"First Do No Harm..."

"The Pelican"
Magonia 72, October 2000.

The UFO abduction enthusiasts enthusiasts are still flourishing, especially in the USA, and it has occurred to the Pelican to wonder just what they think they are doing. Do they regard themselves as psychotherapists, using abduction fantasies as a means to help people to discover what is really bothering them? Or do they believe that the Greys are real entities who beam down from physically real flying saucers? Whatever they believe, or say they believe, are they doing good or doing harm?

A number of abductionists profess to believe that the aliens are physically real, but the sensible way to evaluate professions of belief is to pay attention not to what people say but to what they do. Budd Hopkins, for example, is a nuts-and-bolts man. Therefore he says that the Greys are real physical creatures. He has to say this because he knows that if they are not physical then they must be psychological. The incidents he describes must be either real physical events or delusions, false memories and fantasies. If he admits that they are fantasies then there is nothing much left for him to do except to recommend his abductees to professional psychiatrists in the hope that they can trace the real causes of their worries and possibly cure them.

Not only does Hopkins apparently believe that the Greys are real but he also distances himself from the more wishy-washy abductionists by stating: "Everything I have learned in twenty years of research into the UFO abduction phenomea leads me to conclude the aliens' central purpose is not to teach us about taking better care of the environment. Instead, all of the evidence points to their being here to carry out a complex breeding experiment in which they seem to be working to create a hybrid species, a mix of human and alien characteristics." (1)

Can a person who believes anything so ridiculous reasonably be described as sane, muses the Pelican, as he gazes out at the pink elephants parading along the street and the purple pigs flying past his window? Most ufologists assure us that Hopkins is perfectly sincere, so it is thus reasonable to assume that he means what he says. Although he distorts and misrepresents the views and actions of his opponents, we must assume that he is honestly mistaken or confused. For example, in his book Witnessed, he berates the "tiny band of debunkers" for revealing the real name of his star abductee, Linda Napolitano. (2) Now this is very odd because in this book there is a photograph and a drawing of Linda's apartment block and we are told it is near Brooklyn Bridge. We are also told that she has two sons and an Italian husband. Also, Linda has spoken at UFO conferences and had her picture printed in UFO magazines. Anyone who wanted to find out her real name and her address would obviously have no serious difficulty in doing so.

The Brooklyn Bridge abduction story is so complicated and so manifestly absurd that even some of Hopkins's collection of 'abductees' declared it to be an obvious hoax or fantasy game. Their own stories were fantastic enough, but they are said to have thought that Linda was "going too far" and to have referred to her sarcastically as the "Queen Bee abductee". (3) As Hopkins takes a nuts-and-bolts approach to the abduction stories, he has difficulty in defending himself from sceptics. He cannot provide any convincing evidence that abductions are not capable of being explained as a psychological and social phenomenon, so he attacks his critics by describing them as "fanatics" (4) or "self-appointed debunkers", (5)

His loathing of Philip Klass is well known. This is because Klass tends to ask awkward questions which seek to determine what Hopkins really believes about abductions, as distinct from what he says he believes. When Klass asked him, on a TV show, if he had reported the alleged abductions he was talking about to the FBI, he replied: "That is the most absurd thing I've ever heard in my life." (6) There was another notable occasion on which Hopkins was involved in a challenge concerning the FBI. This occurred at a meeting which Hopkins had arranged at his home to answer criticisms of Linda Napolitano and his handling of the Brooklyn Bridge abduction case. Among the critics present was Joe Stefula. Linda, her husband and two sons were present, supported by Jerome Clark, Wait Andrus, David Jacobs, Penelope Franklin, and the psychologist Gibbs Williams.

According to Jim Schnabel: "Stefula noted that Linda refused to report Dan and Richard, who had kidnapped her and, in Dan's case, had apparently attempted to murder her to the FBI or other law enforcement agencies. Linda said she would testify against them, but didn't want to press charges. Hopkins, Andrus and Clark backed her up. Involving the government in such a sensitive case, they argued, would only complicate things unnecessarily." (7)

Of course, the unnecessary complications would arise when the FBI or the police found there was no evidence to support Linda's absurd stories about Richard and Dan, or about abductions by aliens. The daylight of reality must never be allowed to shine on the carefully nurtured fantasies of the abduction enthusiasts, because they would then disappear as surely as a child's nightmare monsters disappear when mummy comes in and switches the light on.

There is no need for the Pelican to describe the quite disgusting abduction fantasies about which the likes of Hopkins and Jacobs speak and write with such evident relish; they are only too well known. The question of whether or not the abduction investigators are sincere and well-intentioned is irrelevant. Their activities and methods, particularly the use of hypnotic regression, are plainly harmful. Mark Pendergrast, in his excellent investigation of false memories of incest and Satanic ritual abuse, remarks:
"I am sure that David Jacobs and John Mack feel real empathy for these people, who truly believe that they have been taken to UFOs and forcibly subjected to bizarre sexual experimentation. But their findings seem only to confirm what is already known about hypnotism that subjects tend to "remember" whatever the hypnotist is looking for. The pain is real regardless of whether the memories are of past lives, UFO abductions, or incest by parents but it was usually prompted and encouraged through the dubious means of hypnotic "regression". Investigators such as Jacobs and Mack dupe themselves and others because they genuinely want to help people, especially if, in the process, they can feel that they are also exploring uncharted territory." (8)
Perhaps the most disturbing aspect of the abduction business is that some enthusiasts do not confine their attentions to adults. Philip Klass said that CSICOP chairman Paul Kurtz had phoned him, in 1987, to express "his serious concern for the public's peace of mind because of UFO-abduction fears generated by Striebers and Hopkins's book promotion campaigns on television and other news media. He was especially concerned because of Hopkins's claim that UFOnauts abduct young children and perform surgical experiments on them". (9)

Hopkins has been much criticised recently for involving children in the investigation of alleged abductions (although apparently he doesn't go so far as to hypnotise them). Several persons who believe that they themselves have been abducted have protested vigorously about this, but to no avail. Apparently he is still at it. Note the sycophantic words of Nick Pope, reporting on Hopkins's lecture at a recent UFO conference (which had more than the usual quota of raving lunatics among its speakers):
"An interesting feature of Budd's presentation was a series of drawings from children, which seemed to show images from classic abduction scenarios. Research involving children who may be abductees is always going to be controversial, but Budd Hopkins personifies the ethical approach to abduction research and never puts his desire to gather data above his desire to help the abductee. The innocent simplicity in the testimony and drawings of these children is undeniably poignant, and is an area of abduction research that deserves closer scrutiny." (10)
Ugh! Can nothing be done to put a stop to all this disgusting nonsense and psychological child abuse?

  1. Hopkins, Budd, Witnessed: The True Story of the Brooklyn Bridge UFO Abductions, Bloomsbury, 1997, 378
  2. Ibid., 381
  3. Schnabel, Jim, Dark White. Aliens, Abductions and the UFO Obsession, Penguin Books, 1995, 214
  4. Hopkins, Budd, "House of Cards:
  5. The Butler/Hansen/Stefula critique of the Cortile case", International UFO Reporter, Vol. 18, No. 2, March/April 1993
  6. Hopkins, Witnessed, op. cit., 387
  7. Klass, Philip J., UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, Prometheus Books, 1988, 162
  8. Schnabel, op. cit., 219-220
  9. Pendergrast, Mark, Victims of Memory: Incest Accusations and Shattered Lives, HarperCollins, 1998, 113
  10. Klass, op. cit., 162-163
  11. Pope, Nick, "Istanbul 2000: UFO & New Age Symposium", UFO Magazine (UK), September/ October 2000, 44