From: Eustaquio Andrea Patounas <socex.ufobras.nul> Date: Sat, 17 Mar 2007 11:11:31 -0300 Fwd Date: Sun, 18 Mar 2007 08:41:42 -0400 Subject: Interview With Thomas Eddie Bullard Interview With Thomas Eddie Bullard By Milton Frank President Brazilian Ufology Center 17/03/2007 1- Why did you get involved with ufology? Have you ever seen an UFO? If so, how was your experience? I feel like I have had an interest in UFOS throughout my life. I remember fondly the 1950s "alien invasion" movies, the science fiction comic books, and the spaceman toys I played with as a child, but my first memory of real UFOS begins with 1957. I was 8 years old and settled down with the morning paper to read about Sputnik when I saw reports of big egg-shaped objects landing in Texas and causing car engines to stall. I was fascinated. In the next few years I discovered Fate magazine and Ray Palmer's Flying Saucers, read Donald Keyhoe's books from the local library, and collected every newspaper report or magazine article I could find. I joined APRO and NICAP in the mid-1960s and continued to read every new book that dealt with UFOS. Once I entered graduate school and needed a dissertation topic, this lifelong interest in UFOS was an obvious choice. At this point I began a serious scholarly study of the subject. My interest has always been purely intellectual and not based on experience. I have seen many of the best spectacles of nature - a total eclipse of the sun, a red aurora borealis, comets, bolides - but never a UFO, I'm sorry to say. 2- Do you believe in abductions? If not why? Abductions are real as the experiences of many people. Are abductions also real-world events - that is, with nuts-and-bolts spaceships and flesh-and-blood aliens? I don't know. All I can say is that many sincere people describe the experience with emotion and conviction. The stories these people tell have a surprising consistency - the descriptions of the entities, sensations, and setting are similar, the events and their sequence stays the same from one account to another. At the same time an account of alien kidnap invites imaginative elaboration, if the story is in fact a fantasy. That variation does not occur, and for that reason I have to doubt that these accounts are fantasies. The conventional explanations for abductions - sleep paralysis, fantasy-proneness, the influence of well- publicized accounts, confabulation between the investigator and the abductee to create a "proper" abduction story - do not provide adequate explanations for the accounts of abductees. To say that I "believe" in abductions would be misleading. I cannot say with full certainty what they are, but the testimonial evidence gives me good reason to accept that many people have had a very strange experience, and they describe it in similar ways just as people do when they have experienced a similar event. 3- How can a researcher start to study abductions cases? What kind of methodology in your opinion is appropriate to study abduction cases? There are several ways to research abductions. The most familiar way is to investigate the experiences of individual abductees. Another way is to test theories about abductions, for example, the studies of psychologists to find out if abductees are fantasy-prone or mentally disturbed. I have pursued a third possibility - the comparative study of abduction reports to see if some patterns of consistency emerge. Each approach has its own methodology. A case investigator must have the skills to interview witnesses without asking leading questions, the empathy to deal with people disturbed by their experiences, and - perhaps - familiarity with the techniques of hypnosis. The use of hypnosis is, of course, controversial, because hypnosis can lead to false memories, elaborate fantasies, and doing more harm than good. No one should attempt hypnosis without proper training. The testing of theories about abductions usually takes place within the framework of an academic study. The investigator proposes some hypothesis and carries out experiments, often using standardized tests, with the ultimate goal of publishing a paper in a scientific journal. Most work of this type requires the academic expertise to design a proper experiment, select a suitable sample of test subjects, choose appropriate test instruments, and apply statistical analysis to the results. A comparative study is probably the easiest way to study abductions. Published accounts can provide the data and investigators can search for patterns of similarity. Each of these three approaches can make a valuable contribution to understanding UFO abductions. The choice depends on the talents, preferences, and resources of the investigator. 4- I know you have been researching abductions cases for a long time. What conclusions did you come to about them? I have had the good fortune to examine a great many abduction reports, and my studies have led me to recognize many patterns within this body of reports. In speaking of those reports, I can say that they do not act like fictitious narratives. Abduction accounts have a stubborn consistency that suggests many different witnesses have similar experiences - in other words, the stories that these people tell are more like descriptions of real-world events than products of the imagination. I have met a number of abductees over the years and their sincerity is impressive, but any conclusion I reach must be based on narrative texts, since my systematic studies have dealt only with those texts. From what I see in the accounts, I can only say that they seem to describe an honest and frightening experience. No alternative explanation like fantasy-proneness, sleep paralysis, or confabulation provides an adequate solution for abduction reports, leaving experience of a real event as the answer that best fits the data. 5- In your opinion, what are the most real and important abduction case that you've been involved with? I continue to be impressed by the Barney and Betty Hill abduction. Two reliable witnesses reported it, no prior publicity about the subject contaminated their expectations, their separate accounts accord without contradictions, and elements of their descriptions that did not receive emphasis have nevertheless turned up over and over again in subsequent reports. I have taken a ride along the road they were traveling and stopped at the spots where they paused to look at the UFO. From seeing the positions where the UFO pursued the Hills or hovered near them, I am convinced that planets, stars, or airplanes cannot explain the UFO. Another case that intrigues me is the strange experience of Nobel Prize-winning biochemist Kary Mullis, described in his book, Dancing Naked in the Mind Field. He encountered a luminous raccoon and had a missing time experience, though no memories of entering a UFO or having an examination. Mullis does not think that he was abducted by aliens, but he realizes how closely his experience resembles abduction accounts. For ufologists this case is important because Mullis is obviously an intelligent witness, and he was wide awake, walking to the outhouse when the missing time occurred. The events he describes, and the panic attack he suffered later, closely resemble so many other abduction experiences and affirm that they are more than hoaxes or fantasies. 6- Are you able to give me five reasons to believe in abductions, or five reasons not to believe in abductions, or both? There are good reasons to doubt that abductions are real: Abductions ought to number in the millions, yet with all the surveillance cameras active today, no camera has recorded a convincing case of abduction in progress. Despite claims that objects removed from abductees' bodies are recovered implants; these objects have not presented any distinctively alien characteristic. In fact no convincing physical proof has been forthcoming, and even documentation of missing-fetus claims has never materialized. Doubts about hypnosis, suspicions that investigators lead their witnesses, and the possibility that false pregnancy could account for missing-fetus cases present reasons to think that psychological causes rather than alien activity may explain many parts of the abduction story. In many ways an abduction program makes little sense. Why so many instances? Why would aliens able to create hybrids out of captured human DNA even need to kidnap human specimens, since these aliens should be advanced enough to bio-engineer anything they want from raw materials. We have known about abductions for over 40 years. Earthly technology has changes much in this time; these aliens with such supposedly advanced technology do not appear to have changed at all. In this same 40 years we have accumulated many stories but no hard evidence. This lack of progress (ours and theirs) characterizes the history of a belief but not the history of discovering a real-world phenomenon. On the other hand, there are strong reasons to believe that something really might be happening. Abduction stories have not changed much in 40 years. These stories are fantastic, loosely constructed, and invite creative elaboration, yet these changes have not occurred. The same content and descriptive elements reappear; the episodes and events in the story keep to the same place - in other words, the stories act like accounts of real events, not like imaginative fantasies. This consistency appears immune to important cultural influences like the movie, Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and Whitley Strieber's best- selling book, Communion. Millions of people saw the aliens depicted in the movie and on the book cover, yet descriptions of abduction aliens show little change in response to these cultural influences. The consistencies seem inherent in the story and do not depend on certain investigators. Abductees are not mentally disturbed people. Psychological tests show that abductees are normal, not fantasy-prone or characterized by any sort of mental trait that might account for abductions. Much publicity has accompanied a Harvard study that identified a small sample of abductees as fantasy-prone, but efforts to duplicate these findings have failed. An appeal to sleep paralysis as the experiential basis for abductions fails to consider that at least half the abduction reports in the literature come from people who were not asleep. Whatever the cause of abductions, they seem to be genuine experiences of some sort. 7- In your opinion, what is the most interesting UFO article you've published? What does it talk about? Could you send us a copy? UFOS - Lost in the Myths - in David M. Jacobs, editor, UFOS And Abductions: Challenging The Borders Of Knowledge [University Press of Kansas, 2000]). In this article I argue that critics often attack what people think about UFOS rather than the observational evidence for them. Beliefs about UFOS - where they come from, why they are here, and conspiracies to hide the truth about them - have become taken for granted and mistaken for established truths. In fact our ideas about UFOS form a system of beliefs that is complex and self-confirming, in fact a modern myth. Much of what we talk about and think about when we discuss UFOS is this myth and not real evidence. Our social and cultural understanding of UFOS replaces the phenomenon of UFOS with ideas that satisfy human wants and needs, so that the myth conceals much of the reality. This confusion leads critics to overlook the evidence for a physical phenomenon and dismiss UFOS as nothing more than products of human belief. ([And yes, I'll be happy to send you a copy.) 8- Are you still a NICAP member? How is your involvement with NICAP, MUFON and CUFOS? Could you tell us a little bit about this? I was a member of the original NICAP during the 1960s. I am now a member of MUFON and a board member of CUFOS and the Fund for UFO Research. In this age when the Internet has replaced UFO organizations as the main source of UFO information for many people, I think UFO organizations are more important than ever. The Internet provides endless information but little or no quality control. A newcomer can drown in too much information and never learn the true from the false, the significant from the junk. A responsible organization can provide the necessary guidance and education that every newcomer needs, the fellowship that brings interested people together into a community of common purpose, and the critical knowledge to separate the good UFO evidence from errors, misidentifications, and hoaxes. A do- it-yourself approach to ufology is likely to go astray, but in this country, MUFON and CUFOS offer (as NICAP did in the past) the expertise of some of the best ufologists and an opportunity for the public to participate in organized research. The unfortunate truth is that most UFO organizations today are losing members and funding. The membership grows old and gray while younger people dedicate themselves to the Internet, while Internet communications among the best researchers are usually restricted to one another and never reach the general public. UFO research needs the enthusiasm and new ideas of the young, tempered by the experience of the old. Without this partnership and the sharing of quality UFO information, the future of organized ufology looks grim, and so does the future of serious, disciplined study of UFOS. 9- Do you think that hypnosis is a good methodology for studying abductions cases? Would you use hypnosis during an abduction case? I have no experience with the use of hypnosis in abduction investigations, but I have read some of the academic literature concerning the usefulness of hypnosis. The verdict of most of that literature is negative. Scientific studies indicate that hypnosis is not a mental state but a form of role-playing, that is, the subject relaxes and conforms to the demands of the hypnosis situation. The subject needs to be susceptible to suggestion for hypnosis to work, and the hypnotist provides the suggestions. Some individuals are capable of remarkable behaviors, as in the old stage shows where subjects would crow like a chicken, become so rigid that their bodies would not bend while they lay horizontal with only their heads and feet supported, or fail to see certain objects in plain sight - all at the suggestion of the hypnotist. In recent times the police have used hypnosis to recover details of crimes, and much enthusiasm followed these apparent successes. The truth was far less spectacular. The information recalled under hypnosis was as often false as true, and hypnosis lowered the subject's threshold of acceptance so that the erroneous memories seemed as real as the genuine memories. What was worse, some subjects created entire false memories out of suggestions - even inadvertent ones - from the hypnotist, and those false memories seemed as vivid as real memories to the subject. Even as hypnosis lost favor for police work, it became a therapist's tool during the 1980s for recovering so-called repressed memories. The theory went that traumatic experiences like childhood sexual abuse caused the victim to dissociate and repress the memories. Those unconscious memories caused emotional turmoil, and relief came only by restoring those memories to conscious awareness. Many therapists found multiple personalities and horrific histories of abuse and satanic rituals among both adults and young children. It seemed for a while as if every day-care facility and a great many seemingly happy, normal families were responsible for grotesque and disgusting activities, all discovered by means of hypnosis. In fact hypnosis did not reveal but rather helped create this panic. The "memories" were false, not only fantastic at face value but often contrary to independent evidence. By the time dozens of people had gone to jail and many lives were ruined, the truth sank in that the procedures of the therapists, and especially the enhanced suggestibility of the hypnosis situation, had created an illusion of widespread, organized, and horrific abuse. The lesson for ufology was clear: If so much of the evidence for abduction emerges under hypnosis, then that evidence also might be false memories. Some important differences should be noted: A great deal of abduction evidence comes out without hypnosis - in fact most abductees recall something about what happened to them without it, and hypnosis may do nothing more than help clarify memories, rather than create them. Many abductees do not reconstruct memories bit by bit, step by step under hypnosis; rather the memories often tumble out as if some barrier has broken down. This difference suggests a possible distinction in how hypnosis works with abductees, as opposed to people creating false memories. The techniques that therapists used to recover memories often took aggressive form - small children asked the same question over and over until it became clear the therapist would not take "no" for an answer, adults with no prior memory of abuse being told that it must have happened and given vivid suggestions to think about, for example. At least abduction researchers have been much more careful. A final fact worth noting is that the content of abduction accounts stays the same with or without hypnosis, and no matter who performs it. If hypnosis allows free play to suggestion, fantasy, and memory distortion, the use of hypnosis should lead to much more imaginative abduction narratives. If the hypnotist leads subjects to affirm his agenda, the subjects of each hypnotist should reflect his particular interests and goals. Neither outcome is apparent in the literature of abduction reports. What we have, then, is good reason to fear the consequences of hypnosis. We can take comfort that those consequences do not seem to have been realized in the results from abduction research, but the use of hypnosis arouses the suspicions of skeptics that abduction is nothing more than a false memory created by hypnosis. Its use throws doubt on the entire subject of abduction. In fact, the "standard" conventional explanation for abductions among psychologists and skeptics blames hypnosis for creating false memories based on cultural information about abductions and guided into standard form by a hypnotist who is a believer in abductions. In any case, a genuine danger is present that false memories will result from hypnosis. The ufologist faces a dilemma - use of this technique recovers some memories that do not emerge otherwise, but this use casts doubt on those same results and everything else about abductions. Ufology would be better off without recourse to hypnosis, but it has become an indispensable tool, though one that will continue to be a lightning-rod for criticism. 10- I really would like you to leave a message for The Brazilian Ufology Center. Right now we have 33,000 members, and they really would like to hear what you have to say to them. Greetings, I am happy to have a chance to speak to you through this interview, and I hope you will find some interest in it. The UFO phenomenon is a worldwide problem but our perspective is usually no bigger than one country. This is unfortunate because the full scope of the mystery gets lost in this narrow perspective. Brazil has had a long and amazing history of UFO events, and I hope communications will continue as we work together to understand the nature of UFOS. As I said above, UFO organizations are more important than ever today. They serve as active investigations units, repositories of data, centers of education, and agents to uphold standards of quality. All these jobs are important, and I am happy to learn that the Brazilian Ufology Center is taking a vigorous part in this work.
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