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Wrath of Joe Review of Books

Sight Unseen: Science, UFO Invisibility and Transgenic Beings

By Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey

Pocket Star Books

Budd Hopkins and Carol Rainey (a husband and wife UFO duo, apparently) offer the closest thing to an apologia in UFO literature; rather than simply state Alien Abduction is real and here are the cases, Hopkins and Rainey attempt, with some notable success, to defend the phenomenon by proving the scientific plausibility making the abduction scenario, in as many variants as it may come, a distinctly possible reality not far removed from the many possibilities our own 21st Century science is presenting for our theoretical consideration.

Alien Abduction, the phenomenon in which it is alleged intelligent non-human life removes people from their various familiar or secure premises, that is, abducts, and returns them to said premises, often having inflicted some physical or mental trauma via conducting forced reproductive procedures, is considered, even by believers, to be the most unpalatable aspect of the UFO phenomenon, if not plainly embarrassing. To present a thesis stating intelligent beings from a planet other than ours have mastered space travel, or devised a form of space travel allowing them to leave from some as yet unknown planet to our own, and this is evidences by numerous circumstantial evidence (IE. Government follies, copious video and photographic evidence, and eye witness testimony) is difficult to stand on its own legs. But it's not all too hard to believe. Intelligent beings like to explore, our own history is witness to this. It makes sense, really. Now, should one then attempt to add to this thesis, or provide and entirely novel thesis, stating these same beings are not only visiting, but interacting with the inhabitants of this planet, us little old humans, against our will, be it individually or collectively, as, indeed, abduction is against the individual's will and most certainly the notion would affront our collective humanity, one will notice even the most ardent believer in UFO stretched for credulity.

To Hopkins and Rainey's credit, Sight Unseen does not shy away from the seeming implausibility of the purported phenomenon, instead opting to state out rightly the entire phenomenon seems, upon first account and encounter, situated in the realm of science fiction as opposed to factious possibility. Yet, things are never, so far as concerns UFOs, as they seem. Our own science from here on planet earth and forged by human hands in the labs of many-a-university presently takes the initial foot steps along a journey threatening to develop much the same technology implicitly and explicitly required for the phenomenon of Alien Abduction to be entirely plausible in our own scientific paradigm. Indeed, this is the very strength of Sight Unseen; we have, in no uncertain terms, a thesis, one of the rare commodities in UFO literature. The authors' contend our present age of scientific discovery vindicates much of the abduction scenario via advancing in directions pointing towards the embryonic stages of the technology attest to in abduction research and necessary for the phenomenon to be a reality within our own.

Hopkins and Rainey begin Sight Unseen in familiar territory for most anyone even vaguely aware of the abduction phenomenon, starting with the now, sadly, clichéd device of hypnosis initiated after an abducted purports emotional or mental disturbance either manifest in nightmares or overly anxious behavior, recalling the (suppressed) abduction experience in often explicit and frightful detail, reporting the subjection to various reproductive experiments not limited but included forces intercourse or the removal of reproductive material such as ovaries or sperm, and then final return of the abducted person to the place or circumstance from which he or she was abducted. This then, is our standard fair abduction account. Here, however, the similarities with other treatments of the subject ends. Sight Unseen does not attempt to sensationalize a story for the reader's digest; the authors' assuredly present some of the most striking cases of alien abduction one may ever hope to read, however, they veer away from the sensationalism, as much as possible, and focus on the science of the abduction. The crux of the thesis resting upon that every abduction case seems to involve certain technological occurrences making it possible for the abduction to happen and these occurrences are breached upon by contemporary science. The book then is divided between Hopkins and Rainey. Hopkins presents the abduction cases and in the process of so doing highlights the technology apparently at work, beginning, and ultimately resting the book upon, the science of invisibility. Every abduction begins with the abducted person becoming invisible to the surrounding world; the UFOs are able to accomplish the abductions in the broadest of circumstances because they themselves as a rule are invisible during the majority of their operations, only becoming visible, it seems, when either traveling to another destination or when, being the creatures they are, something goes wrong. Hopkins having identified the science segues to Rainey who attempts to explain the science. Rainey divides this work in half, first presenting modern scientific advances and discoveries which either mirror Hopkins' purported science in the abduction narratives or present themselves as the initial stages of development of said science. Rainey then theorizes just what scientific processes may or may not be at work in the abduction phenomenon based upon how eerily similar our own science is appearing to the science apparently at work among UFOs. Hopkins and Rainey run the gamut from invisibility, teleportation (how many abductees describe the physical process of being abducted and returned to their surroundings), the invasive reproductive procedures, and finally, most perturbing of all, the hybridization of two different species, us and “them.”

Hopkins' and Rainey's handling of the hybridization is most impressive and, indeed, after establishing the science of invisibility ( a rather large science involving everything from light manipulation to dimensional warping) is where the book eventually focuses the remainder of its attention. Again, Hopkins admits, more so than abduction, this is the aspect of Ufology arousing more angst and refusal than anything else; the prospect of “them” presenting a hybridized offspring to the abductees and further integrating these abductees upon our own planet for some unstated goal crosses all lines of conventionality. We as a species can understand taking another species from its habitat for purposes of observation, however, a hybridization of our species implies too much, there is something, as Hopkins says, that is too intimate about this scenario, too close to home for comfort. In this respect, Hopkins is in conformity with David Jacobs in accepting a hybridization program is in the process, however, Hopkins does not grow as ominous as Jacobs. Jacobs, for his part, believes hybridization with the eventual aim of out populating humans on the earth is the means to larger and more ominous end. Hopkins, though accepting a hybridization program is in full swing and accepting that the hybrids are now among us, does not go beyond this point. So far as Hopkins is concerned, we can prove nothing more of the hybrids than that they are helping speed along the agenda by “friending” or interacting with abductees. What the agenda is, Hopkins does not provide any hypothesis for, only stating that whatever it is, it is happening. For her part, Rainey highlights break through in genetics which have allowed scientists to successfully implant part of the human genome onto the genome of other species. While we may not be able to cross bread a species per se`, we are able to develop a species with human traits that successfully reproduce and pass on these transgenic traits. Hence, a mice bread with human liver cells, or pigs with “human hearts.” The argument being the hybridization may not be a trespassing of boundaries set by nature, but rather a placing of our genome into theirs.

While the authors' thesis is notable for being singular amongst abduction literature it is not without its difficulties. Sight Unseen must be commended for attempting to establish just how scientifically plausible alien abduction is, however, one cannot escape, if one wishes to have a critical eye upon the subject, presenting a few nagging points. The treatment of the alleged science behind the abductions is somewhat convoluted. Rainey is working in theory after all, and as such, no matter how good her theories seem, no matter how feasible it appears that our own science is in the embryonic stages of UFO technology, it is all still just theory. Frankly, though one observer could interpret our contemporary science as being in the embryonic stages of the technology the authors' theorize is in play among the abduction phenomenon, another observer could just as easily say we are nowhere near the authors' hypothesis and our science is heading in no such directions. Plainly, the science Rainey appeals to, though intriguing, is, if one is to be critical, ambiguous; yes, our present technology could be the beginnings of UFO technology, then again, it could also be something else entirely different.

Another critique one may raise concerns the identification of the technology itself. As mentioned, it is Hopkins who initially identifies what the apparent technology is and Rainey who expounds upon the possibility this technology is very real. Hopkins surmises the technology involved on the basis of testimony of alleged abductees wrought by hypnotic regression, and this opens several cans of worms to contend with.

Firstly, there is the problem of hypnotic regression itself, namely, how much of it is a retrieval of some suppressed memory and how much of it is based on “suggestion” whether conscious or unconscious.

Secondly, to be honest, Hopkins, in identifying the science at work, is providing an interpretation of the event the alleged abductees describe. The abductees do not report the technology as Hopkins interprets it; a raw event is described, such as being lifted up in a beam of light, and Hopkins interprets this to be some developed form of an experiment at Princeton involving lifting a penny from a table via compressing two concentrated beams of light upon it. Although one can very well see how there might be a correlation between what abductees purport to have experienced and experiments in contemporary science going on across the globe, one can also see how Hopkins may very well be reading into the abduction accounts what he hopes to find.

Finally, one would be remise if one did not make mention of the single most potent caveat when taking stock of the information presented in Sight Unseen, the authors' propose a thesis, defend it, and expect, or at least endeavor, for us to accept it on the grounds of testimony. As with the abduction phenomenon in general, Sight Unseen, the thesis proposed, and the information provided therein, is only as valuable as the witness testimony. Although this begs the question, just how valuable is the witness testimony, including that of the authors' themselves, Hopkins in particular, and their reporting of alleged victims and the alleged recollections of abduction. Sight Unseen, much like alien abductions themselves, requires the reader to take fellow humans' words at face value. Hopkins himself is all too aware these tales of abduction and “the science of UFO invisibility” may very well stretch the limits of credulity. In his defense, he offers this thought, paraphrasing Monsignor Balducci, human life is essentially based upon accepting other human beings' words at face value and anything, if scrutinized enough, could stretch the limits of credulity.