UFOs and Abductions: Challenging the Borders of Knowledge

David Michael Jacobs, Editor University Press of Kansas $34.95 (382p) ISBN 978-0-7006-1032-7
Is the truth out there? If so, where should we look? In this accessible academic collection, longtime UFO researcher Jacobs (The Threat), a professor of history at Temple University, assembles nine writers and scholars from several disciplines to report on the state of the UFO field. Most of the contributors seek either to bolster reports of alien landings or to establish ufology as a serious scholarly topic. Psychologist Stuart Apelle, who edits the Journal of UFO Studies, sums up previous academic studies of UFOs, then calls for more--a call echoed by (among others) prolific UFO writer Budd Hopkins (Missing Time). McGill University psychologist Don Donderi argues that the scientific method is ill equipped to digest UFOs--lawyers, using legal standards of evidence, would handle them better, he believes, and ""military intelligence analysts... have probably already drawn the proper conclusions."" Michael Swords (a former Journal editor) shows how 1950s and '60s Pentagon brass deliberately fostered public skepticism. Folklorist Thomas Bullard's superb, lengthy essay concentrates not on whether there are aliens, but on what humans believe about them: contemporary ""extraterrestrials,"" premodern European faeries and Seneca (Indian) visionary experiences are more alike than we might think. Ontario neuroscientist Michael Persinger suggests one possible reason why: certain electrical misfires in the brain, his lab's research suggests, can create strong impressions of ""humanoid"" visitors. Persinger's careful essay will fascinate not just the UFO-curious, but anyone with an interest in brain, mind, memory and belief. Despite its measured tone and many footnotes, the rest of the volume, however, seems largely aimed at readers who want to believe. (Sept.)
Reviewed on: 09/18/2000
Release date: 09/01/2000
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