(Investigator 210, 2023 May)

Reports of mysterious objects in the skies date back to biblical times. Oft quoted by those who believe in the existence of UFOs is that seen by Ezekiel, suggested by von Däniken in his book Chariots of the Gods? to be a spaceship. Whether or not the biblical prophet was given to visionary experiences or was a sober observer and recorder of scientific fact is a question readily answerable today. J.F. Blumrich, a former NASA engineer in his book The Spaceships of Ezekiel, postulates objective engineering proof of the technical soundness and reality of the spaceships described by Ezekiel existing six centuries before the birth of Christ.

Since the first modern sighting of a UFO by pilot Kenneth Arnold over Mount Rainer in 1947, there have been tens of thousands of sightings all over the world, stories of landings by spacecraft, alleged government cover-ups, and abductions of humans by alien visitors. It is the latter with which we are primarily concerned.

In his best seller, Flying Saucers Have Landed, George Adamski claimed to have been seeing and photographing UFOs since October 1946, and on November 20, 1952, actually had an encounter with a visitor from Venus near Desert Center, California. He described the extraterrestrial as about, "five foot six inches tall, with long blond hair, who wore a brown uniform of a glossy material with no visible fastenings, seams or pockets." Communicating telepathically or by means of signs, the visitor told Adamski that other Venusians were already living on Earth disguised as human beings and that his civilization was concerned about the development of nuclear weapons.

Although serious ufologists did not have much credence in Adamski’s account, the proliferation of alleged similar encounters over the years has prompted organizations such as the British UFO Research Association (BUFORA), Mutual UFO Network (MUFON), Center for UFO Studies (CUFOS), and the many other UFO monitoring groups in the United States and around the world, to carefully record and analyse the reports that flow in continuously from the public in an effort to separate the hoaxes and mis-interpreted sightings from what may be genuine visitations.


The number of reported "abductions" by UFO-nauts or meetings with aliens runs into the hundreds maybe even thousands, yet not one single piece of tangible evidence has ever been produced to verify such an encounter. Groups dedicated to investigating the claims are inevitably biased towards proving the existence of extraterrestrial visitors and rely heavily on anecdotal evidence obtained through hypnosis. Hypnosis however is not a magical road to truth.

The growing reliance on hypnosis to support tales of UFO abductions prompted a paper entitled "What Can We Learn from Hypnosis of Imaginary ‘Abductees'?" by Professor Alvin H. Lawson (May 1977), at California State University, Long Beach, USA, in which he reported on an experiment in which imaginary UFO abductions were induced hypnotically in a group of subjects who were then questioned about their experience. Not only were the subjects able to improvise answers about what had happened to them aboard the imaginary flying saucer, but their stories "showed no substantive differences" from tales in UFO literature by persons who claimed to have actually experienced an abduction. Often hypnotized witnesses subtly confuse their own fantasies with reality without either the witness or the hypnotist being aware of what is happening.

American courts have recognized that hypnotic testimony is not reliable as a means of ascertaining the truth
it is possible for an individual to feign hypnosis and deceive even highly experienced hypnotists...further, it is possible for even deeply hypnotized subjects to willfully lie.

The general conclusion by those who have studied the phenomenon is that hypnotic suggestions to relive the past will result in a confabulation of fact and fantasy
facts gleaned from a variety of sources in the normal course of events and remembered, and fantasy to fill in the gaps in response to what is expected of the subject. In short – "pseudo-memories," or what has now become known as the "false memory syndrome."

Further reading:

Hilgard, Ernest R. 1981. "Hypnosis Gives Rise to Fantasy and is Not a Truth Serum." Skeptical Inquirer. 5(3): 25.

Hilgard, Josephine R. 1979. Personality and Hypnosis: A Study of Imaginative Involvement, 2nd ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Klass, Philip J. 1981. "Hypnosis and UFO Abductions." Skeptical Inquirer. 5(3): 16-24.

From: H. Edwards 1994 Magic Minds Miraculous Moments, Harry Edwards Publications