Sight Unseen

A Book Review:

Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings

by Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey

“Safe upon the solid rock the ugly houses stand: Come and see my

shining palace built upon the sand.”

Edna St. Vincent Millay

It should be noted right up front that among legal scholars, memories obtained via hypnotic regression are considered so unreliable that they are usually judged inadmissible as evidence in a court of law (1). Even if Budd Hopkins was scrupulously careful (as the text seems to indicate) not to guide his subjects during hypnotic sessions, he was still the person selecting the questions to be asked. In addition, all of his subjects approached him because of his reputation in these matters. They had heard him speak or had read his books or had seen other public presentations he had made. Consequently, they were already generally aware of the various parameters and conclusions he had established in other cases before they were even put into a hypnotic trance. As a result, what we may have here is some kind of self-reinforcing psychological feedback loop.

The Hopkins transcripts are well written and entertaining to read, but he seems to take as given that the presence of extraterrestrials is an established fact. This is far from the case. To summarize:

1. There is no observation that can be made at will.

2. There is no experiment that has been made and replicated.

3. There is no artifact that can withstand the scrutiny of a high powered testing lab.

In short, there is currently no scientific evidence for the presence of extraterrestrials, nothing for which their presence is the only possible explanation. On the other hand, if an artifact was found on the Moon, for example, that was not sent there by us, then that would be a clincher. Just one piece of such evidence would be worth more than all the anecdotal accounts and hypnotic regressions in existence. Although we don’t have any of that type yet this does not prove that they are not here because absence of evidence is not evidence of absence. However, it certainly does nothing to increase the probability of truth for such assertions.

It is valid to postulate that if extraterrestrials are here then their technical abilities are likely to be so advanced when compared to our own that it might not be possible for us to detect them at all. Should that, in fact, be the case then it is best that we remain agnostic.

Although, I admit, I have indulged in them myself on occasion (2), speculations concerning alien motivations are premature. As the sub-title of the book indicates, one of its main themes is a supposed extraterrestrial program of interbreeding with human beings to produce a hybrid species. Personally, I can’t assign much credibility to this without something more substantial in the way of collaborating evidence. Until then it’s just a palace of cards built on foundation of sand.

I would bet most people looking back over their lives, can cite personal aberrations of perception that are, in a word, “strange.” I know I can. These could include vivid dreams, missing time, etc. Take the phenomenon of missing time for example — how many readers can remember an occasion when, on a long monotonous road trip, part of one’s mind is driving the car and another part is reviewing some recent social situation or planning an upcoming event. Some people even induce this mental separation on purpose by slipping a recorded book into the CD player to make the time go faster. On occasion I have snapped out of such reveries to realize that I had missed the exit I intended to take some time back. Given that most human characteristics, both physical and mental, are distributed on a bell curve, or normal distribution, we can expect that there will always be those out on the end of the curve for whom these perceptual aberrations are much more intense than for the rest of us.

Of the two authors, Carol Rainey appears to be the more grounded, and a person with a significant degree of scientific literacy. She struggles mightily to lay a veneer of science over the Hopkins guided, fantastic reconstructions and, to her credit, she often succeeds. Perhaps on a couple of occasions she moves a little too easily between established science, theoretical science and scientific speculation. But, in general, she is conscientious about alerting the reader when making such a change. Most of her comments are astute, lucid and interesting.

What we may be witnessing here is the birth of a new religion and as with most other religions (with the possible exception of Buddhism) we are being asked to believe in something which is simply not in evidence. A “leap of faith” is required.

The book is engaging and worth reading if only to glimpse how such a social phenomenon comes into existence, and for the possible science involved.



  2. The UFO Experience Reconsidered by Robert L Mason

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Wednesday, December 22nd, 2010 Sight Unseen

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