Saturday, March 20, 2010

The Alien Abduction Survey

This alien abduction survey surprised me a little. Given the nature of this blog, I suspected that alien visitation would receive the most votes, but I didn’t think that sleep paralysis would do quite so well.

Since I allowed multiple answers, quite naturally, the percentage totals add up to more than one hundred. And, of course, this is not a scientific poll, though it certainly suggests something about what those interested in these paranormal topics think.

So, what did we learn. There are a large number of people who believe that sleep paralysis can explain some of the alien abductions. Given that the symptoms of sleep paralysis mirror the symptoms of alien abduction, this is no real surprise. What we need is a way to discriminate between abduction and sleep paralysis. Kathleen Marden (seen here), the niece of Betty Hill, has told me that abductions are described in color but sleep paralysis is in black and white. I haven’t verified this, but it shows that Marden is searching for an answer and that is a good thing.

Few thought that hypnotic regression had much to do with abduction but I think that might be a misunderstanding of what hypnosis is and what it does, both good and bad. Too many regressions of the same subject can lead in all sorts of unreliable directions and I fear that too few abduction researchers understand this.

Imagination received more votes than I expected because imagination is suggestive of hoax. You could have an imaginative episode that you believe to be abduction that is not part of a conscious hoax. I say it that way because the abductee might believe in the abduction but imagined the circumstances without the help or guidance of an abduction researcher. I suppose we could call this confabulation in the truest sense of the word.

In the end it seems that many people understand there is not a single explanation for alien abduction. What we’re going to find in the end is a combination of answers that will account for everything. It’s just that we don’t have the proper combination figured out yet. When we get there, then we’ll have something important.


Sarge said...

There are also many who claim they have been "spiritually taken".
They hold that it is possible to have your mind and spirit/soul/whatever, taken while your body remains where it was.
Another twist to the tale.

Michael Malone said...

Maybe I'm too much of a skeptic, but without physical evidence, I simply don't put much stock in Alien Abduction "stories."

And I don't really understand how researchers who claim to have recurring abductees don't even attempt to get physical evidence. If I'm wrong, please share examples.

cda said...

The little physical evidence that has been produced has, in every case, turned out to be worthless.

I recall a convention in London in 1994 at which Dr David Jacobs predicted that "within 5 or 6 years" (his words) the physical reality of abductions would be established. He fully expected it before the millennium. The subject seems to have gone very quiet since 2000. Perhaps ufology has got bored with it all.

What are Hopkins and Jacobs doing nowadays?

Erich Kuersten said...

I voted for both sleep paralysis and actual visitation because I think they are linked in a deep way we cannot begin to understand. Terence McKenna, Rick Strassman and others write about the "heroic dose" of hallucinogens which facilitate a form of inter-dimensional alien contact, and I've experienced both that and sleep paralysis and also intense lucid dreaming seeing a being which I was shocked to find years later on a Tibetan demon mask postcard. Sleep paralysis itself is very scary and strange and if you've been stuck in it you know what I mean. It's much more "real" to you at the time than most waking or dreaming states and yet there's the feeling if you can "awaken" you will escape from these beings. Now add Jung's theory of the collective unconscious and an overarching metaphor occurs - if we consider human consciousness as a radio station on a long dial, let's say, the reception is clear when we're awake and gets foggier when we sleep, but every once in awhile it can slip far to the left, and not only pick up the "alien signal" but be picked up as a signal by the alien in turn.

Anyway, just some speculation based on my own research and daydreaming! Thanks so much for your blog, which is among the more even-keeled and open-minded on the subject, by which I mean the Sherlock Holmes adage of never believing nor disbelieving anything without proof, too many people forget that disbelieving can be even more wrongheaded than believing, especially as far as old establishment reductionist/positivist science goes. The left brain always likes to prove it's more important. Your blog doesn't skimp on either hemisphere! good show.

Anonymous said...

Eric - Fascinating idea! I think it may be plausible. Whatever Abduction is - and I do think it exists - it's a much more complex and subtle happening than we have the technology or mind to understand.

cda - You ask about David Jacobs. It seems he's gotten himself into a sticky-wicket. There's him on audio and it's not good. His paranoia about hybrids hunting him and his family and bullying a client reminds me of what John Keel wrote about many years ago about this subject potentially making you unstable.

You may read the Jacobs matter (audio recordings of him here too)

BoyintheMachine said...

Sleep paralysis is black and white???

Some people do dream in black and white. I don't, but I'm sure some people do.

I've had sleep paralysis before. Most people I know have had it. I've never had it at night and I've never had any visionary or imagery aspect to it, nor have I ever sensed a presence. Instead it only occures sometimes when I nap during the day, while I'm on my stomach for some reason. I can move like a finger but that's it. In my mind I will sometimes scream out for help and I may think I am actually screaming but I know from later asking relatives that I did not scream out at all. In the past I always used to fight it until I woke up but now I've learned to just surrender to it and go back to sleep. It's no biggie.

With all honesty, I don't understand how sleep paralysis could be mistaken for alien abductions. I can understand religious people thinking it is something sinister or demonic, but not relating to being kidnapped by aliens.

Most of my family has had sleep paralysis and the family members I've questioned all say that visual images weren't part of the experience. Most of my friends have also had the experience and they too agree they didn't see anything or sense the presence of anything, but of course they always laugt because you can only move like a finger and during the experience you feel like you are going to die or something, but of course you never do.

BoyintheMachine said...

Sorry for the rambling post, but what I want to ask is if the people pushing the sleep paralysis explanation for alien abductions have ever had sleep paraysis. I'm thining they probably have not. I know a lot of people who have had the experience and I've yet to meet someone (in real life vs. the internet) who has claimed imagery or a sense of presence to be part of the experience. I'm sorry but when you have the experience your energy and attention is going towards fighting it rather than pondering if you are alone in the room! -And it only last seconds! That's what people may not understand. It only lasts a few seconds. It may feel like a long time but it's only a few seconds. You either fight it and wake up or you surrender and go back to sleep.

starman said...

Good posts, BoyintheMachine. I'd like to add something. If we can assume sleep paralysis has been around as long as homo sapiens, why is the abduction phenomenon so relatively recent? I just don't see any connection between sleep paralysis and aliens.

Sarge said...

Sleep paralysis has been suggested as the source of the old Sucubus and Incubus stories.
I've had it happen a couple of times and in my case the instinct is to fight my way out.
Like you though, I have never had any sense of another presence.
I tend to think of there being two types of "Abductions". A physical act, and a mental act. One can be understood by others as it makes some sense, and the other has all the outward earmarks of a delusion.
The problem for researchers is that both cases are just as real to the "abductee", and may well be just as real.
We just do not know yet.

Lance said...


Looking forward to your appearance on the Paracast.
Has the show already been taped?
Are you familiar with the recent (recently publicized anyway) material between Jacobs and his subject, Emma?

I have to say Jacobs looks even more evil and silly when you listen to the way the conducts his "research."


General Chaos said...

Long ago, I had what I'd consider either an abduction or a truly realistic dream. Its been decades, but I was on the ship and they were doing something to me. When I woke up, I had unusual sore spots on my neck behind my ear. At the time, it was such a vivid dream, it was almost too real to be a dream.

terry the censor said...

Sleep paralysis is brief, true, but that is not the whole foundation of abduction "experiences." Alongside sleep paralysis, add the sounds and images we perceive when falling asleep and waking. These can be very intense and seem quite real (recently I had dinner with my mother. Hours later, in my apartment, I heard her voice very loud and clear as I feel asleep. My head jumped off the pillow, but of course I was alone).

All this (unwitnessed) dream content can be used later by investigaters to construct more elaborate "memories" using hypnosis and other forms of suggestion. Kevin notes this "dream=memory" nonsense throughout _Abduction Enigma_.

The philosopher Ian Hacking has also found this misuse of dream content, hypnosis, and what he calls "loop effect" in his reviews of multiple personality disorder (1995) and fugue (1997). The appearance of these "disorders" in patients seems to be heavily determined by the presuppositions of the investigators, just as Kevin found with UFO abductions.

I am finishing reading Kevin's _Abduction Enigma_ and Hacking's books at the same time and am constantly amazed at the parallels of these contested "syndromes."

Pauline Wilson said...


Besides sleep paralysis I believe we should also consider the fantasy-prone personality (FPP) hypothesis. A recent web search revealed at least seven studies have been published looking at the FPP. I have posted details on my blog at

St George Bryan said...

Something's going on.
My dad, CDB Bryan the author of Friendly Fire, found this subject so intriguing he wrote Close Encounter of a Fourth Kind. It was the first time a mainstream journalist did a straightforward book on the subject of alien abduction.
You can read more about his book and see aterrific interview with Tom Snyder on my blog