I liked Abducted when I first read it. After reading it again, I can’t give it any better than one thumb up. Social psychologist Susan Clancy subtitles her book How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens, which shows the direction of her research. She argues that many UFO abductees are fantasy-prone and schizotypal individuals who tend to create false memories easily or who create false memories when they are hypnotized.
To study UFO abductees, Clancy placed advertisements in newspapers. She then screened those who replied to the and asked some to participate in a research study. In thecourse of the study, she gave her subjects tests for proneness to fantasy and schizotypy. Fantasy-prone people have vivid imaginations. Schizotypy, according to one description in Wikipedia, is a complex personality trait characterized by unusual perceptual experiences, disorganized or tangential thought processes, a deficiency in sociability, and “impulsive nonconformity. She also tested the tendency of her subjects to make false memories. To do so she gave each subject a list of related words whose common characteristic is not a word on the list; for example, a list might contain the words sugar, candy, and icing but not the word sweet. She identified as creators of false memories those subjects who examined the list and then said that the word for the common characteristic was on the list. She reports that her group of abductees scored high in schizotypy, fantasy-proneness, and false memory creation.
I have a problem with this book because its subject is false memories and not UFOs. Ufology offered Clancy a convenient and non-controversial arena to play her games with false memories. She assumed that no UFO abductions have ever occurred from the beginning of her project. Fine, many worthy debunkers take this position. Nevertheless, because her subject is false memories, her research on memory still stands as valid even if someone somehow proves a UFO abduction has occurred, for her results apply only to people claiming to be UFO abductees who were not actually abducted. In fact, one could dispute her conclusions by studying some other experience other than UFO abduction about which people create false memories. I prefer my UFO books to be about UFOs.
Sources and further reading:
Clancy, Susan A. Abduction: How People Come to Believe They Were Kidnapped by Aliens. Havard UP: Cambridge, MA, 2005.
“Schizotypy.” Wikipedia (Accessed 5/24/2013).