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Science Still in the Dark About Abductees

Scientists have discovered that abductees have post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSS), which indicates that something real happened to them. However, they've also discovered that people can be made to believe that something really happened when it didn't and can have real trauma from this false experience. Abductees display some of the same stress symptoms as soldiers who've been in battle, yet scientists skip over the conclusion that perhaps they've had real experiences and go straight to the claim that this proves that false experiences can produce real stress.

"This underscores the power of emotional belief," says Harvard?s Richard McNally. "If you genuinely believe you've been traumatized and recall these memories, you'll show the same psycho-physiologic emotional reactions as people who really have been traumatized."

In laboratory experiments, people were asked to describe their experiences and their stories were played back to them while their physical responses were recorded. "When a Vietnam vet has his experiences played back to him in the lab of some combat event, his heart rate goes up and you see an increase in sweating. If you don't have post-traumatic stress disorder, you don't react that way," McNally says. "The heart-rate responses and sweating responses were at least as great in the alien abductees when they heard their memories of being taken and molested by space aliens and subjected to experiments as those of people with genuine traumatic events." Does this convince scientists that there may be something real here that's worth studying? Nope, they blame the victim by claiming that abductees are predisposed to believe in aliens and UFOs because of their "new age" beliefs, notwithstanding the fact that many of these beliefs are now being proved by scientific studies. Also, no research has been done to find out if people's belief systems change as a result of their abduction experiences. Lastly, people whose beliefs don't allow for the possibility of alien life may suppress their experiences, even from themselves, and may never come forward to become part of a test group.

Most abductees remember their experiences before they've been hypnotized or talked to about the subject, and these are the people who should be studied. One reason hypnosis of abductees should be avoided or undertaken only with skilled professionals is that it's easy to plant false memories. This has long been known and the real tragedy is that these false memories can crowd out the real ones, and your actual experience may be lost forever. This is especially true if touch, taste, sound and smell become part of the story. Psychologist Elizabeth Loftus says, "It is sensory details that people use to distinguish their memories. If you imbue the story with them, you'll disrupt this memory process. It's almost a recipe to get people to remember things that aren't true."

False memories can be separated from real ones by having people describe what they remember while their brains are viewed with a PET scan. If the sensation, such as touch or smell, that they remember is real, that area will light up in the brain. If it's false, it won't. The reason these tests aren't undertaken with abductees is that PET scan machines are rare and expensive and scientists don't take abductees seriously enough to bother to use them.

Read about the experiences of one of the participants in the McNally study.

This type of automatic dismissal was once the reaction to reported sex abuse, especially by parents and religious figures. Now we know that all too much of this is real. We need common-sense facts about UFOs, not pseudo-science.

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