author of Friendly Fire

A n rat pte. ct My LIEN

hep i i Della

"Fascinating— % compelling, terrifying, haunting, yet entirely rational

A hell-tor-leather read

The Baltimore Sun

Acclaim for Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind

“This is solid investigative journalism at its best brought to bear on a con- troversial subject. Whether you have read many books on the subject or none, this serious and thought-provoking study will keep you enthralled. A must read for anyone who is interested in what is really happening to these people.” —Anne Rice

“May be the clearest and most comprehensive assessment of the phe- nomenon to date.” —The Dallas Morning New's

“Brings a rare combination of skepticism and open-mindedness to the tortured debate about the flying saucer phenomenon. . . . The book chronicles the way an astonishing body of data pushed Bryan to ques- tion his most deeply rooted beliefs about reality.”

—San Francisco Examiner

“As in his brilliant Friendly Fire, C.D.B. Bryan has dared to give uncon- ventional wisdom its due and has come upon a tantalizing puzzle.” —Tom Wolfe

“Eye-opening . . . A solid, witty, one-of-a-kind work.” —Boston Sunday Herald

“An engrossing work on unearthly visitors, written for a nonbeliever.” —Kirkus Reviews

“Mr. Bryan brought to the task the courage of a classic pioneer, the skepticism of an indomitable journalist, and the intellectual rigor of a scientist. If you are even remotely interested in alien visitation lore and

speculation, reading this book would be a good thing.” —The Baltimore Sun



Courtlandt Dixon Barnes Bryan graduated from Yale Uni- versity in 1958. He sold his first short story to The New Yorker in 1961. His articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The New Republic, Esquire, and Rolling Stone. Bryan has been a recipient of grants from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is the author of The National Air & Space Museum, The National Geographic Society, Friendly Fire, and three works of fiction, P.S. Wilkinson, The Great Dethriffe, and Beautiful Women; Ugly Scenes. He lives in Guilford, Connecticut.


A Reporter’s Notebook on Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T.

C. D. B. Bryan


ARKANA Published by the Penguin Group Penguin Books USA Inc., 375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

Penguin Books Ltd, 27 Wrights Lane, London W8 5TZ, England Penguin Books Australia Ltd, Ringwood, Victoria, Australia Penguin Books Canada Ltd, 10 Alcorn Avenue, Toronto, Ontario, Canada M4V 3B2 Penguin Books (N.Z.) Ltd, 182-190 Wairau Road, Auckland 10, New Zealand

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: Harmondsworth, Middlesex, England

First published in the United States of America by Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. 1995 Reprinted by arrangement with Alfred A. Knopf, Inc. Published in Arkana 1996


Copyright © Courtlandt Dixon Bares Bryan, 1995 All rights reserved

Frontispiece: Louise Bourgeois, The Puritan, plate I, variant. 1990. Engraving with chine collé, with pencil and ink additions; plate: 16 3/4 x 10 11/16”. The Museum of Modern Art,

New York. Gift of the artist. Photograph © 1995 The Museum of Modern Art, New York.

Owing to limitations of space, all permissions to reprint from previously published material can be found immediately following the index.

ISBN 0-679-42975-1 (hc.) ISBN 0 14 01.9527 0 (pbk.) LC 95-76563

Printed in the United States of America Set in Garamond Old Style

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior consent in any form of binding or cover other than that ‘in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

For Brandon and Mary Anne

When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.

—SHERLOCK HOLMEs, in Arthur Conan Doyle's The Sign of Four








Acknowled gments


At the Conference: Day One At the Conference: Day Two At the Conference: Day Three At the Conference: Day Four At the Conference: Day Five

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice

in Boston

Postconference Interview: David E. Pritchard, Ph.D.

Postconference Interview: Richard J. Boylan, Ph.D.

Postconference Interview: Pat Postconference Interview: John E. Mack, M.D. Postconference Interview: John G. Miller, M.D.

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice at Their Horse Farm

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice— First Hypnosis Session at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

33 65 141 198














Postconference Interview: Brenda, Erica, Terry, and Linda Cortile—Abductee Support Group Meeting at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice— Second Hypnosis Session at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice— Third Hypnosis Session at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice— Fourth Hypnosis Session at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

Postconference Interview: Carol and Alice— Fifth Hypnosis Session at Budd Hopkins’s Studio

Various Theories


Bibliography Index






416 451I

459 467


I wish to acknowledge the kindness shown me by various people during the writing of this book, beginning with Brenda Helen Cummings, R.D.T., who first alerted me to the 1992 Abduction Study Conference at M.I.T. and then introduced me to some of the key written sources.

Next would come those I met and interviewed in Cambridge and af- terwards: the conference’s co-chairmen, Harvard psychiatrist John E. Mack, M.D., and M.I.T. physicist David E. Pritchard, Ph.D., who graciously per- mitted me to attend and, subsequently, openly shared their thoughts about the abduction experience with me.

I am grateful, also, to Budd Hopkins, the phenomenon’s pioneering chronicler, who was extraordinarily generous in sharing his data, tech- niques, and information; Temple University historian David M. Jacobs, Ph.D., who provided both a historical context for, and an often amusing sense of perspective about, the UFO movement in addition to the structure of abductions; and folklorist Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D., whose erudite scholarship made my task so much the easier.

I wish to thank, as well, John G. Miller, M.D., and Richard J. Boylan, Ph.D., both of whom contributed more of their time and thoughts than I had any right to expect; journalist Linda Moulton Howe, whose sense of wonder was infectious; Keith Basterfield and Jenny Randles for their dili- gent “foreign correspondings”; and John S. Carpenter, M.S.W., whose ex- ample inspired me to strive for a similar blend of professionalism and caring in this work. ; ;

I am grateful also to the abductees who permitted me to interview them—especially “Carol” and “Alice”—whose confidences and trust I have tried to deserve.

In addition, I would like to thank my editor, Vicky Wilson, who gives the lie to John Cheever’s observation that “the relationship between a writer and his editor is that of a knife-to-the-throat.” Vicky's elegant surgery was limited to the page and her encouragements made this book a pleasure to


xl Acknowledgments

I would be remiss, too, if I did not here express my appreciation to my agent, Lynn Nesbit, for her continuing efforts on my behalf.

And this is as good a place as any to acknowledge those writers I have not already mentioned who have gone before me—Keith Thompson, Fred Alan Wolf, Timothy Good, Howard Blum, and J. Allen Hynek, in particu- lar—whose works and ideas I looted like an Attila the Hun.

Finally, there are reoccurring phrases authors use to express their grati- tude to their spouses and children for putting up with them through the writing ofa book. No words adequately convey, however, how gratified I am by my wife and family’s continued enthusiastic support and willingness to stick around.

Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind



“Dear Colleague,” the letter dated February 28, 1992, began. “We are orga- nizing a scientific conference to assess the similarities and differences in the findings of various investigators studying people who report experiences of abductions by aliens, and the related issues of this phenomenon.

“One of the features of this conference,” the letter continued, “will be an abductee panel with abductees drawn widely from the community. If you have investigated an abductee who is articulate and thoughtful and has had particularly interesting and/or manifold experiences, please send us his/her name and address and a brief paragraph about why this person would be a desirable participant.”

The five-day conference, the letter explained, was to be held at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology from June 13 through June 17; its co- chairmen were M.I.T. physicist David E. Pritchard and Harvard psychia- trist John E. Mack. The letters return address was Pritchard’s office in the physics department at M.LT., the university at which the fifty-one-year-old Harvard Ph.D. professor has taught and pursued research in atomic and molecular physics since 1968. In 1991 Pritchard was presented the presti- gious Broida Prize, awarded biannually for outstanding experimental ad- vances in the fields of atomic, molecular, and optical physics.

John E. Mack, M.D., Pritchard’s co-chairman, is a sixty-three-year-old cum laude graduate of the Harvard Medical School and former head of the Department of Psychiatry at the Cambridge Hospital, Harvard Medical School, where he has been a professor of psychiatry for the past twenty years. He is the founding director of the Center for Psychological Studies in the Nuclear Age, has won acclaim for his studies on suicide, and has testi- fied before Congress on the psychological impact of the nuclear weapons competition on children and adolescents. In addition to having authored or co-authored over 150 scientific papers that have appeared in learned psychi- atric and academic journals, textbooks, and other publications, Dr. Mack wrote the 1977 Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Lawrence of Arabia, A

Prince of Our Disorder: The Life of T. E. Lawrence.


One might reasonably except that a “scientific conference” on such a sub- ject as people who have reported their abductions by “little green men” ought to be dismissed out of hand. And it certainly would have been but for the credentials of those chairing it, the site of the conference—that “high church of technology,” as the Whole Earth Catalogs Stewart Brand has called M.I.T.—and the disturbing credibility, generally speaking, of the hundreds of individuals who, uncontaminated by exposure to any previous unidentified flying object lore or to each other, have so hesitantly, reluc- tantly, timidly come forward with their utterly incredible accounts of hav- ing been abducted and examined in UFOs not by “little green men” but rather, for the most part, by spindly-limbed, 3%-to-4%-foot-tall telepathic gray creatures with outsized foreheads dominated by huge, compelling, tear-shaped black eyes. And it is in the similarities of these abductees’ sto- ries and the consistency of their details that the true mystery lies. For, as John Mack would ask at the Abduction Study Conference, “if what these abductees are saying is happening to them isn’t happening, what i”

Those invited to the conference were asked to read two publications prior to attending. The first was David M. Jacobs’s Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions, a detailed, quasi-scholarly examination of the abduc- tion experience testimony of some sixty individuals whom Dr. Jacobs, an as- sociate professor of history at Temple University, had interviewed over a four-year period. In the course of that study, Jacobs uncovered approxi- mately three hundred abduction experiences.

The central focus of the alien-abduction program is, according to Jacobs, the collection of human eggs and sperm. He, like his mentor, the New York artist and abduction-phenomenon authority Budd Hopkins, supports the most sinister explanation for the aliens’ presence among us: they are, as Hop- kins wrote in his book Intruders, engaged in “an ongoing genetic study,” and “the human species, itself, is the subject of a breeding experiment.”'

“One of the purposes for which UFOs travel to Earth is to abduct hu- mans to help aliens produce other Beings,” Jacobs wrote in Secret Life. “It is not a program of reproduction, but one of production. They are not here to help us. They have their own agenda, and we are not allowed to know its full parameters. . . . The focus of the abduction is the production of children.””

Early in his book Jacobs reviewed what is probably the most famous ab- duction case, that of Barney and Betty Hill, whose story, as written by John Fuller, appeared first in Look magazine in 1966 and later that same year as the book Interrupted Journey.

Background 5

aac a. ee an interracial couple; he was a black member of the

ew Hampshire Civil Rights Commission; she was a white social worker. They were solid, respected, devout members of their community. According to the Hills’ story, in 1961, while driving at night along a remote stretch of road en route from Montreal to Portsmouth, New Hampshire, they observed a bright, luminous object in the sky. The object initially appeared to be stalking them from a distance, but later drew closer until it was hovering overhead. The Hills heard two beeping sounds, then saw the disk no more. Upon their return home, they discovered their arrival was two hours later than it should have been. They could not account for the passage of missing time.

The Hills remembered having thought they had seen a UFO, but noth- ing more. During the next several months, however, they were so distressed by bizarre dreams of being taken aboard an alien spaceship that they sought psychological counseling. They were referred to UFO skeptic Dr. Benjamin Simon, a reputable psychiatrist adept in hypnosis.

Under hypnosis, the Hills separately and singly recalled having been ab- ducted from their automobile by small, hairless, ashen-colored Beings with large heads and eyes, small noses and mouths. The Beings brought the Hills inside a stationary UFO, isolated them from each other in individual rooms, and performed medical examinations upon them. During her ex- amination, a long needle was inserted into Betty Hill’s stomach as part of, the Beings told her, a “pregnancy test.”

A larger Being, whom Betty took to be the “leader,” communicated with her telepathically. At one point the Beings seemed mystified that Betty Hill’s upper teeth could not be removed as Barney Hill’s could. Barney wore an upper denture.

There followed various other “medical procedures’—skin scraping and the like—and then the Hills were permitted to leave the spacecraft and watch it depart. After a second series of beeps, their memories of the expe- rience were erased. Only a vague sense of unease remained.

Since the Hills abduction hundreds of other abduction cases have been catalogued and studied, a figure which Dr. Jacobs and others in the field be- lieve is only a fraction of the number of abductions actually carried out.

As Abduction Study Conference co-chairman John E. Mack wrote in his introduction to Dr. Jacobs's Secret Life, “The idea that men, women, and children can be taken against their wills from their homes, cars, and school- yards by strange, humanoid beings, lifted onto a spacecraft, and subjected

to intrusive and threatening procedures is so terrifying, and yet so shatter- ossible in our universe, that the actuality of

ing to our notions of what is p t ! : ly rejected out of hand or bizarrely distorted

the phenomenon has been large


in most media accounts. This is altogether understandable, given the dis- turbing nature of UFO abductions and our prevailing notions of reality. The fact remains, however,” Mack continued,

that for thirty years and possibly longer, thousands of individuals who ap- pear to be sincere and of sound mind and who are seeking no personal benefit from their stories have been providing to those who will listen con- sistent reports of precisely such events. Population surveys suggest that hundreds of thousands, and possibly more than a million, persons in the United States alone may be abductees, or “experiencers,” as they are some- times called. The abduction phenomenon is, therefore, of great clinical importance if for no other reason than the fact that abductees are often deeply traumatized by their experiences. At the same time the subject is of obvious scientific interest, however much it may challenge our notions of reality and truth.

The relevant professional communities in mental health, medicine, biology, physics, electronics, and other disciplines are understandably skeptical of a phenomenon as strange as UFO abduction, which defies our accepted notions of reality. The effort to enable these communities to take abduction reports seriously will be best served through scrupulously con- ducted research by investigators who bring a scholarly and dispassionate yet appropriately caring attitude to their work. In this way patterns and meanings may be discovered that can lead to fuller and deeper knowledge and, eventually, to the development of convincing theoretical under- standing.

“Dr. Jacobs’s findings will, I believe,” Mack went on to say, “impress those who are open at least to the possibility that something important is happening in the lives of these individuals and countless others that cannot readily be explained by the theories and categories currently available to modern science. . . .”?

Jacobs is not new to the UFO field; in 1975 Indiana University Press published his UFO Controversy in America, with a foreword written by J. Allen Hynek—like John E. Mack, a gentleman with sterling credentials. A former professor of astronomy at Ohio State University and later chairman of the Astronomy Department at Northwestern University, Hynek was brought in by the United States Air Force in 1949 to be scientific consultant for its Project Sign, later Project Grudge, and still later Project Blue Book, the Air Force’s effort to gather evidence that UFOs either did or did not exist. For the next twenty years Hynek served as consultant to the Air Force on UFOs. During that period Hynek went from being an astronomer who, prior to his association with the Air Force, had (in his own words) “joined my scientific colleagues in many a hearty guffaw at the ‘psychological post-

Background 7

; ; war craze’ for flying saucers that seemed to be swe the naivete and gullibility of our fellow human bei in by such obvious ‘nonsense’ ”4

eping the country and at

ngs who were being taken

she cee s : Sn a man who would demand a scientific community undertake a

the UFO phenomenon” y respectable scholarly study of

In an August 1966 letter to Science magazine, the official organ of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Hynek attempted to refute the most common misconceptions about UFO reports:

1. Only UFO “buffs” report UFO sightings. Almost the exact opposite, Hynek pointed out, is true. “The most articulate reports come from obvi- ously intelligent people” who had not previously given UFOs much con- sideration and were shocked and surprised by their experience. UFO buffs and “believers” of the cultist variety, Hynek added, rarely make reports, and when they do, they are “easily categorized by their incoherence.”

2. UFOs are never reported by scientifically trained people. “On the con- trary,” Hynek wrote, “some of the very best reports have come from scien- tifically trained people. Unfortunately, such reports are rarely published in the popular literature since these people usually wish to avoid publicity and request anonymity.”®

3. No UFO has ever been picked up on radar or by meteor-ana-satellite- tracking cameras. Not so, Hynek reported. These instruments had, indeed, tracked “oddities” that defied identification, and because of this Hynek was “unable to dismiss the UFO phenomenon with a shrug.””

Pointing out that twentieth-century scientists tended to forget that there would be a “21st-century science, and indeed, a 30th-century science, from which vantage points our knowledge of the universe may appear quite different,” he concluded that “we suffer, perhaps, from temporal provin- cialism, a form of arrogance that has always irritated posterity.”

In his 1972 landmark book, The UFO Experience: A Scientific Inquiry, Hynek originated the term “Close Encounters,” subsequently popularized by the Steven Spielberg film Close Encounters of the Third Kind. He did so in order to distinguish between those reports in which a UFO is seen at a distance and those involving sightings at close range.

The more distant UFO reportings he divided into three categories: Noc- turnal Lights, those UFOs seen at night; Daylight Discs, those seen in the daytime (Hynek was cautious to add that he refers to these UFOs as discs because “the prevalent shape reported is oval or disc-like, although it should be understood the term is rather loosely applied”); and Radar- Visual, those reportings made through observations on radar accompanied by visual sightings. i f

Close-range sightings Hynekalso broke down into three types:


Close Encounters of the First Kind. This category is the simple Close En- counter in which the reported UFO is seen at close range but there is no interaction with the environment (other than trauma on the part of the observer).

Close Encounters of the Second Kind. These are similar to the First Kind ex- cept that physical effects on both animate and inanimate material are noted, Vegetation is often reported as having been pressed down, burned, or scorched. Tree branches are reported broken; animals are frightened, sometimes to the extent of physically injuring themselves in their fright. Inanimate objects, most often vehicles, are reported as becoming mo- mentarily disabled, their engines killed, radios stopped, and headlights dimmed or extinguished. In such cases, the vehicles reportedly return to normal after the UFO has left the scene.

Close Encounters of the Third Kind. In these cases the presence of “occu- pants” in or about the UFO is reported. Here a sharp distinction must be made between cases involving reports of the presence of presumably in- telligent beings in the “spacecraft” and the so-called contactee cases.

The “contactees” Hynek was referring to were individuals such as “Professor” George Adamski (Flying Saucers Have Landed, 1953; Inside the Space Ships, 1956), “Doctor” Daniel Fry ( White Sands Incident, 1954), Tru- man Bethurum (Aboard a Flying Saucer, 1954), Orfeo Angelucci (Secret of the Saucers, 1955), and Howard Menger (From Outer Space to You, 1959), each of whom had emerged in the 1950s to peddle accounts of not only having seen UFOs but also of having been in close contact with their occupants.

Adamski’s 1952 photographs of “scout craft” from a Venusian “mother ship” bore an uncanny resemblance to chicken brooders readily available from mail-order catalogues. Prior to his notoriety, Adamski had been a handyman in a four-stool California café.

Fry had an undisclosed job at New Mexicos White Sands Proving Ground when an “ovate spheroid” allegedly landed near him and whisked him to New York City and back in thirty minutes. Fry's saucers occupants told him they were the survivors of a great war between Atlantis and Lemuria, and that they had contacted him instead of someone more highly placed because it would upset the “ego balance” of the Earth’s civilizations if they were to reveal themselves.

The captain of Bethurum’s “space scow” was Aura Rhanes, “queen of women,” whose “smooth skin was a beautiful olive and roses.” Aura’s planet, Clarion, Bethurum reported, was in our solar system, but because it was al- ways on the opposite side of the sun from us, we have never seen it.

Background 9

na a ae mechanic, oe seeing a saucer land ina Los re saa E inspecting it, he was told by a “space brother” that

advancement” was threatening life’s evolution. Angelucci’s subsequent meetings with the aliens took place in a Greyhound bus depot.

And Menger, a self-employed sign painter, wrote of having been given a tour of the Moons cities and other wondrous sights by his alien hosts, who subsequently informed him he had been a Jupiterian in a previous life and had been placed on Earth to do good deeds for mankind.

Not surprisingly, Hynek considered the contactees to be “pseudoreli- gious fanatics” with “a low credibility value” and dismissed their accounts. “Ic is unfortunate, to say the least,” Hynek wrote, “that reports such as these have brought down upon the entire UFO problem the opprobrium and ridicule of scientists and public alike, keeping alive the popular notion of ‘little green men’ and the fictional atmosphere surrounding that aspect of the subject.

“The typical Close Encounter of the Third Kind,” Hynek emphasized, “happens to the same sorts of persons who experience all other types of UFOs, representing the same cross section of the public. The experience comes upon these reporters just as unexpectedly and surprises them just as much as it does the reporters of the other types of Close Encounters. These reporters are in no way ‘special.’ They are not religious fanatics; they are more apt to be policemen, businessmen, schoolteachers, and other re- spectable citizens.”"

The Abduction Study Conference to be held at M.I.T. would be an ex- amination of Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind, a category Hynek seem- ingly had not anticipated. Such a case might be defined as one in which

personal contact between an individual or individuals is initiated by the “occupants” of the spacecraft. Such contact may involve the transporta- tion of the individual from his or her terrestrial surroundings into the spacecraft, where the individual is communicated with and/or subjected to an examination before being returned. Such a close encounter is usu- ally of a one-to-two-hour duration.

The second pre-conference reading assignment was “On Stolen Time: A Summary of a Comparative Study of the UFO Abduction Mystery” by Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D. In this paper, privately published by the Fund for UFO Research in 1987, Dr. Bullard noted that of the nearly three hundred alien abduction cases whose locations were known, 132 came from the United States and 50 from the remainder of the English-speaking world. In addition, there were


69 cases in Latin America, 28 in continental Europe, and 3 from the Soviet Union.

Who experiences abductions? “Just about anybody,” Bullard reported. “Abductees come from all walks of life, all levels of education, and all lines of work, though people whose jobs keep them outside at night run a higher risk than average. Two-thirds of abductees in this sample are male and one- third female. Out of 309 cases, 76% are single-witness cases while 49 cases include two other witnesses and 12 cases three. A remainder of 12 cases in- volves more than three. . . .”!

Bullard’s most surprising discovery was that “abductions are a peril of youth. If you once pass 30 without ever being abducted,” he wrote, “you have little to worry about. A periodicity shows up in the age distribution with peaks at age 7, again at 12-13, 16-17 and 20, lending support to the pos- sibility that the captors keep tabs on a subject over the years. The range of abductions is lifelong, from infancy to age 77, but the frequency plunges in a striking way after 30.”

Although both the Jacobs book and the Bullard summary were considered seminal to the meeting at M.L.T., it became apparent as the conference pro- ceeded that there was considerable disagreement as to both the import and the meaning of those abductions they describe as having taken place.


At the Conference

Day One

For the Saturday, June 13, 1992, two p.m. opening of the Abduction Study Conference, John E. Mack wears a dark, loose-fitting suit, a white shirt, and a conservatively striped tie. He has been sitting sideways in a front-row seat in the large M.LT. lecture hall in which the conference is being held, room 6-120. He is scanning the audience as it assembles, waiting until everyone is settled. I choose a row about two-thirds of the way up the steeply banked classroom. The cushioned seats fold up and down like in a theater; a small, comma-shaped writing desk lifts out of the right-hand armrest.

A few moments later, Dr. Mack rises, walks to the front of the room, and stands looking up at us. There is a triptych of green blackboards behind him, a heavy table and an overhead projector to his right. He runs his long, thin fingers through his thick, dark hair and says, “Welcome to this extra- ordinary event!”

Mack has the stooped posture of a tall, thin academician whose failing eyesight has left him permanently bent from having spent so much time straining to decipher his handwritten lecture notes. Mack at first speaks too fast to allow accurate transcription. I hear him say something about “our chance to bring together scholars who are working in this field” and some- thing about distinguishing between “all the dramatic, sensationalist stuff that flows around and gets merged with this subject.” And then, as if he were really seeing the assembled audience for the first time, he says with sur- prising emotion, “I just want to acknowledge the heroic, courageous—I won't quite say ‘foolhardy,’ but that was the word going through my head— work of Dave Pritchard in all of this. He has put himself on the line. . ie And then there is something about “taking a stand” and moving ‘science and human thought along.” :

Mack remarks upon the “politics of mindset, He has a way of answering one question with another:

the “politics of ontology.” “Does the alien


abduction phenomenon require that we create a new scientific paradigm?”

...« “Do we need only to stretch our minds to conceive of physical and psy- chological technology of which other species are capable, but that are beyond our capacities at the present time?” . . . “Is consciousness, and all that con- sciousness perceives, but itself the play of some divine or cosmic technol- ogy?” He lets these questions hang in the air and sits down.

If Mack’s visage is furrowed and darkened by the anguish of contem- plating nuclear holocausts, his studies of suicide—real and, for his partic- ipation in a conference on people who believe they have been abducted by alien crews from UFOs, perhaps academic—along with the inevitable wounds and distresses that have surfaced in forty years of psychiatric prac- tice, his co-chairman Dave Pritchard’s boyish features seem as ebullient as the forces of light upon the atoms he has studied. Pritchard’s brow, beneath its hotel-barbershop cut of gray hair, is unlined. He lopes to the front of the hall with unbridled enthusiasm electric in his powder-blue slacks and white short-sleeved shirt, its breast pocket filled dweeb-fashion with dif- ferent-colored marking pens. His eyes flash behind gold wire-framed glasses; he strides back and forth behind the desk, explaining how the con- ference came about, that “in trying to deal with the abduction phenome- non” he had been frustrated by “the lack of a comprehensive and sane review.” He tells us that at first he had considered writing a book, “but then I said, ‘No, that’s no good, what I really want is a critical analysis and an exploration of all the possibilities, and the best way to get it is by having a conference with lots of discussion.’ He lifts a commonplace white plastic kitchen timer from the table beside him and explains how each speaker will be rigorously limited to the time allotted and that when the timer rings, he or she must stop. He speaks a little about the funding for the conference and how “We've tried to keep the crazies out.” And then Pritchard pauses to emphasize that while this is a conference being held at M.LT. it is not an M.LT. conference. It is a distinction Pritchard pointedly made when I spoke with him fourteen days before. “It’s not that M.I.T. endorses the conference,” he had told me at that time, “it’s that they endorse the principle that the faculty should be given enough rope to make fools of themselves. Many of them,” he added with a little laugh, “think I’m doing just that.”

Pritchard did not disguise his nervousness over the exposure he might get from media attending the conference. “You have to understand my re- luctance to be thrown into the spotlight here,” he had told me, then cor- rected himself: “I see it more as a swimming pool full of sharks. But I’m going to have to face this anyway. I mean, you can’t keep walking down this path without at some point it going public.”

At the Conference 13

What he would be “going public” with, however,

was still in question. At the time of our conversation, i

with only two weeks until h the conference be a its Or anizers—[ ritchard amon them—we e Ty1 to 2 g n, g g T still Just t ng fig

ure out what we would agree the characteristics of this phenomenon are,” as he said. Lots of explanations will be considered: the extraterrestrial hy- pothesis, individual psychoses, various kinds of collective mental phenom- enon that might be culturally induced in relation to other borderline things, fantasy-prone individuals, the phenomenon’s similarities to the Near-Death Experience. But as to the actual ‘What are the aliens up to?; we're not sure a P of us will even think it’s aliens by the time we get to that point in the conference.”

Pritchard’s co-chairman John Mack, for example, had already aligned himself in print with those who argued against a simple extraterrestrial expla- nation for the phenomenon. In his introduction to David Jacobs’s Secret Life, Mack had pointed out, “A literalist extraterrestrial hypothesis must account for the relative paucity of solid physical evidence—the lack of photographs of the beings, for example—and the virtually insurmountable problems related to accounting for the location, origins, and lives of the aliens themselves within the framework of the physical laws of our space/time universe.”!

Mack’s contention was not that the extraterrestrial explanation was wrong, only that it might not be enough. Right or wrong, however, the ex- istence of the conference and its assigned reading of Secret Life was a solid indication that the extraterrestrial hypothesis would not be dismissed.

Following Mack’s and his own opening remarks, Pritchard introduces the conference's first speaker. He is Mark Rodeghier, director of investiga- tions for the Chicago-based J. Allen Hynek Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), the most prominent of the UFO research organizations. Rodeghier’s topic is “A Set of Selection Criteria for Abductees.”

Rodeghier has been given three minutes to speak and two minutes to answer questions. While Pritchard sets the timer, Rodeghier dims the lights and moves within the shadows cast by the brilliant overhead projector. He slaps his first transparency onto the glass plate. “In order to qualify as an ‘ab- ductee,’ Rodeghier says, pausing to focus the projector's lense, “a person must be (a) taken against his or her will, (b) from terrestrial surroundings, (c) by nonhuman Beings.” 2 A, ee

He swiftly replaces his first transparency with a second. “The Beings, he says, “must take a person to (a) an enclosed place, (b) nonterrestrial in appearance, that is (c) assumed or known to be a spacecraft by ia

Next transparency. “In this place,” Rodeghier continues, “the person must either be (a) subjected to a physical examination, (b) engaged a conn

. » munication, verbal or telepathic, or (c) both.


Fourth transparency. “These experiences may be remembered (a) con- sciously or (b) through methods of focused concentration, such as hypnosis.”

There are no questions, and Rodeghier hurries back to his seat. He was as straightforward and succinct in his presentation as a game umpire estab- lishing the rules. He has, I realize, in fact done just that: he has spelled out what an abductee is.

Rodeghier is replaced by the second speaker, Thomas E. Bullard, whose presentation is an update of his now five-year-old “On Stolen Time: A Sum- mary of a Comparative Study of the UFO Abduction Mystery.”

Bullard, whom everyone calls Eddie, is best-known among “ufologists” as a cataloguer of other investigators’ findings and not as an originator of new abduction material: in other words, he does not go out and find ab- ductees and investigate their experiences himself. But Bullard is considered a “heavyweight thinker” by ufologists, and his writings on the folkloric di- mensions of the UFO phenomenon are rigorously intellectual, scholarly, amusing, and concise. In addition to being a cataloguer, Eddie Bullard ap- pears to serve another function as well: he is the movement’s amanuensis and its witness.

Bullard announces that the number of cases he has catalogued since his 1987 summary has now risen to 725; but he is less rigid than Rodeghier about what should be considered an “abduction.” He reports coming across about 80 cases where individuals have seen luminous or glowing orbs in their rooms; and he has also recorded what he calls “psychic abductions”: lengthy narratives by people that are “close” to being abductions but are not exactly physical events. In addition, there are what he calls “voluntary entry” cases. These, too, pose a problem, since the individuals, in these instances, apparently welcome visitation, and for that reason, Bullard says, “they shade into ‘contactees’ in that they develop a long-term, nonprofit relationship with the aliens.”

There is a slight ripple of disdainful laughter among the audience at Bullard’s mention of “contactees.” He smiles in acknowledgment and shares with us that there are certain cases he has had to dismiss; one such, he says, was the man who wanted to tell him “about his tour of duty with the Space Marines.”

Following Bullard’s presentation there is a thirty-minute coffee break in the Eastman lobby just outside the lecture hall’s lower-level doors. A bronze bas-relief portrait of George Eastman is affixed to the marble wall; his nose has been polished to a high gloss by countless student caresses. I take a care- ful look at my fellow conference attendees. I find myself disappointed by how normal we appear. I cannot initially tell who among us are the ab- ductees. But then I notice some of the assemblage are identified on their

At the Conference 15

nametags only by a first name presumably fe : prs : > y for the sake of a individuals, it becomes clear, are the abductees. AREA

The speaker after the break is Budd Hopkins.

Hopkins is the dean of the UFO abduction investigators, with about fifteen hundred cases to his credit. He is the author of Missing Time (1981) and Jn- truders: The Incredible Visitations at Copley Woods (1987); Intruders has just been made into a two-part television miniseries broadcast by CBS the month before. He is also a talented painter and sculptor whose works are part of the permanent collections of the Whitney, the Guggenheim, the Hirshhorn, the Brooklyn Museum, and the Museum of Modern Art.

Hopkins is a tall, gentle, silver-haired man with expressive features; his topic today is “Acquisition’—how the aliens acquire their abductees. But before he gets into that, he suggests that UFO abductions may be more common than UFO sightings and that they are “the most portentous phe- nomenon science has yet to face’—a pronouncement P. T. Barnum himself would have been proud to have produced.

“The acquisition most commonly takes place at night when people are sleeping,” Hopkins reports. “The person is first paralyzed—although there seems to be different degrees of paralysis, people can generally move their eyes.” The vast majority of abductees Hopkins has dealt with are then either lifted up a beam of light or floated up accompanied by “entities” into the awaiting spacecraft—a journey that for the most part, it seems to me, goes astonishingly unnoticed by people outside whom one might otherwise ex- pect to witness it. Hopkins tells. of an Englishman he interviewed who spoke of having been floated through closed doors. A woman reported hav- ing been floated past eleven people at a Cape Cod cocktail party; the guests were all “frozen” as if in a state of suspended animation.

Three weeks before, Hopkins says, five people were taken from a Man- hattan apartment: a mother and father, their sixteen-year-old and three- year-old sons, and their elder son’s sixteen-year-old friend. At the time of the abduction the little boy was sleeping in the main bed with his father, the mother was on the couch in the living room, and the two teenaged boys were sharing a bedroom. All five awoke at 4:20 a.m. with simultaneous nosebleeds. Nosebleeds, we now know from our reading of Jacobs's Secret Lif, are a common symptom of an abduction.

i During the sadn pene someone asks Budd Hopkins what red me might indicate an obviously disturbed person. Hopkins tells of the individ- ual who came to see him with an abduction story and had some of the details right” but then had added that at night, the aliens had gone into


downtown Toronto and rearranged the buildings. “Common sense is a good indicator of when to stay away from a case,” Hopkins concludes.

John Mack rises to point out that among the abductees who have sought his counseling, none showed a “desire to be perceived as an experi- encer.” (During the course of the conference “experiencer” evolves into the favored identification for an individual who has endured an abduction.) He tells of the university administrator who came to him to tell him his ab- duction story and, as Mack listened, became increasingly distressed. “Why are you so sad?” Mack asked. “Doctor,” the administrator responded, “I had hoped you would tell me I was crazy. Now I have to deal with the fact that something real has happened to me, and that scares me! It scares me because I don’t know how to deal with it and I don’t know what this is!”

The next presenter, Tom Benson, a neatly dressed middle-aged UFO re- searcher from Trenton, New Jersey, spells out the initial sequence of events directly preceding an abduction based on approximately one hundred cases over the last forty years in which drawings by the abductees are available. “Analysis of the details,” Benson says, “reveals a pattern comprised of the following stages. First, the percipient’s attention is drawn to a bright light that may be flashing or pulsing, or hears an unusual sound.” The saucer’s “humming,” Benson tells us, might serve to focus the individual’s attention upon the UFO. “Is it a tool for gaining access to a person’s mind prior to an abduction?” he asks.

“Second,” he continues, “the object is usually noticed in close proxim- ity. Third, the percipient has a strong urge—or even a communicated com- mand—to move to another nearby location. Fourth, the object is seen to land. No entity is observed.”