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The Ufology Handbook:
COMMON ALLEGED ATTRIBUTES OF
Unexplained UFOs have a wide variety of reported attributes, the recognition of which obviously brings us closer to understanding the "core phenomenon".
Basic UFO Shape Aspects:
UFO forms can be divided into three basic types; "Soft", "median" and "Hard". The "Soft" (or "BOL") UFO category includes a variety of self-luminous forms, ranging from star-like points of light to rudimentary shapes (often round or spherical) with a "unstructured" appearance, more akin to a ball of glowing gas than a manufactured "device". They comprise the majority of observed "UFOs", most of which are probably explicable in mundane terms. Observations of nebulous, cloud or glowing "trail"-like forms are also included in this category. In between the "Soft" and "Hard" forms are "Medians"; UFOs with indistinct shapes, or with a "surface" which appears to be partially luminated by "body-lights". The majority of so-called "flying triangle" events fall into this category. "Hard" or "Exotic" forms are UFOs which appears solid and substantial, possessing an elaborate, clearly-defined shape (such as a disc surmounted by a "dome") and are often endowed with one or more notable surface features (such as "windows", "rims", etc).
The estimated sizes of UFOs are a highly variable attribute, and one usually impossible to determine with any accuracy against a near-featureless daylight or nocturnal sky. UFO size-estimates range from about half a metre (or less), up to 100 metres or more. Discoid forms tend to be longer than they are taller, with estimated diameters of around
8 metres or more. The majority of so-called "Flying Triangles" tend to be much larger; being reported on many occassions to be seemingly equal in length to several jet-liners (or soccer-pitches) placed end-to-end.
"Soft" UFOs; The BOL Connection.
The majority of unexplainable "soft" UFO incidents relate to the observation (sometimes at close quarters) of a featureless, highly luminous mass, often stated to be round or spherical in shape. As a consequence, most UFO researchers term them BOLs (or Balls Of Light). That stated, this phenomenon is also associated with other shapes, including glowing cloud-like or repeatedly shape-changing masses. BOLs tend to be fairly small in size (around 10-20 cms in diameter), but can also be much bigger or much smaller. They are usually coloured either orange, red, reddish-orange, yellow, blue or silver. BOLs have been observed from high-altitude aircraft, but are more often seen floating (usually very close to the observer) several tens of centimetres or so above the ground. Both BOLS and Exotic UFOs exhibit identical motion attributes; sudden stops at high speed, protracted hovering, sudden rapid acceleration, etc. BOL manifestations are also associated with most (if not all) the effects attributed to "hard" UFO forms; radio disturbance, physical trace evidence and a range of biological effects ranging from "pins and needles" to skin swellings and blemishes.
It has been known for BOL manifestations to occur repeatedly in a given region, although areas host to repeat BOL "incidents" are also host to other types of UFO events, such as "Exotics" and entity encounters. Instances of "BOL" like phenomena are much more common than observations of "Hard" UFO's (some researchers claiming they comprise of around 75%-90% of all sightings). The light may sometimes be stated to act in a "purposeful" manner (seemingly reacting to the presence of an observer, moving in a controlled manner, avoiding objects, etc).
Light-forms similar to BOLS are also encountered in a variety of "paranormal" events, ranging from spiritualist seances, psychic phenomena and also some apparitional encounters. A considerable number of observations of anomalous entities relate to figures enveloped by a circular "cocoon" of light. Other reports appear to describe BOL-forms seemingly "metamorphosing" into human-like forms.
Some researchers believe BOLs are extra-terrestrial technology (such as a miniature robotic survey probe). Others feel BOLs are, in actuality, an unusual natural phenomena, similar to ball lightning. If this is so, instances of supposed "purposeful behaviour" would be the result of a complex interplay between human expectation and actions determined by the laws of physics.
BASIC UFO SHAPES:
"Soft", "median" and "Exotic" UFO's usually possess at least some kind of basic geometrical form, even if in the case of the former two UFO types it is more suggestive than definite. The more common basic shape-types (which are given in no particular order) include the following ;
"Disc"-like (resembling a double or single-sided convex lens, a hat or a coin).
Oval/ellipse shaped (usually horizontally-orientated).
"Tube" or "Elongated" forms (ends rounded or flattened, sometimes with outwardly-bludging sides).
Triangular (horizontally or vertically orientated).
Dome or hemispherical forms (flat end usually facing downwards),
Cone/tear-drop/pear like (pointed end facing either upwards or downwards).
Barrel, boomerang, coil, crescent, cross, cube, dart, dumbbell, diamond, heel, hexagon, lozenge, pyramid, and ring shapes are also occasionally reported. The dominance of the various shape-types have been known to change through time. Prior to the late 1980's sightings of disc-like forms predominated (especially in "Exotic" UFO incidents), but were superseded by observations of "flying triangles" during the 1990's.
Alleged Surface Features:
"Hard" UFOs are either reported to have smooth, featureless surfaces or to possess a wide variety of external features, many which seem markedly artificial in appearance. As with shape-types, these can be divided onto a number of (arbitrary) classes;
Openings include features described as "windows", "portholes" (usually round, rectangular or elliptical in shape), "doors" (which - in the case of "landed" UFOs - are associated with ladders or ramps leading to the ground) and substantial "voids" within the UFO's body itself (which often emit a brilliant light).
Protrusions are features such as jet-like "engine pods", "fins" (and sometimes wings), "propellers", wire-like "antenna" (either hanging from bottom, protruding from the top or projecting all around its "body"), and (often rod-like) "landing gear" protruding downwards from a UFO's groundward section.
Projections include "towers" resembling radio/light masts (often situated on a UFO's top) tubes/blocks (usually on a UFO's top or bottom) and domes (either hemispherical, square or rectangular). Domes are usually located on a UFO's upper section, but have been observed protruding from every other body-location.
Texturals mainly refer to "tiled", "paneled", "pock-marked", "bumpy" or deep symmetrically-configured lines covering a large portion of the UFO's surface-area. A central rim or "ring" running around a UFO's diameter are reported from time to time, as are UFO's with rotating sections often centred within or around a static body-section.
The presence of such surface-features is one of the main factors that suggest that at least a few UFOs are advanced flying devices of some kind. However, it is possible that they are illusory, subjectively construed from irregular, darkened or oddly-luminated portions of a "UFO". Hence, unfortunately, they are insufficient evidence in themselves to disprove the notion that all UFOs are unusual natural phenomena.
Daylight UFOs are usually reported to be either (an often highly- reflective or shiny) white, silver or aluminium. Alternatively, they may also be either grey, dark or (less often) coloured blue, brown, green, orange, pink, red or yellow. Nocturnal UFOs are often described as being a "self-luminous" or "glowing" white, red, orange, yellow, pink, green, blue, or silver hued. Combinations of two of the aforementioned colours appear almost as frequently (red-orange being especially common). Sightings of UFOs with "bands" of differing colours have also been documented. Non-luminous nocturnal UFOs are almost always stated to be adorned with one or more "body-lights", which are usually coloured blue, white, red, orange and/or green. The reported sizes of these lights vary from that of a aircraft's anti collision-beacons to that of a large searchlight (or bigger). Night-time UFO's are stated on numerous occasions to change colour, especially when altering from one mode of motion to another. Patterns to these changes have been supposedly determined, but have yet to be conclusively verified by research.
UFOs are often associated with a substantial "halo" or "glowing mist" running around its edge. They have also been observed emitting one (or more) highly manoeuvrable "light-beams" on many occasions. Solid light is the name given to a particular class of light-beam; a conical or tubular shaped region of brightness that can be contracted or expanded to any degree, luminating only the area it is "directed" upon. Similarities between this phenomenon and laser beams have been noted by many UFO researchers. Whatever its nature, solid light is rarely alledged to cause physical injury.
The reported motions of UFOs are among the phenomenon's most extensive and variable attributes. A UFO's speed can range from stationary to faster than a rocket, and can alter from and between these extremes many times during a sighting. Even when estimated to be traveling at considerable velocities, UFO's are rarely associated with a sonic boom. They are seemingly able to traverse along all possible axis of motion, and also have the ability to hover for extended periods of time. The more puzzling aspects of UFO flight behaviour is their reported abilities to perform instant very high-speed, 90* angle turns, instantaneous stops whilst moving at rapid speed and instant, very high-speed acceleration while stationary (or hovering). UFOs traveling in a downwards (but also sometimes upwards) direction are described to exhibiting a side-to-side slewing motion similar to a "swinging pendulum" or a "falling leaf" in some instances. Most puzzling of all their described motion characteristics are instances of UFO's which vanish suddenly in a (seemingly) clear sky.
UFO's also exhibit forms of motion other than that associated with its flight-trajectory. Rotation of a UFO's upper and/or lower sections (in either a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction) is probably the most commonly reported form of internal motion (most often noted in observations of discoid or ovoid-shaped UFO's). In a few instances the whole object itself may appear to rotate. Much less often, a notable side-to-side "wobble" or "fluttering" motion is exhibited.
Sounds, Smells, Trails And Discharges:
UFO's are usually stated to be noiseless, but approximately one in every five reportedly emit a buzzing, cracking, humming, roaring, swishing whirring or whining sound. Rarer still UFO's are associated with a odour, although occasionally a acrid-like smell is noted, comparable with sulphur/ozone or burning hydrocarbons. Emissions of (mainly luminous) heat, trails, sparks, smoke or "vapour" are also occasionally reported.
Alleged Reactions And Effects
induced by UFOs:
It is occasionally reported that some UFOs induce temporary or permanent effect on its surroundings, and on any people, animals and artefacts present during a sighting.
a: Biological Reactions:
CE I reports (i.e. those relating to UFO-induced transitory effects) often pertain to sensations of prickly skin (or "pins and needles"), heat, dizziness and nausea, static electrical-like "bristling" of body-hair, temporary paralysis or weakness/numbness in specific body-regions and feelings of externally-originating pressure and tension upon the body. Such temporary effects are harder to determine in the case of animals, but numerous incidents relate to pets, farmyard and wild beasts showing signs of agitation and alarm just prior to a UFO observation.
The lesser CE II-level effects (at least in regards to humans) relate to protracted body-pains, numbness and headaches. More seriously, both animals and people have exhibited rashes, tanning, hair/fur loss and skin-burns following an reported UFO encounter. In particular, a UFO-induced reaction similar to "klieg conjunctivitis" is often claimed; in humans this manifests as a reddish, watery puffiness around the eyes present for several days or more. Pet dogs have (in several instances) have shown apparent wariness (even fear) of supposed UFO "landing sites".
b: "Oz Factor" manifestations:
The "Oz factor" is a term (first coined by UFO researcher Jenny Randles in the early 1980's) used to describe an "aura of unreality" noted during some UFO incidents. Often this relates to an abnormal absence of traffic, people and ambient sounds just prior to a sighting. Possibility related to the "Oz factor" are reports from witnesses of UFOs seen over highly-populated areas, which nobody else seemingly observed. Oz Factor events also involve sensations of "inner peace", states of personal "disassociation", distorted perceptions of the environment and marked differences between witness-estimated and actually-elapsed time.
c: Mechanical Effects:
UFO-induced transient effects on mechanical devices include the presence of heavy signal interference on radios and televisions, detrimental effects on compasses and watches, the dimming or extinguishing of lights and electrical power cut-offs; all of which reportedly return to normal once the UFO leaves the sighting-vicinity. Cars are also effected in the same manner; their headlights and engines falter (or stop working altogether), but kick back again into life almost the instant the UFO moves away. It is claimed that diesel-engine vehicles are less susceptible to this UFO-induced "stalling" effect, but this is by no means definite.
Permanent mechanical effects are much rarer than transitory ones. It is sometimes alleged that batteries are drained of their stored energy during a UFO incident. Sometimes, damage is supposedly inflicted on mechanical systems and electronic circuitry, and the external structure of some devices reportedly suffer impact-like damage.
In ufological literature these effects are often labelled Electromagnetic (or EM) phenomena, even though there is no real evidence (to date) that electromagnetic processes are responsible for generating them!
d: Environmental Effects:
As with all UFO-instigated effects they can be divided into transient and permanent categories;
Transient environmental effects relate to "strong-wind" like buffeting of trees, man-made features, grass, waves and dust lying directly beneath a UFO. Permanent environmental effects relates to damage supposedly caused by a "landed" UFO. These include spaced indentations suggestive of "landing-pad" marks, also extensive craters, furrows, holes, scooped-out areas of earth and even damaged tarmacadam surfaces. These may be associated with so-called "UFO nests"; an often circular area of burnt, bare, crushed or swirled and flattened grass or other flora. Surrounding tree-limbs and other adjacent plant-matter can also show signs of being burned, crushed, dehydrated and/or discoloured.
During the summer of 1980 three round, swirled depressions (spaced some 137 metres apart) were found in a wheat field near Westbury, Wiltshire. Thereafter, throughout the 1980's many similar circles were appearing in arable land each summer, mainly in the counties of Wiltshire and Hampshire. By then, the "circles" had largely assumed more complex configurations; some surrounded by one or more concentric rings, others arranged in a cross or triangular pattern, others still with a single line - or "spur" - jutting out from one end (or a combination of these features). By the early 1990's even more complex crop-circle patterns (termed "Pictograms") had become notably common. These comprised of anything from a very large lineal arrangement of circles joined by a thin line of flattened crop (surrounded by several other level or bent lines), up to massive triangular, lozenge, dumbbell, snake-like, snail-like, wheel-shaped or "Mandelbrot set" configurations. The circles were, by this time, being extensively promoted by the media, virtually eclipsing UFOs in popularity.
Except in a very few notable occasions, there were no witnesses to the formation of the majority of crop circles. This resulted in considerable and varied speculation regarding their origin. Due to their similarity to so-called "UFO nests", some believed crop circles were the result of UFO activity (despite the lack of inexplicable sightings prior to their appearance). Others proposed an invisible "non-human intelligence" or a "plasma vortex" (a hypothetical natural phenomena related to tornadoes and funnel clouds). All sides, however, agreed that a sizable proportion of circles could not be hoaxes; they were too many and their internal and external structure were too complex, showing no obvious indication of being fabricated. However, on the 9th September, 1991 the crop-circles community was shaken by a front-page "Today" newspaper story featuring the account of two middle-aged artists (Doug Bower and Dave Chorley), which stated they had faked the first crop circles (and others subsequently). To confound matters further, evidence was also uncovered of a diversity of crop-circle faking groups and singular hoaxers, who had reportedly been fabricating circles independent of Bower and Chorley.
Despite these revelations, quite a number of circle advocates still maintain that anomalous crop circles do exist, rejecting outright the possibility that the "circles mystery" is totally attributable to hoaxing. The few documented eyewitness accounts of alleged circle- formation describe an invisible wind-like force (sometimes associated with glows and a humming/whirling sound) laying down crops in a basic singular, circular pattern. Coupled with some possible historical references to "crop circles" (such as the "Mowing Devil" pamphlet of 1678) a good case can still be made for a (albeit rare) circles effect phenomenon, able to create single circular depressions in flora. Whatever the case, there is still no good evidence to link UFOs with the modern deluge of crop circles. Does the fact they resemble "saucer nests" infer a direct UFO connection, or is it simply due to Bower and Chorley being "inspired" by reports of a "saucer nest" discovered at Tully, Australia in 1966? The circles controversy clearly shows the prudence of suspicion towards any "mysterious" ground trace who's mode of formation is totally unknown. In 2007 elaborate "pictograms" still appear in various parts of the UK (in particularly Wessex). Numerous groups have claimed responsibility, with even a crop circle fakers' handbook being published in 2005; but some still claim these patterns have an anomalous origin, although they are increasingly being seen as man-made "landscape art".
A small proportion of UFO incidents are associated with claimed observations of unearthly "entities". The question of their validity have always been a matter of great controversy within the UFO community. Whatever their actual reality-status, it is helpful to examine these claims from a historical viewpoint, as prevailing attitudes have always markedly influenced how they are perceived both by ufology and the general public.
The pre-Contactee Era (1947 to 1951):
The early UFO movement did not exist for most of this period. No-one had no clear conception of what piloted the UFOs. Their unearthly high-g manoeuvres suggested to early students of the phenomenon either robotic craft, or beings totally beyond human conception. The comic-book figure of the "little green man" had already existed for some time, inspired by science fiction "pulp" magazines and speculation (dating from the 1890's) concerning the possibility of life on Mars.
The Contactee Era (1951-1960):
In 1953, via the book "Flying Saucers Have Landed", the world first learned of the claims of George Adamski. The second section of this work (the first portion containing a review of historical "UFO" reports authored by Desmond Leslie) gave an account of an alledged meeting in the Californian desert between Adamski and a tall, blond-haired man from Venus during November 1951. As a result his fame spread throughout the world. Throughout the 1950's other individuals claimed meetings with entities from various planets and satellites of our solar system ( Mars, Venus, Jupiter, Saturn, the Moon, and - in one claim - a world called Charion, permanently hidden from the earth by our Sun). In almost every instance the entities resembled attractive human beings, hailing from utopian civilizations who had chosen the contactees to be their earthly representatives. The messages supposedly relayed by these aliens were mainly concerned with improving the spiritual development of mankind. The contactees were very much the Ufological "stars" of the 1950's. Numerous books were published detailing their experiences and lecture tours and conventions were held to promote their "message" to whomever would listen.
The UFO study movement (which was just being to coalesce at this time) recoiled in horror at such claims. They largely dismissed the contactees as charlatans who gave the subject a poor, unscientific image in the minds of the general public. Mainly as a result of the contactees, many leading UFO societies (such as NICAP) showed considerable scepticism towards all reports of UFO entities, and thus paid little attention to them.
The CE III Era (1955 to 1982):
However, as the contactee era began to slowly fade during the early 1960's some groups began to review their attitude towards entity reports. However this came too late for many early entity reports, which as a result of Ufology's prevalent scepticism were often poorly documented (if at all). However, a few managed to survive this atmosphere of negativism. Some early cases (such as Kelly Hopkinsville (1955) and Flatwoods (1952)) tended to refer to "monstrous" beings, others to "little men" clad in "diving suits". This in itself was a hindrance to their serious treatment (having echoes of the 1950's B-movie "horror-aliens" and the humorous "little green man" of the "funny-pages"). In October 1957 one of the first recorded "abduction" events purportedly occurred in Brazil, involving the supposed capture of Antonio Villas Boas by several entities for breeding purposes.
Villas Boas had a clear recollection of all what supposedly befell him. However, the experience of Betty & Barney Hill in New Hampshire, USA in September 1961 first introduced the concept of missing time; both witnesses being unable to recall two hours of their lives following a UFO. encounter. Attempts to determine what occurred during this period resulted in the first use of regression hypnosis in ufology. The Hill's hypnosis-sessions brought forth a tale of enforced boarding of a UFO and a medical examination by telepathic, large-eyed grey-skinned beings; elements which were to appear in numerous other incidents in the future. By the 1970's entity reports had become a largely accepted part of the UFO phenomenon, even taken seriously by figures such as Dr. J. Allan Hynek (who defined them in his famous classification system as "Close Encounters of the third Kind", or CE III's).
However, the majority of CE III's were consciously-recalled events, often claimed fleeting observations of evasive entities with a (very) wide variety of physical appearances. By the late 1960' the use of hypnotic regression in suspected instances of "missing time" was becoming almost routine. In 1976, New York-based sculptor Budd Hopkins became actively involved in ufology, a subject he was going to strongly influence during the next decade.
The "Abduction" Era (1982 and beyond):
As previously stated, pre-1980's CE IIIs were mainly fully consciously-recalled events, not requiring the use of hypnosis. However, this particular type of entity experience began to decline during the early 1980's and beyond. By the mid-1970's the term "Abduction" (covering instances of missing time and later hypnotically-retrieved "memories" of medical examinations by "aliens") had already entered common usage within the UFO community. By the mid-1980's Budd Hopkins had already established himself as a noted authority on abductions. However, the pre-eminence of such experiences began in 1987 with the publication of Communion, a book detailing the entity encounters of the writer Whitley Strieber. This work, the advertising campaign used to promote it (and also a film of Strieber's experiences made several years later) gave widespread public prominence to this aspect of ufology. From the groundswell of interest created by Strieber, the work of Budd Hopkins (and other American abduction researchers) grew in prominence as a result. By the mid-1990's they had become the predominant form of UFO entity encounter.
The typical CE III event:
The stereotypical CE III usually involves a single witness (but occasionally two or more people) who accidentally observe an unusual entity near (or within) a UFO whilst going about their everyday business. These beings are variously described as either simply observing its surroundings, operating "machinery" or taking samples from its environment. It is common for little substantial contact to occur between both parties (but communication may be alledged in some instances). The entities may either move normally or "float" some distance from the ground. CE III events usually occur within areas of low population, often around the evening/early morning hours and have a duration of around 10 minutes.
Of course (as with all stereotypes) the above description of a "typical" CE III event is a gross generalization; each case differing in many ways from this norm.
Common types of UFO Entities:
With a diverse variety of supposed UFO entity forms having been recorded to date, the expression "common type" can (at best) be considered a misnomer. Thus, this section simply aims to give a general overview of the morphology of supposed "UFO occupants".
The "Grey" is a very consistently described entity-class, commonly appearing in both abduction narratives and "conventional" CE III's since (at least) the 1960's. They are so termed due to their purported grey/greyish-blue skin coloration. Grey's are often estimated to be around 1 metre in height, with a "spindly" humanoid stature and very long, thin fingers. Their heads are always described as being large, (usually) bald and pair-shaped, with big (often opaque) oval "wraparound" eyes and a slit-like mouth and nose.
Human-like entities have also been reported. Standing around 5ft or more in height, the majority are very man-like in appearance, but a few possess abnormal features; a large bald head, oval eyes, pale skin, antenna, claw-hands, etc. The so-called "Nordic" is a particular class of human-like entity; tall and pale-skinned, with a high forehead, long blond hair and attractive (sometimes androgynous) facial features. They closely resemble the entity purportedly seen by George Adamski in 1951, but sightings of this entity-type are also claimed by many "non-contactees".
Observations of entities standing 7ft or more in height are claimed on rare occasions. These so-called Giants are mostly humanoid in form, but have a tendency towards possessing markedly outlandish body-features (such as glowing, single or trinary eye arrangements, or abnormally proportioned/shaped body-members).
The previous three (general) "classes" of UFO humanoids are reportedly dressed in a wide variety of clothing. Skin-tight "Cover-all", "catsuit" or "jumpsuit" like attire is especially common. Alternatively, entities may be clad in a "diving-outfit", "michelin-man like costume" or "spacesuit". The head may be either be exposed, or enclosed within a "goldfish-bowl" or "motorcyclist"-type "helmet". UFO entities have a marked tendency towards luminosity (often stated to be either "glowing" or illuminated by externally carried lights).
A small proportion of entities (often termed Exotics) cannot be fitted into any of the above-mentioned categories. These include beings resembling mythical creatures (bat-like humanoids, "man-apes", goblins, fairies, dwarves, or trolls) and also the occasional non humanoid, such as those with blob-like, "praying-mantis", oblong, spherical or tubular body- configurations.
The Abduction Experience; an in-depth view:
"Abduction" is the popular (and, among Ufologists highly controversial) definition given to a form of close encounter experience which has almost dominated ufology (and popular conceptions of the subject) in recent times.
The majority of "abduction" claims initially spring from experiences of "missing time", a mysterious "gap" in an individual's recollection of events, covering a interval ranging from 10 minutes up to an hour or more. This may occur in any environment; a bedroom, a car or whilst the participant is outdoors. It may (or may not) be preceded by a consciously-recalled "UFO" sighting or other anomalous event. Shortly afterwards, not previously-noticed scars may be discovered and anomalous nosebleeds may occur. Vivid dreams with a notable UFO content are also experienced (at least portions of which resemble any subsequently "recovered" abduction memories).
Sometimes, instead of an instance of "missing time", a strange (often incompletely recalled) event may be reported (who's recalled duration may not equal the actual amount of time elapsed). Some UFO researchers term this phenomenon Screen memory as (following one or more hypnosis sessions) an abduction narrative is often recalled in place of the previously reported anomalous experience.
In an attempt to discover what happened during an interval of "missing time", some individuals undergo a procedure called regression hypnosis. This involves a qualified hypnotherapist placing the person concerned into state of deep, sleepy relaxation (via the use of repetitive but gentle suggestion). The hope is that this artificially-induced altered state of consciousness will break down any "barriers" hindering remembrance of the time in question.
When the participant is placed under a hypnotic trance, the period of missing time is often "resolved" into an alarming, prolonged encounter with strange non-human (but usually humanoid) entities. This "experience" often begins with the participant being "escorted" into a "UFO" (usually against his or her will). If the person "recalls" initially being in a room (or other enclosed space), both themselves and any accompanying "entities" are often stated to pass, in a ghostly fashion, directly through any intervening windows or walls! Whatever the situation, the participant is often reported to "float" as if weightless, either when being inducted into an airborne UFO or at other times during the "encounter".
Following this period of transition, the participant is then taken to a room, where something akin to a medical examination purportedly takes place. This area is usually stated to be sparsely furnished, containing only those items "used" during the encounter. The participant is placed (sometimes even "secured") onto what is variously described as a "table", a "bed" or a "chair". An examination (often exclusively focused on the head and/or lower abdominal regions) then occurs, utilizing "devices" often compared to a "scanner" or a "probe". During the examination, the entities may allegedly take samples of blood, hair, skin and genetic material; the enactment of these procedures often associated with notable sensations of fear or pain. In some instances, a participant may report that the entities' insert a small "implant" into his or her body (usually up his or her nose).
The extent of communication between a participant and entities during abduction experiences varies considerably. Sometimes the entities are said to ask questions about mankind and life on earth, responding to the witnesses in a surprisingly humanlike way. They are often stated to "talk without speaking", using a form of mental communication comparable to telepathy. In other accounts, the entities are uncommunicative and impassive, treating the participant much like a biologist examining a living animal specimen. An entity may (at some stage during the experience) stare intently at the "abductee" for a prolonged period, allegedly "probing" his or her thoughts via a "telepathic mindscan". The "witness" may also be shown (on a "monitor" or "screen") images of stars, the earth, other alien worlds and other (more cryptic and often gloomy) scenes.
"Abduction" accounts are often very surreal in their content; the entities often make cryptic statements, act in a very outlandish manner, or the recalled memories of the encounter may inexplicably "jump" to other unconnected events. The witness may recall (when regressed) that the entities enacted a procedure to make him or her forget the encounter. The "experience" then ends with the witness being "returned" to his or her initial location (or a short distance elsewhere). In the aftermath, the participant's may develop a more spiritual, "new age" attitude to life, even develop supposed "psychic" abilities. It is also not unknown for "memories" to surface of previous abductions (even of instances during the witnesses' childhood).
It is not unknown for "abduction" claims to involve more than one person (either at the initial stages or, less often, to be uncovered during its investigation). More than several accounts detail the "abductee" being taken before other people....who appear to be "frozen" in time and are thus unable to recall anything happening.
Despite there popularity, abduction claims have been extensively criticized on a number of counts. Despite common belief to the contrary, regression hypnosis is neither an infallible recover of authentic memories or a "truth serum". An experiment in 1977 conducted by Dr's. William McCall and Alvin Lawson created (via the use of mild leading questioning) detailed - but false - "abduction" narratives in various hypnotic regression subjects. The fact that an altered state of consciousness has to be relied upon to "recover" details of many abduction throws their reality open to considerable doubt. Furthermore (due to their very nature) abductions are often very difficult to authenticate; with the "aliens" being able to fabricate false memories, to freeze everyone in time except the abductees and use "implants" which turn out (on examination) to be fairly terrestrial in nature. There are also some noticeable "flaws" with the "technology" attributed to abduction "aliens"; who, although supposedly able to pass through walls, have to physically cut and probe witnesses to acquire biological samples!
Attempts to discover differences between abductees and non-abductees have met with mixed results. It is generally agreed that the majority of abductees are psychologically normal. Possible links with the "fantasy-prone personality syndrome" have so-far proved inconclusive. Some have detected a slight tendency in close encounter witnesses towards creativity and a greater-than-normal level of "traumatic" life-experiences.
A number of conditions and mental effects have been proposed to account for abductions. A condition called Temporal Lobe epilepsy has the potential to explain at least some "borderline" cases. There also appears to be a link with sleep paralysis and Hypnagogic/Hypnopompic illusions (hallucinations occurring on the verge of sleeping and waking). Some experiments have shown that basic neurological sensations can be triggered by exposing a subject's brain to mild electrical stimulation. The extent to which these concepts will explain or some (or all) "abduction" events is currently uncertain, requiring further - and extensive - research.
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