Saturday, December 7, 2013

Skeptiko covers UFOs and consciousness

Skeptiko is a podcast series focused on human consciousness, it's run by a really smart and perceptive host, Alex Tsakiris. Recently he has been turning to the UFO phenomenon as a topic, and with his focus on consciousness the results have been really impressive. Nobody out there is digging into these mysteries with his insights.

I'm linking seven excellent Skeptiko shows on the topic of UFOs. It sorta blows my mind that I'm a guest on one of these episodes.

There have been some questions that arose out of the David Jacobs episodes. I have to say that he comes across sounding quite intolerant of the larger pool of data that has been amassed by people other than himself. This two-part interview is worth listen to just to hear his point of view.

He also made some statements about the late Dr. John Mack that don't seem to ring true. I've included a particular quote from Jacobs (transcribed from part one) and a response from Will Bueche, this text was lifted from the Skeptiko forums. Will worked with Dr. Mack and continues to this day as part of the John E. Mack Institute.

 read more below 

Dr. David Jacobs is quoted:
"This is not consciousness-raising; this is like consciousness denying. This is consciousness-lowering in a sense. So I don’t have any stake in this. It would be wonderful if it is. I think that John Mack was just dead wrong in his analysis of this. In fact, he tried and tried and tried to ram the abduction phenomenon into his preconceived ideas about consciousness and never could. Most people don’t realize that he gave up. He said, “That’s it. I don’t want to do it anymore,” because it could never conform to his ideas. Two years before he died he stopped doing abduction research altogether, closed up his peer group at Harvard, and told Budd Hopkins that maybe he’d been a little too gullible in this situation of abductions. He could never fit it into what he wanted it to be."

Reply from Will Bueche of JEMI:

Jacobs has made these statements about Dr. John Mack before, notably in a documentary film by David Cherniak, and he remains wrong.

[ this excellent documentary is linked HERE ]

Jacobs' narrow view of the phenomenon is a holdover from early research which failed to accept that the alien encounter phenomenon involves different levels of reality and is deeply affecting in both positive and negative ways to those who experience it. This difference between Mack and Jacobs is of course widely known, and need not be debated here; Mack wrote expansively of what he learned from experiencers in Passport to the Cosmos, his second book on the subject.

But in particular to your inquiry, Jacobs' repeated claim that Dr. Mack gave up his interest in alien encounters is simply false. Jacobs made that same claim earlier in the Cherniak documentary.

In fact, Dr. Mack had wrapped up the research branch of his organization (PEER - the Program for Extraordinary Experience Research) a few years before his death, and this was reported in a press release from PEER to MUFON (I wrote that press release myself), but he continued to speak and write on the subject as well as to consult with the experiencers who saw him long-term until his death in 2004.

Three factors were involved in Dr. Mack's decision to end PEER and to limit his speaking appearances. One was simply practical: The decision to end PEER as an active research project with a full staff of assistants and therapist consultants was partly a result of the economy turning downward after 9/11, which saw an end to many 501c3 organizations, or at least saw a major curtailing of activity due to the lack of funding from finacially-strapped donors.

A second factor was that Mack felt that he had amassed enough information from the many years of interviews with experiencers to establish without much question that the alien encounter experience is a deeply significant entry of an intelligence into the lives of people that transforms them into a larger sense of self. With his 1999 book Passport to the Cosmos, Mack felt he had presented everything that he knew about the subject. It was, as John said, a better book than Abduction (1994), but saw less attention from the press and public.

A third factor was that Mack recognized that the audience that he hoped to reach was narrowing - what had once reached the larger culture (from the late 1980s before Mack was involved and through the 1990s when he was most active) was now reaching only those who were already interested in the subject. "Preaching to the converted" was not in Mack's opinion of any use, and he therefore curtailed his public appearances on the subject. (I don't need to mention that by this time John was in his seventies and that such appearances were physically arduous for him).

Jacobs assertion that John "gave up" "because it could never conform to his ideas" or "he could never fit it into what he wanted it to be" is pure bull. Jacobs likely heard what he wanted to hear when John shared his regrets. John has indeed said that he had regrets about how he approached the subject of alien encounters - most notably, he felt he may have erred in presenting such personal, transformational material to the public in such a direct way as a major book. His friend, philosopher Thomas Kuhn had discouraged him from using a book to present such revolutionary material as well, but John did not listen to him.

I could also imagine that Jacobs may be mishearing John's perpetual questioning about whether aliens were in fact simply aliens whose arrival is "revelatory" to people's lives in the most deeply personal - even spiritual - sense, or if the aliens were not what we saw them to be, but rather could be some kind of intelligence from a higher level of reality - closer to "Source" as John often dubbed this concept - which appeared to us in technological, futuristic guise that we saw as "aliens". Mack made sure not to come to a firm conclusion on that. He did not have enough evidence of the latter possibility to make a firm stance on it one way or another, and I'm sure he may have expressed that to both Jacobs and Hopkins - and Jacobs would heard it as a defeat rather than as a strength (this was not a failing, that he kept the possibilities open). If Jacobs were to simply say that John may have privately wished for the latter to be the case, I might agree - but ultimately it does not matter. If the aliens are simply aliens in the traditional sense, or if they are from some higher level of reality (and the reality may be a bit of both!), what matters is how they transform people, and that is what fascinated John, and what he wrote about - human transformation from alien encounters.

Simply said, Jacobs claim that Mack gave up is false, and if I were to speak freely, I feel it is a claim that feeds into Jacobs' narcissism - Jacobs opinion that he alone has the discernment to learn the truth about alien encounters. And what has Jacobs' discernment brought forth? A paranoid, limited view of the alien encounter phenomenon, in which he strips away all elements that do not match his 1950s style preconceptions about what alien encounters would be like (he explains in the Cherniak documentary that when experiencers report to him elements that do not match his narrow view of reality, he dismisses them as "confabulations", and I understand he does the same in this podcast).

This dismissal of elements he does not agree with is characteristic of Jacobs' work. Who can forget his attempt to marginalize the insights of non-threatened researchers by dubbing them "positivists" in his book, The Threat? This style is what he will be remembered for - and it remains offensive and disappointing to those who take what experiencers report seriously, without preconceptions.

Please feel free to share this widely. Perhaps Jacobs will see it and appreciate that his efforts to twist the alien encounter phenomenon into his own mold, and his efforts to twist the reality of John's career into his own mold, are symptomatic of a need to appear superior that is, frankly, egotistical.

—Will Bueche

Currently on the JEMI Board of Directors, and former PEER member, 1999-2004



Trish said...

I look forward to reading these!

John Burke said...

David Jacobs is nothing more than an obnoxious dilettante. And enough of this "Dr. Jacobs" bullshit already. The guy is a HISTORY professor. Nobody calls Paul Krugman "Dr. Krugman" or Brad DeLong "Dr. DeLong". That's because they're not hypnotizing people. Jacobs has no business trash-talking ANYONE who has a doctorate in Psychology or Psychiatry. He is NOT their PEER.

Anonymous said...

Two significant youtube clips re. Dr. John Mack.

Begins around 12:43 - Dr. Mack admits to having "a certain naivety".

Dr. Mack leads his research subject under hypnosis. -re. he's encouraging human~alien sexual intercourse.
Begins around 3:04 -

It's no wonder debunking journalist Donna Bassett managed to weasel into Mack's experiencer group and told him she was on board a space craft, sitting on Fidel Castro's lap and Mack believed her. After she outed herself and her purpose, Mack still suggested something happened to her.
["Donna Bassett, a North Carolina freelance journalist who posed as an abductee, said Mack is simply gullible. "I've never seen a UFO, nor have I ever been abducted, she said. "I faked it.
The (research) environment was disturbing. There was no scientific method
whatsoever."" -]

Finally, imo an excellent deconstruction of Dr. Mack by Anthony Braglia, a ufo investigator. -

~ Susan

Mike Clelland! said...

I read the article by Anthony Braglia, in it he states:

‘It is with some reluctance -but without regret- that I now relate here what I know to be the truth about such abduction “research.” ‘

The word “truth” sticks out here, and it feels like too literal a word. This is an opinion coming from Braglia.

My sense is that the UFO abduction phenomenon is real, but beyond that it’s tricky to truly understand. The weirdest stuff wells up out of this messy bucket of ultra-strangeness.

I am not sure what he is trying to say, does Braglia advocate tossing all of Mack’s work into the trash and ignoring it?

My sense is that anyone who is researching this stuff is walking off the path into the darkest part of the forest. This is a genuine mystery. The fact that pretty much every researcher who taps into this stuff comes up with a different conclusion means that NONE of them are 100% correct. (well, it could mean that ONLY one researcher is 100% correct, but the mystery is who?)

Anyway, this is a total mystery, even a smart guy like John Mack is groping in the dark, I’m a big boy, I get that. I can read a book by Hopkins or Mack and know that it’s a real human behind the research, and they ain’t perfect.

I don’t see Mack as an infallible guru, and I don’t see his book ABDUCTION as a source of “truth.” But, I pay close attention to what he said and what he wrote.

All that said, Mack raised ideas, questions and speculation that few would entertain. As did Budd Hopkins.

Mike C

Anonymous said...

Mike - Bragalia's essay, for me, confirmed my impression that Dr. Mack was a rube when it came to Ufology and abductions. Mack did not do his homework, as the saying goes. And, he came to the subject with a definite bias based on his own beliefs. Adding to it are the previous example I linked to of his terribly leading hypnosis sessions.

An interesting aside is how Bragalia began to receive solitications from the PEER organization after speaking a couple of times with Mack. It seems everyone and their associates wants you to part with your money.

There is no perfect ufo-abduction researcher afaik. John Mack was in way over his head and didn't know the subject matter...David Jacobs brought on the *ick* factor with his mistreatment of 'Emma Woods'...Budd Hopkins was probably hoaxed by 'Linda Cortile'...Ray Fowler spent far too many years and books on Betty Andreasson-Luca and I suspect she and her husband may have stretched the truth (Fowler's best investigation & books ,imo, were The Allagash Abductions & UFO Testament: Anatomy of an Abductee).

~ Susan

Mike Clelland! said...

I know a few folks who have worked with Mack. These people are abductees. They each adore Dr. Mack for being a supportive and skilled therapist. They each said he was an amazingly caring person, and they were truly helped through terrible experiences with him as a therapist.

That means a lot to me.

Anonymous said...

Wow, "adore"....Hmm, that's a very strong, powerful, emotional word. I could imagine feeling grateful, but not to the point of adoring Mack (or any researcher -and I know each has their devotees).

I think we wouldn't be having these discussions, beginning with consciousness raising and alien abductions if interviewer Alex Tsakiris hadn't repeatedly brought it up to David Jacobs and then brought in the late John Mack's work essentially for Jacobs to disagree with (what did Tsakiris think the response would be? - two researchers with very different world views and hypotheses). And, all of these abduction researchers[including the ones I mentioned previously] wrote books so are known within the field at the very least.

Maybe some lesser known researchers work might should be looked into and considered. They're men and women out there doing thankless work with little to no attention. Two come to mind because they passed on in recent years. The Fayetteville (Chris Bledsoe) case with hypnotic regression sessions conducted by Dr. Michael O'Connell, a Harvard graduate and veteran of at least 250 regressions for MUFON and non-MUFON cases. And Barbara Bartholic who utilized a technique learned from a LiCT to administer a series of hypnosis', as if peeling an onion of ones memories, because she believed these beings are controlling memories by planting false imagry into people that can be broken through with Bartholic's specific method.

~ Susan

Chuck said...

Some folks on Skeptiko tend to pick sides and then defend their turf to the end. I have a hard time tossing all Mack's work into the bin because some of his methodology might have been flawed. He admitted quite clearly in abduction that the process was not an objective one and that the end result was more a melding of the two parties, himself and the experiencer. I don't think Mack was blind to that fact at all. Even at the level of detail that Mack presents, this all seems at least once removed, as if related to metaphor--as if viewed through a glass darkly. I doubt we are going to have the answers on this side of the veil.

Chuck said...

Mike. I think you should include Ardy Sixkiller Clark in this list. That was a really interesting interview and her book was one of the most interesting I read last year.

Mike Clelland! said...

The folks that worked with Mack were in emotional turmoil and pain over their experiences. Mack was a gifted and sensitive therapist, and they deeply appreciated his role in helping them. The folks I have talked to adored him for being so helpful.

Call me sappy but these are real people dealing with something extremely challenging, and Mack was supportive to their needs.

He was playing two roles, therapist AND researcher. The fact that he was a helpful therapist means a lot to me.

I can also say that Budd was extremely giving and kind, he treated me with resect in a way that I appreciated enormously. He was not a trained therapist, but his compassionate nature helped people.

My point is that these men were helping people that the rest of the world was ridiculing.

Anonymous said...

Mike wrote: " I can also say that Budd was extremely giving and kind, he treated me with resect in a way that I appreciated enormously. He was not a trained therapist, but his compassionate nature helped people.
My point is that these men were helping people that the rest of the world was ridiculing." - - -

This reminded me of the Experiencers Speak conference in Portland , Sept. 2013, where Debbie Jordan Kauble ['Kathy Davis' of 'Intruders at Copley Woods'] expressed her gratefulness to Budd Hopkins for all he did for her. This is important as if refutes Hopkins detractors who state otherwise about Debbie and Budd (you probably know who they are, as you've been misrepresented by them as well).

~ Susan

Mike Clelland! said...

There is an audio interview with Debbie, I think on the PARACAST where she kind complains about Budd.

I remember listening at the time and I thought it was interesting. If I remember correctly (and I might get this all wrong) she complained less in her treatment, but more to his conclusions.

She wrote a book (along with her sister) on her own case. It makes an excellent companion to Budd's book.

Her experiences involved more psychic weirdness than were reported by Budd.

Mike C

Anonymous said...

Ah, I wasn't aware of that interview.

I do seem to remember reading that a reason Deb and her sister wrote 'Abducted! The Story of the Intruders Continues' is because Budd didn't include the paranormal happenings and the frequent helicopter flyovers of her family's home. I read their book so many years ago and long since passed it on.

That is a complaint that some people had of Hopkins (and of course Jacobs) - that they exclude their clients reports of paranormal activity and/or some sort of human military involvement in the phenomena.

'Connections' by Beth Collins and Anna Jamerson addressed that too in their own book.

~ Susan

gheron93 said...

"Mack was a gifted and sensitive therapist."

I'd take this any day over someone steeped in ufology - whatever the hell that is.

I have listened to both the Skeptiko interviews and they seem to me to have a real the only way to the truth is through me vibe.

I don't think Alex really understands the snake pit of weirdness and politics he has stepped into with abductions.

For anyone wondering how the mainstream are still seeing this phenomena.

The whole doco is on youtube somewhere.

Red Pill Junkie said...

'Intolerant'? That's put it lightly, IMO. I have ZERO interest for what someone like Jacobs has to offer.

And if he spoke so lowly of Mack, I wonder what he'd have to say about someone like Dr. Karla Turner; especially when Jacobs would have flat out dismissed the testimony of the people Turner investigated for her book Taken --like the account she related about a man & two women, with only one of them being able to 'see' & interact with the aliens, while the others weren't.

As for Alex, he's one of my heroes in this field. He's willing to lock horns with the skeptics on BOTH sides of the field, something not many have the stomach for it.

My buddies at the Grimerica show recently had him on their podcast. I think you guys will enjoy it :)

Mike Clelland! said...

I met David Jacobs, I went to his house and he talked about his cat. This was in 2007, and he is a likable guy. He knows a lot about movies, and that was fun to talk about.

So, it's hard for me to come down too hard on him.

That said, I think he really comes across poorly in the two-part interview posted above.

Mike C

Anonymous said...

In the Skeptiko interview Jacobs talked about deliberately trying to lead his subjects into thinking that their 'alien' memories were actually dreams. Apparently his idea was to test their conviction that what they recalled was 'real' as opposed to a psychological fabrication. Does this sound like acceptable, professional conduct?

By the way the mascot for Temple University, where Dr. Jacobs taught, is guess what? An owl. "Hooter the Owl is part of Temple's Spirit Squad . . ." Just thought I'd mention that.

gheron93 said...

Gotta agree with rpj Alex has done some great interviews
A few interviews back he posted a great podcast where he explained his approach to his work and illustrated it with some great clips
There is a very memorable one where he interviews the guy how did the ancient aliens debunked film. It's all going great until they start discussing Noah's Ark at which point things get weird;-)

Anonymous said...

gheron93 - Chantelle is being mocked...the voice tone of the interviewer and the background music. The m.o. still of most tv productions on experiencers/abductees.

"Anonymous" - to quote you -"Does this sound like acceptable, professional conduct?"

John Mack encouraging his research subject that he has placed under hypnosis to "f***" an alien. I linked to this in an earlier post.

Begins at 3:05

~ Susan

Ken Bakeman said...

brownie said, "John Mack encouraging his research subject that he has placed under hypnosis to "f***" an alien. I linked to this in an earlier post."

It sounded to me like Mack's subject/client mentioned having sex with the alien first and when he hesitated to go further in the experience,understandably so, Mack asked him a clarification question, effectively encouraging the man to remember more. Personally I see this as acceptable, professional hypnotherapy work and not like implanting false memories. On balance, I can see how someone might think that Mack was asking leading questions, but the poor guy was stuck remembering he was about to f*** an alien so what would be the result if Mack just pulled the plug on the session, changed direction or told his client that he was only having a dream? Not good therapy imo.

It's interesting that you bring up this specific case because I'm working on recalling a similar experience I had many years ago involving having sex with a female reptilian -- talk about ontological shock. My name is Ken Bakeman and my right hand pushed 'anonymous' before my right brain could stop it last post.

For what it's worth, just before copulating with the female reptilian a male rep. who was standing behind me energetically 'walked' into my body. It was a three-way with the rep. father giving his spiritual signature or imprint, along with a full body orgasm that went on for some time. So when David Jacobs or anyone else insists that there isn't a spiritual dimension or quality to 'alien' contact experiences I think they are showing their ignorance of the full scope of the subject.

Anonymous said...

Ken - Thankyou for sharing that extremely personal account.

Maybe I'm a hopeless provincial but I'd have to agree with David Jacobs that there can be a negative influence on a person's spiritual life (not his exact words, but his general response to Alex's continued questioning).

If what happened to you, had happened to me, I'd consider myself temporarily possessed. I was raised with a clear sense of personal boundaries and self-respect. No entity has the right to enter my body in such a manner. Nothing that you described respects or uplifts the individual human or humanity.

~ Susan

Anonymous said...

Maybe one needs to go beyond a descriptive, negative or positive, to realize perception has everything to do with an experience. If one sees a dandylion as negative, based on his entire perception that a perfect lawn is not only desirable, but maybe even necessary, and the next person views the dandelion as one of nature's many gifts, who is correct?

The abduction scenario, as it now stands, doesn't seem to fall within the realm of hard science because there is no hard proof to subject to rigorous study within a set of rules in material science. It then is left with the rules of soft science where rules may always bend and skew due to an individual's perception of his own metaphors and symbols which help aid his personal understanding. Humans are mostly all about broadening their understanding, if only in increments at times.

Within the realm of my perception, that's a very good thing. A negative can become a positive or certain aspects of new understanding can alter an experience to begin to bring new light upon an individual's input into perception in general.

On one level Mack understood that while Jacobs either never recognized it or still denies it today.


Mike Clelland! said...

I am proceeding forward with the idea that "spirituality" or "spiritual awakening" plays a role in this wider phenomenon. This shows up with some consistency, but not 100%.

I see it in almost every abductee I talk to, some part of them will address the "spirituality" thing, and how they are somehow changed.

I was amazed when Jacobs dismissed this aspect with such forthrightness.

I don't have an answer, all I know is that it is showing up over and over and over. To ignore it would be to ignore the totality of the mystery.

Mike C

geheron93 said...

gheron93 - Chantelle is being mocked...the voice tone of the interviewer and the background music.

Yes obviously.

The m.o. still of most tv productions on experiencers/abductees.

That's why I posted the two clips. To illustrate this.

eattherich said...

Mike, Don´t know if you´ve seen it but here´s a very interesting documentary about "spiritual awakening". There´s at least one tangible link in there to "aliens"... Traditional north-american indian spiritual life has a key role, too.

It´s long but should be watched all the way through, IMO, to get the whole picture.

eattherich said...

PS to the last post: Article in Huff. Post by the guy who made film/is in it.