The Napolitano case appears beset by an overwhelming number of problems. It was with some misgivings that we first embarked on this investigation because we did not wish to see UFO abduction research discredited. In fact, one of us, Butler, has had abduction experiences himself. It was our judgement that if we did not raise these issues for public discussion, there was a much greater risk for the field. The case was garnering considerable attention, and if it became widely regarded as evidential, it would reflect very badly on the field as a whole if it was eventually shown to be false.
We were quite unprepared for the reaction to our work from leaders of the field. Walter Andrus and Jerome Clark aggressively tried to dissuade us from continuing our investigation, and so far they have failed to publish any material critical of the case. We were unaware that such belligerently antiscientific attitudes were so prevalent at the highest levels of ufology. When these same individuals attempted to suppress evidence of an alleged attempted murder, we concluded that their beliefs and actions were incompatible with "real world" events. However, we do not consider the label "deluded" appropriate here, and we remind the reader that these individuals are backed by people such as Harvard psychiatrist John Mack and David Jacobs, professor of history at Temple University.
Despite our disappointment, we strongly support scientific research into the abduction phenomena and would like to call attention to high quality studies in the field (e.g., Ring & Rosing, 1990; Rodeghier, Goodpaster & Blatterbauer, 1992). We also believe that the core abduction experience has not been adequately explained within normal scientific frameworks. We commend the work of Hufford (1982) in exploring similar issues.
The present case has significant implications for assessing the true nature of the abduction phenomena. The idea that actual extraterrestrial physical creatures are abducting people has been vigorously promoted in the scientific literature and in the media. Jacobs has promoted that view in the New York Times (Hinds, 1992) as well as in the Journal of UFO Studies (Jacobs, 1992). He suggests that the ET aliens are visiting earth in order to obtain human sperm and eggs. In his JUFOS article, Jacobs was bitterly critical of Ring and Rosing, saying that they ignored "cases of witnesses seeing others being abducted while not being abducted themselves" (p. 162). Surprisingly, Jacobs gave no citations for any of these cases. Hansen wrote to Jacobs requesting such citations but received no reply. Jacobs' article was lavish in its praise for Hopkins' work, and we suspect that Jacobs had in mind the Napolitano case when he wrote his article. We would like to remind the reader that it was Hopkins (1992a) who wrote: "The importance of this case is virtually immeasurable, as it powerfully supports both the objective reality of UFO abductions and the accuracy of regressive hypnosis." Because the argument for the "objective reality of UFO abductions" relies heavily on Hopkins' work, our findings call into question this entire theoretical perspective.
In our judgment, conscious hoaxes are rare in the abduction field. The vast majority of those claiming to be abducted have had some kind of intense personal experience, whatever the ultimate cause. Nevertheless, the problems of fraud and hoaxing have long been a problem in ufology, especially for cases with high visibility. This will continue. Researchers must become more open minded to the potential for hoaxing, yet not be blinded to the genuine phenomena. This is a difficult balance. Some have questioned possible motives in this case; it is impossible to obtain certain knowledge here. Perhaps Linda really had some kind of an abduction experience (Butler believes this is likely to be the case). As she became acquainted with Hopkins and other abductees, she may have wanted to vindicate them--to save them from ridicule and derision. Perhaps money was the only motivation. Possibly there was a combination of factors. It does appear that if this was a hoax, it was not perpetrated by a lone individual. Collaborators would include the woman on the bridge, an X-ray operator, and a man (or men) preparing the tape recordings. However, we want to emphasize that we have no direct evidence to implicate Hopkins in attempted deception.
Cynics might criticize Hopkins saying that he ignored the obvious problems because he was motivated by money that might accrue from books and movie rights. While this might possibly be an unconscious factor, critics rarely acknowledge that Hopkins does not charge abductees for his services (unlike some "professionals"). Hopkins has spent an enormous amount of his own time and money investigating the phenomena. Furthermore, he does not have an academic position subsidized by the tax payers. One should not begrudge him the profits from his books. Hopkins has been involved in considerable controversy, and some have disputed his methods. Nevertheless, he has done much to bring the abduction problem to the attention of scientists and the mental health community, and his efforts have made it much more acceptable to discuss such strange encounters. Abduction experiences are often emotional and traumatic, and the abductees need considerable support. Hopkins has attempted to provide much needed aid.
The outside critic who is not directly involved in such activities almost never recognizes how difficult it is to serve as both a therapist and as a scientist. Those persons trying to help abductees emotionally need to provide warmth, acceptance, and trust. The scientist, however, needs to be critically open minded and somewhat detached and analytical. The two functions are not altogether compatible. We cannot realistically expect one individual to be 100% effective in both roles. By the nature of the endeavor, those trying to be helpful can be vulnerable to deception.
End of part 11
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