The theatre of the UFO phenomenon is a manifestation of the drive for creative expression.

John L. Caughey in his illuminating study of the prevalence of fantasy in everyday life, Imaginary Social Worlds, points out that recognition as a media hero is one of the Great American Vices and a repeated theme running through the fantasies of most people. Even if UFO percipients are merely ghost-writing for the ufologists and retain their customary anonymity, the knowledge that their stories received acceptance could safely fill the needs of such a fantasy.

The creative urge can exist in a vacuum. John Rimmer's recent essay "Levels of Mystification" points out how novelists and artists continue to create in the face of scant rewards, virtual silence, and even critical rejection. Artists themselves attest to the primary role of pleasing their own aesthetic sensibilities as a measure of greatness. The work comes from deep inside, sometimes fully formed, sometimes fighting to shape itself as it finds expression in the outer world. Rimmer conjectured that abductions might be a manifestation of this compelling drive to create.

The UFO Experience as Theatre

The solution to the teleology of the UFO phenomenon has in the past tended towards two hypotheses, when it has tended anywhere at all: learning and teaching. I reject both these alternatives on the grounds of non-contact. All good education is based on interaction between student and teacher. If they want to sway us they would not display themselves furtively and seek to create fear and paranoia. If they want to learn from us they should come among us and ask questions. If they want us culturally unchanged as an experiment in sociology, they would disguise their activities better.

The irrationality of the UFO phenomenon has been commented upon frequently by ufologists. The alien way of doing things has frequently gone beyond the inscrutable into the totally dumb. Toying around with patterns in UFO behaviour one day, I realised that, for all its irrationality, the UFO phenomenon nevertheless did possess a logic. Not the logic of education, the logic of theatre.

The tip-off was all the chases. Chases are staple items in our fantasy lives. It is a formula element in most action-adventure television. Where would film-makers be if there were no screeching tyres and rising speedometers to maintain the illusion something is happening? Half the block-busters of recent years have chases in them: Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark, Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, and appropriately, Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

The reliance on chase sequences is understandable: it is a quick, easy way of heightening tension and accenting the conflicting relationships between characters. The kinetic imagery and the hint of danger excites the senses.

The frequency of chases in movies and TV contrasts outrageously with their frequency in real life: few people ever witness such a chase, let alone participate in one. The audience presumably realizes that this is unreal, but forgoes criticizing that illogic since they recognize fiction operates by conventions only occasionally having to do with real life. Reality, after all, is not as exciting as entertainment. That's why entertainment exists. Those conventions are excused by one phrase - dramatic licence.

In ufology it is a simple matter of observation that chases are absurdly commonplace. In a relatively small sample of 80 cases drawn from the Uintah region of Utah by Frank Salisbury, no fewer than six chases were in evidence. Salisbury felt this constituted a pattern which forced the question of why UFOs should want to follow cars on to ufologists.

George Fawcett in a wider study of the repetitive features of the UFO phenomenon determined the pursuit of UFOs by planes in the sky and by cars on open highways is a feature which must be explained if we are to solve the flying saucer mystery. For the year of 1967 alone, Fawcett tallied 81 UFO car chases worldwide.

What is more, the chases involve every dramaturgical gimmick that can be seen in mass entertainment. The UFO phenomenon rivals the James Bond series in its attempt to yield every permutation of vehicular mayhem. Consider if you will an incomplete tally I have compiled of vehicle-related motifs culled from the literature: saucer chases car; saucer bumps car; car controlled by alien force; saucer forces car out of control; vehicle becomes airborne; car lifted up on two wheels; car made to do 180ø turn; car teleported; saucer crashes into car; police chase saucer; saucer chases ambulance; saucer chases train, plane, hitchhiker, snowmobile; saucer fires at car; man jumps from car before crashing into building; saucer blocks road; saucer plays chicken with plane; saucer rescues 'copter; saucer swallows plane; saucer blows up plane; and plane disappears after reporting trouble involving saucer.

The existence and character of these cases lack any plausible explanation outside the realm of theatre. What possible rationale could chases serve for an extraterrestrial piloting a souped-up aerial dragster which, if some reports serve as a guide, could fly rings round a dragonfly? If it wanted the Earth vessel it could latch on to it in seconds and not spend a great deal of time curling the hairs of the drivers of the vehicles. The spectacle of cars, including police cars, chasing vessels with the implicit ability to achieve escape velocity from Earth itself has to be viewed as pure farce if we aren't meant to accept these episodes under the proviso of dramatic licence.

Like chases, abduction is a staple item in action-adventure drama: the disparity of the frequency of abductions in drama compared to real life is again striking. The essence of all drama is conflict; for conflict to take place one requires a pretext to bring antagonists together. Ideally a moral dilemma must exist. Kidnapping sets up such a clear moral dilemma and at the same time inevitably brings the hero into interaction with the villain.

We know abduction was not a necessary feature of extraterrestrial contacts. Originally the novelty of the contact was enough to capture the interest of its audience. Problems arose in such contacts: the choice of the contactee and the aliens' chary attitude to giving quality gifts commensurate with their benevolent talk. After a number of embarrassing incidents like the Adamski photos and Howard Menger's recantation, the fate of contactees was declining audiences.

The advent of abductions represented a fortuitous turn of dramaturgy. Abductions brought aliens and humans together, and then overlaid an element of conflict and power. It excused the lack of contact and gifts and, by diminishing their friendliness, permitted a larger measure of inscrutability in their acts.

Abduction is plainly unethical in the failure to obtain consents and, more significantly, in its flouting of the conventions of the host culture. It is at least problematic that a culture possessing the rationality and co-operativeness necessary to build the technology implicit in saucer sightings should engage in abduction. It is more probable, in my view, that it is a dramatic convention underlying the frequency of abduction among contemporary UFO contacts. Most of these abductions interestingly involve another dramaturgical gimmick - amnesia. Sometimes called the common cold of the soap opera, it is an extreme rarity in real life, but its dramatic possibilities are very seductive to TV writers. The victim is confronted with the mystery of a chunk missing from his life along with conflicts in the shifted relationship of the victim with his friends and enemies. The solution usually involves a climactic resolution of a traumatic character. There are also elements of sympathy and tension which can be played upon. Writers can hardly be faulted for returning again and again to this device.

In ufology likewise, amnesia is common. It is generally limited to a small period of missing time and is not associated with physical or emotional trauma. Rather it is considered an erasure of events from the mind by the abductors. What gives away the dramatic intent of this event is the recoverability of the memory. Without recoverability there would of course be no plot. Permanent erasure would seem to be a feat more fitting of a super-technology.

Explosions and crashes are the punctuation marks of adventure shows. Again there is an exaggerated frequency among UFO reports which seems to speak more to a shared function of entertainment rather than to an aspect of technological realities.

Immunity to weapons is an often seen gimmick in movie monsters and conveys a sense of alienness and power. It does the same in ufology and doubles to keep evidence from slipping into the possession of individuals on Earth.

Violating scientific sensibilities are a number of science fiction scams which have found their way into UFO lore: things like anti-gravity/ personal levitation, invisibility/matter interpenetration, mind reading, force fields, and time travel. No scientist could be faulted for disbelief in the anything goes quality to alien technology; some of these devices have been part of the stage magician's bag of tricks for centuries. And as they did for such performers, these illusions produce the desired quality of awe when seen in UFO reports.

The force field is a more recent invention of SF writers - I know of no SF apologist who grants the slightest plausibility to the concept. The use of force fields is one of the strongest arguments that UFO reporters borrow from SF in constructing a dramatic vehicle for their observations.

Mind rays are equally suspect, given the complexity of the human brain. Their visibility speaks for their dramaturgical origin: light is unlikely to effect highly specific changes in brain function. The possibility of light being an incidental function of a programming radiation suggests energies more likely to fry a brain than modify it.

These examples of dramaturgical gimmickry are but the most distinctive examples of a whole pattern of behaviour displayed by the UFO phenomenon which can only be accepted under the shelter of dramatic licence. Realising ufology is shaped by such conventions, it can come as no surprise that there are dozens of parallels of these gimmicks in science fiction films incorporating themes of alien contact and invasion.

In saying this I do not imply that there is a conscious plagiarism. Most of the parallels arise simply by the necessities of dramatic licence. Exposure to cinematic aliens may set up an understanding of dramatic logic which is drawn on at a later date, but the role of that form of inspiration is probably not extensive.

If there is one case of parallelism which seems to involve plagiarism it would have to be the similarities between the messages of the alien in the notorious Plan Nine from Outer Space and the message of Valiant Thor of Venus as presented in the 1967 book Stranger at the Pentagon. I must say, however, I cannot believe anyone would have the chutzpah to consciously model their story on material from that monumentally bad film. It could be coincidence!

Entirely Unpredisposed: the Cultural Background of UFO Abduction Reports
Martin Kottmeyer

If the UFO phenomenon is an artifact of culture one would reasonably expect that cultural antecedents could be recognized for the major features it presents. Extraterrestrials, however, should be independent of culture and if they are newly arrived their characteristics should represent a discontinuity with the past. Abduction phenomenon students have recently offered some provocative claims that such discontinuities exist. Implicitly they are claims for the weakness of the sociopsychological paradigm and the converse power of the ETH.

David Jacobs argues that the imagery of the UFO phenomenon sprang up ex nihilo in 1947. Budd Hopkins states that the complex, controlling, physically frail beings of abduction reports bear no similarity to "traditional sci-fi gods and devils". Thomas E. Bullard makes the rather more modest claim that the keystone of the abduction mystery, the interrupted journey of Betty and Barney Hill, had no cultural sources from which to derive the experience they reported. They were, to quote him, "entirely unpredisposed" since they were the first. These are forceful challenges to the proponent of the cultural origin of UFO phenomena. They have "Falsify me, I dare you" plastered on them. Can it be demonstrated that culture predisposed people to have these experiences?

The boldest claim is the one by UFO historian David Jacobs. Jacobs states "there was no precedent for the appearance or the configuration of the objects in 1947" in popular science fiction films, popular science fiction or popular culture in general. They did not resemble the fanciful rocketships or earthly space travel contraptions in the SF literature. [1]

There is a trivial sense in which this is simply wrong. Disc- shaped spaceships have a number of precedents in popular culture. They appear in Buck Rogers as far back as 1930. [2] They appear in a Flash Gordon comic strip in 1934. [3] The science fiction illustrator Frank R. Paul was drawing saucer-like craft as early as 1931 and did so repeatedly. [4]

Other SF illustrators also utilized the disc form long before 1947. [5] But these are inevitable coincidences in a large body of artistic creativity. The saucer form was not the dominant shape of spaceships in the culture; it was the rocket. In this larger sense Jacobs is correct that one would expect an outbreak of ghost rockets over America if the images of SF were the determinant of what people should be imagining. They weren't.

The cultural source of the UFO lies in a journalistic error. Kenneth Arnold's report of mysterious supersonic objects flying near Mount Rainier was a sensation that made front-page news across the nation. The speed was far beyond that of the planes of the era and no one publicized the flight in advance. It was an exciting puzzle.

The shape of the objects Arnold saw is hard to describe in a word or two. It wasn't like a plane or rocket, or even a disc. When the newsman Bill Bequette wrote the story up for the news services he recalled Arnold's describing the motion of the objects as like a saucer if you skip it across the water. Jumbling the metaphorical intent of the description, Bequette labeled the objects "flying saucers", Arnold said the term arose from "a great deal of misunderstanding". The public, however, did not know that. No drawing accompanied the story. People started looking for flying saucers and that is exactly what they found. They reported flat, circular objects that look like flying saucers sound like they should look like. Equally important: no one reported objects like the drawing in Arnold's report to the Air Force. [6] The implications of this journalistic error are staggering in the extreme. Not only does it unambigu ously point to a cultural origin of the whole flying saucer phenomenon, it erects a first-order paradox into any attempt to interpret the phenomenon in extraterrestrial terms: Why would extraterrestrials redesign their craft to conform to Bequette's error?

This paradox is especially bad news for abduction reports. By Bullard's tally 82% of craft descriptions fit the flying saucer stereotype. [7] This is far in excess of the approximately one- third portion saucers and discs make up in a more general population of UFO reports. [8] If imagination and cultural expectations play a larger role in abductions than in more reality-constrained misinterpretations of mundane stimuli, then this fact makes sense. The flying saucer mythos perfectly predisposes us to include flying saucers in our fantasies and nightmares about extraterrestrials.

This takes care of the craft, but what of the entities? Budd Hopkins emphasizes that they are complex, controlling, physically frail beings who are forced by survival needs to search out and abduct earthlings. This is quite unlike the godly aliens of Close Encounters of the Third Kind, the kindly, spiritual alien of The Day The Earth Stood Still , or the aliens of War of The Worlds who "mindlessly devour and conquer us", as Hopkins sees it. Nothing by his abductees "in any way suggests traditional sci-fi gods and devils", he wants us to know. [9]

Hopkins's descriptions leave something to be desired. The godly aliens of CE3K trash the home of the little boy Barry and they terrorize his mother as they abduct him. The disrupt the life and mind of Neary. Kindly and spiritual Klaatu happens to have a robot with him who is all business. His offer to leave a police force is eminently pragmatic. The comparison is frivolous in either case since any UFO aliens matching these descriptions go into the contactee file. Hopkins professes it is instructive that his abductees are not devoured like in War of the Worlds, but how would a myth devour a person?

That Hopkins is ignorant of science fiction would be apparent to any fan by the fact that he used the repellent phrase "sci-fi' - a sure sign of an outsider to the genre. [10] War of the Worlds is one of the recognized masterpieces, yet it is grossly evident Hopkins never read it or he would be co-opting Wells as an unconscious abductee. Far from "mindlessly" devouring us, Wells endowed his aliens with "intellects vast, cool and unsympathetic. The did not devour people but took the fresh and living blood of other creatures and injected it into their own bodies. His aliens had "no extensive muscular mechanism". The invaders also brought along for provisions bipeds with flimsy siliceous skeletons and feeble musculature. [11]

There are multiple similarities to other abduction narratives - an immense pair of dark eyes possessing an extraordinary intensity, a mouth without lips, greyish colour of skin, the skin glistening like wet leather, telepathy. They are also "absolutely without sex". Add to this that the alien craft was circular, made a peculiar humming sound, and when they flew the sky would be alive with their lights. In fact Wells's aliens more resemble Hopkins's abducting aliens than most abduction reports,

Hopkins further errs in thinking the Wells aliens are mere "satanic monsters". [12] Their motivation is survival. Their world is dying and Earth is their only escape. Ironically, just a couple of pages before Hopkins mangles War of the Worlds he quotes the impressions of an abductee that the aliens are from a society millions of years old that is dying. They desperately need to survive. This places UFO aliens squarely in the main tradition of aliens in SF films.

Dying worlds are commonplace in alien invasion movies. It leads the aliens in This Island Earth to borrow Earth scientists for their expertise in atomic energy. It motivates the aliens in The 27th Day to give Earth people the means of destroying human life. It motivates the Killers from Space to operate on a man, extract information from his mind, and compel him to become a spy saboteur. It leads the Devil Girl from Mars to abduct healthy males. It similarly motivates the aliens in I Married a Monster from Outer Space, The Mysterians, and Mars Needs Women to procure females for breeding stock. An astronomer in Invaders from Mars theorises the secret operations aliens engage in are motivated by the fact that Mars is a dying world. The aliens in the popular TV series The Invaders were also escaping a dying world. [13]

The fact is most film aliens have some implicit motivation to their activities. One of the few exceptions I could find was the "so thin - so fragile" aliens of Target Earth" and even they don't seem particularly satanic or monstrous. [14] It seems more sensible to flip Hopkins's allegation around. He says nothing about the aliens of UFO abductions resembling "sci-fi". I ask, is there anything about UFO aliens that does not resemble science fiction?

An abductee in the 1954 movie Killers from Space has a strange scar and a missing memory of the alien encounter that caused it. The mysterious impregnation of women, including virgins, and the subsequent birth of intelligent hybrid children is the theme of the 1960 film Village of the Damned. Brain implants are featured in the 1953 movie Invaders from Mars [15]

Take a look at the creatures of the 1957 movie Invasion of The Saucer Men. The bald, bulgy-brained, googly-eyed, no-nosed invaders match the stereotype of UFO aliens delineated by Bullard to an uncanny extent. It prompts worries that abductees are not only plagiarists, but have bad taste as well. [16]

Earth versus the Flying Saucers (1956) also precedes UFO lore in featuring an abduction in which thoughts are taken. Saucerians abduct a general, make his head transparent, and suck out the knowledge to store it in an Infinitely Indexed Memory Bank. Though the frequency of the motif in abduction narratives can be laid to psychological factors in the personalities of abductees, one cannot rule out the movie enculturating the association. Years from now we may have an epidemic of implanted parasites, potential chest-bursters, due to the influence of the movie Alien starting such an association. Presently such a report would be too suspect, but eventually some puzzling medical oddity might be associated with such a delusion and the UFO lore would evolve in new directions. It could just as easily never happen because of the vagaries of social factors.

In a more esoteric vein even abduction narrative structure has science fiction predecessors. Thomas Bullard has discovered a consistent structural order to events within abduction reports. There are eight types of events and they are preferentially ordered in this manner: (i) capture, (ii) examination, (iii) conference, (iv) tour, (v) otherworldly journey, (vi) theophany, (vii) return, (viii) aftermath.

No abduction has every event, but events avoid appearing out of this sequence. Abductees aren't generally given a tour of the ship before examination or conference and so forth. Bullard considers the arrangement occasionally arbitrary from a rational standpoint. The fidelity of reports to this arrangement seems, to Bullard, to indicate these are real experiences. He would expect the elements of the story to get jumbled if they were subjective. [17]

What, then, are we to make of the 1930 comic strip story "Tiger Men of Mars" in the series Buck Rogers in the 25th Century? It adheres to Bullard's structure most excellently. Wilma experiences:

(i) capture by a giant clamp leading into a spherical alien spaceship,
(ii) examination while lying on a table in an electro- hypnotic trance,
(iii) conference with a subordinate and then a leader,
(vi) theophany while gazing at the Earth from an off-world vantage point,
(vii) return,

In the aftermath there is an instance of what Bullard calls "networking" in the aliens abducting Wilma's sister, Sally.

There is also an apocalyptic finale in which the Martian moon Phobos crashes on Mars. [18]

Some idea of the structural impressiveness of this narrative can be gained from observing that only one abduction in the UFO literature has a greater number of these elements in the correct order. Two abductions have the same number of elements. The other 163 correctly ordered abductions have 5 or fewer elements in them. [19]

Obviously the presence of structure does not prove the cartoon is objectively real, and it must be granted that a long-forgotten cartoon is not a credible influence on present-day abductions. It is more likely they share an intuitive ordering principle subconsciously acquired from exposure to drama. A relabeling of Bullard's elements should make the logic clearer: (i) character introduced, (ii) peril and conflict, (iii) explanation and insight, (iv) good will and attempt to impress, (v) excitement, (vi) climax, (vii) closure, (viii) sequel.

Examination, as the peril, is the downer part of the story and would ruin a happy ending if sequenced late. Even in deviant cases the examination is never put near the end. Pragmatically, putting theophany before examination might instill trust in the abductee and make testing go better. Dramaturgically, however, such an order would be stupid since it ruins the intensity of the peril and spoils the joy of the ending and the sense of closure.

Faceless terror makes for more primordial fear. Dramatically it would be unwise to reduce the alienness before the peril by conferring with the aliens or have them host a tour. It is also bad behaviourism to place aversive stimuli after sending one's signal - the message and information in the conference, tour and theophany.

The otherworldly journey is a form of excitement and can appear any place between the capture and climax. Most of Bullard's deviant cases involve the otherworldly journey not staying in the place he deemed correct, To put it simply, Bullard's correct order is the right way to tell a story. At the very least, his evaluation that "Objectivity wins a big one" on the issue of structure is problematic.[20]

The capture event in "Tiger Men of Mars" features an incredible kid-inventor-type gizmo - a giant mechanical clamp which grabs the whole body of the victim. It's a grand cartoony contraption appropriate to its venue in a Buck Rogers situation. How odd, then, to note that such a thing appears in the Steven Kilburn abduction in Missing Time. It seems such a ridiculously impractical thing for a technologically superior culture to bother with, yet Hopkins includes it with not an indication of amusement. One can understand it in a 1930s cartoon, or even in an early script draft of War of the Worlds. At least someone realised it should be deleted. But in a real abduction? Lawson's suggestion that Kilburn was reliving a forceps-aided birth makes tons more sense. [21]

I could have more fun demolishing Hopkins's claim, but it really doesn't deserve more attention than this. Time to turn to the last of our three historical allegations.

Thomas E. Bullard opens his massively impressive study of the abduction mystery with a discussion of the legendary status of the "interrupted journey" of Betty and Barney Hill. It was the most sensational UFO story of its time; a nasty little horror story which engraved itself on the unconscious of a generation. The growth of UFO abduction reports subsequent to their appearance on the cultural scene is unsurprising. The thing that puzzles Bullard is how they got the idea. He points out that occupant reports were obscure items known only to the initiated in 1961. He believes the Hills had no knowledge they could construct a nightmare of this sort from, so he asserts "the odds are strong that the Hills went to their interrupted journey entirely unpredisposed." It is a "continuing mystery" how they originated it and as long as it is unaccounted for "the cultural tradition explanation starts off handicapped."[22]

Part of the mystery is solved by a careful reading of The Interrupted Journey. It is on record that Betty Hill had read Donald Keyhoe's book The Flying Saucer Conspiracy shortly before she be an having nightmares of abduction. Keyhoe's book cites nearly a dozen occupant cases. Most of them are outright rejected by Keyhoe. These include such farces as zebra-striped spacemen, an elephant-faced entity, 6- armed, 13-ft tall entities, space-man monster tales and contactee hoaxes. Keyhoe practically endorses, however, a Pearl Harbor report of a flyer who frightfully proclaimed "I actually saw him" - the saucer pilot. Note the pronoun is him, not it. No doubt this would have impressed Betty as similar to Barney's experience of seeing the saucer's occupants. [23]

Keyhoe also expresses a measure of acceptance of a series of UFO stories from Venezuela involving hairy dwarfs. One of these serves as a closer starting point of Betty Hill's nightmares. Two peasants first spot a bright light like a car on the nearby road. Hovering a few feet from the ground is a round machine with a brilliant glow coming from the underside. "Four little men" come out and try to drag Jesus Gomez toward the object. There is a struggle and the evidence of that struggle gives it a special credibility in Keyhoe's eyes. Keyhoe next cites the experience of Jesus Paz who was found unconscious after being set upon by a hairy dwarf. He follows this with Jose Parra's sighting of six small hairy creatures by a saucer and their transfixing him with a bright light. [24]

In Betty Hill's nightmare she must fight for consciousness and she finds herself surrounded by four short men. Barney is unconscious and is being dragged by another group of men. They numbered eight to eleven when standing in the middle of the road. They are taken from the car to a glowing saucer-shaped craft. The behaviour of the aliens is very professional and businesslike and they are dressed in somewhat military style. They are not frightening per se. This is very much in keeping in tone with Keyhoe's speculations that aliens were making a scientific study of the planet out of "neutral curiosity' or as a prelude to a mass landing. [25]

This takes us up to the saucer, but it doesn't give us much idea what should take place inside. Neutral curiosity would probably lead to some sort of examination or questioning and this pretty much does happen. Yet there is that terror of the needle in the navel and the business with the star map. Nothing in Keyhoe predisposes one to those sorts of things.

Movies provide another cultural source of expectations and imagery. Bullard himself notes a pair of movies from the fifties have medical motifs in an alien abduction setting: Invaders from Mars (1953) and "Killers from Space (1954). Though he understands the significance of the second one on some abduction cases subsequent to the Hills, he overlooked the significance of Invaders From Mars. [26]

Near the climax of the film a woman and a boy are abducted by mutants from Mars and taken to a room within a saucer. The woman is placed on a rectangular table which slides into the scene. She struggles briefly till a light shines on her face which causes her to relax and lose consciousness. A needle surrounded for part of its length by a clear plastic sheath is aimed at the back of her neck. A device at the end of the needle is going to be surgically implanted there. [27]

In The Interrupted Journey we are dealing with a woman and a man abducted by aliens described as mongoloid - itself a type of mutation. In the original nightmare Betty compares the noses of the aliens to Jimmy Durante. This is a very apt description of the noses of the mutants in Invaders from Mars. Barney, oddly, didn't see the Durante noses of the aliens. Perhaps it was in deference to Barney's on-the-scene memories that this detail was edited out by Betty in her hypnosis sessions. It may also be that the big nose prompted jokes after the speeches she gave and her unconscious took the opportunity to remove the annoying detail when Benjamin Simon unleashed it. [28]

There are some preliminary tests of a routine sort. Betty then lies down on an examining table. Needles are placed on various parts of her body including the back of the neck. Then appears a very long needle, longer than any needle she's seen before, and it is placed into her navel. She experiences great pain. The examiner puts his hand over her eyes, rubs, and the pain stops. The parallel to the calming light in Invaders from Mars is readily apparent.

I am indebted to Al Lawson for calling attention to the fact that the needle-in-the-navel motif owes its origin to imagery appearing during the Martian operating room episode. Shortly after the operation begins, the camera cuts to a high-angle view of the surgical theatre. At least, that is what it is supposed to be. The image has an ambiguous character in terms of scale and content. You are supposed to interpret it as a view of the architecture of the interior of the saucer with the dominant structure being a tubular metal beam or conduit connecting ceiling to floor. It bears a stylistic similarity to the neck implanter in having a clear plastic sheath surrounding the upper half of its length. The ambiguity of the image, however, admits an alternative interpretation. The tubular metal beam and plastic sheath becomes a hypodermic needle. Lighting of the floor suggests the curvature of an abdomen. The place where the floor and tube intersects is surrounded by a round indentation. It's the navel. In the brief snatch of time the image is seen, some people will miss the intended interpretation and see a huge hypodermic needle has been thrust into the woman's navel.

Some have seen Betty Hill's needle-in-the-navel incident as revealing a medical procedure that did not exist at the time of the encounter. In fact the aliens' reference to the procedure as a pregnancy test is quite contemporary for the period. Amniocentesis has existed as a medical procedure since the late l9th century. Back then the needle was inserted in the abdomen to draw off amniotic fluid when there was too much pressure during a pregnancy. In the late 1950s, however, it became a testing procedure to monitor preganacies of women with Rh-negative blood who might have blood group incompatibility. Subsequent to 1966 amniocentesis became a genetic screening procedure. Comparison of Mrs. Hill's ordeal to laparoscopy procedures suffers in the details. [29]

There is no conference with the aliens in Invaders from Mars and you might not expect the star map scene to originate there, but dreams have an odd penchant for distortion and condensation of memory materials. Earlier in the movie the boy and woman have a meeting with a scientist at an observatory. This character, Dr. Kelson, has a large star map on the wall behind him. He points at the map during this meeting and discusses the proximity of Mars to Earth. The most striking thing about this discussion, to the alert movie-goer, is that, while he points to the map as though these two planets are represented on it, in fact there is nothing there where the Earth should be. Kelson is faking it.

Any similarity between Kelston's star map and Betty Hill's is almost purely accidental. The paradox they share, however, is not. Betty's sketch has the two planets Kelston's lacks. (Marjorie Fish treats them as stars, ironically. Stars don't have terminators.) But when the alien asks Betty where on the map the Earth is, she relives the movie-goer's puzzlement. She has no idea. The sizes of the planets bear comparison to the planets in the star field in the credits of the film, incidentally.

Parenthetically, the script of Invaders From Mars has Kelston present a large scrapbook with newspaper columns about saucer activities to the boy before the star map discussion. This was not in the 78-minute video I saw, but an 82-minute "European" version exists that has a longer observatory scene. Does anyone know if this scene was filmed? It might explain the presentation of the large book in Betty's account. [30] [When this film was shown in Britain several years ago there was indeed a scene showing Kelston's UFO scrapbook - John Rimmer]

The match between Invaders from Mars and Betty Hill's nightmares is imperfect and obviously has none of the rigor of a mathematical equation. Dreams and nightmares by their nature are almost never veridical memories. Even if Betty Hill was really abducted, it would be unusual for her nightmares to be a photographic reply of her trauma. The felt emotions would resurface, but it would bear only a metaphoric similarity in its dramatic content. The most one would generally expect is snatches of unique imagery to help in piecing together of the sources the dream spun off from. It is something of a wonder that enough elements exist of this character - the Durante noses, and the navel-needle, and the optical tranquilization idea, and the star map - to make an identification that can be called convincing.

Barney's version of events probably owes much to what Betty said in her speeches, but there is one facet which was clearly Barney`s own contribution - the long wraparound eyes of the aliens. Donald Keyhoe emphasised it was "the worst feature" of their ugly faces. It gave them a sinister look. Their hideousness prompted Keyhoe to wonder what could have caused the Hills to imagine such creatures. It was "never fully explained". [31]

Wraparound eyes are an extreme rarity in science fiction films. I know of only one instance. They appeared on the alien of an episode of an old TV series The Outer Limits"entitled "The Bellero Shield". A person familiar with Barney's sketch in The Interrupted Journey and the sketch done in collaboration with the artist David Baker will find a "frisson" of "deja vu" creeping up his spine when seeing this episode. The resemblance is much abetted by an absence of ears, hair, and nose on both aliens. Could it be by chance? Consider this: Barney first described and drew the wraparound eyes during the hypnosis session dated 22 February 1964. "The Bellero Shield" was first broadcast on " 10 February 1964. Only twelve days separate the two instances. If the identification is admitted, the commonness of wraparound eyes in the abduction literature falls to cultural forces. [32]

Wilder Penfield once proclaimed, "It is far better to be wrong than to bc without an opinion." Penfield showed himself to be a wise scientist in formulating that maxim. Errors are much more fruitful than silence. They goad one into research and discovery. Had Jacobs, Hopkins, and Bullard been cautious and reserved, some of the surprises in this paper would never have surfaced. There are things here about the cultural nature of the UFO phenomenon I would never have suspected. The origin of flying saucers in a journalistic error, especially, is the most deeply cosmic joke to have ever fallen into my life. It may not be the ultimate refutation of the ETH in the minds of everyone, but it will do for me. For that am forever indebted to these fellows.

It is my opinion that culture predisposes people to have the sorts of UFO experiences they do to a degree we have yet to fully appreciate. If I'm wrong, my pontifications still won't be in vain.


1. Jacobs, David M., "The New Era of UFO Research", Pursuit, no. 78, 1987
2. Dille, Robert C. (ed), "The Collected Works of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century", Chelsea House Publishers, 1969
3. Lundwall, Sam J., "Science Fiction: An Illustrated History", Grosset & Dunlap, 1977
4. Sadoul, Jacques, "2000 AD: Illustrations from the Golden Age of Science Fiction Pulps", Henry Regnery, 1973
5. Ibid
6. Steiger, Brad, "Project Blue Book", Ballantine, 1976. Arnold, Kenneth, "How it All Began", in Fuller, Curtis G., "Proceedings of the First International UFO Conference", Warner, 1980
7. Bullard, Thomas E., "UFO Abductions: The Measure of a Mystery. Volume 1: Comparative Study of Abduction Reports." Fund for UFO Research, 1987
8. Story, Ronald D., "Encyclopedia of UFOs", Dolphin, 1980
9. Hopkins, Budd, "Intruders", Random, 1987
10. Nicholls, Peter, "The Science Fiction Encyclopedia", Dolphin, 1979
11. Wells, H. "The War of the Worlds"
12. Hopkins, op. cit.
13. Warren, Bill, "Keep Watching the Skies: American Science Fiction Movies of the Fifties" (2 vols), McFarland, 1982. Naha, Ed., "The Science Fictionary", Wideview, 1980; Hardy, Phil, "The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Movies", Woodbury, 1984
14. Warren, op. cit.
15. Bullard, op. cit. Naha, op. cit.
16. Rebello, Stephen, "Selling Nightmares: Movie Poster Artists of the Fifties", Cinefantastique, March, 1988
17. Bullard, op. cit.
18. Dille, op. cit.
19. Bullard, op. cit.
20. Bullard, op. cit.
21. Hopkins, Budd: "Missing Time", Richard Marke, 1981. Warren, op. cit. "Magonia", No. 10, 1982
22. Bullard, op. cit.
23. Fuller, John G., "The Interrupted Journey: Two Lost Hours Aboard a Flying Saucer", Dell, 1966, pp. 45-9. Keyhoe, Donald E., The Flying Saucer Conspiracy", Fieldcrest, 1955
24. Keyhoe, op. cit.
25. Fuller, op. cit, Keyhoe, op. cit.
26. Bullard, op. cit.
27. "Invaders From Mars" (1953), video, Fox Hills Video, 1987.
28. Fuller, op. cit. Bullard, op. cit.
29. Friedman, Stanton and Slate, B. Ann, "UFO Star Base Discovered", UFO Report, 2, no. 1, fall 1974.
30. Battle, John Tucker, "Invaders From Mars", Script City, n.d. p. 42
31. Keyhoe, Donald E., "Aliens From Space", Doubleday, 1973
32. Schow, David J. and Frentzen, Jeffrey, "The Outer Limits - The Official Companion", Ace, 1986 Bullard, op. cit.,.

Have You Ever Noticed That No Good Looking People Believe in Alien Abductions?

This was the question asked in the University of Kalamazoo lecture theatre by noted astronomer Dr. Laban Shrewsbury last Friday evening. Dr. Shrewsbury, whose latest book, Use Your Head and Stop Being Such a Loser, You Loser, is currently on the New York Times bestseller list, was brought to Michigan by the Wicked Scholar's Society as part of their "Let's Debunk Everything and Make People Look Stupid" lecture series.

Dr. Shewsbury is the head of the SETI (Search for Extra Terrestrial Intelligence) project at the Mount Kadath Observatory in Arkham Mass. and has spent the last 35 years searching for proof of life elsewhere in the universe.

The possibility that life exists somewhere else in the universe is an intriguing probability. When you consider that there are more stars in space than there are grains of sand in all of the beaches in all of the world, it seems impossible that life would not have evolved elsewhere. In fact, we are now quite certain that many of the basic building blocks of all living things on earth such as certain amino acids and elements, did not occur naturally on earth but were deposited here by comets and other space debris.

When queried about the apparent contradiction between his belief in extra terrestrial life and his cheerful ridiculing of people who believe in alien abductions, Dr. Shrewsbury had this to say to Wicked Scholar editor Eric Wolf:

I obviously believe whole heartedly in the existence of other life forms beyond earth. I've devoted 35 years of my life to the search. What I find absolutely amazing is the number of people who believe totally and completely that intelligent aliens routinely visit the earth and carry out experiments on human subjects. Over the past several decades, I have been contacted by literally hundreds of people who sincerely believe that they have been the victim of an alien abduction.

I've noticed some common threads that bind most if not all of these individuals together. First of all, most of the people who report that they have been abducted are not at all attractive and many are downright ugly. Secondly, almost to a person they are uneducated and quite stupid. Intelligent, critical thinkers, of course, instantly recognize abduction stories for what they really are; the adolescent fantasies of pathetic, fat, stupid, people with empty, meaningless lives. Many of them live below the poverty level and long to escape from an unbearable existence. They fervently wish they could be a Han Solo, a Captain Kirk, a beautiful and powerful queen on a distant planet. Their conception of what aliens look like clearly reflects what they have been conditioned to believe aliens would look like. For example, take grey aliens (grey aliens are anthropoid, hairless, with big black eyes and grey skin. They are often described as looking like embryonic humans ed. note). The statistical odds of creatures that look even remotely human evolving elsewhere in the universe is so astronomically small that it is pointless to even consider the possibility. That we look the way we do is the result of millions of chance occurrences which have taken place since the beginning of time. Had the Great Age of Dinosaurs not ended 50 million years ago, the higher mammals including humans could never have evolved.

The whole concept of the grey alien is taken right out of a 1950's science fiction movie. Aliens had to be different enough from humans to be threatening and alien, but they could not be so different that the special effects and makeup would blow the budget for the movie. So, producers would dress an actor in a shiny suit, put something over their head and face and voila, you have an instant alien. As special effects improved, the 50's alien was gradually refined to look like the image we see week after week on the X Files.

Today aliens are a cottage industry. People have realized that extraterrestrials mean money. Blatantly fake alien autopsies draw millions of viewers when they are shown on television. Every time you turn on the television the same old dubious evidence for the existence of aliens is trotted our for the brain dead masses who don't realize that the crap they are lapping up was scientifically refuted 30 years ago. It is no coincidence that many of the so called abductees who claim to have been visited by grey aliens watched a lot of science fiction movies as children. The image of the huge headed alien with gleaming black eyes has become a part of our popular culture. If you ask virtually anyone in the world what an alien looks like, they will probably describe what is popularly known as a grey.

The grey alien image is used on everything from snow boards to record labels, to cereal boxes. If one were to develop a paranoia about alien visitors, they would undoubtedly describe the appearance of their tormentors as, surprise, surprise, a grey alien. Even more asinine than the grey alien is the nordic type (nordic types look like Conan for lack of a better comparison. Men are heavily muscled and have long flowing hair. Women are beautiful and have perfect bodies - ed. note). It is understandable that homely and insecure individuals would fantasize about being abducted by members of a gorgeous race of aliens, particularly when the abduction experience often involves sexual experimentation and inter-species breeding.

The rich, successful, well educated, and good looking do not believe in alien abductions unless they are mentally ill. Several years ago I conducted a survey of people who believed they had been the victim of an alien abduction to create a profile of the typical abductee. Oddly enough, there is a very strong correlation between the type of vehicle a person drives and whether or not they believe in alien abductions. Seventy three percent of people who have reported an abduction incident drive a pick-up truck that is more than 10 years old. Ninety eight percent of the pick-ups have 2 or more body panels that are different colours. The favourite recreational activity or sport of ninety two percent of the people who reported they had been abducted was watching professional wrestling, hunting, and stock car racing. Seventy five percent of abductees live in a mobile home in the southern United States. Interestingly, there is not a single alien abduction report from Europe, Africa, or Asia.

As most people who believe in alien abductions are stupid and poorly educated, explaining the realities of physics, biology, chemistry, and astronomy is like trying to describe a jet engine to a chimpanzee. It's a futile activity. I don't even bother explaining the theory of relativity to alien abduction believers as most think it has something to do with incest. That's not to say that I haven't sometimes enjoyed my encounters with alien abductees. Their childlike imaginations and wide eyed wonder at the universe around them and the secrets it holds reminds me of me when I was a child, blissfully unaware of a universe of discovery ahead of me.