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Location: UFOUpDatesList.Com > 1999 > Jan > Jan 27

'Mind-Body Problem'

From: Stig Agermose <stig.agermose@get2net.dk>
Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 04:17:49 +0100 (MET)
Fwd Date: Wed, 27 Jan 1999 09:19:56 -0500
Subject: 'Mind-Body Problem'

Source: The Village Voice,




January 27 - February 2, 199

Mind-Body Problem

by Greg Sandow.

UFO research teeters between science and insanity


When I tell people I've done UFO research, they react
in many ways, most of them interested and
sympathetic. But often they ask an irresistible
question. Have I heard any crazy stories?

Of course I have. How about the guy who told me
aliens put a chip in his head that made women flock
to him? Even better, he said, the aliens told him to
go out and use it . . . which, I have to say, I saw
him doing, though I doubt that aliens were

And then there was the woman from the Center for the
Study of Extraterrestrial Intelligence (CSETI), an
organization that claims to be serious and
responsible but also says it's made direct contact
with aliens. Its members have gone out at night, they
say, blinked searchlights at the sky =97 and sure
enough, the aliens blinked back! But when I asked if
I could see this for myself, their spokes-woman
turned me down, big-time. My mistake, apparently, was
asking to observe as a journalist. "Oh, no," the
CSETI representative replied. "We've learned our
lesson. We invited CBS, and they said it didn't

Then she told me that the government was beaming
harmful rays at her.

But amusing as all this i =97 I could tell crazy UFO
tales all day long =97 it's not the crazy stories that
matter. It's the sane ones. To understand the UFO
phenomenon, you need to hear firsthand accounts, from
reasonable people who aren't looking for publicity,
like the woman in her twenties and the older married
couple, who =97 in separate incidents =97 told me they saw
something really huge pass overhead in silence,
flying low, at treetop height, some years ago in the
Hudson Valley (an area with many reports of such

All three people described what seemed like similar
patterns of metallic piping on the bottom of what
they say they saw. It's that last detail that makes
these sightings more than usually impressive, though
I'm not going to say that these people saw
spaceships. How could I? How can any of us know for

But unless they're lying, it seems that they saw
something that doesn't sound much like a weather
balloon, the planet Venus, or a plane, to name a few
things often blamed for UFO reports. Nor does it seem
like a group of ultralight aircraft flying in
formation, the explanation most commonly suggested
for the Hudson Valley sightings. It's true, of
course, that people often make mistakes about what
they think they see. But these people insist they saw
real objects that darkened the sky and had a textured

You'll also find sane reports from people who think
they've been abducted by aliens. Budd Hopkins, a New
York painter and sculptor who's America's most famous
abduction researcher, at one point invited me to look
through his unopened mail.

A very few letters came from evidently crazy people.
("The aliens visit me each Thursday.") But most were
simple and sincere. These writers didn't claim to
have been abducted. They did think, though, that
something they couldn't explain was happening. Often
they sounded terrified. For most of their lives, they
wrote, they'd seen unexpected lights in their rooms
at night, and beings by their beds. The beings didn't
necessarily seem like aliens, but the letter writers
were desperate for an explanation.

They also say their encounters left otherwise
unexplained marks on their bodies. And when I've met
them, I've sometimes found them saying they remember
things they didn't dare to write about, like being
driven by their parents to an isolated field where
something like "a merry-go-round with lights" was
waiting for them. What they want to know =97 and they
ask the question warily, skeptically, thinking that
they're crazy just to write or type the words =97 is
whether abductions might explain what they say has
been happening.

Often, these abductees then get hypnotized, to
recover further memories, and that's controversial.
Most psychologists think hypnosis can't recover
memory. But psychologists who write about abductions =97
and I've read just about all the papers on the
subject ever published in psychology journals =97 make
elementary mistakes. Few have ever spoken to an
abductee, and yet they'll write that abductees are
UFO enthusiasts (not true), who proclaim their
abduction memories only after being hypnotized (also
not true). The situation is far more complex than
that, but whatever's going on, it's something nobody
has yet explained.

Which brings me to the craziest =97 and saddest =97 thing
I've seen in the world of UFOs, and that's the
confusion surrounding the subject. Mainstream media
print misinformation =97 not disinformation, not
deliberate lies or cover-ups, but just shoddy,
unchecked data, as if UFOs were beneath contempt, and
no reporter need take them seriously enough to check
historical facts. More seriously, one leading
investigator of the Roswell crash, Kevin Randle, once
told me that no one from the mainstream media had
ever looked through his files to find out why he
thinks the crash was of something alien. He let me do
it, and what I found was quite convincing, though
lately the skeptics have the upper hand, because some
leading Roswell witnesses have been caught in lies or

And within the field of UFO research, I've found a
sad polarization. On one side, we have people
blinking lights at aliens, and on the other,
scientific skeptics who think they can explain even
serious UFO reports but don't have a clue what
they're talking about. The most astonishing example
came from Donald Menzel, a Harvard astronomer who
wrote three books debunking UFOs.

Menzel laughed at a report from an Anglican priest in
New Guinea, who said he watched beings walking
around, apparently working, in a hovering UFO for
more than 20 minutes. Now, I'm not going to say this
really happened; I don't have a clue. But Menzel
suggested =97 with no evidence at all =97 that the priest
suffered from astigmatism, and either didn't know it,
or had forgotten to put on his glasses. What he saw,
said Menzel, was Venus, distorted by astigmatism into
an oval shape =97 and as for beings, those were the
priest's own eyelashes!

I myself spent four hours arguing with Philip Klass,
the most widely published current UFO skeptic, who
raged that abductees make their claims only to get on
TV. That's absurd. I've met dozens of them, and they
fervently protect their privacy. Only one has ever
let me print his name. So I had to ask: Which
abductees had Klass met? "The ones who appear with me
on television," he replied without a trace of irony.

I also talked about two airline pilots who made
headlines back in 1948, reporting that they'd seen an
unknown craft with windows swooping past their plane
one night. This, Klass writes in his 1974 book, UFOs
Explained, was "clearly" a meteor, so "clearly," in
fact, that the case must be "removed for all time
from the category of 'unidentifieds.' "

But how, I asked him, could he be so sure? That the
pilots could have seen a meteor is obvious enough,
since (as Klass points out) in other cases people did
imagine windows, when all they saw were random
lights. But even skeptics can't cite any meteor known
to fall that night in 1948, so how can Klass be

"Suppose something went wrong with your PC," he
rumbled, chuckling, but not quite answering my
question. "Would you suspect evil spirits, or would
you call a technician?" Evidently UFOs were as
improbable as ghosts to him, and as easily
dismissable. But I kept probing, and finally he took
a stand. "Since there is no proof that unknown craft
are in the sky," he said, "I prefer a prosaic
explanation." Or, in other words, since there are no
UFOs, nobody could ever see one. File that under
faith, not science.

After four years of UFO research, I'm left with only
one firm conclusion. Despite years of Star Trek, the
possibility of aliens=97 right here, now, on Earth
among us =97 is so unsettling that many people, both
skeptics and believers, can't talk sense about it.

(Image: Identified flying object: Morgianna the
Intergalactic Belly Dancer at the 1997 Roswell
"encounter" - Meg Handler)


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