

    I don’t know what the answers are concerning research, except to say, a much broader, holistic approach needs to happen. Philip Imbragno, I hear, is working on the idea of dreams and astral planes and UFOs. I think there’s a lot there. A LOT. I say this from personal experience. And this is NOT to imply — at all — that UFOs/alien abductions are “nothing more than dreams.”

    Another reason to keep at it in regards to Jacobs is the big shrugging off response Temple and academia in general has given regarding his treatment of Emma Woods. Ignoring what he did and said, because all they see is a huge blinking neon sign that reads “UFOS __ KOOK VILLE!” and they can’t get past that. Too embarrassing for them.

  • Micah Hanks

    Indeed Regan, new revelations of this sort don’t have solely to do with trying to deconstruct UFOs (at least with the intention of disproving them). I would still argue that a bit of healthy deconstruction might be useful right now, however, in an effort to come to terms with many of the inconsistencies that remain in our knowledge base.

    Strange though it may sound, even Hopkins and Jacobs, though not entirely defensible, could be sympathized with to some degree. This is because I think every researcher, at some point in their career, can fall victim to the sorts of things these men did. It is natural for one, as they begin to form their own unique opinions on a subject, to begin looking more and more for information that justifies their emerging beliefs. However, it is at this point that the spiritual and intellectual enema becomes a necessity: it’s taken me years to get to a point to where, rather than accepting facts that seem logical and capable of presenting the soundest body of evidence, I instead compare and cross-examine to the best of my ability from as many perspectives as I can, with hope of scrutinizing the evidence until the truth–or at least remnants thereof–become apparent.

    I realized long ago that Hopkins plays one of the most pivotal roles in the modern perception of alien abduction for two reasons: 1) Intruders was one of two books (along with Strieber’s Communion that appeared during the 1980s, a time which might be considered the abduction phenomenon’s “golden years.” 2) Hopkins was, as readers of Communion well know, the researcher that was instrumental in bringing about Strieber’s own recollections of what he perceived as contact with an alien (though perhaps not extraterrestrial) presence. Because of these circumstances, in addition to patterns and evidence I’ve gathered for years now which, much like you note about Phillip Imbrogno’s research, links abduction phenomenon with altered states and dreamlike circumstances (I discussed these a bit in Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule), I’ve felt that it is possible that Hopkins could be credited not only with collecting the greatest body of evidence pertaining to alien abduction in the modern era, but perhaps even inadvertently creating some of it.

    Carol Rainey’s article lends further fuel to this fire; but if anything, Hopkins might be likened to being a victim–or perhaps a willing participant–to something that was growing and evolving before his eyes. He is guilty, also, of trying to make it something it was not, rather than seeing where that natural evolution might grow… with or without him. Now, it’s safe to say that alien abduction research will no longer be solely Hopkins’ baby. Perhaps change is good, though.

  • Micah Hanks

    Indeed Regan, new revelations of this sort don’t have solely to do with trying to deconstruct UFOs (at least with the intention of disproving them). I would still argue that a bit of healthy deconstruction might be useful right now, however, in an effort to come to terms with many of the inconsistencies that remain in our knowledge base.

    Strange though it may sound, even Hopkins and Jacobs, though not entirely defensible, could be sympathized with to some degree. This is because I think every researcher, at some point in their career, can fall victim to the sorts of things these men did. It is natural for one, as they begin to form their own unique opinions on a subject, to begin looking more and more for information that justifies their emerging beliefs. However, it is at this point that the spiritual and intellectual enema becomes a necessity: it’s taken me years to get to a point to where, rather than accepting facts that seem logical and capable of presenting the soundest body of evidence, I instead compare and cross-examine to the best of my ability from as many perspectives as I can, with hope of scrutinizing the evidence until the truth–or at least remnants thereof–become apparent.

    I realized long ago that Hopkins plays one of the most pivotal roles in the modern perception of alien abduction for two reasons: 1) Intruders was one of two books (along with Strieber’s Communion that appeared during the 1980s, a time which might be considered the abduction phenomenon’s “golden years.” 2) Hopkins was, as readers of Communion well know, the researcher that was instrumental in bringing about Strieber’s own recollections of what he perceived as contact with an alien (though perhaps not extraterrestrial) presence. Because of these circumstances, in addition to patterns and evidence I’ve gathered for years now which, much like you note about Phillip Imbrogno’s research, links abduction phenomenon with altered states and dreamlike circumstances (I discussed these a bit in Magic, Mysticism and the Molecule), I’ve felt that it is possible that Hopkins could be credited not only with collecting the greatest body of evidence pertaining to alien abduction in the modern era, but perhaps even inadvertently creating some of it.

    Carol Rainey’s article lends further fuel to this fire; but if anything, Hopkins might be likened to being a victim–or perhaps a willing participant–to something that was growing and evolving before his eyes. He is guilty, also, of trying to make it something it was not, rather than seeing where that natural evolution might grow… with or without him. Now, it’s safe to say that alien abduction research will no longer be solely Hopkins’ baby. Perhaps change is good, though.

  • Red Pill Junkie

    There are researchers, and there are therapists.

    A researcher’s goal is to study and analyze a particular phenomenon. To make observations and conduct experiments.

    A therapist’s goal is —first and foremost— the treatment of a patient. To propose a carefully selected methodology in order to facilitate the healing of the people under his care.

    There are researchers, and there are therapistis. Can a person be both?

    I ask this because far too many folks that stumble upon the books of these abduction investigators have gone knocking on their door. They do it because they are afraid, and seeking help (although of course, they may be a few other who might just seeking a bit of attention).

    And both these gentlemen have opened their doors to those traumatized people, and like it or not they turn into something of a counselor for them. They encourage the abductees to join group sessions; to hear other persons tell similar stories; to make them feel they are not alone. This might have an impact on the way the abductee relates and interprets his personal experiences.

    But on top of that, these investigators have been liberally using hypnosis regression to “recover” hidden episodes of the abductee’s life. Now, these researchers are not qualified psychologists or psychiatrists; they may not be prescribing psychotropic drugs to the people under their care, but to think hypnosis cannot be as potentially damaging to a person’s psyche as chemical drug is IMHO too reckless.

    Add to that Jacob’s admission that he implanted a subconscious idea into the mind of “Emma Woods”. Now I personally don’t care the circumstance in which he felt compelled to resort to such a measure —circumstances he led himself into, BTW— and I also don’t care if the information planted could have been something as trivial or benign as the recipe for chocolate cookies. What gives *anyone* the right to implant ANYTHING into the mind of another human being?

    Now, there’s much more to the story that has been offered or recognized by both parties; this is unfortunately not a crystal-clear case of who-did-what and who-said-what. There are people involved whose motives I question. And on top of that the timing for this conflict is sadly coinciding with Mr. Hopkins’ personal battle with a terminal illness —for which I wish to him a speedy recovery.

    Nevertheless, I do feel that people should take a close and fair look at this case; if not to resolve the quarrels between the emergent factions inside the UFOogy field, at least to ensure that the next generation of researchers that will come forward and replace Hopkins and Jacobs, will not repeat their mistakes.

    To me, the UFO enigma is a fascinating intellectual exercise. It challenges me and encourages me to expand my academic, philosophic, and even spiritual horizons.

    But, to other people, this is more than an enigmatic hobby. They cannot just walk away from it if they get tired or fed up with it. They have to live with this mystery 24/7 —they have to live with THEMSELVES 24/7.

    It is my personal feeling, that we owe it to them to try to make things right.

  • HjtoddNB

    Great analysis and questions! The breadth of alien abduction experiences, are not solely limited to “night time” abductions from one’s bedroom. There are plenty of other compelling circumstances that are described by abductees. The “missing time” phenomena is widely known where an individual is driving on a road, sees a strange light, and then realizes they are 20 km away and missing an hour of time. While I suppose your list of possible alternative theories may apply, the logic breaks down when this occurence happens to multiple passengers.
    I recently heard an interview with Barney and Betty Hill’s neice. Putting aside questions of the legitimacy of their claim, at the time they described their “experience” the abduction”meme” was not part of mass consciousness at that period of time. Perhaps their story was the template from which all other stories were inspired? Who knows. In all, I find the topic fascinating and have a sick yearning for the abduction story to be “true”. Thanks for MU for presenting these topics in such a way that balances brevity with hilarity. In the words of our favorite fictional investigator “The truth is out there…”

  • Wake Up!

    Anything gained from hypnotherapy sessions regarding alien abductions needs to be thrown out. All the books, videos, lectures any research of any kind that bases its core theories on hypnosis is faulty. Think of the years and years of information that now needs to be discarded – the only way to really understand what is going or to get closer to the truth is to reject all this stuff. I am going to pay special attention to the folks who can’t let it go or continue to recycle this misinformation because they will be exposed as either hoaxers or idiots. It surely is an interesting time.

  • Carol Rainey

    Regan,
    Your very concise and focused response is exactly what I’d hoped for in writing the article for Paratopia. It’s not about discontinuing research into this very strange phenomenon of human experience. My point–as I’m so happy that you and others see–is that when a knowledge base is built on the shifting sands of ego and faulty methods, we have nothing we can know for sure. And some people are going to be harmed in the process. It’s time to step back and reconsider how to move forward.

    Carol Rainey
    http://www.carolrainey.com

  • Rick MG

    “UFO Abductions”? Sorry Micah, but leave UFOs out of this. Alien abductions are not synonymous with UFOs.

    I also think you’re throwing the baby out with the bathwater. There’s plenty of solid, objective abduction & encounter research — John Mack and Jacques Vallee being the shining lights. It’s also important to differentiate between “alien abductions” and “alien encounters” — the two are very different fish in the fortean sea.

    I agree though that exposing the shoddy & dubious research of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs is a progressive step forward in abduction & encounter research; just don’t be too quick to dismiss a global, and ancient, phenomena based on the actions of two men.

    And certainly don’t take UFOs down with them. That’s like killing a whale to catch a fish. 😉

  • Rick MG

    Hrmm, my reply comes across very pointed, I didn’t mean it to be.

    All I want to say is the Hopkins controversy isn’t doom & gloom for UFO studies. UFOs stand on their own as a genuine phenomena, with or without fourth kind cases. Taking Hopkins & Jacobs out of the equation still leaves us with a very genuine UFO phenomenon, and this is a good thing for UFO research (not that many reputable UFO researchers ever took Hopkins & Jacobs seriously, anyway!).

    It may also mean no more anal probe jokes.

  • TheDude

    When did hypnosis get disproved?

  • TheDude

    One would think that researchers and therapists use different hemispheres of the brain while analyzing data. A researcher would hypothetically see things more logically while a therapist would seemingly think of things in a more emotional aspect and be more empathetic in order to put themselves in the perspective of the subject to try and understand.

  • TheDude

    Sank the boat to kill the captain?

  • judgy1

    Interesting theory. Where is the love, though? Changing my kids’ diapers (even in the middle of the night) involved many cuddles before and certainly after baby was all cleaned up. Also, there was quite a bit of talking and playing with/distracting baby… are you supposing that all those purporting to have been abducted by aliens had cold, unfeeling parents who changed their children’s diapers in such a way that it left a scar on their subconscious as deep as a trauma would?