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September 26, 2005


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While I think that it's likely that false or distorted memories account for much if not most of the abduction phenomenon, there are immediately serious problems with this research, and not just the very small sample space.

It's clear why her sample space would be low - it's hard to win the trust of abduction claimants, many of which wish their memories would just go away. Some of those who have won their trust have practiced such poor science that the data is effectively lost forever. Selection bias would also be a major concern for this research - who are the abductee population?

Certainly in the abductee population there will be the fantasy-prone types who think The X-Files was a documentary, and would easily confuse a sleep paralysis experience with something anomalous. It seems to me that these types would be more likely to come forward, and will distort the data badly.

If John Mack was right, there should be two modalities here, with the signal being weaker than the noise. It would take a lot more digging to persuade me that he was always wrong. Other research purports to show that abductees are psychologically normal.

This is my first attempt at using trackback, since I used this story on my site. Interesting, thanks!

As the subject tries to remember what happened, ''source'' errors creep in.

That reminds me: I need to change my pants. Had one of those dreams where I forgot to wear mine. I switched in the dream, but not in real life.

Assuming that the (reported) age of the universe of at least 14.7bn yrs as valid, the only axiom as regards aliens, etc. that I might buy is that if anything can happen, it invariably does happen in a multitude of spacetime locales. I find Clancy's presumption that alien abductions cannot happen to be as logically compelling as the the once universal presumption that the earth is the center of the universe. It appears that for some, we are still undergoing the Copernican revolution. What does Clancy say of those who recall meeting and/or being abducted by aliens and who never forgot or never repressed - or had repressed - their memories? At some point, it must be easier for someone to believe honest, credible people who tell amazingly similar stories than to provide elaborate justifications for disbelieving them.

Lynn Durham


Re: I find Clancy's presumption that alien abductions cannot happen

Where does she say they cannot happen?

Re: What does Clancy say of those who recall meeting and/or being abducted by aliens and who never forgot or never repressed - or had repressed - their memories?

A false memory does not have to have been repressed. I even had one myself: read this about false memories. Also read about sleep paralysis, which does not require memories to be repressed.

I believe alien abductions can happen: I just don't see any reason to believe they are happening:

First, aliens would likely need to develop faster-than-light travel (or some equivalent cheat, like wormholes), generational ships, and/or effective methods of long-term stasis. All three of these have a lot of barriers making them difficult, if not impossible. Our understanding of physics could very well be wrong, but I'm not going to assume so until they start bumping into falsification.

Second, if aliens had the technology to do the above, I don't think they'd be abducting people: They'd probably be able to collect information in far less intrusive ways.

Third, why expend the effort of coming here? Travelling to our planet from lightyears away would probably require more than a quick stop by the local Chevron station. I may be a bit presumptive, but I imagine intelligent aliens would be fundamentally like us: They'd have an imperfect society with some level of personal selfishness. If the President got on national television and requested a trillion dollars so NASA could fly over to Alpha Centauri just to check if there's any life there, you can bet the population would be against it. About the most enthusiasm I imagine people could muster would be a cheaper automated probe.

Bottom line: All of the above seem to make it an extraordinary claim. Insert extraordinary evidence catch phrase.

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