Why do people believe in Dr. Abigail Tyler's UFO story? by Tony Garcia
Answer by Tony Garcia:
In 2009, the film The Fourth Kind was released, a docudrama based on a conspiracy theory that the disappearances of 24 people in and around Nome, Alaska between the 1960s and 2004 were the result of alien abductions. Nome is notable among ufologists—those who study the UFO phenomenon—as a UFO hot spot, an area of frequent sightings, with some believing that it may be a region for a sort of command center for alien life on Earth.
NBC Universal, parent company of Universal Pictures, stated in a press release after the initial release of the film that it is not fiction. However, that same year Fox News stated that Universal agreed to pay $20,000 to the Alaska Press Club to settle complaints that fake news archives were used to promote the movie.
According to the report, Universal had created a series of fabricated online news articles to promote the alien-abduction movie, and the articles posted had the appearance of coming from real Alaska newspapers. These fake news reports included an obituary and news story allegedly taken from the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner, about the death of one of the movie’s leading characters, Dr. William Tyler.
Alaskan authorities, for their part, had never heard of a Dr. Abigail Tyler, her supposedly dead husband, her missing daughter—and most importantly—her proposed licensing as a psychiatrist in the State. There is no account of police staking out Dr. Tyler’s home and seeing flying saucers. The truth was, no such person existed.
Universal was required to remove their fake news articles from the Internet. But the damage had already been done. The fake news articless had already gone viral; thousands of “believers” continued to accept the story as real, even after the so-called “evidence” had been removed from the Internet.
Further proof of the elaborate hoax used to promote the film is that the sites sourced by NBC Universal didn’t come online until 2009, meaning that nothing about The Fourth Kind‘s events was available for research until the film was released.
Alien abduction is hard to prove. People who believe they've been abducted by aliens have always resided at the farthest fringes of science.
But for every UFO cultist who claims ancestry to an alien race, there are hundreds of ordinary individuals who claim to have been abducted by aliens who resist lunatic classification. They struggle alone with memories of unintelligible messages, temporary paralysis and humanoid creatures hovering over their beds. According to Psychology Today, their stories don't always check out, but their minds do: Psychological tests confirm that abductees are rarely psychotic or mentally ill. Some three million Americans believe they've encountered bright lights and incurred strange bodily marks indicative of a possible encounter with aliens, according to a recent poll.
It is a quandary that polarizes researchers. At Harvard University, psychiatrist John Mack, M.D., argues that these experiences cannot be understood in a western rationalist tradition of science. His colleagues in the department of psychology, Richard McNally, Ph.D., and Susan Clancy, Ph.D., counter that the explanation—though multifaceted—is hilarious in its fundamental simplicity.
Eugene Taylor, Ph.D., a biographer historian who lectures on psychology at Harvard Medical School, says Dr. Mack “is a clinician making observations about human experience, as opposed to cognitive behavioral scientists, who say that if you can't measure it in the laboratory, it doesn't exist.”
Harvard's ideological clashes over the interpretation of anomalous experiences are exemplified in the public’s reaction to the alien abduction phenomenon. Whether these terrifying episodes are an anomaly occurring during the neurologic transition into REM sleep, with its concomitant paralysis of the muscles and vivid dreams, or there truly is an extraterrestrial intrusion into the lives of these people, it is a terrifying experience. And pseudoscience masquerading as documentaries, coupled with false news stories, serves only to keep the sufferers on the fringe.