Magonia 35, January 1990.
For a well-behaved young Victorian gentleman, the supposition that ladies had legs was an article of faith which he was unable to verify until his wedding night, unless some kindly mentor revealed to him the facts of life. Likewise, the question of whether the ETH theory for abductions has a leg to stand on has seemed to many of us a matter of faith. So we doubting Thomases must be grateful to the more resolute Thomas Bullard for raising the ETH's skirts and satisfying our curiosity. Surely such frankness must, as he hopes, contribute to "international peace and understanding"?
Well, yes and no. Such unveiling has its dangers. The leg, when revealed, may not be as shapely as the young man might have wished. I suspect I am not the only one of Eddie's friends and admirers who, though grateful to him for the bodice ripping in so good a cause, wonder if he has really done the lady a service ...
True, the ETH 'story' has an overall plausibility but then so has the Jesus story as told in the Gospels, now generally recognised even by thinking Christians as being largely made up of myth. As told by, say, Orfeo Angelucci, the ETH encounter has a certain super-rational believability: when set out by someone as honest as Eddie, the deformities are there for all to see.
At this point I must take issue with a fundamental error which Eddie makes. He does European ufologists a serious wrong in saying that we "start with fully articulated, highly abstract theories ... the phenomenon is secondary to the theory". I have no right to speak for others, though I would point out that Pinvidic and Meheust, Russo and Verga, have all served long years of apprenticeship in the field and their current thinking is surely based on hands-on experience. Likewise if Ballester-Olmos finds all Spanish abduction cases without exception to be illusory, that is surely based not on some abstract theory but on decades as perhaps the UFO community's most thorough and thoughtful investigator.
As for myself, though I cannot claim the breadth of field experience these colleagues have got under their belts, I emphatically deny that it is for me a case of theory first, facts second. The provisional conclusions I set out in my 'encounter trilogy' came not as a result of a priori reasoning, but in consequence of actual meetings with people who claim this type of experience. It was my inability to tell a puzzled witness what was happening to her that shamed me into the search for an explanation which resulted in those writings. Her experience was the basis for the entire edifice, and it has been by studying other experiences that I have been able to add to it. If I now see the psychosocial explanation as the front runner, it is not because I have some pet abstract theory I wish to peddle, but because it is the best fit I have found for the experiences narrated to me by real live people.
And it is on entirely pragmatic, and not at all on theoretical grounds, that I just cannot accept the ETH, however expertly Eddie sets it out. It just doesn't work. He speaks of Americans's fondness for wallowing in facts; but what about their grassroots good sense which sees 'does it work?' as the ultimate criterion?
For instance: would any American, looking for a subject on which to conduct genetic experimentation, choose Kathy Davis with her lifelong history of ill-health? Would any American, seeking a suitable person with whom to establish ET-terrestrial relations, contact Wh*tl*y Str*b*r whose mental history, even as described by himself and so without the objectivity of impartial assessment, is surely sufficient to make one look beneath the surface of his 'true st cry'? (Magonia's legal department will perhaps advise me whether I've couched that sufficiently discreetly to avoid a million dollar suit for defamation of character?)
No, if I reject Eddie's ETH, it's not because of folklore parallels, or parallels from medical history; it's not because I want to push the earthlights theory, or the Jungian hypothesis, or the alternate-state psychodrama model. Ultimately, it isn't even because the abduction stories, despite their ostensible (and admittedly thought-provoking) similarities, are packed with contradictions and inconsistencies (detailed catalogue on request).
No. It is because none of the encounter witnesses I have met, or whose stories I have studied, has for a moment made me feel, down there in my guts, that they really believe their own story, not the way I believe one of my work Colleagues when she tells me she spent her holiday in Majorca.
Good try Eddie, but I still suspect that's a wooden leg the lady is standing on ...