UFOs, ETs And Alien Abductions: A Scientist Looks at the Evidence Paperback – 30 Jun 2013
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"Don Donderi has written a splendid book compiling the extensive evidence justifying his courageous and clear conclusion that some UFOs are extraterrestrial spacecraft. His factual and logical approach demands attention as does his impressive Academic and industrial background. His selection of examples of abduction and other cases will help silence uninformed debunkers. A real winner." --Stanton T. Friedman, retired nuclear physicist author of "Flying Saucers and Science", and co-author of "Captured" and "Science Was Wrong"
About the Author
Don Crosbie Donderi is a citizen of both the US and Canada. He entered the University of Chicago at age 15 and graduated with a BA and a BSC in biological psychology at age 21. He worked as an applied psychologist for the IBM Corporation, developing navigation displays for the B-52 bomber.
Top customer reviews
OVERVIEW. Well written, suitable for both new and experienced readers about UFOs. Author believes witnesses in situations where hoaxes can be ruled out..
DETAIL. The book is in 3 parts:
Part I is a history of UFO sightings, leaving out abductions. UFO reports keep coming regardless of official denials and impugning of witnesses by self-appointed "skeptics" (really propagators of science's taboo). The Condon study (1968) is considered to be biased.
Part II concerns abductions. The author determines that the Betty & Barney Hill case contain "touchstones" (see later discussion) which points to 5 more abduction cases being deemed reliable.. A "prototypical" or typical abduction narrative includes telepathic communication and missing time.
Part III is entitled What We Know. Science works in Kuhnian paradigms (see The Structure of Scientific Revolutions: 50th Anniversary Edition); in this case, the author says that scientists cannot switch to an ET paradigm until we have a theory of how UFOs might work. Following the ideas of the psychologist William James, there must be a category for UFOs to be assigned to, and currently the only available ones are misperception, hoax, etc. Festinger's theory of cognitive dissonance shows (inter alia) how hard it is for a scientist to credit a theory outside an established paradigm. The SETI project is Freudian sublimation activity to repress the dissociated awareness of UFOs. The scientific establishment is unable to respond to the ET challenge. Congress should open public debate to inform the public.
There is an index, notes, and list of references. No previous knowledge is assumed.
Donderi makes a valuable contribution to the literature. I have a number of reservations about his ideas, but since this is an Amazon review (newspaper reviews are much more discursive) I shall confine myself to two comments.
Firstly, Donderi tries to sort out the reliable from the unreliable abduction accounts using R.V. Jones' "touchstone" method. During the War, there were many pieces of information, sometimes contradictory, about an enemy rocket under development, which turned out as the V2. Jones dismissed those reports as unreliable which did not meet his touchstone of mentioning liquid air or oxygen as the rocket's oxidant, which he considered to be securely known (see Most Secret War (Wordsworth Military Library), p447). In order to use the features of the case as touchstones, Donderi takes the Hill abduction as securely known, but is it?
Secondly, the author has the over-ambitious aim of proving ET visitation, and inevitably fails because that would need more than a standard-sized book. The logic may be summarised as:
Premise 1. Most UFO witnesses are sincere.
Premise 2. If they are sincere, then they have really seen what they say.
Premise 3. The best explanation for what they have seen is the ET one.
Conclusion: We are being visited by aliens.
Premise 1 is dealt with. For Premise 2, he relies on his experience as a psychologist. Premise 3 needs far more elaboration for a proof. And induction, as is used here, may be subject to doubt.
Donderi does not attempt to sort out the truthers from the cranks in a way that most people would concede to be right, and the touchstone methodology works only as well as the certainty to which the touchstones are known. So there is still much doubt, and his objective of proving the conclusion is not reached.
In common with many A-list professional academics Dr. Donderi has always had a natural curiosity about the UFO phenomenon, but chose to keep his interest private in order to avoid the risk of reputational contamination by the fringe elements attached to the subject. ‘UFOs, ETs and Alien Abductions’ (the publisher’s title; the author’s original title was ‘What if it’s True?’) is his first and only book on this intriguing phenomenon, published in 2013 by Hampton Roads. I had the pleasure of Dr. Donderi’s company at two dinner engagements on his recent trip to the UK in April 2015, and the opportunity to discuss these matters with him in some depth during a long day we subsequently spent together in London.
In a nutshell, the book’s argument may be summarised as follows. The author’s professional training as a psychologist is in human visual perception and memory. He demonstrates that we know the world best through direct experience and if people see something in the sky which they say wasn’t an airplane or a kite or a rocket or a cloud or a planet, then they most likely saw something unidentified but nevertheless real, not imaginary. He explains why the cumulative evidence about the existence of UFOs is reliable and why we react to it as a society the way we do. The most interesting part: he explains exactly why, from a psychological perspective, most professional scientists continue to ridicule or ignore this evidence.
The book is written in three parts. Part 1 runs through how the UFO issue has been PR-managed by the US government since 1947; though a useful summary, this section contains little which will be new to those well-read in the subject.
Part 2 argues that the cumulative evidence of reports of humanoid entities associated with UFO sightings is reliable. It details the ‘index case’ of the 1961 Hill abduction and several mutually corroborative touchstone cases (Buff Ledge, West Nyack, the 4-witness Allagash abduction case, the Goodland Kansas case and so forth). The author has met and interviewed the people who reported these experiences. As a professional psychologist his judgment and the judgment of his professional colleagues is that “there is no reason to doubt the competence or veracity of the abductees or reporters, and the information presented about these cases is credible.” The author describes clinical studies by groups of PhD psychologists of those reporting abduction/missing time experiences and the protocols deployed to assess competence, mental disorder or proneness to fantasy, and the conclusion that no differences exist between abduction reporters and the general population. A chapter discourses on hypnosis, traumatic amnesia, induced amnesia and memory recovery, subjects of the author’s specialised professional expertise on which he offers knowledgeable, no-nonsense perspectives. The writing is clear, straightforward and engrossing, the arguments logical and easy to follow step by step.
The most groundbreaking part of the book, however, is the final section. Here Dr. Donderi demonstrates how the theories of William James, Sigmund Freud, Thomas Kuhn and Leon Festinger explain why scientists, mainstream media and government officials ignore or marginalise the UFO evidence. This essay is profoundly original in content and truly enlightening but at the same time, due to the author’s clear and factual writing style, easy to read and understand.
The author dedicates the book to the memory of Stuart Appelle and Budd Hopkins, both of whom he knew well and whose original work he came to admire and respect.
I would recommend Dr. Donderi’s book in particular to the academically trained reader who may be unfamiliar or only partly familiar with the UFO evidence and existing literature but who may appreciate a punchy, intelligent, well-argued summary essay on the subject. Any reader already familiar with the standard canon of UFO literature (Keyhoe, Hynek, Richards Hall & Dolan, Vallee, Keel, Timothy Good etc) may choose to skim the first two sections detailing the history of well-known cases but nevertheless will likely find the final section of this excellent book particularly enlightening and well worth the cover price.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
I subscribe to Jacques Vallee's Jacques Vallee approach, which ultimately rejects the extraterrestrial hypothesis for more complex and, frankly, bizarre theories, but I still like Dr. Donderi's book! This is an excellent read for someone relatively new to the field, and I enjoyed it as an excellent review in almost a military "briefing" style. I'd love to read more from Dr. Donderi!
Two examples of my complaint about this book (i.e. the lack of science within it).
First, in his discussion of an 'abduction case' in which he had first hand experience (meeting one of the alleged 'abductees'), on pages 119 and 120 he recounts the allegations of 'Richard' and 'Dan' which supposedly provided confirmation of the event. At the end of his summary about 'Richard' and 'Dan' the author says their complicated saga played out behind closed doors so he doesn't know what happened to them. Author fails to mention that this supposed 'Richard' and 'Dan' were never identified. All of the details pertaining to them on pages 119 and 120 were from letters sent to Hopkins. Someone, still unidentified, wrote the 'Richard' and 'Dan' letters, which I suspect contain false information. I don't believe there ever was a 'Richard' or 'Dan' but just someone who fabricated both sets of letters. The author of this book never even mentions that they were never identified, never even entertains the possibility that the letters are fake. There is no scientific or any other kind of analysis of this particular case in this book. I think the odds this case involved a real abduction by ETs is zero. (Yet I believe UFO's are probably extraterrestrial and there might have been some or even many abductions.)
Second, in the only attempt at science in the book, he compares images drawn by people Hopkins thinks were abductees who saw what they think was alien writing with a control group who made up images upon imagining they were on a UFO. Author says he compared 24 'abductees' with 24 in the control group. This has potential for being interesting. However, by my count the book shows only 31 symbols by perhaps 9 people. Yes, what he shows seems to show a difference between the groups, but if drawings of 48 people were studied, why am I allowed to see only 31, probably drawn by fewer than 10 people. I don't even know by how many people because he doesn't say. I'm just guessing fewer than 10 based on how they look and how they are organized. Nor do I know who any of the 'abductees' are, which is important because some cases I know about are much more likely to be fakes or delusions than others. Thus the possibility of some scientific analysis regarding these symbols just doesn't materialize within this book.
This would be a decent book for someone who wants a basic summary of UFO cases since Roswell, but it isn't what I expected from a scientist looking at the evidence. I don't have any better sense of the real nature of the abduction phenomenon from having read this book. Working it all out scientifically would be too much to ask of anyone, but I hoped for a few new insights into some of the cases he discusses, but it wasn't there. It is true that "a scientist looks at the evidence" in the book, but no scientific evidence is provided. If all of the details regarding the symbols by the 'abduction' group and the control group were provided so we could study them, it might be possible to discern something. Even if there is a difference between the two groups, however, I can think of possible reasons other than 'abductees' seeing writing inside UFO's. What about disinformation spreading around, or hoaxed information spreading around, etc? Without more data we can't make any kind of meaningful analysis.
Those who already believe in abductions will like this book as it supports their ideas. Those who don't believe in abductions will also like this book because it provides no evidence to refute their ideas. But for those like me who are looking for evidence it ultimately fails in its objective to give us what can be called 'facts' and certainly no scientific facts.