Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
The Abduction Phenomenon is an umbrella term used to describe a number of hypotheses, claims or assertions stating that extraterrestrial creatures kidnap individuals--sometimes called "abductees"--usually for medical testing or for sexual reproduction procedures. Many such encounters are described as terrifying or humiliating, and many abductees report that extraterrestrials communicate via telepathy. Such alleged abductions are usually closely connected to UFO reports, and are often supposedly conducted by so-called Greys: Short, gray-skinned humanoids with large, pear-shaped heads and enormous, dark eyes.
While few mainstream scientists believe the phenomenon literally occurs as reported--some experts contend the field is rife with kooks and pseudoscience--there is little doubt that many apparently sincere persons report alien abductions they believe are utterly genuine. Stigma and self-doubt may be obstacles to more widespread study and/or reporting.
In his books, Harvard Medical School professor Dr. John Mack explains that common features of alien abduction experiences include the feeling of paralysis, the perception of having been transported immaterially, frequently through a beam of light; the sense of having been surgically probed or implanted with devices, the freezing or slowing of time, and sexual or reproductive contact or manipulation by the aliens. Local support groups for experiencers of the phenomenon are not uncommon.
Analysis and Proposed Explanations
Proposed psychological alternative explanations of the abduction phenomenon have included hallucination, temporary schizophrenia, and parasomniae - near-sleep mental states (hypnogogic states and sleep paralysis). Sleep paralysis in particular is often accompanied by hallucinations and peculiar sensation of malevolent or neutral presence of "something", though usually people experiencing it do not interpret that "something" as aliens.
Especially criticised as unreliable is frequent reliance on hypnosis. It's been demonstrated that false memories are often very easily created, and that hypnosis can unintentionally aid in confabulation. Some abductees, however, report vivid, detailed accounts without hypnosis.
It is worth noting that many events reported during purported abductions often have parallels in anthropology, folklore and religion: Especially frequently correlate with certain imagery persistent in shamanic experiences (e.g., surgery-like procedures, foreign objects implanted in the body) and faerie contact stories, for instance. Also of note, it has been noted that post-modern anthropologist and modern shamman Terence McKenna described seeing Machine Elves while experimenting with Dimethyltryptamine (a.k.a. DMT). The description of Machine Elves is often consistent with the description of aliens.
Abduction claimants do not always attempt to explain the phenomenon, but some take independent research interest in it themselves, and explain the lack of greater awareness of Alien Abduction as the result of either extraterrestrial or governmental interest in coverup.
Notable abduction claims
- 1957: Antonio Villas Boas (Brazil)
- 1967: Schirmer Abduction (United States)
- 1961: Hill Abduction (United States)
- 1973: Pascagoula Abduction
- 1975: Travis Walton abduction
- 1970s-1980s: Whitley Strieber
- The Skeptic's Dictionary entry on abduction
- PBS NOVA: Kidnapped by UFOs? (presents both sides)
- Supportive nonprofit group
- Yahoo support group
- General informational site
- Alien Abductions, Inc. (parody site)
- C.D.B. Bryan, Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at MIT (ISBN 0-679-42975-1)
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