Explaining Alien Abductions

Article as appears in issue 6 of the X-factor magazine ... with additions and opinions by Richard Gall.

Perhaps the most sinister side of alien contact is the possibility that they are here to carry out experiments on humans. However, could alien abduction simply be a symptom of the mind? Or have we got it all wrong?

The incredible and terrifying events that unfolded on the evening of 5 November 1975 were to shatter the lives of Travis Walton and his six colleagues. As they drove home to Snowflake, Arizona, after working in the forest, the crew noticed a strange, bright light coming down through the trees. As the truck screeched to a halt, Walton and his colleagues were confronted with an awsome sight.

"...We got around the trees, we all saw the source of the light, boom, less than 100 ft away, a metallic disc hovering in the air, glowing...", Walton recalls.

His more cautious friends remained in the truck while the impetuous Walton leaped out and ran towards the craft. He did not want to miss the chance of seeing it up close. As he stood almost underneath it, his bravery left him. He turned to run back to the truck. He never made it.

Mike Rogers, the crew boss, saw a 'blue bolt of energy' strike Walton's back. Panicking, Rogers instantly floored the accelerator and drove away. A few hundred metres down the road, realizing that he had left his friend for dead, Rogers drove back, only to see the spaceship rise rapidly into the sky and disappear. Walton was nowhere to be seen.

Facing a murder charge.

After five days and a massive police search, there was still no sign of Walton. But, just as the police were about to charge the crew with murder, Walton reappeared.

He was discovered naked in a phone booth on the outskirts of town, seriously dehydrated, delirious and half dead. Finally, after months of recovery, he was able to remember fragments of what happened. He recalled being taken inside a space craft. "...I was laying on my table ... I saw several strange creatures standing over me. I became completely histerical and flipped out. I knocked them away, but I felt so weak I collapsed. They forced me back on the table, placed a mask over my face and I blacked out..."

Telling the truth.

What is significant about the Travis Walton case is that it is one of the few abductions observed by independant witnesses. It is also unusual because Walton was missing for five days. In most contemporary cases, the abduction experience lasts for only a few hours.

Over the years, sceptics have tried to debunk Walton's claims. The rarity of abduction reports in the 1970s meant Walton and his friends were subjected to years of ridicule and accusations of trickery. Yet all the men subsequently passed lie detector tests and the case has withstood years of rigorous investigation. The abduction phenomenon, which is characterized by specific and highly distincive episodes reported consistantly by thousands of people from around the world, is generally a modern occurance, confined to the post-war period.

The First Encounter

A lot of researchers now acknowledge that the 'reported' abduction phenomenon began on 20 September 1961. Betty and Barney Hill were driving through New Hampshire around midnight when they spotted a 'pancake-shaped' object with two rows of windows' which appeared to be following them. Eventually, Barney pulled off the road and crept to within 25 metres of 'an enormous ring-shaped craft with projected fins and whirring red lights' in the air.

Terrified, the Hills sped off, but moments afterwards, the car began vibrating. Then they heard an unusual beeping sound, and a haze seemed to fall over them. Later, when the Hills arrived home, they discovered that both their watches were two hours slow. They could not remember what had happened to them in the 'missing' two hours.

Afterwards, both were plagued by disturbing dreams. Eventually, they agreed to undergo a technique known as hypnotic regression therapy to discover what had happened to them. Hypnotic regression allows subconscious or buried memories to emerge. Under hypnosis, the Hills describe being taken on board the UFO 'by bald-headed alien beings, about five foot tall, with greyish skin, pear shaped heads and slanting cat-like eyes.'

Betty in particular provided a vivid picture of what seemed to have taken place during the period of 'missing time'. She remembered being subjected to medical examination. She said samples of tissue were taken and a long needle was inserted into her naval as part of what she called a 'pregnancy test'. She was also shown a star map of Zeta Riticuli. Betty believed the aliens were showing her where they came from.

Abductee or Contactee?

The characteristic nature of abduction cases, which started with the Hills in the 1960s, contrasts sharply with the notorious and colourful events described by various people, known as 'contactees', whose dubious encounters with aliens filled American tabloids in the 1950s.

The first and pretty famous 'contactee' was George Adamski, who claimed to have been visited by various human-like aliens who gave him rides in UFOs to Venus, Mars and Saturn. Adamski and other contactees were soon discredited, but their fabrications put the credibility of UFO research back years. It took until the 1980s before first the UFO community and then the public were taking claims of alien abduction seriously.

Talking of aliens.

In June 1992, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) chaired the Abduction Study Conference. This was the first scientific debate on alien abduction and was an attempt to allow the leading investigators to present their evidence and provide a forum for serious scientific discussion.

Attending the MIT conference were three of the world's leading experts whose research provides much of the evidence supporting the alleged reality of alien abduction. Budd Hopkins is responsible for much of the pioneering investigations into abduction. Dr David Jacobs, associate professor at History Temple University, has been investigating UFOs for 25 years. And chairing the abduction conference was perhaps the most influential academic to join the abduction camp, Dr John E. Mack, professor of Psychiatry at Havard Medical School, and a Pulitzer Prize winner.

One of the outcomes of the conference was the realization that a huge range of different people had described the same type of procedure, the same details about what they are subjected to and the same type of aliens involved. To abduction researchers, this was strong evidence that alien abduction is a reality. If alien abduction was some form of delusion, the accounts would be fantasy driven and thus differ wildly. Yet they all fall into similar and repeated patterns.

Under Alien Control.

When inside the craft, abductees are under the total control of the aliens. They are usually asked to strip, placed on a table and subjected to often painful and frightning types of invasive surgery. Once returned, most people's memories of the event have been somehow been wiped clean and cannot be accessed without hypnosis. Perhaps the odd memory 'may' slip back in the form of nightmares.

Dr Mack cites evidence from several of his cases. He says "there are several types of physical evidence from abduction: people return with fully healed scars on their bodies that were not present the day before. Also, strange implants ... are located on CAT scans; some have even been removed and examined."

So far, chemical analysis of the implants show that they are made up of elements found on earth. A colleague of Dr Mack's, a nuclear biologist, ran tests on one implant taken from the nose of an alleged abductee. The implant was not a naturally occurring 'biological subject' but may have been a manufactured fibre.

Sceptics maintain that no reliable evidence for abduction exists outside the victim's imagination. The area that receives the heaviest critisism has been the process by which hidden memories are extracted using hypnotic regression techniques.

Unreliable Memories.

Kevin McClure, a member of The Society for Psychical Research, claims that many abduction researchers using hypnosis are not qualified psychologists. And McClure accuses those who are qualified of implanting memories - encouraging victims to recount details that support the abduction scenario by asking leading questions. McClure also states that False Memory Syndrome (FMS) may be responsible for explaining the abductees reports. But on a scale like this? FMS is a disorder where a memory has been created by the subconscious to replace some childhood trauma, such as sexual abuse. Sceptics of alien abduction argue that many abductees are subconsciously using an alien abduction experience as a screen to hide a traumatic experience from the past. Reasonable idea, but again, on such a large scale? So many claims (thousands and thousands) all had a bad childhood or traumatic event? You decide.

Artificial Stimulation.

Psychologist Susan Blackmore claims that abduction experiences can be artificially induced by stimulation of the temporal lobes (an area of the brain that plays a role in the storage of memory). This theory was demonstrated by a Canadian based research team who designed a device that generated a magnetic field which, when applied to the back of the brain, simulated an alien abduction experience in someone who has never claimed to have had one.

Albert Budden, author of 'Allergies and Aliens', has a similar explanation. He is convincing that alien abduction is caused by electromagnetic pollution. Budden believes that the electromagnetic radiation in the atmosphere is strong enough to affect the temporal lobes of abductees' brains, causing an alien abduction like experience. "It is clear", he states, "that all abductees are electrically hypersensitive, and that their allergic reactions to an exposure to electromagnetic fields in the enviroment."

But none of these theories cut any ice with researchers like Hopkins, Jacobs or Mack. To them, the evidence for alien abduction overwhelms any psychological reasons put forward by the sceptics.

Researchers are positive that Travis Walton was not suffering from any mental illness when he was abducted. Also, it is unlikely that all six of Walton's collegues would have hallucinations of their friend's alien abduction at the same time. And the lie detector tests show that they believed they saw Walton's abduction.

Over active imaginations and temporal lobes CANNOT explain physical scars on abductees' bodies, or the implants taken from their bodies. Now Ufologists are introducing the theory that the butchered carcasses of livestock are further evidence that aliens are conducting planet-wide experiment. This link has yet to be proven.


Dr John E. Mack :

John Mack is one of the 'intellectual heavyweights' in the pro-alien abduction camp. He is founder of the psychiatry teaching department at Cambridge Hospital, Havard, and is director of the Programme for Extraordinary Experience Research at the Centre for Psychology and Social Research. His superiors were outraged when he published his book 'Abduction: Human Encounters with Aliens' in 1994. The Dean of Havard said that Mack had failed to conform to Havard's standards of investigation. Mack's lawyers said that Mack does not necessarily believe in 'space aliens'. But Mack thinks that his petients are not 'mentally ill' either.

"...Abductions profoundly affect the lives of those who experience them. The effects are traumatic and disturbing, but they can also be transforming..." [ Dr Mack : Psychiatrist ]

"...I have not come across the phenomenon of abductions by aliens except as a delusional belief of someone suffering from schizphrenia..." [ Dr Sue Davidson : Psychotherapist ]

Sceptics have explained away the typical portraits of aliens as simply modern images of demons and evil spirits that have always been present in folklore. However, the implants claimed to have been extracted from abductees' bodies suggest that abduction is very real.


Walton was abducted in 1975. Since then he has had to endure accusations of being a fraud. So, in 1996, he wrote his book 'Fire in the Sky' to explain what really happened to him. When asked how clear his abduction seems today he said :

"...Well, pretty clear. Something like that just doesn't disappear with the years. You can still remember the emotions. You can still remember the fear. When you try to cope with something like that, you try to take a positive element from it. But I would rather it not have happened to me..."

Why do you think there been such a dramatic increase in reports of alien abduction?

"...In my book, I was quite emphatic that you should have information before condemnation. I don't know every case. In order to cope with my abduction, I shied away. I haven't delved into other cases. But there are cases that definately are not genuine. I find this frustrating as it detracts from the legitimate cases..."

Why do you think aliens are abducting humans?

"...I don't presume to know..."


The concept of alien abduction has caught the imagination of the media and public. So much so that, in 1995, American Robert Durant decided to study statistics of alien abductions.

His report revealed that 5 million Americans claimed to have been abducted over the last 50 years.

This works out at 2,740 abductions a day,

Needing a team of 1,370 aliens (on average it takes six aliens to abduct a human).

Collette Dowell claims that aliens have been impregnating her with human/alien foetuses for years. She became so desperate she had a hysterectomy to try and stop the alien impregnations.

The alien abductions continue, whether they are psychological, or where the evidence is suggesting ... a physical reality....

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