Wednesday, April 18, 2012

New book alert - "The Search for Aliens"

Dear readers,

My latest new book discovery at my local library is "The Search for Aliens: A Rough Guide to Life on Other Worlds" by Piers Bizony. 2012. Rough Guides. London. ISBN 978-1-40538-324-0 (click here.) This 260 page book takes a look at the origins of life; the search for life on Mars; aliens at the movies; SETI; the search for extrasolar planets; plus one chapter headed "Kidnapped by Aliens." This post covers this particular chapter, the subject matter of this blog.

Introduction:

"Why do thousands of people believe that extraterrestrial spacecraft have already visited us? How can we distinguish between credible "close encounter" accounts and credulous nonsense? Just because you've seen an alien in your bedroom doesn't necessarily mean you're insane."

Project Blue Book:

The author takes a brief look at the USAF Project Blue Book (click here) and the work of Dr J Allen Hynek (click here) for that project. "Far from investigating alien corpses in hidden bunkers, Hynek was encouraged to find natural explanations wherever possible." (p.215.)

Loose definitions of CE1s to CE3s follow. The project's demise in 1969 is noted "...further funding could not be justified 'either on the grounds of national security or in the interests of science.'" (p.217.)

Under this sub-heading, there is also a short note that "The UK's National Archives contain a wealth of ufo-related material..." (p.217.)

Roswell:

"The most famous UFO story of modern times..." is covered in just over one page of text. "A succession of old timers, publicity chancers and one or two genuinely puzzled witnesses have come forward over the years to tell their versions of the Roswell story..." (p.218.)

There are mentions of projects Mogul ( click here) and High Dive ( click here) as official explanations for the Roswell event. "Some conspiracy theorists point out that although Mogul was underway in 1947, High Dive didn't start until the 1950's. But how would they know? And are these conspiracy theorists actually being paid by the US government to sow further confusion?" (p.218.)

The author's conclusion? "Roswell and almost all other UFO sightings have prosaic explanations. Those few cases that remain completely mysterious are just that, products of our lack of explanation, not proof of alien contact." (p.220.)

Area 51:

A quick overview of Area 51 ( click here) includes the statements: "Frequent reports of triangular UFOs in the skies around Groom Lake in the 1980's are best explained by the sinister shadow of the F-117 Nighthawk stealth fighter..." (p.220.) "No matter how sleek the styling of Groom Lake's military machines, none are proof of extraterrestrial technology being hidden at Area 51, nor of airplanes retro-engineered from advanced alien counterparts that crash-landed decades ago." (p.220.)

Alien abductions"

This area of UFO research is covered in four pages. "Leaving aside the frauds and self-publicists,  hundreds of perfectly sane people genuinely believe they've been visited by aliens. Just because a person believes in something, doesn't make it true." (p.222.)

Dr John E Mack's ( click here) work is cited, followed by a quick look at the incubus ( click here) and succubus and accounts of their existence throughout recorded history.

Sleep paralysis:

One explanation put forward for alien abductions is sleep paralysis and the author takes a page and a bit, to explain this hypothesis. "It's not surprising that some people may interpret this kind of physical and psychological experience as an alien abduction." (p.224.)

After mentioning the work of UK psychologist Dr Susan Blackmore, the author writes "Blackmore is not alone in thinking that many abduction narratives owe their origin to biological and neurological causes, rather than extraterrestrial interventions." (p.225.)

"Alien looking aliens:"

"The strangest element uniting almost all 'close encounters of the third kind' witness reports is that the aliens appear more or less human, or at least humanoid." (p.225.)

The author argues that "Even if aliens did happen to come from a world just like ours, they still wouldn't look like us, because of countless tiny variations in their evolutionary history." (p.226.) "...it becomes obvious that creatures from other worlds are not under any obligation to look like humans." (p.227.)

Resources:

This section of the book includes sections on astrobiology sources material. There is a section headed "Technical papers"  which includes Blackmore and Cox's 2000 paper "Alien Abductions: Sleep Paralysis and the Temporal Lobe" from the European Journal of UFO and Abduction Studies, 2000. pp.113-118.

Also, under "Websites" are:

"National Security Agency, UFO documents Index, http://www.nsa.gov/public_info/declass/ufo/index
If all the UFO documentation in America was stacked up, it would probably reach to the Moon. The US government's spookiest intelligence agency has released plenty of material in response to numerous requests."

UK National Archives: Unidentified Flying Objects.
http://www.ufos.nationalarchives.gov.uk/
Whatever your feelings about flying saucers, the newly released UK government archives contain a few intriguing mysteries, and some embarrassing admissions - such as the fact that shortage of funds prevented officials from investigating some of the more interesting reports. 

US National Archives: Unidentified Flying Objects
http://www.archives.gov/foia/ufos
The motherlode for UFO enthusiasts, rich in myth and secrecy, with enough material to keep us in movie plots for generations to come." (p.248.)

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