Friday, September 16, 2011

A Skeptical Look at the Pascagoula Abduction

The Daily Corinthian included this little gem in its State Briefs section today. The text is not available on their website and only a snippet is available from the Associated Press here. So using the longer text from the actual newspaper, I'd like to review the rather shoddy reporting and compare it to reality.

The article reports that Mr. Charles Hickson died at age 80 and that he was one of two men who reported a UFO abduction in Pascagoula, Mississippi, on October 11, 1973. This is verifiably true. But then the article continues:

What seemed to be the beginning of a peaceful night turned to chaos when the pair suddenly found themselves in a close encounter with an alien craft and its occupants.

Note how the story is reported as absolute fact - as if this had indeed occurred exactly as described. The word "allegedly" would have made this go down a bit better. We are expected to just accept that an alien craft came down to these two men and made contact. Never mind that the location of this alleged contact was in full view of Ingalls Shipyard's security cameras or the two 24-hour toll booths close by. Never mind that not a single worker, driver, or home owner saw anything. You are expected to just take this on faith.

But it's hard for me to take this on faith when the testimony of these men is so highly suspect and completely uncorroborated. Hickson admitted to having been drinking whiskey and Parker claimed he was so scared he just fainted. That would give us only one real eyewitness to the inside of the vessel, the nature of the aliens, and any procedures done or conversations had. The problem is that, after the story became famous, Parker said he lied about passing out and changed his story into an even more fanciful tale. Let's look at the men's accounts in more detail.

Hickson described the aliens as being unipedal humanoids, pale and wrinkled, with no eyes or neck, and protrusions for ears and a nose. Of course, they also had lobster claws for hands. This seems a most unlikely evolutionary candidate for a planet that resembles ours (and these aliens must have relied on gravity and an atmosphere like ours since they were supposedly in the same room with the men, breathing the same air with no devices). Hickson said he was scanned and released about 20 minutes later. How he kept track of time and all these details without having the presence of mind to grab an alien artifact or ask a question, we'll never know.

As mentioned before, Parker said he fainted from fright but then recanted. After hypnotic regression, he reported that he was examined by a female alien (did she have boobs or more "carrot-like" growths?) and she stuck a needle into his penis. He claims she spoke to him telepathically and told him he'd been taken for a reason which he does not disclose. Nineteen years later he said he made contact with the same female and the same ship. He went with her willingly and she told him that God was real, the Bible was true, and humans were just too aggressive for them to come live with us.

First, why would you ever get back on a ship with a shriveled, ugly woman who stuck a needle in your penis? I mean, really!

Second, what kind of alien abducts people, traumatizes them thoroughly, sticks needles in their privates and then lectures us about morality?

Third, do you really think a sophisticated alien race is going to come down here and tell us the Bible is true? Do you think they made their spaceship from the description of Elijah's chariot? Come on, aliens would look at our little god beliefs and laugh - as well they should.

So the paper finishes with this paragraph:

After reporting the abduction, Hickson and Parker both passed lie detector tests and were even questioned under hypnosis. Investigators are on record saying the pair's story never wavered.

Let's be fair. Hickson and Parker had plenty of time before they reported the incident to the military and the police to get their stories straight. They had even more time to reinforce the story and perform for the police when they were "secretly" recorded at the sheriff's office. I'm not sure how smart you have to be to know that you're being listened to when they put you in the little room with the shiny glass. Hickson's whiskey and Parker's lie doesn't make them wrong but it does damage their credibility. Seriously, would you want these two guys to be the eyewitnesses at your murder trial? I think not.

Also, the lie detector tests were not done by a trained professional. The operator had not finished training and was not certified. For some reason, when offered the chance to have the polygraph done by a professional at no charge, the men refused. But it doesn't even matter because polygraphs are unreliable and can be fooled.

As for hypnotic regression, the "Satanic Panic" and "Multiple-Personality Disorder" epidemic should have taught us that this sort of therapy is notoriously unreliable and is a good way for a subject to embellish or falsify a story to gain the therapist's approval.

So what are we left with? A monumental event witnessed by no cameras and no one in the area except two fishermen. What proof did they bring to the military and police? The catfish they had caught. Their testimony changed over time to become more erratic and unbelievable. No other witnesses. No pictures. No recordings. No radiation. No DNA. No alien tools. Nothing. Yet to read the AP release, you'd think this UFO encounter may really have happened.

If someone tells you they've been abducted by aliens, be skeptical.

If someone tells you they've been abducted by Christian aliens who stick needles in guys' penises, run for the hills - especially if you're a guy with a penis.