High Strangeness: The UFO Abductee Problem

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The UFO Abductee Problem

There are so many things I could write about today: the shocking news that John Lennon's killer was controlled by "dark" aliens; the great white shark that washed up on an Australian beach half-devoured by some "Nessie"-type sea predator; reports that 52,000 years ago reptilian humanoids ruled our planet. Each of these topics is deserving of serious consideration, but, alas, I cannot be the considerer today, for something mush more pressing has come up.

I recently blogged about my interview with UFO researcher and author Dr. David Jacobs, and I knew when I did that someone might voice a strong opinion about Dr. Jacobs' work with UFO abductees. Sure enough, fellow blogger Jack Brewer of The UFO Trail wrote the following comment:
"About Dr. Jacobs, I would have to challenge your suggestion that his research of alien abduction is controversial. It's not controversial, it's conclusively bad science. Interested parties might choose to view a three-part post I did on the circumstances following an interview I conducted with the man at a conference in 2012. Part one:


"Here's a more recent review of more of his actions and statements:


"I hope some find that helpful and informative. In my opinion, we have responsibilities to directly address such circumstances for many reasons, the least of which not being that by avoiding the issues, we endorse their continuation and lower the quality of standards of research. Personally, I do not want to be responsible, indirectly or otherwise, of even remotely implying an experiencer of high strangeness should pursue Jacobs's brand of investigation."
This brings up a whole bevy of interesting questions for me as I continue work on my book about the career of Dr. J. Allen Hynek. It's not hard to find a high-profile UFO researcher who has been or could be accused of practicing bad science -- indeed, it was a charge levelled at Dr. Hynek many times in his career -- so in a sense, if I were to follow Jack's advice and "directly address" such practices or else be found guilty of endorsing their continuation and lowering the quality of standards of their research, I'd have to be directly addressing the issue pretty much 24/7.

It's not a big shocker that bad science permeates UFOlogy -- I have commented on such things many times in this blog -- and it would be wonderful to scour out the frauds and incompetents, but it ain't gonna happen. Is it even worth the trouble to differentiate between the UFO good guys and the UFO bad guys when their names and photos all appear side by side on the speakers' lists for every UFO conference anyway?

When I interviewed Dr. Jacobs, we talked about his relationship and experiences with Dr. Hynek, and it was a wonderful talk. The only time his abduction studies came up was when he told me a completely unprompted story about how much Allen Hynek disapproved of his work with abductees and tried to warn him away from it. This moment of self-effacement was just one of many instances in which Dr. Jacobs endeared himself to me, and I'm not going to apologize for liking the guy for it.
Would you put this cow under hypnosis?

I respect Jack's views on Jacobs, and it may well be that if I were to delve into Jacobs' work with abductees I'd feel the same scorn and disapproval. But right now I value Dr. Jacobs' 40 years of work in this field, and his wisdom and insights will be a great addition to my book.

Will it cost me some readers? Maybe so. But if I was really worried about that I wouldn't be able to mention Dr. Hynek in my book about Dr. Hynek.

I recall early on in the life of this blog when I mentioned a certain figure in UFOlogy who I intended to interview for my book, and readers warned me that that person was a fraud and a liar. It was clear to me then that I should not use a person with such a bad reputation as a source for my book, and since then I have had reason to be grateful I made that decision. But am I a hypocrite if I don't apply the same standard to Dr. Jacobs? Where, in the end, does one draw the line?
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