The abduction phenomenon is a term used to describe a number of assertions stating that alien beings (typically the ones popularly known as "Greys", but occasionally very tall (2.1m / 7ft) and slim "praying mantis"-like, and shorter (1m / 3ft) "reptilian" brown-skinned hooded beings are mentioned) take humans against their will, to an unknown environment (which they may perceive as a UFO), for "medical testing" with a focus on reproductive issues, after which they are returned to the same place they were taken from, with their memories clouded or erased (hence the "missing time"). The history of abduction reports seems to start in the 1960s. The 1980s brought a major degree of mainstream attention to the subject, in the USA. Stigma and self-doubt may be obstacles to more widespread study and/or reporting of the phenomenon, whatever its origins or explanation. Several abduction reports have been quite detailed and there is a persistent structure (what follows what) to them. Typically such memories are recovered under hypnosis, which has been the main point of contention. However, according to T.E.Bullard, PhD folklorist, "abduction reports bear extensive similarities to one another, no matter who investigates, how abductees recall the encounter and in what year or country the story originates." (src: MUFON Journal Jun-1998) The mixture of social patterning, medical effects, the evident post-traumatic stress syndrome and the remarkable consistency of abduction reports all argue for a complex phenomenon, which cannot be reduced to simple perceptual contagion or individual psychopathology.
There are two schools of thought among proponents of the alien abduction phenomenon: The one championed by Hopkins and Jacobs argues that they are a physically real events. To liberally paraphrase the other, many people report having been abducted, and many folkloric legends refer to small magical creatures, but there is no corroborating physical evidence for first-hand accounts of alien abductions, therefore, the best explanation is that these events are real, but take place on a different plane of reality, and involve something which contemporary victims only interpret as aliens.
About 2% of the American public has had possible abduction-like experiences (questionable estimate taken from a 1991 Roper poll of 6,000 people, of which 119 answered "Yes" to 4 out of 5 "key indicator questions", rather than report actual alien abductions), other estimates put it at 0.3% of the population. Those who make the case that alien abductions are a physically real phenomenon, cite as evidence "scoop marks" (see google-images -- layers of skin removed, similar to what doctors call "punch biopsy"), unexplained scars where people remember undergoing operations, missing pregnancies, leftovers of fluorescent substance found on bodies of claimants, "alien implants" (though per Prof.D.Prichard's comments, none of the extracted objects has ever been proven to be of exotic origin) etc. Abduction researchers report that alien abductions occur within family lines, i.e. different members of the same families at different stages of their lives. Water connection: According to John Velez, who considers himself an abductee, and who over a period of 6 years had been in touch with 600-700 people via the quarterly meeting groups of B.Hopkins and D.Jacobs, "the frequency of abductess who live near water" was often brought up and "an awful lot of abductees who have memories of being taken underwater"
"In all, by 1987, some 1200 North American abductions were filed under the name of the abductee; 600 to 700 narratives had been collected; 300 of these were carefully studied by the folklorist Thomas E. Bullard, Ph.D, with 103 considered by Bullard to be "high information cases." Bullard's comparative studies suggest that there is a persistent structure to Abduction Reports, with the same episodes recurring in invariant order in 80% of the "high information" narratives. "A single deviation accounts for failure of sequence in almost all of the remainder." Bullard distinguishes eight episodes in alien abduction: Capture, Examination, Conference, Tour, Journey, Return, Aftermath."
-- extract from Close encounters of diverse kinds, Princeton University Press.
In 1992, a 5-day conference was held at M.I.T. to examine "the findings of various investigators studying people who report experiences of abductions by aliens, and the related issues of the phenomenon." The conference was chaired by M.I.T.'s Professor of Physics David Pritchard and late Harvard Medical School Professor of Psychiatry John Mack. Alien Discussions: Proceedings of the Abduction Study Conference Held at M.I.T. Cambridge, Ma.
The conference was covered by a well-regarded journalist, C. D. B. Bryan, who avowed non-belief in alien abduction. After the Abduction Study Conference, Bryan conducted extensive interviews. The work was published in the book "Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind: A Reporter's Notebook on Alien Abduction, UFOs, and the Conference at M.I.T." (also audio cassette). At the end of a chapter reporting his interviews with two of the most credible "experiencers," Bryan stated:
During the days immediately following the conference, I am struck by how my perception of the abduction phenomenon has changed: I no longer think it a joke. This is not to say I now believe UFOs and alien abduction are real -- "real" in the sense of a reality subject to the physical laws of the universe as we know them -- but rather that I feel something very mysterious is going on. And based as much on what has been presented at the conference as on the intelligence, dedication, and sanity of the majority of the presenters, I cannot reject out-of-hand the possibility that what is taking place isn't exactly what the abductees are saying is happening to them. And if that is so, the fact that no one has been able to pick up a tailpipe from a UFO does not mean UFOs do not exist. It means only that UFOs might not have tailpipes. As Boston University astronomer Michael Papagiannis insisted, "The absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." (Bryan 1995, 230)
"Prevalent hypotheses regarding the etiology of the abduction experience are examined, especially in regard to the existing evidence. Deception, suggestibility (fantasy-proneness, hypnotizability, false-memory syndrome), personality, sleep phenomena, psychopathology, psychodynamics, environmental factors, and event-level alien encounters are each considered as origins of the abduction experience. The data are discussed in terms of what is and is not consistent with theory, the concept of parsimony, and the need for converging lines of evidence in establishing linkages between fact and theory. On the basis of this analysis, it is argued that no theory yet enjoys enough empirical support to be accepted as a general explanation for the abduction experience. The concept of the abduction experience as a multicausal phenomenon is discussed, and suggestions for future research are provided."
Abductions are a highly controversial subject. Even those who take an alien presence (as manifested by the UFO sightings) for granted, are often agnostics or skeptical on the subject of alien abductions. E.g. In the book "The abduction enigma" (also read blog), Kevin Randle (long-time Roswell investigator), Russ Estes and William Cone, write:
"Here's what it all comes down to. There is not a single shred of evidence that alien abductions are taking place other than the tainted testimony of the abductees. The physical evidence to support the claims is nonexistent. What has been offered as proof has been eliminated through testing by objective scientists or additional research by unbiased investigators." -- p. 359
Long-time Ufo researcher Jacques Vallee has often attacked the abduction investigators and the practice of hypnosis. He thinks that hypnosis should never be performed by "Ufologists", but only by "trained hypnotists who should be provided with a list of questions by the Ufologists" because, as Vallee believes due to his "long-term interest in parapsychology, it's a fact that hypnosis enhances thought-transference between the hypnotist and the witness"
Some contend that there may be more complex, terrestrial explanations, e.g. involving the US "Secret Government" and/or US Intelligence Establishment (what could be followups to CIA's Project MKULTRA mind manipulation programmes of the 1950s and 1960s - more); others think we may be dealing with both alien and military abductions (MIL-ABs, ref Evidence for Military Kidnappings of alleged UFO Abductees by Professor Helmut Lammer, who is a space scientist with the Austrian Space Research Institute) or for TTL i.e. "Tagging, tracking, and locating", pursued by US DoD more) for counter-examination.
Budd Hopkins (Intruders Foundation), investigating the issue since 1975 and has worked with over 500 abductees. He contends that "alien abductions" are a real physical phenomenon, citing "scoop marks", unexplained scars etc where abductees remember having undergone operations. It was largely due to Hopkins' persistence that the Ufological community took notice of the abduction issue. Hopkins thinks that it's an ongoing genetic experiment, that the abductions are the source of the UFO phenomenon, i.e. most times a UFO is seen, it marks the start or end of an abduction.
David M Jacobs (International Center for Abduction Research - ICAR), PhD history professor, has been investigating alien abductions for over 20 years. In his 1998 book "The Threat: Secret Alien Agenda", he suggests that we humans are "victims of a widespread program of physiological exploitation, with breeding and hybridization program".
Jacobs defines the debate between the "Realists" who argue that "beings from somewhere else are coming to the Earth to fulfill an unknown agenda of which the abduction of humans is central" and the "Positives" who demand nothing less than a revision of the concept of reality. Jacobs places himself in the former group, further defining his view of the phenomenon as "a complex and systematic program of the production of hybrids for an eventual integration into human society." In the second group he places John Mack and others who think that abductions are "harbingers of the onset of positively transformational aliens" who had the best interests of humanity at heart. Once the problem is posed in this fashion, there is an added attack by Jacobs on the Positive scenario as "based on unproven metaphysical assumptions and incompetent hypnosis."
The absorption theory: In a section detailing his findings on "Basic Alien Biology" he notes how aliens appear to never eat or excrete. He writes, "Until now, how aliens obtain fuel has been a mystery" (The Threat, 1998, p. 98) In a regression dated 6-Jul-1994, one of his abductees, Allison Reed, gave him "the key to the mystery". She sees a room full of tanks filled with liquid and she sees Greys bobbing around in them. One tells her that the tanks are for eating and sleeping. Jacobs infers the aliens obtain their fuel "by absorption through the skin rather than ingestion." He observes this probably explains how alien fetuses survived in incubatoriums without umbilical cords. He adds a comment from southern Illinois abductee Diane Henderson (session 14-Jul-1994) that the liquid they float in was nutritious. Jacobs further reports Susan Steiner (session 9-Oct-1995) reported seeing nutrients brushed on the skin.
Dr. John Mack (John Mack Institute) a Pulitzer prize winning professor of psychiatry at Harvard Medical School (he passed away in 2004, hit by a drunk truck driver). Mack became fascinated with the abduction phenomenon in 1990 when he attended a lecture by Budd Hopkins. Mack quickly concluded that the abduction phenomenon was not mentally generated and therefore had an external reality. He undertook a full-scale examination of the phenomenon, to the detriment of his career at Harvard and to the scorn of his colleagues. Since 1990, he investigated 200 men and women who said they had encountered extraterrestrial beings. Mack arrived at the astounding conclusion that this was a phenomenon which was 'real', but which didn't so much have its basis in the physical universe i.e. "nuts and bolts" (as per the conclusions of abduction researchers Budd Hopkins and David Jacobs) as it did in "spiritual realm" i.e. a different plane of reality, accessible only through a widening of conscious perception. This hypothesis is in stark opposition to the current scientific paradigm, which is based on the mechanistic assumption that consciousness is a by-product of a physical brain.