Recognizing the Signal
In the 1996 blockbuster motion picture Independence Day, hostile aliens come to Earth hell-bent on death and destruction. Resourceful humans band together, defeat the common enemy, and save Earth. This Hollywood scenario is not new -- it has dominated screen versions of alien contact since 1951 with the release of The Thing, in which a single alien wreaks havoc on a group of humans.
A more peaceful version of alien contact has also become a cultural staple. From 1951 and The Day the Earth Stood Still to 1977 and Close Encounters of the Third Kind, benign aliens have come to Earth to help humans. In this scenario, the aliens offer world leaders, scientists, and media representatives their assistance and cooperation. There is mutual respect: The humans expect to learn from the aliens' technological advancement, and the aliens expect to help the humans live in peace and cooperatively build a better world.
Still another vision of alien intervention in human life is the idea that they are coming to save specially chosen individuals from a rapidly approaching cataclysm. Cult groups who believe this have existed since the early 1950s. Members of the Heaven's Gate cult in 1997 were so convinced that a UFO would save them from the apocalypse and carry them to a higher physical and spiritual realm that thirty-nine members committed suicide to facilitate their rescue and transportation.
A careful examination of the UFO abduction phenomenon shows us that contact has, in fact, occurred -- but it bears no relationship to these scenarios. There has been no public meeting, no involvement of leadership, no press coverage. There has, as yet, been no assistance, no cooperation, no war, no death, and no apocalypse. The contact has been on the aliens' terms -- and in secret.
I never imagined such a scenario in 1966 when I first started to study the UFO phenomenon. Nor did I imagine that I would spend so many years of my adult life involved with the subject. I never imagined that I would have to tell my children not to talk about my research at their school because they could be unmercifully teased. I never dreamed that my wife would learn not to mention my interests at her workplace because her employer might think she was married to a madman, and that could hurt her career. When I talk about the subject to my colleagues in the academic community, I know they think that my intellectual abilities are seriously impaired. I find myself intertwined with a subject that I have learned to dislike and even to fear.
I am first and foremost a professor of history specializing in twentieth-century America. I think, read, and teach about the past, but the study of the UFO phenomenon has thrust me into speculation about the future. The study of history proves that predicting events is an extremely unreliable and usually futile task. Yet, ironically, I now find myself in the uncomfortable position of trying to divine the future.
My research began in one of the leading bastions of historical inquiry -- the Department of History at the University of Wisconsin, where I was a graduate student. My major professor was the legendary Merle Curti, who founded the field of intellectual history. When Curti retired, I studied under Paul Conkin, who applied stringent analytical procedures and evidentiary criteria to every research topic. I immersed myself in the study of UFOs and received my Ph.D. under Conkin's direction. My doctoral dissertation focused on the controversy over unidentified flying objects in America from the perspective of intellectual, social, and military history. In researching this topic, I spent weeks at Maxwell Air Force Base and the Library of Congress, reading government documents about UFOs. I traveled the country to interview some of the most important civilian and military UFO researchers. In 1975, Indiana University Press published an expanded version of my dissertation as The UFO Controversy in America.
My early research concentrated on sightings of UFOs. My working hypothesis was that if careful analysis of the sightings showed that UFOs were extraterrestrial, it would be the most important scientific discovery of all time. On the other hand, if analysis concluded that the objects were simply misidentification of conventional phenomena and the products of overwrought human imagination, the phenomenon would be relegated to the history of popular culture. It was one or the other. To conceive of UFOs as representing a potential alien takeover was to be either impossibly prescient or foolish. I was neither.
Thus, I joined the other researchers whose objective it was to determine if witnesses were sighting anomalous, artificially constructed, and intelligently controlled vehicles. We scrutinized photos, motion picture footage, radar traces, soil samples, and other residue purportedly generated by UFOs. Collectively we amassed hundreds of thousands of sighting reports from around the world. We worked out a methodology to determine if witnesses were credible. I became a field investigator for the now defunct Aerial Phenomena Research Organization, interviewing puzzled witnesses, knocking on doors searching for others, and publishing the results of my investigations in UFO journals.
By the early 1970s, the UFO research community had collected so many sighting reports that we found ourselves with an uncomfortably huge database. We knew the time of a UFO sighting, its duration, movements, color changes, and number of witnesses, as well as the object's effects upon the environment, automobiles, electrical equipment, animals, and humans. Each of these reports were carefully investigated and documented; in many cases, there were multiple witnesses to lend credence to the evidence. The leading UFO researcher of his time, J. Allen Hynek, called this enormous body of information and reports an "embarrassment of riches."
Of course, there were internal debates over specific cases and fierce arguments with debunkers, but these could not discredit the legitimacy of the phenomenon. By the late 1970s, the evidence for UFOs as a truly anomalous phenomenon was so massive that I, along with most UFO researchers, could no longer deny that witnesses were seeing something extraordinary and probably not from Earth.
As part of our research, we of course thought about the ramifications of contact between humans and alien species. We theorized about how such contact might affect religion, government institutions, and the place of humans in the universe, but we devoted little thought to whether direct contact was already taking place, or whether the UFO occupants had hostile intentions. There seemed to be little reason to think along those lines. The UFOs behaved as if they wanted to keep their distance from us. They avoided contact on formal level. They were not making mass landings. They would fly about for a few seconds or minutes and then vanish. Their apparent "shyness" suggested neutrality, or at least nonhostility, toward humans.
Nevertheless, curiosity and questions about the motivation of the aliens remained just beneath the surface of UFO research. But because there was so little information, most researchers did not spend a lot of time in useless speculation. And the more we learned about the occupants of UFOs, the more difficult it was to understand their motivation. The UFO and occupant reports that began to increase in number in the 1960s and 1970s were truly bizarre. The objects chased cars, disappeared in midair, and left marks on people; they operated in secret for no apparent reason. Witnesses sometimes said that they saw UFO "occupants" outside the UFOs. Occasionally they reported coming across humanoids (the word "alien" being too dramatic and fringy) near a landed UFO who would paralyze the hapless humans and then inspect them. The humanoids were also seen "repairing" a UFO or digging in the ground; sometimes they appeared to be looking over the terrain, or collecting plants. Some of the occupants' activity was consistent with the hypothesis that they were curious about earthly flora and fauna. At other times they engaged in more baffling behavior. For example, they would pay no attention to a witness, or they would suddenly appear holding a small box in front of a witness and then disappear.
The accounts of these activities were a challenge to researchers who tried to make sense of them. Our mindset was not, however, that the humanoids had any hostile intentions -- in fact, they appeared to be examining, surveying, and gaining knowledge.
When abductions were first reported, as in 1961 with the Barney and Betty Hill case, they seemed to fit into the hypothesis that the aliens were primarily curious. Yet, although Barney and Betty Hill were not typical of the notorious 1950s "contactee" charlatans who tried to make money off their tall tales, one could never be sure whether they had invented their story.
As other abduction reports surfaced, UFO researchers were suspicious about the possibility of fabrication. It was easy for me to be skeptical. Most abductees had little to present in the way of evidence for the reality of their experiences. Unlike some UFO sighters, they had no photos, no radar traces, no movies, and usually no other witnesses. Their accounts were hypnotically retrieved, which was an obvious impediment to believability.
Because of the extreme nature of the abductees' claims, I stood on the sidelines while our knowledge about the phenomenon began to mount. The Barney and Betty Hill case was typical. They encountered the now "standard" gray aliens who communicated telepathically, gave the Hills an "examination," and seemed interested in human reproduction. Afterward, the Hills experienced a form of amnesia, and their memories of the incident had to be recovered with the use of hypnosis. The Hill case was serialized in a major weekly magazine, was the subject of a best-selling book, and became the best-known abduction case in history.
There was an even earlier abduction, which happened to Antonio Villas Boas in Brazil in 1957. Villas Boas, who was home for vacation from college, was abducted while riding a tractor on his father's ranch. He was made to have sexual intercourse with a strange but almost-human-looking female. This case was too embarrassing and bizarre for researchers to take seriously, and it was not published until 1966, the same year the public learned about the Hills.
Only a few other cases came to light during the mid-1960s and early 1970s. One was the Pascagoula case of 1973, in which two men said they were abducted as they fished on the banks of the Pascagoula River in Mississippi. During the abduction, aliens "floated" them into an object and a football-shaped machine was passed over their bodies as if it were examining them. The two men seemed traumatized by the event, and one did not talk about it in public for many years.
Another case occurred in 1975. Travis Walton was abducted and physically missing from his normal environment for five days. Moments before his abduction, six witnesses had seen Walton knocked over by a ball of light emanating from a UFO. The witnesses fled in panic, and when they returned a short time later, Walton was gone.
I read about these abductions and was not impressed. Debunkers had stated (incorrectly) that Walton had wanted to be abducted, making the entire event suspicious. Furthermore, the Pascagoula aliens did not match the descriptions given by other abductees. In 1976, I confidently, and erroneously, told J. Allen Hynek that I thought the highly publicized Pascagoula and Travis Walton cases were most probably hoaxes because they did not seem to fit our knowledge of the phenomenon. Besides, they just did not feel right. I thought the chances that these cases were hoaxes far outweighed the chances that the claimants were actually kidnapped by aliens from another planet.
In 1976, I interviewed Betty Hill, who told me something that had been kept out of public accounts -- the beings had taken a sperm sample from Barney. I found this fascinating. It not only reinforced the rising number of accounts of alien interest in reproduction, but if the Hills' story had been psychologically generated, why concoct something with the express intention of not telling it to anyone? In my mind, the abduction mystery was deepening and becoming more complex. However, I still concentrated on the sightings paradigm in which I had become fairly expert. Sightings, although still considered illegitimate by the general public, were safe and comfortable. The growing number of credible witnesses, radar contacts, photos, films, and physical effects gave us a solid evidentiary base on which to rely. Abductions, in spite of my interest, still lacked the evidence that I required for believability.
I was skeptical of veteran UFO researcher Ray Fowler's 1979 study of abductee Betty Andreasson. The case demonstrated that the aliens could mentally control people from a distance: They "switched off" -- rendered unconscious or immobile -- people who were in Andreasson's house while they abducted her and her daughter. This case also illustrated a physical manipulation of matter that, according to other reports, the aliens routinely performed. They came directly through the wall of the house to accomplish the abduction. And, during the abduction, Betty Andreasson saw puzzling and inexplicable images of strange places and bizarre animals. But I remained doubtful and believed that the images she saw, and perhaps the entire abduction, were generated from her mind.
By 1980, most of the abduction accounts were beginning to display patterns of similarity: paralysis, physical examinations, telepathy, amnesia, and little gray beings with large black eyes. Many of these reports told of a continued alien interest in human reproduction. I had read some of the abduction literature, but I was not persuaded to give up my focus on sightings. The abductees could be lying, or they could have serious psychological problems.
Then, in 1981 Budd Hopkins published Missing Time, a study in which he examined seven abductees and found that a person could be taken many times during the course of his or her life and might have "screen memories" that masked other abduction events. Hopkins discovered telltale scars on abductees, which they incurred during the abduction, and his work confirmed the beings' interest in reproduction. His book gave UFO researchers the first systematic comparison of abductee experiences and showed that the phenomenon could be studied on a society-wide basis.
A year later, in 1982, Tracey Tormé, a mutual friend of Budd Hopkins's and mine, brought the two of us together. I visited Hopkins at his vacation home on Cape Cod and learned more about what he was doing. I noted how cautious and conservative he was. He had been developing patterns in his research that were hard to ignore. The abductees he worked with were serious, sober people genuinely concerned about what had happened to them. I became intrigued.
After my meetings with Hopkins, I called Hynek and told him that I thought Hopkins was on to something important. Hynek warned me to stay away from the abduction cases because they were eccentric and led us off the main path of sighting analysis. I disagreed and told him that I thought Hopkins's research seemed solid. Hynek reiterated his warning, trying to steer me back to the "correct" course of research. Abduction reports were too bizarre for him; he could not subject them to the kind of scientific analysis that he could use for sighting reports.
Although I had adopted a stance similar to Hynek's for over fifteen years, this time I had to follow the evidence. I had begun to understand that if abductions were actually happening, they could be the key to the UFO mystery because they allowed us to enter inside the UFOs. They gave us knowledge that examining the outsides of the objects had never provided. I decided that I would begin to study these cases myself so that I could carefully weigh the evidence. To do this research, I would have to learn hypnosis.
I conducted my first hypnotic regression in August 1986. By 1992 I had conducted more than three hundred hypnotic regressions and had discovered that analyzing abductee accounts was not easy. Asking the right questions and separating reality from fantasy was difficult and even treacherous; false memories and confabulation could lead researchers and abductees into a never-never land of wishful thinking and fantasy.
In 1992, I published the first segment of my research results as Secret Life: Firsthand Accounts of UFO Abductions. In it I delineated the structure of a typical abduction and the variety of mental procedures performed on abductees. I also described a multiplicity of hitherto unknown physical and reproductive procedures and was able to re-create minute-by-minute a typical abduction experience from beginning to end.
From my research, I could add to Hopkins's findings on the aliens' reproductive procedures of ova harvesting and fetal extraction. We both found that the aliens required abductees to interact physically with odd-looking babies and toddlers, whom the abductees generally said resembled a combination of human and alien -- hybrids. By uncovering these elements of the abduction phenomenon, Hopkins discovered one of the central aspects of why the beings are here. Having analyzed my own research on the aliens' reproductive procedures, I knew when they were taking eggs or sperm. I could identify when a fetus was extracted or implanted in an abductee. To all appearances, the aliens were engaged in some sort of breeding program. But the ultimate reasons for their physical and reproductive procedures remained a mystery.
The mental procedures were even more baffling. Aliens almost always stared into an abductee's eyes at a distance of a few inches or less and seemed thereby to elicit love, fear, and anger. Some of these "Mindscan" procedures could provoke intense sexual arousal in both men and women. By staring into people's eyes, the beings could cause them to see prearranged scenarios and "movies" in their minds. At that time I had no idea how and why this took place. Now I think I understand why.
I was also puzzled about why abductees were subjected to strange staging and testing procedures in which they acted out a scenario with aliens or found that they could operate complex devices or perform tasks they do not remember having learned. These procedures seemed unrelated to the breeding program.
The aliens themselves were enigmatic. I did not know whether they ate or slept, or had any kind of life outside the abduction context. The same was true of the hybrid babies, toddlers, adolescents, and adults; their lives were a mystery. One thing was certain -- the aliens were engaging in a tremendous number of abductions. A national poll by the Roper Organization in 1991 revealed the possibility of an abduction program far more extensive than we had ever imagined.
Our continuing UFO research raised many other questions. For example, abduction researcher Karla Turner reported in 1993 that some abductees claimed the American military was abducting them in cooperation with the aliens. In 1994 Harvard professor John Mack discussed what was apparently an alien interest in the earth's environment. Abductees increasingly claimed that hybrid adults were involved with their abductions. Budd Hopkins found that aliens were pairing young abductees for long-term relationships. To complicate matters, although the abduction phenomenon was traumatic for most abductees, many found spiritual enlightenment and an expansion of their consciousness.
As if these issues were not complex enough, until recently I did not have even provisional answers to the most important questions: What is the purpose of the breeding program? What constitutes alien authority and society? Why are they operating in secrecy? What is the magnitude of the abduction program? What is the purpose of hybridization? For the first twenty years of my research, I thought that we would never have the answers to the fundamental questions of alien motivation and intentions. All that has changed now. In the past ten years, I have gathered information that I feel certain answers these questions satisfactorily.
In my most recent research, I have uncovered information that allows UFO researchers to solve the UFO mystery -- at least the questions that will have the greatest impact upon us. I have put many pieces of the puzzle together. I have focused the picture, and I do not like what I see. For the first time in over thirty years of researching the UFO phenomenon, I am frightened of it. Understanding has not led to a feeling of contribution or accomplishment. Rather, it has led to profound apprehension for the future. The abduction phenomenon is far more ominous than I had thought. Optimism is not the appropriate response to the evidence, all of which strongly suggests that the alien agenda is primarily beneficial for them and not for us. I know why the aliens are here -- and what the human consequences will be if their mission is successful.
Copyright © 1998 by David Michael Jacobs