- Nearly one million Americans say they've had an alien
- While there's many conventional explanations for the
experiences, no one theory can totally account for the phenomena, says
Dr. Stuart Appelle, psychology professor at SUNY Brockport.
- Appelle's interest in perception and consciousness has
led him to study the alien abduction experience. His work has appeared
in the journal "Science" and several other publications. He is
also editor of the "Journal of UFO Studies", an academic journal
dedicated to UFO-related phenomena.
- Appelle is interested in the abduction experience and
the degree to which abductees report very similar experiences.
- "Many people feel that the consistency, in and of
itself, is strong evidence that people are reporting real
he said. "Even the sequence is the same."
- Most abductees report being taken from their bedrooms,
or after they are stopped in their vehicles along an isolated strip of
road, Appelle explained. They usually report some kind of close encounter,
such as seeing a UFO or even aliens.
- "Generally, this is followed by a period of
Appelle said. "The next thing they know, the UFO is gone and they're
back in their car traveling down the highway, and an hour or two has passed
and they can't account for it."
- When the "memory" returns, either spontaneously
or through hypnosis, abductees claim to have been aboard a spaceship or
in an "unusual environment," Appelle said.
- "Typically, they are subjected to various physical
and psychological examinations, carried out by beings that look not
- Most abductees describe aliens similarly; gray, about
4- or 5-feet tall, with disproportionately large heads for their bodies,
and very large, almond-shaped eyes.
- Popular theories that attempt to explain the abduction
phenomena, unsuccessfully, include hypnosis and sleep-paralysis, Appelle
said, adding that neither can account for all reports of alien
- Hypnosis can create false memories, Appelle said, and
abductees don't go to a hypnotist out of the blue. They go because they
have "missing time" - sometimes hours they can't account for
- or suspect they may have been abducted.
- While hypnosis may embellish the story, the core
is still there, Appelle said.
- Sleep-paralysis as an explanation to debunk abduction
accounts also falls short, he said. During an occurrence of
people wake up feeling like they can't move, can't speak, and sometimes
sense a disturbing presence in the room. The problem is, Appelle said,
that this theory doesn't explain highway abductions. Sleep-paralysis
also tend to be very vague, while accounts of alien abductions are rich
in detail, he said.
- "Sometimes you can even get down to details of such
things like emblems on uniforms," he said.
- Appelle said he is "open-minded" on the subject
- "I don't, like some people, think that it is
impossible, so I'm willing to entertain the idea that these experiences
are exactly what they seem to be," he said. "It's a phenomena
that does not yet have a documented explanation."
- Appelle will lecture on reports of alien abduction at
7:30 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 14, at the R.I.C. University Center, 1150 University
Ave. For more information, call Rochester Info-courses at 256-1960.
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