Caveat Emptor

Peter Hough. Visitation: The Certainty of Alien Activity. London House, 1999.
This book is published as part of a series entitled 'Adventures: Life Options for Today', which seems to be one of those 'how to enhance your life' series. Well, if you really want to enhance your life, you could do no better than not reading this book, for what starts as a typical credulous potted history of UFOs, descends towards the end into what is arguably the bleakest abduction book yet. Indeed I am not sure you could get any bleaker.

Hough's theme is the absolute sovereignty of 'the aliens', not in this case your nuts and bolts, strawberry ice cream loving ET's, but boggarts from the Pit of Hell..., oops I'm sorry parallel dimensions. Not content with abducting people, giving them cancer, mutilating their animals and maybe themselves as well they own us and control us totally. No longer do the aliens just invade our airspace, our gardens, our homes (through solid walls of course), and our bodies, but they invade our thoughts, dreams, imaginations. They are in our heads, they can do anything, they control everything and their is absolutely nothing we can do about it.

Past societies may also have imagined themselves besieged by the forces of darkness, but they could put on the armour of faith, or work powerful magic, or use the burning glass of reason to dispel the night. Hough offers no such consolations, not only does he lack faith in religion, reason or magic, he sees them just as part of the vast illusion perpetrated by the all-powerful other. Indeed human beings themselves are the creatures of the other, a genetic experiment gone wrong, people in fact "have become a cancer on the Earth".

Of course, all of this can be viewed with the correct psycho-social detachment. We can see these fantasies as an expression of fin de sciele atmosphere of helplessness and despair. We can see that the omnipotent alien other is in some sense a metaphor for the indifference of the cosmic process by which worlds, galaxies and universes are born and die in their trillions. We might also see this contemporary sense of helplessness as an expression of many people's feelings of being swept along by the forces of globalisation and social change. The idea of being the property of something which controls our very imagination reflects a real sense in which we are the property of global, corporate, capitalism, which indeed controls our imagination to a certain degree through the mass media.

Now if Hough were just an armchair UFO writer, we could perhaps leave it there, though I would still find the pushing of such extreme negativity very disturbing. But he is not, he is an active abductionist, and one who in violation of most British ufologists' code of ethics uses 'therapists' to regress people. What this means is exemplified by the following passage: "Mary [an abductee] did not want to believe [the abduction] was true. At one point she begged us to tell her it was just a fantasy, a nightmare that had spilled over into her waking life. In all honesty we could not do that." (pp.l21-2).

Hough and his therapist offer no hope, help, advice, nothing. Poor 'Mary', hung out to dry, in the end constructs her own balm, a fantasy in which the abductors are nice and have been looking after her since she was a child. Hough proceeds to kick that last prop away. This isn't therapy, its more likely bloody sadistic abuse, mental rape. But then how much compassion are you going to waste on 'a cancer'.

Now I have to declare a personal interest. Several times in the past I have referred potential UFO witnesses to Peter Hough, 1 may have though he was a bit credulous, well most ufologists are I suppose, but basically a sound enough chap. Now I look at that truly appalling passage, and have the awful sinking feeling that by doing so I may have contributed towards wrecking, perhaps ending someone's life. For, from the portrait that emerges from this book, this 'basically sound chap' is arguably one of the most dangerous abductionists in Britain today. I do not know Peter Hough personally, so cannot tell whether he has got himself into the state where he really, 'really', believes what he writes, or whether he is operating in a sort of half belief for the thrills, or simply writes stuff like this to increase his bank balance. Others who know him better must make that decision, and perhaps take action on the basis of their knowledge.

Yet it scarcely matters for if, one way or another, Hough conveys to the people who come to him some of whom at least, will be genuinely frightened and vulnerable explicitly, or implicitly, just a portion of the litany of helplessness, despair and misanthropy which emerges this book, I fear sooner or later he will have a suicide or worse on his hands.

Dealing with this situation is going to be the litmus test for British ufology. Hough cannot be written off as some isolated maverick, as a close colleague of Jenny Randles, chair of one of the most respected local groups, he is pretty much part of the ufological establishment. British ufology must condemn this book, and Hough's involvement with 'abductees' with a single, stentorian voice, take what ever steps are necessary to make sure he cannot push this sort of poison down the throat of another frightened, vulnerable person, remove him from the subject completely and to do what it can to offer genuine help to those he may have injured. If British ufology lacks the will, or capacity to act, then we will have to look to others, including official agencies, who have.

Yet, will just dealing with one isolated person be enough? Hough may be an extreme example, but he is far from unique. It seems to me that ufology as a whole as become increasingly obsessed with every nastier fantasies of violence, helplessness, despair, misanthropy and paranoia. The days of watching out for spaceships in warm summer skies, seem so very far away. Should we not now think the unthinkable, and wind up the whole subject before it does any more damage and wrecks anymore lives, be they 'investigator' or 'witness'?

At very least, I am confirmed in my belief that once you start invoking non-human intelligences of unknown nature and arbitrary powers to explain strange experiences and anomalous phenomena you are on the start of a very slippery slope of superstition indeed. Peter Hough, judging from this book has reached just about rock bottom of that slope. Others are on the way. If ufology is to continue it must be on the basis of a cast iron rationalism. – Peter Rogerson, from Magonia70, March 2000.

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