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Allez Ufology!
February 13, 2006 1:53 AM   Subscribe

Betty and Barney Hill's Bogus Journey: "This is one of the most well known and most historically important cases of alien abduction of all time, mainly because it's all baloney. However, it was well televised baloney, and that brought UFO abductions, and the little gray men that the Hills reported seeing, into the mainstream of popular culture."
posted by furiousxgeorge (44 comments total)

 
The Iron Skeptic
posted by furiousxgeorge at 1:57 AM on February 13, 2006


I myself am a skeptic about your last link (you spelled the URL wrong). It's really here.
posted by LeLiLo at 2:20 AM on February 13, 2006


hmmm..
not sure about this.... but, it may not be science...
posted by HuronBob at 2:25 AM on February 13, 2006


Two interesting notes from the Wiki account of the incident:

"Psychiatrists later suggested that the supposed abduction was a hallucination brought on by the stress of being an interracial couple in early 'sixties America. (Betty was Caucasian, Barney was African American.) Betty discounted this suggestion, noting her relationship with Barney was happy, and their interracial marriage caused no notable problems with their friends or family."

"Some have speculated that the abduction account was influenced by an episode of The Outer Limits broadcast after the incident but twelve days before a hypnotic regression performed on the couple to get more detail on the incident. The report from the regression featured a scenario similar to the television show. Barney discounted this suggestion, noting that he usually worked in the evenings, and rarely watched television; furthermore, before the abduction he says, he had no special interest in UFOs or science fiction."

James Earl Jones played Barney in the TV movie.
posted by LeLiLo at 2:32 AM on February 13, 2006


"Wraparound Eyes." Coolest. Thing. I've. Heard. Today.
posted by Zendogg at 3:15 AM on February 13, 2006


It's way past your curfew! Where have you been with my daughter at this hour???

"Well, sir, I was bringing your little princess home and then, well, sir, there were these space aliens....."
posted by three blind mice at 4:25 AM on February 13, 2006


Anyone who has read anything about False Memory Syndrome and recovering memories through hypnosis can tell you that ANY case, where they used hypnosis to figure out what happened is utter garbage.

That's why there was a Satanic Ritual Abuse scare, why there was a huge outbreak of Multiple Personality Disorder, and other bizarre and screwy phenomena going on throughout the United States.

Remember kids: when you hear the words "the memories were recovered through hypnosis", that means "we sat down with the person and made them fantasize until they gave us a consistent story."
posted by neek at 4:32 AM on February 13, 2006


This Iron Skeptic fellow is right up my alley. Thank you kindly.
posted by ford and the prefects at 4:41 AM on February 13, 2006


must... not... post... own... opinions... in skeptic threads!
/runs away
posted by moonbird at 5:14 AM on February 13, 2006


So. Let's just see here. People who claim to have been kidnapped by aliens might be imagining it?

Yipes. Positively shocking.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:25 AM on February 13, 2006


skepdic:
The alien abduction story that seems to have started the cult beliefs about alien visitation and experimentation is the Betty and Barney Hill story. The Hills claim to have been abducted by aliens on September 19, 1961. Betty first "remembered" her abduction during a series of nightmares, which she told Barney about. Barney claims the aliens took a sample of his sperm. Betty claims they stuck a needle in her belly button. She took people out to an alien landing spot, but only she could see the aliens and their craft. The Hills recalled most of their story under hypnosis a few years after the abduction. Barney Hill reported that the aliens had "wraparound eyes," a rather unusual feature. However, twelve days earlier an episode of "The Outer Limits" featured just such an alien being (Kottmeyer). According to Robert Schaeffer, "we can find all the major elements of contemporary UFO abductions in a 1930 comic adventure, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century."
Hypnosis isn't allowable in court because it produces anything but the truth, but UFO-types have no problem justifying huge inter-planetary conspiracies with it. Maybe they're taking our brains as we sleep, starting with the UFOlogists.
posted by skallas at 5:44 AM on February 13, 2006


Man, just imagine if it was Benny Hill that was abducted in 1961, chased out of his house one evening by a bunch of greys in bikinis and a bobby or two.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:34 AM on February 13, 2006


Here is a pic of the alien in question
posted by zeoslap at 6:41 AM on February 13, 2006


lelilo in the article posted it stated that Barney didn't work until midnight and the show aired at 7:30...
posted by zeoslap at 6:42 AM on February 13, 2006


Man, just imagine if it was Benny Hill that was abducted in 1961, chased out of his house one evening by a bunch of greys in bikinis and a bobby or two.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 6:34 AM PST on February 13 [!]


Thanks, now scenes Signs are running throguh my head with that silly music playing.
posted by luftmensch at 8:04 AM on February 13, 2006


So if you're down on your luck
I know you all sympathize
Find a girl with wrap-around eyes...
posted by Devils Rancher at 8:23 AM on February 13, 2006


If I had any A/V talent at all, I would do exactly what luftmensch describes.

And oh my, does this take me back to my X-Files years, and the learned-skepticism there.
posted by kalimac at 8:30 AM on February 13, 2006


Have Fred and Wilma ever expressed any skepticism?
posted by namret at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2006


then how does one explain all the alienated people out there?
posted by pyramid termite at 8:34 AM on February 13, 2006


I have a lot of trouble with "The Iron Skeptic" (aside from the fact it's written in BIG PRINT) -- this guy isn't a "skeptic" at all, he has a very specific set of axes to grind.

Consider this phrase: "But I know what didn't happen: They were not, absolutely not, kidnapped by space aliens." Such overwhelming certainty is not characteristic of a skeptic.

I'm personally extremely dubious about Betty and Barney Hill's story. I'd certainly bet against it being true. But I do not *know* that it is not true. I am a skeptic.

Take the field of UFOology in general -- I'm skeptical. I find it very hard to believe that aliens something like us are flying around in technological vehicles in Earth's skies. But I do think there's some mystery there. There have been too many cases of multiple witnesses in separate locations experiencing partly connected, hard-to-explain phenomena for it all to be hallucination and misinterpretation.

What is it? If I were pressed, I'd talk about the evidence linking geomagnetism, temporal lobe phenomena, UFO experiences, and (strangely enough), ghosts and little people sightings. I'd point out that if there were other intelligences than human on the earth (unlikely but not impossible -- there are lots of accounts, though perhaps they are all false), then they would most likely have been here all along.

I would also point out that plasma physics and weather physics are two subjects that are in their infancy (perhaps adolescence, I suppose) and there may well be unexplained things seen in our skies because of our lack of understanding of these fields.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:59 AM on February 13, 2006


Consider this phrase: "But I know what didn't happen: They were not, absolutely not, kidnapped by space aliens." Such overwhelming certainty is not characteristic of a skeptic.

From later in the article: "Is it possible that things really happened the way they said? Sure. Nothing's impossible."

That better?
posted by forblaga at 9:19 AM on February 13, 2006


That being said, some things are impossible.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:29 AM on February 13, 2006


I heard that it was Betty who was influenced by a Fireball XL-5 episode, that it gave her bad dreams and these she shared with Barney. Sorry, no links on hand, but probably worth googling. The Interupted Journey is the mother of all abduction scenarios.
posted by bonefish at 9:41 AM on February 13, 2006


Have Fred and Wilma ever expressed any skepticism?

Wilma's a staunch skeptic, but Fred insists that he experienced visitationis from the Great Gazoo of the Planet Zatox.
posted by jonp72 at 9:43 AM on February 13, 2006


I have had recurring dreams that I am a demon with a glass hand sent from the future, but I am sure that this is based on actual experiences, even though, in my dreams, I look like a young Robert Culp.
posted by Astro Zombie at 9:48 AM on February 13, 2006


WOW. THAT WAS A VERY CONVINCING PIECE. I DON’T SEE HOW ANYONE COULD BELIEVE ANYTHING OTHERWISE. Seriously. It’d be nice to have a hyperbole-free discussion of UFOs and abductions. I mean I don’t believe the Hills either, but there are more methodical ways to prove they’re lying or duped themselves - whatever.


This week’s ingrediant on Iron Skeptic: UFOs!
posted by Smedleyman at 1:07 PM on February 13, 2006


What actually happened to the Hills that night? Hell if I know.

Classic.
posted by iamck at 1:27 PM on February 13, 2006


If I was an alien I would not kidnap anyone.

Instead I would sit quietly at home and read some books.
posted by storybored at 2:06 PM on February 13, 2006


[They move to the window and look out on the moon and the Earth]

Kevin: You know what you need? A hobby. I know it helps me.

Dave: Yeah? What do you do?

Kevin: Well, I don't like to toot my own horn, but I'm a pretty good amateur rectal photographer. Would you like to see my portfolio?

Dave: No. I would hate to.

Kevin: Fine. Screw you.

Dave: Well, Screw you.

[Kevin moves off, leaving Dave staring at the Earth]
posted by Astro Zombie at 2:28 PM on February 13, 2006


"There have been too many cases of multiple witnesses in separate locations experiencing partly connected, hard-to-explain phenomena for it all to be hallucination and misinterpretation."

I think people who take the above position are giving too much credit to their fellow man.

As kids we've all believed in scary things. Think about campfire stories or tales of ghosts told at sleep overs. Suddenly the house really did seem haunted. Every bump in the night was some mutant hell beast plotting our gory death.

That some people carry this ability to suspend disbelief into adulthood should not surprise anyone - in fact I feel like most people still entertain superstitions easily.

Recently a relative was pregnant with her first child. Her due date was within a few days of the full moon - leading her to believe that the baby was more likely to be born on the full moon rather than the date calculated by the doctor. She thought this because "it was well known" that more babies are born on the full moon - where she heard this I don't know, but the fact that this college educated, professional woman believed that astronomical bodies held some sway over her womb was both amusing and a little alarming.

People believe weird and dumb stuff.
posted by wfrgms at 3:27 PM on February 13, 2006


So... was it born on the full moon or not?
posted by Hal Mumkin at 3:43 PM on February 13, 2006


But I do not *know* that it is not true. I am a skeptic.

Ya know, there comes a time when one realizes that there is nothing to be gained by taking the true skeptical stance. It only serves to allow the dummies out there to keep their foolish fantasies.

Coming out and solidly saying that UFO abductions are a freakin stupid lie at least serves to reduce the noise level of those idiots, who will be far less inclined to open their uninformed and gullible yaps. And thus, it is less likely that they will influence other gullible yahoos.

Science education through fear. It's the best policy.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:49 PM on February 13, 2006


"So... was it born on the full moon or not?"

Oh sorry... no, the new baby was born a few days after the full moon... and was then promptly abducted by aliens.
posted by wfrgms at 4:05 PM on February 13, 2006


I wonder when the first anal probing was reported?
posted by palinode at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2006


wfrgms writes "...but the fact that this college educated, professional woman believed that astronomical bodies held some sway over her womb was both amusing and a little alarming."

Not to justify your relative's (odd) conclusion regarding her baby's due date, but I don't think it entirely strange that a woman would make a connection between her reproductive system and the phases of the moon. You know, that whole menstruation thing, with its (not yet well-understood) correspondence to the lunar cycle.
posted by mr_roboto at 4:28 PM on February 13, 2006


"I don't think it entirely strange that a woman would make a connection between her reproductive system and the phases of the moon"

It's not entirely strange... until you actually think about it.

When I hear stuff like this questions immediatly pop into my head... Like, through what physical mechinism does the Earth's shadow (or lack of) influence births (or crime, or peak times in the emergency room?)

I suppose one could argue in favor of some subtle tidal effect on the amniotic fluid in the womb...
posted by wfrgms at 5:07 PM on February 13, 2006


"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."
posted by PurplePorpoise at 5:58 PM on February 13, 2006


"When you have eliminated the impossible, whatever is left, no matter how improbable, must be the truth."

Sez the man who believed in the Cottingham fairies.
posted by SPrintF at 6:41 PM on February 13, 2006


Coming out and solidly saying that UFO abductions are a freakin stupid lie at least serves to reduce the noise level of those idiots, who will be far less inclined to open their uninformed and gullible yaps. And thus, it is less likely that they will influence other gullible yahoos.

Amen. A-fucking-men, brother. Ignorance deserves education and compassion. Idiots deserve scorn and ridicule.
posted by frogan at 7:15 PM on February 13, 2006


I was going to do an FPP on the topic, but to my amazement Google turns up empty on a search for "the problem with tolerating stupidity is...".

Which, frankly, surprises the hell outta me.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:22 PM on February 13, 2006


Coming out and solidly saying that UFO abductions are a freakin stupid lie at least serves to reduce the noise level of those idiots, who will be far less inclined to open their uninformed and gullible yaps. And thus, it is less likely that they will influence other gullible yahoos.

You must be real fun at parties.

Yeah, it's impossible that Hill had some neurological event or witnessed some otherwise mundane but rare thing that she was unable to find a frame work for and left her frightened and bewildered and built whatever explanation she could to understand what happened to her.

No, she should just be laughed at and ignored.

For someone who screeches about intelligence and knowledge, you sure are an ignorant asshole.

What lupus and Smedleyman said.
posted by Snyder at 10:28 PM on February 13, 2006


So, snyder, I'm wondering: What in the stuff that FFF said is inconsistent with your scenario of the uncredited neurological (or other "mundane") event?
posted by lodurr at 5:32 AM on February 14, 2006


No, Snyder, the asshole around here would be the person who supports uninformed or insane people by saying "hush, hush, it's okay to believe in any sort of shit at all, so long as it makes you feel better about yourself."

We as a society do not need to entertain every fruit-loop idea that comes along or we end up with idiots with dangerous ideas making decisions that affect us all. We end up with Presidents who can blow us all to smithereens making decisions based on what their fucking horoscope says. We end up with asshats trying to force religion into the science curriculum. We end up with a media that can't tell scientific fact from oil corporation fantasy.

I stand for this: stating the truth.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:10 AM on February 14, 2006


And truth, btw, is universal. It's subject to reality, not the fantasies of religionists and UFO wingnuts.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:12 AM on February 14, 2006


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