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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1997 > Nov > Nov 11

Re: Clark on Abductions 2/2

From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 11:16:28 PST
Fwd Date: Tue, 11 Nov 1997 20:12:19 -0500
Subject: Re: Clark on Abductions 2/2

> Date: Mon, 10 Nov 1997 09:41:43 -0600 (CST)
> To: UFO UpDates - Toronto <updates@globalserve.net>
> From: Dennis <dstacy@texas.net>
> Subject: Re: UFO UpDate: Re: Clark on Abductions 2/2

> >From: clark@mn.frontiercomm.net [Jerome Clark]
> >Date: Sun, 09 Nov 1997 17:11:05 PST
> >To: updates@globalserve.net
> >Subject: RE: UFO UpDate: Clark on Abductions 2/2

> <Mucho snippo>

> >Which reminds me.  As I recall, on part one of
> >his posting, Duke asserted that nobody besides
> >Sandy Larson had ever reported the bizarre detail
> >of brain removal.  Not so.  It figures in other,
> >extremely obscure abduction claims.  Of course:
> >Ah! They got it from Sandy Larson. But of course
> >if nobody else had reported it ... well, you get the
> >drift.

> <More snippo>

> >Jerry Clark

> Let's forget labels for a minute like agnostic, advocate,
> psychosociologist, critical, skeptical, etc. When someone says
> "aliens took my brain out, rewired it, and put it back in without
> so much as a trace," in MHO it seems that a lot of ground needs
> to be thoroughly covered and dealt with in a rigorous fashion
> before one arrives at a literal interpretation, ie, that alien
> beings really *are* capable of such magical (if not downright
> divine) feats.

I refer Dennis to the entry "Larson Abduction Case,"
High Strangeness, pages 282-86, for a full account of
why, like so many abduction cases, this one is at once
puzzling, suggestive, and problematic and why it is not
possible to state much beyond that with any degree of
confidence.  Here is what I say in my concluding
remarks concerning the episode:

"The Larson story also anticipates the abduction
phenomenon's most bizarre and prolbematical
elements. If it is hard enough to believe that alien
beings are kidnapping human beings (or, worse,
taking them to other planets), it is virtually impossible
to credit that physical bodies can pass through walls
or that such occurrences can take place on city
streets or interstate highways and not be
independently observed even if they happen in
the middle of the night. Nearly as improbably,
tales of temporary brain removals have figured in
some subsequent accounts.

"In common with other abduction claims, this
one is filled with the sorts of troubling ambiguities
that would frustrate investigators looking for
positive answers."

It would be profoundly unwise, at this very
early stage of inquiry, to pretend that we know
answers.  Of course human beings, and ufologists
and debunkers are such, can't stand ambiguity,
so they need to claim positive answers where
none exist, or to pretend that all the knowledge
we need to negotiate our way through the world
is already, or very nearly, available to us.  So we
get stuck with literalist explanations and weak
supporting evidence or feeble reductionist

That's why I am an agnostic about all this,
folks.  Call me crazy, but I think we have a
whole lot more to know before we can start
making sense of the abduction phenomenon,
not to mention other kinds of anomalous
experiential phenomena.

> If I read my Hufford right, for example, it seems to me he's
> arguing for an old Hag experience -- not for the existence of an
> actual Hag who sneaks into peoples' bedrooms at night. It seems
> quite clear that there is an abduction experience, but why, if
> we're going to be agnostics, accept descriptions of same as a
> reflection of physical reality in the absence of corroborating
> evidence.

In fact, Hufford is largely agnostic on the identity of
the Old Hag itself.  He explicitly remarks that aspects of
the experience seem beyond, in his delicate phrase,
"current knowledge."  Hufford is harshly critical of those
who have argued otherwise -- in other words, have tried
to force-fit the experience, against the insistent testimony
of experiencers,  into some category of psychological
disturbance or psychophysiology.

> In fact, it would be quite interesting to see what would happen
> if one were to hypnotise a couple of hundred of Old Hag
> experiencers.

Here is what Hufford, who is intensely interested in the
abduction phenomenon and both unsympathetic to its
debunkers and critical of its more vocal advocates,
has to say (from Alien Discussions, p. 351):

"Scrupulous phenomenological investigation has
clearly established that paralysis episodes with all
of the same complex content are found all over the
world and have been since ancient times. The
connection between paralysis episodes and other
anomalies, ranging from near death experiences to
hauntings, are sharp, numerous and currently
unexplained. There is every reason to believe
that the prevalence and incidence of the paralysis
episodes has been stable for centuries, probably
millennia. If the paralysis attacks, as described by
abductees, are directly linked to abductions, there
is every reason to believe that the abduction
phenomenon has great historical depth and is
associated in complex ways with other classes of
anomalous experience. If they are not linked
directly to abduction events, then current
abduction data, clinical impressions and abduction
theory are loaded with noise."

I highly recommend Hufford's paper both for its
clear-headed critique and for its pragmatic
suggestions about how abduction research
ought to be conducted.  If followed, Hufford's
recommendations would remove us all from the
stale believers-versus-bashers stalemate.
Maybe it would even remove sarcasm and
ridicule from the discussion.


Jerry Clark

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