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.