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For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees

 
Anonymous Coward
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10/15/2005 02:56 PM
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For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees
Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees

Harvard University psychology researcher Susan Clancy thinks the chances are good that you know at least one person who claims to have been abducted by aliens. And she has another surprise: The people who tell these stories aren´t candidates for the funny farm.

"They´re not nuts," said Clancy, a postdoctoral researcher and author of a new book, the first to analyze the psychological underpinnings of abduction stories. "They´re normal."

Not that Clancy gives any credence to the countless tales of horny aliens, UFO-borne medical examinations and intrusive probes of nether regions. No one, she said, has actually been kidnapped by extraterrestrials.

Instead, Clancy points to other causes including sleep hallucinations, innate suggestibility and a deeply human desire to explain the world. Pop culture plays a major role, too.

These theories have been around for a while, but Clancy weaves them together in Abducted: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens to create a new, overarching explanation for alien-abduction stories, one that draws heavily on her own interviews with about 50 alleged abductees.

And she throws in a new wrinkle: Despite the horrors that many abductees report enduring, including rape, they don´t regret the experiences.

In each case, the abduction "transformed their lives, made them feel better about themselves and the world they were living in," said Clancy, a postdoctoral fellow and one of the few American academics who study alien-abduction stories as a way to understand how people develop "unusual beliefs."

It´s impossible to know exactly how many Americans think they were abducted by aliens, although polls suggest about a quarter of us think extraterrestrials have dropped by the planet. While it´s true that plenty of abductees are happy to tell their stories on the radio and the internet, Clancy said in an interview, others keep their stories to themselves because they fear being written off as crazy.

Regardless of whether they broadcast their stories to the world, "they´re not more likely than people who don´t believe to be psychiatrically impaired," she said.

In fact, the lives and occupations of abductees are often entirely ordinary. Clancy writes about her interviews with several schoolteachers, a dermatologist, a spa chef and a house cleaner. One was abducted while watching David Letterman´s show in order to create "hybrid babies"; another told about aliens who wanted to "buy land in New Hampshire, stay here and breed."

But not all had extensive memories. In fact, only about 10 percent of people who think they were abducted actually have detailed stories of what happened. The rest simply consider bits of evidence -- a mysterious bruise, perhaps, or a vague feeling -- and figure they must have been whisked away by aliens.

Why would they do that, when other explanations would seemingly make more sense? Many people would look at a bruise and assume they innocuously injured themselves without knowing it. And the typical person wouldn´t send something that fell out of his rear for analysis to see if it was a remnant of an anal probe. (One abductee did that, according to Clancy, and refused to believe the lab finding that it was actually a hemorrhoid.)

Then there´s the common assumption that even if extraterrestrials exist, they´re too advanced to bother hobnobbing with lowly humans, let alone abducting and having sex with them. "I think there are aliens, but I don’t think you have to worry about them kidnapping you," said Seth Shostak, senior astronomer at the SETI Institute, which tries to find signs of alien life in space. But these explanations don´t satisfy abductees, who tend to be imaginative people prone to two things -- "magical" thinking and suggestion, Clancy said. Indeed, she says her research has confirmed that abductees are more vulnerable to the implanting of false memories.

Hallucinations that appear during "sleep paralysis" -- a kind of twilight sleep that affects some people -- can act as a catalyst by creating delusions, Clancy said. When especially imaginative people grasp for an explanation, alien abduction -- now ingrained deeply in our culture -- comes to mind.

Not surprisingly, abductee advocates dismiss these theories. They say the false memory studies are irrelevant -- they have to do with memorizing words, not stories of UFOs -- and point to the complexity of the abduction stories themselves.

"The precision of the details is so astonishing, it takes your breath away," said Temple University history professor David Jacobs, an author who tracks abduction stories and says he´s helped 140 abductees try to recover their memories through hypnosis. (He doesn´t claim to have been kidnapped himself.)

Among other things, he said the book -- which "drips with condescension" -- ignores the phenomenon of multiple abductions, in which two or more people are kidnapped at once and support each other´s stories. He also said it fails to note that abduction researchers have tried their best to find better explanations for the stories.

Why? Because they realize that "on the surface, it´s extremely insane," Jacobs said. "We have looked at ... about 30 explanations for what this phenomenon is." But only one theory -- that the abductions are real -- holds up in most cases, he said.

And what of Clancy´s theory that abductees develop their stories because they satisfy an inner need to put the world in order? Ridiculous, said Jacobs, who points out that abductees are ridiculed when they tell their stories.

"Everybody realizes the downside to this," he said. "The upside is zero, and the downside is 100 percent."

Not quite, Clancy argues. Just as religion gives people a chance to experience "the divine," alien abductions do, too. She writes: "Doesn´t it make sense to wrap our angels and gods in space suits and repackage them as aliens?"

She said she asked abductees if they´d relive their experiences if given the chance to change the past. "Not one of them ever said, ´I wish it didn´t happen.´"
Anonymous Coward
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10/16/2005 02:52 AM
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Re: For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees
1dpanic
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10/16/2005 02:58 AM
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Re: For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees
I know a couple of people who have had these experiences and they are not happy campers.
Anonymous Coward
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10/16/2005 03:06 AM
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Re: For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees
Yes, and I´m sure hallucinations and dreaming account for scoop marks, surgical scars and implants too don´t they?
LoRd-CoNNoR

User ID: 36220
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10/29/2005 04:04 AM
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Re: For those who fear Aliens, Regret Is Alien to UFO Abductees
Nice.
But how do you assume something to do with a hemoroid is an alien device?
Thats wrong...

although im a believer so dont assume anyone is crazy... except that guy.

5a
28 days... 6 hours... 42 minutes... 12 seconds. That... is when the world... will end

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