A review of The Alien Abduction Files
by Kathleen Marden and Denise Stoner, The Career Press, Inc., 2013.
by Guest Blogger,
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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?
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.
Listening to Stories
by Guest Blogger,
Dr. Tyler Kokjohn, PhD.
Examining evidence of paranormal experiences may be disagreeable to many scientists because it deals with weird events and so often places heavy emphasis on personal accounts lacking independently confirmable details. In stark contrast, scientists are accustomed to testing hypotheses directly by conducting repeated, controlled experiments which yield a veritable bonanza of reliable data.It gets worse. Evidence of paranormal experiences is often limited to the recollections and impressions of a single individual struggling to describe unfamiliar events which appeared without warning. Objective data suggests human beings may not always perceive or remember events accurately. Marshaling direct DNA evidence, The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org/) has now exonerated over 300 persons convicted of serious crimes and revealed witness testimony is clearly not always as reliable as we need it to be.
With its many weaknesses and intrinsically untrustworthy nature, it seems scientists probably long ago abandoned using anecdotal evidence. Not so fast. It can be useful and has been the initial impetus sparking some important discoveries.
In his book Virus Hunters (1), Greer Williams tells the story of an English country physician who listened to a milkmaid when she told him that having a previous cowpox infection would prevent her from getting smallpox. Spurred by her story, Edward Jenner developed the process he dubbed vaccination to prevent smallpox using the far less dangerous cowpox virus.
Those events took place over two centuries ago, but more recent examples of physicians and scientists initiating investigations after hearing anecdotal accounts or receiving unconfirmed evidence are available. The recognition of Lyme Disease and its etiologic agent in the U.S., the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi, came about when a woman noticed the large number of juvenile arthritis cases in the area and called state health authorities to express concern (2). The first published inklings the acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS) had appeared resulted from an immunologist evaluating interesting cases for teaching purposes and hearing about the existence of similar patients (3).
Perhaps you have the heard the quip, ‘the plural of anecdote isn’t data’? That truism is undeniably true, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anecdotal evidence is useless. Recognizing that it may not be informative, accurate or typical, aggregated and used in proper context it can be invaluable. The Vaccine Adverse Event Reporting System (VAERS; http://vaers.hhs.gov/index) is a post-marketing safety surveillance program for vaccines licensed in the U.S. This program enables health care providers and patients to report issues arising after immunizations thereby enabling side effects to be detected as well as providing a clearinghouse to convey information directly to the public.
Skeptical assessment of personal paranormal experience accounts is challenging. The person relaying the account may be unaware all evidence is not deemed equally valuable by investigators. Stories without independently confirmable details or influenced heavily by experiencer confirmation bias do not often lead far. And most people do not have sufficient training or experience to capture totally reliable information under the best of circumstances. Confronted with a story and asked to render an immediate verdict, a more productive approach might be to simply pose a series of informational questions to define as completely as possible what was experienced, where, when and by whom. Investigate as far as possible because while merely asking the proper questions probably won’t reveal any earth-shaking data, it may show the experiencer – or the skeptic – what to be alert for the next time.
Anecdotal evidence has sharp limitations and communication between skeptics and experiencers may be frustrating. However, we can train ourselves to listen more effectively (4) and the evidence tells us all that sometimes the effort really can pay.
- Greer Williams. 1960. The Man Who Listened to a Milkmaid, pp. 16. In Virus Hunters, Alfred A. Knopf, New York.
- Abigail A. Salyers and Dixie D. Whitt. 1994. Lyme Disease and Syphilis, p. 290. InBacterial Pathogenesis. A Molecular Approach. American Society for Microbiology Press, Washington, D.C.
- Elizabeth Fee and Theodore M. Brown. 2006. Michael S. Gottlieb and the Identification of AIDS. American Journal of Public Health; 96(6): 982-983. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1470620/
- John W. Drakeford. 1967. The Awesome Power of the Listening Ear. Word Books.
Evaluating Dr. Greer’s Messages
By Guest Blogger,
Tyler A. Kokjohn, Ph.D.
Getting too far ahead of the data may be risky and few situations illustrate that better than the Atacama humanoid story presented by Dr. Steven Greer. Despite the obviously strange appearance of the remains, recently released laboratory test results do not support an extraterrestrial origin for the entity (1, 2). A preliminary analysis of mitochondrial (mt) DNA sequences has revealed although the entity is not a New World primate, it shares genetic kinship with people indigenous to the area in which the tiny body was recovered (2, 3).Notwithstanding the awkward discord between his initial assertions regarding the origins of the remains and the actual lab results, Dr. Greer continues to hatch still more factually unsupported speculations regarding extraterrestrial connections (3).
Judging ‘Preliminary’ Results
The report issued by Dr. Garry Nolan of Stanford University (2) makes clear his assessments are ‘preliminary,’ meaning conclusions based on the DNA sequences and other evidence should not be considered definitive. Before the Atacama humanoid research can be published in a peer reviewed scientific journal a great deal more work will be required. Dr. Nolan is clearly a competent researcher who has been able to complete investigations and publish quality data in respected journals. However, no primary sequence data from the Atacama entity have been provided for inspection. Until that happens, I will afford Dr, Nolan exactly the same latitude I give all my colleagues; unless the full data appear in a peer-reviewed journal, the information and interpretations, although interesting, cannot be deemed to represent reliable scientific fact.
Although the preliminary evidence argues against an extraterrestrial origin, discovery of a 6-inch tall human would still be extraordinary. However, at this stage the notion that the data reveal the entity is not the vanguard of a new race of humans, but a stillborn fetus is also equally valid. In that case, finding that the entity did not possess any mutations for dwarfism or skeletal abnormalities would be the predicted outcome. The entity is tiny not as a consequence of unusual mutations, but because it never completed prenatal development. Unfortunately, the sequence analyses are incomplete and interpretative statements regarding this point flatly contradictory with independent expert Dr. Ralph Lachman estimating on the basis of bone growth patterns the entity was 6-8 years old at the time of death (1, 2, 3). Reaching any firm, scientifically justified conclusions will clearly take more time and additional work.
Alternative Investigatory Approaches
DNA sequence analysis is powerful, but the information it can reveal does have some limitations. Fortunately, there may be alternative ways to establish the age of the entity at death. The investigators have been provided a huge windfall in that the entity also seems to possess substantial amounts of preserved soft tissues. That potentially provides an internal check of the DNA sequences as well as the chance to have a glimpse at some of the genes that were actually active when the entity died. The type of hemoglobin present in human blood cells changes predictably with development before and after birth. Two forms of hemoglobin, HbE (embryonic) and HbF (fetal) are found during development in utero. These immature forms of hemoglobin have higher affinity for oxygen than the adult form, enabling the baby to ensure adequate levels of perfusion during development. A stillborn human fetus with skeletal development comparable to the entity would harbor hemoglobin F (fetal) proteins and that hypothesis could be subjected to a direct test. Finding a high level of HbF would strongly suggest the entity did not leave the uterus alive, or, if it was living at birth, did not survive long. Examination of the genome alone would not reveal this situation as all forms of the hemoglobin gene (E, F, A, A2) will be present in the nuclear DNA whether or not they were expressed at the moment of death.
If the entity lived 6-8 years, it is also possible careful forensic examination of the gastrointestinal (GI) tract contents might reveal what, if any, food stuffs were in the gut at the moment of death. If the entity was still born, the GI tract would have contained little external matter. In addition, a forensic examiner might be able to note putrefaction of the gut tissues suggesting a decomposition process beginning from within and indicative of a GI tract heavily colonized by microbes as expected for an entity that had lived independently outside its mother.
Questions Concerning Provenance
The details concerning where, when and who discovered the Atacama entity (4) will probably need to be clarified explicitly if the data are to be published in a peer reviewed journal. Not only will they provide scientifically important evidence regarding the nature of the entity, the preliminary data strongly suggest the remains are human. That means the investigators may need to certify they have followed all rules and regulations regarding the acquisition, import and disposition of human remains.
Dr. Greer has now demonstrated that he can establish productive liaisons with respected mainstream academic scientists. To push a slow moving effort forward perhaps he will now emulate the outreach effort he made to get expert help with his investigation of Ata. Recruiting recognized authorities to vet the concepts for the clean ET energy technologies he says will free us from fossil fuel and nuclear power dependence would quickly bolster his credibility.
A search of the US Patent and Trademark Office database failed to reveal any clean energy patents held by Dr. Greer. If he had the foresight to apply for patent protection for the information he possesses and awards have been granted, that would constitute both documentation and validation of the ideas as an independent patent examiner agreed the invention disclosures passed criteria of novelty and utility. If his applications were rejected on a grounds of infringement of existing patents, that might help expose an alleged conspiracy by revealing the specific technologies, their disposition and entities controlling their application or suppressing their use. If no applications have been submitted, that would present a literally golden opportunity to seek motivated collaborators by offering to share a portion of the potentially lucrative future royalties. If Dr. Greer’s clean energy claims are factual he should have no trouble getting expert help getting them documented and reduced to practice quickly.
Dr. Greer has a most unusual problem for a ufologist, all his hypotheses regarding the origin of Ata can be tested directly in a properly controlled fashion. The remains have yielded high quality DNA meaning a complete, high coverage genomic sequence will be available and many unadulterated complete human genomes are now available for direct comparisons.
If the investigators ultimately claim discovery of a novel Lilliputian race of humans, the burden of proof will be a heavy one demanding meticulous documentation, unimpeachable data and publication in the peer reviewed scientific literature. And there is more. The famous Carl Sagan quip about the evidence necessary to prove extraordinary claims has an important corollary; paradigm-busting pronouncements will generate intense, perhaps hostile, scrutiny. As the recent announcement of faster-than-light neutrinos and a swift flurry of responses discrediting the finding revealed (5), such inspection may expose even the most subtle experimental artifacts and interpretation errors. Granted wide latitude for a preliminary report, a scientist’s reputation is at stake with a submission to a peer reviewed journal. It will be interesting to see the nature of the final conclusions regarding the Atacama entity, how they are presented to the scientific community and whether all parties to the collaboration ultimately endorse them.
The scientific evidence may only be preliminary, but considered in the context of prior accomplishments and the complete lack of substantiation provided in his latest efforts, I suggest it possible to reach a reasonable conclusion regarding the astonishing serial claims of Dr. Greer. Caveat emptor.
- Lee Speigel, ‘Sirius’ Documentary Reveals DNA Test Results on Ata, the ‘6-inch Alien, 23 April 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/23/sirius-documentary-dna-re_n_3135628.html)
- Dr. Garry Nolan, Chile Specimen Report and Summary, (http://siriusdisclosure.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/Chile-Specimen_GPN-Summary.pdf).
- Steven M. Greer, Stanford University Research: Atacama Humanoid Still a Mystery, 22 April 2013 (http://siriusdisclosure.com/evidence/atacama-humanoid/).
- Lee Speigel, Steven Greer ‘Sirius’ Documentary to Unveil Pictures of Alleged Tiny Space Alien (PHOTOS), 16 April 2013 (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/04/16/tiny-chile-alien-backgrou_n_3071767.html?utm_hp_ref=weird- news)
- Adrian Cho, Once Again, Physicists Debunk Faster-Than-Light Neutrinos, 8 June 2012 (http://news.sciencemag.org/scienceinsider/2012/06/once-again-physicists-debunk.html)