Missing More Than Time

alien abduction files book cover

A review of The Alien Abduction Files
by Kathleen Marden and Denise Stoner, The Career Press, Inc., 2013.
by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn

Overview

The book covers the traditional fare of alien abductions including hypnosis, a broad range of strange events, missing time and nefarious medical procedures.  However, the authors added something novel by comparing selected attributes of two persons featured prominently in the book with responses collected in a recent anonymous survey of abduction experiencers.  The accounts presented are particularly intriguing because many events were multiple witness affairs that involved spouses or other family members.

These investigations relied heavily on the use of hypnosis to recover or sharpen memories of past events.  The authors reassure readers the protocol was applied with skill and due concern to avoid the memory artifacts and confabulation often associated with this controversial methodology.

Specific Comments

Both Kathleen Marden and Denise Stoner are credited as authors, but much of the book appears to be a first person narration of events and thoughts written by Ms. Marden.  Consequently, the following comments sometimes employ general attributions such as  ‘authors’ or ‘investigators’ simply because the specific contributions of coauthor Denise Stoner to the narrative itself or events were often unclear.

Withholding Information

Declaring allegiance to an investigative philosophy purportedly analogous to that of a district attorney approaching a criminal case (page 119), Ms. Marden apparently forgot the team had already effectively rejected working in that fashion.  On page 19, the authors issue a remarkable claim – they possess special information known only to a select few prominent abduction researchers which enables them to discern whether experiencer accounts square with real events.  Explaining that Ms. Stoner acquired some of these special secrets of the trade while onboard an alien spacecraft does not help.  This convenient and patently shallow evasion ends up creating problems for the authors.

Claims of special authority and mystification are totally incompatible with all legitimate scientific or forensic investigations.

 In practical terms, this arrogant decree leaves readers in the dark as to precisely how the ‘professional secrets’ (page 19) were validated and employed. How did the authors prove their method(s) work reliably, establish any limitations to their employment and determine if and when they fail?  How does one go about calculating the ‘probability’ that accounts were harmonious with real events?  What probability threshold would lead to rejection of an account?  When such probabilities are an integral component of the analyses, the reader should be allowed to see what was done, what it yielded and how it was interpreted as well as any specific actionable results obtained through their use.  Because it is not even clear if this secret method was applicable to all the diverse situations detailed in this book, readers are left without an explicit means to decide which material they may safely deem verified and which must be regarded as unconfirmed to be grounded in reality.

The missing disclosure ultimately creates a cascade of doubt regarding the evidence itself.  Ms. Marden noted that hypnosis is notorious for its problems (page 49) and revealed her reticence to employ it to recover memories (page 150).  However, she also noted that confidence could be increased if there was confirmatory evidence or independent witnesses (page 150).  Unfortunately, readers are left to wonder how these confidence assessments played out in actual practice.  For example, although it involves multiple witnesses, what probability of consistency with real events did the authors assign to Jennie’s account (page 182) of events transpired decades ago in which the independent witnesses and/or participants cannot be located or are deceased and a potentially corroborating police report was never filed (page 186)?  Does it have a higher or lower calculated reliability probability than the events recounted from Ms. Stoner’s childhood involving her grandfather (page 92)?

The refusal to supply the complete details regarding the methods used to evaluate the veracity of subject memories denies readers their due opportunity to weigh the full evidence independently.  Claims of special authority and mystification are totally incompatible with all legitimate scientific or forensic investigations.

A Phony Rationalization

Denise Stoner Blog Page 2008

Denise Stoner Blog Page 2008

In addition to ignoring the universally accepted scientific norm to completely document all methodology, the fundamental justification for declaring any testimony verification capacities secret is obviously bogus. Readers are asked to believe the evidence unveils the shocking truth that aliens are committing criminal acts against innocent and defenseless women, men and children, perhaps even executing a plot against all humankind (see page 128).  What rationalization justifies anything less than the full disclosure of all details that might help compel humanity to recognize and terminate this threat?  Is that awakening not a prime goal of this book? Wouldn’t a district attorney view a refusal to supply all the relevant information as tantamount to being an accessory to a criminal act?  Given what we are reading it is hard not to wonder if this tiny cabal of abduction researchers is more concerned with safeguarding their next book deal than doing everything possible to sound the alarm against the dire threat they uncovered.

Too Close For Comfort?

The authors detailed the genesis of their collaboration as well as negotiations surrounding Ms. Stoner’s final decision to reveal her identity as an abduction experiencer (page 19). Unfortunately, some information available on the web conflicts with Ms. Marden’s version of these events.  Ms. Stoner presented a detailed written account (see page 92) of a childhood paranormal experience to Ms. Marden in 2012 (Chapter 6 notes, page 232).  However, a short description of what seems to be the same incident had already been posted by Ms. Stoner on her blog and under her own name nearly 4 years earlier (http://flssdci.blogspot.com). Apparently enough time had passed since that blog post of 2008 that Ms. Stoner’s recollection she had already publically identified herself as an alien abduction experiencer had grown hazy.

A single memory lapse does not necessarily reveal everything Ms. Stoner conveyed in the book is erroneous, nor does it reflect on the accounts provided by the other experiencers.  However, it does suggest Ms. Marden failed to completely vet all the information she received from the person literally at the center of her book.  Perhaps this rather complicated situation in which Ms. Stoner was both a research subject and a coauthor led to inappropriate complacency on the part of Ms. Marden.  Readers may also wish to ponder once more how well the ‘professional secrets’ identified what seems to be a clear discrepancy between remembered actions vs. real events.

Leonardo_da_Vinci_Studies_of_Embryos

Leonardo da Vinci: Studies of Embryos

Given the assertion that confirmatory evidence increases confidence in witness accounts (page 150), it is remarkable that the authors apparently overlooked so many opportunities to collect it. For example, an interesting consequence of pregnancy is that mothers may retain living cells from their children decades after the time of birth (M. Barinaga, ‘Cells Exchanged During Pregnancy Live On,’ Science 21 June 2002 [296:2169-2172]).  If Ms. Stoner (as well as the other female abductees) carried human-alien genetic hybrid fetus entities, detectable traces of the event(s) may still remain.  Perhaps the authors judged the efforts necessary to secure this potential genetic evidence were too risky, too technically demanding or were simple not feasible because they lacked the financial resources required to support such work.  The cost to determine a human genome sequence has now dropped to around $1,000 (G. Church, ‘Improving Genome Understanding,’ Nature 9 October 2013, www.nature.com/news/improving-genome-understanding-1.13907), so the good news is that such efforts may soon become affordable for a new generation of investigators.

Other immediate and practical opportunities to secure critical confirmatory objective medical evidence were also not exploited.  The episode of the internet radio program Future Theater aired live on May 18, 2013, (now available free at www.futuretheater.com/) featured Ms. Stoner who volunteered that she had served as a ‘breeder’ for the aliens. She also revealed her blood chemistry is altered and her physician had informed her she has been changed genetically. She did not describe the tests and analyses that revealed these dramatic findings, but whatever was done would certainly seem to be within the realm of routine, affordable, medical practice.  Why wasn’t this finding explored and this test(s) applied to other subjects featured in the book?  For example, wouldn’t it be important and easy to have at least examined her husband Ed for these same alterations since he should have been able to go to same physician?

SEM_blood_cells Natinal Cancer Inst

SEM Blood Cells, National Cancer Institute

An intriguing property of the accounts presented in this book is that they frequently involve events with multiple witnesses/participants.  Again, these situations do not seem to have been recognized and utilized as significant confirmatory evidence collection opportunities.  The authors maintain that their investigations induced them to pose a specific question regarding the links between exposure to alien environments and common illnesses (page 21). However, it is not clear they ever investigated the important ramifications of their own hypothesis even when it would have been easy to do so.  For example, Ms. Stoner’s husband was with her when most of her abductions took place (page 122).  Does he have altered blood chemistry, altered genetics, chronic fatigue syndrome, reactivated mononucleosis, salt craving, burns, injuries or implants?  Did Jennie’s mother, who witnessed her abduction (page 165), also develop chronic fatigue syndrome?  Does Jennie’s husband (Doug) have chronic fatigue syndrome, nose bleeds, migraine headaches, sensitivity to light?  Do the multigenerational abduction experiencers in D. Lynne Bishop’s family (page 204) all share the same medical maladies? If the idea about exposure to alien environments and common illness emergence is correct, wouldn’t abduction event co-participants develop the same spectrum of diseases?  Apparently these opportunities to confront hypothesis with data and validate the scope of commonalities noted in their own abductee experiencer survey were overlooked.

Missing the Critical Implications

Ms. Stoner also disclosed during the same Future Theater program that although her breeder days may be over, the abductions continue.  During that discussion, which involved both Ms. Stoner and Ms. Marden, their consensus recollection was the most recent abduction had occurred a few months earlier (February, 2013).  Further, Ms. Stoner indicated that she sometimes has advance knowledge when incidents will occur.  Unfortunately, it seems neither investigator recognized the supreme significance and extraordinary implications of Ms. Stoner’s situation.

Ms. Stoner’s circumstances clearly presented a potential opportunity to break through the inherent limitations that have long stymied abduction studies.  Having advance notification to prepare for an impending abduction event and switch on video cameras, alert other observers and collect multiple simultaneous lines of data, etc., could literally change everything for investigators.  Now imagine having the ability to do that repeatedly, not forced to attempt to capture quasi-randomly transpiring events that occur without warning by dark of night, but under conditions that are conducive to comprehensive monitoring of both the subject and his/her environment.  That would be as close to being able to conduct a controlled experiment in a laboratory setting as an abduction researcher could probably ever hope to get.

Abduction studies have necessarily been almost exclusively retrospective; investigators have been forced to piece together past events using hypnosis and any other evidence they could discover after the fact.  Ms. Marden concluded her research revealing ‘that the majority of abduction experiencers have been taken throughout their lives’ (page 89) which obviously invites attempting proactive efforts to acquire a range of information on recent events.  In addition, ‘having spent nearly three years interviewing Denise and her family members’ (page 19), Ms. Marden must have been, or reasonably should have been, fully informed of Ms. Stoner’s remarkable circumstances.  That makes it difficult to understand why she persisted with a traditional, and problematic, hypnosis approach in her research when new opportunities beckoned.

When presented with an alien abduction investigator’s dream come true and chance to break new ground, the authors remained sound asleep at the switch. The net result was yet another inconclusive alien abduction book that tediously recounts hypnosis-extracted memories of events transpired a long, long time ago.

12 thoughts on “Missing More Than Time

  1. Anyone still fascinated by the “abduction phenomenon” should be grateful to have this Marsden/Stoner book reviewed by a practicing scientist–and also grateful that the tone is not derogatory and dismissive, but is instead clearly pointing out how UFO research needs to change in order to have any of its findings validated by other scientists. Apparently, these writer/researchers are content to be considered “fringe” science or pseudo-science, since they’ve presented nothing that mainstream science would accept as “evidence.” As Dr. Kokjohn points out, there were many opportunities brought forward in this book in which scientific method and specific new technologies could have been applied as validation. Instead, from the review (and I hereby admit I did not read the book), it seems that “Missing More than Time” borrowed more that a book title allusion from my husband, Budd Hopkins. They borrowed many of the same tropes, the same stories from experiencers that Budd dealt with in “Missing Time,” in 1987′s “Intruders” and 1996s “Witnessed.” This is old stuff, old narratives, old saws–but there are no fresh new approaches to actually confirming the multiple witness scenario or the “breeder” claim. Budd’s books made those claims too, but the physicians were never located, no records produced, and no real evidence of multiple witnesses that could not also be explained by psi phenomenon or other causes. In one Hopkins case, the multiple witnesses were complete fabrications of the so-called “experiencer.”

    In the world of UFO research, nothing changes. The old becomes new again. This is not a discipline that is struggling to be born here. It’s just Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” caught up in an eternal loop of rerunning his broadcast over and over and over.

    • “In the world of UFO research, nothing changes. The old becomes new again. This is not a discipline that is struggling to be born here. It’s just Bill Murray in “Groundhog Day,” caught up in an eternal loop of rerunning his broadcast over and over and over.” – well-put. And the sooner Tyler realizes this the less anger management he will need by the time ufology chews him up and spits him out.

  2. The reviews are cathartic. By the way, ufology rejected me years ago and yet I have endured. Can’t be too upset with a field that supplies me with endless opportunity.

  3. Thank-you for reviewing The Alien Abduction Files. As a longtime abduction researcher, I know all too well the difficulties encountered when attempts are made to interest scientists in obtaining funding for medical studies and laboratory analysis of alleged evidence in UFO abduction cases. Alien abduction is considered a taboo subject, on the fringe. It is not scientifically respectable to engage in the scientific study of the evidence pertaining to alien abduction. One is more likely to hear proclamations of impossibility from the scientific community. However, some scientists hold a keen interest in the subject and have analyzed a small amount of evidence. Most do so under the condition of anonymity. But funding for research and publication in peer reviewed journals is not forthcoming. The exception to this rule has been for psychological studies. I am grateful to the scientists that have reviewed my work and offered their support and assistance. Most appreciate my social scientific approach and understand the limitations under which I work.

    If an unbiased scientific team can be assembled and funding can be obtained, Denise has stated that she’d be willing to offer herself as a test subject, as long as there is full disclosure and she feels comfortable with it. She has participated in a video surveillance study and her evidence was collected. However, funding was not available for the analysis of the evidence. This challenge seems insurmountable. I rely upon my educational background in social science, my research skills, the examination of confidential medical and psychological records, corroborating eye witness testimony, scientific studies pertaining to the common characteristics among experiencers, and my training in recognizing deception.

    Denise once wrote an account of her personal subjective memories of perceived early childhood abduction on a blog, with very limited readership, and once alluded to her experiences in a paranormal blog talk radio interview. Almost no one knew this and she made the decision to return to anonymity. It is only in 2013 that she stepped out of the shadows to reveal her memories of alien abduction to a wide audience. My publisher set a 75,000 word limit and controlled the book’s content, so I couldn’t explain every small detail. Confidentiality and the need to retain some information for scientific purposes came into play. The focus became one of identifying the challenges that individuals encounter living life as abduction experiencers. It was also important to me to present my research findings, the new information that I’ve been able to collect, and to caution readers about the shortfalls of hypnosis and the vagaries of memory, while permitting experiences to explain their subjective memories of alien abduction. I’ve been pleased with the positive reception that this book has received from many interested scientists, abduction experiencers, and ufologists.

  4. Kathleen, I completely feel your pain on the lack of funding, and I have a solution for you. I plan to use it myself if at some point because funding is a problem for mainstream science as well. Science has taken a page from the arts playbook and launched crowdfunding sites. I’m a comparative immunologist who works on nematodes and tardigrades, so I haven’t quite found the right spin yet to make my project appeal to the public (but I will!). I would wager that projects with a concrete plan to investigate paranormal topics using sound research methodology would find a large pool of supporters. You mention that evidence from a video surveillance study has been collected, and just needs to be analyzed. This seems like a perfect first project to me! In exchange for making raw data and analysis results available to backers, you should be able to raise enough to analyze the evidence that is just gathering dust right now. Crowdfunding open up so many new possibilities because the funding isn’t based on what the NIH or NSF decides is worth funding, but on what people want to see studied. Here are a few sites I found, and some require no review at all, so you don’t have to convince anyone other than potential backers that your idea is worth funding! Please let me know when you plan to start the campaign, and I will definitely donate to the cause!
    http://www.indiegogo.com/
    https://www.microryza.com/
    http://www.petridish.org/

  5. Ellen Tarr: What an outstanding suggestion, especially for a field like ufology! It does get dissed by mainstream science for unsound methodology and it does suffer from a major lack of resources. No question. So it would be enormously helpful to people wanting to crowdsource funding for a UFO project if they collaborate with an appropriate specialist from an appropriate discipline. And if they choose a scientific team who is willing to be publicly cited for their work–on the crowdsource site itself. In developing their pitch, the ufologist will want to let the world see and meet their collaborators on video, state the hypothesis, be clear about the methods and protocols without being wonky, and be clear about hoped for results. How will the research project move the field forward? How will this particular project employ at-hand evidence in a way that either adds to what we know or helps move a particular claim off the table, so to speak? Your suggestion that a reward can be data sharing and analysis of results–that’s brilliant. It’s actually something that many people in the field say they’d like to see.

    • I think crowd funding is a very good plan. Remember, polls show a huge number of people believe in UFOs. Also, UFO tv shows are very popular. There is now a Bigfoot TV show with a full DNA lab right on site. Bigfoot has gone more toward testing, and it would be great if UFO and alien abduction could get the same scientific testing going also. However, much like Bigfoot, be ready for a lot of “not evidence” as there are indeed many abduction experiencers that have other conclusions (for instance the now more common use of sleep drugs such as Ambien that have a “lucid dreaming” side effect). It does take a lot of time and testing and money to study anything. With the downturn in the economy though, there are a lot of scientists underemployed right now that would be happy to study Bigfoot/UFO/alien abduction once the funding is there.

  6. Hi Tyler,

    Thank you for an interesting review of Kathleen Marden’s and Denise Stoner’s book. I think the points you raise about the opportunities for gathering more robust evidence are very true.

    I read Kathleen Marden’s account of Betty and Barney Hill’s experience in the book she co-authored with Stanton Friedman, and I was impressed by her meticulous account of those events.

    It got me thinking about how people can seem to get waylaid when investigation these kinds of experiences, even when their intentions are good, and they are almost certainly capable of doing a good job. (This is not a judgement, and I would include myself in there as well.) I sometimes wonder if the effects of the phenomenon itself are involved in a subtle way as well. Perhaps even the “trickster” factor as George Hansen theorizes?

    It is such a shame that Marden and Stoner looked to hypnosis to help understand the events. I can understand the drive to find anything that could help. However, I don’t think anyone’s memories of their experiences can be relied on once they have had hypnosis, because of its proven record of false memories that feel real (and that cannot be distinguished from real memories.)

    The question about withholding important information is very valid I think. I know investigators say they do it, perhaps because they have to if they want a book deal, or some other reason. But I think it undermines the seriousness of the issues, if a book deal, or whatever, is more important.

    The issue of the select few prominent abduction researchers having special information, known only to them, that enables them to discern if an experiencer’s account is real or not raises red flags for me. Jacobs and Hopkins both do that, and I have been privy to some of Jacob’s “special” knowledge. It basically boils down to if what an experiencer say fits their narrative, then it is real, and if not, then it is suspect. Personally, I think it is just a mechanism for those investigators to dominate the interpretation of what experiences mean.

    According to my hypnotic memories after hypnosis from Jacobs, I have had multiple hybrid pregnancies. I personally would love to have a test done to see if there are fetal cells in my blood stream from them. Unfortunately, I have no idea how to go about such tests, or afford it. I guess that is the situation with most experiencers.

    Having said that, I did take pregnancy tests, and record my ovulation cycles for a year. The pregnancy tests were all negative. Jacobs said that aliens could circumvent those, which, if they exists, I guess they probably could. Interestingly, though, I found unexplained circular red marks on my neck/chest area within about 24 hours before many of the pregnancy tests. I wonder if there was any connection, although there is no way of knowing.

    I took the chart of my ovulation cycles to a gynaecologist to ask their opinion. They said that they were normal for a period, and then for a few months they went haywire, and they were unable to say what could have caused it. They did blood tests to check my hormone levels, which were normal. I thought that was interesting. Perhaps when I finally go through the data I collected, and analyze it properly, it might be more clear whether there is any correlation or not. Perhaps that is one cheap and accessible way for experiencers to investigate these things?

    I wish someone would do a proper study of the link between experiences and illnesses. It has always interested me, partly because I have those things too. I have always craved salt, have allergies, am sensitive to light, have had unexplained burns and body marks, etc. It would be interesting to know if there is a link to having experiences. It would not surprise me at all.

    Another problematic issue is the use of video cameras. I slept under a video camera for a year as part of my own investigations. There were no aliens on the recordings. However, there were some unexplained incidents, such as the camera going off by itself and then coming back on, at the time of an unexplained event. I am sure if a proper study were done with cameras, there could be interesting evidence gathered.

    I did come away from my own investigations with the distinct sense that whatever the phenomenon is, it interacts with your studying it. Also, that it manages to stop you from doing it properly. For example, I would sometimes have an overwhelming urge not to turn the video camera on. Even thought I was highly motivated, and had designed a long-term experiment, I still found it hard to resist the urge. At times, I found it hard to think properly about my investigations, I would fail to collect certain data, or miss something obvious that I should never have missed. Sometimes I felt strangely unable to do anything. And yet, conversely, I felt that the phenomenon sometimes deliberately showed itself to me in my normal daily life.

    I do think that you are not dealing with an inert “thing,” when investigating experiences. From my own experience of investigating my experiences, I feel like you are dealing with something that has intelligence (maybe), is aware of what you are doing, is not controllable, and is a force to be reckoned with. Perhaps that is a additional factor in Marden’s and Stoner’s research? Perhaps that contributes to the fact that so many people have had experiences down the ages, and have tried to investigate them, but we still know very little about them?

    Emma

    • Tyler is having issues posting here. This is from him:

      Thank you for offering your perspectives, Emma. Your insights suggest that the alien abduction mystery is not about to be explained simply or soon.

      Your comments also raise another issue any experiencers volunteering to participate in future abduction studies must consider; how investigators propose to collect and manage sensitive genetic data. The cost and technology barriers for genetic analyses literally drop with each passing day. In fact, some genetic tests are both available to the general public and quite affordable now. Basically, that is good news when it comes to confirming or falsifying some hypotheses regarding human – alien genetic hybrids. However, I urge anyone contemplating undergoing genetic studies to be extremely careful as to the particulars regarding the disposition and dissemination of their private genetic data.

      Personal medical information is used in many studies, but researchers adopt methods to actively ensure that published data is coded in such a way to preclude it being easily connected to a specific person. Unless an investigator is willing to fully document the risks you face as a subject and outline proactive steps to safeguard your privacy and confidential genetic information, do not provide cell/tissue samples or allow access to data obtained from third party genetic testing services. Ask what happens if your identity is revealed and what recourse, if any, you will have in such a situation.

      The Genetic Information Non-Discrimination Act offers U.S. citizens some protections against adverse actions based on their genetic constitution. Anyone contemplating participation in studies harvesting and analyzing genetic information will be well advised to inform themselves of the specific applicable rules and regulations as well as ponder their precise limitations in protections before agreeing to take part.

      Tyler A. Kokjohn, Ph.D.
      Professor of Microbiology
      Midwestern University

  7. Pingback: Missing More Than Time | Yankee Skeptic

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