The Unrecognized Revolutions
by Guest Blogger,
Tyler Kokjohn, PhD.
A Review of Walking Among Us: The Alien Plan to Control Humanity by David M. Jacobs
This new book by Dr. Jacobs reports his recent findings regarding the alien abduction phenomenon. Extending the themes he developed and published over an almost 30 year career in abduction work, both the material as well as some prominently featured abductee testimony will probably seem familiar to some readers.
Picking up essentially where his last book, The Threat, ended, Dr. Jacobs dives in with a briefly sketched background providing sparse citations to help any readers new to the topic acquire a broader perspective. The new book is not a scientific treatise; his analyses and conclusions are insufficiently detailed, uncorroborated and based on erroneous approaches. The descriptions of methodology are likewise perfunctory, often little more than reassurances to readers regarding his knowledge and superb skills at rooting out the truth behind the alien abduction mystery. Revolving around Dr. Jacobs so tightly, the book leaves an overall impression of him as an isolated, arrogant investigator dismissive of the ideas of others and disinterested in exploring new opportunities.
The Limitations of Anecdotal Evidence
Dr. Jacobs has based his claims entirely on anecdotal evidence; the retrospective and uncontrolled reports of abductees sometimes, but not always, obtained through hypnotic regression. From this he arrives at sweeping deductions regarding the physical attributes of the aliens allegedly abducting humans, their biological natures and interrelationships, intentions and innermost thoughts. Anecdotal evidence is useful and used in scientific investigations. Unfortunately, such accounts on their own are considered preliminary; useful for generating new hypotheses for testing, but not taken as sufficient to constitute validating evidence on their own. Despite his assertions, receiving multiple, consistent eyewitness accounts is no guarantee the reports are accurate descriptions of physical reality. For example, multiple witnesses may see and describe in virtually identical terms a roadway water mirage appearing on a sunny summer day. Such an apparition can even be photographed. No matter how many unequivocal, emphatic and entirely consistent anecdotes are in hand, even combined with photographic images this body of evidence is in no way sufficient to prove standing water is physically present on the roadway just ahead of the observers. Someone has to corroborate that deduction using other means.
Subject Selection and Evidence Evaluation
A mainstream scientist seeking to publish provides explicit details regarding how the data used were selected, analyzed and validated. Contrary to these norms, Dr. Jacobs provides no independently assessable indications as to how the subjects featured in this book were selected or offers more than a superficial description of their attributes. It is not even clear how many total subjects Dr. Jacobs investigated over the years since a single abductee with exceptional abilities (see discussion below), Betsey, provided accounts of 100 events.
However, Dr. Jacobs does explain that these 14 abductees were featured in the book “because their experiences best elucidate the end-point phase of the abduction program and demonstrate new and chilling aspects of the alien agenda.” Essentially, this statement signals Dr. Jacobs cherry-picked the facts he preferred out a large body of testimony to make his case, a surefire route to succumbing to confirmation bias. Relying on the specially selected testimony of 14 subjects extracted from a total pool of 1,150 abduction events raises questions as to whether his sample is truly representative of the larger group or could be used to reliably discern emerging trends.
The book index references 72 total separate sessions with abductees with 32 of them (44%) from Betsey alone. Three subjects, Betsey, Allison and Paula, accounted 67% of the reports used in the book. One half of the abductees contributed information drawn from single sessions with one, Phil, for whom I was able to find no session listed. Claiming he evaluated new information such as this with the utmost caution and only considered it confirmed if and when repeated in other testimony is hard to square with fully half of the published information coming from single-session accounts. The reader is left to wonder about critical details such as how often the core data he used had been repeated by others independently, how frequently new material had to be repeated before it was deemed confirmed evidence vs. coincidence, how many points of similarity constituted hearing the same new evidence and why the material he selected could be used to confidently decide what was really going on while leaving out almost all of the other evidence he had received. How often was testimony from Betsey revealing new information confirmed by additional testimony from Betsey herself? Was a new fact repeated once given less weight than a fact that was repeated more than once?
Heavy reliance on the small set of subjects sharply constrained the evidence time frame as well. The bulk of the data featured in this book is rather dated. A quick tally revealed 70 citations represented material extracted from sessions Dr. Jacobs conducted 8-12 years ago and 7 sessions that were held 16 years or more in the past. Eight accounts were the most current, being 3-7 years old at the time of publication. Dr. Jacobs suggests he is finding evidence of an evolving alien program. Do sessions with abductees conducted more recently still bolster the findings from the past? The fact that his sessions were conducted so long ago actually offered an apparently overlooked opportunity to determine if his results were repeatable. He could have examined testimony from more recent sessions to see if he obtained independent and more current confirmation of the once-new facts he had discovered years ago.
Alert readers will notice that Dr. Jacobs cherry-picked his methods as well as his subjects. He is vague on whether over the years abductees were hypnotized or just relaxed, raising concern that he did not treat each subject in the same manner. In fact, the individual featured most prominently in the book, Betsey, was clearly an exceptional subject and Dr. Jacobs interacted with her in completely unique ways. These differences are a clear red flag; the information from Betsey may not be comparable to the testimony he has received over the years from others which was acquired under rather different circumstances. Dr. Jacobs did not address this concern.
Dealing with the Confabulation Problem
Dr. Jacobs noted the potential for confabulation, but did not fully describe his methods to recognize and mitigate it in his new book nor did the source he referenced, his previous book, The Threat. How good is he at discerning truth from fiction in the accounts conveyed by hypnotized or relaxed subjects and how did he validate his procedures? He mentioned testing subjects by asking ‘misleading’ questions, but does not offer details as to how that activity was reduced to a practice to accurately characterize and sort out his subjects. If you ask misleading questions won’t some subjects be misled? How exactly does he allow for subject suggestibility (as noted in The Threat)? Was a single error grounds for dismissal or were subjects permitted to make several errors? Where and how was the demarcation between confabulator and reliable narrator drawn?
A presentation given by Dr. Jacobs for the 2014 Contact in the Desert Conference now posted on YouTube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uUMPDtD4hfA may offer some insights as to how Dr. Jacobs parses evidence. His criteria to detect confabulation involved recognizing and rejecting evidence such as abductee drawings that depicted spacecraft interiors with square door frames, entities with improperly proportioned heads and aliens wearing dark clothing or body armor. There are multiple problems with his imprecisely targeted procedures, one of which is an error of circular reasoning commonly known as “begging the question.” It is not possible to validate abductee-provided evidence through reference to ‘facts’ that are nothing more than unproven assumptions or beliefs about the phenomenon under investigation. In essence this error left Dr. Jacobs with no valid means to differentiate truth from fiction. Perhaps one reason he has noted abductee accounts are so similar does not reveal their intrinsic accuracy, but is simply the ultimate consequence of a systematic elimination of stories that do not conform to Dr. Jacobs’ idiosyncratic notions and self-referential standards of proof. A critical factor indisputably common to every abduction account in this book is Dr. Jacobs in the role of final data quality evaluator.
Dr. Jacobs indicates he is skeptical of accounts that convey something new; that he did not elevate the information to the level of evidence until other abductees “…without knowledge of previous testimony…” [emphasis his] reported the same thing. He does not reveal the criteria used to decide when reports were equivalent nor the numbers of reports required for him to be assured he had discovered a real pattern vs. noting coincidence.
But how did Dr. Jacobs ensure his subjects provided him with truly independent testimony? Half of the abductee subjects featured in this book worked with him for long periods of time, 15 years or longer. On page 258 of his 1998 book The Threat, Dr. Jacobs solicited readers having feelings they had been involved with the abduction phenomenon to contact him. In such a situation those subjects clearly would possess knowledge of the previous testimony and his interpretations published in that book. How did Dr. Jacobs document whether his 14 subjects, drawn primarily from his “corner of eastern Pennsylvania and a few other places,” had read his books or articles, looked at his International Center for Abduction Research website (www.ufoabduction.com), heard him on nationally syndicated radio shows such as Coast to Coast AM, attended one of his many lectures or watched them on YouTube, shown up at MUFON meetings or belonged to support groups to decide their testimony was reliably independent of what other abductees had been saying?
In The Threat Dr. Jacobs revealed that he received “thousands of calls and letters” from people disturbed by their memories, but does not detail exactly what sources led them to him. Further, in his new book Dr. Jacobs notes that his subjects are in personal peril and “come to him out of a sense of desperation, driven to find a rational explanation for the seemingly irrational activities that have intruded upon their lives.” Under such circumstances it is simply not believable that his subjects had failed to seek out more information on alien abductions or at the very least were familiar with the work of Dr. Jacobs. In the case of subjects recruited through his appeal published in the final pages of The Threat, the situation is clearly more complicated. The question for those subjects is not whether they had been influenced by other testimony, but how much other testimony they had already seen. In addition, he did not indicate how he managed to keep his long-term subjects from becoming aware of the newly emerging evidence while he and others were actively promoting it in public.
Abductee testimony independence is the heart of his book, but Dr. Jacobs did little to confirm this critical claim was accurate. Worse, objective evidence has now emerged that flatly contradicts his assertion of subject independence and creates grave concerns over his basic methodology. Interactions between the research subjects of Dr. Jacobs and testimony cross-contamination have been revealed by his former research subject, Emma Woods. The evidence presented by Ms. Woods (http://ufoalienabductee.com/dr-david-m-jacobs-2/walking-among-us-jacobs-critical-review/david-jacobs-tells-subjects-previous-testimony/) is devastating because it directly involves several subjects featured prominently in his new book and effectively demolishes Dr. Jacobs’s centerpiece claim to scientific validity – the assertion that these abductee accounts are compelling and must be taken as reliable sources of evidence because they were extracted from independently produced testimony.
Archaic Approaches and Unacknowledged Revolutions
The late Philip Klass raised issues surrounding hypnosis in his book, UFO Abductions: A Dangerous Game, along with suggestions as to how to avoid or at least recognize confabulation and testimony contamination. One of the practices recommended was to record all interactions with subjects beginning with the first moment of contact and continuing until all interactions, including any incidental chit chat are concluded. There is no indication Dr. Jacobs followed such protocols and if he did how he used the information. All readers get are assertions that Dr. Jacobs is a skilled craftsman. The device of appeal to authority was rejected by mainstream science hundreds of years ago.
Revolutions in biological science and technology with critical ramifications for his research and far beyond seemed to have drawn no interest from Dr. Jacobs. The Innocence Project (www.innocenceproject.org) was launched in 1992 when lawyers Barry Scheck and Peter Neufeld recognized the potential of new forensic DNA-based technology to prove guilt or innocence objectively. Their insight has shaken fundamental assumptions regarding the reliability of evidence underpinning our legal system. Analysis of exonerations produced by the Innocence movement revealed that eyewitness error was the most prevalent factor contributing to hundreds of wrongful convictions. These errors mostly involved sincere witnesses who were unfortunately mistaken in their recollections. DNA analysis techniques provided a sobering confirmation that witnesses are fallible, memories subject to distortion by suggestive police methods or other information provided after the original events and may be influenced by the conditions under which the crime occurred. Human memory is not a tape recorder; subjects do not necessarily register events precisely as observed nor can they recall them with perfection (http://www.nybooks.com/articles/archives/2013/feb/21/speak-memory/).
In addition to revealing the fallibility of human memory, the extraordinary advances in genetic analysis technology offer a potential to corroborate critical aspects of several now longstanding claims of Dr. Jacobs. For example, pregnancies, even those terminated early, leave genetic traces in the mother that might remain detectable for years or decades after the events. That means abductees who reported missing pregnancies might still harbor viable cells from human-alien hybrids. Presumably, Dr. Jacobs could still contact some of these subjects to see if they are willing to be tested.
Readers will notice that additional obvious opportunities to locate and test forensic evidence were overlooked by Dr. Jacobs without any comment.
“Betsey had so many sessions with me that she had learned to place herself back into the event and to remember consciously and accurately what had happened to her.”
Betsey became so adept at spontaneous recall of her interactions with aliens that sessions could be conducted without hypnosis and relayed to Dr. Jacobs via Instant Messaging. Since many of Betsey’s reports were received within a few days of events and some on the same day, her situation presented unique opportunities to collect critical corroborating evidence. Betsey reported she had visited an apartment used by aliens. So, could she recall the address or could she have been outfitted with a phone with tracking software? What scientist could resist discovering an apartment full of telepathic hubrids? If Betsey was no help with finding the hubrid apartment, all she really needed to know was her own address because she was visited by hubrids in her home.
Much has changed in the world since Dr. Jacobs first began his investigation of the alien abduction mystery. Revolutions in genetic analyses techniques have shaken our entire criminal justice system and are now transforming the practice of medicine. Science is a building enterprise and with new discoveries often heralded by development of new technologies, scientists are constantly on the lookout for new tools. However, Dr. Jacobs was totally silent on the revolutionary technologies that could corroborate his anecdotes with objective evidence, a telling oversight and an insult to the intelligence of his audience. While technological revolutions change the entire world, Dr. Jacobs persists in spinning the same uncorroborated tales of fantasy.