Thursday, July 14, 2011
Interesting UFO cases revisited: 1. Betty and Barney Hill's Interrupted journey
Those who argue that there is plenty of evidence that some UFO reports are sightings of, or encounters with, extraterrestrial spacecraft employ two different approaches.
Some, like the late Richard Hall, attempt to convince the sceptics by drawing attention to the vast number of reports, an approach which reminds me of the title of an old British TV sitcom, Never Mind the Quality, Feel the Width. I have never found this at all convincing because if you add garbage to garbage you just get more garbage.
The other approach is to present a list of unexplained, or at least interesting, reports and argue that the best explanation for each involves the activities of ETs and their spacecraft.
If you read many of these accounts you will see that the investigators often get rather annoyed by people who insist on submitting them to critical examination. So I intend to criticise some of these "best cases", or to refer to criticisms and analyses of them which are available, but have apparently been largely ignored by those people known to Jim Moseley as "Serious Ufologists".
I'll start with the Betty and Barney Hill affair, as so many people seem to regard it as an actual alien abduction rather than giving serious consideration to a psychological explanation.
In this posting I just want to draw atttention to the work of Jim Macdonald, who drove by night over the route taken by Betty and Barney Hill on their return from Canada and compared his observations with the account of the journey given in Chapter 1 of John G. Fuller's book (The Interrupted Journey: Two lost hours "aboard a flying saucer", The Dial Press, New York, 1966). His findings appear on the website, Making Light, under the heading Alien Abduction: Betty & Barney Hill.
Macdonald's comparison with Fuller's version is very interesting and not only reinforces the sceptical attitude that the whole episode was psychological in nature, but also shows the advantages of actually following the route, rather than merely using maps and guides as Fuller did. He does not suggest that the Hills or those who investigated their story engaged in any deliberate deception.
Macdonald's account is well worth studying by those who have not done so already.
Both books are built almost entirely on hearsay evidence and do not engage the various branches of sciences in any serious way (in both books, Dr. Simon is treated as the sole authority for the entire findings of 20th century psychology and neuroscience). It's bizarre, being that Ms. Marden calls herself a social scientist and Mr. Friedman is a scientist. Unfortunately, they spend more pages attacking scientists than citing scientific works.
I am now reading the volume edited by Pflock & Brookesmith, and Betty's own book (acquired online at great expense!) is also in the queue.
Too bad our crusading scientists, Marden and Friedman, won't release the tapes and transcripts of the hypnosis sessions. I didn't realise science was proprietary.