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UFOs in the daily Press:

About a UFO conference, USA, 2003:

This article was published in the daily newspaper Staten Island Advance, on October 12, 2003.

UFO's: The truth and the proof are out there

A conference on abductions draws 100 believers to a Wagner college classroom

By HEIDI J. SHRAGER

About 11 years ago, at 5:30 a.m., a Great Kills man named Andrew woke up to find his entire house shaking.

When his wife looked out the window of their townhouse, she screamed at the sight of a metallic disk with blinking white lights, hovering about 40 feet away. In an instant, the object zoomed away and became a small red light in the distance.

"We're not crazy," said the conservatively dressed 40-year-old who didn't give his full name for fear of being ostracized. "We're both fairly educated; we hold jobs," he added, between bursts of nervous laughter.

The couple was among more than 100 people who showed up at Wagner College yesterday for a conference on UFO abductions.

Even though their home is attached to their neighbors, the couple, afraid of being called insane, chose not to tell them what had happened.

A few times during their close encounter, Andrew, a construction supervisor, and his wife, an administrative assistant, said they felt like several beings were in the bedroom with them.

"It was like friends visiting," he said. "Some of them were real scary."

THE 'SCIENCE' OF UFOS

The event trumpeted the September publication of "Sight Unseen, Science, UFO Invisibility, and Transgenic Beings," a book written by New York science documentary filmmaker Carol Rainey, and Budd Hopkins, director and founder of the Manhattan-based Intruders Foundation, one of the only institutions that specializes in alien abductions.

"The book tries to take the para out of paranormal," explained Hopkins, one of the country's leading UFO researchers and authors, to an audience visibly enamored with the charismatic, gray-haired abstract artist.

Ms. Rainey's presentation, like her contribution to the book, aimed to bridge the gap between mainstream science and the science of UFO abductions. She hopes that the former will one day catch up to the latter.

To open her discussion, she told of a recent scientific discovery in Central America, where a tiny wasp takes complete control of a spider's mind and body, without the spider ever knowing.

At first, it sounds like typical Discovery Channel antics: The wasp stings the spider into paralysis and lays an egg into its abdomen, which soon hatches into larva that feeds off the spider's nutrients.

But just before the spider dies and is eaten by its predator, the wasp takes mysterious control over its behavior. The spider stops spinning its normal web, and instead creates a new web that is the perfect anchor from which the wasp larva will hang its cocoon.

In the analogy, the wasp exerts mind control over the spider, just as aliens do over their human abductees, but scientists don't know exactly how, she said. The difference is, they receive copious funding to study the wasp-spider phenomenon, and not a penny to study aliens.

"Cutting-edge science might hold some clue to what is going on in abduction phenomena," she said while she showed slides of scientific wonders, like the rabbit recently implanted with the DNA of a jellyfish, traversable wormholes, and a diagram of an optical tweezer which lifts molecules using a beam of laser light, a small-scale version of spaceships beaming up their abductees.

Ms. Rainey and Hopkins, who are married, focused their talks on the book's two main topics, invisibility and transgenics, or the interbreeding of two species, because aliens are in the process of mastering these endeavors, they say.

"Aliens seem to prefer to run a covert operation," said Ms. Rainey to her audience, between slides of the latest U.S. military technology of invisible camouflage suits and scientific explanations of how invisibility works. "It makes good business sense."

Later, Hopkins played an audiotape of three women under hypnosis who described being in a spacecraft and holding strange-looking babies they had given birth to, with scraggly hair, tiny limbs and a big head, that seemed half human, half alien.

RISKING RIDICULE

After the four-hour conference, dozens of people who had traveled to Wagner from as far away as Connecticut, Massachusetts and Illinois, lined up to get their books signed by Hopkins and Ms. Rainey.

Dennis Anderson, an astronomy professor at Wagner and the planetarium director, who organized the conference, said he briefly worried it would be canceled when two faculty members sent angry e-mails that the school was hosting a conference on such a fringe topic.

Hopkins publicly thanked Anderson, an Intruders Foundation board member, for risking ridicule and derision from faculty in hosting the event at Wagner, apparently the first New York academic institution to do so. (In the summer of 2001, Wagner hosted a series of three lectures on UFOs.)

It provides "an excellent chance to present the evidence for this phenomenon to a larger audience in an academic setting," said Hopkins.

One researcher speaking at the conference who lends key credibility to the field is Dr. John E. Mack, professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School. Dr. Mack has analyzed hundreds of abductees and concluded that the consistency of their stories, injuries and marks on their skin, strongly suggests they are mentally stable people who have had true alien encounters.

Another credible figure on hand was "Ed Reynolds," a former Air Force engineer and now a college physics professor in Chicago, who never reveals his true name when he tells of his own abduction experience, which happened in an Outback Steakhouse restaurant in Illinois.

"It really irks me when I hear scientists say 'Everything's been discovered,'" Reynolds said to a room of people nodding their heads and murmuring in agreement. "Sooner or later, we'll solve all these problems, like the aliens have, and take our place in the universe, or at least the galaxy."

Heidi J. Shrager is a news reporter for the Advance. She can be reached at shrager@siadvance.com.

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