Tuesday, January 25, 2011

A blog entry to celebrate the finding of my Kroger gift card...

Or, to quote some Masonic ritual, "My mind is now clear." Which has to be memorized verbatim. So when a Mason says that he is studying, he is probably committing the ritual to memory.

But it's taught me that my memory is not bad. Plus, I keep notes: I've kept a dream journal since it became to fad to keep dream journals (mid-70s), helpfully annotated with what I was reading and thinking at the time. It's been a long, strange trip. A significant portion of my dreams have concerned UFOs. That by itself would not be notable, except that during my early teens, I had more than a couple of UFO sightings. My mother also had sightings, including a very vivid one the day that I was due to arrive home over the weekend from college. That weekend, I recorded one of my more vivid UFO dreams.

A close relative had a classic abduction experience not far from where I lived; reportedly (I never verified the story, so it's likely corrupted) she was driving home at night up a very steep hill when she blacked out; she awakened at the wheel of her car, which was safely parked, and lights were ascending from it into the sky.

This is the bare bones summary of my connection to the UFO enigma (there's more, but it's earlier and stranger), which I present as a prelude to a hypotheses concerning the abduction writings of Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs.

When I picked up "Missing Time" in '85 or so (and "Communion" not long after), I could not predict the reaction that it would trigger in me, and in countless others who were associated with the UFO enigma. For the first time, a writer had apparently connected the dots of what had been an inscrutable mystery.  Hopkins filled a vacuum, and subsequent writers served to corroborate his initial findings--without critically analyzing them.

I suspect that much of the negative fallout subsequent to his discreditation in recent years is due to experiencers who still believe that Jacobs and Hopkins had The Answer, and still do. But it also causes me to wonder why the initial abduction research resonated with such a core audience.

It's probable that the larger population--those who have no connection to the UFO enigma--read through the abduction books and thought, "This is complete crap." The Phil Klasses, the Phil Donohues (and any other Phils who were early debunkers) were as convinced of the nonsensical worth of the abduction books, as the experiencers who were religiously devoted to them.

I've gone back over those early dreams, re-read my notes, thought about the books that I was reading, and I now wonder if it's possible that I constructed an elaborate inner narrative based on these books, as well as television shows and magazine articles on UFOs, and that narrative was strong enough to trigger the visible phenomenon by some mechanism yet unknown... and if this same process was happening to others. Or, is it possible that there was an underlying physical phenomenon, and that Jacobs and Hopkins got part of the story right in the beginning, enough to trigger an unconscious response, but they bungled subsequent research by not following generally accepted guidelines and research protocols?

I think that this is where science can do the best work--clearly identifying what part of the phenomenon is physically real and measurable, and then attempting to discover the cause of (or at least classifying) the associated high strangeness and psychological impact of the phenomenon.

As for Gene Steinberg (who I've tended to like), I can't really fathom his reaction. He apparently considers Hopkins a close friend; and while I stopped buying the product he was selling a while back, Hopkins does come across as genial and reasonable on the air. But I have learned a big lesson in politics: defend (or oppose) the idea first, not the person.  Or, to paraphrase (yet again) Bill Clinton, if your enemies cannot attack your ideas, they will attack you personally. The data appears (at least to me) to strongly suggest that the methodology used by Hopkins and Jacobs was fundamentally flawed. Ironically, if they had followed more rigorous protocols, and approached the abduction research more scientifically, I think that they could have easily defended their work; the data would be there, vetted, double-checked.  Their conclusions might still have been wrong, but their work, defendable. Carol Rainey seems to have done the rigorous research that Hopkins didn't do, and so I doubt that he will be able to effectively respond to her critique. And while it's apparent that she does not like her ex-husband, her analysis was of Hopkins' work--not of his person.

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