A PSYCHO-SOCIAL PERSPECTIVE
The Napolitano case brings into stark relief symptoms of deep problems within ufology: major figures in the UFO community aggressively sought to suppress evidence of a purported attempted murder; Hopkins failed to obtain and verify even the most basic investigatory information; his coinvestigator, Penelope Franklin, approved of lying by the principal witness; and leaders in the field have willingly accepted and promoted the case despite its exotic features and lack of supporting evidence. This state of affairs raises perplexing questions and cries out for a plausible explanation. The thinking and motivations of ufology's leaders deserve at least as much attention as the abduction claims themselves.
Did these leaders really believe, as they said, that they accepted the report of attempted murder? If so, they seem not to have acted as responsible citizens. However, these people do not appear to us to be delusional, in any usual sense of that word. They are highly functional members of society. They also do not appear to be perpetrators of a hoax or even "yellow journalists" with a "wink-wink, nudge-nudge" attitude who knowingly want to capitalize on it for their own temporary glory or financial gain.
We believe that other motivating factors and concepts provide a better explanation and framework for understanding these seemingly bizarre actions. We would suggest that perhaps, at some semiconscious level, these individuals do not really believe their UFO investigations to be fully engaged with the "real world." Rather, their behavior and statements seem more consistent with something like fantasy role playing, perhaps akin to the game Dungeons and Dragons (D & D).
Both ufology and D & D allow direct, immediate involvement with powerful "other-world" beings and mythological motifs. Both endeavors have been known to overtake (possess?) the participants, though only occasionally to their detriment. Most "players" are able to successfully detach themselves from involvement, but occasionally the "game" becomes obsessive and interferes with "real-world" pursuits. This "role playing" taps archetypal images that hold great psychological power. The archetypes can become immensely attractive, even addictive, to those playing the game. The notions and images of powerful "other-world" figures are part of the human condition. Accounts of them are found in all cultures throughout history, this being one of the traditional domains of religion. Even atheists and those who deny the existence of such beings must still grapple with the ideas on some level, though this might not be consciously recognized by an individual.
In the Napolitano case, the "other-world" figures include not only the ET aliens, but also the pantheon of agents of an unreachable, evil government conspiracy determined to prevent humankind's knowledge of the ETs. Intermediaries between flesh and blood humans and the powerful masters of the mystical higher orders are ubiquitous in the realm of religion. Angels and devils serve the centers of ultimate good and evil. So here we see the largely invisible minions "Dan" and "Richard" and the mysterious witness on the bridge furthering the cause of "Truth." Likewise, Hopkins discerns the skeptical investigators as agents of a secular satan.
Thus the interactions of Hopkins, et al., with these players are seen to conform to the rules that historically control the interactions between humans and gods. Humans question and provoke the gods only at the greatest peril. The proper approach is to appease, mollify and supplicate these "entities." It should be no surprise that the simplest reality tests of the Napolitano story were not made in this case. Hopkins' failure to check the weather conditions during the abduction actually makes sense in the context of this cult-like thought process. Just as lice were called "pearls of heaven" by medieval religious devotees, the physical event-reality issues in the Linda story are transmuted by her supporters.
The roles of high priest and acolytes are only too obvious when examining the behaviors of personages Hopkins, Clark, Jacobs, and Andrus. These aging white males patronizingly refer to Linda's "average" intellect, perhaps to reassure themselves that they are indeed in control. Yet the high priestess has, in effect, achieved the godhead (metaphorically speaking, of course).
There are some differences between D & D and ufological pursuits. D & D has more restrictive and structured rules. The boundaries of appropriate behavior are rather clearly defined. Ufology is more "unstructured," there are fewer "rules" about what is and is not possible, and the powers of the "other- world" figures are almost unbounded. This relative lack of structure makes the UFO game somewhat more "dangerous." In order to grapple with the phenomena, the paradigms adopted by many ufologists have "concretized" (i.e., structured) the beings as ET humanoids.
In fantasy role playing, the rules are not questioned; they are accepted by the players at the beginning. Similarly in the Linda case, the basic evidence is not to be questioned. Andrus, Clark, and Hopkins have all urged that outsiders cease investigation (despite the massive publicity given to the case). Such challenging of "rules" leads to disruptions of the "game," and the dungeon masters need to keep order.
Direct interfacing of the "fantasy role" with the "real-world" (i.e., direct allegations of attempted murder, verification of details of testimony), usually does not cause problems, except when the players do not act in accordance with consequential "real-world" concerns. Hopkins, Andrus, Clark, Mack, and Jacobs seem to have accepted a system of beliefs and assumptions that have led to a collision with the "real world." They have been unable to rationally defend their behavior, and Jerome Clark's (1992a) "Torquemada" article is perhaps the single best example of that. In fact, his emotional attack labeling Hansen as "Torquemada" (director of the Spanish Inquisition) ressurects and reinforces religious themes, and it perhaps betrays his unconscious feelings of religious persecution.
The above discussion derives from a psycho-social perspective, and we would like to encourage U.S. researchers to become more familiar the ideas generated from that approach. We admit that the psycho-social theorists have failed to address many aspects of the abduction experience generally. Exclusive use of that perspective can lead to positing simplistic and scientifically sterile explanations. On the other hand, those that shun the psycho-social perspective typically fail to recognize the explanatory power it possesses and its ability to illuminate risks faced by investigators. Those wanting more information about the psycho-social perspective may wish to read the book Angels and Aliens by Keith Thompson (1991) and the British magazine Magonia; almost without saying, the works of John Keel are also recommended.
We are not denigrating ufology by such comparisons as those made above, nor are we attacking the existence of "other-world" entities. Regardless whether entities or ET aliens exist, the comparisons are useful and the consequences and insights are applicable. Such a comparative analysis should not be limited to only D & D players and ufologists; similar comparisons could be made for virtually everyone in the "real world." They can help serve as warnings about becoming too complacent regarding beliefs in our own "rationality."
End of part 10
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