An abridged version of the Skeptical Enquirer’s report of the session dealing with “alien abductions” at the Seattle CSICOP Conference on “The Psychology of Belief”
Many of us have been reading articles or commentaries regarding alien abductions and have just wished that someone of real authority would take up the issue and give it a thorough scientific once over. Most of us were encouraged when we learned that John Mack, award winning Professor of Psychology at Harvard University, had taken on the task.
So it was with some surprise that we found that his work Abduction: Human Encounters With Aliens proclaims Professor Mack’s beliefs that many of his patients have been abducted by aliens — and that he is now the most famous spokesman for this cause.
He vigorously defended his claims at the conference and worried some of the audience by suggesting that other cultures have always known there are other realities, other beings, other dimensions. There is a world of other dimensions, of other realities that can cross over into our own world.
Which realities, beings and dimensions he did not say. One would have expected Professor Mack’s work to at least have been well founded in scientific methodology. But this assumption took a bit of a knock when Donna Bassett, a researcher who had participated in the Professor’s research programme, was called up to the platform to speak.
At first Bassett seemed to indicate that she was one of Mack’s genuine abductees. But she quickly announced that since September 1992 she had been only posing as one in order to infiltrate Mack’s project and learn about his research methods.
“I faked it! Women have been doing it for centuries!” she said.
Ms Bassett reported that Professor Mack’s procedures were flawed and he used little or no scientific methodology. During therapy sessions patients would often get together to embellish their stories. They told Professor Mack what he wanted to hear. Of course her most telling point was that the Professor’s research methods had failed to identify that this “patient” was “faking it”.
Needless to say Professor Mack responded in the expected manner.
I am (deeply?) saddened by this…
I am a little bit clearer about this when I am told that [Bassett] was found to play this role by Philip Klass [of the CSICOP Executive Council] — since that’s his purpose, to destroy and undercut the credibility of this work.
That’s right. Sadly indeed for Professor Mack’s on-going future as a TV chat show guest, that’s what science is about.
There were a few more heated exchanges until Robert Baker ended the session on a humorous note by recommending a new direction for this line of research. He explained :
Sixty-nine percent of Americans believe in angels, and 32% claim they have had contact with them. Now that’s a lot better than for alien abductions. I think we ought to investigate angels…