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?


Laurence Galian said...

As perhaps corny as it sounds, go with your intuition. We know that there are brain cells in the heart and the stomach. So, if someone gives you a bad vibe, stay away from that person. This is your book. You don't have to automatically come up with an explanation of how you screen people, anymore than a person writing a book about music is somehow obligated to write about the science of acoustics, tuning and the mechanics of building an instrument.

Jeremy Vaeni said...

".... 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."

--The problem is that jacobs isn't just using run-of-the-mill bad science. He's at best delusional, having admittedly gone on the run in 2006 from hybrid aliens he believed were threatening him via an abductee subject's AOL instant messenger. In his cowardice, if we are to believe he believed his own story, prior to that he implanted the suggestion in another abductee's mind that she had multiple personality disorder and that he was studying MPD and believed all abductees had it. Told her this under hypnosis so that when the hybrids read her mind they would read that about him and leave him alone.

Again, delusional at best. Potentially criminal. And on his own terms he has broken every "protocol" he wrote about in The Threat.

So, when you say 40 years of wisdom and insights, I have to question how closely you've examined David Jacobs in recent years. Have you not heard of any of this? It's only the tip of the iceberg with him.

David Jacobs is to ufology as OJ Simpson is to football. You just don't invite him to do play by play on Monday nights anymore.

Mark UFO'Connell said...

To Laurence, thanks for the vote of confidence.

To Jeremy, thanks for the comments, but with all due respect I'll just point out that Dr. Jacobs in on the speakers roster for the upcoming "Contact in the Desert" conference, so I am far from the only person inviting him "to do play by play on Monday nights." Anyway, I am not exactly inviting him to do play by play; I talked with him for two hours about his relationship with Dr. Hynek. His comments were insightful, entertaining and moving, and they will be featured prominently in my book.

jeremy said...

You're right, you're not the only one. This is why ufology is a dead field--just what you said in your post: frauds and crazies sharing a stage with the well-intentioned researcher.

And if you care about your book as much as these conference promoters care about what they present to the public as legit, you'll feature him heavily in your book.

Terry the Censor said...

Jacobs is insane but he also did a lot of legit academic work before he lost his mind.

It is entirely possible he could have accurate and useful knowledge of his lucid past that could be verified independently, as well as provide documents, interview tapes, etc.

However, I would not want to rely on Jacobs' opinion or authority for anything.