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UFOs & Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge Hardcover – September 7, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Is the truth out there? If so, where should we look? In this accessible academic collection, longtime UFO researcher Jacobs (The Threat), a professor of history at Temple University, assembles nine writers and scholars from several disciplines to report on the state of the UFO field. Most of the contributors seek either to bolster reports of alien landings or to establish ufology as a serious scholarly topic. Psychologist Stuart Apelle, who edits the Journal of UFO Studies, sums up previous academic studies of UFOs, then calls for moreAa call echoed by (among others) prolific UFO writer Budd Hopkins (Missing Time). McGill University psychologist Don Donderi argues that the scientific method is ill equipped to digest UFOsAlawyers, using legal standards of evidence, would handle them better, he believes, and "military intelligence analysts... have probably already drawn the proper conclusions." Michael Swords (a former Journal editor) shows how 1950s and '60s Pentagon brass deliberately fostered public skepticism. Folklorist Thomas Bullard's superb, lengthy essay concentrates not on whether there are aliens, but on what humans believe about them: contemporary "extraterrestrials," premodern European faeries and Seneca (Indian) visionary experiences are more alike than we might think. Ontario neuroscientist Michael Persinger suggests one possible reason why: certain electrical misfires in the brain, his lab's research suggests, can create strong impressions of "humanoid" visitors. Persinger's careful essay will fascinate not just the UFO-curious, but anyone with an interest in brain, mind, memory and belief. Despite its measured tone and many footnotes, the rest of the volume, however, seems largely aimed at readers who want to believe. (Sept.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From Kirkus Reviews
The anxieties of an academic outgroup form the subtext of this collection of 11 essays by UFO and abduction researchers from both inside and outside he academy.Editor Jacobs (The Treat, 1998, etc.) and his colleagues want the scientific and intellectual establishment to take reports of unidentified flying objects and tales of earthlings kidnapped by extraterrestrials seriously, but the evidence on display here is far from compelling. The contributors include three psychologists, a psychiatrist, a sociologist, a folklorist, a natural scientist, and two full-time UFOlogists. Their papers examine the reception of UFOlogy in the academy and the excursions of established academics into UFOlogy; evidentiary paradigms in science, law, and military intelligence; the development of the responses to the saucer sightings of the early Cold War years; the place of UFOs in modern mythology and popular culture; the abduction phenomenon; and directions for future research. Jacobs believes that thousands of people have been abducted by space aliens as part of a sinister breeding experiment, and provides a history of the abduction controversy. Other contributors believe in the benign intentions of the abductors, and defend them the against sinister charges. Over the years, many people have reported seeing strange objects in the sky. Some of these reports are puzzling, and their significance is certainly worthy of discussion. But surely the abduction phenomenon, like the recent rash of cases of Satanic ritual abuse, belongs more to the study of the origin and diffusion of mass delusions than it does to the physics of space travel or the possible biologies of alien races. For all its earnestness and its academic trappings, this study will persuade few who are not already believers. -- Copyright © 2000 Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.
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The essays are as follows:
1. Ufology and Academia: The UFO Phenomenon as a Scholarly Discipline, by Stuart Appelle, Professor of Psychology at the State University of NY - who analyses why the subject is neglected by academia, how this might be rectified, which academic disciplines might be appropriate to study it, and why
2. Limited Access: Six Natural Scientists and the UFO Phenomenon, by Ron Westrum, Professor of Sociology and Interdisciplinary Technology at Eastern Michigan University - who details the works of Donald Menzel, Carl Sagan, James McDonald, J. Allen Hynek, Jacques Vallee and Edward Condon - a mix of free-thinking researchers and (possibly officially-sanctioned and supported) debunkers - and analyses their methodologies, their engagement with the issue and their legacies
3. Science, Law and War: Alternative Frameworks for the UFO Evidence, by Don Donderi, Professor of Psychology at McGill University, Montreal - argues that of all professional disciplines, science is the least appropriate to studying the phenomenon and that military intelligence, due to its methodologies and modus operandi, the most appropriate
4. UFOs, the Military and the Early Cold War Era, by Michael D. Swords, Professor of Natural Science at Western Michigan University - in which the author analyses the military's response to the phenomenon in modern times and how this is governed by national security issues
5. The Extraterrestrial Hypothesis in the Early UFO Age, by Jerome Clark - in which the author examines how unpopular was the ETH in the early years of the modern phenomenon after WW2 and how a possible Soviet origin seemed more plausible at the time
6. UFOs: Lost in the Myths, by Thomas Bullard - the author is a folklore specialist and here condenses his thesis about the gray aliens being the latest manifestation of a recurrent societal myth throughout human history (important to stress he sees the core phenomenon as real, not imaginary)
7. The UFO Abduction Controversy in the USA, by the editor, Professor David Jacobs - paraphrasing the title of his 1975 doctoral thesis "The UFO Controversy in America", the author argues convincingly that the abduction of humans and a hybridization-breeding program is the main reason why UFOs are so ubiquitous in our skies. Despite the seeming improbability of such a claim to those unfamiliar with the data, the author produces plenty of evidence in support of his contention
8. Hypnosis and the Investigation of UFO Abduction Accounts, by Budd Hopkins - in which the author, one of the best investigators in the field and a first-class writer to boot - very effectively demolishes brick-by-brick the unfounded criticisms of regressive hypnosis as a tool to aid memory recovery
9. How the Alien Abduction Phenomenon Challenges the Boundaries of our Reality, by John E. Mack, Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard University Medical School - who argues (as in his final book on the subject "Passport to the Cosmos") that we need to expand our concept of what constitutes reality in order to understand the abduction phenomenon, rather than try to force-fit it into our current paradigms
10. The UFO Experience: a normal Correlate of Human Brain Function, by Michael A. Persinger, Professor of Psychology and Neuro-science at Laurentan University in Ontario - in which the author presents data to demonstrate that several reported characteristics of abductions may be induced in a laboratory by stimulating areas of the brain, including the perception of alien entities (one is reminded of Graham Hancock's theories about the power of hallucinogenic agents like Ayahuasca to achieve the same result)
In the concluding chapter 11 Professor Jacobs writes in summary:
"...virtually all participants agree that the intellectual community has inadequately confronted this phenomenon, not because of the paucity of evidence but because of entrenched political and cultural bias. Rarely has a logical viewpoint towards a legitimate topic of scholarship been greeted with such steadfast opposition. In the 1960s, Allen Hynek liked to characterize the Air Force's stance toward the existence of UFOs as "It can't be, therefore it isn't". Hynek could have easily expanded his characterization to include nearly the entire scholarly community...
"The societal reaction to the phenomenon has been very different than would be indicated by its persistence as a cultural artefact. Rather than society fashioning UFOs and abductions into new directions as the culture evolves over the years, the phenomenon...remains stubbornly what it is. As such, it appears to have an internal integrity devoid of cultural determinants."
The volume contains a very extensive bibliography and notes section, but no photos or illustrations. Writing and editing overall is at least good from all the contributors, and from some truly excellent.
It is to Professor Jacobs' credit that he invited essay contributions form academics with whom he personally has fundamental differences of opinion about the subject: the point is not to push one particular line, but to present educated, thoughtful but differing perspectives in the same volume. Overall the book is not just excellent, but one of the very best ever published on the UFO and abduction subject. If it's not in your library, it should be.
1) UFOLOGY AND ACADEMIA: THE UFO PHENOMENON AS A SCHOLARLY DISCIPLINE argues for the inclusion of the UFO mystery into the mainstream academia, which should be studying such things, but instead chooses to distance itself from the phenomenon. The debate has been relegated to the tabloid fringe, and respectable science won't go near it. This will need to change if we are ever to get to the bottom of it all.
2) LIMITED ACCESS: SIX NATURAL SCIENTISTS AND THE UFO PHENOMENON is a good primer on six important early ufologists, who laid the groundwork of how to study the phenomenon while government maintained its official position of denial. Some of these men worked for the government as public debunkers, while privately realizing that there is definitely something going on which offers no easy explanations.
3) SCIENCE, LAW, AND WAR: ALTERNATIVE FRAMEWORKS FOR THE UFO EVIDENCE debates which segment of society is most adept at studying the UFO phenomenon. Ultimately, science cannot move forward without tangible proof, which has proven elusive. Science requires data, not eyewitness testimony. The military offers the preferred framework from which to attack the mystery. After all, the objects appear in our skies, seemingly oblivious to our need for an explanation for them. The military must determine if there is a direct or indirect threat to the people it has enlisted to protect, while cloistering itself from public scrutiny.
4) UFO'S, THE MILITARY, AND THE EARLY COLD WAR ERA is a fantastic history of the public and militaristic mindsets of our country beginning with the mystery of the WWII foo fighters and into the Project Blue Book era. It is not surprising that the mysterious objects were first considered to be of Nazi design, and later, of Soviet design using captured Nazi technology. The concept that they were possibly of extraterrestrial origin came later. If the Soviets were showcasing high technology as psychological warfare, then the proper US response was to offer explanations that the objects were either hitherto unknown natural phenomena, or simply weren't there at all. Sounds familiar.
5) THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL HYPOTHESIS IN THE EARLY UFO AGE tells that when Gallup took a poll shortly after the war to gauge the public's opinion on the "flying saucer" phenomenon, it was discovered that most Americans considered only three options for the objects: Soviet design, American design, or hoax. The saucers as machinery of extraterrestrial origin was not even considered. Our government could exclude the American design option, and was left with Soviet or ET design. If they were of Soviet design, then we were facing an empire which was so technologically advanced that it is surprising they didn't whoop us.
6) UFO'S: LOST IN THE MYTHS offers evidence throughout the history of mankind for some sort of archetypical relationship between men and creatures of the spirit world. Whether speaking of gods, angels, devils, incubi, witches, or fairies, men of history have described entities outside of our reality which nonetheless are capable of interfering with our business. Are the Grays the latest manifestation?
7) THE UFO ABDUCTION CONTROVERSY IN THE UNITED STATES is written by David Jacobs. For decades, UFO's were strictly an eyewitness phenomenon. All the data was based on sightings and occasional landing traces, but any accounts of entities were dismissed outright. This changed in the mid-60's when the first accounts of abduction went public. Ufology was split, as the sightings experts distanced themselves from this new implausibility. Jacobs is convinced that the abductions are the main reason that the UFO's are in our skies. The reason for the abductions involves the use of human reproductive facilities to create transgenic beings of alien design. It sounds silly, but there is plenty of data to back up this claim.
8) HYPNOSIS AND THE INVESTIGATION OF UFO ABDUCTION ACCOUNTS is Budd Hopkins' refutation of the main knock against his investigative technique: the tendency toward confabulation between the interviewer and the subject during hypnosis. Everything Hopkins writes is genius and this is no exception.
9) HOW THE ALIEN ABDUCTION PHENOMENON CHALLENGES THE BOUNDARIES OF OUR REALITY is John Mack putting his Harvard brain to good use by intellectualizing the abduction phenomenon much more than the pragmatists Hopkins and Jacobs. Mack senses that we should not be trying to force the "aliens" into our preconceived notion of reality, but should recognize the existence of the aliens as proof that our notion of reality is incomplete.
10) THE UFO EXPERIENCE: A NORMAL CORRELATE OF HUMAN BRAIN FUNCTION presents medical data showing how easy it is to reproduce the "entity perception" by electrically stimulating certain areas of the brain. Electrical interference patterns can be "programmed" and sent through the skull, directly into the brain, which can dissociate the two lobes of the brain to a degree that the person will actually project into reality a second self. Side effects of this brain stimulation include the sensation of floating and odd smells, amongst other things that are par for the course in abduction reports.