UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

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UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#1  Postby lpetrich » Sep 22, 2015 8:07 pm

The Extraterrestrial in US Culture - D-Scholarship@Pitt by Mark Lowery Harrison (2006) covers not just ET's but also the spirit world according to Spiritualists. ET's being physical inhabitants of our physical Universe, as opposed to spiritual or whatever entities.

Its account of UFO's is too hard on UFO skeptics, IMO. I think that the UFO skeptics are essentially right about the identities of the large majority of the UFO's that people have seen -- something that the more responsible of "believer" UFOlogists will often concede.

But I like the great contrast between UFO friendly contacts and UFO abductions that he makes.
Beginning in 1961, the beautiful, loquacious ambassadors from the stars were increasingly displaced by grimly silent homunculi. Journeys of wonder and enlightenment began to give way to ones of terror and confusion. ...

Earlier alien interlocutors—from Spiritualism through the space brothers—were all centrally concerned with communicating something. But in order for those interlocutors to communicate, their human counterparts had to remember what had transpired. The recurring motif of lost time in the abduction narrative, in that it was based on forgetting, pointed not to communication but its absence or erasure. ...

By and large the abduction scenario offers little or no purchase for identification—its surfaces recall stainless steel and its dramatis personae offer no words or affect. This is a far cry from the warm environs and generous hosts of Adamski and the familiar textures of heaven.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#2  Postby Skinny Puppy » Sep 23, 2015 6:01 am

Here’s an interesting read.
http://www.debunker.com/texts/ObergCuttySark.html

We’ve had numerous (more than one can count) reports of UFOs here, yet I’m out on many a night looking at the stars with my telescope... as 10s of 1000s of other amateur astronomers do around the world every night. It’s odd that I’ve never seen one despite the fact that I have a sign in my yard which says:


“Have anal probes, will travel!”



This pretty well sums up UFOs in a nutshell.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#3  Postby crank » Sep 23, 2015 7:36 am

That read a lot like something out of Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity, by Alan Sokal, or maybe just overblown litspeak, but too dense for me to care to slog through.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#4  Postby lpetrich » Sep 23, 2015 1:20 pm

crank wrote:That read a lot like something out of Transgressing the Boundaries: Toward a Transformative Hermeneutics of Quantum Gravity, by Alan Sokal, or maybe just overblown litspeak, but too dense for me to care to slog through.

Alan Sokal was satirizing litspeak with his famous quantum-gravity hoax. Here's the abstract of the OP's paper:

This dissertation provides a cultural analysis of the figure of the extraterrestrial in US culture. The sites through which the extraterrestrial appears -- spiritualism, so-called "space brother" religions, unidentified flying objects, and alien abduction -- are understood as elements of an ongoing displaced utopian imaginary. This mode of utopian thought is characterized by recourse to figures of radical alterity (spirits of the dead, "ascended masters," and the gray) as agents of radical social change; by its homologies with contemporaneous political currents; and through its invocation of trance states for counsel from the various others imagined as primary agents of change. Ultimately, the dissertation argues that the extraterrestrial functions as the locus both for the resolution of tensions between the spiritual and the material and for the projection of a perfected subject into a utopian future.


I'm not very familiar with spiritualists' ideas of the spirit world, so I can't say how utopian any of them are. There were a few spiritualists who channeled extraterrestrials, like Hélène Smith, who claimed around 1900 that she channeled Martians. More recently, many UFO contactees do many or all of their contacts in that fashion.

Utopianism is rather obvious in many "Space Brother" UFO contactees' reports. Many of them feature societies much like Star Trek's United Federation of Planets, with its spacefaring techno-utopianism. That's rather obvious in George Adamski's "Inside the Spaceships", and some of Billy Meier's numerous contact reports also have that quality.

However, it's hard to see much utopianism in the extraterrestrial-spacecraft hypothesis of UFO's in general, other than much more advanced technology. The same is true of UFO abductions -- most abductees don't get much of a look at their abductors' broader society. It has to be in good enough shape to support exploration of distant planets, but that's about it.

In fact, UFO abductions may represent the opposite of utopianism. More specifically, some dystopian nightmare with the abductors treating humanity much like how wildlife biologists treat the animals that they study.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#5  Postby crank » Sep 23, 2015 1:52 pm

It's not the subject of Sokal's peace, it's the how it reads. And it's unfair to judge from the abstract, but look at these 2 sentences: "The sites through which the extraterrestrial appears -- spiritualism, so-called "space brother" religions, unidentified flying objects, and alien abduction -- are understood as elements of an ongoing displaced utopian imaginary. This mode of utopian thought is characterized by recourse to figures of radical alterity (spirits of the dead, "ascended masters," and the gray) as agents of radical social change; by its homologies with contemporaneous political currents; and through its invocation of trance states for counsel from the various others imagined as primary agents of change. "

On a cursory read, Sokal came to mind. In particular with "elements of an ongoing displaced utopian imaginary", "characterized by recourse to figures of radical alterity", and "its homologies with contemporaneous political currents". If most of the paper read like that, I'd not make it every far in.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#6  Postby Skinny Puppy » Sep 23, 2015 2:24 pm

We had an extensive discussion back on RDF about UFOs. We even had an author join us who was writing a book which detailed many sightings, and, IIRC, abductions. He went to great lengths even to providing extracts from his book of eye witness accounts from ‘reputable’ sources including military personnel. The discussion went on for many pages with YouTube videos of actual UFOs, interviews with UFO ‘experts’ and even (video) field trips to many of the UFO sites.

The result was as one would expect... a big blank zero. It’s smoke and mirrors from top to bottom. Not one of its proponents could provide anything more than ‘say-so’ and an incredible amount of wishful thinking.

The old worn-out adage was used time and time again. “Just because we don’t have rock-solid proof doesn’t mean that they don’t exist!”

Well, no it doesn’t, but flaming dragons can’t be definitively proven to not exist either, however Richard Feynman summed up UFOs in the video that I posted above in very few words.

Should science abandon every avenue? No, science is open to anything and everything that has even an iota of proof or the possibility of proof. Searching of course should be on the table, but sensible searching like SETI, not chasing rednecks in red pickup trucks or dealing with charlatans duping a gullible public into buying their books, paying them to lecture and so on.

Looking world-wide at the humongous number of sightings, I’m surprised that we don’t have Air Traffic Control in place to prevent them from colliding with each other.

From a cosmological POV, the distances, energy requirements and the limitations of speed make travel (if it indeed has happened even once in our history) brutal, to say the least. Yet once again we go back to square one, no proof that we’ve even had one visit in our entire history.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#7  Postby lpetrich » Sep 23, 2015 2:31 pm

Transcript of the Richard Feynman video inlined by Skinny Puppy:
Unidentified flying object - Wikiquote
Some years ago I had a conversation with a layman about flying saucers — because I am scientific I know all about flying saucers! I said "I don't think there are flying saucers'. So my antagonist said, "Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it's impossible?" "No", I said, "I can't prove it's impossible. It's just very unlikely". At that he said, "You are very unscientific. If you can't prove it impossible then how can you say that it's unlikely?" But that is the way that is scientific. It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible. To define what I mean, I might have said to him, "Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence." It is just more likely. That is all.

Richard Feynman in The Character of Physical Law (1964)


I think that a spiritual forebear of UFOlogy was Charles Fort, who wrote early in the 20th century. He collected news stories about odd occurrences and then invented theories to explain them, though he did not bother to make his theories very coherent. He liked to have fun at the expense of mainstream scientists. He thought that they were pretentious know-it-alls who ignore anything that is contrary to their pet theories.

After his death, his admirers continued his work, and a Fortean Society still exists. Fortean methods are used by believers in a variety of paranormal phenomena, whether ultimately from Charles Fort himself or independently invented.
  • Flying saucers / UFO's
  • Cryptids: Bigfoot, lake monsters, the chupacabra, etc.
  • The Bermuda Triangle
  • Crop circles
  • Cattle mutilations
  • Ghosts and hauntings

What might Charles Fort have said about UFO's?

"Flying saucers? I love it! I love it! I love it! UFO's? Unidentified Flying Objects? Sounds like the sort of name that some plodding bureaucrat would invent."

He himself had documented some odd aerial phenomena in his books, thus making him a proto-UFOlogist.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#8  Postby Skinny Puppy » Sep 23, 2015 2:42 pm

lpetrich wrote:Transcript of the Richard Feynman video inlined by Skinny Puppy:
Unidentified flying object - Wikiquote
Some years ago I had a conversation with a layman about flying saucers — because I am scientific I know all about flying saucers! I said "I don't think there are flying saucers'. So my antagonist said, "Is it impossible that there are flying saucers? Can you prove that it's impossible?" "No", I said, "I can't prove it's impossible. It's just very unlikely". At that he said, "You are very unscientific. If you can't prove it impossible then how can you say that it's unlikely?" But that is the way that is scientific. It is scientific only to say what is more likely and what less likely, and not to be proving all the time the possible and impossible. To define what I mean, I might have said to him, "Listen, I mean that from my knowledge of the world that I see around me, I think that it is much more likely that the reports of flying saucers are the results of the known irrational characteristics of terrestrial intelligence than of the unknown rational efforts of extra-terrestrial intelligence." It is just more likely. That is all.

Richard Feynman in The Character of Physical Law (1964)


<snip>


Thank you for posting that. :thumbup: I've never had it in print, just the video.
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#9  Postby lpetrich » Sep 23, 2015 7:14 pm

We don't have a "table" extension here, so it's a bit difficult to lay out contactee vs. abductee features. Here goes:

Experiencers' encounters, travels -- C: voluntary, sometimes very willingly -- A: involuntary
Experiencers' memory of events -- C: good -- A: blacked out
ET Friendliness -- C: very friendly -- A: Coldly indifferent
ET Communicativeness -- C: talkative, sometimes to the point of info-dumps -- A: silent
ET Appearance -- C: usually human, both sexes very good-looking -- A: usually not very good-looking by human standards

I think that UFO-abductee stories have pushed aside UFO-contactee stories in UFOlogy because IMO UFO-contactee ones often seem too good to be true, while UFO-abductee stories don't. That's what Carl Sagan seems to have thought about UFO-contactee stories, though I don't recall him saying much about UFO-abductee stories.

As to the OP's article, here's my score:
  • Spiritualism: ?
  • UFO's in general: Forteanism, conspiracy-mongering
  • UFO contactees: Star-Trek techno-utopianism
  • UFO abductees: human-experimentation dystopianism
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Re: UFO Contactees vs. Abductees

#10  Postby tolman » Sep 24, 2015 12:47 am

lpetrich wrote:In fact, UFO abductions may represent the opposite of utopianism. More specifically, some dystopian nightmare with the abductors treating humanity much like how wildlife biologists treat the animals that they study.

Except. of course, for things like:
a) nonhuman terrestrial animals don't have vast fucking libraries and research archives filled with medical books and papers going into great details about how human (and other animals) work.
b) human biology study doesn't work by the serial random capture-and-release of a series of animals who are investigated by anal probing, with us supposedly wanting to keep hidden, knowing that the released animals talk to others of their kind about what's going on but with us unable to even manage to properly anaesthetise them.
I don't do sarcasm smileys, but someone as bright as you has probably figured that out already.
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