[In the spirit of balanced reporting, CNI News occasionally offers news and responsible opinion that may run contrary to the views of most ISCNI members and staff. This is such a story. For the record, ISCNI's official view on "alien abduction" is that the phenomenon remains unexplained but is, in many cases, most likely caused by an intrusive, intelligent influence outside the experiencer's own mind, rather an originating in the mind. Researcher Dr. Michael Persinger disagrees. CNI News thanks John Powell and Errol Bruce-Knapp of MUFON Ontario for this story, which first appeared in the Toronto Star on January 14, 1996. The writer, Jay Ingram, hosts the TV program "@discovery.ca" on the (Canadian) Discovery Channel.]
by Jay Ingram
Last Sunday [Jan 7] I spent an hour inside a special chamber at Laurentian University in Sudbury [Ontario, Canada] trying to see if I could have the other-worldly experience of being abducted by aliens. And while the event fell short of being a close encounter of the third kind, it had its moments.
It was all part of "Alien Week" on the Discovery [Canadian TV] Channel.Three of us went to Sudbury to see a Laurentian neuroscientist, Dr. Michael Persinger. He has devoted years of research to understanding some ot the stranger phenomena of modern life, including accounts of being abducted by aliens. His view is that such apparent contacts between aliens and humans are actually the result of unusual events in the brains of those reporting them.
There have been hundreds of reports over the last 30 years, mostly in North America, of aliens kidnapping and experimenting with innocent people. The experience includes visits to alien spacecraft, the implantation of objects inside the abductees' bodies (which never seem to be found), the removal of eggs or sperm and even the impregnation of abducted women. Some victims claim to have been abducted several times -- in extreme cases, on a regular basis.
The tendency is to dismiss such bizarre accounts as ridiculous. But the sheer numbers and the unhappiness and suffering of at least some of the "abductees" deserves something more.
Persinger doesn't believe these people are necessarily lying. He thinks many of them might have had a real experience of a "presence," the strong (and sometimes terrifying) feeling that one is not alone.
The experience of an "other" is well-documented in the neuroscientific literature. It tends to happen to people who are capable of vivid imagery and who are under some sort of stress -- anything from lack of oxygen and food to a recent bereavement. Such experiences are thought to be triggered somehow in the temporal lobes, those parts of the brain around and above the ears.
Persinger has set up an isolation chamber at Laurentian in an attempt to simulate such experiences. That is where I spent much of last Sunday afternoon. The chamber is about the size of a small bedroom, lit only by a red light. I sat in an overstuffed chair in the middle of the room and put on a blindfold and tight-fitting helmet fitted with electrical gear for stimulating my brain.
Then for two consecutive half-hour periods, the double doors to the chamber were closed and I sat there alone as my temporal lobes were bathed in pulsed electromagentic fields.
Did I see aliens? Unfortunately not. I didn't even have the eerie feeling that someone was there in the chamber with me. My brain might not be prone to such vivid imagery. I did, however, see a series of tiny faces floating in front of me. They look like white Wedgwood china faces, all female, on a dark background, with the faces sometimes changing from one to another as I watched. They were entrancing, if somewhat fleeting.
I had other moments of rapidly changing dream-like images, but the faces impressed me the most. Is Michael Persinger right that electrical events in the temporal lobes are responsible for the rash of reports of alien abductions? Not that you could demonstrate from my experience. But his hypothesis rings true for me, even though it must be admitted that there are gaps that must be filled in.
In particular, I'd want to see concrete evidence that the simple experience of a presence can and has been transformed into a detailed story of aliens, spacecraft and invasive experiments. It's plausible, not proven. As Persinger says, if you had the feeling that someone was with you in his chamber (many have done so) it would be upsetting enough but at least you would know why it was happening. Imagine having the same experience while sitting at home, alone.
Original file name: CNI - Abduction.Persinger 1.18
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