[March 1, 1996] -- Even before the PBS network aired this NOVA special on February 27, several people interviewed for the program, notably abduction researcher Budd Hopkins, were crying foul. PBS/NOVA clearly intend to capitalize on the controversy. Videotapes of the program were on sale in some video stores a week before the show aired. But how valid are the complaints? Opinions will surely vary, but without doubt many experiencers and researchers of the abduction phenomenon think NOVA did a hatchet job.
In a live ISCNI chat on Wednesday evening, Feb 28, author Whitley Strieber said: "In February of 1995 I wrote NOVA that they should not be doing a show on abduction because they are a science program and there has been no science done for them to do a program about. I therefore declined to participate. The program they did was irresponsible and vicious in the extreme... I felt that it was an example of religious fundamentalism (in this case, scientific) run amok. Irresponsible, stupid and vile."
Michelle LaVigne, author of the 1995 book "The Alien Abduction Survival Guide" and editor of the magazine Contact Forum, has interviewed a number of key people involved in the NOVA production. Her complete report is presented in a special edition of Contact Forum (see details at the end of this story). ISCNI*Flash thanks Michelle for sharing excerpts here.]
by Michelle LaVigne
In 52 minutes of broadcast time, the NOVA program "Kidnapped by UFOs?" seen by U.S. viewers on February 27 presented only a small fraction of the information gathered by the NOVA staff. About 30 hours of filming and hundreds of pages of available information and documentation went into the creation of this program. The question is raised, "From all that information, is the final 52 minutes really the most accurate, balanced, and true-to-fact representation of the ET encounter phenomenon?"
Budd Hopkins and John Mack don't think so. After reading the following excepts from Contact Forum's interviews with both John Mack and NOVA producer Denise DiIanni, and other supporting documents, you may not think so either.
Did NOVA really suppress evidence that would have helped prove the case of Alien Abduction reality? Were the witnesses and facts NOVA brought forward reliable? What would those involved like to see come out of a show like this?
Denise DiIanni, Producer of "Kidnapped by UFOs?": "If NOVA could have found evidence to substantiate these claims, I assure you we would have reported on it. Budd Hopkins is saying we suppressed evidence we didn't like. Quite the contrary is true. It's bewildering to me having never been involved in this sort of thing, that there actually is a level of real dishonesty going on. For instance, Budd Hopkins had shown us some material that he thought was evidence of alien abductions. He showed us an X-ray in one case and some photographs.... A photograph of a scar does not necessarily prove an alien abduction."
John Mack, MD: "In the case of Budd Hopkins, they present material around his work with a child in which they make a case, weak I think, that he is trying to introduce into that child's mind that he has had experiences. What they leave off is all the material from this child and from this family that Budd had given to them [NOVA] about the father actually seeing the beings in the house, and the spontaneous communications from the child and the family members about the abduction encounters.... Only selected material that shows Budd in the worst possible light was presented."
Budd Hopkins (talking about the family case presented on the show): "His [the husband's] testimony was the most vivid and important of our visit to [their] home. It corroborated his wife's account... But all of this eyewitness testimony and dramatic film footage was suppressed by NOVA... In its place, producer DiIanni assembled an emasculated case in which only the vaguest, more tenuous aspects of the family's testimony were presented."
Mack [in a statement directly to NOVA]: "The segment of your broadcast dealing with Donna Bassett is factually inaccurate, and the statements which she made... were totally false... Of more than one hundred individuals I have worked with, you have chosen to rely heavily upon the testimony of a person whose story you did not in fact check."
Hopkins: "NOVA said that the film 'Close Encounters' led to an increase in the number of new UFO sightings... But in fact during the year following the film's premiere, the number of new sightings actually decreased."
Mack: "[Robert] Baker even suggests that I would serve experiencers better by telling them that an experience is 'all a dream, and it was all imaginary, and it will probably never happen again.' His suggestion is clinically unsound and, as any psychiatrist would agree, would do harm."
Hopkins: "The program implied over and over with sledgehammer thoroughness that hypnosis should be thought of as the generating cause of these abduction accounts. My discussions of contradictory data wasn't even mentioned on the program."
DiIanni: "We stand behind the reporting on the show. This show is basically about a complicated phenomenon as I'm sure you and your readers will agree... It's a tough area to evaluate the stability of any particular witness. In each case, we try to treat each witness with respect, allow them to present themselves as they want to be presented, and allow other analysis within the show to respond to that."
Hopkins: "I was naive enough, however, to credit the producers and Ms DiIanni in particular, with sufficient honesty to make a very small admission: that despite all the debunkers' theories, all the data has not been explained and that an intriguing mystery does remain."
DiIanni: "I've seen people who are troubled by the notion that they and their children, four generations now and into the future, will be abducted and there is not a thing they can do about it. I think as a mother of a small child and as a human being that is a really frightening proposition. I'm glad that science and scientist methodology exist to tell me that perhaps there is a different explanation."
Mack: "I would like to see a national dialogue that brought in top scientists, government people, ordinary folks, mental health professionals, even military people, any kind of interested, intelligent professionals, just about anybody who wants to get into the debate, who cares about human identity and who we are in the cosmos and our relationship to nature and one another, and how the abduction story relates to the human experience. I'd like to see the program provoke that kind of discussion."
[For a more complete transcript of the above interviews and documents, see Contact Forum's Special Issue on the NOVA controversy. You can order Contact Forum's Special Issue for $4.00 (US includes S&H) or subscribe to a whole year of Contact Forum for only $18.50 (US) by calling 1-800-366-0264, or writing Contact Forum C/O Wild Flower Press; P.O.Box 726; Newberg, OR 97132.
If you would like to respond in writing to the NOVA program, you can do so at the PBS web site: http://www.pbs.org]
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