They’re Out There

This is an alarming article. Hate mail ‘by the ton’, name-calling, character assasination, merely for doing research.

The simple act of conducting research into the matter struck some as an enterprise ”designed to cheer on child molesters,” as one anonymous letter writer wrote, ”and ridicules the suffering sustained by children who are abused as well as therapists who are knowledgeable about the effects of trauma on children’s minds and bodies.” Clancy was a ”bad person,” according to another letter writer, to question such reports. Yet another suggested that she was probably an abuser herself.

So Susan Clancy, the researcher in question, decided that ‘repressed’ memories of child abuse made for an excessively sensitive subject, and also that the fact that child abuse does actually happen tainted the research. She needed a less sensitive subject in which the memory was of an event that does not actually happen. Of course, that’s an oxymoron. The more it doesn’t happen, the more ‘sensitive’ (at least on their own accounts) the believers are likely to be.

”I thought, Thank God, man,” she recalls. ”With alien abductees, I’m never going to have to deal with the criticism that it might have actually happened.”

Famous last words, and enter John Mack, the Harvard psychologist who believes alien abductions are real events, and who has had a large if largely invisible influence on American culture in recent years.

Mack’s Harvard imprimatur jacked the credibility of abduction accounts into another orbit. Chris Carter, creator of ”The X-Files,” used Mack’s work to help sell his show to Fox.

One oddity of the article is that it never mentions Ockham’s razor or Hume on miracles or any equivalent – that is to say, it fails to make explicit the obvious weakness in the beliefs of the ‘abductees’ and (alas) John Mack himself. To wit: the abductees report being abducted by aliens. Excluding the possibility of lying for the sake of argument, there are two possible explanations: they really were abducted by aliens, or they hallucinated it. Given the inherent unlikelihood of intergalactic travel, the laws of physics, the absence of bug-eyed aliens roaming the streets [never mind the jokes, please], and the total absence of any genuine corroborating evidence whatsoever, which is more likely? That people really were abducted by aliens without the rest of the world ever seeing it or filming or videotaping it? Or that a number of people had hallucinations of a kind that is very familiar to science. And don’t ask Muldur.

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